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Thread: Okay, I got the F58, so how do I use it?

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    Okay, I got the F58, so how do I use it?

    Hi there
    I don't like flash, and very rarely use it, however, sometimes it's a good idea, and I have a couple of weddings coming up. I was okay with the Nikon gear and the erm 800? whatever it was.

    Anyway, mine arrived today, it's a bit odd, but comes in a nice littel bag, and I'm warming to it already. However, the manual is bigger than the manual for the camera . . . and I am a bloke

    So - Marc - Shelby - help me - what are good camera / flash settings to do a very lightweight fill in on the A900 for people shots in mixed lighting. (I might do some trying out on my baby's 21st birthday on Sunday.

    Just this guy you know

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    Re: Okay, I got the F58, so how do I use it?

    Ha, you sound like me! I have no problem with studio strobes, but I guess I'm too old school to really nail down this whole TTL flash thing....and I'm only 32 years old! I always end up using the dang things set to manual. I guess that's why I'm not a wedding photographer

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    Re: Okay, I got the F58, so how do I use it?

    Quote Originally Posted by douglasf13 View Post
    Ha, you sound like me! I have no problem with studio strobes, but I guess I'm too old school to really nail down this whole TTL flash thing....and I'm only 32 years old! I always end up using the dang things set to manual. I guess that's why I'm not a wedding photographer
    Yes, well, I'm 32 as well (at least in spirits). I've done a few weddings, but I swore I'd never do another . . . but people ask, and it's hard to refuse. It seems I have three to do in a week hence the flash - I have a month to learn how to use it!

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    Re: Okay, I got the F58, so how do I use it?

    This thread will need to be a sticky because my flash just arrived with the camera. I am also fairly inept at using flash. At least we are a little lucky over here as buying the flash with the camera saved $100.

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    Re: Okay, I got the F58, so how do I use it?

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    Yes, well, I'm 32 as well (at least in spirits). I've done a few weddings, but I swore I'd never do another . . . but people ask, and it's hard to refuse. It seems I have three to do in a week hence the flash - I have a month to learn how to use it!
    Should be no problem. Good luck!

  6. #6
    RichardL
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    Re: Okay, I got the F58, so how do I use it?

    Jono, Terry, have a look at this guy http://www.planetneil.com/ he's brilliant when it comes to flash usage - especially weddings. Lots to take in but it got me using flash to great effect.

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    Shelby Lewis
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    Re: Okay, I got the F58, so how do I use it?

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    Hi there
    I don't like flash, and very rarely use it, however, sometimes it's a good idea, and I have a couple of weddings coming up. I was okay with the Nikon gear and the erm 800? whatever it was.

    Anyway, mine arrived today, it's a bit odd, but comes in a nice littel bag, and I'm warming to it already. However, the manual is bigger than the manual for the camera . . . and I am a bloke

    So - Marc - Shelby - help me - what are good camera / flash settings to do a very lightweight fill in on the A900 for people shots in mixed lighting. (I might do some trying out on my baby's 21st birthday on Sunday.
    I second planetneil.com ... I know Neil personally and he REALLY knows his stuff when it comes to flash.

    This is a tough one, as I've only used the flash at one wedding. I almost always bounce over my shoulder such that the light is hitting a wall opposite the subject's face... ie... I try to make a huge softbox out of the wall the subject is facing. I almost never bounce "up", in order to avoid raccoon eyes.

    So... I generally set the camera in manual such that it underexposes the ambient by about a 1/2 to full stop...and then set the flash on ttl. I have the custom button set to alter flash exposure compensation and I just ride the FEC during the evening as I need to. I find the a900 prone to a bit of underexposure if you're not careful, so I err on the side of being too hot if I can.

    I'm still getting used to the swivel mechanism, but it's growing on me.

    the 58 is NOT a high performance flash IMO... I works solid and consistent, but recycle times are just OK... power is just OK. For general wedding work, though, it's just fine

    Mine is a tad wiggly in the hotshoe... anyone else similar?

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    Re: Okay, I got the F58, so how do I use it?

    Okay, get a cup of coffee because this is one of my favorite subjects. I've had to teach so many assistants and second shooters this stuff I can do it in my sleep. Hopefully, I won't put you to sleep ...

    Like you, I'm slow to read manuals, and even slower to read all the stuff on web sites because, for the most part, I don't like or can't relate to the photos used as examples there ...

    I use flash to some degree on almost every shot I take with a DSLR (not ALL, just a majority), leaving the available light work for the Leica M and fast M lenses. How much you may use it or not is your decision.

    However, I personally feel that flash is a maligned tool, especially on-camera flash ... partly because it's usually overcooked or misdirected.

    So, the objective is use it, and make it hard to detect that it was used. The following applies to any use of flash on any camera, the A900 is no different.

    Unfortunately, there are no wholesale solutions that lead to pat settings, just basic principles of achieving "light balance". Light balance between the background and the foreground subject is the initial goal, from there you can creatively decide how you may want to alter that balance for effect.

    In darker ambient conditions where flash is often essential, there is a simple notion to remember: The camera settings control the background exposure, and the flash settings control the foreground exposure.

    One of the chief techniques in darker conditions is called "Dragging The Shutter." This is the use of a slower shutter speed to open up the background ambient lighting rather than having a wall of black behind the subject.

    Rule of thumb in "cave" like conditions along with suggested settings:

    1) set the camera to Manual. Choose the highest ISO you feel the camera does well with (IMHO, on the A900 it's ISO 800, maybe 1000) Set the shutter speed as low as you feel you can handhold for exposing the background ... (in-camera IS of the A900 helps here). Set the lens aperture to the widest f stop you can and still achieve the DOF needed for the foreground subject. The objective is to get as much ambient background recorded as possible.

    I usually do not meter the background at weddings ... there isn't enough time to fiddle with settings, and it's usually pretty dark anyway ... so I expose it to the best of any given camera's ability.

    2) Set the flash to TTL. The flash will expose the foreground subject AND help freeze the subject motion because of the "duration" that the flash is actually "on" is far faster than the camera shutter speed. At an extreme, this is how splashing water droplets are photographed ... nano second flash duration.

    Flash Compensation: to increase or decrease the exposure on the foreground subject, you ride the flash compensation, which increases or decreases the duration that the flash is "on". (On the A900, you can assign flash comp control to a button that brings it up on the LCD making it easy to see even in a cave ... a very fast and easy function to perform compared to the SB800.)

    The benefit of using the camera and flash in this manner is that it puts far less strain on the flash, and recycle is quick most of the time. Basically, its fill flash 85% of the time rather than being the prime source.

    Second Shutter: by setting the camera to "Second Shutter", the flash fires just before the camera shutter closes instead of just after it opens. When you drag the shutter using even longer shutter speeds, subject motion may occur ... second shutter makes sure that the motion blur trails the subject rather than overlapping it. (see sample of Greek Dancing below).

    Off camera: You can take the flash off the camera and aim it anywhere you want. The A900 has this capability. I hold the camera in one hand and the flash in the other ... which is why a hand strap is essential for the way I work. And the Sony hand-strap is one of the best I've ever used. (see the example of the Sax player lit by holding the flash down low.

    Here are some examples shot in very dark conditions OR back lit conditions where light balance technique was employed:
    Last edited by fotografz; 23rd May 2009 at 02:25.

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    Re: Okay, I got the F58, so how do I use it?

    I've never used but studio strobes on the A900, but from what I understand from the manual, it would be very easy to shoot full auto and adjust the ambient/flash ratio via the FN menu. It seems like a pretty straightforward and simple operation.
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    Re: Okay, I got the F58, so how do I use it?

    Here are a few more, including use of flash outdoors as fill in harsh, less than ideal ambient lighting: The notion is to use what ambient there is to its best effect, while helping it out with as little supplemental lighting as possible:

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    Re: Okay, I got the F58, so how do I use it?

    Thanks for detailed description!

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    Off camera: You can take the flash off the camera and aim it anywhere you want. The A900 has this capability. I hold the camera in one hand and the flash in the other ... which is why a hand strap is essential for the way I work. And the Sony hand-strap is one of the best I've ever used. (see the example of the Sax player lit by holding the flash down low.
    How do you do this though? Do you carry an off-shoe cord for that?

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    Re: Okay, I got the F58, so how do I use it?

    Hey Andrey, it isn't available yet, but did you see that new tiny Sony flash that acts as a wireless controller? Pretty cool.

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    Re: Okay, I got the F58, so how do I use it?

    HI Marc

    thank you

    That is most fantastically helpful - I completely understand the principle, and I've got a month to practice!

    How do you arrange to have the A900 flash off camera?

    Many thanks again - you are the business!

    Just this guy you know

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    Re: Okay, I got the F58, so how do I use it?

    Quote Originally Posted by hardloaf View Post
    Thanks for detailed description!



    How do you do this though? Do you carry an off-shoe cord for that?
    For total wireless flash with the A900 you'll need two flash units ... one in the hot shoe and the second flash off camera. You press the Fn button to get to the Quick Navi menu, and select Wireless. You then set the HVL-F58AM as the wireless controller.

    Hopefully there will be a Sony sender like Canon's STE-2 or Nikon's wireless sender.

    Or you can use an off-camera cord ... which is what I've done with a Metz MZ-54.

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    Re: Okay, I got the F58, so how do I use it?

    Quote Originally Posted by douglasf13 View Post
    Hey Andrey, it isn't available yet, but did you see that new tiny Sony flash that acts as a wireless controller? Pretty cool.
    Yes, I read about it and hope that it will fire my Metz 58 as it supposed to. Bought this flash because it has old good automatic mode (thyristor), also it has TTL, but cannot be master, only slave. I just can't stand constant readjusting of compensation in all kinds of TTL - kills the idea for me. In A-mode it's a lot simpler, set it once per lens and it's completely camera independent - works even on Canon through adapter, camera only needs to fire it. Also A-mode doesn't have preflash and this is a very nice thing - some people are just incompatible with them. I have friend who beats all kinds of flashes. 100% of his TTL flash pictures are with closed eyes - super fast blinking reflexes I guess With Metz we are good now - he blinks only at the end of impulse, so usually eyes are open

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    Re: Okay, I got the F58, so how do I use it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Shelby Lewis View Post

    So... I generally set the camera in manual such that it underexposes the ambient by about a 1/2 to full stop...and then set the flash on ttl. I have the custom button set to alter flash exposure compensation and I just ride the FEC during the evening as I need to. I find the a900 prone to a bit of underexposure if you're not careful, so I err on the side of being too hot if I can.

    I'm still getting used to the swivel mechanism, but it's growing on me.
    Thank you Shelby - It seems to be a pretty unanimous verdict. Now all I have to do is to master it!

    Just this guy you know

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    hardloaf
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    Re: Okay, I got the F58, so how do I use it?

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    For total wireless flash with the A900 you'll need two flash units ... one in the hot shoe and the second flash off camera. You press the Fn button to get to the Quick Navi menu, and select Wireless. You then set the HVL-F58AM as the wireless controller.
    Got it, thanks!

    Hopefully there will be a Sony sender like Canon's STE-2 or Nikon's wireless sender.
    Wouldn't hold my breath. Sony doesn't use IR signaling like Canon, so only flash can control other flashes in this system and dedicated controller like STE-2 would be hard to do for them. That little HVLF20AM flash which they announced recently probably is the cheapest way to fire other Sony units from A900 and I'll definitely try it.

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    Re: Okay, I got the F58, so how do I use it?

    Okay, so here's an admission of guilt ... I never actually tried the off-camera wireless with this camera ... I just read up on it and assumed it worked easily. Wrong!.

    Normally, I use the Nikon wireless Commander with the D700 because it doesn't require two flashes ... it's simply too hard shooting one handed with a flash in the hot shoe while the other hand is holding a second flash. It's easy with the Nikon D700 and Commander unit ... or the Canon ST-E2 on a 5D before that.

    So I tried it with the Sony anyway ... and read all the manuals ... couldn't make it work to save my life. I used the 58 as the command unit in the flash shoe set to channel one, set the camera to wireless, set the 56 to wireless channel 1 (not command) ... nothing worked.

    Now I AM positive it's me, no doubt about it. But unless I'm missing something stupidly simple, this set up would be to complex even if I did figure it out. I just don't have time for this at a wedding. The SB900 is a "no-brainer" to set as the command unit when using more than one flash, and using the Nikon Commander in the hot shoe with the SB900 in hand is even more remedial ... which is what I require ... an idiot proof level of simplicity during the "fog of war" at a wedding shoot. This is not an exaggeration BTW, as anyone who shoots weddings as the primary photographer can attest.

    Off-camera doesn't seem to be the Sony's strong point.

    Not easy to get this sort of shot (the only wedding I ever shot where there was a "wedding artist doing sketches):

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    Senior Member Eoin's Avatar
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    Re: Okay, I got the F58, so how do I use it?

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    ....So I tried it with the Sony anyway ... and read all the manuals ... couldn't make it work to save my life. I used the 58 as the command unit in the flash shoe set to channel one, set the camera to wireless, set the 56 to wireless channel 1 (not command) ... nothing worked.

    Now I AM positive it's me, no doubt about it.
    You are missing a little setting to get a 56AM working with the 58AM

    From what I understand you have to change the communication protocol from the 58AM's default of CTRL2 (CTRL) to CTRL1 (CTRL+) to be able to use the 56AM or 32AM flashes as remotes(older flashes - different protocol). The 42AM does not require this setting to be changed.
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    Re: Okay, I got the F58, so how do I use it?

    So, would it then work if both flashes were 58s without screwing around like that?

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    Re: Okay, I got the F58, so how do I use it?

    Well I have 2 58's and it's just a matter of setting the camera to wireless flash, pop the remote flash on to the camera and set it as RMT1, the take it off and position it. Put the commander (other 58) in and set it as CTRL (controler) and pop away.

    I'll confess to using it once, when I get home this evening I'll check and report back
    A7II, FE 35, 55 C/Y 18, 28, 85, 100, 28-85

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    Re: Okay, I got the F58, so how do I use it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eoin View Post
    Well I have 2 58's and it's just a matter of setting the camera to wireless flash, pop the remote flash on to the camera and set it as RMT1, the take it off and position it. Put the commander (other 58) in and set it as CTRL (controler) and pop away.

    I'll confess to using it once, when I get home this evening I'll check and report back
    Much appreciated.

    Sounds complicated.

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    Re: Okay, I got the F58, so how do I use it?

    OK I had a little time yesterday to play with the flashes and RTFM (read the ...... manual)

    I was wrong about the info regarding the CTRL1 setting I gave. In order to be able to control the older 56AM from the 58AM you need to change custom setting C03 from the default of CTRL1 to CTRL2. Do this by pressing the FN button for 3 sec and go to C03 and change it.

    I was also able to setup the 2 58AM's without having to place them on the camera first. I did read somewhere that this was the correct proceedure but for the life of me can't recall where it was.
    Anyway I set both units back to defaults and started from scratch. With the slave I pressed the mode button to select WL then pressed the fn button to select RMT and placed the flash in position. With the controller I set the mode to wireless and placed it on the camera set the camera to wireless and away I went.

    I think the reason for placing the flash on camera first is when you set the camera to wireless flash it automatically sets the flash to wireless mode.

    Also beware if you are using the AEL button to test fire the flash. If you have AEL set to AEL TOGGLE or [o]AEL TOGGLE every time you press the AEL button you will cause the slow sync mode to switch on or off, your better off using the AEL hold options rather than toggle.
    A7II, FE 35, 55 C/Y 18, 28, 85, 100, 28-85

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    Re: Okay, I got the F58, so how do I use it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eoin View Post
    OK I had a little time yesterday to play with the flashes and RTFM (read the ...... manual)

    I was wrong about the info regarding the CTRL1 setting I gave. In order to be able to control the older 56AM from the 58AM you need to change custom setting C03 from the default of CTRL1 to CTRL2. Do this by pressing the FN button for 3 sec and go to C03 and change it.

    I was also able to setup the 2 58AM's without having to place them on the camera first. I did read somewhere that this was the correct proceedure but for the life of me can't recall where it was.
    Anyway I set both units back to defaults and started from scratch. With the slave I pressed the mode button to select WL then pressed the fn button to select RMT and placed the flash in position. With the controller I set the mode to wireless and placed it on the camera set the camera to wireless and away I went.

    I think the reason for placing the flash on camera first is when you set the camera to wireless flash it automatically sets the flash to wireless mode.

    Also beware if you are using the AEL button to test fire the flash. If you have AEL set to AEL TOGGLE or [o]AEL TOGGLE every time you press the AEL button you will cause the slow sync mode to switch on or off, your better off using the AEL hold options rather than toggle.
    Even though this is giving me a headache, I'll give it a try after a bottle of asprins.

    Thanks so much for your efforts.

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    Re: Okay, I got the F58, so how do I use it?

    has anyone used the new shoe mount transmitter and shoe-fitted remote wireless units from Pocket wizard? Seems to be a very direct system with no need for cables and adapters. they also have radio protocol for Canon and Nikon TTL. if only PW would make that work with the weird Sony/Minolta shoe

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    Re: Okay, I got the F58, so how do I use it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eoin View Post
    OK I had a little time yesterday to play with the flashes and RTFM (read the ...... manual)

    I was wrong about the info regarding the CTRL1 setting I gave. In order to be able to control the older 56AM from the 58AM you need to change custom setting C03 from the default of CTRL1 to CTRL2. Do this by pressing the FN button for 3 sec and go to C03 and change it.

    I was also able to setup the 2 58AM's without having to place them on the camera first. I did read somewhere that this was the correct proceedure but for the life of me can't recall where it was.
    Anyway I set both units back to defaults and started from scratch. With the slave I pressed the mode button to select WL then pressed the fn button to select RMT and placed the flash in position. With the controller I set the mode to wireless and placed it on the camera set the camera to wireless and away I went.

    I think the reason for placing the flash on camera first is when you set the camera to wireless flash it automatically sets the flash to wireless mode.

    Also beware if you are using the AEL button to test fire the flash. If you have AEL set to AEL TOGGLE or [o]AEL TOGGLE every time you press the AEL button you will cause the slow sync mode to switch on or off, your better off using the AEL hold options rather than toggle.
    OH JOY!

    Got it working with your assistance.

    Complicated. So I printed out your e-mail and put it in the Sony bag. I can always slip off to the men's room and read it over when I need it at a wedding. Never let them see you sweat ...

    Thanks again

    -Marc

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    Senior Member Eoin's Avatar
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    Re: Okay, I got the F58, so how do I use it?

    No problem, my invoice is in the post!
    A7II, FE 35, 55 C/Y 18, 28, 85, 100, 28-85

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    Re: Okay, I got the F58, so how do I use it?

    Quote Originally Posted by jlm View Post
    has anyone used the new shoe mount transmitter and shoe-fitted remote wireless units from Pocket wizard? Seems to be a very direct system with no need for cables and adapters. they also have radio protocol for Canon and Nikon TTL. if only PW would make that work with the weird Sony/Minolta shoe

    They are canon only at the moment and plagued with loads of problems. The lighting board on FM has about 3 questions a day with people saying that they either can't get them to work at all or they only work 15-30 feet. Added to that are reports that the hotshoes are not strong enough, there are photos around that show two TT1's with a snapped hotshoe from mid wedding. Not sure I want to see what happened to the flash attached to them! Some people are not having any problems but I'm not buying into a system that's a maybe. Waiting for the EU radiopopper units.

    I did an international ad camaign two weeks ago using the ST-E2 outdoors and even with 6ft distances it was nowhere near reliable enough if the slave was off axis. I was using someone elses equipment (most of mine is 2500 miles away) otherwise I could have used one of my 3 580's as master.

    Good luck with the sony's Marc. I hate the menu system on practically any peice of camera equipment, having to remember which settings to set, which order of button presses (I hated the canon 1 series cameras). The old canon 420ex had a perfect system for off camera. A switch to put it into slave mode and two permenant displays with buttons underneath to choose channel and slave group. Add the ratio display from the ST-E2 and add those to the 580 (which would then need a much smaller LCD only) and you would have something really useable! I've gone back to using a 580 mk1 on camera just for that master/slave switch (instead of menu) that I'd missed so much when shooting weddings.
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    Re: Okay, I got the F58, so how do I use it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eoin View Post
    No problem, my invoice is in the post!
    Yeah, SONY should pay you a fee.

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