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Subject: "SB700 and TTL-BL " Previous topic | Next topic
Toby01 Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Nov 2012Wed 09-Jan-13 07:13 PM
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"SB700 and TTL-BL "


El Sobrante, US
          

I would like to replace my SB600 with an SB700 because I need the 180 degree flashhead rotation both directions for bounce flash. However, I understand that the SB700 will only work in plain TTL mode when you use spot metering. Russ MacDonald and several other flash experts whose expertise I trust suggest not using TTL-BL indoors under normal lighting, but to use TTL in those conditions. TTL-BL is supposed to work better in bright light where the main subject is less well lit than the background. For my indoor shots then, where spot metering in not practical for fast moving subjects like kids and dogs, the SB700 would use TTL-BL. Does anyone know whether TTL-BL on the SB700 will work reasonably well in this situation? I have done some playing around with my SB600 in TTL-BL and the camera in manual mode. The results seem OK, but this approach requires quite a lot different ambient setting than using TTL. Thanks for any insights, particularly if anyone has used an SB700 in this type of environment.

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Replies to this topic
Subject Author Message Date ID
Reply message RE: SB700 and TTL-BL
RABaker
10th Jan 2013
1
Reply message RE: SB700 and TTL-BL
Chris Platt Silver Member
10th Jan 2013
2
Reply message RE: SB700 and TTL-BL
Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography
10th Jan 2013
3
Reply message RE: SB700 and TTL-BL
Toby01 Silver Member
10th Jan 2013
4
     Reply message RE: SB700 and TTL-BL
Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography
10th Jan 2013
5
          Reply message RE: SB700 and TTL-BL
Toby01 Silver Member
11th Jan 2013
6
          Reply message RE: SB700 and TTL-BL
Scotty Silver Member
11th Jan 2013
7
          Reply message RE: SB700 and TTL-BL
Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography
11th Jan 2013
8
               Reply message RE: SB700 and TTL-BL
Scotty Silver Member
11th Jan 2013
10
                    Reply message RE: SB700 and TTL-BL
Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography
12th Jan 2013
11
                         Reply message RE: SB700 and TTL-BL
Scotty Silver Member
12th Jan 2013
12
          Reply message RE: SB700 and TTL-BL
Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography
11th Jan 2013
9
          Reply message RE: SB700 and TTL-BL
Toby01 Silver Member
13th Jan 2013
14
               Reply message RE: SB700 and TTL-BL
Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography
13th Jan 2013
15
Reply message RE: SB700 and TTL-BL
cosmicfires Silver Member
12th Jan 2013
13

RABaker Registered since 01st Oct 2003Thu 10-Jan-13 06:36 AM
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#1. "RE: SB700 and TTL-BL "
In response to Reply # 0
Thu 10-Jan-13 07:46 PM by RABaker

Sunnyvale, US
          

I guess I don't understand... If you prefer TTL over TTL-BL in certain situations, can't you just set the flash to TTL? (I know the "Mode" button on my SB800 allows me to cycle through the different flash modes and I assume both the SB600 and SB700 can do the same.)

Edited 1/10/2013: I just downloaded the SB700 manual from Nikon USA and I was surprised to learn that the user cannot set TTL and TTL-BL with the mode switch. The user can put the flash into TTL mode and then standard TTL or TTL-BL is used by the flash depending on the type of metering selected on the camera (as indicated by Toby in the original post). I am rather disappointed that Nikon would remove such a simple (probably no-cost) feature and take away some of the photographer's control over the flash. In my opinion such action by Nikon is very short-sighted and may actually drive a few customers to third-party flashes in order to have the control they desire.

Good luck,
Richard

  

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Chris Platt Silver Member Nikonian since 30th Sep 2012Thu 10-Jan-13 02:35 PM
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#2. "RE: SB700 and TTL-BL "
In response to Reply # 0
Fri 11-Jan-13 02:50 AM by Chris Platt

Newburg, US
          

I haven't used an SB 700 yet, but have been curious about Nikon's decision to go with TTL BL as the only option when you aren't using spot metering.

I found this article where the author makes some interesting points about TTL BL which he supports with examples of extensive testing. I tend to have faith in Nikon's CLS and have to believe that they understand indoor lighting conditions and how to properly light a subject and they've made this change for a reason perhaps with some tweaking of how CLS works with the camera - so it's ok to use TTL-BL indoors and probably even best to do it in P mode - and then divert from that point to spot metering and TTL if you aren't getting what you want.

http://desmond-downs.blogspot.com/2010/07/flash-nikons-new-ttl-bl.html

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Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter MemberThu 10-Jan-13 07:49 PM
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#3. "RE: SB700 and TTL-BL "
In response to Reply # 0


Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
          

>I would like to replace my SB600 with an SB700 because I need
>the 180 degree flashhead rotation both directions for bounce
>flash. However, I understand that the SB700 will only work in
>plain TTL mode when you use spot metering. Russ MacDonald and
>several other flash experts whose expertise I trust suggest
>not using TTL-BL indoors under normal lighting, but to use TTL
>in those conditions. TTL-BL is supposed to work better in
>bright light where the main subject is less well lit than the
>background. For my indoor shots then, where spot metering in
>not practical for fast moving subjects like kids and dogs, the
>SB700 would use TTL-BL. Does anyone know whether TTL-BL on the
>SB700 will work reasonably well in this situation? I have done
>some playing around with my SB600 in TTL-BL and the camera in
>manual mode. The results seem OK, but this approach requires
>quite a lot different ambient setting than using TTL. Thanks
>for any insights, particularly if anyone has used an SB700 in
>this type of environment.

You have to fully understand how TTL and TTL-BL work before you can fully understand when to use which.

In (regular) TTL mode, the flash is primary, meaning it supplies all of the light for the exposure. TTL fires a monitor preflash, and the system measures the reflected energy from the center weighted frame of the image. The subject is always assumed to be in the center, so the flash power is set to expose the center area of the frame properly. Also, it is very important to realize that the monitor preflash is at least 10x the ambient brightness, so the ambient brightness makes no difference in the flash power that is set. This means that if you shoot the same scene in complete darkness or in bright ambient, the flash power will be the same. This is why we say that the TTL system does not take the ambient into account, and that the flash adds to the ambient and that's why you have to guard against overexposure in bright light. This is also why camera Manual mode is best when shooting TTL, so you can set the camera to underexpose the ambient by two to three stops.

In TTL-BL mode, the flash is supplemental to the ambient; i.e. 'fill flash'. TTL-BL uses the information from the camera internal light meter, as well as the distance to the subject, and to a very minor extent, the monitor preflash, to set the flash power.

In TTL-BL mode, the brighter the ambient, the stronger the flash power. The camera has to be in either Matrix or Center Weighted metering for TTL-BL to work, because the meter must measure across the entire frame to obtain a proxy for the overal ambient brightness. The TTL-BL system sets the flash power to balance the subject brightness (based on the distance as set by the D lens) with the overall ambient brightness (which usually approximates the background brightness).

For the TTL-BL system to work properly, the LIGHT METER IN THE CAMERA MUST BE ZEROED. I emphasize this, because I see lots of people trying to use TTL-BL with the camera in Manual mode. TTL-BL will only work in Camera Manual mode if the meter is zeroed manually. This is why I recommend P mode when shooting TTL-BL. It always zeros the meter and it does it a lot faster than you can manually. P mode also prevents the overexposure that can result when using camera A mode. People always want to set a wide aperture in camera A mode, and then the shutter is limited to sync speed, which results in massive overexposure in bright light. To achieve wide apertures when shooting TTL-BL

TTL-BL will not work at all in Spot metering mode, because there will be no ambient metered information for the flash to balance with. The metering data in Spot mode is only the brightness of the subject.

TTL-BL works just fine in low level ambient if the CAMERA LIGHT METER IS ZEROED. However, this is often a big limitation in low ambient, because people want shutter speeds much higher than what would be necessary for a proper ambient exposure. Indoor typical ambient exposure is ISO 400, 1/15 shutter, f/4 aperture. 1/15 shutter speed requires a tripod, and the subject cannot move or ghosting will result. Many people do not realize the importance of zeroing the camera meter when shooting TTL-BL, and their shots come out underexposed when they shoot in low ambient conditions.

This is why it is recommended to use regular TTL for indoor low ambient shots and make the flash primary. Then, you can use camera Manual mode and underexpose the ambient by two or three stops, and the flash will be primary and fully expose the image while stopping action at the same time.

There are more caveats for the correct use of TTL-BL. Remember that in TTL-BL mode the correct power is set primarilly by the distance to the subject and the ambient brightness. If you have the flash pointed up for any reason (i.e. bounce), the distance to the subject is no longer correct. In this case, the distance information is not used, and the TTL-BL system falls back entirely on the monitor preflash to estimate the correct power on the subject. This doesn't work well in bright ambient light, so proper flash power is rarely achieved in this situation. The lesson is that you should point the flash straight at the subject to get the best TTL-BL operation. If you attach a diffuser, you will notice that the diffuser pushes a small button on the flash (won't work at all on the SB-600, since it doesn't have this button). This button tells the system that the diffuser is attached, and the TTL-BL system increases the flash power accordingly. However, all diffusers attenuate different amounts, so the power calculation becomes less accurate. all-in-all, it is best to shoot TTL-BL with the flash pointed straight at the subject without a diffuser. Remember that this is only fill flash, so harshness of the bare flash is normally not an issue.

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

  

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Toby01 Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Nov 2012Thu 10-Jan-13 09:30 PM
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#4. "RE: SB700 and TTL-BL "
In response to Reply # 3


El Sobrante, US
          

Hi, Russ.

Thanks for the further insight into how TTL-BL works. I've read your guide to flash several times and have gotten good results indoors in dim light using manual exposure mode and TTL flash. My problem is that the head on my SB600 rotates only 180 degrees in one direction and 90 degrees in the other. I am bouncing off walls rather than the ceiling, so rotation is important. That's why I am considering the SB700, but Nikon has crippled that flash by eliminating the ability to use it in TTL mode unless you are spot metering. I will do some more testing with my SB600 in TTL-BL, keeping in mind what you have told me about zeroing the meter. If TTL-BL doesn't work for me, I'll have to look at other flash manufacturers because the SB900 is just too large and heavy for my taste. Thanks again for the great info you have provided to all of us Nikonians.

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Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter MemberThu 10-Jan-13 09:43 PM
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#5. "RE: SB700 and TTL-BL "
In response to Reply # 4


Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
          

>Hi, Russ.
>
>Thanks for the further insight into how TTL-BL works. I've
>read your guide to flash several times and have gotten good
>results indoors in dim light using manual exposure mode and
>TTL flash. My problem is that the head on my SB600 rotates
>only 180 degrees in one direction and 90 degrees in the other.
>I am bouncing off walls rather than the ceiling, so rotation
>is important. That's why I am considering the SB700, but Nikon
>has crippled that flash by eliminating the ability to use it
>in TTL mode unless you are spot metering.

The SB-700 is really not "crippled", because when you use regular TTL, the meter in the camera is not used in the flash power calculation at all. The meter is only used for setting the ambient portion of the exposure, and since you underexpose the ambient by two to three stops when using regular TTL, the settings on the camera are not critical. In fact, using spot or matrix make very little difference to the ambient exposure when underexposed by three stops. The way the SB-700 works is actually a very good thing, because it forces you to use the right metering.

>I will do some more
>testing with my SB600 in TTL-BL, keeping in mind what you have
>told me about zeroing the meter. If TTL-BL doesn't work for
>me, I'll have to look at other flash manufacturers

What are you trying to do that TTL-BL is not working for you? Remember that TTL-BL is ONLY for adding fill flash to a normal ambient exposure, usually outdoors in daylight. TTL-BL is never for indoors in low ambient light when you want the flash to be primary.

>because the
>SB900 is just too large and heavy for my taste. Thanks again
>for the great info you have provided to all of us Nikonians.


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

  

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Toby01 Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Nov 2012Fri 11-Jan-13 05:13 AM
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#6. "RE: SB700 and TTL-BL "
In response to Reply # 5


El Sobrante, US
          

Hi, Russ. As you say, TTL-BL is for bright ambient lighting, but I am looking for a flash to use indoors in normal household lighting. The problem I am trying to address is that the SB700 does NOT support normal TTL in matrix or center-weighted metering. So I have been trying to determine whether TTL-BL can be made to work well under low ambient lighting conditions. Can you explain the technical aspects of how exposure compensation works in TTL-BL, both when you adjust it on the camera and when you adjust it on the flash. I may be pursuing an impossible dream here, but other than the TTL limitation, the SB700 looks like it would be a good fit for me. Thanks.

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Scotty Silver Member Nikonian since 07th Feb 2002Fri 11-Jan-13 07:52 AM
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#7. "RE: SB700 and TTL-BL "
In response to Reply # 6


Ely, Cambridgeshire, UK
          

Having just bought a SB700 this is something that has been occupying my mind. Having followed this thread I have just done some very rudimentary test shots in a poorly lit room. First with my D2Xs in matrix metering and the SB700 in TTL-BL mode and then in spot metering with the SB700 in TTL mode. I found I had to increase the flash output by about +0.3 - +0.5 stops to get the same exposure between the two. Knowing this will help if I have to shoot in similar circumstances. Of course I can just use one of my SB600 speedlights and shoot in TTL mode and matrix metering...

This was not scientific however, just of interest to me...

D2Xs + AF20-35mm f2.8 + AF35-70mm f2.8 + AF80-200mm f2.8

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Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter MemberFri 11-Jan-13 02:50 PM
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#8. "RE: SB700 and TTL-BL "
In response to Reply # 7


Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
          

>Having just bought a SB700 this is something that has been
>occupying my mind. Having followed this thread I have just
>done some very rudimentary test shots in a poorly lit room.
>First with my D2Xs in matrix metering and the SB700 in TTL-BL
>mode and then in spot metering with the SB700 in TTL mode. I
>found I had to increase the flash output by about +0.3 - +0.5
>stops to get the same exposure between the two. Knowing this
>will help if I have to shoot in similar circumstances. Of
>course I can just use one of my SB600 speedlights and shoot in
>TTL mode and matrix metering...
>
>This was not scientific however, just of interest to me...

When you took the shots using TTL-BL, did you make sure to zero the meter? If you had zeroed the meter, the system would have allowed the ambient to brighten the image, and no increase in flash power would be necessary.

If you did not zero the meter, then all bets are off. You would have to increase flash power a different amount each new situation depending on how bright the ambient is.

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

  

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Scotty Silver Member Nikonian since 07th Feb 2002Fri 11-Jan-13 03:21 PM
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#10. "RE: SB700 and TTL-BL "
In response to Reply # 8


Ely, Cambridgeshire, UK
          

What do you mean by zero the meter?

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Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter MemberSat 12-Jan-13 01:07 AM
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#11. "RE: SB700 and TTL-BL "
In response to Reply # 10


Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
          

>What do you mean by zero the meter?

Set the light meter in the camera to collapse all the dots to the center so it will be set for a normal ambient exposure.

The camera has to be set to take a normal exposure before TTL-BL will work correctly. Remember that TTL-BL is only adding fill to an otherwise properly exposed image.

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

  

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Scotty Silver Member Nikonian since 07th Feb 2002Sat 12-Jan-13 01:31 AM
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#12. "RE: SB700 and TTL-BL "
In response to Reply # 11


Ely, Cambridgeshire, UK
          

never heard it described in those words before but yes I did that...

D2Xs + AF20-35mm f2.8 + AF35-70mm f2.8 + AF80-200mm f2.8

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Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter MemberFri 11-Jan-13 03:13 PM
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#9. "RE: SB700 and TTL-BL "
In response to Reply # 6


Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
          

>Hi, Russ. As you say, TTL-BL is for bright ambient lighting,
>but I am looking for a flash to use indoors in normal
>household lighting. The problem I am trying to address is that
>the SB700 does NOT support normal TTL in matrix or
>center-weighted metering.

There should be absolutely no reason for using matrix or center weighted metering with regular TTL. Why would you want to do that? The metering mode has zero effect on the power of the flash when in regular TTL mode.

The metering mode does affect the TTL-BL mode, and that is why you can change it. However TTL-BL cannot work when in Spot metering mode, so that is disallowed.

>So I have been trying to determine
>whether TTL-BL can be made to work well under low ambient
>lighting conditions.

TTL-BL will not normally work well in low ambient conditions. As I said before, the only way to make TTL-BL work reliably in low ambient conditions is to make sure the camera light meter is zeroed. Unfortunately, this will usually require a very slow shutter speed well below what you can handhold.

For normal indoor ambient lighting it is best to use regular TTL and the metering mode doesn't matter. Just set the camera in Manual mode and adjust the meter to show two or three stops underexposed on the subject, and the flash will automatically set its power to make a proper exposure. Then adjust the shutter to adjust the amount of ambient you want to include.

>Can you explain the technical aspects of
>how exposure compensation works in TTL-BL, both when you
>adjust it on the camera and when you adjust it on the flash. I
>may be pursuing an impossible dream here, but other than the
>TTL limitation, the SB700 looks like it would be a good fit
>for me. Thanks.

When you adjust EV compensation on the camera, it will adjust both the flash power and the ambient exposure.

When you adjust the FEC on the flash, it will adjust only the flash power. The ambient will remain the same.

Just remember that when shooting TTL-BL, the flash power will change dynamically on every shot depending on what lights may be in the background, so adjusting FEC in TTL-BL mode is normally not a good idea.

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

  

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Toby01 Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Nov 2012Sun 13-Jan-13 02:01 AM
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#14. "RE: SB700 and TTL-BL "
In response to Reply # 5


El Sobrante, US
          

Hi, Russ.

I think I am beginning understand. Your statement that "The meter is only used for setting the ambient portion of the exposure, and since you underexpose the ambient by two to three stops when using regular TTL, the settings on the camera are not critical. In fact, using spot or matrix make very little difference to the ambient exposure when underexposed by three stops" has put me on track I think. But there is one thing I noticed: when I want to set the manual exposure to -2 stops for the ambient light, the metering mode in effect can make a big difference to how I set it up. If I have the camera set to matrix, I might get ISO 800, f2.0,1/30 sec to underexpose by 2 stops. If, on the other hand, I switch to spot metering when making the settings, I might get ISO 3200, f1.8 1/15 sec to get the same level on the meter bar. So in this sense, the SB700 would force me to use matrix to establish the basic settings for TTL use, and then switch to spot before starting to shoot. Do I have this right, or is there still something I am missing? I appreciate your patience with those of us who are still trying to understand this topic.

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Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter MemberSun 13-Jan-13 02:45 AM
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#15. "RE: SB700 and TTL-BL "
In response to Reply # 14


Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
          

>Hi, Russ.
>
>I think I am beginning understand. Your statement that
>"The meter is only used for setting the ambient portion
>of the exposure, and since you underexpose the ambient by two
>to three stops when using regular TTL, the settings on the
>camera are not critical. In fact, using spot or matrix make
>very little difference to the ambient exposure when
>underexposed by three stops" has put me on track I think.
>But there is one thing I noticed: when I want to set the
>manual exposure to -2 stops for the ambient light, the
>metering mode in effect can make a big difference to how I set
>it up. If I have the camera set to matrix, I might get ISO
>800, f2.0,1/30 sec to underexpose by 2 stops. If, on the other
>hand, I switch to spot metering when making the settings, I
>might get ISO 3200, f1.8 1/15 sec to get the same level on the
>meter bar. So in this sense, the SB700 would force me to use
>matrix to establish the basic settings for TTL use, and then
>switch to spot before starting to shoot. Do I have this right,
>or is there still something I am missing? I appreciate your
>patience with those of us who are still trying to understand
>this topic.

One key thing you may have not realized: You should NEVER use Auto ISO when shooting flash. It simply doesn't work well at all, because the ISO can change for each shot which will drastically affect the ambient portion of the exposure. This could cause widely varying exposures from one shot to the next. You should always use fixed ISO when shooting flash, and I recommend ISO 400 for indoors in low ambient conditions ISO 200 or 100 for fill flash in bright ambient.

Also, if you do want to use high ISO values like ISO 3200 with flash, that will be just like shooting in much brighter ambient, so you should consider using TTL-BL coupled with camera P mode and Matrix metering.

Now, to directly answer your question. When setting two to three stops underexposed, the settings are not critical. Two stops underexposed looks very similar to three stops underexposed when the regular TTL flash is handling 90% of the exposure. In fact, you may see just tiny amounts of difference in the background brightness and exactly the same subject brightness. So, clearly, the metering mode you use to set the two to three stops underexposure doesn't have any noticeable effect - assuming you are using a fixed ISO 400.

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

  

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cosmicfires Silver Member Nikonian since 22nd Nov 2011Sat 12-Jan-13 07:15 PM
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#13. "RE: SB700 and TTL-BL "
In response to Reply # 0


Lynnwood, US
          

My SB700 works fine in TTL mode. I thought using the camera meter to choose TTL-BL or TTL mode was strange at first but it doesn't really matter since I usually use M mode and 1/250 (X sync) shutter speed when I use TTL mode.

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