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Some basic flash questions

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by Poki, Feb 11, 2013.

  1. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Austria
    Hey guys,

    I currently have no good flash and probably won't invest in one the next few months, but there are a few things that make me curious for a while now so I'd like to ask some noobish questions.

    1. The "new" hotshoe Sony uses now - does TTL metering now also work on other non-Sony flashes? If not, what are the options for TTL - only the expensive HVL-F60M OR a iISO-hotshoe flash with the bulky (in NEX terms) adapter?

    2. (Wireless) flash syncing: What are the basic options? Do all flashes have to be from the same manufacturer (e.g. a Sony flash can only trigger other Sony flashes, a Metz flash can only trigger Metz flashes etc.)? So I can't combine for example one Sony HVL-F43AM and two Metz flashes?

    3. How well can the power output be regulated on modern flashes like the HVL-F43AM? I want to know this especially because I'll need two off-camera flashes for macro photography and I'm not willing to invest in Sony's expensive twin flashes - after all, 700€ is too much for a pair of GN 20 flashes.

    4. What flash system would you recommend for the future Sony NEX system (e.g. with the standard hotshoe) and why?

    Thanks for your help! And again, I don't need advice in the artistic use of flashes - I have a bit of lighting background from my video work (with 500 - 1000W 5400K lights) and I watched quite a few flash tutorials - but neither of them explained these technical basics, so please help a poor photographer with his dummie questions. :)
     
  2. Nubster

    Nubster TalkEmount Veteran

    471
    Jan 5, 2013
    West Virginia, USA
    Chad
    I know next to nothing about flash so I won't be much help, but I'm pretty sure that TTL does not work, at least with non-Sony flashes, or at least with Nikon flashes. Everything else, I have no idea.
     
  3. xXx1

    xXx1 TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 15, 2013

    1) I don't think that there are native third party flashes for the new hot shoe yet.

    2) No. TTL works by interrupting the flash when there has been sufficiently light. If one of the flashes is much more powerful then most of light is going to come from that (except that the less powerful may be faster with the flash). In practise I think that it will be much easier to get two same flashes to work. There are remote transmitters for Minolta shoe, for example this:
    Phottix Strato II Wireless TTL Remote Flash Trigger Sony A900 A850 A580 A560 A55 | eBay

    3) Power adjustment works very well even in cheap adjustable flashes. I have no idea how it works (interrupting flash when sufficient current has passed the sensor, adjusting flash voltage ...).

    4) I would wait. TTL flash is going to cost quite a lot and for macro work big flashes are impossible to use. I am thinking to get Godox ML-150 but no TTL with that and usual restrictions with ring flash apply.

    Flashes for new shoe seem to be appearing already:
    Flash Nissin Di866 Mark II for Sony for Sony NEX-6
    Flash Nissin Di622 MARK II for Sony for Sony NEX-6

    It seems that the flash business with nex is going to right direction.
     
  4. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Austria
    Thanks for the answer. Still don't know which flash system I prefer (well, I would prefer a combination of 3 HVL-F43AM and a twin flash, but that's a little bit expensive), but the flash market seems a little bit lacking ...

    I heard so many positive AND negative things about ring flashes ... The most common problem seems that most of them simply don't have a complete light ring. And then there's two types - "real" flashes and some that use LED lights. The second type is of course easier to use, and the newer Sony one seems to be the brightest on the market with a complete ring of LEDs and a good diffusor. As for the Godox, apart from that there's no Sony version, I'll have to see if there are some reviews around. At least it is relatively cheap.
     
  5. nianys

    nianys TalkEmount All-Pro

    Aug 23, 2012
    France
    Let me tell you one thing, as a big flash user. Flash can be a real headache if you go into the technical minutiae *except* if you accept to forego TTL. The upside is that you can use just about ANY old flash at all (just make sure it was designed for digital use so you don't get inappropriate voltage and fry your camera) and get become a beast at exposure in the process. I don't see any downside as I was never a fan of TTL in the first place. Unless you're a flash master, TTL is widely UNRELIABLE, it can expose perfectly on one shot and vastly screw the next, wouldn't rather be in charge of what you do ??
    Again, I use flash daily (reason why I don't agonize ever about high ISO, I just don't need it, lol), manual is the way to go. I just received my second NEX 7 unit and tested the little Youngnuo hotshoe adapter I had bought for my previous 7 (and never got around to actually use). It works perfectly ! Add some height to the camera and doesn't look all that pretty, but sincerely who cares. Even when I use the dinky add-on flash units of the smaller models( 5N, C3) I go full manual and get perfect exposure.

    c9120a925b39db25d4f62ada823b322e_a34.
    Flash

    c09d587bb674bc2b2b8b007ad310d430_4e7.
    flash

    6d179da71eb2cce143d1bb520e780c43_12c.
    and more flash !

    ISO400 (fine tune if needed later), F stop of your choice, WB K4300, shutter anywhere between 1/60 and 1/160, and most importantly NO direct flash (never, ever, repeat after me), BOUNCE the sucker to the wall or ceiling. Adjust to taste. Remember to turn LiveView Display "setting effects OFF" in the set-up menu so you don't stare at a black screen while shooting ;) P.S. the flash I tested with today is the Olympus FL36 designed to fit m4/3 cameras in size and it's PERFECT on the NEX.
     

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  6. xXx1

    xXx1 TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 15, 2013
    The problem with led lights (the type that is constantly on) is that they don't produce enough light. When leds are flashed you can push much more current thru them but they are still far from xenon flash that have very short flash duration so led flash illuminates for maybe 1/100 seconds and xenon flash 1/10000 seconds and produces even more light. So I think that at the moment flashes are the way to go if you need to use short exposure times.

    Now the problem with ring flashes is that they have no modelling light so you need bright live view (and working peaking). All the ring lights and flashes suffer from lack of 3D as the subject is illuminated too evenly.

    Twin flash seems to be superior to ring flashes and ring lights. Too bad they are too expensive. Working TTL (even with cable) and small TTL flashes would probably work ok but there are not suitable small flashes or cables to Nex 6 yet.

    I think that it won't take long that something like Metz 24 will be availlable. I may still look to that ML-150 as manual flash is ok for me. Lack of shadows restricts its use.
     
  7. xXx1

    xXx1 TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 15, 2013
    And you can use remote trigger with that setup too. The cheap ones (PT-04) aren't so good but supposedly the 2.4 GHz units work ok.
     

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  8. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Austria
    Okay, but then one question remains: How to sync two or three flashes without breaking the bank? I'd never use on camera flash, so I need a reliable system for getting up to three flashes in sync properly. (Preferably an option that works with flashes of different brands designed for the same system, e.g. Sony and Metz flashes).
     
  9. xXx1

    xXx1 TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 15, 2013
    The cheap ones (1 transmitter+3 receivers with something like 35 USD, PT-04) aren't very reliable with Nex (C3 with hot shoe adapter) but those slightly more expensive are supposedly ok (1 transmitter+3 receivers 70 USD, RF-602). With TTL Phottix (but with Minolta shoe) are 140 CND for 1 transmitter and 2 receivers.

    Again, I think that suitable radio triggers for ttl Nex 6 will be available shortly. I think that I will stay manual for the summer and if that won't work I will start thinking TTL. I don't like flash on camera anyway and setting up flash takes time so manual setting isn't big thing. With macro I plan to use mainly fixed distance from subject (that is move the camera focusing).
     
  10. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Austria
    Thanks for the insight. Yeah, I have no problem with the second and third flash being completely manual, but it'd be nice to have at least one wireless TTL flash for those occasions where time is low, that's why I think of getting one Sony and two cheaper ones. With those transmitters and receivers everything should work okay-ish it seems, so I probably gonna buy these together with a lightmeter once I've got the money to spare.
     
  11. nianys

    nianys TalkEmount All-Pro

    Aug 23, 2012
    France
    Sorry, should have read your OP better, though to me it seems to go way beyond "basic" questions ;)
    I feel like a fool giving you a starting point when you obviously know much more about flash that I do, lol !
     
  12. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Austria
    I don't know much from the technical side, but I read quite a bit about the technology and physics behind photography (yep, I'm one of those nerds it seems ;)) which also apply to flashes in many areas. What I didn't know is how flash systems are solved nowadays by the different manufacturers and what is compatible with what - and I found different things on the web, so I thought why not simply ask here?

    But you shot much more using flashes, so you obviously know more than I do. :p
     
  13. xXx1

    xXx1 TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 15, 2013
    Not at all. I would say that manual flash is ok too. I just want to take it out of camera. TTL is nice if you are in hurry but it won't do miracles. Optimum setup for me would be small TTL flash to be used in camera. That flash needs to be powerful enough to use a diffuser. And then two manual flashes (I have these, YN 460 II and Godox TT520) + some slaves. Then there is that macro lightning problem ... .
     
  14. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Austria
    The macro flash business is broken. I think I'll simply build my own macro flash setup using two normal flashes, some ND gels, diffusors, mirrors, metal plates and lots of tape.
     
  15. xXx1

    xXx1 TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 15, 2013
    There are two ways (there is third used in the bad old days) to control xenon flashes. These use high voltage capacitor to store energy and energy stored is proportional to the square of voltage. Another possibility is to limit flash duration. Xenon tubes are very fast and they tend to use up all the stored energy stored in the capacitor. However there are silicon switches that are capable of switching those high currents and voltages. Now days those are even pretty cheap. For the control part they use microcontrollers that are kind of single chip computers. Again these are cheap these days.

    In principle TTL is about measuring the light and telling the flash to stop when there has been enough.

    The unfortunately part is that every camera brand has got it's own system.
     
  16. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Austria
    That's why it bothers me to spend hundreds of euros for these triggers. All it needs is a simple silicon chip and a infrared transmitter - two VERY cheap parts nowadays.

    Yeah, it's just about good enough for the situations where you need it, and for all other situations incident meeting is the way to go anyways.

    ... and charges premium for it. As far as I understand these systems I'm pretty sure it would not require more than a universal authentification to get every flash working with any other flash (they all work on 2,4 GHz radio or simple infrared, depending on the system) - but they won't do it ...
     
  17. xXx1

    xXx1 TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 15, 2013
    Even large diffuser may work. I have seen a anti-snoot made from tetra-brick carton and some white cloth.
     
  18. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Austria
    There are many things that work. But most self-made macro setups I've seen so far look absolutely hideous. I'm going to build something relatively compact and good-looking. I mean even if it ends up costing me 100€ and many hours of cutting and welding it's still way cheaper than any twin flash available.
     
  19. xXx1

    xXx1 TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 15, 2013
    Yes. And there are some flash brackets that may be suitable starting point. I think that the real problem is finding suitable small flashes. Lets hope Metz makes suitable flashes for Nex 6, 3 and 5 and someone makes a two flash cable for them.