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Forums Lobby MASTER YOUR TOOLS Nikon Speedlights & Lighting topic #18949
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Subject: "How to choice the Modes on SB-800?" Previous topic | Next topic
shimin   CN  Registered since 22nd May 2006 Sun 03-Dec-06 08:27 AM
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"How to choice the Modes on SB-800?"



HBB and other friends here:

I am newbie in Flash and just got SB-800 after several not very successful indoor works. I think SB-800 will help me a lot in the coming indoor ones but I wonder how to choice the Modes of Sb-800, for example, i-TTL/TTL-BL, and AA/A?
Appreciate in advance for every tip.

  

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Replies to this topic
Subject Author Message Date ID
Reply message RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800? Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography
03rd Dec 2006
1
Reply message RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800? shimin
04th Dec 2006
2
     Reply message RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800? Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography
04th Dec 2006
3
     Reply message RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800? Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography
04th Dec 2006
4
          Reply message RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800? shimin
04th Dec 2006
5
               Reply message RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800? Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography
04th Dec 2006
6
                    Reply message RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800? shimin
04th Dec 2006
7
                         Reply message RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800? Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography
04th Dec 2006
8
                              Reply message RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800? shimin
05th Dec 2006
9
                                   Reply message RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800? Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography
05th Dec 2006
10
                                        Reply message RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800? shimin
05th Dec 2006
11
                                             Reply message RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800? Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography
05th Dec 2006
12
                                                  Reply message RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800? shimin
05th Dec 2006
13
                                                  Reply message RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800? Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography
05th Dec 2006
14
                                                  Reply message RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800? lefty35
05th Dec 2006
15
                                                  Reply message RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800? shimin
06th Dec 2006
16
                                                  Reply message RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800? bens0472
06th Dec 2006
17
                                                  Reply message RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800? shimin
06th Dec 2006
18
                                                  Reply message RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800? bens0472
06th Dec 2006
19
                                                  Reply message RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800? shimin
07th Dec 2006
20
                                                  Reply message RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800? bclaff Silver Member Awarded for multiple contributions for the Resources
08th Dec 2006
21
                                                  Reply message RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800? Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography
08th Dec 2006
22
                                                  Reply message RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800? bens0472
08th Dec 2006
23
                                                  Reply message RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800? shimin
10th Dec 2006
24
                                                  Reply message RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800? Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography
10th Dec 2006
25
                                                  Reply message RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800? bens0472
11th Dec 2006
26
Reply message RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800? HBB Moderator Hal is an expert in several areas, including CLS Awarded for his excellent article contributions to the Resources.
11th Dec 2006
27
Reply message RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800? shimin
11th Dec 2006
28

Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography   Philadelphia, US  Charter Member Sun 03-Dec-06 04:15 PM
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#1. "RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800?"
In response to Reply # 0



Hi Shimin,

TTL BL stands for Through The Lens metering and Balanced fill flash. Nikon refers to this mode as “Automatic Balanced Fill Flash.” The goal of this mode is to balance the ambient light (background) with the subject (foreground). I use TTL BL most of the time. It's only available when your SB-800 is in the hotshoe or connected with a sync cord. If you're using CLS with the SB-800 as your remote, for example, it's not available.

TTL is “Standard TTL”. The purpose of this mode is to expose just for the subject and not worry so much about the background light. This TTL mode goes back years at Nikon and is Nikon's legacy mode. I've found it to be somewhat less accurate and less consistent than TTL BL.

AA stands for Auto Aperture and is typically used when you need a bit more consistency than TTL BL can provide. TTL BL sometimes doesn’t give consistent exposures. For example, when photographing a bride at a wedding, TTL BL will underexpose the photograph because of the bride’s white dress. Using Auto Aperture effectively will generally yield brighter results when photographing bright scenes.

A stands for Auto Flash and only uses the SB-800’s built-in sensor to measure the light reflected from the subject. When the flash’s sensor decides enough light has been reflected back, it shuts down power to the flash head and stops outputting light. One thing you should know about this mode is the flash will work “automatically” on most the cameras you own, including your older Nikon film cameras and even off-brand cameras like the Pentax K1000. There is no back-and-forth communication between the flash and the camera body, so you’ll have to trust the flash to do everything. If your camera is a newer Nikon Digital SLR like the D50, D70, D200, D2H or D2X, then you’ll actually have to configure the flash to operate in plain old “A” mode rather than “AA” mode.

GN stands for Guide Number and is a manual flash mode which utilizes the SB-800’s published guide number to help you calculate a flash photograph. This mode might actually be called a “distance priority” method for determining flash exposure. You arrange your photograph so you know exactly what the distance is from your flash to the subject, and then you program that number into your flash.

M stands for Manual mode. You are responsible for determining flash output. To do this, you basically have three choices: Trial and error, Guide Number calculation, or Hand-held light meter.

RPT stands for Repeating Flash Mode and can be used for taking photos where you want the flash to repeatedly fire during a single exposure. Say you want to take a photograph of a bouncing ball. You could set up the flash to put out multiple pulses of light while the ball bounced through the scene. That way you'll see multiple images of the ball in your photo.

Those are the modes. Check out your possible sync setting in your camera. They are as critical to the photo as the flash mode.

Ned
-----------------------------
There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.
Ansel Adams (1902 - 1984)

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

-----------------------------
Visit my Travel Photography Blog and my Galleries.

  

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shimin   CN  Registered since 22nd May 2006 Mon 04-Dec-06 12:23 AM
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#2. "RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800?"
In response to Reply # 1



Thanks a lot! Ned.

You may image what hurry when a newbie just got a SB-800 and reached ways to control it well. Unfortunately I read the manual and tried the strobe time and time but in most cases I found I failed to control it.

The manual only explains the steps to use of the modes but the newbie may have no idea what the right case to use the right mode. Maybe Nikon has another kind of manual called User Guide and I really want to have such a one.

Therefore your help is much big deal for me. Based on your briefing, I begin to have the right idea in choicing the mode according to the scene. Of course, let me say frankly, I have on idea to tell the difference in TTL-BL, TTL and AA modes in some cases.

For example, I guess if the distance and the light are too big between the subject and its background, we should consider the TTL mode, and in the opposite case we should use the TTL-BL…I try to summery typical cases to the typical modes, as we choice M, A, S mode of camera according to the subject we want to have. But by now I failed to make the relationship between SB-800 modes with cases clear. I meaning I have not got what I want to get with the Speedlight.

I know I need try, try and try. But I need more guide and principle to learn how to use Speedlight. For example, I visited Nikon official website and learnt the Flash Lock was used for zooming.

What a surprise to me if you can image. My prelimitary knowledge was that FV mode was basically for flashing subject who was not on the centre part of the frame.

Thanks again, Ned!

  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography   Philadelphia, US  Charter Member Mon 04-Dec-06 01:23 AM
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#3. "RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800?"
In response to Reply # 2



It's my pleasure Shimin.

Absolutely experiment. That's a great way to learn. With regard to TTL BL, TTL and AA, this is how I'm using them.

If I'm connected with a sync cable, then I'm generally using TTL BL. If I have a problem, such as at a wedding with a white dress, I'll switch over to AA. I rarely use any of the other modes.

If I'm using CLS, I'll generally use TTL, and if I have a problem, such as at a wedding, I'll switch over to AA. When I'm using CLS, I do sometimes use M, especially for lighting backgrounds or specific areas of my photo, such as architectural features.

Ned
-----------------------------
There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.
Ansel Adams (1902 - 1984)

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

-----------------------------
Visit my Travel Photography Blog and my Galleries.

  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography   Philadelphia, US  Charter Member Mon 04-Dec-06 01:39 AM
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#4. "RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800?"
In response to Reply # 2



"I visited Nikon official website and learnt the Flash Lock was used for zooming.

What a surprise to me if you can image. My prelimitary knowledge was that FV mode was basically for flashing subject who was not on the centre part of the frame."


I almost missed the above in your post. I get the impression you don't understand what Nikon said. If I'm wrong about that, I'm sorry.

The Nikon site to which you refer says, "The FV Lock (Flash Value Lock) maintains the same flash exposure for your main subject when shooting a sequence of photos, allowing you to zoom in on your subject, change the composition or adjust the aperture, all without altering the intended exposure. That way you can concentrate on capturing your subject without worrying about adjusting lighting."

So, the FV Lock is basically for setting the flash, then holding the setting while recomposing your photo, by such things as zooming in or out, or perhaps putting the primary subject, for which you've already set your flash, to the side in the photo.

Ned
-----------------------------
There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.
Ansel Adams (1902 - 1984)

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

-----------------------------
Visit my Travel Photography Blog and my Galleries.

  

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shimin   CN  Registered since 22nd May 2006 Mon 04-Dec-06 02:46 AM
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#5. "RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800?"
In response to Reply # 4



Thanks again, Ned. Please feel free to talk to me. I am totally a newbie in Flash operation thus every tip is very interesting.

Sure, you are right. My concept might be wrong for a while when I read the tip on LV from Nikon Website. Every time when I enter a new field I always find that some thing needs to be corrected, such as LV and recomposing. Before this day I had had the concept to move the lens and let the subject to one side of frame and that is so called recomposing. But by your explanation I understand that zooming is also one of recomposing.

Photography teaches me more than photography itself. So happy to know you and other buddy here, too.

And definitely I will make experiment and definitely your tips on choice of TTL and AA will make me the basic sense. Perhaps every learning begins at imitation.

Somebody told me at our local website that if your camera, by the way, mine,D70, supports i-TTL, that i-TTL is your unique choice. AA and Non-AA, etc are going to support other cameras that have no function of i-TTL. Maybe he was wrong and makes me relaxing because I never want to use my SB-800 only on one i-TTL mode. I paid it with lot of money and I want to see the multi benefit from it.

  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography   Philadelphia, US  Charter Member Mon 04-Dec-06 03:39 AM
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#6. "RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800?"
In response to Reply # 5



Hi Shimin,

You said, "Somebody told me at our local website that if your camera, by the way, mine,D70, supports i-TTL, that i-TTL is your unique choice. AA and Non-AA, etc are going to support other cameras that have no function of i-TTL. Maybe he was wrong and makes me relaxing because I never want to use my SB-800 only on one i-TTL mode. I paid it with lot of money and I want to see the multi benefit from it."

It's true that "A" will work on most any camera. (By the way, to use "A" yourself, with a D70 you'd have to go to the custom menus, because normally for today's Nikon DSLR cameras, this mode is not available.) You'll be able to use TTL BL, TTL, AA, A, GN, M, and RPT with the D70.

As I've said in other posts I primarily use TTL BL, but sometimes use AA when I'm using a SB-800 connected via my SC-28 sync cable. When using CLS, I'm using TTL, AA and sometimes M.

Mode choice is but one aspect of the SB-800. There are many other reasons for purchasing it for use with a Nikon DSLR. I like the SB-800 enough to have purchased a number of them.

Ned
-----------------------------
There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.
Ansel Adams (1902 - 1984)

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

-----------------------------
Visit my Travel Photography Blog and my Galleries.

  

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shimin   CN  Registered since 22nd May 2006 Mon 04-Dec-06 07:58 AM
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#7. "RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800?"
In response to Reply # 6



Dear Ned:

Studying on your stuff here again and I think your posts here are very explicit and helpful. Yes, what I met first is that inconsistent or unstable images when I use the Flash. Thus my feeling is of frustration instead of having fun.

I guess that i-TTL and/or i-TTL BL give us more natural photos and AA mode offers more definite ones which we do want to flash on them, right?

In i-TTL mode, the camera’s central sensor got the light from the subject, thus we have to use first the central sensor for right measure. But I have no idea what is on when we use AA mode. SB-800 has a sensor to learn the light but we have no aid, the thing like camera’s central sensor, to aim the subject and let SB-800 know that is just my subject. The light sensor on SB-800 is not on the central part.

Secondly, I guess the camera’s light measuring system is more powerful than one on SB-800, thus in most cases the camera with the i-TTL mode is better than other Flash modes of Speedlight. However, when we have the special cases such as large area of white or dark, the AA mode is more suitable thanks to some characteristic of SB-800 flash sensor?

I have no knowledge for auto flash sensor of Speedlight SB-800, thus make me lost when making decision on choice of i-TTL system from camera and AA mode conducted by SB-800.

Thanks!

  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography   Philadelphia, US  Charter Member Mon 04-Dec-06 01:55 PM
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#8. "RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800?"
In response to Reply # 7



TTL BL and TTL work similarly, but TTL BL's algorithm in the way it uses the information is generally superior. On a slower camera such as the D70 (compared to the D200) sometimes it's better to use TTL, just to avoid the lag between the preflash and the flash which can cause so shut eyes in the photo.

Generally, the TTL BL and TTL modes work great. I don't understand what you mean about AA offering more definite photos. What AA does is not use the camera's meter, so you have more direct control of the amount of light from the flash for the photo, but less work and less trial and error which manual would require to get the right amount of light.

You are correct about why TTL BL and TTL work so well. They both use the camera's metering system. Even without using a flash, I'm sure you've used your camera where you've had to set it manually to get a great photo. None of these technologies are foolproof.

As to which mode to choose, generally go with TTL BL unless you find that the preflashes are preventing you from getting good photos of the people. In that case, switch to TTL. If you find that high contrast photos, especially where the subject is mostly white, aren't coming out well then use AA.

When all is said an done, you have to use the SB-800 to get used to choosing your mode, and the other settings. Practice a while, then ask some more questions.

Ned
-----------------------------
There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.
Ansel Adams (1902 - 1984)

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

-----------------------------
Visit my Travel Photography Blog and my Galleries.

  

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shimin   CN  Registered since 22nd May 2006 Tue 05-Dec-06 12:44 AM
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#9. "RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800?"
In response to Reply # 8



Thanks so much for your time and passion to offer support here, Ned.

I do need practice and get my skill increased. What I mean here is to get some right ideas at the very first beginning. As what you said and the stuff in the SB-800 manual I got some concepts for use of SB-800.

For example by now I have more definite goal to choice the right mode. In fact the most confused is the AA mode because the manual never said any thing about the use of this mode while explaining bit of i-TTL, TTL and A modes separately.

I think the camera designers should give us some idea which he considered during design. I am system designer and when I check our user manual for the new product I always put some comment stuff under the relative item and want to help the user to understand what the designer make his work here.

For example, for i-TTL BL mode, what is the mind of Nikon designer for? Although that depends on the personal taste but we do must have some basic line for a good i-TTL BL photo.

Well, the manual said that i-TTL BL is for balanced light for subject and background both. And TTL is for highlighting the subject. But AA mode mentions nothing on its goal of design.

With basic idea and concept, I can do more definite practice and get feedback thus on the right way to learn Flash operation, I think.

And so sorry for my not-very-clear statement for definite photo made by AA mode. English is not my mother language, you see. I meant that I thought AA mode offered more Flash effect photo than TTL mode.

Appreciate your help, Ned.

  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography   Philadelphia, US  Charter Member Tue 05-Dec-06 02:39 AM
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#10. "RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800?"
In response to Reply # 9



AA was designed primarily for these situations:

  1. When TTL BL or TTL doesn't work because the contrast between the foreground and background is too high.
  2. Anytime when the Camera's meter is getting fooled while the flash is in TTL BL or TTL mode.
  3. When you need more consistency in a particular set of photos which cutting out the camera's meter will provide.


You clearly need a book which will help you. Going back and forth with these question is not particularly productive.

The best book which I know on Speedlights and Nikon CLS is Mike Hagen's e-Book Using the Nikon Creative Lighting System. Mike is the Director of Nikonian US Workshops. Not only does this book go into detail on CLS, but also on the Speedlights themselves. It discusses lots of theory and specific times when you use specific features of the Speedlights.

I think you have enough information to experiment now. I strongly suggest that you take several hundred photos now, using the various modes, while sticking to one sync mode, so you can see the SB-800 mode differences first hand. Let us know how you do.

Ned
-----------------------------
There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.
Ansel Adams (1902 - 1984)

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

-----------------------------
Visit my Travel Photography Blog and my Galleries.

  

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shimin   CN  Registered since 22nd May 2006 Tue 05-Dec-06 03:20 AM
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#11. "RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800?"
In response to Reply # 10



Thanks, Ned.

In fact I have taken several dozen photos with SB-800 and failed to control it well thus I come here and have the question on Mode choice. I will try more and make the connection to share with you buddy here. However I really want to read some thing first. Your recommendation on the e-book is very interesting but my computer failed to connect your URL offered here. I guess that need a registrant account first?


  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography   Philadelphia, US  Charter Member Tue 05-Dec-06 04:55 AM
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#12. "RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800?"
In response to Reply # 11



The URL belongs to Out There Images (http://www.outthereimages.com/publishing.html) and works fine for me. No registration should be required.

Ned
-----------------------------
There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.
Ansel Adams (1902 - 1984)

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

-----------------------------
Visit my Travel Photography Blog and my Galleries.

  

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shimin   CN  Registered since 22nd May 2006 Tue 05-Dec-06 05:54 AM
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#13. "RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800?"
In response to Reply # 12



Thanks, Ned.
I also got the website URL with google but failed to open it again. I will try it with other terminals. For example, ask my friends here to test it.

  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography   Philadelphia, US  Charter Member Tue 05-Dec-06 01:16 PM
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#14. "RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800?"
In response to Reply # 13



There must be a problem with your firewall or some other reason. I have absolutely no trouble in getting to that web site.

Ned
-----------------------------
There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.
Ansel Adams (1902 - 1984)

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

-----------------------------
Visit my Travel Photography Blog and my Galleries.

  

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lefty35   Alhambra, US  Registered since 27th Mar 2006 Tue 05-Dec-06 09:45 PM
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#15. "RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800?"
In response to Reply # 14



I learned quite a bit from reading this posts. Thank you.

Michael-Pop of 3
D50
D80
18-70mm
85 1.8mm
17-55mm
70-200VR,


Michael-Pop of 3
D50
D80
12-24mm
28-105mm
17-55mm
70-200VR

  

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shimin   CN  Registered since 22nd May 2006 Wed 06-Dec-06 01:04 AM
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#16. "RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800?"
In response to Reply # 14



Thanks, Ned. Last night my friends in their homes and I tried again but failed to connect this website. The system said: Connection timed out. A connection attempt failed because the connected party did not properly respond after a period of time, or the established connection failed because the connected host has failed to respond.

That happens sometimes when we visit other websites where is not in our continent, that is okay. When visiting USA I can visit the website, too.

Also try some more Flash operation. I would like to zero the camer's exposure indication with Shuttle and Aperture combination and then apply the i-TTL mode then got the natural like images while AA mode offers more Flash like ones. Both are interesting. I also tried to make exposure compensation with S stops or F stops first to compare with ones by SB-800 output level manually and/or camera body. Of course I have not got conclusion. My impression is the S/F stops can offer softer changes. I like them. I do not want to add the flash light too hard.



  

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bens0472   Roswell, US  Basic Member Wed 06-Dec-06 05:07 AM
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#17. "RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800?"
In response to Reply # 16



Shimin,

It sounds as if you are doing lots of experimentation. Be patient, very soon you will reach a point where things just seem to make sense. Instinctively, you'll suddenly know just what to do with shutter speed, aperture, ISO, Flash output, zoom head adjustment, etc. It takes time but here are some things to keep in mind and mull over before you start practicing, again.

Based on reading your thread and without going into a very long explanation at this point, I'd suggest getting a very thorough understanding of the fundamentals of exposure. That is to say, do some reading to find out how Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO each play their unique part in the formula for exposure from both Continuous light AND Strobe light. For instance, for all, practical indoor purposes, Shutter Speed only affects exposure from continuous light sources, not strobes, but Aperture and ISO affect exposure from both.

Try to get an intimate understanding of these concepts, first. Understanding these in theory and practice will make effective (and creative) use of your SB800 less of a chore.

Once you have this down, make sure you spend some time learning how to use your flash in manual exposure mode (Set the commander to Manual mode and adjust the flash output using the fractional output settings). Once you understand how aperture works to affect strobe output, then you'll also quickly grasp how settings these fractional output values plays with or against the aperture and ISO settings. In time, it will become effortless.

After you grasp all of this, then understanding what iTTL and iTTL-BL and AA do is a breeze (well, sort of) and, thankfully, if you're determined, it only takes two or three months of consistent practice and experimentation.

Good luck,







Ben

  

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shimin   CN  Registered since 22nd May 2006 Wed 06-Dec-06 01:13 PM
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#18. "RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800?"
In response to Reply # 17



Hi,bens0472:

Appreciate your advice! Indeed I will read more. I thought the Shutter contributes light on the background while aperture send light to the subject. Thus I zero the exposure meter in the camera body with S/F stops combination and would like to see what happened, and how the Flash works.

By now I am not doing very well in controlling the effort with aperture/flash output levels, etc. I am not a professional guy in photography, thus I have more time to read and less time to take photo. However, reading is always interesting. Fun is in reading, too.

Have a good time.

  

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bens0472   Roswell, US  Basic Member Wed 06-Dec-06 05:24 PM
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#19. "RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800?"
In response to Reply # 18



Shimin,

"I thought the Shutter contributes light on the background while aperture send light to the subject"

You're on the right track, but you should consider the term "Ambient" instead of "Background". Either way, both are referring to a continuous light source that affects the exposure of your subject. Keep in mind that your "subject" is everything in the frame that you want correctly exposed and might not just be the person or group standing in the frame.

If I am photographing a person in a room in which there is an incandescent lamp providing some light on their face, but not enough to get me the exposure or effect that I want, then I might supplement that light with a little from the speedlight. In this case, the lamp is the ambient light. It's not "in the background" in the sense that it's only affecting the area behind my subject. In fact, I could be lighting ONLY the background with the flash (or some interesting object in the room that I want to add to the shot) and relying solely on the lamp to illuminate the person's face. In this case, the lamp is still the ambient light.

You could always rely on iTTL (or one of the automatic flash exposure variants) to determine the best output and, in many cases, they wil be pretty accurate. However, if you want to control things yourself, you should first experiment and learn how to use various combinations of Shutter Speed, Aperture, ISO and Manual Flash output adjustments to get a desired effect. If you first develop a deep understanding of these fundamentals by reading and by lots of practice, then, afterwards, you will very quickly understand what the flash does in each of its modes and will understand when is best to use each.

Also, make sure that you spend some real quality time getting to know the differences and advantages/disadvantages between Matrix Metering, Center Weighted Metering and Spot Metering and understand when each of them is appropriate. This will make a huge difference in how you expose a scene and whether you use flash as your main light source or only as a supplemental light source and what areas of the scene you choose to have it illuminate.

Here's an approach that you might take in order to practice. First, don't be concerned with things like Depth of field or stellar composition or even the quality of the light from your flash. For the purposes of practicing and learning good exposure, these things are all distractions. In fact, turn off auto focus and manually focus your camera so that the scene you are practicing with is intentionally OUT OF FOCUS and leave it that way.

Setup a practice scene with something like a teddy bear in a chair next to some burning candles or a lamp or a fire in a fireplace or in front of a window lit by outside light on a cloudy day. Whatever, just have an ambient light source in your scene.

Now - with your flash off camera and in remote mode and your camera setup with the built-in as the commander in Manual Mode, adjust the flash output manually to something like 1/16 and setup the flash so that it's about 5 or 6 feet from and pointing at the Teddy Bear. Put your camera in manual exposure mode (M) and set aperture at F8, shutter speed at 100, and ISO at 200. (by the way, it's best to have your camera on a tripod or in a stationary place when doing this just so that you have a consistent scene throughout all of your shots).

First, leaving everything the same as above, meter the scene first with matrix metering. What does the meter say (don't adjust it, just take note of the reading)?

Next, meter the scene in centerweighted mode. Again, what does the meter say?

Finally, meter the scene in spot metering mode and do this for each of the focus areas. What happens to the meter when you switch from one spot focus area to another? What happens when one of these spot focus areas is metering directly on the ambient light source (the window, the fireplace, the lamp, the candle, whatever).

Now, do the same exercise, but now actually take a shot, triggering the flash at it's current setting, with each shot. DO NOT MAKE ANY ADJUSTMENTS, AT THIS POINT. What effect did each metering mode have on the shot?

Now, do the same exercise, but now, in each metering mode, before taking the shot, adjust the shutter speed to zero out the meter, then take the shot. How do each of the shots differ?

Now, do the same exercise, but now, in each metering mode, before taking the shot, adjust the aperture to zero out the meter, then take the shot. How do each of the shots differ?

When you've done all of this, come back here and share your findings. There are lots of people in this forum that could benefit from your learnings and experience, so it's a worthwhile and somewhat noble cause on your part to do this.

When I have more time, I'll post more exercises to help you learn more using this same setup.

Good luck.





Ben

  

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shimin   CN  Registered since 22nd May 2006 Thu 07-Dec-06 12:45 AM
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#20. "RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800?"
In response to Reply # 19



Hi, bens0472

What a knowledgeable post you made! Appreciate you so much for your time and guide writing. Ned, you and others are so kind to be open and share your valuable experience for the new comers. That is Nikonians and my luck!

Sure, I will study first in Ned and your notes here, make some clear concepts first that may be my basis for taking action. And I will find a suitable website where I can pose my photos with Flash operation thus everybody can see what I am doing and give me your comments. As you may know my local websites are Chinese version.
Meanwhile I will pose notes here that is what I have learned and am learning.

And so sorry for my poor English,too.

Have a good night.

  

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bclaff Silver Member Awarded for multiple contributions for the Resources   Vancouver (WA USA not Canada), US  Nikonian since 26th Oct 2004 Fri 08-Dec-06 01:15 AM
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#21. "RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800?"
In response to Reply # 19



Ben,

Perhaps I'm wrong but I've found it more straightforward to leave the flash in iTTL or iTTL-BL (rather than M or AA) and put the camera into Manual mode (controlling aperture, shutter, ISO, flash exposure compensation).
Can't I achieve the same results this way? Perhaps even more easily?

Regards,
Bill

Visit me at My site

  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography   Philadelphia, US  Charter Member Fri 08-Dec-06 06:02 AM
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#22. "RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800?"
In response to Reply # 21



Bill, it might work fine, but I find using AA actually very easy, now that I'm used to it, and on my camera, I prefer to continue to use "A" most of the time, and not go to M. Frankly, other than weddings, where you get the white causing severe high contrast problems, I haven't had much occasion to move away from TTL-BL when having an SB-800 connected via sync cord to my D200 or D70, or TTL when connected through CLS.

I do have specific times, such as under CLS, when I'm trying to light specfic areas of the photograph, such as the background, behind my subject, that I move an SB-800 to M. Moving the camera to M under multiple units won't replace changing the flash to M.

You're very experience Bill. What do you think at this point.

Ned
-----------------------------
There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.
Ansel Adams (1902 - 1984)

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

-----------------------------
Visit my Travel Photography Blog and my Galleries.

  

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bens0472   Roswell, US  Basic Member Fri 08-Dec-06 12:04 PM
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#23. "RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800?"
In response to Reply # 21



Bill,

Absolutely. It's much easier and much faster to use iTTL and put the camera in manual exposure mode - this is predominantly how I shoot. However, I'm a big believer that the best way to learn something is to get a firm grasp of the fundamentals, first, before relying on automation.

If Shimin went through the exercises that I mentioned above using iTTL, he wouldn't be able to keep the flash output consistent, because how the scene was metered would determine the flash output. The purpose of the exercises was to illustrate what happens when only one variable in the exposure equation changes. Setting the mode to iTTL (or AA) causes automatic adjustments in flash output for a given set of camera exposure settings, resulting in, at least, two variables changing.

Ned,

I'm not sure what you mean by "Moving the camera to M under multiple units won't replace changing the flash to M". If my SB800 is in remote mode and I set manual flash output from the commander menu on the camera, I do not need to make any adjusment on the flash. Now, if I'm using the SB800 in SU-4 mode, then I need to adjust the output level on the Flash, but that's a different story altogether.

I frequently set my SB800 as my remote and adjust the flash output manually from 1/1 to 1/128 using the Commander/Manual submenu option in my camera without any further adjustments on the flash. Even with multiple units being controlled by the D70's built-in, iTTL would set them all to the same output based on how the scene was metered through the lens and any Flash Exposure compensation you dial in would affect all of them, because they are all in a single Group with the D70.

Again, there's no difference, right, except that in Manual Mode the photographer sets the initial output level for the speedlight and in iTTL, the camara/flash set the intial output level. Both, however, can be achieved through settings made directly in the Commander/Manual submenu in the D70 or D200, etc.

Ben

Ben

  

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shimin   CN  Registered since 22nd May 2006 Sun 10-Dec-06 08:08 AM
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#24. "RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800?"
In response to Reply # 23



Hi, friends here:

Thanks a lot for all comments and advice. By the end of the year I have a lot of work to do and wish I had had time to try my skill in flash operation.

  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography   Philadelphia, US  Charter Member Sun 10-Dec-06 10:36 PM
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#25. "RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800?"
In response to Reply # 23



Ben, I meant that when you're using multiple flashes remotely, using the camera in M, won't replace using one or more of the flashes in M. It doesn't matter that what you use as the commander (I use an SU-800). To get the effect, the commander must run the flash in M.

Ned
-----------------------------
There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.
Ansel Adams (1902 - 1984)

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

-----------------------------
Visit my Travel Photography Blog and my Galleries.

  

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bens0472   Roswell, US  Basic Member Mon 11-Dec-06 02:42 AM
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#26. "RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800?"
In response to Reply # 25



Gotcha...thanks, Ned.


Ben

  

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HBB Moderator Hal is an expert in several areas, including CLS Awarded for his excellent article contributions to the Resources.   Phoenix, US  Charter Member Mon 11-Dec-06 04:36 PM
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#27. "RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800?"
In response to Reply # 0



Shimin:

I'm sorry for the delay in responding to your request for help. I have been very busy starting up the next series of photo sessions for the Phoenix Police Department.

Ben and Ned are giving you great advice. Stick with them and the lights will eventually come on for you. Trying to add to their comments would probably just confuse things for you. You are in good hands.

Thanks Ben and Ned for your generous assistance. You are the true spirit of Nikonians.

Shimin: Stick with it and practice, practice, practice.

Regards,

HBB in Phoenix, Arizona

HBB in Phoenix, Arizona
Nikonian Team Member

Photography is a journey with no conceivable destination.

  

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shimin   CN  Registered since 22nd May 2006 Mon 11-Dec-06 11:34 PM
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#28. "RE: How to choice the Modes on SB-800?"
In response to Reply # 27



Hi, HBB and friends here:

I really glad to have all of your advice and help on my issue. I am engineer first, not photographer. Thus what I want to do first is understanding some basic ideas then get practices under the guide. After studying the posts here I begin to realize the world of flash operation and have some clear concepts and principles to choose the modes. I will do my practices during my traveling and find a website to pose them and make connection to be here.
Thanks all of you!

Shimin

  

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