#3. "RE: Wow! Auto FP is the COOLEST!" In response to Reply # 2
But in all seriousness, I found myself taking some informal, outdoor portraits over the weekend. I wanted an open aperture to isolate the subject, but the ambient light was way, way too bright for that at 1/250s shutter speed.
Somewhere I remembered reading about this magic "high speed sync" stuff. Looked it up, found the menu, dialed in 1/2000s on the shutter, and proceeded to take a bunch of shots with perfectly exposed fill flash.
Those Nikon guys are pretty smart, eh? I get the feeling these cameras just might catch on.
#4. "RE: Wow! Auto FP is the COOLEST!" In response to Reply # 3
St Petersburg, RU
As smart as the Nikon engineers are the still they still have not automated composition. It is still a manual hand craft. Nikon's flash systems are so good it is like cheating. A few SB700 or 900's using wireless CLS iTTL is still envied by every off brand(Canon, Sony, Pentax, Leica etc):-). Creative use of flash is usually far down the list of priorities for those interested by improving the photos by upgrading bodies. Lighting and it effective use is not only the cheapest aspect of photography it is also by far the most improvement for time of learning effort investment. Attending a workshop on creative lighting is cheaper and more fun than any new lens or body and makes by far the most difference. Stan St Petersburg Russia
#5. "RE: Wow! Auto FP is the COOLEST!" In response to Reply # 4
>Nikon's flash systems are so good it is like cheating.
Absolutely 100% agree! I'm not sure its even possible to fool Nikon flashes into giving you a bad exposure. Ok, I'm sure its possible to fool Nikon flashes into giving you a bad exposure, but you'd probably have to try pretty hard.
And as someone who has way, way more invested in lighting than camera bodies, I agree with your sentiment entirely. Most of my rig consists of dedicated studio stuff...a bunch of studio strobes, as well as a home-made fluorescent setup designed to mimic Peter Hurley's Kino-Flo stuff. Of course, the big disadvantages of all that are that (a) they don't take advantage of Nikon's magic flash metering stuff and (b) they are woefully non-portable.
The future seems to be in LED gear. I'm thinking about trying out some of that stuff, but I'm also thinking about buying a few more speedlights so I can do more on-location flash work.
#6. "RE: Wow! Auto FP is the COOLEST!" In response to Reply # 5
St Petersburg, RU
Within a month of getting my dslr,a d90, I designed and built a pair of 600 w/s strobes and large power supply. They work great but after starting my collection of SB900s I have only used the big strobes a couple times. I take the 900s everywhere and use then in daylight as often as night. When you need power however there is no substitute big strobes and modifiers.. it seem the places they are needed most are also a major hassle like at the beach a mile from the nearest road. New users would be well served to put a sb700 on their list before getting caught up on a cycle of upgrading bodies. They often trade up before really exploring the real capabilities of the camera they already own. Stan St Petersburg Russia
#9. "RE: Wow! Auto FP is the COOLEST!" In response to Reply # 7
It breaks down like this:
These cameras have two-curtain shutters. That means that upon firing the camera, the first shutter curtain is pulled out of the way (thus exposing the sensor), then the second curtain is pulled over the sensor (thus ending the exposure).
Snap, snap. One opens. One closes.
Cool part of that is that at very high shutter speeds, the second ("closing") curtain starts closing before the first ("opening") curtain is fully out of the way. The two curtains work in tandem. The net effect is like having a narrow opening (call it a slit) passing over the sensor.
When you are using a flash, the flash burst only lasts a finite amount of time. POP! Pretty close to instantaneous (although there is a certain amount of "warm up" and "cool down" on the flash element that extends it a slight amount. But for our purposes here, you can think of the flash as being instantaneous. Zero seconds.
The problem comes in when you try to use the flash at high shutter speeds. Since at those speeds only a small sliver of the sensor is exposed at any moment in time, if you apply the flash, you will end up with that sliver getting flashed, while the rest of the sensor does not.
That's what "maximum sync speed" is all about. "Maximum sync speed" (1/250sec on my D7000) is the fastest shutter speed at which the opening curtain is fully out of the way BEFORE the closing curtain starts to close. Its the fastest speed at which the entire sensor is exposed at the same instant. Any faster, and the closing curtain starts before the opening curtain finishes.
That's also what the "rear" flash mode is all about: These cameras give you the option of firing the flash as soon as the opening curtain is out of the way (front flash, which is the standard) or waiting until just before the closing curtain starts to close (hence the name "rear" flash).
Back in the old days (with manual cameras) we would do this by accident from time to time: Run the flash, while forgetting to set the shutter to its "sync" speed. The result was partially black images.
New cameras are electronically controlled, so they don't let us make that mistake anymore. But we still have the problem of only being able to use flash at relatively slow shutter speeds.
This is where Auto-FP mode comes in. What it does is extend the duration of the flash itself so that it can be used with high shutter speeds. Instead of a "zero seconds" flash, you get one that lasts long enough to cover the full period of time from when the opening curtain first opens to when the closing curtain finally closes. Extremely nifty.
In my case, what it allowed me to do was to use fill flash on some outdoor portraits while still running a wide-open aperture (to isolate the subject).
And this Nikon stuff is absolute magic. It couldn't be easier to set up: I put the camera in "M" mode, opened the aperture all the way, then used the viewfinder's light meter to set the shutter speed until the meter read "0". IIRC, I ended up with something like 1/2000s at ISO 100. I was looking at the general direction of the background for my shot at the time. I took a few test shots (no flash), and checked them visually and with the histogram to make sure I liked it.
Then, having turned on Auto-FP mode in the menus, I turned on the flash and took some shots. I ended up deciding on turning down the flash exposure 1/3 stop (hold down the "flash" button on the side and spin the front control wheel) based on a quick visual inspection. Turned out perfect.
That's where Nikon magic is so amazing. You dial in the exposure for everything else, and it just automatically nails the exposure of the flash stuff. I was watching a webinar the other day where a photographer was explaining his flash techniques. He uses manual strobes, and was all about calculating distances and stops and inverse-square law and all that. Nothing wrong with that, but Nikon has already done all of that for you. Just set the flash and BOOM! You about can't help but nail the shot!