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Can you force manual flash mode with pannies?

Discussion in 'Panasonic Cameras' started by New Daddy, Sep 3, 2011.

  1. New Daddy

    New Daddy Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 24, 2011
    Can you force the use of manual mode with the built-in flash? When I use the flash as fill during daylight shooting, I feel there is not enough flash for good balance against the sunlight. When the ambient sunlight is strong, even at +2 flash compensation, it's not enough. It could be because the built-in flash is weak (which it appears to be), or it could be because the built-in flash is not exerting its full power even at +2 flash compensation under TTL flash metering.

    It happens with my Nissin Di 466 external flash as well. Under TTL flash metering, its maximum flash compensation (+1.5) is not enough to bring the subject to a good balance with the sunlit backdrop. It's only after I change it to the manual mode and set the flash at its full power or 1/2 power that I see enough juice for good balance.

    In other words, I don't think the highest flash compensation under TTL metering will necessarily get you to the maximum power of the flash unit. So, I'd like to work in the manual flash compensation mode to elicit maximum power from the built-in flash. Is this possible?
  2. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    I don't have a Panasonic, but can't you set your built-in flash to Full with a Manual Power setting, ie 1/1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32, 1/64? I've never owned an Olympus camera which didn't allow me to do that. This can be useful to me as I can set my flash to 1/64th and trigger slave units with it. ;) 
  3. New Daddy

    New Daddy Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 24, 2011
    I don't find anything that says you can in the user guide. That's why I posted the question. One more reason for me to try an Olympus m4/3 next time.
  4. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    I don't know of anything other than the normal flash compensation.

    That said, I think this could be easily worked around by using spot or center weighted metering, so you're setting the metering more based on your subject than the bright background.

    It would help to know which model body you have
  5. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    The problem with fill flash is the m4/3 flash metering system. Instead of using a separate cell like most DSLRs the m4/3 cameras meter flash from the sensor. Often this means that no matter what you do the flash won't ramp up enough in TTL even though there's plenty of power in the flash. Unfortunately there is no way to set the internal flash to auto or manual.

    With an external flash there are solutions. Now I only have Olympus and Metz flashes so this may not apply. In TTL the FEC in camera and on the gun is cumulative. So if you set the camera to +2 and the flash to +3 you get 5 stops of FEC. The other way is to set your flash to auto instead of TTL. On the m4/3 body it will still read the focal length for zoom and the aperture, but it will use the sensor on the flash for flash metering, not the camera sensor. It works far more reliably in every situation I've tried and is no more difficult to use than TTL. The only downsides are that you can only set FEC via the flash in auto and you loose high speed sync. I just use an ND filter or polarizer anyhow so it's not been an issue for me. A big advantage is that auto has less than a third of the shutter lag of TTL. I've completely eliminated my fill in flash problems.

    So unfortunately you're going to have to use an external. But it's pretty easy to make that work reliably.

  6. New Daddy

    New Daddy Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 24, 2011
    I have a GF1 and a GH1.

    There is no one right answer from an artistic point of view in such situation, and your suggestion is a perfectly fine solution. The method you suggested, however, will most likely blow the highlight.

    What I personally try to achieve in back-lit situation is to protect the highlight and compensate with a strong fill flash. As a matter of fact, I intentionally go for back-lit angle, because the sunlight creates a really nice, flattering hair light. So, instead of exposing for the subject, I expose for the sky (but carefully exclude the sun in the frame) with center-weighted metering.
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