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Old May 20, 2005, 11:01 PM   #1
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i just got home from my school's Piano& Choir Recital, for which I was given free entrance as photographer. I had hoped that my new Sunpak 383 would do an awesome job in there since its rated for up to 60' and i was withing 20 feet or less most of the time...i was wrong!

at max power(manual mode, full power, ISO slider set to 1000) i would get fair to mediocre lighting from 20' away, with very poor AF. that was shooting at f/2.8 1/50 ISO200...

when i was closer the flash did work fine except i would get either the white washout effect or not good enough lighting, and using the stofen diffuser wouldnt help. couldn't bounce the light because the ceiling was very high and from my distance it wouldnt help either. so either i'm missing something very big here or this flash is not as good as I thought it was...

please help guide me here on what's wrong
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Old May 20, 2005, 11:51 PM   #2
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I suspect the problem is the ISO 1000 setting on the flash. When you set the flash that high, the pulse is shortened. You don't get full power at ISO 1000. In effect, the light from the flash was done before your picture was. The flash output was rated at ISO 100, most probably. To get the rated output, you should use the 100 or less setting on the flash.

In most cases, it's best to set the flash ISO the same as camera setting ISO.
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Old May 21, 2005, 12:22 AM   #3
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Try Auto not manual. ISO 100 not 1000. The diffuser set at angle not trying to bounce. Experiment with lots of shots. Review often. The diffuser takes about two stops off light output as a general rule.
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Old May 21, 2005, 10:28 PM   #4
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Hey Max I just got my 383 as well. Im still confused as to the auto settings. Supposedly the green setting is up to 60 feet but when I fire the flash I barely see anything and all the pictures come out dark.
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Old May 22, 2005, 1:50 AM   #5
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The ISO slider on the Sunpak doesn't really do anything, other than change the scale on the back of the flash. It's there as a guide to help you figure out where to set the camera's aperture. For example, if you set the Sunpak for ISO 100, it has three auto modes: green, which islowest power (f/2.0), yellow, which is mediumpower (f/4.0), and red, which is highest power (f/8.0).

I call green the low power setting, because it is tuned for the largest aperture. It will cut off the flash output sooner than the other settings, because it expects your camera is wide open. In actuality, all three modesarecapable of outputting the same amount of flash. If you cover the auto sensor (keep it in total darkness) the Sunpak will output the maximum flash it can. Since you've supposedly set your aperture wide open, with max flash you've got the max range.

To make it easy, set the ISO slider to the same number you've set your camera's sensitivity. Then, set your FZ20 into "External flash = manual" via the menu option.You need to have the flash attached before you can access this menu option. Shoot in aperture mode (A) and set your aperture to the same value you see on the Sunpak (either 2.0, 4.0, or 8.0 if you're set for ISO 100). Provided you are within range, your shots should come out pretty close, regardless of whether you are setup for direct flash or bounce. Obviously, if you're far away and set to the red mode (f/8.0) your camera is stopped down a lot, and you won't be able to get in enough light to fully expose the image. Likewise, if you're trying to bounce off a tall ceiling, you might not have enough power to bounce all the way up and back.

If you want to test to see if you've got enough power to properly expose the scene, press the test button. If the Auto OK light glows green, the Sunpak thinks you'll get enough light. If it doesn't come on,try switching from red mode to yellow mode (or yellow mode to green). Be sure to adjust your aperture as indicated on the back of the Sunpak.

Obviously, the FZ20 doesn't have an f/2.0. Perhaps this limits the usefullness of green mode. You can try shooting in green mode at f/2.8, but it is likely your shots may come out too dark. Either switch to shooting at yellow mode and f/4.0, or try upping your ISO to 200. At ISO 200, the Sunpak wants an f/2.8 in green mode.

Good luck! This really is a good flash, and is pretty easy to use once you get the hang of it.
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Old May 22, 2005, 10:51 AM   #6
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Thanks, that was a very good explanation.

So for Max's situation (60 feet), you should try it on Red mode and just adjust the camera's aperture and ISO accordingly?
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Old May 22, 2005, 11:22 AM   #7
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Yes. With the Sunpak it takes awhile to figure out what works for different situations. Since the camera and flash don't communicate you need to learn how they interact with each other. Shooting lots of experiments will teach you what to expect when you use the flash. Once you understand how the variables effect the output it becomes easier.
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Old May 22, 2005, 9:31 PM   #8
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dengar69 wrote:
Quote:
Thanks, that was a very good explanation.

So for Max's situation (60 feet), you should try it on Red mode and just adjust the camera's aperture and ISO accordingly?
Thank you. I'm glad you liked my explanation.

I hope I wasn't causing confusion when I call the green mode low power, and the red mode high power. Keep in mind that the maximum power of the flash never changes, regardless of the auto mode selected. For a given subject and identical flash to subject distances, green mode will cut off the flash output sooner (less power) than red mode. That's because in red mode you've "told" the Sunpak you intend to use a small aperture, so it will put out more light (high power).

You can test this easily enough without even attaching the Sunpak to a camera. Turn on the flash, and point it at a wall about six to eight feet away. Set it to green mode, and push the test button. It should make a fairly gentle pop, and recharge quickly. It didn't use a lot of power for that test, because in green mode it assumes you are using a large aperture. Hence, it puts out less power. Switch it to red mode, and repeat the test, being sure to keep the distance to the wall about the same. The "pop" should be noticeably stronger, and it should take longer to recharge. In red mode, the flash is setup for a small aperture, and will put out more light. Be careful not to let your finger accidentally cover the sensor during the test.

For Max's situation, I would probably have set it to green mode, set my FZ20 to ISO 200, and set the aperture to f/2.8. This would give me as much range as I can get without resorting to ISO 400. Max says he had the Sunpak in manual mode, set to full output, and he still didn't get enough light. Perhaps his subjects were illuminated, but the background was even more distant, and the Sunpak just can't light it up.

He also says that closeup subjects were washed out. If he left the Sunpak in manual mode at full output, I'm not surprised. He also says that auto focus was poor. Unfortunately, the Sunpak won't do anything to help with autofocus in poor light, and the FZ's autofocus illuminator is never going to light up anything 20 feet away.
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