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FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
Thread started 25 Dec 2013 (Wednesday) 08:25
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Stofen and ETTL?

 
SkipD
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Dec 25, 2013 19:07 |  #16

Roxie2401 wrote in post #16553697 (external link)
Going back to Skip's original comments about the pre-flash and the Stofen reducing the amount of output, I found this comment about the LumiQuest Promax and now I'm totally confused:

"No exposure compensation is required when shooting with TTL exposure control, but SoftBox III will interfere with the on flash auto exposure sensor and autofocus assist. Approximate light loss is 1.25 stops."

If this device (and I assume the Stofen, too) reduces light, as in "light loss is 1.25 stops" how do they explain the "No exposure compensation is required when shooting with TTL"?

Does the modifier reduce the pre-flash by the same amount and therefore, no compensation for the final output?

Sorry, I guess I really don't understand, but unless the pre-flash is reduced, I don't see how the ETTL calculation "knows" there is a diffuser attached.

Any modifier used on a Speedlite will affect the pre-flash intensity in just the same way that it will affect the main flash burst. With most flash modifiers, that means that both the pre-flash and the main flash will be reduced by the same percentage due to the modifier.

Roxie2401 wrote in post #16553697 (external link)
Based on the Promax statement, I would think you would need to bump the FEC up by 1.25 stops - unless, as Skip said, it was already at 100% and there just isn't anymore power available.

What am I missing?

What you're missing is the fact that ETTL automation automatically compensates for the light loss due to a modifier (including bouncing light off a ceiling or a reflector panel).

Exposure Compensation (EC) and Flash Exposure Compensation (FEC) are only needed when the camera's "brain" goofs on exposures because of things like the color or reflectivity of the subject. The compensation is simply forcing the camera's exposure calculations to increase or decrease the exposure calculations based on the photographer's analysis of the scene and lighting.

Finally - if there simply isn't enough light to get the exposure up (or down) to a proper level, one can usually adjust the ISO setting on a digital camera to effectively increase the camera's sensitivity to light.


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Dec 25, 2013 19:37 |  #17

Snydremark wrote in post #16553159 (external link)
IMO, the Stofen should just never be used....

Just about the only thing I'll use one in is another light modifier if I find it could use some help in being more uniform. Sometimes a Stofen or similar cap will help to make the output more uniform.


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Dec 25, 2013 19:53 |  #18

Roxie2401 wrote in post #16553697 (external link)
Going back to Skip's original comments about the pre-flash and the Stofen reducing the amount of output, I found this comment about the LumiQuest Promax and now I'm totally confused:

"No exposure compensation is required when shooting with TTL exposure control, but SoftBox III will interfere with the on flash auto exposure sensor and autofocus assist. Approximate light loss is 1.25 stops."

If this device (and I assume the Stofen, too) reduces light, as in "light loss is 1.25 stops" how do they explain the "No exposure compensation is required when shooting with TTL"?

Does the modifier reduce the pre-flash by the same amount and therefore, no compensation for the final output?

Sorry, I guess I really don't understand, but unless the pre-flash is reduced, I don't see how the ETTL calculation "knows" there is a diffuser attached.

Based on the Promax statement, I would think you would need to bump the FEC up by 1.25 stops - unless, as Skip said, it was already at 100% and there just isn't anymore power available.

What am I missing?

Again, as Skip said.

If the exposure is calculated from the pre-flash, then whatever you do with the flash (fire direct, bounce, fit accessory diffuser etc) the pre-flash will be affected in exactly the same way so the exposure calculation should be accurate.

The only time that won't work is if the exposure calculation is not based on the pre-flash feedback, but on focusing distance information (that should be very reliable, based on the inverse square law) as I described earlier. Therefore, if you disable the distance feedback by fooling the camera into thinking the head it tilted or rotated and therefore the light is being bounced and not fired direct, then it is forced to use pre-flash data and correct exposure should be restored.

Did you try it? I have to admit though, that this doesn't always work, from which I conclude that this may be another example of how not all Canons cameras and flash guns work the same. The inner machinations of Canon's E-TTL algorithms are only known to Canon, and it is also clear from user feedback here that what works for some camera/flash combinations doesn't always work in exactly the same way for others. Sorry if this proves to be the case for you.

Snydremark wrote in post #16553698 (external link)
Even behind furniture it would seem better to just bounce it off the base of a nearby wall, I'd think. Just doesn't appear to do anything useful that can't be done cheaper by other methods.

As for pointing the Stofen toward the primary bounce surface, that isn't even born out in the test I did above. It actually performed worse, by giving the same result as direct flash, more like what you described in your outdoor scenario. My replacement for that ill-informed decision was, in fact, the Lumiquest bundle, too. I was going to play around with it today, but folks showed up before I could.

Your results don't seem to stack up, but without knowing exactly the shooting environment and circumstances it's difficult to say more.

Stofens are designed to work best in an average room, whatever that is, with a standard height white ceiling, from a typical shooting distance. We can only guess at what that might be, but say something between 2-4m? In that situation, when the gun is pointed upwards, it must follow that most of the light goes to the ceiling and is bounced down as a softer light, while a smaller proportion goes directly to the subject. The difference between that and direct flash is very obvious, ie not what you are getting (and there is no way that a Stofen can actually make the light harder).


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Dec 25, 2013 20:22 |  #19
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I got a Stofen tupperware diffuser with a 580EX II I recently purchased used. After much experimenting I have decided that the best use for it is as a dust collector on my camera closet shelf. Seriously.

The Stofen is best used at 45 degrees. There is a very narrow range circumstances where this thing works well enough. There are NO (well, I can't think of any) situations where the STOFEN outperforms a naked 580EX II properly implemented. I see the Stofen as accomplishing two things, both of which it does very well. 1.) It relieves the owner of a few dollars. 2.) It wastes battery power. Any thing that can be done with a Stofen can be done better without it.


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Dec 25, 2013 22:23 |  #20

Roxie2401 wrote in post #16553697 (external link)
If this device (and I assume the Stofen, too) reduces light, as in "light loss is 1.25 stops" how do they explain the "No exposure compensation is required when shooting with TTL"?

In E-TTL, the camera is measuring the actual light coming through the lens, so it does not matter what the light output is, or what modifiers lie between the flash and the lens. The exposure pre-flash is at a fixed level which the camera knows, and the flash exposure can be compared with the ambient exposure captured by E-TTL at the start of the process, and calculate how much to increase or decrease the flash power to provide a "normal" exposure (if the flash can produce it).

Like EC on an ambient exposure reading, the FEC is needed if the photographer thinks that the camera's "normal" exposure is not going to produce the image lighting he/she wants.

Note also that ambient metering and flash metering are two separate operations. You need to set each to your taste.

Another point - the auto-flash metering by the flash is a remnant of film days - it is not used by E-TTL,


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Dec 25, 2013 22:38 |  #21

Roxie2401 wrote in post #16552996 (external link)
Its strange that you tend to see the "Pros" all using the diffuser...........to what end?

Forget not that all to often the so-called 'pros' seen at events are merely folks who have been hired by someone...the assumption of the client is that the person knows what they are doing. Now consider how many times we see a thread started by someone, "I have been hired to shoot a wedding for a friend...how do I ...?" Does that sound like the question from someone who knows what they are doing?!

Some folks have the wisdom to inquire on POTN, "what good does this thing have, if any?", and others merely use it blindly under all circumstances, even when it does no good at all.


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Dec 26, 2013 01:16 |  #22

Hoppy1 wrote in post #16553860 (external link)
...

Your results don't seem to stack up, but without knowing exactly the shooting environment and circumstances it's difficult to say more.

Stofens are designed to work best in an average room, whatever that is, with a standard height white ceiling, from a typical shooting distance. We can only guess at what that might be, but say something between 2-4m? In that situation, when the gun is pointed upwards, it must follow that most of the light goes to the ceiling and is bounced down as a softer light, while a smaller proportion goes directly to the subject. The difference between that and direct flash is very obvious, ie not what you are getting (and there is no way that a Stofen can actually make the light harder).

Pretty standard room, 8ft ceiling, white paint; standing about 8-9ft from subject. Flash pointed straight up, only change between shots being adding the Stofen for the second shot. I wouldn't have expected that result, either, but I can repeat the result every time. So, it's finding *some* way...either way, this is sort of a derail of the OPs question though, so I'll step out; but thanks for the discussion on it.


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Dec 27, 2013 02:36 |  #23

Hoppy1,

In Snydremark's defense, as I see things his previously posted photos did exactly what I expected it to do!

  • There is an upward component, which bounces to the ceiling and becomes 'softer'.
  • BUT the FORWARD component of light, when the StoFen is pointed straight up, is virtually identical in area as the bare flash pointing straight forward, so there is Zero softening from that!
  • At 45 degree angle the forward component of light is still only 1.4x larger than bare flash pointed straight forward, so any softening is minimal.


There can be seen SOME shadow contrast reduction, which is due to the ceiling bounce light, but the forward component of light still is hard edged in the shadow edges!

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Dec 27, 2013 11:19 |  #24

Wilt wrote in post #16556595 (external link)
Hoppy1,

In Snydremark's defense, as I see things his previously posted photos did exactly what I expected it to do!
  • There is an upward component, which bounces to the ceiling and becomes 'softer'.
  • BUT the FORWARD component of light, when the StoFen is pointed straight up, is virtually identical in area as the bare flash pointing straight forward, so there is Zero softening from that!
  • At 45 degree angle the forward component of light is still only 1.4x larger than bare flash pointed straight forward, so any softening is minimal.


There can be seen SOME shadow contrast reduction, which is due to the ceiling bounce light, but the forward component of light still is hard edged in the shadow edges!

I don't think they're typical of what you get with a Stofen, in fact I know they're not, but the end result is always highly dependent on the environment and distances etc. Though I have a few Stofens I'm no big fan and hardly ever use them, but they're so cheap/easy/robust, and do work when the occasion suits.

I'll do some comparisons and post them up later :)


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Dec 27, 2013 11:39 |  #25

Wilt wrote in post #16556595 (external link)
Hoppy1,

In Snydremark's defense, as I see things his previously posted photos did exactly what I expected it to do!
  • There is an upward component, which bounces to the ceiling and becomes 'softer'.
  • BUT the FORWARD component of light, when the StoFen is pointed straight up, is virtually identical in area as the bare flash pointing straight forward, so there is Zero softening from that!
  • At 45 degree angle the forward component of light is still only 1.4x larger than bare flash pointed straight forward, so any softening is minimal.


There can be seen SOME shadow contrast reduction, which is due to the ceiling bounce light, but the forward component of light still is hard edged in the shadow edges!

Hoppy1 wrote in post #16557356 (external link)
I don't think they're typical of what you get with a Stofen, in fact I know they're not, but the end result is always highly dependent on the environment and distances etc. Though I have a few Stofens I'm no big fan and hardly ever use them, but they're so cheap/easy/robust, and do work when the occasion suits.

I'll do some comparisons and post them up later :)

I'm gonna have to agree with Wilt and Snyderemark on this one. The Stofen does have some uses, such as helping to spread the light inside a larger modifier like a softbox, but for on camera flash use I've never seen a situation where a Stofen would be better than bounce, direct flash, or the pop up card.


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Dec 27, 2013 14:17 |  #26

SkipD wrote in post #16553802 (external link)
Any modifier used on a Speedlite will affect the pre-flash intensity in just the same way that it will affect the main flash burst. With most flash modifiers, that means that both the pre-flash and the main flash will be reduced by the same percentage due to the modifier.

What you're missing is the fact that ETTL automation automatically compensates for the light loss due to a modifier (including bouncing light off a ceiling or a reflector panel).

CliveyBoy wrote in post #16554062 (external link)
In E-TTL, the camera is measuring the actual light coming through the lens, so it does not matter what the light output is, or what modifiers lie between the flash and the lens. The exposure pre-flash is at a fixed level which the camera knows, and the flash exposure can be compared with the ambient exposure captured by E-TTL at the start of the process, and calculate how much to increase or decrease the flash power to provide a "normal" exposure (if the flash can produce it).


I think you are both saying the same thing - but just to be sure, CliveyBoy, when you say, "The exposure pre-flash is at a fixed level which the camera knows....." do you mean without the modifier? In other words, does the camera know there is a modifier and the pre-flash has been reduced or is the camera calculating based on an "un-modified" pre-flash, and I have to manually take into account the modifier reduction (like the LumiQuest Promax "approximate light loss of 1.25 stops)?

Sorry if this is redundant, but I'm back to my original issue of E-TTL and Stofen measurements, not the benefits of using the modifier.




  
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Dec 27, 2013 14:25 |  #27

Roxie2401 wrote in post #16557730 (external link)
I think you are both saying the same thing - but just to be sure, CliveyBoy, when you say, "The exposure pre-flash is at a fixed level which the camera knows....." do you mean without the modifier? In other words, does the camera know there is a modifier and the pre-flash has been reduced or is the camera calculating based on an "un-modified" pre-flash, and I have to manually take into account the modifier reduction (like the LumiQuest Promax "approximate light loss of 1.25 stops)?

Sorry if this is redundant, but I'm back to my original issue of E-TTL and Stofen measurements, not the benefits of using the modifier.

It doesn't matter if there is a modifier or not. The camera knows how much light is being put out by the flash, it then reads the illumination on the subject (how it measures that is another subject in itself) and then determines how much light it will need to light the subject based on the difference between ambient and pre flash illumination on the subject. It doesn't matter if the light is in a softbox, a piece of tupperware, or being bounced off the walls. ;)


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Dec 27, 2013 17:00 |  #28

Roxie2401 wrote in post #16557730 (external link)
ICliveyBoy, when you say, "The exposure pre-flash is at a fixed level which the camera knows....." do you mean without the modifier? In other words, does the camera know there is a modifier and the pre-flash has been reduced or is the camera calculating based on an "un-modified" pre-flash, and I have to manually take into account the modifier reduction (like the LumiQuest Promax "approximate light loss of 1.25 stops)?

The light modifers, if any, are external to the flash. The camera takes an ambient exposure reading. It then tells the flash tube to fire at, I think, 1/32 power. The camera takes an ambient + flash reading of the light reaching the lens, regardless of distance, angle, modifiers, etc, It can then calculate the amount of light contributed by the flash at that power, and can work out how much power would be needed to produce a "proper" exposure of the -subject-.

"Here's the start; here's the end - whatever happens in between is irrelevant to my calculations".

The photog using E-TTL does not need to allow for light loss, but may want to compensate for the actual scene vs. Canon's model scene. The flash may simply not be able to produce sufficient output. Then normal exposure adjustment like ISO may be required, or extra flashes, etc.

Another, perhap[S the most critical consideration, with E-TTL or Manual power levels, is that two exposures are always involved - the ambient background, and the ambient + flash subject. (Shooting at a blank wall is ridiculous for testing E-TTL!)


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Dec 27, 2013 19:19 |  #29

Some quick comparisons. First thing to say in relation to the OP is all exposures are E-TTL, and all very close regardless of how the flash is used.

Second thing is environment and distances. The cabinet is quite tall, the top being 1.1m from a normal height white ceiling, so the plant is close to standing head height. Flash head is 0.5m from the ceiling, with the camera at my standing eye level. Shooting distance 2m, so basically a similar situation to shooting head and shoulders of a standing couple.

With the flash and Stofen pointing straight up, there is 1.5 stops more light going upwards than from the front and sides of the Stofen. Zooming the flash head (Canon 580EX) makes virtually no difference to this. Even though there is more light coming out of the top, this is spread and absorbed by the ceiling, as well as having further to travel, so it ends up weaker at the subject.

BTW, I am not making a case for the Stofen, and I much prefer the Lumiquest Quik Bounce for run-n-gun social situations (see post below). These comparisons are just to show what happens to the light with a Stofen, and how it changes. Results are hugely dependent on the environment, the distance from the ceiling (further from the ceiling makes the bounced component much weaker), and the shooting distance. You can change the direct/bounce ratios and make a Stofen more efficient by lining the back and sides with kitchen foil, and cutting/drilling a few holes in the top. Personally, I prefer to use something better :)


First shot is direct flash, no Stofen. It's a bit blue, with white balance locked on daylight, flash head set to 50mm throughout. Shadows are very harsh as you'd expect. The area to the right shows what's happening most clearly, so that's the area I've cropped for the rest.

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Stofen pointing straight forward. Apart from the colour, this is effectively the same as direct flash. Note the single harsh shadow just below the frond on the wall top-right.
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Stofen straight up. Note hard shadow below the frond (direct light) and the softer one below it (bounced off ceiling).
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Stofen angled forward 45 degrees. Compared to previous shot, the direct component shadow is stronger, and the bounced shadow below it is now almost invisible.
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No Stofen, gun pointing straight up. Nice soft light from above, but with people this leaves shadows under eyes, noses and chins.
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As above, but with the little white catch-light panel pulled up - this is creating the light shadow under the frond top-right. With people, this is just enough to lift shadows under eyes/nose/chin and put a sparkle in the eyes.
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Hoppy1
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Dec 27, 2013 19:20 |  #30

double post.


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Stofen and ETTL?
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