Event Photography - TTL or MANUAL?

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by cacadepollo, Feb 11, 2015.

  1. cacadepollo

    cacadepollo Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 6, 2015
    So along with my newly purchased GH4, I also got the Metz 64 AF-1 speedlight...but I'm already considering returning the Metz because I'm just not a fan of the touchscreen - I think I prefer some actual buttons for whatever reason...

    Anyways, but now I'm wondering if a TTL flash is even really necessary to consider, and so I'm curious how any of you folks who do event-type photography go about using your flashes, and what settings you use.

    What Speedlight do you own/use?

    Do you TTL or Manual?

    How powerful of a speedlight do you think is really necessary for most event shooting?

  2. Dan Lopez

    Dan Lopez Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 12, 2011
    I use an FL600R and have found the power to be sufficient for events.. I primarily stick to TTL, unless I'm shooting in a controlled setting like a studio shoot or where a specific look is necessary. I do think you would benefit form some trial and error in terms of finding how much power you need.
  3. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    There really is no one good answer. I'm sure most people asking this question are probably tired of hearing "it depends", but it really does.

    I've used TTL and manual speed lights still to this day, depending on need.
  4. eteless

    eteless Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2014
    Depends on the event, generally TTL though as it removes one more thing you have to focus on and lets you look for and plan the type of shots you want.
  5. SpecFoto

    SpecFoto Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Aug 28, 2012
    So Cal
    As others have said, It (does) Depend. However, not just on the event. But:

    How comfortable are you with manual settings on your camera?
    Do you have any light modifiers (softboxes, umbrellas) and stands, or are you just going to go with a camera mounted flash?
    Do you have a light meter, or at least are comfortable with using your cameras spot meter?
    How much do you want flash to influence the outcome?
    How much time, effort and $$ do you want to invest in lighting?

    If you are starting out, then a TTL mounted flash is ok starting point. But realize TTL, fill or otherwise, is not a complete solution, as it will try its darndest to make all lighting come out at 18% gray. (Turning white wedding dresses off white for example). So you need to do some study on exposure compensation using TTL.

    As soon as you can, get a light stand, modifier and use the TTL flash off-camera. However TTL's range is very limited, it will not fire if the light is behind you or (some models) next to you, in bright sun, or blocked by walls. So radio triggers may be needed and ones that use the camera’s TTL system are more expensive. Oh, and there are no TTL radio triggers for M4/3 yet.

    With manual flash, you decide on the settings, you control the output. With TTL, it changes with each camera angle or aperture/ss change the camera may make and the results will vary.

    I went the full circle, starting out small with 1 Nikon iTTL flash years ago, eventually added 4 more speedlites, then 5 pocket wizards with iTTL to be in better radio control of the speedlights, and finally about 4 years ago went back to manual flash, mainly because the speedlights weren't powerful enough. Now have 6 Godox manual lights (4 bare bulb, [email protected] and [email protected] 180ws, and 2 speedlight @ 70ws) with a very simple 1 button power control mounted on camera that I can change the power of any or all of the lights. I do some metering around the event before hand to set parameters and make minor adjustments by looking at the highlight blinkies on the camera. Just learn to slightly underexpose as today's camera can pull so much from the shadows. Love these Godox lights and I do not miss TTL at all.

    If you are on a tight budget, by going with manual flash you can pick up the cheapest used flash you can find, along with chinese triggers, probably < $125 total per unit to play with. You will learn much more about flash (and your camera) this way.
  6. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    I try to use manual as much as I can, it makes for quicker post processing as the results are a more consistent. This requires knowing your flash and power outputs for varying distances, and how bounce lighting will affect your subject. This works really well for when the event calls for photographing people at tables, when the bounce distance can be kept much the same, or when keeping distances from the subjects consistent if using direct flash.

    When circumstances no longer allows predictable circumstances, it is time to move to TTL. TTL is not an all in one solution as different situations will call for plus or minus flash exposure compensation. And this depends much on preferred metering methods, spot, averaging, matrix; all of which are personal choices and relative to shooting styles.

    For inside events, in both situations I keep the camera in manual with the shutter speed slow enough to bring in the ambient light. It is not unusual for me to use shutter speeds of 1/10 – 1/30 and an ISO of 400, 800, or even 1600 depending on the lighting.

    How powerful of a speedlight? In some cases I may supplement room lighting by placing a couple of Quantum T5d-r's bouncing off the ceiling/walls providing more illumination or using them to directly light a space. For Olympus I primarily use FL-50rs but have been using the FL-600R in some cases. And the FL-600R opened the door for sometimes using off camera FL-50rs controlled by the FL-600R.

    I suggest starting with manual flash and learn it well, with digital photography it is not near as hard as some try to make it and whole lot easier than when shooting film. TTL sometimes does not work the way one expects, and it helps to be able to immediately change back to manual and get the shot. On the other hand, I know plenty that have no idea about manual and solely use TTL.
  7. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    The question was about event photography, which generally means shooting people at an event with on camera flash.

    For that, I generally use my Nikon D7000, 17-55/2.8 & SB800 in TTL mode with a bounce card, because it works and lets me pay attention to what I'm shooting instead of how I'm shooting.
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