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Old Jan 25, 2008, 4:48 AM   #1
TDN
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My new flash just arrived, and I did a few quick test shots.


first impressions:

+ The build quality is good, the flash is lighter and smaller than I thought it would be, but it doesn't feel flimsy.

+ Power consumption is very low. A set of AA's that would not trigger my old manual flash or work in the camera anymore still trigger the Sigma flash without problems or delays.

+ From the first looks, exposure is spot on! Note that I did only use M mode, as you should always do with flash photography...

+ bounce and swivel work well, and both have sturdy locks in the initial and extreme position.

- Of course, it's missing some features of the Super version: the ST has no back lcd, no wireless flash, or high-speed sync. It is almost 100€ cheaper too, so you get what you pay for.

- The AF assist beam only works in AF-S mode. Which is kind of logical, as it would have to be constantly on in AF-C mode. I don't mind this, I think most flashes work this way, don't they?

- Only a built-in wide-angle diffuser, as I recall the EF-500 had both a regular diffuser and wide-angle plate. Doesn't really matter since I use http://www.abetterbouncecard.com


Coming from a full manual cheap flash I got off ebay (Cobra 700AF), this is a revelation! Honestly, I do not get how some people (like RH) complain about P-TTL. With my manual flash, which always fired at full power, I had to do several test shots to get the exposure right, and always be thinking what the settings should be.
With this flash, he first "test shot" is spot on right away!
I expose the same way I would do with the manual flash, but the P-TTL corrects whichever mistake I make and matches the output power to my aperture and shutter speed.

Simply put: if you expect pristine results by just putting the camera in P mode and just firing away, think again.
It's just a fact that with flash photography you have to think a bit more. People who've used fully manual flashes will agree that a P-TTL flash does a lot of work for you...

Now, some samples to actually back up my mumbo-jumbo :

All of them just resized in PS, as they came out of the camera
All on the *ist DL.

With Pentax-A 50mm f1.7

f2.8 - 1/125 - bounced off ceiling




With Pentax-A 50mm f1.7

f2.8 - 1/125 - direct flash: normally I'd never flsh directly at the subject, especially this close, but I wanted to really test this flash. Turns out it only overexposed at f1.7, and not by much. That's really impressive, as with a manual flash, that'd be a guaranteed washed out shot, especially with direct flash.



With Sigma 28-70mm f2.8 EX Aspherical

f2.8 - 1/125 - bounced off ceiling





I'm pretty happy with my purchase. I've finally got a P-TTL flash, and I didn't break the bank. I'm still a little disappointed that the Metz 48-AF wasn't in stock anywhere, as I'm sure that one would have been great too, especially if I ever upgrade to a K20D.

Next week I'll be able to get some real situations to use this flash, I'll let you know about the results

Tom
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Old Jan 25, 2008, 9:29 AM   #2
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Those exposures are dead-0n...especially for close ups. Typically they get washed out! Looks like you have a keeper!

Jay
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Old Jan 25, 2008, 10:41 AM   #3
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I've got the Super version and I love it.

Can you post a pic of the back of the flash? You are able to control the flash output power right? What does it go to 1 - 1/2 - 1/4 ... etc? And the head does tilt and swivel correct?
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Old Jan 25, 2008, 12:42 PM   #4
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As far as I can tell, the controls are TTL, Mh (manual high = full power), and Ml (manual low = 1/16 power)

There's no LCD so I guess that's it.
It does tilt and swivel, this was an absolute requirement for me and the reason I didn't get the Pentax AF360.

I'll post a pic of the back when I have some spare time to take one.

Tom
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Old Jan 25, 2008, 8:41 PM   #5
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Exposure looks good but I am curious why you shot at 2.8?


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Old Jan 26, 2008, 9:23 AM   #6
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vIZnquest wrote:
Quote:
Exposure looks good but I am curious why you shot at 2.8?

I plan to use this one for portraits and people shots at events a lot. When I do those things I need to capture some ambient light aswell, or the picture looks too harsh. So I needed to know if this one would overexpose at large apertures or not.

Also, using a large aperture saves up the batteries of the flash, giving you about 8 bounced flashes with a single charge.
As soon as you go to f8 and beyond, the flash fires at full power when bounced.

Tom
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Old Jan 26, 2008, 3:20 PM   #7
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TDN wrote:
Quote:

I plan to use this one for portraits and people shots at events a lot. When I do those things I need to capture some ambient light aswell, or the picture looks too harsh.
Hi Tom,

I like to shoot people at events also. I've found that the most effective and convenient flash modifier for this is the Demb diffuser/bouncer.

You can see it here:

http://www.dembflashproducts.com/diffuser/instructions/

It gives the same kind of results as the Lightsphere, adding some direct fill to the bounced flash so you get very even, soft lighting with few, if any shadows, but is actually more versatile (with the adjustable bounce card), considerably lighter, and so much more compact to store or carry that it's sick. Also, unlike the LS, it's a universal fit for any flash head. Gary Fong (LS guy) has also come out with some new products that are more convenient than the LS, but most are still bulky and heavier than the Demb design.

I bought one, but a very useable replica can be pretty easily be made from commonly found materials.

One very cool thing is that it's very quick to reposition for changes from landscape to portrait orientation and back with a tilt/swivel flash head.

You probably already know how to do this, but I'll include it anyway. . .

To get more ambient light (so you don't get that bright subject / black background "flash" look), "drag the shutter" (use slower shutter speeds, wider apertures, and possibly higher ISO to let in more ambient light to lighten the background exposure) -- use manual exposure mode for the camera, take a reading from just the background and adjust the settings to make the backgound exposure fit your needs (with the shutter speed anything slower than 1/180, of course), then let P-TTL control the flash to get the subject exposed correctly. I usually set the aperture for the DOF that I want, and then adjust the shutter speed and ISO to get the background exposure where I want it. Don't worry about very slow shutter speeds -- you'll be relying on the very short duration of the flash to "freeze" your subject.

I used the Demb and this method with my K10, Tam 28-75/2.8, and 540 FGZ at my recent 40th High School reunion, and it worked great -- 172 out of 180 shots came out so well that I pretty much only had to crop them to printing dimensions in PP. 6 out of the other 8 were still useable, and only two were completely blown because flash reflections caused hot spots that fooled the P-TTL and caused massive underexposure (If you can clearly see a reflection of the flash off a reflective surface in the VF during the preflash, it's almost guaranteed to underexpose with P-TTL).

Have fun experimenting with your new toy --

Scott
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Old Jan 26, 2008, 6:53 PM   #8
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Thanks for the tips scott, I'll be sure to try them out
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Old Jan 26, 2008, 7:42 PM   #9
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snostorm wrote:
Quote:

To get more ambient light (so you don't get that bright subject / black background "flash" look), "drag the shutter" (use slower shutter speeds, wider apertures, and possibly higher ISO to let in more ambient light to lighten the background exposure) -- use manual exposure mode for the camera, take a reading from just the background and adjust the settings to make the backgound exposure fit your needs (with the shutter speed anything slower than 1/180, of course), then let P-TTL control the flash to get the subject exposed correctly.
Scott
I second that .

I did something along the line as you have said ( you did that in a lot greater details step by step). As wider aperture is important so sharper lens (by F3.5 or F4) is needed.

In another recent thread on party shots, I was using FA28mmF2.8 (all at F4) whereas another Nikon photographer was using his zoom at F5 / F5.6 , my shots were more diffuse. Not only that. As a result of using F5, she had to use direct flash to compensate for the lack of lighting. That move ruined her shots.

Scott just elaborated in a better manner.

Go back to the subject line about Sigma ST flash. Even though the Super flash does a lot more extra (like wireless and HSS), the ST (no frill version) does the basic really well. I did my party indoor shots with almost 90% properly exposed. For unknown reason, my AF360 did not achieve that. No clue as to why it happens that way though.

Daniel, Toronto
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