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A Flash Intensity Control question

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by Andym72, Mar 8, 2013.

  1. Andym72

    Andym72 Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 4, 2013
    Reading, UK
    I have an EPL-3.

    I was wondering, is there a way to reduce the power of the flash, and at the same time increase exposure (some combo of shutter, aperture and ISO) so that the shot still comes out properly exposed?

    I can dial the flash down with Flash Intensity Control, but then the camera has already set the longest shutter speed it is going to let you have (the Slow Limit), ISO seems to be locked to 200, and oddly, changing aperture seems to make no difference to how dark the final result is.

    If you're wondering why the hell I'm trying to do this, its because I'm practising - I'm going to a party that's going to be dark, and I'm going to need a little fill in flash, not too much, just a little, so the flash doesn't dominate the lighting.

    Edit: This is for the mini clip on flash that comes with the E-PL3, btw.
  2. veereshai

    veereshai Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 12, 2011
    Arlington, VA
    I am not sure which flash you're using and if you're employing TTL. So, let me start with controlling the intensity of the flash if you were doing it all manually (No TTL). There are four ways to control the exposure on the objects lit by flash:

    (i) Reduce the power on the flash.
    (ii) Reduce the ISO.
    (iii) Stop down the aperture.
    (iv) Move the flash away. Remember it follows the inverse-square law.

    To control the ambient light/exposure, use the shutter speed.
  3. RobWatson

    RobWatson Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Brute force methods to lower flash intensity include such things as bounce card, gel filters (there are ND gel filters) and diffusers.

    These would be my choices of last resort if more conventional means prove unsatisfactory.
  4. Andym72

    Andym72 Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 4, 2013
    Reading, UK
    The problem is not with lowering the flash intensity. This works as advertised. The problem is with getting the camera to change how it exposes, based on the fact that there is now going to be less light thrown at the scene (available/ambient light + flash).

    Is this possible?
  5. PaulGiz

    PaulGiz Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 3, 2013
    Rhode Island, USA
    When you lower your flash intensity, you are just changing the balance between flash/ambient lighting. Your camera will still try to get a "correctly" exposed shot.

    If you need to adjust the exposure of the finished shot, or the aperture or shutter speed, it's on you.

    Exposure compensation and/or Aperture Priority is available to you separately from the Flash intensity (or Flash Bracketing) function.
  6. fin azvandi

    fin azvandi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 12, 2011
    South Bend, IN
    I would recommend practicing while shooting in Manual mode so you can see how each variable (aperture, shutter speed, ISO, flash power) is affecting your shot. If you just want flash for fill, with ambient providing the main light, you need to start by shooting the scene without flash - get the exposure correct for the ambient first. Then lock those settings and add just enough flash power to get the look you want. There is no need to keep the ISO down at 200 on the E-PL3, try going up to 400-800 if you need it.

    EDIT - forgot to add that unless you are going to be asking your subjects to pose, you'll want to aim for a higher shutter speed than the slow limit or else you'll get motion blur. Also as RobWatson mentioned, try bouncing the flash off the ceiling for a more diffused, natural look.
  7. Andym72

    Andym72 Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 4, 2013
    Reading, UK
    That's actually not what I'm seeing. When I turn Flash intensity down, I get an overall darker image, no matter which metering mode I choose.

    I just tried it again.
  8. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    We really need to know your camera settings for this. Are you on Auto flash, or manual power? Are you on a priority mode or manual? Like Fin said, you should first learn how to control your flash manually so you know what's really happening in your scene. Olympus allows you to do this even with your pop-up/clip-on flash, as they are one of the too few smart manufacturers who include full manual control with built-in flash. I could never, ever understand why others would not allow this. You will find that changing different settings do change the quality of your light in different ways, not just the intensity of it. It's easier for you to just try it out and learn for yourself than to try and explain it all in words.
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