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08-19-2018, 02:45 PM   #1
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TLL vs Manual (Cactus V6ii specifically)

So since I got my Cactus (or any flash really) I have been using TTL modes. Recently I have been trying to broaden my knowledge and understanding of flash use and a few forums (elsewhere) I float around seems that a lot are choosing not to use TTL mode at all, but manual (or at least they are quoting flash power in terms of 1/32. 1/128 etc).
As a TTL user this doesn't mean much to me, and I wonder in the value of disclosing such information, as surely the distance of the flash used to the target is also pretty significant (but often left out in the description/lightstands erased in post etc).

Those of you that know me are aware of my general 'amateurness' when it comes to flash use (<< mr Av mode), and the general advice is to get out of any automatic mode in camera and into Manual mode, that's fine, but does that mean to get out of TTL as well?

Does having the camera in Manual Mode but still shoot in TTL almost come across as a kinda contradiction? Like you're Manual but then still leaving the flash power to being automatic in terms of output somewhat?

How I see it is that you want to use flashes in two specific scenarios;

1) Running and Gunning, the flash is with the person (either on camera or on a paparazzi style flash bracket) whereby the purpose is to get the shot right first time, and for the flash to be assisting in removal of shadows, not illuminating the target like a massive light bulb, more gentle subtle help. If possible you are bouncing flash off roofs, behind or using a lightweight modifier (like a magmod sphere or fong diffuser).

2) Studio work or outdoor portrait work whereby there is an understanding between client and photographer that a few takes are perhaps required before the correct balance between ambient and flash lighting and intended artistic shot is found. Usually more than one camera flash is used, and often the flash/s is off camera.

Up till now most of my flash use has been for scenario 1, so I have either been in a more automated camera mode such as Av with TTL, and the results have been ok for the most part. But as many have pointed out I can perhaps do better still by removing as much automation from the camera and push towards more manual control, even in these running and gunning scenarios. By choosing an 'indoor' User Mode where the ISO is fixed at 800 or 1600 and with the push of the green button before taking the shot you get safer suggested shutter speeds and with TTL a flash enabled a gentle assistance in lighting.

With scenario 2 however (which is new to me) it seems you want to get out of TTL entirely?

Do people agree with this statement?

I note that with the Cactus V6ii trigger, it doesn't seem possible to toggle quickly between firing in Manual mode vs TTL? I was perhaps wondering if that I made Group A TTL and Group B Manual then I could change the V6ii and RF60x unit to being one or the other and toggle/practice that way, but it seems the Power Setup>Flash Mode>TTL Only/M Only is global, and delving into the options is the only way to toggle?

For folk that do studio work, do you even use TTL?

TIA for the comments!

Cheers,

Bruce

08-19-2018, 03:13 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by BruceBanner Quote
With scenario 2 however (which is new to me) it seems you want to get out of TTL entirely?

Do people agree with this statement?

I note that with the Cactus V6ii trigger, it doesn't seem possible to toggle quickly between firing in Manual mode vs TTL? I was perhaps wondering if that I made Group A TTL and Group B Manual then I could change the V6ii and RF60x unit to being one or the other and toggle/practice that way, but it seems the Power Setup>Flash Mode>TTL Only/M Only is global, and delving into the options is the only way to toggle?
All of my flash work is either indoors or outdoors and taking pictures of my own or other peoples dogs. I use Manual exposure on the camera. Generally 1/180 ISO 100 or 200. Aperture as desired. Outdoors I may use a faster shutter speed with HSS on the flash unit. Still manual.

Using the Pentax P-TTL (TTL is not available on modern Pentax cameras) * will generally work fine (you can compensate both the the flash and or the camera), but once you introduce more than one flash unit you are better off working in flash manual mode, preferably metering with a flash meter. You can use ratios in P-TTL but it is far easier to stick to manual. Meter for the key light, meter for the fill and dont meter at all for say a kicker or a hair light. If you try to use p-TTL with those you have less control, not more.

You change between manual and P-TTL on the Cactus by cycling the group button. Very quick and simple.

* Cactus refers to all camera brands auto-flash exposure as TTL including Pentax P-TTL

Last edited by pschlute; 08-19-2018 at 03:27 PM.
08-19-2018, 08:04 PM   #3
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I do studio work and never use PTTL. Because it isnt available on most studio lamps for Pentax. I really dont see the advantage of using PTTL off camera. You have little to no idea of the power the flash unit is using. You need to set PTTL compensation to each flash to create lighting ratio's. So set up time is pretty much equal. I will conceed to PTTL when the subject is moving... Though going manual is far less expensive... With very similar if not better results..
08-19-2018, 09:17 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by stub Quote
I do studio work and never use PTTL. Because it isnt available on most studio lamps for Pentax. I really dont see the advantage of using PTTL off camera. You have little to no idea of the power the flash unit is using. You need to set PTTL compensation to each flash to create lighting ratio's. So set up time is pretty much equal. I will conceed to PTTL when the subject is moving... Though going manual is far less expensive... With very similar if not better results..
Completely agree. And since on camera you shoot, chimp and adjust the flash EV compensation, I see little difference in that and just adjusting flash power in manual mode. Here are a few from a charity event I shoot annually. These are all manual camera and manual flash exposure, flagged with the "Black Foamie Thing" . I'm constantly surprised just how high ceilings can be and still work with bounce.


Last edited by Brooke Meyer; 09-03-2018 at 10:34 AM.
08-19-2018, 10:28 PM   #5
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"1) Running and Gunning, the flash is with the person (either on camera or on a paparazzi style flash bracket) whereby the purpose is to get the shot right first time, and for the flash to be assisting in removal of shadows, not illuminating the target like a massive light bulb, more gentle subtle help. If possible you are bouncing flash off roofs, behind or using a lightweight modifier (like a magmod sphere or fong diffuser). Bruce

Annual charity event and its herding cats to build some sort of group pose & shoot in 2 to 3 minutes. I generally get about 15 teams and an hour. Can't be shy and you need a lot of schtick. Have a volunteer holding my monopod up behind me with two manual flashes. Set manual camera exposure for ambient, leave flashes at same power and just vary aperture and maybe power, depending on whether folks are facing away or into sun.

Can't remember why flash didn't fire, probably trigger loosened up in hot shoe, banging around as I went tent to tent. Anyway, here's what running (almost literally) and gunning looks like with no flash and flash. Not family portraits, event coverage and I get paid.

Last edited by Brooke Meyer; 09-03-2018 at 10:34 AM.
08-20-2018, 12:46 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by BruceBanner Quote
I note that with the Cactus V6ii trigger, it doesn't seem possible to toggle quickly between firing in Manual mode vs TTL?
As pschlute mentioned, it's just a matter of cycling between TTL, M, and OFF by pressing the group button. Couldn't be much quicker than that.
08-20-2018, 02:50 AM   #7
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The V6II and XTTL firmware versions have significantly closed the gap in practical distinctions between operating with the two modes .... In practice now, shooting off camera flash in TTL or M mde is virtually an identical process. It simply comes down to the mental reckoning and the units you like to think of...eg "Stops" or power levels.

Arguably Stops are a more intuitive approach, as they are centred around the cameras meter reading, and there is a correlation to the ambient exposure, also shown in Stops.

I always use P-TTL on camera with M camera mode, no contradiction there. It's a very solid and intuitive working method.

Off camera now it's really a preference .....I now find no particular reason to choose M mode with my Cactus system and two off-camera flashes (RF60x)......TTL mode provides my favoured mental approach, plus it is quick and accurate outdoors and in.

I agree Bruce, that flash power numbers don't mean much in isolation .... They are fractions of each individual flashes maximum power, and that is different for every flash. Only the photographer themselves can learn and sense intuitively the starting points for each scenario, without Guide number calculations. You will see people often suggest things like "try starting at 1/4 power", but that depends on the total power of the flash, it's distance to the subject, any diffusion, the aperture and ISO!

A stop based approach (TTL) has the advantage that everyone can gain an awareness of how their metering system responds in different lighting situations, and can initially pre-set a compensation value based on that judgment.

This awareness can apply to other photographers and even other camera systems.....eg, I could advise someone that if taking a wide shot of a small subject with a lot of space around, they should set a minus flash compensation amount, say -1.5 stops. And it they are then zooming in to fill the frame with that subject then they should set a plus compensation amount , say +1.7 stops.

This advice would apply to any DSLR user.... No specific equipment knowledge is needed.

Last edited by mcgregni; 08-20-2018 at 07:23 AM.
08-20-2018, 02:19 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by pschlute Quote
All of my flash work is either indoors or outdoors and taking pictures of my own or other peoples dogs. I use Manual exposure on the camera. Generally 1/180 ISO 100 or 200. Aperture as desired. Outdoors I may use a faster shutter speed with HSS on the flash unit. Still manual.

Using the Pentax P-TTL (TTL is not available on modern Pentax cameras) * will generally work fine (you can compensate both the the flash and or the camera), but once you introduce more than one flash unit you are better off working in flash manual mode, preferably metering with a flash meter. You can use ratios in P-TTL but it is far easier to stick to manual. Meter for the key light, meter for the fill and dont meter at all for say a kicker or a hair light. If you try to use p-TTL with those you have less control, not more.

You change between manual and P-TTL on the Cactus by cycling the group button. Very quick and simple.

* Cactus refers to all camera brands auto-flash exposure as TTL including Pentax P-TTL
QuoteOriginally posted by Class A Quote
As pschlute mentioned, it's just a matter of cycling between TTL, M, and OFF by pressing the group button. Couldn't be much quicker than that.
Hmm... ok, I must be doing something wrong then with my cactus units. Here's what's going on with my v6ii and rf60x currently;

1) both units running latest firmware
2) my v6ii is set to Power Setup> Flash Mode> TTL Only
3) v6ii on channel 1, Group A
4) my rf60x is set to Group A (S).

Doing this I can see on the v6ii it says TTL, and I can control the focal length/zoom on the v6ii and power of ttl -5 to +5. If I press Group A button (ie toggle it off) I get no flash firing at all. Don't I need to go into the menu and go Power Setup > Flash Mode > M Only and then I get (in place of the TTL info) the 1, 2+7, 2+3, 2, 4, 4+7 etc. When your v6ii unit displays that info that's when you're in Manual Flash mode no? Isn't the idea (when you have two flashes, which I don't currently) to being able to set one flash to Group A, the other to Group B and thus individually alter the power of each unit from the v6ii, so you can control the amount of key light and rim light, rather than have both of them under Group A and the power being adjusted for both equally..?
What I'm struggling to understand currently (among a lot of things ) is what the difference between using a flash on the v6ii in TTL mode vs M Mode really is?! I thought TTL is like a clever thing whereby the flash system kinda works out for the user a 'good amount' of power to apply to get a decent exposed shot, you get the TTL -5 to +5 range to play around with to compensate slightly for what the camera and flash system want to do, but at times I feel I can adjust the flash power (TTL) from say +1 to +2 and not always see a big difference I could be getting weird results as I have definitely noticed some stray bizarre flash results when using Manual Focus glass (like the Samyang 85/1.4, I can have shot after shot quite consistent, and then a couple in a row that are way weird and totally different).
I'm imagining Manual Flash (M Only) mode to firing a certain amount of flash power and doesn't care about being correctly exposed, there is no 'automation' here, it's for you to decide the power and strength of flash output fired. And I thought M Only and those weird numbers '1, 2+7, 2+3, 2, 4, 4+7 etc' is what that was, flash power levels.


QuoteOriginally posted by Brooke Meyer Quote
Completely agree. And since on camera you shoot, chimp and adjust the flash EV compensation, I see little difference in that and just adjusting flash power in manual mode. Here are a few from a charity event I shoot annually. These are all manual camera and manual flash exposure, flagged with the "Black Foamie Thing" . I'm constantly surprised just how high ceilings can be and still work with bounce.
Well, perhaps then the main advantage of TTL is the hope that you don't ever need to chimp? So pretend I have a scenario whereby I get one shot and one shot only and it really needs flash to pull off the shot right. Do I use TTL or Manual for flash? With TTL you're letting the system get a semi decent exposed shot for you, if using Manual flash I guess you need to be quite experience with your flash unit, the diffuser on board, the camera settings, the distance to subject and then take a good educated guess what the right amount of power to apply for the shot would be? And then even if in situations whereby you can get off a couple more flash shots, wouldn't TTL still offer you a quicker path to a more successful image? ie. because it already gave you a semi decent exposed shot to begin with you can then dial in even quicker to the desired kinda effect you're after (ie raise ambient light, dial back flash power, or the opposite etc). With Manual Focus flash, if you guess wrong first time and the results are way off, then the second and third shot chimping and testing is still a little less accurate to getting the kinda shot you want?


QuoteOriginally posted by Brooke Meyer Quote
"1) Running and Gunning, the flash is with the person (either on camera or on a paparazzi style flash bracket) whereby the purpose is to get the shot right first time, and for the flash to be assisting in removal of shadows, not illuminating the target like a massive light bulb, more gentle subtle help. If possible you are bouncing flash off roofs, behind or using a lightweight modifier (like a magmod sphere or fong diffuser). Bruce

Annual charity event and its herding cats to build some sort of group pose & shoot in 2 to 3 minutes. I generally get about 15 teams and an hour. Can't be shy and you need a lot of schtick. Have a volunteer holding my monopod up behind me with two manual flashes. Set manual camera exposure for ambient, leave flashes at same power and just vary aperture and maybe power, depending on whether folks are facing away or into sun.

Can't remember why flash didn't fire, probably trigger loosened up in hot shoe, banging around as I went tent to tent. Anyway, here's what running (almost literally) and gunning looks like with no flash and flash. Not family portraits, event coverage and I get paid.
So with that, did you have TTL or Manual for flash, how are you adjusting power for the flashes etc?


QuoteOriginally posted by mcgregni Quote
The V6II and XTTL firmware versions have significantly closed the gap in practical distinctions between operating with the two modes .... In practice now, shooting off camera flash in TTL or M mde is virtually an identical process. It simply comes down to the mental reckoning and the units you like to think of...eg "Stops" or power levels.
I was wondering this, I was thinking that by being in Studio setting, using TTL just takes me immediately to a place of decent exposed image, I can then use the -5 to +5 TTL adjustments on the v6ii unit to try and adjust the power output of the flash (and therefore possibly damage or make the image worse (or artistically better depending on intention), in that when adjusting the TTL you're kinda overriding what it wants to give as a good well exposed image??

QuoteOriginally posted by mcgregni Quote
Arguably Stops are a more intuitive approach, as they are centred around the cameras meter reading, and there is a correlation to the ambient exposure, also shown in Stops.

I always use P-TTL on camera with M camera mode, no contradiction there. It's a very solid and intuitive working method.

Off camera now it's really a preference .....I now find no particular reason to choose M mode with my Cactus system and two off-camera flashes (RF60x)......TTL mode provides my favoured mental approach, plus it is quick and accurate outdoors and in.
If you read above I couldn't figure out a quick and easy way on my v6ii to toggle in and out of TTL mode, so one of my purposes of making this thread was to see if you could (and I just don't currently know how) or if you need to really, because the TTL adjustments already exist right? I was thinking it might all be doing a similar thing, just different units (and with the advantage of TTL taking you immediately to a good starting point).

QuoteOriginally posted by mcgregni Quote
I agree Bruce, that flash power numbers don't mean much in isolation .... They are fractions of each individual flashes maximum power, and that is different for every flash. Only the photographer themselves can learn and sense intuitively the starting points for each scenario, without Guide number calculations. You will see people often suggest things like "try starting at 1/4 power", but that depends on the total power of the flash, it's distance to the subject, any diffusion, the aperture and ISO!

A stop based approach (TTL) has the advantage that everyone can gain an awareness of how their metering system responds in different lighting situations, and can initially pre-set a compensation value based on that judgment.

This awareness can apply to other photographers and even other camera systems.....eg, I could advise someone that if taking a wide shot of a small subject with a lot of space around, they should set a minus flash compensation amount, say -1.5 stops. And it they are then zooming in to fill the frame with that subject then they should set a plus compensation amount , say +1.7 stops.

This advice would apply to any DSLR user.... No specific equipment knowledge is needed.
I'm glad I'm somewhat not completely lost on the matter, I was trying to say what you're saying here in that perhaps using 'TTL' language rather than flash power talk might make a more global sense approach, which I think is what you're getting at here.

08-20-2018, 02:32 PM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by BruceBanner Quote
2) my v6ii is set to Power Setup> Flash Mode> TTL Only
You want to change that so it shows neither TTLonly nor M only. then you can toggle the setting using the group button.

QuoteOriginally posted by BruceBanner Quote
What I'm struggling to understand currently (among a lot of things ) is what the difference between using a flash on the v6ii in TTL mode vs M Mode really is?! I thought TTL is like a clever thing whereby the flash system kinda works out for the user a 'good amount' of power to apply to get a decent exposed shot
That is exactly what TTL (P-TTL) is. The flash fires a pre-flash, the camera meters it and decides the flash output for the actual capture. Manual flash is what it says, a manual output. No metering.

QuoteOriginally posted by BruceBanner Quote
And I thought M Only and those weird numbers '1, 2+7, 2+3, 2, 4, 4+7 etc' is what that was, flash power levels.
1 means 100% flash power. 2 means 50% flash power, 4 means 25% power. They are fractions like 1 1/2 1/4. The numbers in between (3 and 7) are 1/3 stops between the whole flash output levels
08-20-2018, 03:07 PM - 2 Likes   #10
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Well, perhaps then the main advantage of TTL is the hope that you don't ever need to chimp? So pretend I have a scenario whereby I get one shot and one shot only and it really needs flash to pull off the shot right. Do I use TTL or Manual for flash? With TTL you're letting the system get a semi decent exposed shot for you, if using Manual flash I guess you need to be quite experience with your flash unit, the diffuser on board, the camera settings, the distance to subject and then take a good educated guess what the right amount of power to apply for the shot would be? And then even if in situations whereby you can get off a couple more flash shots, wouldn't TTL still offer you a quicker path to a more successful image? ie. because it already gave you a semi decent exposed shot to begin with you can then dial in even quicker to the desired kinda effect you're after (ie raise ambient light, dial back flash power, or the opposite etc). With Manual Focus flash, if you guess wrong first time and the results are way off, then the second and third shot chimping and testing is still a little less accurate to getting the kinda shot you want?

Light doesn't change that much. And exposure meters get fooled all the time, that's why I use manual camera exposure to begin with. So upon arrival, I've already dialed in ambient for the room, event, etc. In fact, if its 3 rooms, I've already set 3 Custom White balances before hand and to accurately do that, set the ambient exposure first. Same with a street fair, I'm taking test shots walking from my truck in the parking lot. Also a gear check.

If I move into shade or a vendor tent, I know its 2 to 3 stops lower so I open aperture, boost ISO or both. Still need ambient exposure set correctly.

If its outdoors and just fill, take one or two and your flash wil be in the ball park .

And the idea that it's a once only opportunity doesn't hold up in my experience. Experienced photographers know to work the scene, ask any newspaper photographer. .


So with that, did you have TTL or Manual for flash, how are you adjusting power for the flashes etc? $40 USD Remote , same one I use from camera to control one of five (currently) speed lights. Lets me bury'em in brolly boxes too. Simple, fast and cheap..

I was wondering this, I was thinking that by being in Studio setting, using TTL just takes me immediately to a place of decent exposed image, I can then use the -5 to +5 TTL adjustments on the v6ii unit to try and adjust the power output of the flash (and therefore possibly damage or make the image worse (or artistically better depending on intention), in that when adjusting the TTL you're kinda overriding what it wants to give as a good well exposed image??

I can't even imagine using TTL in a studio. Set a light in an umbrella camera left at 45 and 45 up for key. Set another the same at camera right. Set one to half power and one to 1/4 power, one stop difference for commercial 2:1 portrait ratio. Set one to 1/2 and the other at 1/8th ( one stop less than 1/4) and you're dramatic at a 3:1 ratio of key to fill. Reverse the power levels and you can change broad light to short light. Or set them at the same power and move them closer or further for the same effect (the Inverse Square law is your friend).

Add a 1/2 cut CTO or CTS gel to warm and you'll need to boost power 1/2 a stop. Want to kill ambient (turn your white background black) , set your aperture 3 stops under ambient ( say f11) and the only light recorded will be from your flash.


Invest your time in learning the qualities of light (intensity, color, direction and quality), ratios and keys. And if you want to get good at it, you need to do it a lot. Make lots of mistakes, figure out why and you'll own it.

Last edited by Brooke Meyer; 10-23-2018 at 09:08 AM.
08-20-2018, 09:15 PM   #11
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Well said Brooke.. Couldn't agree more...
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