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12-15-2009, 11:31 AM   #1
emr
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What am I doing wrong with my Metz?

I've had the flash for a few months but have only recently given it a try. Today I first shot some test photos at home and then tried to photograph my daughter's music performance. Got about zero good photos.

I have my flash set on P-TTL and tried both Av (which I use without a flash) and X sync settings. At home every now and then the pictures would turn out OK but sometimes I got a nearly pitch black picture with no obvious consistency. At the music performance I was maybe 20 meters from the children. Direct flash gave me the usual flat and in this case over-exposed image. When I tried indirect flash (using the fairly high but white ceiling) I got again nearly black images. I can't post any examples as I deleted them immediately.

So what am I doing wrong? How come the nearly pitch-black pictures? Isn't this system supposed to do some sort of exposure measuring? Is it that I'm just not doing this right, the flash is poor or the flash is broken?

K20D and Metz 48.

12-15-2009, 12:23 PM   #2
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If your direct flash reached the stage but the bounce didnt then the ceiling was too high for a bounce. P-TTL can be sketchy sometimes and it won't give out the right amount of light if it gets too close to its full power. My Sigma 530 does that sometimes too. Maybe if you tried manual and kept it at full or 1/2 power you may have rescued some since the light would be constant, but it really depends on your distance to the subject (20m) and the distance from you to the ceiling.

You used TTL with the flash to take the pictures. You were at 1/180 sec (sync) and I figure that you were at ISO 100? 200? At that speed there wouldn't be enough ambient light to get a good exposure. The Metz didnt have enough power to put out the light you needed to match your TTL settings, but I doubt any hotshoe flash would in the environment you described.

Next time, may I suggest raising the ISO (I have a K200 and I'm comfortable up to 800) and "drag the shutter", which means to go at a lower shutter speed like 1/60 or 1/30. Then let the direct flash fill in the gaps. You wont get that harsh and blow out look and you're not using the flash at full power. I bet youll see your Metz shine.

The pic I posted here is at ISO 800 at f6.3 & 1/30. At that speed I got the rest of the stage and the late dusky background. You can see the light of the flash in his shadow areas.

Last edited by jboyde; 12-10-2010 at 10:57 PM.
12-15-2009, 12:28 PM   #3
emr
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Thanks! I'll try "dragging the shutter" next time.
12-15-2009, 04:50 PM   #4
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For the pitch black ones - have you got the camera set to not release unless the flash is charged?

12-15-2009, 10:01 PM   #5
emr
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QuoteOriginally posted by Arpe Quote
For the pitch black ones - have you got the camera set to not release unless the flash is charged?
Probably not, but the pictures were so far apart time-wise that I don't think that's the problem. Thanks.
12-16-2009, 11:06 AM   #6
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Hi, new member. Last night I had pretty much the same experience with the metz 54 as yourself.. massive underexposure.. but the stage was just as far off. I tried in pttl, auto, and even manual modes. I thought I was doing something wrong. At one point I had the pop-out diffuser on the metz down which for some reason seemed to actually prevent me from altering any of the parameters on the unit Black photos.. or underexposed by SEVERAL stops with that down.

The (not so) funny thing is I've found I get some exposure problems with studio lights, too. I shot about 700 pics for the town a couple weeks ago with a pair of AB400's and metered the exposures ahead of time with a hand held meter. Foolishly I never checked the histogram and shot at the metered setting. Long story short I was adjusting levels on hundreds of photos a couple of days later.

Checking the flash last night after the Christmas show I noted that the pop up flash and the Metz seemed to be pretty consistent with underexposing on various settings. Is it possible that the K20D is actually doing something and it isn't the flash units that are somehow at fault?
12-22-2009, 11:15 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by JoeO Quote
Hi, new member. Last night I had pretty much the same experience with the metz 54 as yourself.. massive underexposure.. but the stage was just as far off. I tried in pttl, auto, and even manual modes. I thought I was doing something wrong. At one point I had the pop-out diffuser on the metz down which for some reason seemed to actually prevent me from altering any of the parameters on the unit Black photos.. or underexposed by SEVERAL stops with that down.

The (not so) funny thing is I've found I get some exposure problems with studio lights, too. I shot about 700 pics for the town a couple weeks ago with a pair of AB400's and metered the exposures ahead of time with a hand held meter. Foolishly I never checked the histogram and shot at the metered setting. Long story short I was adjusting levels on hundreds of photos a couple of days later.

Checking the flash last night after the Christmas show I noted that the pop up flash and the Metz seemed to be pretty consistent with underexposing on various settings. Is it possible that the K20D is actually doing something and it isn't the flash units that are somehow at fault?
JoeO, have you solved the problem with? I'm considering buying the Metz 58 for my K20D, but now you have me wondering.
12-23-2009, 02:19 PM   #8
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A couple of questions..
  1. Which exact Metz unit are you using? "Metz 48" could be anything; i.e., I know there are a number of variations on the 40 series as well.
  2. Does the Metz unit use a SCA adapter? Or is it a Pentax specific unit? If it takes a SCA adapter, is it the correct model? The correct revision? (I.e., on my Canon setup I had to upgrade to an "M3" revision for my 10D; the "M2" I had been using for over a year on my EOS-3 didn't work on digital bodies, even though they both had ETTL).
  3. With a light meter can you compare the output from the flash and a known working flash?

I was using a 40 MZ-2 unit with my Pentax gear and had severe underexposing problems. When I had a chance to compare the Metz output to a Pentax flash, the Metz was underexposing. The SCA adapter had fried itself and was no longer exposing properly.

12-23-2009, 02:36 PM   #9
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Some possible answers, though it is hard to say anything definite, without example shots.

1. the concert stage was quite far away and almost no flash gun would have enough power tu illuminate that via bouncing off the ceiling. (In such a situation, I would not even use my Metz 50 hammerhead flashgun for bouncing.)

2. In large rooms, a considerable amount of the flash's output is "lost". Guide numbers always(!) not opnly by Metz, who by any account are very conservative are given for use in "normal" rooms, not halls.

3. with direct lighting, the people on stage are probably overexpsoed, because the camera would include the proportinally larger dark background of the stage into the flash calculation and thus overexpsoe the smaller, main subject.

4. In my personal opinion event photography is at its best, when ambient light is used as the main light (which especially accounts for having a visible and interesting background) and flash should be used as a fill light. That would require a longer shutter speed on the camera, not the sync speed. I always set a time of around 1/30s manually, sometimes 1/60s (depending on the light level).

The drawback of this method is, that you get motion blur, if the subjects move a lot around.

5. if you use the in-build diffusor of the Metz it will will disable several other parameters, because they don't make sense with the diffusor in place, namely the zoom reflector (which stays fixed).

6. you can pump up the ISO to ISO 800 or even 1200 on a K20, if the ambient light is low and thus achieve a good basic illumination. This will also increase the reach of the flash gun. Better some noise, than black images.

Ben
12-24-2009, 01:40 PM   #10
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Sorry for the late response.. X-Mas shopping!

It's a 58 Model, not the mystery model I indicated. Brain lapse there. Dedicated Pentax unit, not the SCA adapter set up you mentioned.

100% right about the diffuser knocking out many options. I suppose there is a little trigger mechanism of some sort in there that tells it the diffuser is deployed?

As far as 'solving the problem', I've not had a chance to set up my strobes again and compare the meter readings to appropriate exposure using the K20D.

I've done a good deal of tests with the Metz in auto and p-ttl mode around the house, comparing exposures it prefers to using the histogram to try and get the best exposures. Sure enough I'm having to knock it up an EV or three to get it where it 'should' be (IE, not underexposing the scene). Trick is, with a decent nuetral background it's pretty much perfect and gives a nice mound in the middle on the histogram without any compensation. It seems like lighter pieces of scenery are making the system want to underexpose for THAT and ignoring the rest of the scene. As a work around I'm spot metering on selected surfaces and picking an EV based on averages myself like I used to n my old Nikon f3 days.

I agree with others that the distance to the stage, along with my reluctance to exceed 400 ISO, was the drawback. The room also has an ugly mix of flourescent and halogen lighting, white balance was a heck of a challenge because it varied depending on which direction the camera was pointed in, or which part of the stage.

Long story short, I do not think it was the Metz unit. More a combination of user error, distance, ambient light, and not having toyed enough with a metering system that may have a kink or two built right into it.
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