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01-13-2014, 05:57 PM   #1
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Help with flash and indoor photography (K30)

Hi team,

I own a pentax K30 with 18-135mm WR lens still trying to learn photography. My friend had requested my help in capturing the moments for his daughter's birthday. Being a newbie, I need some assistance on the indoor photography with indoor lighting conditions. The following are my queries.

1) Do I need an external flash to purchase or my built in flash will do for indoor photography? If I need an external flash, kindly advise the good ones which costs less on budget.

2) I cannot invest in any new lens at the moment and hence had to use with my existing 18-135mm lens for this occasion. Hence kindly advise a safe bet on the settings (aperture, shutter speed and ISO) to use in most cases for indoor photography and with candle lights.

Since its an important occasion, I feel bit of a pressure. Please help.

Regards,
Jai

01-13-2014, 06:10 PM   #2
dms
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Before the day of reckoning, set up a similar situation--persons or dolls/mannequins in the nearest and farthest positions of import, other house lights on, candles, etc., and take notes of what you are trying.
01-13-2014, 06:12 PM   #3
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While there is no question that an external flash will be better, you can work with the on board flash. The problem with the on board flash is that you get a flat look because the light is in direct line with the lens. You should be able to get quite good images although they will not be 'pro' quality because of the flat light. Still should be far better than what people with cell phones will take.

A good PTTL flash will be expensive. There are many cheaper, but manual, options. However, if you have little budget and little time to learn manual flash I think I would go with the on board flash and make the best of it.

Do get some practice before the party and try to learn how the flash will work. I would suggest using the flash compensation to lower the flash power a bit. The images might be darker but this can be improved in post processing. If the subjects are lit up too brightly with on board flash that is hard to fix.
01-13-2014, 06:15 PM   #4
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Oh, and very likely the best approach is not to use flash! Try both in your practice. So with the candles that would be on the cake--what exposure can you get away with. Isn't digital great! You can try things out and get, in an instant, results to study.

01-13-2014, 06:17 PM   #5
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Thanks guyz. Also another issue I have is, I cannot zoom in fully to create background blur on indoors I believe. So all images are going to be without background blur. Also if am going to zoom in, then I might be getting semi circle on pictures due to shadow cast from the lens.

Regards,
Jai
01-13-2014, 06:40 PM   #6
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Contrary to what you might see stated emphatically elsewhere, if you are using the built-in flash, do NOT use the hood for the 18-135. The built-in flash is not high enough to clear the hood and you will get shadows.

A new photographer with a new camera, and an important event with little time to practice? If you are going to use the built-in flash, I will suggest that you BOTH: use the Auto (green) mode, AND tap your flash control and make sure you select the flash-bolt with the 'A' (for automatic). Stick with auto white balance and I would also suggest shooting RAW+. The jpegs may come out just fine, but the RAW images are there for extra insurance.

If you feel you have all your key shots, you can try doing some available light shots using one of the non-auto modes. You might surprise yourself.
01-13-2014, 08:19 PM   #7
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Cameras have such good low light capability that I would avoid getting if flash if at all possible and just light using indoor lights or window light. Flashes are expensive and unfortunately Pentax has a bug in some of the cameras (K7 and K5 's) which screw up external flash exposure - once stung, twice shy. If you use the built-in flash, try slow flash and knock down the flash compensation by 1 to 2 EV to get a nicer, less harsh, highlighting type light on the subjects faces. Good luck.
01-13-2014, 08:21 PM   #8
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Hi,

Since you will be taking shots indoors, may i recommend that you look at the Yongnuo 560-ii/560-iii flash? It's manual and therefore you will need to set it's power manually. Of course, it is VERY affordable!

Like you've stated, you're indoor and light changes won't be very drastic at all. Therefore, you would just need to set a flash power output and leave it alone. Then, just bounce the flash upwards and i'm sure you will be very satisfied with the images produced.

01-13-2014, 08:42 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by SyncGuy Quote
Like you've stated, you're indoor and light changes won't be very drastic at all. Therefore, you would just need to set a flash power output and leave it alone. Then, just bounce the flash upwards and i'm sure you will be very satisfied with the images produced.
Ambient light may not be changing much, but that has little to do with flash exposure. Distance will probably be changing quite a bit though, so you can't just set the flash and forget about it. You set flash power based on aperture, distance and ISO. As much as I like my YN-560, I would not recommend one to someone who is inexperienced for a situation like this.
01-13-2014, 10:26 PM   #10
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Thanks Everyone. So I believe my options would be without external flash.....I can understand that using external flash is a whole new thing to master.....

Regards,
Jai
01-14-2014, 02:17 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by elliott Quote
Ambient light may not be changing much, but that has little to do with flash exposure. Distance will probably be changing quite a bit though, so you can't just set the flash and forget about it. You set flash power based on aperture, distance and ISO. As much as I like my YN-560, I would not recommend one to someone who is inexperienced for a situation like this.
Oh yes... i forgot about that.. :P

Ok, TS.. Just get the YN560iii flash as recommended.. Because adjustment in flash power is a simple clicking between 2 buttons only.. power up or power down..
I'm pretty sure that's very manageable for you right?
01-14-2014, 02:46 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by SyncGuy Quote
Oh yes... i forgot about that.. :P

Ok, TS.. Just get the YN560iii flash as recommended.. Because adjustment in flash power is a simple clicking between 2 buttons only.. power up or power down..
I'm pretty sure that's very manageable for you right?
Adjusting the power is easy, knowing the power needed is the challenge. Like I said, I love mine, but this is not a good idea for an inexperienced user who may not have the time to learn before this event.

If you want cheap and convenient, auto thyristor flashes are a good option. You still need some idea of the basic concepts of flash, but once you get your settings dialed in it is just point and shoot. Unfortunately there aren't many of these available new anymore, but there are many good used options out there like the Sunpak 433D that can be found under $40.
01-14-2014, 09:30 AM   #13
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SyncGuys recommendation has my support.
A manual flash like the Yongnuo and using bounce flash will easily distinguish your shots from a point-and-shoot camera look. It should also enable you to get your shots safe (no blurring, high noise or harsh shadows in peoples faces). However it will require you to use the manual mode of your camera.
Make some trial shots at the event to adjust the settings on the camera as well as flash power. Afterwards there wont be much work to do on the exposure level. Just changing the ISO or flash power when you enter a darker/brighter area.
Experimenting at home first to get a feeling for the effect is still critical.
01-14-2014, 02:14 PM   #14
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I'm more of a newbi to photography than you but I recently had a similar experience to you (I use a k500 and yongnuo 560 ii) and so thought I'd share some tips I found useful:

1. Remember why you are there... As a photographer you always look for technical arty shots but remember documenting the event is more important to your friend. You want as many in focus shots as possible; making sure you get all the guests and lots of her daughter. Get the cake, action shots of games and other significant features.. If the birthday girl is wearing a cute outfit photograph the details etc. Once you're happy with exposure in situ then use time before the party and also when people are eating ( apart from maybe getting a wide angle shot of the table it's not flattering to photo ppl stuffing themselves) to get arty shots of decoration and cake (make sure you get a none arty pic safety in the bag first) but remember being ready to capture everything is a priority over the arty pics.

2. As said before me; practice so you have a good idea before hand what works.

3. Shoot in RAW. More power to correct any errors - less pressure to get exposure perfect.

4. You'll want use a fairly small aperture somewhere around f7.1 - that way you have a depth of field which should compensate for most focusing errors.

5. I personally used manual mode with a shutter speed of 1/160 and with ISO set at a level that worked for the room (800 I think). I then adjusted the power of the flash to control exposure leaving the other settings constant - you generally want the exposure meter on the camera to measure -3 or less as the flash will bring the exposure back up. This worked for me in small rooms, with the lights on but dull lighting. You should be able to get away with on board flash but bouncing the flash is fun! The Yongnuo iis a powerful but basic flash I will say that using it manual I more often than not got the exposure a bit wrong but they were easily corrected in RAW processing. You could get a more expensive p-ttl flash or just the in built camera and whilst they take a lot of the thought out of the flash setting when you move around, but they usually still need dialling in.

6. Carrying on with flash... Remember that aperture and ISO levels affect the exposure of everything whilst shutter speed only really affects ambient light. Therefore if you find you subjects are perfectly exposed by the flash but the background is underexposed then it's worth trying to reduce shutter speed. In low light situations the flash will act like a fast shutter on the subject but the slower shutter speed gets more ambient light - this is called dragging the shutter and it's worth reading up about as it could be very useful for the birthday girl + cake + candles pics. Other than knowing the theory I have absolutely no experience in this type photography - definitely something I would practice if I was in your situation.

7. If you think you've messed up a shot of ppl posing then just quickly say they blinked so you're going to take it again. I had a perfect shot lined up of my mothering law and my niece and the flash failed to fire - I did say the flash hadn't fired but my mother in law hadn't realised that meant no pic so she just walked off... If I'd have said she'd blinked she would have stayed ( nobody wants a pic of them blinking) and it would have diverted attention from me being flustered with the camera. Obviously useless with action shots and spontaneous shots!

8. It's really another practice one... Make sure you know how you camera and lens behave focusing wise in the low lighting so you can have it set up for best performance ( and don't expect it to work like it does in good lighting - I originally made that mistake!). You'll want to check your long lens doesn't obscure focus assist light on camera. I've found back button focusing to be really useful but it takes a bit of practice getting used to it ( on my k500 it is known as autofocus af2) basically my camera will only try and focus when I press the af lock and not with the shutter button i.e. It doesn't try to autofocus every shot. This way I just need to get it to focus once ( I had problems with the camera searching for focus every time I tried to take a shot in low light) and as I only need to refocus when I move ( again using a stoppered down aperture gives me a decent margin of error). The disadvantage of back button focusing is that you have to remember to focus! Another way of achieving a similar effect is to take your first picture allowing the camera to find focus with the shutter button then switching to manual focus mode to lock it in focus.

9. Enjoy yourself... It's part of the learning experience!

Hope some of these are helpful... I will add a disclaimer I'm extremely new to photography so treat my tips as starting points for experimentation rather than rather than words of wisdom!
01-15-2014, 02:12 PM   #15
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@DanGleabols : Thank you for your excellent tips. I will have to test these tricks and see if am comfortable. I still have one month time for the event and hopefully I should be able to learn by then.


Regards,
Jai
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