Discussion Forum Leica S System S2 Tell me everything you know about flash and the S2 …
  • #422
    Kurt Kamka

    … on camera and off. I need to take a deep dive and understand a bit more about the SF58, basic settings and any other secrets you wish to share.

    My confession: I've never really taken the time to understand flash … I've compensated by finding faster lenses and better higher ISO cameras. I've used flash a few times over the years but have always set it aside finding alternative ways to shoot. I realize that mastery can't be attained in a few hours … but there must be a few basic settings and techniques that can be utilized on the way to that deeper dive.

    Inexcusable … yes. Time to remedy the situation … yes.


  • #423
    Mark Gowin

    I'm gsld you asked this question. I too don't Know much about flash photography, especially on the S2. I generally don't like the look of most photos taken with a flash. However, I am sure folks that know what they are doing can make more natural looking photos while using a flash.

  • #429
    David K

    I can barely get the SB 900 Nikon flash to give me the look I like, i.e. gentle fill that does not make it obvious that flash was used. I think the problem for me is that the flash is smarter than I am… it wants (and knows how) to give me a properly exposed capture. What I've wound up doing on the Nikon system is to punch in a negative EV in the hope that the flash will “underexpose” and give me what I really want. I realize this is non-responsive to the question but figured I'd answer the first part…”Tell me everything you know about flash…” since it only takes a couple of sentences to do that 😀 Roger knows about flash and I'm sure David does too, maybe they can enlighten us. Meanwhile I'll continue to use my strobes.

  • #433
    David Farkas

    Kurt Kamka;94 wrote: … on camera and off. I need to take a deep dive and understand a bit more about the SF58, basic settings and any other secrets you wish to share.

    My confession: I've never really taken the time to understand flash … I've compensated by finding faster lenses and better higher ISO cameras. I've used flash a few times over the years but have always set it aside finding alternative ways to shoot. I realize that mastery can't be attained in a few hours … but there must be a few basic settings and techniques that can be utilized on the way to that deeper dive.

    Inexcusable … yes. Time to remedy the situation … yes.



    The Leica SF58 works remarkably well on the S2. The fact that you can sync at any shutter speed up to 1/4000th of a sec is pretty cool and very useful for the kind of shallow DOF work that you do. Set the camera to A (Aperture priority) and f/2.8 (or whatever you choose). Point and shoot with perfect fill light outside.

    For indoor, I'd suggest a similar approach but at higher ISO and slower shutter speed in order to capture more ambient light. So, let's say ISO 320 or 640, 1/125th @ f/2.8. For an even more natural look, use these settings but point the flash straight up (assuming the ceiling is low enough and white/neutral enough). My trick is to rotate the flash head so that it is running long ways with the lens barrel with the swivel to the my right. This allows you to quickly swivel the head to aim up the ceiling when shooting vertically and back down again for horizontal shooting without having to rotate the head as well.

    I think you'd be surprised how easy it can be to get natural looking results with this setup.


  • #434
    Jack MacD

    Kurt, just borrow my SF58 for an hour indoors and out, and you will get the hang of it.
    Digital allows you to learn from feedback fast.

    I am not understanding David's swivel bounce advice exactly. David, are you turning your camera in portrait mode for the shot? I prefer to always have the flash above the subject, which means for a vertical shot I either have the flash on a cord, or shoot horizontally and crop to the vertical. No bounce was available for this recent shoot, as the ceiling was 200 feet high! I did a vertical crop in this shot of two Packer NFL players at the Super Bowl ring ceremony. The S2 resolution allows me to crop a closeup of the player's ring, or an enlargement to life size. The normal camera cannot do this.

    Mark, I would have preferred to have had my portable strobes with umbrellas, but that was not allowed here. The 58 did a great job, and I like the ability to adjust power levels easily and fast. Frankly I too am just learning, but this first SF58 job made me convinced to always bring the 58 along with the S2 to any occasion. Sure beats an iPhone.



    Attached files

  • #437
    Al Tanabe

    Basic rules about flash, the output is measured in f stops and for portable flash the time is far shorter than your shutter speed. So for example, if the sun is bright and you want to make the overall ambient light area dark, using the “sunny 16 rule” 1 over ISO @ f 16 would be 1/160th at f16 with ISO 160 which would mean that to make the ambient light area 1 stop darker than the flash lit scene, you would need the flash exposure to be at f 22 which would underexpose the ambient light area by 1 stop. Using the SF 58 flash, you can use HSS to sync the S2 up to 1/4000th of a second but with reduced flash output. So applying the above sunny day scene and the SF58, the exposure of 1/160 @ f16 would equal 1/2500 @ f4 so if you wanted a 2 stop darker ambient light then set the speed at 1/2500 and aperture @ f8. The flash will output to f8 all of the area that it is pointed to and the ambient light will be 2 stops darker. Or in some cases used to balance out the indoor scene with the outdoor scene.

    Using flash as a fill flash and look unobtrusive will require you to dial down the flash +/- to -2/3 or more, I prefer to dial it in at -1 to -2 stops. This will fill in the eye sockets and add a little catch light to the eyes. At the same time I also add a little warming filter over the flash with a colored theatrical gel from Lee filters a 1/4 CTO (Color Trans Orange) is the equivalent of 1/4 the strength of a daylight to tungsten conversion filter. This gives the illusion that the light is coming from a natural source such as a lamp instead of the harsh blue from the strobe. The amount of fill depends on the effect that you are going after, the term “fill” should be just that, to fill in the shadows and even out the harsh lighting and not overpower the ambient light. So just the opposite of the fast shutter, small f stop of the first example, now you use the long shutter speed with large aperture to balance out the flash to ambient light. Thus the – compensation for flash. For example, an interior scene lit by a mix of daylight and incandescent lights with the subject next to a large window. The shadow cast is blocked up but you do not want to overpower the scene destroying the light from the window. The meter reading says 1/125 @ f 5.6 ISO 160, you put on the flash and set it for – 1 which in effect will put the flash exposure @f4, this will lighten up the shadows with out blasting out the ambient light. Again, remember to use a little warming filter over the flash as this will give the illusion that the light is coming from a lamp in the room.

    The shutter speed is always for the ambient light while the f stop is for flash. In the photo of my son and daughter in law, I used a Hasselblad 501CM and CFV back @ ISO 100. Nikon SB800 flash in a softbox and gold reflector. I set the exposure for 1/500 @ f8 and the flash output at 1/2 power (No TTL connection). The ambient light exposure would be 1/500th @ f6.3 so about 1/2 stop darker background to balance out the light and bring focus to the couple.

    In the shot at the beach, I used the flash to light the entire shot and brought the background about 1 stop darker by using direct flash from the Nikon SB800 at full power and exposing the shot at 1/500 @ f11. The setting sun which will normally get the sky white is now with texture and under control.

    Attached files

  • #438
    Al Tanabe

    Here is an example of when the flash did not fire and when it did. Notice the ambient light is exposed the same, just the subject in shade is better exposed.

    Did I say that I love to use flash? It adds a lot of life to your images and can bring drama to ordinary shots. I use it all the time with my little Canon S95 as the flash sync speed goes up to 1/1600th of a second giving me a lot of creative control.

    Attached files

  • #439
    Kurt Kamka

    Lots of great information … thanks. Now I need to order a flash.

  • #441
    Al Tanabe

    You can use off brand flash for basic flash fill that allow A or aperture auto setting. It is like a manual setting that uses the sensor on the flash to determine the amount of light for proper exposure. This is different than the TTL offerings that measure off if the film plane forproper exposure. Advanced TTL systems even go as far as using the metering area to determine the proper exposure of the subject.

    If you get a basic flash or one that is not TTL linked but has either A aperture mode or manual, you can use it for fill flash. In A mode you set the ISO and aperture on the flash, it uses the information to output that amount of light to the area. It is not intelligent, so if you have an out of focus plant in the corner of your image, it may get the proper exposure while your subject is under exposed. With that in mind, setting the aperture and speed on camera is next. Meter the scene, if the scene calls for 1/90 @ f4 with 160 ISO and you want a -1 fill which would mean a flash output of f2.8 @ ISO 160. Great your flash only has output for f5.6 @ ISO 160, what to do? You could change your camera setting to 1/24 @ f8 but what about movement? Not too good of an idea. Upping the ISO on the flash would reduce the amount of light from the flash ISO 320 would need 1/2 the amount of energy and ISO 640 would need 1/4 the energy. In our example you need an equivalent of f2.8 @ ISO 160 for your fill, the flash says f5.6 at any ISO is the minimum. The flash will shorten the duration of the flash to keep the exposure at f5.6 at whatever ISO you input. So change the ISO to 320 will be equivalent to f4 @ISO 160. At ISO 640 it is equivalent to f2.8 @ ISO 640.

  • #565

    Kurt, you seem to be doing pretty well without any flash on the S2. Tell us what you think you may need flash for. Being specific can help with sharing techniques.

    Basically, the trick with using a speed-light is to use it as little as possible … or with as little help from the flash as possible.

    To really effectively use flash in lower light you should look up the technique of dragging the shutter.

    I use artificial light with the S2 in three basic ways: Studio strobes, both in studio and on location … SF58 in the hot shoe, always with a modifier of some sort unless shooting at a distance … and off-camera mostly using a small Skyport radio in the hot shoe and the SF58 mounted on a Lowel grip handle so there is no cord at all.

    I use these basic configurations with all my cameras not just the S2.

    But first tell us where you think you need flash.


  • #567
    Stuart Richardson

    Well, perhaps this is not quite what you asked, but I think this is one of those obvious things that gets overlooked… As Marc said, you need to be careful not to overuse flash unless it is studio lighting or something where the flash is the primary illumination.

    The problem with flash outside is that you are creating another sun. Whether we are aware of it consciously or not, we have spent our entire lives looking at people lit by a single giant light source in the sky. So when we see a photo that is illuminated from two different sources, it almost always looks somehow unnatural unless it is very carefully done. This is why if you overdo fill light, it will look like your subject matter has been pasted onto the background — the lighting does not match up!

    The people who use flash successfully either learn how to hide this effect (toning down the amount of fill flash, making the angle of incidence closer to the sun etc), or they play it up and go for pictures that are clearly artificially lit, and therefore don't generate that “what is wrong here?” feeling, because people already know it is a construction rather than a faithful reproduction of the scene.

    My best advice would be to incorporate flash when you need it, but pay a lot of attention to the ambient lighting situation and try your best to work with it, rather than to bend it to your will. Often something as simple of turning someone so they are sidelit or putting them closer to an object that provides natural fill (a white wall etc) will solve many of the issues where people find they resort to flash.

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