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Thread: A900 Newbie Flash Question

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    A900 Newbie Flash Question

    Hello all. I'm about to receive an A900 this Thursday and have a question about Sony's Pre-flash TTL system.

    When using bounce flash with a dedicated Sony flash, I've read that Sony goes to pre-flash TTL mode. My question is how accurate is the system in getting exposures correct, especially when used with white or dark subjects like a bride and/or groom in a wedding? Any tips? Is there a flash exposure lock?


    Regards,
    George

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    Re: A900 Newbie Flash Question

    It works as well as can be expected, e.g. you need to apply comp if there is a lot of black or a lot of white in the frame. You can adjust ambient and flash compensation on separate scales using the quick-navi system. It's pretty straightforward.
    α900+VG|F20|2xF58|16-35,24-70,135Z|STF|70-400G|50,85 1.4|16,20,28,100M,80-200APO f/2.8|28-135|500f/8|1x-3xMacro|2xMFC-1000|Tiltall+RRS, Bellows, etc.

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    Re: A900 Newbie Flash Question

    Thanks Dave. One more question. Is pre-flash TTL exposure biased towards focus point used?

    Regards,
    George

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    Re: A900 Newbie Flash Question

    No, I don't think it is, I think it just uses whatever metering mode you have selected, e.g. matrix/center/spot.
    α900+VG|F20|2xF58|16-35,24-70,135Z|STF|70-400G|50,85 1.4|16,20,28,100M,80-200APO f/2.8|28-135|500f/8|1x-3xMacro|2xMFC-1000|Tiltall+RRS, Bellows, etc.

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    Re: A900 Newbie Flash Question

    Dave is correct.

    I find the A58 lacking in bounce flash, at least compared to the Metz 54. Even with the white bounce card, it is very difficult to get a proper light mix, short of using a diffuser. The Metz has its own front fill flash. This, combined with automatic non-TTL thyristor metering, results in much more pleasant results.

    I wish every flash had this option.

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    Re: A900 Newbie Flash Question

    Dave,

    Thanks guys. Just got the kit and the battery on the A900 is charging. I'll test out the flash this weekend but it's good to know pre-flash TTL is not biased towards focus points. I focus and recompose a lot.

    Regards,
    George

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    Re: A900 Newbie Flash Question

    gsking, I was using a non dedicated flash with my D700 and it was working well for me as well. I'll give the 58 a go and see how things turn out. I need to buy a flash adapter to use my thyristor controlled flashes on the A900.

    Regards,
    George

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    Re: A900 Newbie Flash Question

    I'm using the 58 to shoot weddings ... all types of lighting conditions ... thousands of shots.

    Previously used a Nikon D3X and SB900 ... and prior to that a Canon 1DsMKIII and 580EX.

    The Sony is just as accurate, and in some cases better (less underexposed shots compared to the Canon).

    I have a Metz 54 with Sony module ... I do not agree that it's better ... in fact I think it's worse, very inconsistent results in fast changing lighting.

    For quick work compensating flash you can set the A900 "C" button to directly bring up the flash compensation on the LCD. Very fast.

    Like all newer flashes with limiters built in, take care when firing bursts in warm weather ... it'll shut down on you just like a SB900 or Canon 380EX will.

    Bad part ... no built-in sync port to fire Pocket Wizards for off-camera supplemental flash and no equivalent of a Canon STE2 or Nikon SU800 Commander to do off-camera flash. You have to use a flash in the shoe to fire other flashes, and setting the camera to do that is a huge PITA when shooting in hectic situations.

    -Marc

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    Re: A900 Newbie Flash Question

    Marc,

    Got to try out the 58 today and it is sweet. I really like the ability to rotate the flash head 90 degrees for portrait shots. ADI is very accurate even with white and black subjects.

    I configured the "C" button as you suggested and it does make for very easy compensation. I'm a little disappointed that bounce shots come out darker than I expected, even with very neutral subjects and backgrounds but I can easily compensate.

    Do you have a recommended diffuser for the 58?

    George

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    Re: A900 Newbie Flash Question

    Quote Originally Posted by goonygoogoo View Post
    Marc,

    Got to try out the 58 today and it is sweet. I really like the ability to rotate the flash head 90 degrees for portrait shots. ADI is very accurate even with white and black subjects.

    I configured the "C" button as you suggested and it does make for very easy compensation. I'm a little disappointed that bounce shots come out darker than I expected, even with very neutral subjects and backgrounds but I can easily compensate.

    Do you have a recommended diffuser for the 58?

    George
    Yes, you can get underexposure using bounce, depending on how you tend to shoot, where the bounce surface is, and what meter pattern you are using.

    However, I found that to be true for any flash on any camera ... except the type of flashes like Metz that have a secondary forward flash ... but that only works well when you are closer to the subject. Sometimes secondary flash can cause overexposure of really close subjects if you don't ride the secondary compensation switch or use the clip-on ND filter (which I lose every time I shoot a wedding with one )

    IMO, an overexposed foreground is harder to correct in post than a slight over-all underexposure ... especially with a wedding dress in the scene. A plus 0.07 bounce compensation on the 58 usually works for my typical focal length and distance to subject scenarios and can also depend on which diffuser you are using ... otherwise I ride the "C" button based on "best guess" experience.

    When shooting in conditions where flash is important to getting the shots, like at an indoor wedding reception, I use manual on the camera and TTL on the flash. The flash is always set to second shutter.

    I tend to "drag" the shutter" ... meaning I set a shutter speed and aperture to open up the ambient lit backgrounds and let the flash figure out the foreground exposure and freeze the action (up to a point, depending on shutter speed).

    I usually have 4 different diffusers in my wedding gear bag: the Omni-Bounce type diffuser that usually comes with the flash, A Mila Grid, a LumiQuest bounce diffuser made for Metz (Metz 54-23, which I found holds up better under punishment than the other similar LumiQuest ones I've owned), and a Gary Fong folding diffuser with diffuser dome. I use the Fong diffuser with white translucent dome the most since I tend to shoot rather close up and personal.

    -Marc

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    Re: A900 Newbie Flash Question

    I used to get very good results with this setup. I'm thinking of trying to set up something similar for the a900, but I'm not sure if the on-camera F58 lights the scene when in control mode(I guess I could take 5 minutes and experiment ) One of these days I'll get around to digitizing some of the shots I captured with this setup...



    For vertical orientation compositions -- bracket was sized to allow the on-camera flash to bounce past the smaller flash:

    α900+VG|F20|2xF58|16-35,24-70,135Z|STF|70-400G|50,85 1.4|16,20,28,100M,80-200APO f/2.8|28-135|500f/8|1x-3xMacro|2xMFC-1000|Tiltall+RRS, Bellows, etc.

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    Re: A900 Newbie Flash Question

    Dave, that is a awesome looking setup. Did you modify a stock flash grip to get the heights right or is this a straight custom job?

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    Re: A900 Newbie Flash Question

    Thanks Goony, it's a one-off, scratch-built. I used it in ratio mode, 2:1 (bounced:direct). As long as I remembered to compensate for very light or very dark subjects, this setup gave me lighting that often looked almost as good as studio lighting(to most people) in a handheld package. The TTL-OTF system on the 7000i/8000i had very good fill/backlight performance and this rig put it over the top for handheld event-type photography IMHO. I think one of the reasons it worked so well is the relatively large/powerful forward-facing 3200i, especially compared to the Metz mentioned above, plus the finer control. Whenever the bounce wasn't quite enough(high/dark ceiling) the 3200i took up the slack; worst case I would get a shot that looked a bit more like typical on-camera flash than the other shots, but still better than with a single forward-facing flash.

    These bodies had locator pins in the bottom plate that I utilized to stabilize the bracket:



    The threaded hole served dual-duty; I could mount the rig on a tripod if desired but mostly it provided a storage spot to keep the screw from getting lost when the bracket was detached from the camera.



    I've done a little reading up and it seems the F42 is the only flash smaller than the F58 that can be controlled in ratio mode, though the very confusing F58 owner manual and Gary Freidman's book seem to disagree on this.

    Unless something more like the 3200i shown above is announced at PMA I will probably get the F42 and start figuring something out. The a900 only has a single hole on the base plate that can be used by a locating pin, so I'm thinking along the lines of a second flash bracket that would attach to the left side dovetail of an RRS L-plate(which is on my list to get soon anyway). The basic design layout is going to have to be re-thought if I'm going to use an F42, since it's so much taller -- maybe have the bracket swoop down from the camera body to a handle that would then mount the F42. It may not be possible due to the way the F58 shifts for portrait shooting, though it may be that simply moving the F42 forward would get it out of the way.

    I may rent an F42 and see if I can get the behavior that I want before buying another flashgun. I have 6 iISO flashes already not counting the ring flashes, though the i series only work in manual mode, wired or via flash zebra. That's plenty for just about any amateur shooting I can forsee doing in the near future, but if I need to spring for another flash to duplicate the above rig I'll do it. I know it can be done with my second F58 but it's just too big.
    α900+VG|F20|2xF58|16-35,24-70,135Z|STF|70-400G|50,85 1.4|16,20,28,100M,80-200APO f/2.8|28-135|500f/8|1x-3xMacro|2xMFC-1000|Tiltall+RRS, Bellows, etc.

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    Re: A900 Newbie Flash Question

    Dave,

    Post some pictures from the setup if available. I am very intrigued by this setup.

    George

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    Re: A900 Newbie Flash Question

    The better shots that I have taken with this rig are somewhere in the mound of slides and negatives that I am still sorting out to eventually digitize. I can show better images eventually, but I wanted to show something now while the subject is fresh. I do have some shots from a 1999 Xmas party that I had transferred to PhotoCD at the time of development. Unfortunately the camera back was opened mid-roll and it fogged the roll but I think you can still make out the lighting despite the generally horrible quality.

    Unfortunately it seems that ratio cannot be used when flashes are cabled together as in the above setup, so wireless would have to be used, or an ND gel on the forward-facing unit. Relying on wireless might present some problems; certainly I would have to avoid covering the receiver on the forward-facing unit. On the plus side, instead of having only 2:1 ratio as an option I could set 4:1, 8:1, etc. Based on the pics below I think 3:1 would be about right.

    This first photo shows the "gee-whiz" reaction that I would sometimes get with the setup... especially when everyone else had, if anything, tiny pocket P&S cams:



    In this shot you can make out the reflection of the two flashes in the picture on the wall.



    Three stooges...



    Picked up a broad range of tones relatively well...



    This one is right at the transition from crappy to unusable in the roll, but enough of it is good that you can see the effectiveness in vertical orientation. I held the camera with the grip at the bottom cradled in my hand so the forward facing flash would be above the lens, with my index finger stabilizing the lens from underneath and my thumb operating the shutter. The tilt may have been at least partly alcohol-induced.

    α900+VG|F20|2xF58|16-35,24-70,135Z|STF|70-400G|50,85 1.4|16,20,28,100M,80-200APO f/2.8|28-135|500f/8|1x-3xMacro|2xMFC-1000|Tiltall+RRS, Bellows, etc.

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    Re: A900 Newbie Flash Question

    Hmmm, on these examples, the drop shadows to the side of the subject would be a problem for me.

    I already get to much of that from the 58 in portrait orientation ... so I turn the camera to place the flash on the opposite side of the prevailing ambient light direction. Other than that you have to get the flash up high enough to drop the shadow behind the subject ... or get it off the camera.

    -Marc

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    Re: A900 Newbie Flash Question

    Yes, for an amateur taking snapshots this is a lot better than a single flashgun and "good enough", from what I've seen of your work I understand why it wouldn't fly for a well-paid wedding gig. This was a compromise since I didn't want a big gangly flash arm, I wanted a fairly compact rig. As I mentioned before, the flashes I was using were limited to 2:1 ratio and I think 3:1 or 4:1 would work better for precisely this reason. Could go as high as 16:1, and at that point I think the shadow would fade to obscurity but might not be enough to fill in the "racoon eyes" from bounce. I could try it out easily enough with a couple of F58s, holding the second one. If I like the results I'll take the next step.
    α900+VG|F20|2xF58|16-35,24-70,135Z|STF|70-400G|50,85 1.4|16,20,28,100M,80-200APO f/2.8|28-135|500f/8|1x-3xMacro|2xMFC-1000|Tiltall+RRS, Bellows, etc.

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    Re: A900 Newbie Flash Question

    Dave, thanks for posting the samples. The shadows on the side would be a problem for me and this has actually dampened my enthusiasm for the 58 flash as it isn't a solution to replace a flash bracket.

    But back to your rig. I actually think that if you modified it where you have a small flash capable of bounce flash, it would work better on the handle mount while using the camera mounted flash facing forward. For verticals, you would set up the flashes as you have depicted in your picture.

    Regards,

    George

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    Re: A900 Newbie Flash Question

    Well, to be fair, none of those were taken with the F58.

    You make a good point though, with the forward-facing flash on-axis the shadows would go straight down and would not be so distracting. When I first put this rig together in the late 80's it was a huge improvement over the flat on-camera flash, I liked most of the results and so did others. It was easy for me to look at the lighting on a subject's face and ignore extraneous shadows, but I understand at your level that's what you get paid the big bucks to AVOID.

    Thinking back, the better images I've captured with the setup had very dark backgrounds so no shadows. In such cases I think the direct flash coming from an angle looks better than the flat straight-on flash, but then the old gear was pretty limited. There were no TTL ratios other than 1:1 and 2:1. For more careful portrait work I had a rickety umbrella setup that, with a bit of creativity, was another step up.

    I have rarely shot groups/events in the past 10 years, and then used mostly a P&S(yes, you have an amateur/hobbyist in your midst ) so so I can't discount the possibility that my memory is a bit better than the reality.

    What I'm thinking at this point is that the better ratio control with the f58s plus your suggestion might lead to some interesting experiments. First, as I've mentioned, being able to set the direct flash to 1/4, 1/8 or 1/16 relative to the bounce may help a lot. Also with both F58s mounted approximately as shown above, I could try it both ways(swapping the direct/bounce roles) and in portrait mode the side-mounted flash could be rotated almost directly above the lens AND be used as the direct flash. All I really need to test this is a flat plate and a couple of short 1/4-20 screws, I have everything else. I'll have to improvise a subject since my wife only hates one thing more than being photographed -- and that's having her photograph posted in the net.
    α900+VG|F20|2xF58|16-35,24-70,135Z|STF|70-400G|50,85 1.4|16,20,28,100M,80-200APO f/2.8|28-135|500f/8|1x-3xMacro|2xMFC-1000|Tiltall+RRS, Bellows, etc.

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    Re: A900 Newbie Flash Question

    Dave, that's exactly the same result you get much easier with a Metz....without lugging around two flashes. Plus, as you mentioned, since the forward flash is inline with the camera (at least in landscape mode), you don't get an offset shadow.

    Marc, I didn't imply the Metz had better exposure control than the 58, but then, I've never had exposure problems with either of them. I just said it was nigh impossible to get proper light balance in bounce mode with the 58 without a diffuser. (I should try one, since I have many. )

    I just find the Metz so much easier to use when I'm going to be all-indoors. I leave it in A-mode. The 58 goes outdoors, where it's got more power, better control, easier HSS, and can take my battery pack.

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    Re: A900 Newbie Flash Question

    I did look at the Metz, downloaded the user manuals for the 54 MZ-41 and the Metz 58, and found no indication that either would work in ratio mode(or at all for that matter) with the newer Sony control protocols. I researched this fairly extensively before buying, and the new control protocols have been modified to reduce "lazy-eye" issues. With the price of the Sony and Metz units being so close I just went with the Sony. As far as I can tell the ratio adjustments available with the Metz(ratio between bounce &fill) are very limited compared to what can be achieved with a pair of F58s. I also wanted to be able to control two flashes off-camera with an F20(choosing P-TTL or manual as needed) and I found no info at all to indicate whether this was possible with the Metz units. I also felt that having a larger reflector for the fill light would be less harsh. For situations where I would only want a single flash I have had decent results in the past with a bounce card so I'll try that too. The shot below was taken with the F58 and built-in bounce card -- not too bad, really:



    The problem with bounce cards is you get what you get -- changing the ratio is more involved than just pushing a few buttons.
    α900+VG|F20|2xF58|16-35,24-70,135Z|STF|70-400G|50,85 1.4|16,20,28,100M,80-200APO f/2.8|28-135|500f/8|1x-3xMacro|2xMFC-1000|Tiltall+RRS, Bellows, etc.

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    Re: A900 Newbie Flash Question

    Dave,

    So the German-translated manuals scared you off. Figures....it does that to most people.

    Good point...on the A900, you get many more features with the 58 than with the Metz(es). I'm limited to the A700, so I lose little. And I do limited wireless these days. Metz has no ratio modes, but it does work cross-platform, and plays nice with studio lights as a hairlight. And it will do wireless control (using its own thyristor) even on my Mamiyas.

    Yeah, that's the result I get with my 58. I prefer a stronger fill, but I think my tastes lean to the "harsh highlight" end of the range. Or so my wife says...

    I have the slip-on diffuser mittens which seemed to work well...I should try them some more. I also got some of the big inflatable ones...but they seem too unwieldy.

    Greg

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    Re: A900 Newbie Flash Question

    George, to touch on your original inquiry a bit more ... or rather a lot more

    I primarily use a 35mm DSLR to shoot weddings (since you mentioned weddings). In that pursuit, I've used just about every on-camera and off-camera flash system out there. My current set-up is the A900 and shoe mounted 58 flash. My off-camera kit is totally different and uses bare-bulb flashes.

    Weddings represent one of the most demanding uses of flash I can think of because you can face just about every ambient lighting situation there is at any given time. (See attached samples).

    I personally do not know any wedding photographer that does not modify on-camera flash, except perhaps in one circumstance: longer lenses at distance.

    The reason I carry a number of different modifiers is for use in those widely variable ambient conditions. They are easy to carry because most fold flat. None of them are expensive considering what they add to the camera/flash capabilities.

    Almost all of the flash modifiers use a combination of bounce while throwing light forward ... different ones do that in different degrees. The reason for forward light is that just ceiling bounce alone can lead to downward shadows in eye sockets, and uneven light spread top to bottom.

    When using these types of dual direction modifiers, a straight on secondary forward flash becomes redundant, unless one wants specular light on the subject ... which for closer shots, no woman on planet Earth is in favor of

    The primary camera technique for using on-camera flash in darker ambient conditions is called "dragging the shutter". The camera is set to Manual and a slower shutter speed plus the fastest aperture possible based on DOF needs is used to open up the background ... while the flash is set to TTL to light the foreground subject and use the short duration of flash exposure to freeze the action (up to a point). Setting 1/50th shutter verses 1/200th shutter has no effect on the foreground exposure because the flash duration is much faster than any flash sync speed on the camera ... but 1/200th shutter will most likely turn the ambient background into a wall of black.

    What is the objective of this? For me it is simply to balance the light between the ambient and artificial "assist" to keep the tonal values with-in the camera's dynamic range ... while trying to make it look as if flash wasn't used as much as possible ... even when using straight-on, shoe mount flash. With weddings you are dealing with extremes in many images and the objective is to hold detail in brights and darks ... especially dress detail (like the sample below of the B&G dancing and the Bride's elaborate Spanish wedding dress). Off-camera directional flash is a whole other subject.

    Here are some samples of varying ambient conditions that dictated manditory on-camera flash with different modifiers or camera/flash settings. A couple of back-lit examples using balanced fill (Bride at mirror & Bride/little girl in window), some where the ambient was almost none existent (kiss @ fountain shot after sunset in November, Flower Girl reading in church, Guy "admiring" beauties at bar) ... to some ambient, but not helpful as to its direction (B&G dancing, Kids posing in chairs).

    In short, flash technique and modifiers have become more important than rigging as digital cameras have become more capable of ISOs in the range of 500 to 1000 ... which with good lighting the A900 is quite able to do well. To repeat, off-camera flash is a whole other subject.

    Hope this helps a little.

    -Marc

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    Re: A900 Newbie Flash Question

    BTW, in addition to the diffuser that comes with the flash (which is almost useless, and oddly seem to cause underexposure), here are some of the flash modifiers I carry with me to a wedding ... most fit in the front pocket of my bag except the Gary Fong one which I leave on the 58 flash in its folded configuration (I also carry the Fong white-translucent dome that snaps into the front of this LSC 01 for low ceilings and directly pointing at the subject). There are two types of Mila Grid diffusers (BG2 and PG2), one allows more upward light for bounce when the ceiling is higher.

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...Flash_Diffuser.

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc..._Diffuser.html

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...rted_Dome.html

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...unce_Card.html

    Here are some other modifiers of interest:

    This Demb product solves the issues of a straight bounce card by providing tilt capability for different situations:

    http://www.dembflashproducts.com/

    Then there are the Better Bounce solutions ... which is an interesting read (I've not tried these products myself yet):

    http://www.abetterbouncecard.com/

    http://www.presslite.com/flashdiffuser.php

    These are so simple you could easily make your own.


    -Marc

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    Re: A900 Newbie Flash Question

    Sorry, I forgot to include an illustration of flash freezing action even with a slower shutter speed (i.e., Dragging the Shutter).

    This was shot at 1/30th shutter which opened up the background in low light, while the short flash duration froze the action.

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    Re: A900 Newbie Flash Question

    Don't know if I can help, I'm not a Sony shooter but I am a wedding shooter.

    The examples that Dave has shown was pretty much what I used to get in the past when shooting with metz bounced and the second 'fill' flash light on the front. Not that great which is why I quickly switched to the Lightsphere.

    The Lightsphere gives a very nice wrap around light and an almost indiscernible shadow if at all when working in typical 'house' sized rooms where the light can bounce off lots of surfaces. It still gives a softer and more wrapped light even in big halls when used with the 'lid' which I never ever took off. Basically you are both quadrupling the flash surface, putting the light even higher up and also bouncing off any available surface including the guy standing next to you or the curtain behind you, etc.

    I stopped using it for a couple of reasons. Firstly the light is a bit too 'nice'. Now that is going to sound strange! I did however want a more moody and more importantly more directional type of flash lighting for a mix between natural and off camera look, but with the fill coming from on camera. What I mean is that I can bounce at a 45 degree angle but still have the fill from on camera, a type of lighting I use a lot for wedding work including outdoors (when I use two lights).

    Using the Demb bounce card I get as much light thrown forward as I choose, I can adjust how much exactly from very light fill to all the light going forward (for outdoors), I lose far less light than with the lightsphere, can create directional light, the bounce card is hugely portable rather than the large and not very bendy lightsphere, oh and it doesn't screw up your flash head after a few months like the lightsphere used to. Makes the whole rig much less unwieldy too.

    So far so good. But now for the problem I ran into. You cannot rotate the flash head to either the right OR left with fill without also rotating the bounce card. Try it in vertical and you have to rotate the camera! Not the kind of issue you want to deal with mid wedding. Try it and you will see what I mean.

    Enter the Demb Bracket. Now I hate brackets. With a passion. However this bracket is different. Firstly you can swivel the flash without having to press any buttons, just push and it slides into place. Secondly you can position the flash at any and every angle you could possibly want until it either hits the camera or your fingers. That means that in a room where I want to choose which surface to bounce the flash off, I can choose, in either horizonal or vertical, any angle I want. I don't know of any other bracket/card combo in existence that can do this and certainly none which are so light, so easy to use and just so useable in the field.

    You do lose certain things, you have to cope with flash off camera cords (which I hate), a bracket (I still hate having to use one), losing the vertical shutter release (I miss that a lot, I find it far more steady), it's not nice at all to use on tripod, etc.

    However, at least with the canon and nikon flash systems, I can bounce my flash wherever I want and with as little or as much fill as I want, with the minimum amount of hassle using the Demb Bracket and Demb bounce Card for a 'non on camera flash' look to the lighting.

    I know that most of this might have gone over the heads of all those not really really good at envisioning what I'm talking about but it really is an interesting and real world way to have direct flash control for directional lighting without being hamstrung in a fast moving and time limited environment without using a two flash system.

    Here is a photo from my first wedding using the bracket/bouncecard system, the flash is bounced off the wall/ceiling to the left while the card gives a hint of fill. You can see a bit of shadow but it's far less of a 'flash look', more natural because it's not coming from the on camera axis.


    If you don't need directional flash and just want a softer and more pleasing but still pretty controllable flash solution, I can't recommend the Demb Flash Card enough and that goes for the owner too whom I've had long email conversations with and who is more than helpful. The price is very good too.
    Last edited by Ben Rubinstein; 14th January 2010 at 05:35.
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

    Website: http://www.timelessjewishart.com

  27. #27
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    Re: A900 Newbie Flash Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Rubinstein View Post
    Don't know if I can help, I'm not a Sony shooter but I am a wedding shooter.

    The examples that Dave has shown was pretty much what I used to get in the past when shooting with metz bounced and the second 'fill' flash light on the front. Not that great which is why I quickly switched to the Lightsphere.

    The Lightsphere gives a very nice wrap around light and an almost indiscernible shadow if at all when working in typical 'house' sized rooms where the light can bounce off lots of surfaces. It still gives a softer and more wrapped light even in big halls when used with the 'lid' which I never ever took off. Basically you are both quadrupling the flash surface, putting the light even higher up and also bouncing off any available surface including the guy standing next to you or the curtain behind you, etc.

    I stopped using it for a couple of reasons. Firstly the light is a bit too 'nice'. Now that is going to sound strange! I did however want a more moody and more importantly more directional type of flash lighting for a mix between natural and off camera look, but with the fill coming from on camera. What I mean is that I can bounce at a 45 degree angle but still have the fill from on camera, a type of lighting I use a lot for wedding work including outdoors (when I use two lights).

    Using the Demb bounce card I get as much light thrown forward as I choose, I can adjust how much exactly from very light fill to all the light going forward (for outdoors), I lose far less light than with the lightsphere, can create directional light, the bounce card is hugely portable rather than the large and not very bendy lightsphere, oh and it doesn't screw up your flash head after a few months like the lightsphere used to. Makes the whole rig much less unwieldy too.

    So far so good. But now for the problem I ran into. You cannot rotate the flash head to either the right OR left with fill without also rotating the bounce card. Try it in vertical and you have to rotate the camera! Not the kind of issue you want to deal with mid wedding. Try it and you will see what I mean.

    Enter the Demb Bracket. Now I hate brackets. With a passion. However this bracket is different. Firstly you can swivel the flash without having to press any buttons, just push and it slides into place. Secondly you can position the flash at any and every angle you could possibly want until it either hits the camera or your fingers. That means that in a room where I want to choose which surface to bounce the flash off, I can choose, in either horizonal or vertical, any angle I want. I don't know of any other bracket/card combo in existence that can do this and certainly none which are so light, so easy to use and just so useable in the field.

    You do lose certain things, you have to cope with flash off camera cords (which I hate), a bracket (I still hate having to use one), losing the vertical shutter release (I miss that a lot, I find it far more steady), it's not nice at all to use on tripod, etc.

    However, at least with the canon and nikon flash systems, I can bounce my flash wherever I want and with as little or as much fill as I want, with the minimum amount of hassle using the Demb Bracket and Demb bounce Card for a 'non on camera flash' look to the lighting.

    I know that most of this might have gone over the heads of all those not really really good at envisioning what I'm talking about but it really is an interesting and real world way to have direct flash control for directional lighting without being hamstrung in a fast moving and time limited environment without using a two flash system.

    Here is a photo from my first wedding using the bracket/bouncecard system, the flash is bounced off the wall/ceiling to the left while the card gives a hint of fill. You can see a bit of shadow but it's far less of a 'flash look', more natural because it's not coming from the on camera axis.


    If you don't need directional flash and just want a softer and more pleasing but still pretty controllable flash solution, I can't recommend the Demb Flash Card enough and that goes for the owner too whom I've had long email conversations with and who is more than helpful. The price is very good too.
    Ben, if I understand your concern correctly ... rotating the Sony 58 flash isn't the same as regular flashes ... it is always in the upright position.

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    Re: A900 Newbie Flash Question

    I know the sony flash is different in how the head rotates though I've never seen how in practice, do you know of any diagrams or a video that can demonstrate it to me?

    Many thanks!
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

    Website: http://www.timelessjewishart.com

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    Re: A900 Newbie Flash Question

    OK, found out how the Sony flash works. Yup it would solve the problem in horizontal mode. You can bounce either right or left without having to change the orientation of the bounce card.

    Wouldn't work for vertical though unless you had a bounce card with a swivel from side to side as well as forwards and backwards. Doesn't exist as far as I know but if I know Joe Demb, he'd be interested in making it

    On an aside I'm seriously thinking of trying these new NiZN batteries to do away with the battery pack I have on my belt. I don't know if you saw my thread on the lighting forum about using speedlights instead of strobes and how to build a reflector for them but I really am trying to 'dumb down' the amount of equipment and faff I need to do sophisticated lighting at weddings.
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

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    Re: A900 Newbie Flash Question

    Marc, thanks for the very informative posts. Those grid diffusers look like just the ticket -- though I see the potential for side-shadows in vertical orientation. I don't see evidence of that in your shots though. Is it that the fill is diffused enough to soften the shadows, or is there something else going on? Are these examples of "opposite the prevailing ambient" technique that you mention above?

    Also, the product shots of the MilaGrid units appear to show the strap and the internal diffusers as part of the product. Is that so, or do the pieces have to be ordered individually?

    Ben, interesting bracket -- with the F58 you would have to tape over the slot in the shoe if you want to use HSS, I think. Not sure it works if the flash thinks it's off-camera. The F58 isn't particularly light -- is the bracket up to the demands of using a heavy flash unit?

    Greg, the Geman-translated manuals are no issue... Over the past 6 years I have spent a great deal of time deciphering 30 year-old German-translated repair manuals for the German car I've been restoring so I'm used to it.

    I have to say, the built-in bounce card on the F58 is a lot better than nothing but I'm going to look into the MilaGrid diffusers.
    α900+VG|F20|2xF58|16-35,24-70,135Z|STF|70-400G|50,85 1.4|16,20,28,100M,80-200APO f/2.8|28-135|500f/8|1x-3xMacro|2xMFC-1000|Tiltall+RRS, Bellows, etc.

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    Re: A900 Newbie Flash Question

    BTW, for future readers of this thread, and for Ben in case you missed something, here are some vids that illustrate how the F58 articulates:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKn5Bs1mNaI
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZ4y61ur8vQ

    Actually in vertical mode you can bounce to either side, it just depends on whether you rotate the camera clockwise or counterclockwise from horizontal. It's very quick to do this in either direction. The only thing you can't do, the issue solved with the Demba bracket, is positioning the fill over the lens.
    α900+VG|F20|2xF58|16-35,24-70,135Z|STF|70-400G|50,85 1.4|16,20,28,100M,80-200APO f/2.8|28-135|500f/8|1x-3xMacro|2xMFC-1000|Tiltall+RRS, Bellows, etc.

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    Re: A900 Newbie Flash Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave_Anderson View Post
    Actually in vertical mode you can bounce to either side, it just depends on whether you rotate the camera clockwise or counterclockwise from horizontal. It's very quick to do this in either direction. The only thing you can't do, the issue solved with the Demba bracket, is positioning the fill over the lens.
    Going to watch the videos now.

    Yeah, I call that turning the camera upside down, same thing with the canon, I just can't shoot both ways depending on which way I want to bounce the flash. Just too awkward.

    That said I do like the Sony implementation for versatility though having the entire control panel on a 45 degree might be weird for a bit

    Keeping the fill over the lens isn't really important, I don't want the fill that on axis to be honest, the more 'off' it is the less 'on camera' it looks.

    I would say that if you stick to bounce with the built in bounce card (much better on the Sony than with CaNikon as you don't lose the bounce card when going vertical) you won't go very wrong. If you're not shooting stuff like weddings, to be honest, it should be more than enough for most circumstances. Where it might let you down is with distant subjects, very high ceilings and of course outdoors when you want the lightsource bigger than just straight flash.
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

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    Re: A900 Newbie Flash Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Rubinstein View Post
    I know the sony flash is different in how the head rotates though I've never seen how in practice, do you know of any diagrams or a video that can demonstrate it to me?

    Many thanks!

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    Re: A900 Newbie Flash Question

    Now if only in that last picture Marc, the flash could rotate further towards the camera grip it would be perfect, bounce off any wall in any direction whether in Landscape or Portrait!
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

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    Re: A900 Newbie Flash Question

    Marc, any response to my question above about what's included with the MilaGrid units?

    Ben, way back when I first bought the 5200i flash(actually the white one pictured above is the second one I bought) I tried taping cards to it but found that it often wasn't enough; that's what prompted me to try the two-flash setup. The MilaGrid stuff may be just the ticket, but I still want to play with a dual-F58 setup cobbled up out of HW store stuff or stuff from my metal scraps, so I can decide whether to go further. Marc made a good point about specular highlights -- I'll have to see if the fill can be ratcheted back enough to mitigate that.
    α900+VG|F20|2xF58|16-35,24-70,135Z|STF|70-400G|50,85 1.4|16,20,28,100M,80-200APO f/2.8|28-135|500f/8|1x-3xMacro|2xMFC-1000|Tiltall+RRS, Bellows, etc.

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    Re: A900 Newbie Flash Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave_Anderson View Post
    Marc, any response to my question above about what's included with the MilaGrid units?

    Ben, way back when I first bought the 5200i flash(actually the white one pictured above is the second one I bought) I tried taping cards to it but found that it often wasn't enough; that's what prompted me to try the two-flash setup. The MilaGrid stuff may be just the ticket, but I still want to play with a dual-F58 setup cobbled up out of HW store stuff or stuff from my metal scraps, so I can decide whether to go further. Marc made a good point about specular highlights -- I'll have to see if the fill can be ratcheted back enough to mitigate that.
    Mine came with the white bounce card. I'd make sure it's included. B&H usually lists what is included.

    -Marc

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    Re: A900 Newbie Flash Question

    Marc,

    Exceptional examples. Thanks. I shoot with flash much as you've described in the great write up. I will definitely be picking up one of those MilaGrids. I think that will help make the 58 flash work better for me for portrait shots.

    George

  38. #38
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    Re: A900 Newbie Flash Question

    To all you flash gurus, anyone tried the Interfit kits?
    http://www.interfitphotographic.com/...s%20index.html

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    Re: A900 Newbie Flash Question


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    Re: A900 Newbie Flash Question

    Marc, I want to thank you for the MilaGrid recommendation. I had a chance to really put it to the test last Weds. when I was photographing an ERT drill at work. It was my intent on some of these to let the background go dark, to convey the fact that we were in a building with no power except for emergency lighting. The results were worth every penny and more. I performed some initial experiments with gels on the flash but every time I turned a corner the lighting was different, between emergency lighting, window light, and the florescent light in the conference room where the moulage was taking place I decided to do without gels since it just wasn't that critical for the intended purpose.

    Anyway, they work great and I would recommend them to anyone.

    135 1.8 @f/5, 1/125, ISO 320:



    135 1.8 @f/5, 1/125, ISO 320:



    135 1.8 @f/7.1, 1/125, ISO 800:



    20 2.8 @f/5.6, 1/60, ISO 800 (Note: This room was completely dark except for the light coming in the doorway.)



    20 2.8 @f/9, 1/60, ISO 1600



    20 2.8 @f/9, 1/60, ISO 1600



    80-200 APO @200mm, f/7.1, 1/125, ISO 800

    α900+VG|F20|2xF58|16-35,24-70,135Z|STF|70-400G|50,85 1.4|16,20,28,100M,80-200APO f/2.8|28-135|500f/8|1x-3xMacro|2xMFC-1000|Tiltall+RRS, Bellows, etc.

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