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Settings for iTTL fill flash in daylight?


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6 replies to this topic

#1
Frank O

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Thanks to some great help here, largely from Merco_61, I settled on a new DSLR to replace my 11-year-old D70. I decided to lash out a little and got a D7200 along with an 18-300 3.5-6.3 superzoom to serve as my "walking around" lens.

 

Next week I'll be going to a multi-day event where I expect to be taking a lot of outdoor pictures of people and vehicles with this new camera and lens. I find at events like this that natural light is often not optimal due to shadows, strong backlight, etc. I therefore like to bring a strobe to get some fill flash. I'll be moving around quickly, though, so I can't spend significant time dialing things in. I'd like to leave the camera on automatic settings as much as possible, just dial the focal length to frame the shot, then use a strobe to get some fill.

 

​I've found in the past that I do better with one of my strobes (I have an SB-800 and SB-600) detached from the camera and held out to one side. I have an SC-29 with coiled cable to connect the strobe to the camera's hotshoe. Alternatively, I also have an SU-800 commander, but everything being equal I'd rather stick with the SC-29 so as not to overcomplicate things.

 

​In the past when I've used this on my D70, I've sometimes run into issues (mostly related to the fact that I forgot the settings I previously used). Two problems seemed to occur. First, the strobe sometimes would refuse to fire because the camera thought it had sufficient light for the shot (I thought I'd set it to mandatory flash, but my memory may not be great). Second, I recall that the camera often wanted to pop up its built-in flash even when the SC-29 is connected to the shoe.

 

So here's my question. If I'm using the D7200 and 18-300 3.5-6.3 lens with an SB-600 or SB-800 connected via SC-29, what are the best settings to keep everything as automatic as possible but be able to get some fill-in flash during daylight conditions? Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

 

 



#2
Merco_61

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To leave everything but ISO to the camera, use P mode with auto-ISO off. Stay out of green auto and the scene modes as some of them will try to use the pop-up flash. If you use matrix metering, the camera will mostly get a nicely balanced light this way. Try to avoid focus and recompose as matrix weighs metering to the selected focus point.

If you want more control but still use automatic flash, use M mode and just set a nice aperture for the DOF you want, fixed ISO and a shutterspeed that meters as <1 step under. You will only need to change the shutter with the changing light and a quick glance at the meter soon gets to be second nature.



#3
Frank O

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Thanks for the advice. As you suggested, I put the camera into P mode. It appears that auto-ISO is off by default ("Menu > Photo Shooting Menu > ISO sensitivity settings > Auto ISO sensitivity control" is set to "OFF"). I connected my SB-800 speedlight (which was left in Remote mode from a session with the SU-800) to the camera via the SC-29 cable, and turned it on. 

 

At this point, I tried taking some test pictures in daylight conditions in which there is strong backlighting, but so far am not able to find the necessary settings to make the strobe fire -- the camera simply takes pictures without using the strobe. If I press the Flash Mode/Flash Compensation button (the button marked with the lightning bolt, just forward of the mode dial), it attempts to open the hood for the built-in flash (which will not open much because the SC-29 adapter blocks it), but it has no effect on the SB-800. I've looked over some of the flash settings at "Menu > Custom Setting Menu > Bracketing/flash > e3 Flash control for built-in flash" and thereabouts, but am not finding a setting that causes the strobe to fire as fill flash in daylight conditions.

 

So, I will have to dive into the menus further and try more test shots. If any of the above suggests anything further I should do, I'd be very interested to hear about it.



#4
Merco_61

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If the speedlight is in remote mode, it will only fire wirelessly. While the flash is off-camera, the control works as if it was connected directly to the hotshoe when you use the SC-29.

Another thing to check is if it fires as it should if connected directly to the hotshoe. If it does, but not with the SC-29 involved, there is something wrong with the SC-29.

To make sure that there are no custom settings in the flash interfering, do a two-button reset to set everything to factory defaults (MODE + ON/OFF for 2 seconds). The setting for balanced fill flash is on the flash and is on by default (TTL BL). You shouldn't need any special settings to get this to work, so you could do a two-button reset on the camera as well (ISO + +/- for two seconds). With both camera and flash at factory defaults, just connect the flash and it should work automagically.



#5
Frank O

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If the speedlight is in remote mode, it will only fire wirelessly. ... To make sure that there are no custom settings in the flash interfering, do a two-button reset to set everything to factory defaults (MODE + ON/OFF for 2 seconds).

 

Thanks much, that appears to have been the issue. The flash at least is firing normally with and without the cord in a lighted room at nighttime -- I'll have to try it out further in daylight tomorrow, but it looks as though this was the fix.



#6
Frank O

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I've tried some test shots in daylight, and it seems as though this will work out fine. I do have one more question at this point:

 

It appears to me that with the settings described above (SB-800 reset to default TTL BL mode, D7200 in P mode with no other customization), the strobe is putting out full power on every shot. As mentioned, this is fine with me, and I can generally fine-tune it by physically altering the strobe placement and direction (using bounce, etc). In some cases, however, I might want to dial down the amount of light the strobe is putting out. Any thoughts on the easiest/fastest way to do this while doing quick shooting on-the-fly? Would this be easier to control from the camera, or from a setting on the speedlight?



#7
Merco_61

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Setting flash compensation on the body is easy, read page 151 and 152 in the D7200 manual.

 

To avoid the nearly full dump and get shorter recharge times, try raising the ISO a bit. Remember that the D7200 has very much better high ISO than the D70 had. You will always need more flash with a slow lens or a closed down aperture compared to fast lenses wide open.