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01-13-2019, 09:29 PM   #31
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I’ve never shot school portraits at anything wider than f/5.6, and generally tried to stay around f/6.3. My lens was the FA 77.

Even at those aperture values, I still had some blurring of the backdrop. The time I was at 5.6 was because they stuck me in a small room and I wasn’t able to get the distance I wanted between the subjects and backdrop.

Keep in mind, at 8 foot distance, the FA 77 has 1 foot .9 inches of DoF at f/5.6. That’s what is considered in “acceptable” focus. That really doesn’t give you much wiggle room, especially if you need to crop the image.

By comparison, the FA 43 would give you 3’ 7.9” DoF at the same distance/aperture setting.

01-14-2019, 03:11 AM   #32
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QuoteOriginally posted by mcgregni Quote
I didn't think that bokeh came into school photographs, but I suppose some blurring of the background may look nice. Maybe F4 will be fine, perhaps some people experienced at school photo shoots can add something here .... ?? I am just a bit concerned that F4 indoors might be pushing it for security of focus and DOF under the lighting conditions and considering the circumstances. In any case, if you do decide to go for F4 and need to cut down ambient light, then you can just reduce ISO to compensate .... as I said earlier you may need to have the flashes close to the subjects to reduce the power demands.


Can your camera tolerate such an extended amount of use in Live View? I thought that overheating was a risk .... its not something I use much, and certainly not for 800 or so shots. Just wondering if you have tried this or whether it is a concern on a K1? I guess it will be flicking into and out of LV between subjects, allowing cooling ....


I think its probably over to you now to put this all into practice.... I hope your testing goes well and of course good luck for the actual shoot, and of course I would recommend getting as much practice beforehand in the location all set up using your kids as models, to be sure all your settings are producing the desired consistent and reliable exposures. Good luck!
Yes, I think the flash positioning will be quite important, both on power demands and battery life.

I had not thought about LV being an overheating issue till you suggested it just now! I have only encountered the overheating issue once with the KP, filming a video for the 25mins (I think it was), in the Aussie Summer, after that clip was done it wouldn't hit record again and said it was shutting down to cool :O

I never put two and two together and realised it's a LV thing, as opposed to video. I shall however be using the a/c adapter to power the camera rather than rely on the battery, I don't know if this factors in, makes things worse or better? I recall the KP battery was hot to touch after that forced shutdown on the video run I did... maybe overheating batteries is what causes it? I wonder what the manual says... anything about a/c adapter use for long periods or LV in general causing cooling down protocols?

Again valid points mcgregni, something to put to the test, I might connect up my camera and a/c and leave in LV mode in fairly warm ambient temperatures and see if it does a shut down without the screen or camera doing an auto turn off. But I should be worried about burn in on the screen huh? I need a turntable lol.

QuoteOriginally posted by twilhelm Quote
I’ve never shot school portraits at anything wider than f/5.6, and generally tried to stay around f/6.3. My lens was the FA 77.

Even at those aperture values, I still had some blurring of the backdrop. The time I was at 5.6 was because they stuck me in a small room and I wasn’t able to get the distance I wanted between the subjects and backdrop.

Keep in mind, at 8 foot distance, the FA 77 has 1 foot .9 inches of DoF at f/5.6. That’s what is considered in “acceptable” focus. That really doesn’t give you much wiggle room, especially if you need to crop the image.

By comparison, the FA 43 would give you 3’ 7.9” DoF at the same distance/aperture setting.
Yeah, off the top of my head I'm thing f5.6 or something, I'll know once I get (practice) set up, factor in cropping, lens type, how far I can have the backdrop away from the subjects and all that stuff. I am aiming for that 'foot' of depth to the image, with LV FD mode that usually gives very flattering portrait shots, especially on kids.

Part of me being sought after to do the school photography is that the current people have been producing very flat images years after years, it looks like a smarphone took the shot, everything is in focus, you can see the creases on the backdrop, heh.
I have my own (radical) ideas of what I want to do with school photography, before I can jump to that place I do need to perform safer shoots. Make no mistake tho, in this age of modern smartphones parents are looking for something different to what they can manage themselves with the latest iPhone. Typically a shallow DoF is something that our equipment can muster (among other things) that theirs cannot do. I'm not really looking to seek what others have done in the past for what worked for school photography, times are changing. I can see reviews on google of school photographers in my area with bad reviews, and when you do look at their work you can see why, it looks like they're stuck in the 90's...

We are in an incredibly competitive and visually rich photographic world today. Parents are on instagram, facebook, they see professional modelling shoots all the time, and they come to expect a certain standard. Yes I know... it's school photography, not a calvin klien shoot. In someways I am worrying less about this 'setting up' stuff and am starting more to being concerned with getting a good 'smile' from a kid! It's arguable that generating a fantastic smile or laugh from tehe subject and capturing all of that matters more than what f number was used.
01-14-2019, 10:20 AM   #33
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I don't think the sensor heating during LV is related to the power supply, I believe it will occur both with batteries and AC power. I wouldn't recommend trying to push it to the temperature cut out limit, you don't really want to be getting anywhere near that. The reason is that image quality degrades as the sensor temperature increases.
01-14-2019, 12:27 PM   #34
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QuoteOriginally posted by mcgregni Quote
I don't think the sensor heating during LV is related to the power supply, I believe it will occur both with batteries and AC power. I wouldn't recommend trying to push it to the temperature cut out limit, you don't really want to be getting anywhere near that. The reason is that image quality degrades as the sensor temperature increases.
Thanks again. Perhaps a good idea will be to set the camera to going into standby mode if less unattended for even 1min etc, giving it a chance to cool down etc. It goes without saying that settings will be noted down and saved during the session, so even powering down and up will be fine, but I think coming in and out of standby would be preferable.
I didn't know the heat issue was sensor related, I just recall the KP battery was warm to the touch, I believe swapping the battery out for a cooler one can quicken the chances of starting to shoot again sooner?

01-14-2019, 12:46 PM   #35
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I imagine the battery was just soaking up the excessive heat coming through to the battery compartment. I'm no battery expert, but I thought they mainly heat up when charging, although perhaps there's some heat when they are discharging a heavy load .... ? But the main source of heat is the sensor when its on full-time, such as LV or Video modes.


You don't need to go into Standby, that doesn't make any difference .... just come out of LV for a while to let the sensor cool. You can continue shooting with the viewfinder even when the camera is hot. But I don't think you will want to allow the camera to get hot, because of the image quality loss.
01-14-2019, 01:03 PM   #36
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QuoteOriginally posted by mcgregni Quote
I imagine the battery was just soaking up the excessive heat coming through to the battery compartment. I'm no battery expert, but I thought they mainly heat up when charging, although perhaps there's some heat when they are discharging a heavy load .... ? But the main source of heat is the sensor when its on full-time, such as LV or Video modes.


You don't need to go into Standby, that doesn't make any difference .... just come out of LV for a while to let the sensor cool. You can continue shooting with the viewfinder even when the camera is hot. But I don't think you will want to allow the camera to get hot, because of the image quality loss.
Ah true, perhaps a good habit is to try and toggle in and out of LV mode, toggling in only when really ready to take the shot. Inbetween the kids changing for the shoot etc, make sure not to be in LV for those times etc.

I mean, it's not like I will be in LV mode for an entire morning, there are kid changes and classroom changes, waiting times for the next class to arrive, reviewing shots etc. I just had never thought about heating and LV, my silly head associated the issue purely for video...
01-15-2019, 05:09 PM - 1 Like   #37
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QuoteOriginally posted by mcgregni Quote
I imagine the battery was just soaking up the excessive heat coming through to the battery compartment. I'm no battery expert, but I thought they mainly heat up when charging, although perhaps there's some heat when they are discharging a heavy load .... ? But the main source of heat is the sensor when its on full-time, such as LV or Video modes.


You don't need to go into Standby, that doesn't make any difference .... just come out of LV for a while to let the sensor cool. You can continue shooting with the viewfinder even when the camera is hot. But I don't think you will want to allow the camera to get hot, because of the image quality loss.
Batteries have some series resistance, part material and part chemical, so heating can be expected with heavy usage. If the depletion time due to heavy usage is shorter than normal charge time, they will be warmer than when being charged. This will be exacerbated by being inside a housing rather than partially exposed in a charger.

One advantage of the Cactus and many Pentax flashes is that they have a 330 Vdc supplemental power port, thereby allowing most of the battery heating to be external in the auxiliary power supply being used. The flash lamp and its circuit, however, are still being operated at a level that can lead to thermal shutdown. I'm sorry I can't report any data on that aspect.
01-16-2019, 02:02 PM   #38
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Thank for clarifying that, I suppose its possible that Bruce's camera battery was warming up under the heavy load of the continuous video recording. I indeed have noticed the batteries in my flashes are warm after a fair number of high powered outputs.

01-16-2019, 02:31 PM - 1 Like   #39
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You could also just double the number of flashes and reduce the power output of each by half.
01-16-2019, 02:51 PM   #40
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QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
You could also just double the number of flashes and reduce the power output of each by half.
Yeah I'm waiting on a second RF60x to arrive in the mail for this reason, I might stick two in the softbox and have them take turns or fire together under reduced strength. Or... I may need it as a second light, not sure yet, not sure if I will also grab a reflector... hmm... prolly should do that...
01-16-2019, 03:26 PM   #41
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QuoteOriginally posted by BruceBanner Quote
Yeah I'm waiting on a second RF60x to arrive in the mail for this reason, I might stick two in the softbox and have them take turns or fire together under reduced strength. Or... I may need it as a second light, not sure yet, not sure if I will also grab a reflector... hmm... prolly should do that...
Even spread out you can reduce the total output of each if they are reinforcing each other. If they are lighting different parts of the scene then not so much. But you could pick up another pair on top of that one - then gang them.
01-16-2019, 04:46 PM - 1 Like   #42
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If using two together in the same diffuser then set both flashes to the same Group .... Then the power setting for that Group will be half, or near to half, of what would be needed for a single flash.

You can do the same for two flashes in TTL mode also .... They will then automatically reduce and balance their output.
01-28-2019, 02:34 AM   #43
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Hai guys! (and gals),

Finally had a chance to do a test shoot this afternoon, and boy was it filled with disasters

My first headache was actually just trying to get by using what I had, in terms of light stands, tripods, heads, grippers, umbrella holder thingies and all that stuff. What a nightmare, all those adapter screws to fit over the smaller threads to allow you to dock with something that needs a larger thread omg! They just get stuck in attachments and heads you don't want! Arghh! Why is there not just an industry standard for ONE screw size! Start making all cameras have the larger tripod screw hole, problem fixed!
Anyway.... I digress, but yeh that aspect actually sucked up a good hour of messing around needlessly.

After I got sorted and worked out what stand was gonna do what job (and mess around with the corresponding heads) it was time to try getting some camera settings and lighting settings right.

Here's what happened first. I got my Cactus RF60x inside a large 120cm Godox umbrella, used a diffuser and grid and placed it to my right and used my mannequin as a test subject. I was in X mode on the K-1 with FA77 attached. 1/200, f2.2 ISO 200. Take shot first without flash, pretty much pitch black, cool... lets get some lighting going. After adjusting power and reviewing I am all like "aw yeah... that light looks nice and flattering, but wait... what's this,... the background is completely black, we can't even see the nice patterned backdrop! The shot looks too edgy!" and so I go about using a small tabletop tripod to hold a flash behind the models feet and armed with a magmodsphere (possibly a maggrid as well to control the spill) I start working on getting the right power setting on that flash to give us some background lighting context.

Cool... things are looking better... but wait? What's this... I notice that the right side of the subjects face (my left side) is just too dark... too much contrast! I need some fill light, so now I am using the last of my flashes (the 360ii connected to the V6ii in Rx mode and place that in a stripbox). Adjust power and I finally end up with this kinda set up;



Which led to this kinda shot (with a few more tweaks);



Now... for one minute let's leave out the choice of rendering style, aperture chosen and all that stuff. It's literally a 2min LR edit. Here's where the major problems arose during the shoot.

Key light (A) never seemed to fail (RF60x), Rim/backdrop light C (also a RF60x) was not always firing... and then the kicker, Fill light (B, a V6ii Rx with 360ii attached) just seemed to start going erratic, firing on it's own randomly, in between shots, standing nowhere near the camera/shutter etc. All in all I would be very happy to try and replicate that kinda shot I got (in the above example) but clearly there is just too much tech going on here for Pentax/Cactus to handle (and perhaps my general lack of knowledge) to run with this exact set up moving forward. If I thought there was a weak link with the 360ii paired with a V6ii I would perhaps just grab another RF60x, but the fact the other RF60x was enjoying being intermittent and temperamental wasn't exactly inspiring confidence to run with that solution...
You put up with this kinda weirdness for a one off shoot, but an entire morning of shooting 100-150 kids? Erm... no... I don't think so. Furthermore, this set up also tied up everything I owned leaving no backups in play. Both V6ii's were being used, both RF60x's, and one 360ii. I only have one Ep-1 battery pack and I just can't help feeling that I need to keep this set up more simple. All of my previous 'studio shots' have been more 'edgy', the kind where the backdrop is hardly lit or showing, shadows on one side of the face (intended) etc, but this kinda shoot is completely different, and if annihilating ambient light entirely it means I need to light everything that I want seen in the shot, and that includes the backdrop. Could it be that to actually pull off a school photography shot adequately it's actually quite a bit more complex than first meets the eye? I mean it's a particular look you're trying to achieve. I also thought about rim/hair lights as well but realised that's not really the vibe I'm looking for, I want a degree of flatness there, I do want separation from the subject and background but not in that kinda way I think, it comes across as too... 'modelly'

So here's what I am thinking I need to try out as a way to navigate these 'techy glitches'.
  1. Replace B Fill light with a large reflector. I hope I can take some of the main Key light from A and redirect onto either the backdrop or other side of the subjects face. This frees up a RF60x in case one dies.
  2. Replace C backdrop light with a continuous light source, something that I can still control in terms of power, temperature and diffusion. Perhaps the LED wand in a stripbox lying horizontally on the floor behind the subject/chair will do after all (amazon.com : YONGNUO YN360 II Pro LED Video Light with Adjustable Color Temperature 3200K-5500K : Camera & Photo?tag=pentaxforums-20&)

It could be that the LED wand in a strip box will work better as the fill light and 1-2 reflectors to bounce light from the fill and Main keylight onto the backdrop... I'm not sure...

So... what you all make of that idea/strategy?

Last edited by BruceBanner; 01-28-2019 at 02:41 AM.
01-28-2019, 04:39 AM - 1 Like   #44
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First thing to try is to shoot at 1/125s to see if your problems go away, Bruce ... lag in the Cactus system.

01-28-2019, 10:20 AM - 1 Like   #45
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I use the same three flash system .... 2 x RF60/x plus 1 Pentax flash attached to a V6 as receiver, and I have never had any issues with comms or misfires, erratic firing etc .... and never any problems at the max sync speed. So I don't think there is anything inherently deficient with the choice of equipment. Certainly the set up is fully consistent with the design parameters and limitations of the system ..... There may be some connectivity issues with the V6II Rx and Pentax flash? Need to check then security of the hotshoe connection.


Personally I think the look is really good, you've got the OOF background look (although I still worry that the very wide aperture will give focus issues), and I think you could go even lower on the fill side to give more contrast, which certainly will distinguish them from the bog standard pro school photography look. I do think its nearly there .... but of course you need reliability. Just have to be very methodical in your setting up and ensuring security of all connections, plus a really step by step approach to your settings and control inputs .... one at a time to assess the effect individually before making any further changes.


Of course, spending a lot more money on pro grade studio lighting, heavy duty stands and strong expensive adaptors etc will all help ..... but you've always indicated there's a strict budget, so I've assumed there's no point in making all those suggestions.


I personally do not think you should start to rethink your equipment again .... reflector and continuous light etc. No, I really think you have to aim to work through the problems and gain full control over the equipment you have first .... if you keep switching all the time you'll just keep finding new problems to deal with over and over.

Last edited by mcgregni; 01-28-2019 at 10:25 AM.
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