1. Reminder: Please use our affiliate links for holiday shopping!

Question about TTL flash w/ E-M1 used for bounce flash

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by musicwack, Oct 8, 2015.

  1. musicwack

    musicwack Mu-43 Regular

    65
    May 21, 2015
    South Jersey
    James
    Hey there everyone! I have a couple of gigs this month that my friends and coworkers have asked me to shoot. I'm sure that these will require me to use a flash as these will take place in a reception hall. Having started photography earlier this year, I've only shot for a coworker's niece's sweet 16 where I used a FL-600R for bounce flash. My friend who is a wedding photographer calls TTL the "Easy Mode", but I found it to be a pretty frustrating experience as it seemed that I kept getting inconsistent exposures. A lot of the photos were underexposed which required me to do more work for post processing.

    I'm very persistent and eager to learn, so I was wondering if anyone can answer a few questions I have to help me get more consistent results.

    1. Are you constantly adjusting flash exposure compensation depending on where you are located in the room?

    For example, If I'm in the middle of the room and if I want to bounce off the wall, will I have to up flash exposure comp versus if I'm standing in the corner of a room? Same question for ceiling height changes.

    2. If you are using a 42.5mm or 75mm lens and want to take a full body shot, would you rather adjust flash position or increase power?

    3.
    May be a dumb question... When setting your desired ISO, shutter speed and aperture, is it normal for your EVF and light meter to appear underexposed?

    I was just curious about this because I found it a bit difficult framing my shot when the EVF appears underexposed.

    Sorry for the very long post! Any information will surely be useful and greatly appreciated! Thanks!
     
  2. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    Flash exposure compensation levels should not need to be varied very much: +/- 1/3 stop. It's imperative that there is enough flash power for what you're shooting. There should be an under power indication (flashing LED) in the VF or back of the flash. You can easily run out of light power if the ISO is set too low, insufficient time for the flash to recycle or you're too far from the subjects.

    FWIW, after shooting weddings and B'nai Mitzvahs for 10 years, µ4/3 TTL flash systems are dreadful compared to Nikon's. I generally get better results using an old Nikon flash in Auto mode.
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  3. PakkyT

    PakkyT Mu-43 Top Veteran

    767
    Jun 20, 2015
    New England
    So I am no pro on this stuff but can offer a few tips and observations...

    I have always thought Oly TTL to be a bit on the underexposed side and I bet they did that on purpose as it is far better to underexpose a bit which can easily be brightened in post, vs. over exposing and blowing out highlights that can not be recovered in post.

    Bounce flash can be a little difficult as your flash has to travel a lot further and as you mention, depending on where you are in a room, you may have different levels of reflections and from more than one direction (ceiling only vs. ceiling and nearby walls). Generally though, if the room is fairly consistent with its lighting (no DJ lighting effects constantly messing with the exposure and white balance) you can set the compensation once and just go with it for all your shots assuming they all more or less come out the same exposure with small variances that can be taken care of in post. For situations like these, you don't often have the luxury of making a lot of adjustments to your setup and are usually more in the mode of looking for those fleeting shots that you don't get a do over with. As I said about Oly's TTL, in those cases it might be best to play it safe and underexpose a tiny bit so as not to ruin shots with over blown flash.


    I am not sure I understand the question. I assume your flash in on the camera, right? So if you change lenses you will be changing your camera to subject distance and if the flash is on the camera the you obviously are changing the flash to subject distance. Therefore you have to change the flash power to compensate for the change in distance. Unless I have misunderstood your question.


    Which camera are you using? Going by memory here since I don't have mine in front of me, on the E-M1 there is an EVF Adjust setting that you set on or off. Off (the default) will have the EVF show the scene as it would be exposed without the flash, so it shows a very dark scene. "ON" will instead have the EVF show a properly exposed scene to allow you to frame the scene, but what you see may not be what you get in the shot (the EVF is adjusted to show you a proper exposure, not necessarily the exposure you are going to get with your flash setup).
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  4. Aqualung

    Aqualung Mu-43 Regular

    127
    Jan 10, 2013
    Central Mass
    Chris
    Glad you asked this and also glad to see b_rubenstein's comment - I too have found the Oly TTL system to be inferior to my Nikon SB-800s. So I'm watching the responses as well.
     
  5. zensu

    zensu An Old Fool

    Aug 8, 2012
    Southeastern USA
    Bobby
    +1
    I shot with Nikon cameras and flashes for decades and Nikon's CLS flash system spoiled me rotten! :shakehead: I too am disappointed when comparing Olympus TTL flash system. I guess I have to dust off the cobwebs in my brain regarding bounce flash. I too find I get better exposures just setting the flash on Auto and make sure the flashes sensor is pointed at my subject, at least until I get this old brain remembering correct flash photography.
    Bobby
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  6. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    Clint
    Nikon’s system and Olympus systems do not work identically. For that matter there is a difference in metering between the D700, D7000, and D800 – which to get the best results one needs to learn each to get the best exposure.

    The FL-600r for events can easily be underpowered – I typically use a FL-50r and high voltage battery. But have often used a FL-600r when I can keep bounce distances short. When using the FL-600r try to keep your bounce distance less than 30 feet or no more than 1/3 the distance on the flash settings. Watch the distances on the back of the flash (set the head back to direct flash) and bounce accordingly.

    There are many settings that work for people -

    I’m prone to set a manual exposure that is about 1-2 stops darker than normal room light or shoot in aperture priority mode often wide open at f/2.8 with the 12-40 or f/2.0 with a prime. I will not hesitate to drag the shutter and may even shoot the majority of an event at 1/15 sec. (based on the action/inaction occurring) depending on the flash to freeze the action. These settings typically require me to go to ISO 400, 800, or 1600.

    I’ll set the flash to TTL and often -1.0EV.

    I use spot or center-weighted metering, single target focusing and move the target to what I want focused – this also alters the exposure to where I’m focused.

    Here are some things I do not use: Auto ISO, P mode, iAuto, Face or eye focus, ESP metering, or all targets focusing. Or even Auto on flashes, even though most of them work very well. When exposure issues creep in with any of these settings, it can be hard to quickly figure out what to do to correct.

    This setup just gives me more consistent exposures when using TTL and is not the only means, just a means that I like.


    When using TTL – you should not have to adjust flash power/FEC when changing distances. If you have to use much flash exposure compensation then you are probably at the limits of the flash.

    You may, or may not, want to use a ¼-1/2 cut straw or CTO filter on your flash and set the white balance to tungsten if the color tint of your photos seem too strong to you. But this will eat some of the light from your flash.
     
    • Informative Informative x 2
  7. billbooz

    billbooz Mu-43 Regular

    198
    Jan 23, 2014
    Lynchburg, VA USA
    William H. Booz
    musicwack, I have been very happy shooting events using my little Nissin i40 attached to my E-M1. (http://www.infotor.com/blog/the-nissin-i40-flash-is-even-better-than-i-thought-it-was/) my typical approach when shooting events is to point the flash head vertical, attach a small Rogue FlashBender to the head, bend top edges forward to direct bounced light onto subject(s), then attach that combo to E-M1 hot shoe.

    I shoot in Manual shooting mode, but TTL on flash in these situations. Though it varies from venue to venue, I usually set my ISO to 800, aperture to f/8, and shutter speed to 1/60. I ignore E-M1's meter feedback and evaluate my exposures from test shots. If I want a darker background, I bump up shutter speed, considering upper limit dictated by sync speed (believe it's 1/250 with the i40 mounted, but not sure). However, in an event shoot, I usually want to be able to see the environment, thus the background, so I usually leave SS at 1/60.

    I can generally shoot with abandon in this way and get fine exposures and good depth of field, but if, not for former, I turn to flash exposure compensation. (FEC) And FEC with the i40 in this mode is cumulative, that is, whatever I set on the camera is added to what FEC I set on the flash! So, I have a +/- 5 range! I put together a cheat sheet for myself for the i40 and share it on my web site: http://www.infotor.com/photoclasses/handouts/Nissin_i40_cheatsheet.pdf.
    image.
     
    • Informative Informative x 4
    • Agree Agree x 1
  8. MrPhotoBob

    MrPhotoBob Mu-43 Veteran

    261
    Jun 16, 2012
  9. rhom

    rhom Mu-43 Rookie

    24
    Jul 5, 2013
    Sacramento, CA
    Rick

    I agree with Chris' comment.

    My experience is that my FL-600r used with my OMD-EM5 is significantly underpowered for bounce-flash compared to any of my Nikons with a SB-800 (D700, D300). I shoot a lot of bounce-flash at family-related events in restaurants and gathering places that are nearly identical to the examples posted by musicwak. For this use, I have not been impressed with the FL-600r. It is not only underpowered, but IMO, navigating through the various settings via its controls is confusing and not very intuitive (e.g. when I change a flash parameter on the unit, I often have a tough time returning to my default settings, during which I miss shooting opportunities).

    Recently, another EM5-owning friend gave me a Promaster 7500EDF flash that is Olympus-dedicated as a present (great friend, huh?). I have been quite impressed with this unit. While it is much larger than the FL-600r (about the same as a SB-800), all of my complaints have been resolved. Bounce flash output is similar to the Nikon, about 2 f-stops more than the FL-600r. No LCD, but simple and easy to use controls. There is a small front-firing "wink light" flash element that can fill in some bounce flash shadows (like the old film Nikon SB-16) and you can easily set the controls to fire/not fire this secondary flash. Simple and powerful.

    To address one of the OP's questions, I very seldom have to make camera/flash compensations when shooting bounce-flash now. The greater output makes all of the difference. I would expect that any of the more powerful Olympus-dedicated flash units that can bounce will make a similar difference (like the Metz unit mentioned by another poster).

    Hope that this helps.

    Rick
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  10. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    FWIW, you can change flash power, FC, and some other settings via the camera.

    Barry
     
  11. rhom

    rhom Mu-43 Rookie

    24
    Jul 5, 2013
    Sacramento, CA
    Rick

    Correct. To me, however, the major issue with the FL-600r is that it is underpowered. In general, I do not consider the menus or touchscreen on my EM5 to be well organized or intuitive to adjust for these parameters. These same adjustments are much easier to do on a SB-800 or ProMaster. This is just my opinion, I am sure that there are others who feel just the opposite.

    Rick
     
  12. ApGfoo

    ApGfoo Mu-43 Regular

    158
    Dec 10, 2012
    Bay Area
  13. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    I've seen a special flash OSD on my E-M1 when using my flash, it's much more straightforward than going through the menus or SCP.

    However, I get what you're saying about power.

    Barry
     
  14. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    The Panasonic DMW-580L is the latest full power GN58 flagship remote FP m4/3 TTL flash. It is to the FL-600R what the FL-50R was to the FL-36R, but actually even more powerful. Expensive though! Power is definitely an issue - I sometimes struggle with my GN40 i40 (GN38 at same focal length as FL-600R), when I go manual with a YN560 it's a lot easier but it's just too heavy and unbalanced for m4/3 on camera bounce use IMO. Kind of okay with a flash bracket though.
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  15. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    Clint
    A couple of things - The FL-600r would be equivalent to Nikon SB-600/700, not the SB-800. So ya, it's going to underpowered, just like the SB-600/700 compared to the SB-800!!!!

    While the FL-600Rs menu was not intuitive to me, if you can figure out the SB-800 - then the FL-600R should not be a problem. The SB-800 has got to have one of most convoluted user interfaces of any flash I have ever seen. Why do I have to go into the custom menu to make the flash a Master? Just what is AA/A? Why SU4 and not remote? Or what is that guy with his arm out on the back of the unit that's just above a curvy arrow pointing to a no sign with a bus in the middle of it? And oh, hey, once I'm in the custom menu how do I exit?
    All rhetorical questions.

    The FL-600r is a great little flash and works in many situations, so much so that I keep one with most of time. . But if one wants more power, then they might try the Promaster 7500 EDF @rhom mentioned, from Amazon it is about $40.00 or use a Rogue Flashbender as @billbozz suggested.
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  16. musicwack

    musicwack Mu-43 Regular

    65
    May 21, 2015
    South Jersey
    James
    Lots of good information I was able to grab from here, so thank you everyone for the responses!

    Thank you @PakkyT@PakkyT for pointing out the live boost feature. Solved the problem with the "underexposed" look through the viewfinder so now I can frame and make sure my focus is locked before I snap a shot.

    Will definitely have to look into other flash options as it seems the consensus is the FL-600R is not up to the job for bigger venues. I just did a baptism this past weekend where the ceilings were very high in the church, and tbh at full power, I'm not sure if the flash was doing anything so decided to shoot with natural light. Lucky I was using faster glass. I will look into the Nissin, Metz, Promaster, and Panasonic, just have to see what's the best when it comes to price and handling and balance on the camera. Again, thank you!
     
  17. musicwack

    musicwack Mu-43 Regular

    65
    May 21, 2015
    South Jersey
    James
    Yes flash is on camera. What I mean by that is say I'm indoors using my 75mm I snap a headshot of someone close by. Then I see a full body shot I want to take out in the distance. To light up my subject in the distance, will I be increasing my flash compensation and perhaps changing the direction of the flash to light up my subject out in the distance?

    Perhaps I need to look more into some tutorials about bounce flash indoors, it just seems there are just introductory videos in a small room to be found online.
     
  18. musicwack

    musicwack Mu-43 Regular

    65
    May 21, 2015
    South Jersey
    James
    These seems like a very good means of getting consistent exposures. Thanks! When using spot or center-weighted metering, do you just set your focus point in the middle and then focus and recompose? Just wondering because it makes sense that you can really isolate where you want your metering done, but I may not be as accurate with my focus when I'm using my f1.2/1.4 glass if I focus and recompose.
     
  19. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    Try Strobist
    strobist.blogspot.com/2006/03/lighting-101.html