BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
ANN VARELIS
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/5/2004
 

using external flash


Help!I have a nikon d70 and I was never satisfied with the built in flash so I bought the SB800 expensive external flash unit.I read the mannual,set it up and yet I really dont see the difference between the sb800 and internal flash!!my sports indoor pictures at iso400, with standard lens about 40 feet away still come out way too dark!!I use speed of about 1/250 to freeze action at about f3.5 or so.I'm convinced there something about the flash that I'm doing wrong.


To love this question, log in above
6/14/2005 11:41:54 AM

 
Kerry L. Walker   Lower your shutter speed. The fact that your camera will sync at that speed doesn't mean you should always do so. Shooting at a slower shutter speed will increase the ambient light and will, through the flash, increase you effective shutter speed, thereby stopping the action. You may also have to open the aperature a bit more too. At 40' you are losing a lot of your flash power.


To love this comment, log in above
6/14/2005 12:43:46 PM

 
John Rhodes
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/24/2005
  Ann, You probably aren't doing anything wrong, with the possible exception of expection far too much from any flash. The efectiveness of the flash will likely fall off shorted than 40'. I don't know what the range is for your external flash, but Nikon should be able to advise. You may need to increase the ISO setting even further.

Best of luck.

VR

John


To love this comment, log in above
6/14/2005 12:44:19 PM

 
John Rhodes
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/24/2005
  Sorry about the lack of editing above. I need a proofreader I guess.
John


To love this comment, log in above
6/14/2005 12:46:11 PM

 
ANN VARELIS
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/5/2004
  But the panel of my external flash sais that I'm good until 60 ft! I dont want noise so I avoid raising the ISO more than 400.I open the aperture as much as is possible at 1/250 speed.To get good exposure at 400 I have to shoot at 1/60th and I want to freeze action not blur


To love this comment, log in above
6/14/2005 12:50:41 PM

 
John Rhodes
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/24/2005
  Ann, after reading your posting, I saw the very next question raised the same issue. Take a look at the question "Shooting action pictures indoors" for additional responses on the question.

VR

John


To love this comment, log in above
6/14/2005 12:50:56 PM

 
Kerry L. Walker   Don't feel bad John. I need both a typist and a proofreader.

Ann, I agree with John on the ISO setting. You might also want to use a zoom or telephoto lens too. The flash will zoom with the lens. The SB800 is expensive because of its versatility, not because of its power.


To love this comment, log in above
6/14/2005 12:52:43 PM

 
ANN VARELIS
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/5/2004
  oh great, I just spent $600 for versatility I probably wouldn never use. What do you mean "flash will zoom with the lens?" please elaborate...I'm not very familiar with flash photography, but now I need to photograph action from about 40ft indoors. thank you all


To love this comment, log in above
6/14/2005 12:56:15 PM

 
Kerry L. Walker   Ann, the flash will freeze the action. The average flash will be on for anywhere from 1/1000 of a second to 1/50000 of a second. THAT is what freezes the action. The more ambient light you have, the less light the flash has to provide so the shorter the burst. Also, learn to follow the action. If you are panning, the subject will be in focus even if the background has enough ambient light to show up and be out of focus.


To love this comment, log in above
6/14/2005 12:57:21 PM

 
Kerry L. Walker   If you paid $600.00 for the SB800, you must have paid full retail. You need to be shopping at B&H. I don't want to tell you the price there because you would be sick.

The SB800 is a zoom flash, meaning its field of view, so to speak, changes with the field of view of the lens attached to the camera. The longer the lens, the narrower the beam of light it emits. The narrower the beam, the longer the throw. Besides, from 40' with a normal lens, you are not going to get a very close view of the action.


To love this comment, log in above
6/14/2005 1:05:34 PM

 
ANN VARELIS
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/5/2004
  well, $600 CDN funds but in Airmiles points actually.Still was expensive. I dont know what's B&H, is it American? I'm in Canada-shipping,handling & exchange all count.

Thank you for the explanation on zoom. I do have a 300mm zoom lens. I will experiment some more.


To love this comment, log in above
6/14/2005 1:10:45 PM

 
Kerry L. Walker   It wwould be about $400 CDN. B&H is in NYC. Shipping wouldn't bee too bad I don't imagine. I live in the southern US and it is still cheaper for me to get my supplies from B&H, even with shipping.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/


To love this comment, log in above
6/14/2005 1:17:59 PM

 
John C. Schwentner
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/24/2004
  Im just curious, does this flash not have a power level setting? I have the Minolta maxxuum 5600d which does, and all I need do is up the power and this fool thing will light up close to 100 feet.


To love this comment, log in above
6/15/2005 5:12:49 PM

 
ANN VARELIS
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/5/2004
  John, you know what, I really dont know. I just purchased it and all I did is set it on my camera and started shooting. The manual looks very complicated so I havent read the whole thing yet but I will certainly find out about what you suggested. Thank you.


To love this comment, log in above
6/16/2005 6:28:39 AM

 
Kerry L. Walker   Ann, the problem with camera equipment manuals is that they are written by people who don't speak English. (Heck, I don't speak English either. I speak Southern.) However, you really should read the manual. It can give you a lot more information than I can.

John, I think the power on the Minolta 5600d is a lot greater than on the Nikon SB800. You got the power!


To love this comment, log in above
6/16/2005 6:40:10 AM

 
John C. Schwentner
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/24/2004
  Yeah, it really does have a kick to it, but I assumed with her flash being so expensive, even more than mine, that is probably does have that power setting. Hope so.


To love this comment, log in above
6/16/2005 10:41:17 AM

 
Kerry L. Walker   The price on both flashes is about the same. (The 400 was CDN, not US). Yours shows a guide number of 184 whereas hers has this same guide number only when fully zoomed to the degree of a 105mm lens. With her using a normal lens, it isn't nearly that powerful.


To love this comment, log in above
6/16/2005 12:16:23 PM

 
ANN VARELIS
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/5/2004
  what happens after 105mm? what if I use a 300mm lens? will it be more powerful or it doesnt work after 105mm?


To love this comment, log in above
6/16/2005 1:09:57 PM

 
Kerry L. Walker   Your flash will work fine above 105mm. That is just the maximum IT will zoom. The field of throw for your flash will be greater than the field of view of your lens but that won't matter. It only matters in reverse, when the field of throw of your flash is less than the field of view of your lens (extreme wide angle).


To love this comment, log in above
6/16/2005 1:23:55 PM

 
ANN VARELIS
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/5/2004
  so let me undersand: if 105mm is the maximum it will zoom then after this it looses power, correct?


To love this comment, log in above
6/16/2005 1:45:13 PM

 
Kerry L. Walker   No, that is not what I mean. Think of your flash as a zoom lens. You have two zoom lenses, one that zooms to 300 and one that zooms to 105 (this is the one that represents your flash.) If you put them on identical cameras side by side, the 105 zoom stops zooming before the 300 does. The 105 still works fine but it won't narrow the field of view anymore. This is the same for your flash. It still works fine but the beam of light won't narrow any more. It will work fine with the 300mm lens but the area of the flash will be wider than the field of view of the lens. I hope this helps. Just use your long lens and zoom the flash to 105mm and you will be fine.


To love this comment, log in above
6/16/2005 2:55:36 PM

 
ANN VARELIS
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/5/2004
  Kerry, you must think I'm totally out of it with this flash business! Thanks so much for your help. One last question(I promise), 1/If I use my long lens will it automatically zoom to 105mm or I have to set something in the flash? 2/if the object(lets say lion's head) is 30ft away and my 300mm lens zooms in to fill the lens with the lions head then the flash will cover the lions head also(+more area which I wont see)BUT would the lion's head look brighter than if I used a 105mm lens with the same flash and all other settings were equal? Thank you


To love this comment, log in above
6/16/2005 3:07:23 PM

 
John C. Schwentner
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/24/2004
  Thats right, Kerry. My 5600 has the built in diffuser for w/a down to 17mm to compensate for that flash beam, but as you say this benefit is for the wide angle end of the spectrum. I read my manual (tough) and I memorized all the junk, but it slips away, I dont remember what my max gn really is, my cam zooms to 380mm. The flash does have auto zoom but only to 85mm I think, and after that the beams going to widen out, but then I can kick in the extra power, but I have to be in manual then. Geez I dont know if this stuff helps poor ann or confuses her more.But Im getting some feedback too thanks


To love this comment, log in above
6/16/2005 6:36:39 PM

 
Kerry L. Walker   As far as your flash automatically zooming, it depends. If you are using a newer Nikon lens (one that has all the contacts to match your camera so the camera can read the size of the lens) it should. The fact that the flash won't zoom any further will not affect the exposure, only the distance it will throw. The TTL mechanism in your camera will stop the flash when the exposure is correct. I have a suggestion to help you understand how the zoom works. Put an adjustable nozzle on a water hose. As you adjust it, the stream gets smaller and goes further. It is still putting out the same amount of water, it just goes further.


To love this comment, log in above
6/17/2005 6:16:19 AM

 
Kerry L. Walker   John, I have been meaning to tell you that I really like Cheroke Morning. That is a beautiful shot.


To love this comment, log in above
6/17/2005 6:19:57 AM

 
ANN VARELIS
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/5/2004
  Thank you all for your help. This week I am going to photograph a martial arts competition in an indoor gymnasium, the parents want to buy pics of their kids in action so I'm crossing my fingers that I can get the flash&camera to cooperate. I'll be pretty close to the action(within 10-15ft) so hopefully things will work out.


To love this comment, log in above
6/17/2005 6:26:43 AM

 
Kerry L. Walker   At that distance, it will work fine with the normal lens. The TKD picture in my gallery was shot from a little further than that with a flash with a GN of 100 and it worked fine.


To love this comment, log in above
6/17/2005 6:29:29 AM

 
Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/4/2004
 
 
BetterPhoto.com Editor's Pick   WATCH OUT!!!
WATCH OUT!!!
© Debby A. Tabb
Nikon D70 Digital ...
 
 
© Debby A. Tabb
Nikon D70 Digital ...
 
 
ANN,
I DON'T KNOW IF THIS WILL HELP BUT I TOOK THESE BETWEEN 9-10:30 AT NIGHT -THE BMX NATHIONAL - WITH A D70 AND SB800.
THE FLASH WAS USED OFF CAMERA-IT IS IN THE DOWN SIDE OF THE HILL POINTING TOWARD THE CURVE THE DIRT ON A FOOT WITH A POCKET WIZARD. THE CAMERA WAS JUST ON THE ACTION SETTING.
ANY WAY , I USE SLAVED LIGHTING IN SPORTS AND WEDDINGS TO PUT EXTRA LIGHTING ABOUT WITH OUT IT ON MY CAMERA.
JUST ANOTHER IDEA.


To love this comment, log in above
6/17/2005 6:46:14 AM

 
ANN VARELIS
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/5/2004
  Debbie, did you do any photoshop work after on these pictures?


To love this comment, log in above
6/17/2005 6:52:38 AM

 
Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/4/2004
  NO, ABSOLUTLY NONE- IN FACT THAT WAS A YEAR AGO -AND I JUST HAD TO TAKE THEM OFF THE RAW FILE DISK AND PUT THEM IN MY DOCUMENTS-TO POST.


To love this comment, log in above
6/17/2005 7:02:02 AM

 
John C. Schwentner
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/24/2004
  Kerry, your anology with the water hose is a very good way to explain that, even I understand it.

Thank you for your interest in Cherokee Morning. That is perhaps the best thing, if not the only good one I have ever done. I achieved what I wanted when I saw that morning light, but Mary wasnt doing well, was very ill at the time. That was captured as well. Again, thank you. That portrait was how I got into this site, I had promised her I would get that on the internet somehow. You know a sad thing, I tried to put it in a couple other places, but the site operaters didnt know the difference between art and dirty pictures. They smugly informed me they thought it not suitable because of young children on the site.(And clearly it isnt even that revealing) Well, Im sorry, but her portrait, I feel as well as other people of taste like you; is artful rather than pornographic. And I dont always agree with BP on how they pick winners ha ha, but at least they are adult and perceptive about their site in this regard.


To love this comment, log in above
6/17/2005 12:15:13 PM

 
Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/4/2004
  OH JOHN ,
I CAN'T BELIVE YOU HAVE HAD A HARD TIME WITH THAT PORTRAIT
"Cherokee Morning" IT IS MY FAVORITE IN YOUR GALLERY ALSO.
BEAUTIFUL SHOT!
JUST THOUGHT I WOULD CHIME IN AND LET YA KNOW.


To love this comment, log in above
6/17/2005 1:01:01 PM

 
Kerry L. Walker   You know John, I really hate pornography. I think it is crude and degrading. I have more respect for women to appreciate something like that. However, I do like good nudes, and Cherokee Morning isn't even really a nude. The best nudes I have seen don't really bring your attention to the nudity. (The best aren't fully nude.) They convey a mood, sometimes soothing and sometimes somber, like Cherokee Morning. That picture is not your only good one but it is your best. It should be hanging in an art gallery somewhere.

I would post a nude self-portrait but I would probably get sued for all the injuries caused by everyone falling out of their chairs laughing.


To love this comment, log in above
6/17/2005 1:35:50 PM

 
Michelle Lea  Guinn
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/3/2004
  LOL!!!!!!!!!!!! Kerry, you are way too funny!!!!! you really now how to brighten a persons day!!!! mlg


To love this comment, log in above
6/17/2005 1:47:23 PM

 
ANN VARELIS
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/5/2004
  wow, I didnt realize that my issue with flash photography would create such a discussion on nudity!!!

I found it interesting that the picture does not depict your usual nude, beautiful, gorgeous, blond that you see in magazine covers. Refreshing if I may add.


To love this comment, log in above
6/17/2005 1:55:21 PM

 
John C. Schwentner
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/24/2004
  Kerry I can never thank you enough for your kind perception. If Mary Sue could only be here to see what you said about hanging in the gallery, she would cry.(as I am right now) I wish I could get it in one for her memory, but I wouldnt know where to start. Not looking for any renumeration ever, just to keep her beautiful spirit alive forever.

Thank you too Ann, no she wasnt a gorgeous typical nude model, just a beautiful woman, (not bad for 58 huh?) and was a knockout before she got so ill and gaunt. Some prettier ones are in my gallery, but none are as photographically art-ish as this one.


To love this comment, log in above
6/17/2005 2:18:26 PM

 
Kerry L. Walker   Mary had a beauty about her that people like Pamela Andersen (or Anderson, not sure) and Paris Hilton will NEVER have. Beauty comes from within so yes, she was gorgeous.

I am of the age that I would much rather take pictures of old ladies with their lines and wrinkles of character and young girls with their impish grins than the so-called beauties of the magazine variety. I guess that is one reason I am so impressed with Cherokee Morning and the pictures Kerby has of that sweet little model of his.


To love this comment, log in above
6/17/2005 2:34:37 PM

 
John C. Schwentner
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/24/2004
  Oh Debby, Im so sorry I didnt read enough and acknowledge your beautiful comment on the portrait. Thank you honey as well, I can see youre not like the others in question as you know what youre looking at


To love this comment, log in above
6/17/2005 2:35:18 PM

 
John C. Schwentner
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/24/2004
  And thank you once again Kerry, Ill be thanking you till I die. You are correct on her beauty (although like I mentioned, she was more beautiful in some of the other shots as far as skin deep) But one thing Mar said, was "John, I know Im getting older, but I would like to see myself as I am, a 58 year old natural unadorned indian just as I am" Well, Mary Sue, it looks Like you made it honey.


To love this comment, log in above
6/17/2005 2:43:27 PM

 
Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/4/2004
  fIRST MAY I SAY SORRY ANN, WE'VE GOTTEN OFF TRACK.
NOW DEAR JOHN,
I MY SELF AM PART CHEROKEE( CHEROKEE AND DUTCH HOW DO YOU LIKE THAT-CRAZY MIX I GOT HIGH CHEEKS AND BLONDE HAIR,LOL) I DO A LOT OF WORK OUT HERE FOR THE MORONGO RES. AND KNOW THAT THEY HANG PORTRAITS IN MEMORY NOW AND THEN. IF YOU KNOW WHERE MARY WAS FROM THAT MAY BE THE PLACE TO START ,AT LEAST TO GET HER HUNG THERE IN MEMORY.
ALSO , YOU HAVEN'T MEMTIONED HOW SHE PASSED BUT, A LOT OF THE DIFERENT ORGANIZATION HAVE MOMORIAL ART- SUCH AT THE BREAST CANCER INSTATUTE ,I DID A SHOOT AT A CASINO NIGHT FOR OVARION CANSER AND THEY HAEV A WEB SITE THAT THEY PUBLISH THOSE ON. IN OUR TRADE THAT IS IMPORTANT TO US - A IMAGE "THEY "WON'T FORGET" AT MY GRAND FATHERS FUNERAL I GAVE OUT LITTLE FLAG COVERED BOOKS THAT HAD PICTURES OF HIM FROM MARRIED THROUGH WWIIAND HIS 60TH WEDDING ANN. TO EVERY HEAD OF HOUSEHOLD IN OUR FAMILY-SO ,NO ONE WOULD FORGET.
NOUGH SAID,
JUST A THOUGHT- A WAY TO


To love this comment, log in above
6/17/2005 3:06:04 PM

 
John C. Schwentner
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/24/2004
  Thanks Debby. Mary was Cherokee (of course) and a little Italian. She was only part Cherokee but she was very indian-oriented and collected everything indian and Southwest.

If you know more about that reservation I would be intersted in seeing about sending them a framed portrait if they do that. Mary Sue was born in
Ft Sill Oklahoma, but was a service child and moved all over the country, mostly North west Ga and Tennessee.

No, it wasnt a caner thing like that, her liver was failing. Yes, she was an alcoholic (so what, she was a good person)and she also had hepatitis. A very bad fatal combination. She just wouldnt do anything about it, and she lived her life her own way. She was the friend of my life, even if for only 8 years, but they were the best 8. She died in her sleep next to me, and was as happy as she had ever been.

Thank you for asking, and apologies also to Ann, I guess we should have used private emails for this junk. I know she doesnt mind though, you can tell she's cool!

OK BACK TO FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY!


To love this comment, log in above
6/17/2005 3:35:03 PM

 
John C. Schwentner
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/24/2004
 
 
  No title, just having fun that day
No title, just having fun that day
© John C. Schwentner
Minolta Dimage Z2 ...
 
 
OK Im sorry, Im gonna quit I promise! But just had to show you guys this one. Not a quality shot, but sure is a pretty face, yes? Just to show her on a better day.

Im done


To love this comment, log in above
6/17/2005 3:59:19 PM

 
Kerry L. Walker   Yes, it is.


To love this comment, log in above
6/18/2005 1:13:02 PM

 
John C. Schwentner
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/24/2004
  She says Thank You


To love this comment, log in above
6/18/2005 1:18:14 PM

 
ANN VARELIS
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/5/2004
  Hey, dont want to spoil the thread now but to get back to the original problem, I just got back from a "flash/exposure" seminar and I finally found a way to compensate for the dark pictures my nikon flash is giving me: use the EV conpensation ON THE FLASH unit and increase it by 1.3 or so and presto! seems like I just increased my flash power. I often do this in my camera but in never occured to me that my flash also has that option! Just a note for future reference even if it may be elementary to some or you. (now back to the Cherokee picture :))


To love this comment, log in above
6/20/2005 8:40:04 AM

 
John C. Schwentner
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/24/2004
  Ann, thats good, glad to know you have an EV mode ofn the unit. I think that means exposure value? That would add or subtract power as you need it kinda like the power level setting, so great! You see, I knew you could figure it out if we tied up your thread.


To love this comment, log in above
6/20/2005 12:23:51 PM

 
ANN VARELIS
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/5/2004
  You're not kidding! every time I got an email notice that my thread had a response(about the Cherokee lady) it kept reminding me that I had to solve my flash problem..-done. Hey, thanks John.
P.S. very sorry to hear that you lost a very dear friend.. nice to have captured some beautiful memories of her


To love this comment, log in above
6/20/2005 12:33:16 PM

 
John C. Schwentner
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/24/2004
  Well thanks again for that nice thought. Im sorry about all the conversation on her, but when Kerry saw her and said that it really brought it before my mind again. I could talk forever about her, but Ill try to keep focused!


To love this comment, log in above
6/20/2005 2:49:15 PM

 
Log in to respond or ask your own question.