Tech Talk Tuesday
I’ve been using Pocket Wizard Plus IIs and pc-sync cables to trigger off-camera lights for sometime now. But I recently re-discovered the magic of TTL metering with off-camera flash. I had some experience with Radio Poppers and also with Canon’s wireless flash TTL module several years ago. Though not perfect, I enjoyed using those and not having to fiddle around with the flash power. Since switching to Nikon I have used their SU-800 unit but have only been successful in using this indoors and never outdoors. The SB800 flash and SU800 never liked to play together in bright sun.
I recently picked up a Nikon SB910 and using it with the SU-800 is awesome! The IR signal from the SU-800 unit to the SB910 is much better than my SB-800 when used outdoors even in bright sun. The only caveat here is you still need line of sight between the SB-910’s IR receiver and the SU-800 transmitter. But this connection appears to work well even in direct sun.
Image above was my first attempt at using the SB-910/SU-800 combo. The SB-910’s flash head was inside a small soft box so I added a +.3 compensation and placed it camera left. Perfect exposure each time I triggered the flash. You’ll notice, subject is backlit with the sun directly at me and the SU-800. Normally, shots like these would leave you with a severely underexposed subject.
The biggest advantage of off-camera flash with TTL metering is the ability to keep the aperture wide open and use a shutter speed higher than your camera’s sync speed, this is typically 1/250 sec or lower. So with TTL flash you can easily shoot at 1/1000 or higher. No need for ND filters. No “f8 and be there” settings. The high shutter speed helps you control the ambient light.
With a wide aperture you also get a nice separation of the subject from the background, almost making it look like a composite drop out.
Aperture: f2.8 (I could’ve shot with 1.4 but figured I could use a little more sharpness and DOF)
Shutter : 1/6400
Gear: Nikon D3X with 85mm 1.4G SU-800 to trigger SB910 camera left. The Nikon SB-910 was powered by a Calumet external battery pack.
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