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02-09-2011, 05:52 AM   #1
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I need a crash course - using the flash??

Hi, I would just like some quick info on using the flash (I have a K-x with the 18-55 kit lens). In many situations I have found myself avoiding the use of the flash, because quite often my subjects (usually people's faces) will look like flashlights pointing right back at me. However, when I avoid using the flash and try to play around with other things (such as EV compensation, increased aperture openings, or lower shutter speeds) - I can't quite get everything to be lighted or exposed as I would like.

Scenario examples - if in the shade (outdoors) or in a dimly lit indoor situation (museums for example) - if I'm photographing people and their faces have no light on them, I have not been able to get their faces to expose or "light" properly. Then I will turn to using the flash, and I am always really disappointed at how brightly lit their faces are. Is this where using the flash compensation comes in handy? I actually have no idea how to use this setting and perhaps I need to learn. Thanks for any info you can give.

02-09-2011, 07:23 AM   #2
Ira
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The on camera flash is pretty poor. Too harsh.

If you want to stay in the auto modes you've been using and still play with it, put a little piece of lens tissue over the flash to soften the light.

For better exposure WITHOUT flash, change your metering to "spot" and get your reading from the person's face. (You may have to hit "AE Lock" to lock in that reading if you change the composition, and the center point of the frame is no longer on the person's face.)

In other words, spot metering will meter only for a tiny, tiny circle in the center of the viewfinder, and ignore everything else in the scene. So if you want to get the face perfect, make sure the center is on the face, lock it in via AE lock if you change the composition (because after changing it, NOW your center point may be on a dark leaf!), and pull the trigger.

It's a little tricky, and this is why a lot of us shoot in Manual mode. We get our meter reading off the part of the scene we want to best expose for, and since we're in Manual, we can reframe the picture and the setting doesn't change.

I use Center Weighted more than Spot (never Multi-Segment), because Spot is VERY specific. If you're shooting a face, and the guy has a dark mustache, you might get your reading for the mustache and not the skin!!!
02-09-2011, 07:48 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ira Quote
The on camera flash is pretty poor. Too harsh.

If you want to stay in the auto modes you've been using and still play with it, put a little piece of lens tissue over the flash to soften the light.
For the record, this won't "soften" the light, only make less of it. Softness is due to the relative size of the light source. The bigger the light source appears to be to the subject, the softer the light.
02-09-2011, 07:58 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by enoeske Quote
For the record, this won't "soften" the light, only make less of it. Softness is due to the relative size of the light source. The bigger the light source appears to be to the subject, the softer the light.
No. It also diffuses it by spreading the beams as they reflect off the fibers.

02-09-2011, 08:04 AM   #5
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A bounce flash has been already mentioned and the Forum has posted recently two detailed reviews of flash:
Metz-58 Mecablitz Flash Review | DSLR Flashes | PentaxForums.com
PENTAX AF200FG Flash Review | Pentax Flash Units | PentaxForums.com

The other option consists in using a fast prime lens with a large aperture (or low f): e.g, a 50mm f1.4. The large aperture lenses allow you to shoot without flash even in dim lights.

Personally I like to use a fast prime to shoot children who can be too often surprised by the flash.

Hope that the comment will help....
02-09-2011, 08:10 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ira Quote
No. It also diffuses it by spreading the beams as they reflect off the fibers.
The light is already traveling in every direction from the flash bulb. Placing anything over that just cuts down on the light transmittance, making the flash less effective. This might appear to be "softening" but in reality is just less power.

The gary phong diffusers work by spreading the light around the room and using the room's wall and ceiling as the effective light source. Since the walls and ceiling are large, the light appears soft.

Just did a test for you:

One of these 2 has a piece of tissue over the flash, but can you figure out which one?





Here's the same shot, in natural light (white curtain over window), then with bounced flash




Last edited by enoeske; 02-09-2011 at 08:45 AM.
02-09-2011, 09:30 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by slr_neophyte Quote
Hi, I would just like some quick info on using the flash (I have a K-x with the 18-55 kit lens).
I would suggest an external flash that has bounce and/or swivel capabilities.

A cheap Bower brand (also marketed under different names) with 2 auto modes and a manual mode costs $39.99. It works fine for casual use. Any direct flash is not so good, but if you can bounce it, it will help.

The tissue trick requires that you crumple up the paper or napkin into a loose ball, and tape it to the front of your pop up. That effectively makes a larger flash area, with less power, but it is a losing battle there...
.
02-10-2011, 11:32 AM   #8
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If the flash tries to do all the lighting by itself, the photo will not look that great, especially when it's the camera's own popup flash. You can try a few techniques to reduce the flash's contribution to the photo, balancing it with ambient light. (If you have little or no ambient light, these techniques don't work.)
  • Reduce flash exposure compensation. I always try this because it seems like it should directly do exactly what I want. It never really works for me, and I don't know why.
  • Use the slow-speed sync setting. Often, this automatically does exactly what I want, and is definitely worth trying. With people as a subject, you have to be careful about subject movement. The setting tells the camera it's OK to use slow shutter speeds to let in enough light to capture the background. But if the shutter speed is too low, people will move while the shutter is open. The flash will freeze some of this movement but they'll have a ghostly aura or double image.
  • Sometimes just raising ISO works well. The flash figures out that it doesn't have to work that hard, better than if you simply tell it by reducing flash EC.
  • Use manual mode. I haven't really gotten this to work 100% but I know it should. So I'm not going to make suggestions that are possibly wrong.


02-10-2011, 03:00 PM   #9
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On camera pop up flash iTTL.
These things are way under rated. I use mine a lot. You just need to know when not to.



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