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01-08-2011, 11:31 AM   #1
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Manual flash learning curve

Hi all
I've been doing a lot of reading lately about off-camera flashes and wireless triggers for my K-X, and am also part way through Strobist 101. I currently have an AF280T which does not work with PTTL, so I would have to adjust it manually. Admittedly, I haven't yet done much experimenting with it.

My question is, when using manual flash how long does it take to get set up for a shoot - say for instance a family portrait? I assume that once the flash(s) and camera are set, I don't have to mess with them anymore except maybe to do some tweeking to get the exposure right.

But if it was a kid's birthday party where I have to move around, would using a manual flash mean I'd be adjusting on the fly, moving the flash/stand, and missing photo opportunities? Or is there some way to adjust the off-camera flash (perhaps bouncing off the ceiling) where I wouldn't have to be concerned about changing the settings (provided I was in the same general area)?

Maybe I've answered some of my own questions, but I'd appreciate your input.

Thanks
Ross

01-08-2011, 12:16 PM   #2
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You can use your 280T in Auto mode on any camera. The flash has an internal "eye" that evaluates the exposure and turns off the flash when the exposure is complete. Looking at the back of your flash, you can see two scales a couple of f/stops apart. Set the camera ISO on the flash, and use one of the two apertures indicated on the lens. Some on the forum have found the Auto modes of the flash more accurate than P-TTL, so your exposures should be reasonable. If you are using something like the kit lens with a variable aperture, use a value in the middle of the aperture range. This will keep your exposure close enough to correct in post processing.
01-08-2011, 02:14 PM   #3
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Will the auto mode of the flash work connected to a wireless trigger as opposed to the camera itself?

I still have frequent issues with off camera flash not working the way I think it will... Quite often comes out looking pretty cool... Just not how I expect

Strobist is a great resource but I do find it quite a lot to take in... Need to get everthing on that site put in a book that'll fit in my camera bag to carry round with me...
01-08-2011, 02:50 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by DaveHolmes Quote
Will the auto mode of the flash work connected to a wireless trigger as opposed to the camera itself?...
I tried a couple of quick snaps with the AF280T and my El-Cheapo radio trigger: the sensor on the flash would seem to work even the flash off camera (the mode selector in green or red). Exposures look okish on the camera display, but if I cover the sensor with my finger the result was clearly overexposed.

01-08-2011, 02:56 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by DaveHolmes Quote
Will the auto mode of the flash work connected to a wireless trigger as opposed to the camera itself?

I still have frequent issues with off camera flash not working the way I think it will... Quite often comes out looking pretty cool... Just not how I expect

.
Hi Dave,

Auto mode will work when the flash is being used as a remote, but remember that the exposure sensor is on the flash, not at the camera, so it will fire at the about the same intensity if the flash to subject distance remains constant. If you move closer or farther from the subject with the camera, you can use Ev comp to adjust the exposure.

Scott
01-08-2011, 03:07 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by snostorm Quote
Auto mode will work when the flash is being used as a remote, but remember that the exposure sensor is on the flash, not at the camera, so it will fire at the about the same intensity if the flash to subject distance remains constant. If you move closer or farther from the subject with the camera, you can use Ev comp to adjust the exposure.
Cheers man... If you could explain the whole of the strobist site in terms this easy to understand... I'd buy you beer!!
01-08-2011, 03:11 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by jolepp Quote
I tried a couple of quick snaps with the AF280T and my El-Cheapo radio trigger: the sensor on the flash would seem to work even the flash off camera (the mode selector in green or red). Exposures look okish on the camera display, but if I cover the sensor with my finger the result was clearly overexposed.
Cheers jolepp... Mine are chinese cheapos... will try some stuff after weds... picking up the tamron 17-50 then too! Whoop!
01-08-2011, 03:21 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Yukoner777 Quote
Hi all
I've been doing a lot of reading lately about off-camera flashes and wireless triggers for my K-X, and am also part way through Strobist 101. I currently have an AF280T which does not work with PTTL, so I would have to adjust it manually. Admittedly, I haven't yet done much experimenting with it.

My question is, when using manual flash how long does it take to get set up for a shoot - say for instance a family portrait? I assume that once the flash(s) and camera are set, I don't have to mess with them anymore except maybe to do some tweeking to get the exposure right.

But if it was a kid's birthday party where I have to move around, would using a manual flash mean I'd be adjusting on the fly, moving the flash/stand, and missing photo opportunities? Or is there some way to adjust the off-camera flash (perhaps bouncing off the ceiling) where I wouldn't have to be concerned about changing the settings (provided I was in the same general area)?

Maybe I've answered some of my own questions, but I'd appreciate your input.

Thanks
Ross
Hi Ross,

As Albert has stated, the AF 280T has an Auto mode. If used on camera, each of the ISO/aperture combinations have an associated range of distances that go with them respectively. Within the given range, it should give you reasonable exposure. In a private home, you'll probably be able to set up the flash in one of the two ranges, then not have to change anything.

I'd use it on camera for any event like a party. Auto mode works best this way, and bounce flash with a good diffuser and/or bounce card (I like the Demb Flip it with clear diffuser) is easy to use and gives good results

People inevitably run into things like stands, even the small ones set on a table (where they're also vulnerable to spills) -- I learned this early on and like to keep my gear in my hand whenever there are a lot of people milling about.

I'd try some experimenting with it with family members before you need to use it at a one-time event. You'll gain some insight into exactly what kind of subject to camera distances will give you exposures that you like, and where you might need to compensate. The film is free. . .even if you don't have any human subjects, you can just shoot the furniture and get a reasonable idea of how it will expose at different distances and the look that you'll get from different bounce angles. I bought a mannequin head from a resale shop for $5 just to do this kind of testing without having to bother anyone whenever I came up with a new idea I wanted to try. . .

Shooting with confidence in the way your gear will perform in a given sutation is more than 50% of the battle, IMO.

Scott

01-08-2011, 04:58 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by DaveHolmes Quote
Will the auto mode of the flash work connected to a wireless trigger as opposed to the camera itself?

I still have frequent issues with off camera flash not working the way I think it will... Quite often comes out looking pretty cool... Just not how I expect

Strobist is a great resource but I do find it quite a lot to take in... Need to get everthing on that site put in a book that'll fit in my camera bag to carry round with me...
Also remember that if you used that unit as a SECOND flash, in addition to let's say the pop-up, you would get way overexposure:

Each flash thinks it's the only one responsible for lighting the scene, and together, they would give you like twice the light you need.

The auto eyes on the non-P-TTL flashes are great when shooting on the move like at a party or other casual shooting where flash to camera distance is going to be constantly changing dramatically. But if you're going to set up for serious work, you might as well play with full manual to come up with the right F stop and flash power setting, if your flash offers you options other than full power. (Half power, quarter power, etc.)
01-08-2011, 05:15 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ira Quote
Also remember that if you used that unit as a SECOND flash, in addition to let's say the pop-up, you would get way overexposure: Each flash thinks it's the only one responsible for lighting the scene, and together, they would give you like twice the light you need.
That does explain a few things...

It would be helpful if there was a "2nd Flash" switch on them for exactly this reason...
01-08-2011, 05:40 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by snostorm Quote
Hi Dave,

Auto mode will work when the flash is being used as a remote, but remember that the exposure sensor is on the flash, not at the camera, so it will fire at the about the same intensity if the flash to subject distance remains constant. If you move closer or farther from the subject with the camera, you can use Ev comp to adjust the exposure.

Scott
Not necessary. Camera-subject distance is irrelevant to exposure. And if EV comp does it by adjusting the shutter speed, it wouldn't be adjusting for the flash anyway, only the ambient light.

QuoteOriginally posted by Ira Quote
Also remember that if you used that unit as a SECOND flash, in addition to let's say the pop-up, you would get way overexposure:

Each flash thinks it's the only one responsible for lighting the scene, and together, they would give you like twice the light you need.
Sometimes, but not always. Another common occurrence when using two flashes each trying to do auto-exposure is that one of them doesn't fire at all. Every now and then you get both to fire and get a correct exposure out of the deal. The main point, though, is that it is unreliable, unpredictable, and a pain in the butt.

To the OP:

The AF280T is great for what it is best at, which is the ability to bounce/swivel, and give good exposures in auto modes. As mentioned earlier in the thread, at parties and such gatherings where the action is moving around, keep the flash on your camera and be very conscientious about keeping the head pointed at the ceiling.

The AF280T is less great for shooting in manual modes, of which it only has two. For most off-camera Strobist-style shooting you would be better served by something with more manual power levels. Bounce/swivel are nice, but not necessary. One use where the AF280T is really nice is bouncing in an umbrella. You just turn it so the front of the flash (sensor) is facing your subject, turn the flash head around backwards to it faces the umbrella, and you have a nice quick setup for simple auto-exposure umbrella shots.

Last edited by Mike Cash; 01-08-2011 at 05:59 PM.
01-08-2011, 07:41 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Yukoner777 Quote
But if it was a kid's birthday party where I have to move around, would using a manual flash mean I'd be adjusting on the fly, moving the flash/stand, and missing photo opportunities? Or is there some way to adjust the off-camera flash (perhaps bouncing off the ceiling) where I wouldn't have to be concerned about changing the settings (provided I was in the same general area)?

A good basic plan for shooting in a room where you and your subjects move around:

Strobist: Christmas Game Plan: Results

You can use one flash instead of two, but obviously with different coverage. The upper shelves of book cases are good spots to put flashes, much less danger of being knocked over or otherwise messed with than stands, especially with rampaging children.
01-08-2011, 09:09 PM   #13
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Thanks all for your replies. I want to respond to some of your points individually, but can't seem to figure out how to quote a small portion of your posts (rather than the whole post).

An example of what I want to do is in the recent post "Which would you use . . . M or Av?", post #10.

Last edited by Yukoner777; 01-08-2011 at 09:18 PM. Reason: Clarification
01-08-2011, 09:41 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Yukoner777 Quote
Thanks all for your replies. I want to respond to some of your points individually, but can't seem to figure out how to quote a small portion of your posts (rather than the whole post).

An example of what I want to do is in the recent post "Which would you use . . . M or Av?", post #10.
Click "Multiquote" on each post you want to reply to, then click "Post Reply" at the bottom of the page.
01-08-2011, 10:26 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by snostorm Quote
Shooting with confidence in the way your gear will perform in a given sutation is more than 50% of the battle, IMO.

Scott
I'm gonna have to tear myself away from the computer and start shooting.

QuoteOriginally posted by Mike Cash Quote
Sometimes, but not always. Another common occurrence when using two flashes each trying to do auto-exposure is that one of them doesn't fire at all. Every now and then you get both to fire and get a correct exposure out of the deal. The main point, though, is that it is unreliable, unpredictable, and a pain in the butt.
Is that only a problem when the flashes are in auto mode? I thought the wireless trigger would make the flash fire no matter what.

QuoteOriginally posted by Mike Cash Quote
The AF280T is less great for shooting in manual modes, of which it only has two. For most off-camera Strobist-style shooting you would be better served by something with more manual power levels.
Well if the manual mode is not complicated to set up for a shoot then maybe I'll look at getting one or two with wider manual control, as it looks like some of them come pretty cheap. It seems to be the PTTL compatible flashes that cost big bucks.

QuoteOriginally posted by BrianR Quote
A good basic plan for shooting in a room where you and your subjects move around:

Strobist: Christmas Game Plan: Results

You can use one flash instead of two, but obviously with different coverage. The upper shelves of book cases are good spots to put flashes, much less danger of being knocked over or otherwise messed with than stands, especially with rampaging children.
Good article. And clamping onto shelves or something else out of the way is a great idea.
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