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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk
Thread started 15 Dec 2008 (Monday) 09:53
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Flash Exposure Compensation Question

 
digirebelva
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Dec 15, 2008 09:53 |  #1

Okay, I have a question for you knowledeable folk. I know that with flash exposure compensation pushing it up to +1 or +2 will increase the flashes reach and can see the benefit in that. My question is, in what conditions would you want to push it down to -1 or -2...is it to turn the flash down so its not so harsh at close range?


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TheHoff
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Dec 15, 2008 09:58 |  #2

You're not increasing the reach, you're changing the balance of flash to ambient lighting.

Say you're inside and the exposure is ISO 400, 1/125 @ f/4. If you put that in as M on your camera, that exposure is correct. Now you put on your flash to add some pop as the light is dull. If you leave it on E-TTL mode and leave exposure compensation on 0, the flash will match the above exposure exactly. The flash will put out the same amount of light to try and match the scene ambient lighting.

If you put Flash EC up to +1 or +2, it will try and overpower the ambient lighting. The photo will look like a big bright flash photo and it may be overexposed since the flash is brighter than the natural scene.

If you turn the Flash EC down to -1 or -2, it will be underpowered, more like fill flash. It will be less noticeable as a flash photo with the ambient lighting doing most of the work and the flash just providing a little fill. This extends the life of your flash batteries and speeds up recycle as it does not use as much power.


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tonylong
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Dec 15, 2008 10:00 |  #3

digirebelva wrote in post #6881956external link
Okay, I have a question for you knowledeable folk. I know that with flash exposure compensation pushing it up to +1 or +2 will increase the flashes reach and can see the benefit in that. My question is, in what conditions would you want to push it down to -1 or -2...is it to turn the flash down so its not so harsh at close range?

Pretty much, because in a typical up-close portrait or other scene, such as people indoors, the flash can give a very washed-out look and dialing down the FEC is one way of dealing with that.

Other ways that can work together with this idea can actually be relatively more effective, such as bouncing the flash off of the ceiling or a wall if you're indoors (or using a portable reflector). If you are using a hotshoe flash such as a Canon 430EX you can swivel the head to accomplish this. With a built-in flash, though, you can't so you are stuck to using FEC and maybe something like a diffuser that goes over your flash to soften the light.


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digirebelva
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Dec 15, 2008 10:12 as a reply to tonylong's post |  #4

Thanks guys I appreciate the info..I dont use my 420ex to much and just looking for as much info I can get when I do use it..:D


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digirebelva
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Dec 15, 2008 11:23 |  #5

TheHoff wrote in post #6881989external link
You're not increasing the reach, you're changing the balance of flash to ambient lighting.

Say you're inside and the exposure is ISO 400, 1/125 @ f/4. If you put that in as M on your camera, that exposure is correct. Now you put on your flash to add some pop as the light is dull. If you leave it on E-TTL mode and leave exposure compensation on 0, the flash will match the above exposure exactly. The flash will put out the same amount of light to try and match the scene ambient lighting.

If you put Flash EC up to +1 or +2, it will try and overpower the ambient lighting. The photo will look like a big bright flash photo and it may be overexposed since the flash is brighter than the natural scene.

If you turn the Flash EC down to -1 or -2, it will be underpowered, more like fill flash. It will be less noticeable as a flash photo with the ambient lighting doing most of the work and the flash just providing a little fill. This extends the life of your flash batteries and speeds up recycle as it does not use as much power.

Okay 1 more question, when would you want to overpower the ambient light...or do you ever want to?


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TheHoff
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Dec 15, 2008 11:32 |  #6

digirebelva wrote in post #6882422external link
Okay 1 more question, when would you want to overpower the ambient light...or do you ever want to?

I can't think of much of a reason besides for 'special effect' -- or another use for Exposure Compensation is when the flash is being fooled. If there is too much white in the scene, like say a bride's dress or snow, the sensor might get too much reflected light back and it will underexpose the scene. In that case, you might add exposure compensation to the flash (or to the camera itself depending on which part of the balance you wanted to brighten).

I would always choose Manual modes over using EC if the meters are being fooled, though, since it can be fooled differently if you slightly move the camera or subject and then your EC is wrong again. Manual, you set it once and it is no longer possible to be fooled by reflectivity in the scene.


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sapearl
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Dec 15, 2008 11:34 |  #7

Another example of when I'd like to reduce the flash output a bit would be at a wedding.

For example, in shots involving groups or even individual groomsmen, the predominant "reflective surface" will be their black tuxedos. The ETTL on the Camera/with flash will "think" the room is really dark and kick out some additional flash light. This will blow out the groomsmen's faces. I times like this though I am running the camera in Manual Mode.


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digirebelva
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Dec 15, 2008 12:14 |  #8

Yeah I have found manual to be the easiest mode to be in outside of fully automatic when using the hotshoe flash. Thanks again for the info, its much appreciated


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sapearl
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Dec 15, 2008 12:27 |  #9

You're welcome digi :D.

The other excellent example was provided by TheHoff. At weddings I am constantly bouncing between the extremes of the white bridal gown and the black tuxedo. Most of the time FEC and ETTL will do what I say, but there is a bit of a fudge factor, and I will periodically preflash the subject using the " * " to make sure I get the desired results.

digirebelva wrote in post #6882679external link
Yeah I have found manual to be the easiest mode to be in outside of fully automatic when using the hotshoe flash. Thanks again for the info, its much appreciated


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digirebelva
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Dec 15, 2008 12:35 |  #10

TheHoff wrote in post #6882459external link
I can't think of much of a reason besides for 'special effect' -- or another use for Exposure Compensation is when the flash is being fooled. If there is too much white in the scene, like say a bride's dress or snow, the sensor might get too much reflected light back and it will underexpose the scene. In that case, you might add exposure compensation to the flash (or to the camera itself depending on which part of the balance you wanted to brighten).

I would always choose Manual modes over using EC if the meters are being fooled, though, since it can be fooled differently if you slightly move the camera or subject and then your EC is wrong again. Manual, you set it once and it is no longer possible to be fooled by reflectivity in the scene.

Thanks again :D Its info like this that keeps me coming here..


EOS 6d, 7d, 50d, Tokina 11-16, Tokina 16-28, Sigma 70-200mm F/2.8, Sigma 17-50 F/2.8, Canon 24-70mm F/2.8L, Canon 70-200 F/2.8L, Mixed Speedlites and other stuff.

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Flash Exposure Compensation Question
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