Canon 350D flash settings

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Dave R Smith
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Over the weekend I photgraphed some friends who have a Rock group at pub style venues.

The band were in a corner, with drummer a back and lead vocals approx 2.5m in.
Wall is flat orangey colour.
I am typically 5m+ from corner (so 2.5m from lead singer).
I notice some shots illuminate the foreground artist plus drummer/back wall and other shots the drummer/wall are poorly illuminated by flash.
As far as I can see I'm comparing like for like in terns of aperture/shutter speed, lens and zoom setting.
Point of focus is probably similar - but can't be sure.

Any ideas why the difference and how to work round it?

I've checked the manual -which speaks of auto flash adjustment in creative zones (which it was).
I assume point of focus is a major influence - but still doesn't explain difference as I always (I think) focused on lead singer.

I note the flash can be tweaked 1 or 2 stops - but with nconsistant application - not sure this will help.

I guess one solution is to fork out £200+ on Canons external speedlite - any feedback on this doing a better job?

foxvideo
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Use bounce flash and add a small piece of card to throw some light forward to give catchlights, or get a Stofen (or similar) to fit your flash. You don't need to pay out for a Canon flash, a Sigma does just as good a job, some say even better than the Canon, or watch Ebay for a Canon flash. Even a older style flash will work, just do some tests to find the optimum f stop in a given situation, but then most band shots are shot without flash......

Dave Farrants Fox Video Editing

tom hardwick
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You don't say, but do I assume you're using the camera's pop-up flash in these shots and that you're in 'auto-flash' mode? What sort of focal lengths were you using?

I'm of the opinion (without seeing the shots) that the flash duration time is set when considerations of distance, focal length (which determines available apertures) and subject reflectivity are all taken into account. The direct flash can ony successfully expose for one subject at one distance, so are you expectiing too much from it?

Using an external dedicated flash gun will generally give you little more than added power, but this can be used to good effect in bouncing the light, which will of course cover the band from front to back more evenly.

tom.

Dave R Smith
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Thank-you Dave, Sue and Tom.

I was in tv mode (from memory) and using built-in pop-up flash (which I invoked by popping up manually).
The tight shots (long zoom) aren't a concern as it's a tight subject area - it's on 18-55 EFS ultrasonic lens - used full range (but doing like for like comparisons for each focal length used).
There is one picture at 40mm brighter than 55 mm - which as you imply could be a factor - but other shots have same focal lengths - and reasonable inetrlude so not partially drained flash.

Expectations were neutral - it is the inconsistancy I am trying to figure.
Doing the maths I realise it's a tall order to evenly light subject at 2.5m and 5m same time, so foxvideo's answer sounds right - using bounce and avoid hard shadows and even the distance to subject - but will this inconsistancy still be in external flash unit firmware.

Tom - you could be right with reflectivity - I thought this was consistant - but looking again the lead singer was mainly in black with jacket open to reveal white shirt.
Possibly the darker ones are where the white is in the centre - albeit a tight area.
If this is the case, the flashes reference point differs from the 'autofous reference points'
(the horizontal and vertical boxes) - and I was in manual focus.

Sounds like buying an external flash is the answer combined with refelctor as Dave and Sue at foxvideo suggest - then do some tests to see if position of bright subject on dark b/g affects picture with white left/centre, to corner etc.

Dave R Smith
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foxvideo wrote:
.. You don't need to pay out for a Canon flash, a Sigma does just as good a job, some say even better than the Canon,.....

Jessops book has Sigma EF-500DG Super at £199.99
[url]http://www.jessops.com/Store/s296/0/Flashguns/Sigma/EF-500-DG-Super-Flashgun-(Canon-AF)/details.aspx?&IsSearch=y&pageindex=1&comp=y[/url]
and canon Speedlite 430EX at £199.99.
Not sure if I'm comparing correct models as you say Sigma is cheaper - guess you are looking at the (non super) Sigma EF-500DG
[url]http://www.jessops.com/Store/s288/0/Flashguns/Sigma/EF-500-DG-St-Flashgun-(Canon-AF)/details.aspx?&IsSearch=y&pageindex=1&comp=y[/url]

I'll have to read up on differences to see if Super variant is worth it (or relevant to me).

Thank-you for the pointer.

foxvideo
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From Bristol Cameras (my supplier):

Sigma EF 500 DG ST for Canon - £99.00

Sigma EF 500 DG Super for Canon - £145.00

Canon Speedlite 430EX - £175.00

Dave Farrants Fox Video Editing

Dave R Smith
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Thank-you - good prices and sensible mail charge.

Chris.
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A lot of the high end flashes, like the 550EX, 580EX and the topend Sigmas etc have advanced settings which give you a wide range of control over the flash. Thing is if you've got a fairly advanced camera body it can adjust those exact same settings on the flash.

With a body like the 300D (which doesn't feature Flash Exposure Compensation for example) you'd need to adjust that on your flash.

I guess what I'm saying is, depending on what camera you've got you might end up buying a flash with features which just duplicate what you already have on the camera, and you could get away with a cheaper flash.

I used to have a 550EX, but now that I've a 1D I've changed to a second-hand 380EX and the only thing I've lost is a little cand the slide up 'catchlight/diffuser' (which I don't miss as I have a Stofen Omnibounce)

Fox, I'm surprised you saying that most band shots are done without a flash, in my experience flash is always used, unless you're shooting way back from the stage where it wouldn't reach.

Dave, you said you shot in TV mode, I suggest you shoot in full manual mode, pick an aperture that suits how much you want in focus, pick a shutter speed that's going to get you sharp shots (then again bands sometimes look good if there's some blur, for example drummer's sticks) then let the flash worry about providing enough light for a good exposure. One technique is to set a shutter speed of around 1/60 second, hold your camera steady, flash will freeze the action, the shutter being open for what's a pretty long time in photography terms will let in ambient light, it's a nice effect.

Dave R Smith
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Thanks Chris,

I see what you mean about replicating functions - although apart from setting to over/under expose a given image, there appears to be little direct control over the flash.
I would assume the external flashguns mentioned in this thread have abilitiy to:
i)Have same info available for calculations via hot shoe
ii)Behave in a like manner with flash on 'auto'.
iii)Have greater range of over-rides / tweaks - not just over/under expose.
Also of course, I can bounce etc.

Dave & Sue's comment was also news to me - but thought this may be where band is not the client and flashes can be blinding if used by many people in audience.
Also, most bands have good stage lighting - this one didn't - playing in small venues.

Good point about using manual - but still doesn't explain apparent inconsistancy - unless flash uses centre spot sensor with white shirt giving non-typical sample.

The 1/60th thing.
I'm aware of this for ye olde film cameras - but wasn' sure about digital - so asked a wedding photographer a few weeks ago.
He tended to use whatever speed he liked and let flash do calculation.
I thought faster than 1/60 may lead to uneven exposure if 2 curtain blind principle used.

I thought of switching to 'manual mode' at the time -but was constantly zooming in/out so would have been tedious to tweak apeed/aperture - and was unaware how flash responds / compensates etc in manual mode.
All part of the learning curve - but I don't like 'random factors'.

Chris.
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Hi Dave

Yeah an external flash is much better than a built in one. But still you don't always need to get the top-of-the-range. A lot of the important stuff like subject distance, second curtain synch, red-eye reduction I can set with my cam, I wouldn't use the more gimmicky things like 'strobe' mode.

A more expensive flash will generally have a quicker recycling time and greater range, so if this is important to you factor that in when making your purchasing decision.

In the meantime, you can get decent results with a modern built-in flash, when I had a 300D I used to put a Rizla cigarette paper over the flash which was surprisingly effective at diffusing the light.

I've shot hundreds of pictures of local groups as well as top bands too in all size venues. Typically big pro groups tend to allow unlimited flash photography from front of stage for the first three songs; after that press and agency photographers have to leave, only the band's own photographer, if they have one, is allowed to photograph the rest of the gig.

At a low light venue if you set ISO 100, a real narrow aperture and a fast shutter speed then the flash has to provide a lot of light; - your image can look very flat though, rabbit-in-headlights with deep dark shadows.

However, if you set ISO 400, wider aperture, slower shutter speed, the flash will provide a lot less of the light and you get a nice balance of ambient light with the flash filling in.

Take a look at this webpage (dragging the shutter) the photo examples kind of illustrates what I mean. That guy's website is worth a look around as it has lots of flash photography tips.

I emphasize manual mode because in TV mode your camera is going to keep setting different apertures as you and subject moves to try to let enough light in, this makes sense if you're not using a flash, but when you are better to take control of both.

I understand you choosing TV mode, because you wanted to set a shutter speed which would stop the action from being too blurred, but of course you can set the same shutter speed in manual mode too.

(Whilst on the subject of shutter speed and flash, beware that some cheaper flashes can't synch at faster than 1/200, some have a button that you need to switch for high-speed sync)

Anyway hope that and the link help out.

tom hardwick
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Chris - I've just bought a Stofen Omni-Bouunce for my 580EX and the instructions say:

''Never use the Omni in the normal straight-ahead position except in TTL mode. For optimum results tilt head up by 45 deg''.

Why, do you know? Even outdoors at night? I don't understand the thinking behind this.

My 580EX arrived this morning. £270.01, right to my door. Ten years ago I bought the Canon 540EZ (top of the line back then) and it cost £250. Amazing how little prices have changed, and how in real terms they've dropped hugely.

tom.

Dave R Smith
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Thank-you Chris for taking the time and trouble for a detailed reply.

I'll have to take up smoking (Rizzla).
I used iso 400.
With hit/miss inconsistent backgrounds I contemplated upping it to iso 1600.
Never used above iso 400 (film) before, but thought the extra grain may even add to atmosphere in pop group context.
Have to just give it a whirl next time.

With non-canon flashes - I assume the metadata communicated is the same, but the firmware/software is perhaps different.

Which reminds me - today I was doing a corporate video shoot for car wheel/tyre balancing equipment.
It's firmware was stored inside the machine on a SD memory card - same as for a camera.

The link looks interesting - had a quick look - will return later for full read.

Chris.
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Tom

Mine had the same instructions, I've never figured why it says that. Seen plenty of other photographers (just look when you see a press conference on the news) shooting straight on with diffuser. Hope you enjoy using your new flash, one thing I do miss about my 550 was the complete freedom to bounce off anything, my 380 can't be twisted into as many positions (tilt but no swivel).

Dave

With non-Canon flashes and with Canon flashes you have to be careful. There are a lot of Canon flashes (EZ series for example) that your camera can't communicate with properly and a lot of third-party ones too.

Any EX series Canon flash will work properly with your 350D. Sigma reverse engineer their flash hotshoes (and lens mounts), they are very succesful at doing this, but check carefully before buying as when Canon have introduced new camera bodies some of Sigma's accessories have needed 'rechipping' (usually carried out for free) in order for them to work properly.

I did have a look at getting a Sigma, eventually settled on the EX 380 after seeing on the net that it had a bit of a cult following, it's still highly sought after second-hand; there's suggestions Canon took it off the market as it was harming sales of the more expensive models.

Check out the flash reviews on Fred Miranda

Dave R Smith
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Thank-you ..again..Chris.

A useful link too.

The Sigma Electronic Flash EF 500 DG Super spec says:
'The projection angle of the flashlight is set automatically to match the lens' focal length ranging from 28mm wide-angle to 105mm medium-telephoto'.

Why 105mm upper limit - I would have thought it would deal with lenses> 105mm, but give lower operable distance - any comment?

Chris.
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I'm guessing really, if you were using a 17mm wideangle the flash would spread accordingly, as you increased focal length the beam would narrow, then by 105 it's probably at a limit where it's impractical to narrow the beam further, but this wouldn't mean at all that you can't use the flash successfully at much longer focal length. (I've used both the 380 and 550 at 200mm no bother and can't imagine Sigma wouldn't match this)

tom hardwick
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Thanks for your thoughts Chris. This 580EX even does a clever trick of finding out what your chip size is before setting the flash to reflector distance. So from the D20 onwards it will reduce the flash coverage and therefore effectively increase the power for any given focal length for cameras with smaller than full-frame chips.

tom.

Dave R Smith
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Cheers Chris.

Dave R Smith
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Suspicion of white centre point screwing up flash calc is confirmed.

I assumed the 7 spot metering was active - in fact metadata shows this. Anyway - re-reading manual - for evaluative metering it only uses the centre point when in manual focus mode - which I was!! Have to use FE lock to over-ride the over-ride!

Tedious - but I'm a little more happy with the apparent random factor removed.

Shots in last week suggest bounce ability would improve shots - so still contemplating new or 2nd hand flash - and possibly have option to have as a slave to pop-up - if that's possible.

Chris.
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Hey Dave

You could buy grey shirts for the band members :)

By the way you might find [url=http://photonotes.org/articles/eos-flash/]this link[/link] useful

Dave R Smith
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Chris Longley wrote:
Hey Dave

You could buy grey shirts for the band members :)

By the way you might find [url=http://photonotes.org/articles/eos-flash/]this link[/link] useful

Hi Chris,

Re Grey shirts - like your lateral thinking.
Just back from a working weekend in wales - I've saved the link for reading later - from a glance it looks spot-on. Tires eyes at the moment. Thank-you for thinking of me.

Dave R Smith
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Dave R Smith wrote:
Hi Chris,
...Tires eyes at the moment. ....

That should have said 'tired' eyes - but error seems apt (if american).

Reading the links, it's helped awareness of the many factors - made issue slightly more complex than expected, with differing metering systems, but stills helps to point me in the right direction.

10+ years ago, I had a vivitar 283? flash - it was the the big seller at the time, which had a bounce kit - a piece of card about 9inches square mounted at 45 degrees above flash.
Looking round, they seem scarce now and wonder if this is because alternative methods (built-in diffuser etc) are better, or computer/metadata calculations cannot be done with this method - or any other known reason?

tom hardwick
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Ah, the 283. Must be the best selling piece of photographic kit ever. Still lots of them in use I see. The supplied card reflector is still an excellent idea, as Stofen and Lumiquest diffusers are simply converting the point source of light (the flash tube) into a slightly bigger source of light.

The Vivitar card gives you much softer bounce lighting while at the same time divorcing you from too high ceilings or bright green ones. But the card - like other blow-up balloon ideas - is too vulnerable for a lot of run-'n' gun photography, which is why the 'Kodachrome slide box top' Stofen has taken over.

tom.

Dave R Smith
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foxvideo wrote:
From Bristol Cameras (my supplier):

Sigma EF 500 DG ST for Canon - £99.00

Sigma EF 500 DG Super for Canon - £145.00

Canon Speedlite 430EX - £175.00

Thank-you Dave, Sue, Chris and Tom...
..favourite at mo' is:
Sigma EF 500 DG Super for Canon - £145.00 plus stofen
(I thought stofen was an expensive teddy bear!)

red
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The 580Ex responds well in Tv mode when slowing down your shutter speed to 'push' max flash out. I've been as low as 1/40thsec at ISO 1000 and still got acceptable images.
This was in candlelight at a medieval banquet and you'd be surprised at how good the prints were of a Mitsi dye-sub.

red
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Guys, please give me a report on the Sto-fen and it's benefits.

I am normally shooting with backdrop and lights at corporate do's and get by with the pull out white card that comes built in with the 580EX if I need to walk.

How would a Sto-fen benefit me?

tom hardwick
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The Stofen sacrifices perhaps two stops in an attempt to heavily diffuse the light output of the flash gun. By forming a transluscent 'dome' above the flash tube, light is let into the room in a 360 degree sweep, as well as being directed straight through it.

The shadows are softer and of course you can easily colour the light by stuffing a toffee wrapper down inside it. In fact they make a 'warmer' one.

tom.

Dave R Smith
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Chris's link on dragging the shutter demonstrates Red's' technique.
I had to look up 'Mitsi dye-sub' - thought it was a friend of Betty Boo - I see it's a printer.
Yesterday I was doing a corporate video - part in a boardroom with 3 point bounced lighting to top end of table with wall behind.
I did some supporting photo's - those in landscape mode spot on - in portrait mode you get a small shadow of speaker onto wall behind - direct flash obviously stronger than 3 point bounced.

So.. if you don't want shadows in portrait mode - even angle brackets probably won't let you have the flash vertically above the lens - where shadow is more natural - or lost in typical shots.
I guess the answer is either a manual over-ride setting on the flash so that it is effectively 'fill', not use it all (didn't have time to test this option) or always take flash portrait in lanscape mode and crop it (massive wasted resolution).

I'll wait till I get the flash which will no doubt have a 2 inch thick manual, including Swahili, telling me how to do this.

Chris.
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For really tricky angles you can get an extension cord (Jessops do them) they are curly cords like telephone handset leads used to be, one end on the hotshoe other attaches to the flash.

When you mention manual over-ride so that flash is effectively fill, judicious use of Flash Exposure Compensation (FEC) and other camera settings should do the job.

By the way I was being serious about using a Rizla paper to diffuse an oncamera flash and soften shadows, try it, really works (the sticky bit helps keep it in place as well).

Dave R Smith
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Thanks Chris - I did realise you were serious on Rizla - which I would use on the spur of the moment, but think I would prefer a stofen given the choice - as it's made for the job - and presumably better (but then they wouldn't get £15-£25 for rizzla type media).

fec - Yes you are right - I'm just being lazy - time hungry people sat round a table - where video is requirement - photos were secondary - I was thinking about quickest methodology.

Thanks again.

Senu
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Dave R Smith wrote:
Thank-you Dave, Sue, Chris and Tom...
..favourite at mo' is:
Sigma EF 500 DG Super for Canon - £145.00 plus stofen
(I thought stofen was an expensive teddy bear!)

It is a good choice as the Canon compatible model
1) Auto focus assists
2) is said to be Compatible with E-TTL II
The Super can be configured as a wireless Slave or master ( with another Sigma Super)
The 430EX may be just as good but IMHO not better (and it does cost a bit more). The rest is down to the stofen omnibounce ( loved and loathed equally) , technique, lens "speed", and camera limitation ( synch speed 1/500), not in any particular order

svh

Dave R Smith
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Thank-you Senu for your informed feedback.

red
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Flash in cavernous halls

This is becoming a major problem for me.

The UK is full of Leisure Centres, Gymnastics Halls, Sports Centres etc that are fluorescent yellow/pink/orange all over.

When shooting without flash, you do your white balance and all is fine.

However, when you do want to use flash you change back to AWB, but these places are so vast you still get the horrible yellow glow outside the range of the flash.

You can't move the presentation spots because the organisers have arranged the whole 'footfall' in and out of the event months ago.

If you put the settings to the 'flash' mark they turn out blue!

The only answer I've found so far is to disregard flash, stay on manual W/B, push the ISO up until you get what's needed.

Does anyone work a solution to this problem (apart from a lighting set up which I have but is not practical under circumstances).

Dave R Smith
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Hi Red - as someone on a learning curve with flash I can't answer your questions from practice - but will try some theory..

First a question:
>If you put the settings to the 'flash' mark they turn out blue!
Do you mean the foreground - as you said b/g is beyond range of flash.

I assume you have a 350D as you don't mention other.
p57 of manual mentions 'new' custom white balance - which i guess is what you are trying.

- then p59 mentions the wb correction - worth a try - but guess while you correct for b/g you will spoil f/g and it sounds like:
i)background walls are highly reflective
ii)background may well have different lighting to the central event area.

You are probably doing white balance on f/g event area - try doing it with the white test card in the b/g area - before you move to event spot - probably again will mean f/g areas now have bad white balance.
How high is ceiling - can you get external flash and bounce?

If you are in 'M' mode and use a faster shutter speed, there should be less light from subjects beyond range of flash.

Lastly - daft idea? a coloured sweet wrapper from opposite on colour circle to b/g colour - but that will probably also spoil f/g.

Sounds like you have access before event for test shots.

Chris.
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Hi Red

I had to shoot these pictures of footballer Shay Given doing a charity draw in a jewellers. The lighting (mainly due to display cabinets) was a mixture of flash, daylight, tungsten, halogen and fluorescent which was a white balance nightmare.

I was lucky that I shot in RAW and managed to rescue 90% of the shots later in a RAW converter which gave me complete control over the white balance - luckilly the guy was wearing a grey t-shirt (which is perfect for the WB eyedropper in most RAW converters)

So shoot in RAW and just don't worry about WB til later.

Senu
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I agree,
where there are tricky white balance problems shooting RAW may offer the best option for correcting the image later

The option of custom white balance ( simply by shooting a light grey/ white image) and using that to set WB , then using RAW +Jpeg is also a viable option as you then have the best of both worlds

svh

red
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Joined: Oct 1 2000

Thanks for your responses guys.

I should have stated I'm using A Canon 1D MK11N with 580EX flash.

To answer your suggestions;

Dave

The foreground is blue, though it does distort colour throughout the image.

I've tried all your other suggestions except the sweet wrapper. We routinely take several custom WB readings across these places because over the years, as fluorescent bulbs get changed, you end up with several different colour casts. I reckon I've identified at least 4 different fluorescents.

Chris/Senu

I have software that enables me to do this in the JPEG L we use without resorting to RAW although I appreciate your logic.

Problem is we sell and print on site and don't want to spend time adjusting every presentation photo when we have queues of customers waiting to be served. Hence my post.

Don't get me wrong, I can get some great results with this my equipment up in various circumstances but these halls seem to show up every limitation of flash photography.

Dave R Smith
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Hi Red,

As you can apply a 'Raw' colour fix (to jpeg or raw file), can't this fix be saved as a maco and run in background - especially as you can apply to jpeg with it's quicker loading and smaller file size for post-production processing.
Just pick some-one in rehearsal earlier on the day for sample shots to set up the macro settings? Or would this processing time be too onerous.
I'm guessing - for batch process - it takes 10 -20 secs per file to do raw conversion and save as seperate object (once macro/raw setting established). Possibly less time for jpeg rather than raw.

red
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Hi Dave

Yes, in Express Digital you save them as custom 1, 2, 3 etc and apply as necessary. I know it can be done fairly quickly but the sell and print on site business really can do without the extra seconds it takes.

Imagine parents who got up at 07.00, watched the offspring through numerous qualifiers, went into the playoffs, got to the final, had an award ceremony, want to buy a photo in a queue of 50 people at 18.00 and the photographers messing about with white balance on every photo.

They just walk away....

Flash can be a tricky 'ol subject.

Dave R Smith
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Hi Red,
I imagined that you'd do it in batches during the course of the evening - not aware of whether you are a one man team or have someone to take cards from you periodically to process in laptop while you continue your flashing.

Alternative?
Offer standard photo - as now £x to take away.
(Sounds like you print on the spot?)
Gold photo - 'processed for studio quality' perhaps with clip frame, cropped enlargement etc etc - sent by post. £x+y

Dave R Smith
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Joined: May 10 2005

Well folks - eventually received Sigma DG500 super flash + stofen flash diffuser in the post.

I have a question on the bounce angle.
It accomodates zero degrees (ie pointing horizontal), and has click positions at 60, 75 and 90 degrees.
For bouncing off typical height ceilings (2.5m ish) for portrait photography I expected typical use to be say 30 to 45 degrees.
If i put it in this position (30-45), without the click stop it seems to easily fall out of position.
It has a warning icon if a bad angle is selected, but putting the flash in this non-click stop position has only occasionally caused the warning to flash.

So - bouncing off your average ceiling, what bounce angle do you typically use?

Not sure if I'm being a donkey or is the flash is badly designed for lowish English ceilings.

Chris.
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Joined: Nov 5 2000

Hi Dave

Just catching up on this thread after a couple of weeks away. Depending on ceiling height I tend to use mine pointing straight up with the diffuser on, sometimes at the first click forward, then like yourself sometimes I put it in a 'non-click' position, which can slip, I know that's not much help, but goes to show if you're being a donkey I am too!

Red

Experiment with setting a custom Kelvin (colour temperature) number, good chance you will find one that works well with the kind of lighting that you're encountering.