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Old Aug 24, 2004, 6:21 PM   #1
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I recentlypurchased the Alien Bee Beginner Kit. This kit comes with aB800 320W/S, astand and umbrella. When I received the kit I realized I have no place to plug in the sync cord, so I used my 420EX flash to trigger the B800. This works terrible. All the pictures come out too dark. When I tried increasing the power on the B800 it made the problem worse and the pictures got even darker. When I went the other way and reduced the power to 1/4 power I started getting decent pictures but not great. The pictures where brighest when I used the 420EX by itself but gives harsh shadows. I later tried turning the 420EX flash head backwards so that it didn't affect the picture but only fired the b800 and again the pictures came out very dark. It seems like the Cameras E-ttl is getting in the way. The camera is set to manual shutter 60-125 aperture F8. I tried other setting like Portrait and Auto nothing worked well.

What am I doing wrong?

I am on my way to pick up a PC to hot-shoe adapter for $14.00. Someone told me to get a Pocketwizzard, but these are too expensive for me right now. Is there a cheaper wireless solution? And will the PC to hotshoe converter fix the problem I have. Is there a way I can use both the 420EXflash and the B800 together? What do you think about the Canon ST-E2 wireless transmitter in this setup?

Please help, totally new to studio strobes and have no clue what I am doing?


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Old Aug 24, 2004, 7:02 PM   #2
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It's been a while since I did this but the trick is the 420 is doing a preflash and you need to get rid of it. When the preflash fires this fires the Bees and then they fool the 420 into thinking it needs less flash for the real shot.

As I remember the trick was you need to set the white balance to sunlight, strobe or manual (but not AWB)otherwise the 420 will do a preflash. You can also do the same trick with the on camera flash (I think). It may also be a menu setting related to this. The on camera flash may have a redeye mode that will need to be disabled if you use it.

You can get a cheaper radio slave on ebay. Not a pocket wizard but it does work (I have one).

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...tem=3835650860



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Old Aug 24, 2004, 8:48 PM   #3
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The ST-E2 will not do it for you
The 420EX can not be put on manual: even if you put the camera on manual the flash is still on E-TTL and it will pre-flash (see page 24 M:E-TTL of your 420EX manual) and will expose the picture correctly! Look at the sequence of events: http://eosseries.ifrance.com/eosseri...ork_fonct.html

You need at least a 550EX put on manual to make the flash fire a single burst. You can then use its ratio to modulate the 550EX output. A Sigma EF500DG Super will also do it, since it has similar manual controls overide as the 550EX (the Sigma can also be slaved directly to the Alien Bee since it's the only one that features a built-in photo sensor).

I'm afraid the PC to hot-shoe adapter is your cheapest bet right now...
Next is a Sigma EF500DG Super or any device similar to the Pocketwizard if you want a wireless mode... I'll go for the Sigma since it's the most flexible, it can act as an ST-E2 or a Master flash at a much lower price than a 550EX and will also control your 420EX when you're not in the studio or away from your Alien Bees :?


BTW there's a trick with the 420EX since you can't shut-off the preflash - Make use of it. :idea:
If you press FEL(*) the pre-flash will go off 1st under your control (and not the shutter) for the camera to lock the exposure -> The Alien Bees can then sync to the 2nd real flash from your 420EX when you release the shutter... All you need to do is aim the camera at something really white and up close during the FEL(*) so the camera will output a really low intensity burst the 2nd time around for the real shot so it won't contribute to the lighting (unless you want it to)
It's kind of cumbersome but it works !
... you can prevent the Alien Bees from firing the 1st time if you aim the camera during FEL(*) away from the flash stands (or shield it).
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Old Aug 25, 2004, 6:14 AM   #4
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Come to think of it: Any manual flash woud work to trigger your Alien's... I tried an old Metz on the hot-shoe of my 10D and just one main pulse (ie it would not know how to pre-flash anyway)!

Get any dirt cheap flash, it won't expose properly since it does not have E-TTL, but you're on manual anyway with studio strobe... I would pick one that has a variable power and use it to trigger your Alien Bees wirelessly :-)
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Old Aug 25, 2004, 9:26 AM   #5
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Agree with NHL, but be careful, usually cheap flashes have high trigger voltage (to simplify circuitry)
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Old Aug 25, 2004, 10:40 AM   #6
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You're taking risks and a lot of guessworks for studio flash. You need the following basic tools if you want better results:

A Flash meter to determine the exposure, this meter and read flash from the subject position (incident reading) via cord or non-cord. You can set the meter in S mode, shutter speed equal the camera syncho speed or less, and the meter will recommend the aperture reading. The Sekonic 358 is a good candidate, this one can read both flash and ambient light, also has the flash analysis mode, let you decide how much flash/ambient light for the final results:

http://www.smilephotovideo.com/detai...;itemno=SKL358

At least 2 flash heads (with stand and umbrella or soft box of course), one flash head is ok, however you need some source of reflector to act as fill light in additional to the key light (flash head). In this case, you can use the Canon 420 EX as the fill light, you need to buy an slave sensor to attach to this flash, the hot shoe type converter is prefer. Your Alien bees flash head can connect to your camera directly via PC cord and the hot-shoe/pc converter (use Nikon AS-15, about $19 at Bhphoto.com).

Set your camera in manual mode, set shutter speed and aperture according to the flash meter and shoot (make sure you set your ISO in manual mode also, same value as you set on the flash meter, this is very important). If you shot via remote or timer on tripod, be-sure to set your focus mode to manual focus as well). Some people use histogram to determine exposure, but that is not practical, too much guess work involved. I do not recommend you use the 420 EX to activate the slave sensor of the key flash, why? 1. To directional, straight from the camera will affect the overall setting of the flash composition. 2. You can't set the 420 in manual mode, camera meter only read the 420 flash but cannot communicate to the Alien bees and the result will be catastrophe.

Cheers


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Old Aug 25, 2004, 10:41 AM   #7
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KCan

Long time no see...
We don't want to scare the gentleman of do we?
How about any of theses: http://www.stevesforums.com/forums/v...53&forum_id=53

How about yourself? Is it going to be a D70 or a 20D... or even that A200/D7D rumour :-):-):-)
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Old Aug 25, 2004, 11:39 AM   #8
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NHL, my next is probably a Nikon DSRL, but not my priority yet . For right now , my D7i is very satisfactory for my needs :-)
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Old Aug 25, 2004, 11:58 AM   #9
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:idea:I am not 100% sure , but I suspect that if the 4 small pins of the canon hotshoe are isolated (just with a thin plastic sheet), the canon flash will burst in manual mode (full power, no preflash)

At your risk, of course, don't blame me if smoke gets in your eyes
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Old Aug 25, 2004, 12:41 PM   #10
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[email protected] wrote:
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Some people use histogram to determine exposure, but that is not practical, too much guess work involved.
Hogwash...if you understand how a histogram works, there is no guesswork involved!
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