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06-08-2021, 08:39 AM - 3 Likes   #1
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PTTL or manual ?

There's a thread, Recommendation for minimal/portable location portrait lighting setup - Page 3 - PentaxForums.com, where members are discussing TTL flash. This made me wonder how many studio or multiple flash users actually use TTL flash metering rather than manual?

Any shot in controlled lighting is surely easier in manual (with/without flash meter). I fretted over TTL when I started collecting lighting gear, but then realised it was actually making things more complicated.

Using manual flash simplifies things enormously. Building up the lights individually, means that each light's effect is known when they are blended together. Using TTL just creates uncertainty.

It probably means there are more options to purchase generic gear, rather than looking for PTTL support, which is another benefit.

I've just been playing and created this image. I reckon it would have tricky with TTL as I had to build up the lights one at a time to ensure the look I was looking for and any auto mode would not have been able read my mind. Same goes for portrait work - for me, anyway.

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06-08-2021, 09:20 AM   #2
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Would you like to share details how you created this image? I really like it.
06-08-2021, 09:43 AM - 1 Like   #3
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I use generally use manual control for multiple flash, but have used P-TTL, auto-thyristor, and a mixture, both wired and optical wireless. The main (only?) advantage to P-TTL IMHO is for convenient balancing of flash to ambient and to be honest, I have found it to be trouble prone or for many use cases. There is also the expense factor.

FWIW...I have been experimenting with Godox wireless TTL (P-TTL over Godox TTL) the last week, but have formed no firm conclusions yet.


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06-08-2021, 09:45 AM - 1 Like   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by jumbleview Quote
Would you like to share details how you created this image? I really like it.
Thank you.

Simply, I fixed multiple, painted, hard boiled eggs to acrylic rods. 'Multiple', as the shells kept on cracking. The broken shells were the left overs from shells that'd smashed. I chose the background to compliment the egg colour. I used textured paper as background..

Lighting was from multiple, snooted, flash guns and an overall soft light through a large sheet of translucent film.

While the eggs were not dropping off their fixings I build up the snooted lights one at a time to achieve what I wanted.

Just forgot, there was some localised fill from mirrors and white cards. It took best part of a day to set-up.

06-08-2021, 09:46 AM   #5
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I still do things the way I did it 30 years ago. I use manual studio lights rather than wimpy battery powered shoe mount flashes.
For portraits, I set the fill to the desired f stop, and then bring the main in to give me the desired lighting ratio. The only change I've made since going digital is that I now set the fill a couple of stops under what I used to do, since with digital, it's blown highlights that are the concern, rather than blocked up shadows, which was the concern with print film.
My technique for setting exposure with digital is very similar to how I set exposure with slide film.
Product photography was always one off stuff, unless it was simple flat lighting to give shadowless illumination. I shot a lot of Polaroids to make sure things were right before committing a large format sheet of Ektachrome to be exposed.
06-08-2021, 12:08 PM   #6
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I have had good luck with P-TTL in mainly one setup using onboard flash as a master and a single battery powered flash as a remote. In this quick and dirty mode I find P-TTL to work reasonably well. For the rest I like manual mode and have used various solutions including cactus v6 to make this less annoying than “walk over and adjust”.

Last edited by UncleVanya; 06-08-2021 at 12:20 PM.
06-08-2021, 12:30 PM   #7
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When using more than one flash...... Manual
06-08-2021, 01:36 PM   #8
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I like to have complete control over my lights when shooting, so Manual is a choice for that. I may use P-TTL at first, read the settings, and then apply them in Manual mode to get a starting point which I can adjust. P-TTL may be valuable in some cases where I am on the go and do not have time to use Manual or when the ambient/available light is changing frequently.


Last edited by C_Jones; 06-08-2021 at 01:42 PM.
06-09-2021, 01:28 AM   #9
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When using more than one flash....Manual all the way! I dont trust PTTL in these conditions. It seems to change for each shot.
06-09-2021, 01:54 AM   #10
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For (very occasional) fixed setups I use the flash in manual mode.

When taking pictures on our private events I use the flash in auto mode and the camera in AV or M mode with fixed ISO.
In this case I avoid P-TTL due to the double flash it produces. Very inconvenient for the persons I am taking pictures of.
Since auto mode works very nicely for all other subjects as well, I do not bother to get familiar with P-TTL.
06-09-2021, 06:25 AM   #11
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I only have old manual flashes. Now I want to play with them some and photograph things I push off my background.
06-09-2021, 01:44 PM - 1 Like   #12
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I'll bite and play devil's advocate. But I'm only a hobbyist shooter, I've only ever used speedlights, and I don't shoot Pentax. I shoot Panasonic, Canon, and a Fuji X100T. [note: NOT Sony. Godox has a TTL bug with Sony].

I agree with the other posters who say with multiple lights, stick with Manual, but that's because my triggering system is Godox, where it's all too easy to mix different types/power-levels of lights in a setup, and TTL group ratios is not a thing. I have seen a Profoto video where McNally does it (
), but only because all his lights are B1s and the Profoto Airs do do TTL group ratios, where you can set your key/fill to groups A&B, leave the background lights on manual in group D, and then set the A:B ratio to 4:1. It can work, just not with gear most of us can afford. I used to use Canon's optical wireless system this way (the ST-E2 only did TTL A:B group ratios, no M), just as McNally used Nikon's CLS to do that.

[sidenote: Although [hmmm], I suppose I could use TTL+FEC to do the ratio thing (if my key and fill lights matched) within the +/-3EV FEC range.]

But with my key light, or in a one-light setup, I've found TTL with my Godox gear (and specifically with the XPro transmitter) to be more useful than I thought it would be. The key feature here is what Godox calls "TCM" (TTL convert to Manual), or more generically, what I call TTL locking. Again, I first heard about this via that 2015 Joe McNally Profoto video. At the time I saw the video, the feature was unique to Profoto Airs, so I'd just thought, "huh. Cool. Wish I could afford that" and promptly forgot about it.

I didn't have TCM capability until Godox came out with the XPros and I finally switched over from a Yongnuo 622C setup. And I stayed M-only for a while, 'cause at that point I'd been shooting Strobist-style for about a decade. And then I remembered the McNally video, and setting up a simple one-light/octa for some bad ironic selfies with my Panasonic GX7, and I thought, what the hell? And set the flash to TTL and started to play around. (I also do on-camera bounce flash and happily ride the FEC on TTL when called for, so using TTL does not scare me and does not feel like being out of control any more than using aperture-priority with EC does. YMMV.)

Just like in McNally's other Profoto video. First shot. I'd move the light. I'd adjust the aperture, I'd fiddle with my iso. Move the light again. Change the lens. Bang. First shot. Nearly every time (I'd expected to have to fiddle with FEC a lot more, but as it was I think I touched it twice). I'd jam the TCM button to lock things into manual, then forget and move the light, whatever, and curse that I wasn't in TTL (!!). Not what I expected.

So, for me, TTL (with locking) is useful if you like to explore or experiment and have your setups dynamically flow from one to the next. TTL will (within gear limits) keep your iso, aperture, and distance changes transparent to the flash exposure. I had never realized before how much shooting only manual tended to make me lock in those things as early as possible on a shoot. And it would never occur to me to change them again. TTL makes it really easy to change them again. Any minor tweaking you can do in M, you can also do with FEC. So, if you need to move dynamically from one setup to the next, or your setup evolves a lot, TTL can be the way to go.

M can still be faster and more precise, particularly if you already know exactly what you need and just want to bang away with the same setup for the entire shoot. Most folks who've been doing this since film days when TTL wasn't an option have found workflows that work quickly and consistently for them. I have no argument with that. Decades of practice makes some folks masters of this.

What I do argue with is the flat statement that TTL is useless for all off-camera flash. It was due to shot-to-shot variance. But TTL locking came along in 2015 and became affordable around 2018. It's new enough that a lot of folks don't know about and have never used it (because they were told TTL was useless for off-camera flash and bought manual gear to save cash).

But for me, TTL can be useful to have in the lighting toolbox for more than just on-camera flash event shooting, and I'm glad I spent the pennies on the Godox gear that lets me have it. Even if I initially thought I'd only use it for on-camera flash event/social shooting and chasing kids/pets around the house. I always recommend that a first/only speedlight should have TTL, HSS, and M modes on it, so it can do double duty both on- and off-camera.
06-09-2021, 09:45 PM   #13
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Manual control, all day long, for the predictable and repeatable results.

I don't want flash power to change on its own when a subject turns, for instance, and thus reflects more light back in to the camera.

TTL has its use for Pentax because it enables HSS, which in turn is very useful to use outdoors when attempting to use wide apertures which need to be compensated for with high shutter speeds. The alternative, using ND filters, is much less convenient.

I've been aware of the TCM function since I got my Godox triggers but so far have never bothered to use it as it would only work for the key light and I get its level right rather quickly from experience or using a light meter. I would expect to having to tweak after the conversion to manual so it would not be of much help for my static setups. I think it works best for dynamic situations when you need to get a usable (but not necessarily perfect) exposure quickly and then want to lock it for repeatability until changing circumstances require a new flash power determination.
4 Days Ago   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by BarryE Quote
There's a thread, Recommendation for minimal/portable location portrait lighting setup - Page 3 - PentaxForums.com, where members are discussing TTL flash. This made me wonder how many studio or multiple flash users actually use TTL flash metering rather than manual?

Any shot in controlled lighting is surely easier in manual (with/without flash meter). I fretted over TTL when I started collecting lighting gear, but then realised it was actually making things more complicated.

Using manual flash simplifies things enormously. Building up the lights individually, means that each light's effect is known when they are blended together. Using TTL just creates uncertainty.

It probably means there are more options to purchase generic gear, rather than looking for PTTL support, which is another benefit.

I've just been playing and created this image. I reckon it would have tricky with TTL as I had to build up the lights one at a time to ensure the look I was looking for and any auto mode would not have been able read my mind. Same goes for portrait work - for me, anyway.
The topic I've started is about outdoor and location situation, so I imagine it was dealing with 1 or two flash only.
And I think along with wireless system, TTL is useful for the kind of setup and situation I am using and shooting in.

In a studio, manual is more controlled of course.
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