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Subject: "Questions re: Flash use during wedding reception?" Previous topic | Next topic
RSmith70 Silver Member Nikonian since 03rd Jul 2012Sat 08-Dec-12 08:58 PM
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"Questions re: Flash use during wedding reception?"
Sat 08-Dec-12 09:16 PM by RSmith70

Washington, US
          

Hi all. A little background: I mostly photograph subjects in natural light - flash photography is something I need to work on.

I was asked to photograph a friend's wedding (as our "gift") and for the most part, feel prepared. Especially for the formal portraits prior to the ceremony. What I'm a little nervous about is the reception, which will take place within a large home with high ceilings. The wedding ceremony will begin at 4pm (also at the house) and the reception will begin immediately and go into the night, so most, if not all of my shots will need flash. What I am asking is 1.) Does this sound like a good plan during the reception:
Shoot in Manual Mode with Spot Metering with TTL flash.

2.) Increasing the ISO allows more ambient light, but what is really desirable during the reception? Subjects with a light/ambient background, or subjects with a darker background?

3.) Re: Off-Camera flash: Is it possible to change the FEC on the LCD of the SB-700, or must I do it in-camera?

4.) What settings are a good starting point for getting the shots of people dancing without blur/ghosting? f4 1/125th? Rear Sync?

Any other tidbits or pearls of wisdom are greatly appreciated.
(Using a D7000 and SB-700)

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gbowen Gold Member
08th Dec 2012
1
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Chris Platt Silver Member
09th Dec 2012
2
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RSmith70 Silver Member
09th Dec 2012
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quenton8 Silver Member
09th Dec 2012
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gbowen Gold Member
09th Dec 2012
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Chris Platt Silver Member
09th Dec 2012
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gbowen Gold Member
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Chris Platt Silver Member
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12th Dec 2012
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14th Dec 2012
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gbowen Gold Member Nikonian since 31st Mar 2011Sat 08-Dec-12 11:27 PM
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#1. "RE: Questions re: Flash use during wedding reception?"
In response to Reply # 0


Canton, US
          

The first thing I would do is get myself a flash bracket, like maybe a Stroboframe (which I have and have done weddings with.) A Gary Fong Lightsphere so you don't have to worry so much about ceiling height. And set your flash to manual. Take a few test shots before the ceremony and that will tell you if you need to play with settings. Oh, and set your camera to manual as well. I would think 1/125 at f8 is a good start point. You may need to open it up at bit to get more range, but you'll be able to tell. Just watch your depth of field. Unless the couples are break dancing, 1/125 will freeze the action nicely.

As far as ambient light, keep in mind the type of lighting being used and filter your flash accordingly. Remember, shutter speed, not ISO, regulates ambient light, and if you want more, then go slower, like 1/60th. Just mind how much movement is happening, which during vows and ring exchange is minimal. You can get by with slower speeds.

As far as off camera flash, I assume you are going to use the pop up flash in commander with the flash output set to "--"? In which case you control the remote flash from your camera's menu. I assume your camera is CLS compatible?

George

  

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Chris Platt Silver Member Nikonian since 30th Sep 2012Sun 09-Dec-12 01:18 AM
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#2. "RE: Questions re: Flash use during wedding reception?"
In response to Reply # 0
Sun 09-Dec-12 12:27 PM by Chris Platt

Newburg, US
          

*Edited to clarify explanation based on post #3*

I doubt if the ceilings in the home are so high that you won't get a good bounce off them. The light sphere mentioned above will serve you well either way. Presumably the ceilings are white - something to consider before you start bouncing light off them.

Definitely rear sync for the dancing. Then even if you have ghosting/blur, it will be trailing the movement with the subjects frozen clearly and sharply by the flash. The ghost trails will give the impression of motion and can be very pleasing. You may want to deliberately slow your shutter speed occasionally to increase the effect.

I'm not sure I understand the comment above about shutter speed controlling ambient, not ISO. The level of ambient light in the image will be affected by shutter, ISO, and aperture just as it is in any non-flash photograph. The exposure of the foreground subjects however will be controlled by the flash. Generally with flash, you want to use aperture to control DOF rather than ambient light levels, so that leaves you shutter and ISO to control ambient. However, shutter is preferred (IMO) since increasing ISO to increase the contribution of ambient lighting also affects dynamic range, noise, AND flash, so adjusting shutter speed will probably give you better quality images.

In the series below, you can see the increasing influence of ambient light as you move down the columns.

I use a gel to match the color of the flash to ambient light and then started out with a shutter speed of 125, f/8, and ISO 200.

In the left column, I increased ambient by doubling the length of the shutter speed for each image while holding ISO constant at 200. (1/125, 1/60, 1/30, 1/15) In the right column, I held shutter speed constant, but doubled ISO for each image. (200, 400, 800, 1600) The final images in the left column look much better than the images in the right IMO (not that this is a superb image by any measure).


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Attachment #1, (jpg file)

  

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RSmith70 Silver Member Nikonian since 03rd Jul 2012Sun 09-Dec-12 02:12 AM
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#3. "RE: Questions re: Flash use during wedding reception?"
In response to Reply # 2


Washington, US
          

"I increased ambient by cutting the shutter speed in half"

Did you really cut the shutter speed in half? Or did you mean that you doubled it?

Just wanted to make sure I understand this It's confusing me now!


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quenton8 Silver Member Awarded for bringing his experience to the Nikonians community helping members with printing and the use of post-processing software from the perspective of an IT professional. Nikonian since 11th Apr 2010Sun 09-Dec-12 03:09 AM
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#4. "RE: Questions re: Flash use during wedding reception?"
In response to Reply # 3


Toronto, CA
          

I just did a wedding for my God-Son.

The wedding itself had ceilings maybe 60ft high, no bounce there. I tried bounce of the back wall, but it was mostly doorways, so no good there either.

It was way to dim for available light (with my old D90).

I used the Gary Fong Lightsphere and worked pretty well. I had no control of the proceedings, so I had to shoot quickly with no chance to think much. I was surprised at how well the sphere worked - because of the high ceilings I was expecting to have to point the sphere forward which reduces its usefulness, but it worked well pointing up.

Reception was at a local steakhouse, and it was dark and again had high ceilings, but the sphere worked its magic and helped with the lack of ability to think and compose.

"I would not want to do this for a living, its too stressful "

----
Dennis Smith.

  

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Chris Platt Silver Member Nikonian since 30th Sep 2012Sun 09-Dec-12 12:08 PM
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#6. "RE: Questions re: Flash use during wedding reception?"
In response to Reply # 3
Sun 09-Dec-12 12:16 PM by Chris Platt

Newburg, US
          

You're correct, I doubled the length of the shutter speed. I guess I was thinking of the math when I posted since I was dividing the denominators by two - 1/125 > 1/60 (sort of) > 1/30 > 1/15

You clearly understand. I edited my original post to avoid confusing anybody else. Thanks for pointing out the discrepancy.

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gbowen Gold Member Nikonian since 31st Mar 2011Sun 09-Dec-12 03:15 AM
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#5. "RE: Questions re: Flash use during wedding reception?"
In response to Reply # 2


Canton, US
          


>I'm not sure I understand the comment above about shutter
>speed controlling ambient, not ISO. The level of ambient
>light in the image will be affected by shutter, ISO, and
>aperture just as it is in any non-flash photograph. The
>exposure of the foreground subjects however will be controlled
>by the flash. Generally with flash, you want to use aperture
>to control DOF not exposure, so that leaves you shutter and
>ISO to control ambient. However, shutter is preferred (IMO)
>since increasing ISO to increase the contribution of ambient
>lighting also affects dynamic range, noise, AND flash, so
>adjusting shutter speed will probably give you better quality
>images.

Back in the film days, unless you were pushing, ISO was a constant. Now with digital it isn't. Guess I still think in film terms on some things. Comes from being older I suppose haha!

George

  

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Chris Platt Silver Member Nikonian since 30th Sep 2012Sun 09-Dec-12 12:41 PM
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#7. "RE: Questions re: Flash use during wedding reception?"
In response to Reply # 5


Newburg, US
          

I was so happy to watch film days gradually disappear in my rear view mirror that I can't even remember how I shot film. When I look at one of the old cameras on my basement fireplace mantel with the bracket on the film door that could be used to hold the end flap on a film box so you could remember what was loaded in the camera, I just shudder.

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gbowen Gold Member Nikonian since 31st Mar 2011Sun 09-Dec-12 01:59 PM
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#8. "RE: Questions re: Flash use during wedding reception?"
In response to Reply # 7


Canton, US
          

I hear that. I have a lot to learn about digital and that's my commitment for the coming year. I thought about what you said about ISO, aperture and shutter speed working together. Makes sense, especially since we have cameras now that can handle much higher ISO settings with a lot less noise.

Remember the days of good old X-sync? *shudders* Trying to decipher the distance on those dials and set the aperture accordingly was a pain. I had an old Sunpak potato masher, forget which model that was. Holy mackeral that thing ate batteries! Six AAs at a time.

I guess I have some unlearning to do as well from those days. Fortunately CLS makes it easy. I can always set everything to program and TTL if I get stuck.

George

  

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Chris Platt Silver Member Nikonian since 30th Sep 2012Sun 09-Dec-12 02:37 PM
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#9. "RE: Questions re: Flash use during wedding reception?"
In response to Reply # 0


Newburg, US
          


>3.) Re: Off-Camera flash: Is it possible to change the FEC on
>the LCD of the SB-700, or must I do it in-camera?
>
Forgot to answer this one. You will have to change FEC from the camera. In remote mode, I believe the only changes you can make on the SB-700 itself are channel, group, and zoom.

I'd rather do it from the camera or master flash anyway since you will be mixing ambient and flash and you may want to quickly adjust based on the results you see on the rear LCD.

Also when I use a gel to color correct my flash for ambient and I'm bouncing off the ceiling, I like to use the custom white balance function to account for a ceiling that may be off-white. I just point the camera and flash at the ceiling and set the custom color base on the light being reflected back at me. I prefer the results I get that way to the tungsten setting on the camera. In a situation like that, setting WB by shooting a flat evenly colored surface, you don't need to use an aid like an ExpoDisk.

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jherrel Silver Member Nikonian since 08th Apr 2007Mon 10-Dec-12 01:50 AM
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#10. "RE: Questions re: Flash use during wedding reception?"
In response to Reply # 0


Elgin, US
          

I use and recommend the following.
Camera manual
ISO 400 to start
f/4 if it is dark you might try f/2.8
1/80 sec The flash will mostly freeze the motion. To get blur you will need to use about 1/15 sec if you want to be creative.
Matrix metering for the ambient. Do a couple of test shots to refine the ISO, f/stop and shutter speed.
The SB-700 will give you center weighted metering of the subject. Start at minus 0.7 EV and adjust from there.
I find that I get much better light by NOT using high priced tupperware. Point the head of the SB-700 to the wall/ceiling in the direction you want the light to come from. A good starting point is 45 degrees up and 45 degrees back. If the ceiling or wall is farther distant, you will have to increase the EV of the SB-700. It can go to +3 EV.

You would also learn a lot by reading Captured by the Light by David Ziser. He shoots Canon, but the book is filled with great lighting information for both weddings and many other lighting situations. You should also read http://nikonclspracticalguide.blogspot.com/ by Russell MacDonald.

John Herrel
Nikonian from South Carolina
See the light, capture the essence!

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Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter MemberMon 10-Dec-12 11:27 PM
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#11. "RE: Questions re: Flash use during wedding reception?"
In response to Reply # 0


Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
          

>Hi all. A little background: I mostly photograph subjects in
>natural light - flash photography is something I need to work
>on.
>
>I was asked to photograph a friend's wedding (as our
>"gift") and for the most part, feel prepared.
>Especially for the formal portraits prior to the ceremony.
>What I'm a little nervous about is the reception, which will
>take place within a large home with high ceilings. The
>wedding ceremony will begin at 4pm (also at the house) and the
>reception will begin immediately and go into the night, so
>most, if not all of my shots will need flash. What I am
>asking is 1.) Does this sound like a good plan during the
>reception:
> Shoot in Manual Mode with Spot Metering with TTL flash.

Yes, this is what you should do. In spot mode, the SB700 will be in regular TTL mode and all shots will be flash primary.

>2.) Increasing the ISO allows more ambient light, but what is
>really desirable during the reception? Subjects with a
>light/ambient background, or subjects with a darker
>background?

Increasing the ISO also means you get more shots per charge on your flash. The background at a reception almost always looks nice with a yellow glow from artificial lighting in the background. It makes the shots warm and friendly. However, if the venue uses green fluorescents, turn up the shutter speed and try to eliminate it. Green doesn't look nice.

>3.) Re: Off-Camera flash: Is it possible to change the FEC on
>the LCD of the SB-700, or must I do it in-camera?

When using your flash as a CLS Remote, you can only set the FEC on the Commander.

>4.) What settings are a good starting point for getting the
>shots of people dancing without blur/ghosting? f4 1/125th?
>Rear Sync?

For dance shots in nearly dark conditions I like ISO 400, and 1/60th to 1/15th shutter coupled with rear sync to put the motion blur on the correct side of the flash frozen image. I set my f/ stop as small as possible and still have enough flash power to do a correct exposure, so I can get as much depth of field as possible. Usually, f/8 is the flash limit.

>
>Any other tidbits or pearls of wisdom are greatly
>appreciated.
>(Using a D7000 and SB-700)

Don't use Auto ISO with flash. It will give you unpredictable results. I always used fixed ISO 400 for the reception.

I used to start with f/4.5 and 1/80th and change the shutter to adjust the background brightness. Then, I would use a Gary Fong Light Sphere pointed straight up (even with a high ceiling). That difusser makes really nice light.

Russ
Retired Professional Photographer
Nikonian Moderator
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

  

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RSmith70 Silver Member Nikonian since 03rd Jul 2012Wed 12-Dec-12 11:55 PM
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#12. "RE: Questions re: Flash use during wedding reception?"
In response to Reply # 11


Washington, US
          

Thanks everyone. Your suggestions are very helpful. I love this forum!

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RSmith70 Silver Member Nikonian since 03rd Jul 2012Fri 14-Dec-12 10:34 AM
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#13. "RE: Questions re: Flash use during wedding reception?"
In response to Reply # 12


Washington, US
          

One more quickie:
Will using a 24-70 2.8 cause a problem with flash shadows?

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Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter MemberFri 14-Dec-12 05:54 PM
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#14. "RE: Questions re: Flash use during wedding reception?"
In response to Reply # 13


Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
          

>One more quickie:
>Will using a 24-70 2.8 cause a problem with flash shadows?

Yes, the pop-up flash doesn't sit high enough for use with any of the larger professional lenses. You have to use an external flash like an SB600, 700, 800, 900, or 910 to avoid the 'lens' shadow.

I'm pretty sure I knew what you meant, but that is not the common usage of 'flash shadow'. Flash shadow normally refers to the shadow cast behind the subject when you turn the camera vertically and don't use a bracket.

Russ
Retired Professional Photographer
Nikonian Moderator
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

  

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RSmith70 Silver Member Nikonian since 03rd Jul 2012Fri 14-Dec-12 05:58 PM
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#15. "RE: Questions re: Flash use during wedding reception?"
In response to Reply # 14


Washington, US
          

Ah, yes, Russ. You got it. Thank you again.

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RSmith70 Silver Member Nikonian since 03rd Jul 2012Thu 27-Dec-12 11:13 PM
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#16. "RE: Questions re: Flash use during wedding reception?"
In response to Reply # 15
Fri 28-Dec-12 01:16 AM by RSmith70

Washington, US
          

So I'd like to post an image from the wedding ceremony itself. Flash was bounced from a white wall directly behind me in a room that measured approx 15x20 and 9 ft ceilings. Many of the shots were slightly under-exposed so the exposure on this one was set at +0.40. The room was lit mostly with candles and *very* low incandescent high hats in the ceiling.
Comments and critique appreciated.

ISO 500
f/4.0
1/200 sec
24-70mm 2.8 lens at 55mm


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Attachment #1, (jpg file)

  

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Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter MemberFri 28-Dec-12 12:36 AM
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#17. "RE: Questions re: Flash use during wedding reception?"
In response to Reply # 16


Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
          

>So I'd like to post an image from the wedding ceremony
>itself. Flash was bounced from a white wall directly behind
>me in a room that measured approx 15x20 and 9 ft ceilings.
>Many of the shots were slightly under-exposed so the exposure
>on this one was set at +0.40. The room was lit mostly with
>candles and *very* low incandescent high hats in the ceiling.
>Comments and critique appreciated.

I like your shot. Good candids like this are very hard to capture. I'm willing to bet that I shot 10 candids for each keeper like this. I learned that most people don't really want true candids. They buy the posed shots of themselves with the bride and groom or other family and friends smiling into the camera.

One thing I would have done different in this shot would be to have used 1/80th shutter to allow more ambient into the image and brighten it up some. The warm glow of candles looks great in a setting like this.

I would also recommend brightening it up a bit more by about .7 ev.

Russ
Retired Professional Photographer
Nikonian Moderator
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

  

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RimaB Registered since 01st Oct 2011Fri 28-Dec-12 06:52 PM
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#18. "RE: Questions re: Flash use during wedding reception?"
In response to Reply # 11


New York, US
          

I love this question and discussion. I'll be shooting an PR fundraising event in Feb. and as I may have mentioned here, am just getting comfortable with flash. So thanks so much. (Again Russ you rock!)

I use the SB-600 and SB800. I'm not familiar w/the SB700- but am I correct in assuming it is the same as the sb800? Wndering if anyone knows off the top of their head, otherwise of course I can look up & compare.

Thanks again all,
Rima

  

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Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter MemberFri 28-Dec-12 09:42 PM
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#19. "RE: Questions re: Flash use during wedding reception?"
In response to Reply # 18


Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
          

>I use the SB-600 and SB800. I'm not familiar w/the SB700- but
>am I correct in assuming it is the same as the sb800?
>Wndering if anyone knows off the top of their head, otherwise
>of course I can look up & compare.

The SB700 is the replacement for the SB600, with a few added features. It has about the same power as the SB600 but they added a Commander that will control two groups. The SB800 is more powerful and has a Commander that will control three groups. The SB800 has been replaced by the SB900, followed by the SB910. The SB800 is still my preferred speedlight, because it has more power than even the SB910, and it rarely overheats when using heavily.

Russ
Retired Professional Photographer
Nikonian Moderator
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

  

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sl33py Silver Member Nikonian since 24th Apr 2008Fri 28-Dec-12 10:30 PM
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#20. "RE: Questions re: Flash use during wedding reception?"
In response to Reply # 18


Seattle, US
          

>I love this question and discussion. I'll be shooting an PR
>fundraising event in Feb. and as I may have mentioned here, am
>just getting comfortable with flash. So thanks so much.
>(Again Russ you rock!)
>
>I use the SB-600 and SB800. I'm not familiar w/the SB700- but
>am I correct in assuming it is the same as the sb800?
>Wndering if anyone knows off the top of their head, otherwise
>of course I can look up & compare.
>
>Thanks again all,
>Rima

+1000 - these are the discussions i love to read up on for the next time i need similar help!

As always Russ and the other lighting guru's are superb mentors.

As for the SB700 mentioned. It's the newer version of the SB600. Menus updated and interface is pretty splendid vs the older SB600 (imo).

Power wise it should be closer to the SB600 than the SB800 which has been replaced by the SB900/910. Without crunching the numbers Gn wise i believe this is pretty true. Someone who knows better will chime in if i'm too far off base.

I had a comparison going a year or three back, but don't have it handy. Tried to fill in the blanks on specs between the models.

anyway - hope that helps and good luck with your PR shoot!

  

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RSmith70 Silver Member Nikonian since 03rd Jul 2012Sat 29-Dec-12 07:17 PM
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#21. "RE: Questions re: Flash use during wedding reception?"
In response to Reply # 20


Washington, US
          

Here's a shot from the reception (the part I was stressed about!) using off-camera flash. My husband and I were in attendance as (working) guests, so I couldn't have pulled this off without him and his high reach to hold the flash for me. Again, comments and critiques are appreciated.

ISO 320
f/4
1/80th sec
24-70 mm @ 24 mm



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Attachment #1, (jpg file)

  

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Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter MemberSat 29-Dec-12 09:38 PM
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#22. "RE: Questions re: Flash use during wedding reception?"
In response to Reply # 21


Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
          

Very nice candid dance shot! The flash is clearly primary and exposure and white balance are good. The light high and to the left works well here. Depth of field is adequate for small prints. And you captured great expressions!

The only thing I might have done to improve it, would have been to slow the shutter to 1/30th (about 1 stop), stopped down to f/5.6 (one stop), and used rear sync, so that you would see some motion blur in the arms.

Russ
Retired Professional Photographer
Nikonian Moderator
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

  

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cwils02 Gold Member Nikonian since 19th Apr 2012Sun 30-Dec-12 05:39 PM
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#23. "RE: Questions re: Flash use during wedding reception?"
In response to Reply # 0


HIXSON, US
          

I had a similar situation. Not unlike Dennis, I never want to shoot a wedding, ever again.

I was not allowed to use flash during the ceremony. The formal shots afterwards were a real challenge due to the mixture of lighting types including the varying strength of the light through the windows. After several different lighting attempts, including one just before the ceremony, I had to overcome all this with my bounced & diffused flash (SB900 on a brand new D7000). I had only about three shots where I had to post process out hot spots on some bald heads.

Wish I had all the settings mentioned on here to help guide me. I did shoot in brackets.

Like George recommended, I used my flash on a bracket at the reception where there was a very high dark ceiling. That seemed to work well for the most part.

Charlie

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter MemberMon 31-Dec-12 01:42 PM
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#24. "RE: Questions re: Flash use during wedding reception?"
In response to Reply # 23


Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
          

>I had a similar situation. Not unlike Dennis, I never want
>to shoot a wedding, ever again.

I know what you mean! I shot weddings for over 10 years - hundreds of them! Most people think weddings are easy, and some are but most aren't. It was the physical limitations of age that finally caught up to me and made me retire one year ago today. I got where standing up for 12 hours, carrying around 10 pounds of camera, all the while trying to remain friendly and chearful was leaving me totally wiped out. Then, another wedding the next day was really bad news. It had become very difficult to do a good job.

Russ
Retired Professional Photographer
Nikonian Moderator
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

  

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