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Old Nov 15, 2013, 2:06 PM   #1
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Default Flash and Levels

Hi,
I use the Nikon SB 400 flash and I always have to pump up my indoor poor lighting flash shots in levels.
I've tried dialing in up to 1 stop + flash exposure but I still have to use levels.
Is this purely because the SB 400 isn't up to the job or would the SB 700 solve this problem?

Thankyou for any suggestions
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Old Nov 15, 2013, 10:32 PM   #2
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Is the problem overall underexposure, or is it more a matter of heavy shadows due to the high contrast created by the flash? Are you using it as a bounce or direct flash?
Posting an example would really help a lot.

brian
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Old Nov 17, 2013, 10:15 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VTphotog View Post
Is the problem overall underexposure, or is it more a matter of heavy shadows due to the high contrast created by the flash? Are you using it as a bounce or direct flash?
Posting an example would really help a lot.

brian
I've not had much luck posting pics.
It is a matter of general under exposure.
If I go into levels as a general rule, I have to slide the right hand pointer to the left about a quarter of the histogram width. That brings the pic up to a decent looking flash shot. I am talking about people shots taken with my flash in poor/dim lighting indoors. I have tried dialing in up to 1 stop of extra exposure in the in camera flash compensation function, with little effect.
I am thinking of getting the SB700 but if it's my technique that's at fault I wont bother. I use it as bounce and direct as well but that doesn't seem to make very much difference.If I use it in a brightly light restaurant for example it's fine,it seems to need a fair amount of ambient light.
Thanks
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Old Nov 17, 2013, 10:40 AM   #4
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What camera settings are you using with the flash? Usually, Av mode, with the aperture set wide open, or nearly so, will give the best results. The flash and the aperture settings work together to an extent, but if you set f/8 as your aperture, the flash needs to be quite powerful (depending on distance, of course) in order to give you a proper exposure.
Distance to subject is another consideration, but most indoor situations aren't going to have subjects too far for your flash in direct mode.
Of course, you could have a flash which is not performing as it should.

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Old Nov 17, 2013, 2:11 PM   #5
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They were all taken in shutter priority at 1/80th at F3.5 , I had auto iso on so the iso was going up and down between 400 and 3200 like a fiddlers elbow.

I was looking at youtube today and a guy on there showed how to manually control the SB400 via the cameras menu.I tried this and it does work,I was amazed how much power this little flash can put out on full. Just experimenting I found in my own house in the dark 1/8th power gave my a better result than iTTL. Also with manual flash engaged it knocks out auto iso. I've had this flash a couple of years now and didn't know about this.I have a book on the D5000 and these things are not mentioned.
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Old Nov 18, 2013, 1:03 PM   #6
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Not entirely linked, but my D3100's built in flash err's on the side of underexposure- and I get much better results switching to manual also...!
I do find however,auto iso isn't particularly useful for flash use- as it's simply another means by which the camera can underexpose if it chooses...!
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Old Nov 18, 2013, 2:14 PM   #7
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Manual flash can be beneficial. BUT, you may find you get results that are good enough if you simply set the camera to manual exposure - not shutter priority or aperture priority. And, turn off auto ISO. Do that and bounce the flash and I'll bet your results turn out quite well too. Just make sure your shutter speed isn't above synch speed for your camera. Generally speaking you don't need a fast shutter speed - something in the 1/60 - 1/100 range will do.
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Old Nov 19, 2013, 10:01 AM   #8
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Thanks for the replies. I will try what has been advised.
Whats the opinion as far as the SB700 goes? obviously it will give more reach with a better bounce head but would I get the same underexposure problems if for example I carried on using it in the same way I have been using the SB400.
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Old Nov 19, 2013, 12:51 PM   #9
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When trying to diagnose a problem like this, the first thing one should do is to reset the camera (and flash, if needed) to default settings, then take test pictures using program auto mode, letting the camera choose what settings it needs. If you then get consistent underexposure, the flash is the most likely culprit.

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Old Nov 19, 2013, 1:02 PM   #10
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It's impossible to tell if a new flash will have the same problems - we need a sample photo and the exif data. For example, if you are bouncing and the ceiling is 40 feet above your subjects, power could be a problem. Additionally, in TTL metering, you have to understand how much of the image your camera/flash considers in determining the "proper" exposure. A bright object in that area can absolutely skew the results. Finally, remember that in shutter priority or aperture priority the camera is intending to use the flash as fill light - not to light the entire frame.

By seeing actual photos we can better help deduce what might be causing the problems. But I suspect that shooting with a manual exposure on the camera (with auto ISO off) will generate much better results than you're getting now - unless you have that high ceiling scenario.
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