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How-to's Accessories Reviews

Nikon TTL-BL Flash

Russ MacDonald (Arkayem)

Keywords: nikon, speedlights, lighting, flash

The most advanced flash mode on the Nikon flash is TTL-BL. Originally, the BL meant BackLit, but Nikon marketing gurus changed it to mean BaLanced Fill. (Why didn't they change the initials to TTL-BF?). The word BackLit suggests the situation for which this mode is most useful.



The photo above is a good example of a subject being backlit by a brighter scene.

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philippe ned baba (nevan) on July 7, 2013

P.S Does the same calculations/effect happen when the flash is used off-camera? I don't know if this is actually the right place to set this question? i apologise if i am wrong.

philippe ned baba (nevan) on July 7, 2013

Great article Russ. I'm sure that it has been very useful to many of us. At least it has been for me. I knew that in some situations, fill flash is a very important tool. This article has clearly wiped away any misuse and doubts. Congratulations to all Nikonians for their contributions.

Barry Lewis (backtoit) on July 4, 2013

Very nice overview Russ, I am going to have to try this out using my flash (which I rarely use). It will be nice to get better photos

Elizabeth Hanawalt (ehanawalt) on July 2, 2013

I agree with with Elio, please consider turning articles into printable ready for references! Thanks for the info.

Kaya Corabatir (fotokaya) on June 30, 2013

Comment on item 5: If the subject is already brighter than the background and you still want to use flash because overall the light level is low, then it is best to switch to spot metering. This will properly expose the subject. Matrix metering does not work in this situation and the subject will be underexposed.

Gregory Martini (martinimac) on June 29, 2013

This is a great read. I struggle with this on a regular basis. Your characterization of the image "jumping off the page" when the lighting is too significant in the foreground is spot on. Great article. Thanks very much for the insights.

Patrick Galligan (pgalligan) on June 28, 2013

It's probably worth mentioning that TTL-BL, on D70s and D7000 at least, doesn't work with spot metering. Caught me out recently as I had forgotten. My SB-600 manual suggests that some of the higher end cameras can do TTL-BL with spot metering, but the Nilkon manuals are not great when it comes to explaining CLS.

Mike Banks (unclemikey) on June 27, 2013

Great information Russ and thanks. Although I almost always use flash in manual I'm going to experiment with the P and S modes. Great series of articles.

John McFall (JEM1) on June 26, 2013

Russ, why was Manual mode used in the window image rather than P or S mode on the camera? JEM1

User on June 25, 2013

Excellent explanation on what appears to many to be a mystery. I am in total agreement with Stan, even experienced photographers have refused to use flash because of the ugly lighting imparted to their subjects when indeed it is operator's error. TTL-BL has made life easier for those of us who use fill in flash often. William Rodriguez Miami, Florida.

Elio Franco (franco1) on June 25, 2013

Hi Russ, Great article and has cleared a lot of mysteries for me with respect to issues I get with fill-flash. I don't suppose you're going to turn these articles into printable ready reckoners anytime soon? These are great "how to" summaries, which I know I would reference regularly. Cheers

Stan Jacox (km6xz) on June 24, 2013

Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, including Portraits and Urban Photography

Great overview Russ, of one of the most advanced features of Nikon cameras, and should be required reading for anyone new to Nikon or thinks that the "flash look" is normal. Many new and experienced users of Nikon equipment comment they do not want flash because of the "flash look", without realizing that overexposed face look is not the camera or flash fault, but simply misuse. One good demonstration usually allows them to appreciate what they have been missing.