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Forums Lobby MASTER YOUR TOOLS - Hardware & Software Nikon Speedlights & Lighting topic #61555
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Subject: "AWB and Speedlight usage" Previous topic | Next topic
Craig Bennett Registered since 29th Oct 2012Sat 25-May-13 02:39 AM
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"AWB and Speedlight usage"


Rio Rancho, US
          

Hi all,
Does anyone here understand what the camera does with regards to AWB when a Speedlight is used? Either the pop-up or external. Does it fix the WB to 5400K or does it attempt to read the color by using the pre-flash and then calculating the correct WB?

  

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Replies to this topic
Subject Author Message Date ID
Reply message RE: AWB and Speedlight usage
kodiak photo Silver Member
25th May 2013
1
Reply message RE: AWB and Speedlight usage
Craig Bennett
25th May 2013
2
     Reply message RE: AWB and Speedlight usage
blw Moderator Awarded for his high level of expertise in various areas
25th May 2013
5
Reply message RE: AWB and Speedlight usage
ScottChapin Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in various areas, including Aviation and Birds Photography
25th May 2013
3
Reply message RE: AWB and Speedlight usage
blw Moderator Awarded for his high level of expertise in various areas
25th May 2013
4
Reply message RE: AWB and Speedlight usage
Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography
26th May 2013
6
Reply message RE: AWB and Speedlight usage
Craig Bennett
29th May 2013
7
     Reply message RE: AWB and Speedlight usage
Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography
29th May 2013
8
          Reply message RE: AWB and Speedlight usage
Craig Bennett
01st Jun 2013
9
               Reply message RE: AWB and Speedlight usage
Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography
01st Jun 2013
10

kodiak photo Silver Member Nikonian since 28th Feb 2013Sat 25-May-13 03:15 AM
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#1. "RE: AWB and Speedlight usage"
In response to Reply # 0


Montrιal, (Qc), CA
          


*
Hi Craig,

Honestly, I got no idea how the camera does it.
I never give it a chance.

There are only three A's I use on the camera:
AF, 90% of the time,
A mode, 80% of the time, and
Auto ISO, 10% of the time

But, with flash, I set the WB at daylight.

I prefer to control the camera then to let the
camera control my shot.

Though there are days…

Have a good time!

Kodiak
Groovy Shootings
Image Mιdia
www.kodiakmedia.at

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
In photography, light is free but catching it is not!
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

  

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Craig Bennett Registered since 29th Oct 2012Sat 25-May-13 07:32 AM
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#2. "RE: AWB and Speedlight usage"
In response to Reply # 1


Rio Rancho, US
          


>
>There are only three A's I use on the camera:
>AF, 90% of the time,
>A mode, 80% of the time, and
>Auto ISO, 10% of the time
>
>But, with flash, I set the WB at daylight.
>
>I prefer to control the camera then to let the
>camera control my shot.

Yep, I do the same, but it's Manual 90%, A 10%, AF 99%, Auto ISO 0%. I usually use custom pre-set WB or set it to Flash or K and dial in what I want. I also shoot in RAW, so it really does not matter, except for the histogram on the LCD.

The reason I ask is the Nikon manual for the D800 makes a vague statement that it reads the filter attached on the SB-900/SB-910 and SB-700 and adjusts WB accordingly in Auto and Flash WB modes. So I am curious just what the camera is doing. The SB-910 manual states that "when a color compensation filter is attached to the SB-910 while the camera's white balance is set to auto or flash, filter information is automatically transmitted to the camera, and the camera's optimum white balance is automatically adjusted to give the correct color temperature."

Nikon could do a better job through technical papers describing their metering systems.

I too do not like it when the camera makes decisions that I do not understand.

Thanks,
Craig

  

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blw Moderator Awarded for his high level of expertise in various areas Nikonian since 18th Jun 2004Sat 25-May-13 01:25 PM
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#5. "RE: AWB and Speedlight usage"
In response to Reply # 2


Richmond, US
          

This is the same kind of situation as using a warming filter with AWB. Not many use them any more, but if you put something like an 81A on a lens and shoot with AWB, you'll probably get a normal - unwarmed! - result. The AWB detects the color shift and automatically tries to compensate! This flash is a similar situation, only in this case it knows for sure that there's filtering going on because it can read the filter's identity. The presence of the filter can also be taken as an indication of photographer intent, which is less true of an unfiltered flash.

_____
Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member

My gallery is online. Comments and critique welcomed any time!

  

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ScottChapin Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in various areas, including Aviation and Birds Photography Charter MemberSat 25-May-13 11:07 AM
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#3. "RE: AWB and Speedlight usage"
In response to Reply # 0


Powder Springs, US
          

Hi Craig,

I've never really thought to check it out specifically. I have noticed that AWB appears to balance with ambient. When I use standard flash, soft fill, in fluorescent lighting, it has a color cast that goes away when I select flash in post.

I presume it is similar with the filters, but I have only used tungsten filters in tungsten lighting. You might be sparking the Walter Mitty in me and must go use my filter in non-tungsten lighting

Scott Chapin
Powder Springs, GA, USA
Nikonians Team Member

  

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blw Moderator Awarded for his high level of expertise in various areas Nikonian since 18th Jun 2004Sat 25-May-13 01:20 PM
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#4. "RE: AWB and Speedlight usage"
In response to Reply # 0


Richmond, US
          

AWB ignores the flash. The reason is that it does not understand the circumstances under which you are using the flash. If you're using it for fill, it should leave the white balance alone. If you're using it as the main illumination, possibly it should match. However, there are other mixed-light circumstances under which it cannot properly read the white balance from the pre-flash, since that pulse is far less powerful than the real flash. Because of that, it's impossible to tell if the flash is going to overpower some part of the scene's light or not. So the safest thing is to just ignore the flash and let the photographer pick what happens - especially since raw is so flexible.

_____
Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member

My gallery is online. Comments and critique welcomed any time!

  

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Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter MemberSun 26-May-13 09:12 PM
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#6. "RE: AWB and Speedlight usage"
In response to Reply # 0


Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
          

>Hi all,
>Does anyone here understand what the camera does with regards
>to AWB when a Speedlight is used? Either the pop-up or
>external. Does it fix the WB to 5400K or does it attempt to
>read the color by using the pre-flash and then calculating the
>correct WB?

The auto white balance in TTL or TTL-BL mode measures a mixture of ambient and reflected monitor preflash. If the flash is primary, and the ambient is low, the AWB will set something just under 5500K. If the ambient is stronger and will be contributing significantly to the exposure, the AWB will shift considerably. In the case of strong tungsten ambient (or very high ISO), the AWB can shift down to 4000K or below.

An interesting sidebar related to this: With the flash in AA mode the exposure is calculated using the 'eye' on the flash, but a monitor preflash is also fired and it is used only for the AWB. In flash A mode there is no preflash, and AWB is set to the flash.

Russ
Nikonian Moderator
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

  

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Craig Bennett Registered since 29th Oct 2012Wed 29-May-13 04:56 AM
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#7. "RE: AWB and Speedlight usage"
In response to Reply # 6
Wed 29-May-13 05:00 AM by Craig Bennett

Rio Rancho, US
          

Thank you all who posted.

As you can see, there are differing thoughts on this. So Russ, the camera's AWB is smart enough to calculate the contribution of the powered flash mixed with the ambient? And does not the SB's color change over it's power range? Does the camera factor this in as well? I just find it hard to believe the pre-flash is close to the actual flash with regards to color and I would find it even more amazing that Nikon engineers have compensation tables built in. But again that is the reason for my question.

This explains (in my mind) why AWB is all over the place when using flash in TTL and AWB mode, at least under the condition you pointed out (strong tungsten light and high ISO); what you find shooting weddings . So I guess the best thing to do is lock down the WB by taking it off AWB if shooting TTL. I always shot RAW and attempt to correct in post....but it always is a compromise in mixed lighting.

Russ, you certainly know a lot about the Nikon Flash system. I enjoy your blog very much. Good information on it. (I too am a retired EE PE)

Regards,
Craig

  

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Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter MemberWed 29-May-13 01:52 PM
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#8. "RE: AWB and Speedlight usage"
In response to Reply # 7


Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
          

>Thank you all who posted.
>
>As you can see, there are differing thoughts on this. So
>Russ, the camera's AWB is smart enough to calculate the
>contribution of the powered flash mixed with the ambient? And
>does not the SB's color change over it's power range? Does
>the camera factor this in as well? I just find it hard to
>believe the pre-flash is close to the actual flash with
>regards to color and I would find it even more amazing that
>Nikon engineers have compensation tables built in. But again
>that is the reason for my question.
>
>This explains (in my mind) why AWB is all over the place when
>using flash in TTL and AWB mode, at least under the condition
>you pointed out (strong tungsten light and high ISO); what you
>find shooting weddings . So I guess the best thing to do is
>lock down the WB by taking it off AWB if shooting TTL. I
>always shot RAW and attempt to correct in post....but it
>always is a compromise in mixed lighting.
>
>Russ, you certainly know a lot about the Nikon Flash system.
>I enjoy your blog very much. Good information on it. (I too
>am a retired EE PE)
>
>Regards,
>Craig

Hi Craig,

The color spectrum of the SB is extremely constant over all power settings. The reason is that the only thing that is done to change power is to control how long the flash is On. The ionization level is always the same, so the color is the same. The monitor preflash is just a very short pulse fired at the same ionization level as the main . Therefore measuring the the reflected color balance from the preflash gives a very accurate representation of the color from the main flash.

The reason your colors are all over the place when shooting indoors is that you are allowing too much ambient into the subject. The solution is to increase the shutter speed to remove the ambient from the subject. Doing this will still leave enough ambient for the background to be visible, but the subject will always be correct color balance using AWB.

For indoor receptions under artificial light, I found it best to use the camera in Manual mode, set to 1/80th, f/4.5, ISO400, AWB On, and the flash in regular TTL. This will make the flash primary on the subject and leave the background visible, while also stopping a bit of the ghosting. If you leave the camera in A mode or P mode, in low ambient conditions, the camera always chooses 1/60 shutter (flash shutter speed default), which is too slow and will allow too much ambient and mess up white balance and cause motion ghosting. In addition, using A or P mode can cause overexposure if the ambient is medium, because the exposure will be a lot closer to a full exposure. It's always best to underexpose the ambient by at least a couple of stops, which is the whole point of the camera settings I suggested.

Sometimes, the ambient is brighter than usual, so you have to increase the shutter to stop white balance problems. I used up to 1/160th shutter when I ran into that. Again, the goal is to overpower the ambient on the subject by reducing the ambient portion of the exposure, making the flash primary.

Russ
Nikonian Moderator
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

  

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Craig Bennett Registered since 29th Oct 2012Sat 01-Jun-13 04:40 AM
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#9. "RE: AWB and Speedlight usage"
In response to Reply # 8


Rio Rancho, US
          

>The reason your colors are all over the place when shooting
>indoors is that you are allowing too much ambient into the
>subject. The solution is to increase the shutter speed to
>remove the ambient from the subject. Doing this will still
>leave enough ambient for the background to be visible, but the
>subject will always be correct color balance using AWB.
>

>Russ

I agree. When I shot with the D1X and D2X, I never went above 800 ISO, typically shot at 400 ISO and never had a problem. Now with the D800e's and their great high ISO performance, I've been shooting at 1250 - 3200 ISO and using a lot less flash power. Always shoot on Manual but been using 1/125 and f/5.6 and cranking up my ISO for more ambient and less flash, which seems to be the trend in wedding photography.

Regards,
Craig

  

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Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter MemberSat 01-Jun-13 01:32 PM
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#10. "RE: AWB and Speedlight usage"
In response to Reply # 9


Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
          

>>The reason your colors are all over the place when
>shooting
>>indoors is that you are allowing too much ambient into
>the
>>subject. The solution is to increase the shutter speed to
>>remove the ambient from the subject. Doing this will
>still
>>leave enough ambient for the background to be visible, but
>the
>>subject will always be correct color balance using AWB.
>>
>
>>Russ
>
>I agree. When I shot with the D1X and D2X, I never went above
>800 ISO, typically shot at 400 ISO and never had a problem.
>Now with the D800e's and their great high ISO performance,
>I've been shooting at 1250 - 3200 ISO and using a lot less
>flash power. Always shoot on Manual but been using 1/125 and
>f/5.6 and cranking up my ISO for more ambient and less flash,
>which seems to be the trend in wedding photography.
>
>Regards,
>Craig

This approach works great for daylight or tungsten, but if you are shooting under any other lighting, you will have problems with white balance. For instance, if you do this at a reception under regular fluorescent light, it will make all the subjects have an ugly green tint, or a dance in a gymnasium under sodium vapor will leave the subjects gray/orange or green.

The other problem is that you normally can't fix it very well in post processing, because each shot has a different mixture of flash and ambient.

If you know exactly what you are doing, you can gel the flash to match the ambient, and then the white balance works out perfectly no matter what ratio of flash to ambient you are using.

I think most photographers will get the best results by using a lower ISO (ISO 400) and eliminating the ambient on the subjects by underexposing the ambient by two to three stops. Then AWB is almost always correct.

Russ
Nikonian Moderator
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

  

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Forums Lobby MASTER YOUR TOOLS - Hardware & Software Nikon Speedlights & Lighting topic #61555 Previous topic | Next topic