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Nikon Coolpix 8800 when used with Nikon SB-800 external fl..

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Anonymous
May 25, 2005 12:23:19 AM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

After getting fed up with highly inconsistent flash
performance in museum and car show environments with my
Nikon Coolpix 5700 and Sunpak 433D external, I plunked
down $1,400 for an 8800 and Sb-800 external.

I investigated both this camera and the flash extensively
earlier this year and was convinced the new iTTl flash
exposure system would solve my problems with the 5700,
namely 1/3 of my flash pictures on Programmed Auto and
TTL on the Sunpak looked just fine, while another 1/3
were maybe 2 f/stops under, but the remainder were 5-6
stops under.

I never was able to find a root cause for this
inconsistent behavior. I could take a dozen pictures of a
particular car, all looking like the proverbial black cat
in a coal bin, then turn 10 feet away and shoot another
dozen pics of another car in the museum, which were
perfect. And, there wasn't anything obviously different,
such as backlit scenes or strong ambient lighting to
"fool" the TTL system.

Well, I took my brand new 8800 for a "test drive" this
morning at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum, in Auburn
Hills, Michigan. It is only 15 minutes from me and I get
in free as a DCX retiree, so I spend lots of time there.

Got the same 1/3 good, 1/3 OK, and 1/3 dark /on the very
same/ cars as I had shot just a week ago with my 5700!
(((-;;

So, back to my camera store for some discussion with the
manager. He checked the camera to be sure I hadn't messed
up some setting, then announced "I don't think you are
ever going to get a Nikon EVF camera to work consistently
with TTL flash, even with Nikon's own flash". WTF?!

He's more than willing to let me return the 8800 and SB-
800 if I can't get it to work to my satisfaction, at
least. His best suggestion was to take the SB-800 out of
TTL mode and use in on "Auto" mode, which supposedly
bypasses TTL communication with the camera and just does
its exposure cut-off of the length of flash pulse based
solely on its ability to judge distance to the primary
subject.

I was advised to go back to the WPC museum tomorrow, and
shoot another series of the same cars on Programmed Auto
or Aperture Priority, and let the flash do its thing on
Auto instead of TTL.

I can and will do this. But, I'm wondering if any of this
makes sense to those of you that understand TTL flash in
EVF cameras in general, and the Nikon 8800 in particular.

I don't mind the expense of the new 8800 camera as Nikon
has improved just about everything I care about visa vie
my older 5700. And, I intentionally bought the big bucks
SB-800 so Nikon couldn't cop out on me again and say the
problem is the Sunpak.

I have /no/ exposure problems in daylight with my current
5700 nor the little experience so far with the 8800. The
/big/ issues is I /want/ and EVF and I /want/ to shoot
flash in car museums, and /not/ available light on a
tripod. But, naturally, I also /want/ consistent
exposures that are within the dynamic range necessary to
post-process with quality in Paint Shop Pro 9.

I am open to any/all advice or recommendations, including
"dump the Nikon and buy XXX with YYY flash". The only
thing I don't want is anybody's DSLR because I prefer the
EVF to the SLR view and like the large attached zoom of a
top-end pro-sumer EVF.

Thanks in advance!

--
ATM, aka Jerry
Anonymous
May 25, 2005 1:33:13 AM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

Ugh, I'm glad I haven't had to deal with flash. Even DSLR users always
seem to be struggling with it. I also don't care for tripods but that
would be the next step I might try to solve this. Also, I would just try
putting it in manual and bracket till it looks right. Ultimately that's
going to give more control and understanding.


All Things Mopar wrote:

> After getting fed up with highly inconsistent flash
> performance in museum and car show environments with my
> Nikon Coolpix 5700 and Sunpak 433D external, I plunked
> down $1,400 for an 8800 and Sb-800 external.
>
> I investigated both this camera and the flash extensively
> earlier this year and was convinced the new iTTl flash
> exposure system would solve my problems with the 5700,
> namely 1/3 of my flash pictures on Programmed Auto and
> TTL on the Sunpak looked just fine, while another 1/3
> were maybe 2 f/stops under, but the remainder were 5-6
> stops under.
>
> I never was able to find a root cause for this
> inconsistent behavior. I could take a dozen pictures of a
> particular car, all looking like the proverbial black cat
> in a coal bin, then turn 10 feet away and shoot another
> dozen pics of another car in the museum, which were
> perfect. And, there wasn't anything obviously different,
> such as backlit scenes or strong ambient lighting to
> "fool" the TTL system.
>
> Well, I took my brand new 8800 for a "test drive" this
> morning at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum, in Auburn
> Hills, Michigan. It is only 15 minutes from me and I get
> in free as a DCX retiree, so I spend lots of time there.
>
> Got the same 1/3 good, 1/3 OK, and 1/3 dark /on the very
> same/ cars as I had shot just a week ago with my 5700!
> (((-;;
>
> So, back to my camera store for some discussion with the
> manager. He checked the camera to be sure I hadn't messed
> up some setting, then announced "I don't think you are
> ever going to get a Nikon EVF camera to work consistently
> with TTL flash, even with Nikon's own flash". WTF?!
>
> He's more than willing to let me return the 8800 and SB-
> 800 if I can't get it to work to my satisfaction, at
> least. His best suggestion was to take the SB-800 out of
> TTL mode and use in on "Auto" mode, which supposedly
> bypasses TTL communication with the camera and just does
> its exposure cut-off of the length of flash pulse based
> solely on its ability to judge distance to the primary
> subject.
>
> I was advised to go back to the WPC museum tomorrow, and
> shoot another series of the same cars on Programmed Auto
> or Aperture Priority, and let the flash do its thing on
> Auto instead of TTL.
>
> I can and will do this. But, I'm wondering if any of this
> makes sense to those of you that understand TTL flash in
> EVF cameras in general, and the Nikon 8800 in particular.
>
> I don't mind the expense of the new 8800 camera as Nikon
> has improved just about everything I care about visa vie
> my older 5700. And, I intentionally bought the big bucks
> SB-800 so Nikon couldn't cop out on me again and say the
> problem is the Sunpak.
>
> I have /no/ exposure problems in daylight with my current
> 5700 nor the little experience so far with the 8800. The
> /big/ issues is I /want/ and EVF and I /want/ to shoot
> flash in car museums, and /not/ available light on a
> tripod. But, naturally, I also /want/ consistent
> exposures that are within the dynamic range necessary to
> post-process with quality in Paint Shop Pro 9.
>
> I am open to any/all advice or recommendations, including
> "dump the Nikon and buy XXX with YYY flash". The only
> thing I don't want is anybody's DSLR because I prefer the
> EVF to the SLR view and like the large attached zoom of a
> top-end pro-sumer EVF.
>
> Thanks in advance!
>

--
Paul Furman
http://www.edgehill.net/1
san francisco native plants
Anonymous
May 25, 2005 1:38:12 AM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

All Things Mopar <noneofyour@busi.ness> writes:
> I never was able to find a root cause for this inconsistent
> behavior. I could take a dozen pictures of a particular car, all
> looking like the proverbial black cat in a coal bin, then turn 10
> feet away and shoot another dozen pics of another car in the museum,
> which were perfect. And, there wasn't anything obviously different,
> such as backlit scenes or strong ambient lighting to "fool" the TTL
> system.

Maybe some specular reflection just happening to hit one of the
multi-zone sensors? I haven't heard of this happening with the
SLR/DSLR cameras though. And I don't see any inherent reason
the 5700 should be worse than a D70 at getting the right flash
exposure, if iTTL is one of its advertised features.
Related resources
Anonymous
May 25, 2005 5:02:03 AM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

All Things Mopar <noneofyour@busi.ness> writes:

> After getting fed up with highly inconsistent flash
> performance in museum and car show environments with my
> Nikon Coolpix 5700 and Sunpak 433D external, I plunked
> down $1,400 for an 8800 and Sb-800 external.
>
> I investigated both this camera and the flash extensively
> earlier this year and was convinced the new iTTl flash
> exposure system would solve my problems with the 5700,
> namely 1/3 of my flash pictures on Programmed Auto and
> TTL on the Sunpak looked just fine, while another 1/3
> were maybe 2 f/stops under, but the remainder were 5-6
> stops under.

> I never was able to find a root cause for this
> inconsistent behavior. I could take a dozen pictures of a
> particular car, all looking like the proverbial black cat
> in a coal bin, then turn 10 feet away and shoot another
> dozen pics of another car in the museum, which were
> perfect. And, there wasn't anything obviously different,
> such as backlit scenes or strong ambient lighting to
> "fool" the TTL system.

Are you sure you're watching for underexposure indications from the
flash? One possible contributing factor is the flash being unable to
produce enough power. This is more likely if you're bouncing (I can't
imagine decent photos of this sort of subject with direct on-camera
flash).

> Well, I took my brand new 8800 for a "test drive" this
> morning at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum, in Auburn
> Hills, Michigan. It is only 15 minutes from me and I get
> in free as a DCX retiree, so I spend lots of time there.
>
> Got the same 1/3 good, 1/3 OK, and 1/3 dark /on the very
> same/ cars as I had shot just a week ago with my 5700!
> (((-;;

AAAIIIEEEEEE! Oh, *man* would I be annoyed.

> So, back to my camera store for some discussion with the
> manager. He checked the camera to be sure I hadn't messed
> up some setting, then announced "I don't think you are
> ever going to get a Nikon EVF camera to work consistently
> with TTL flash, even with Nikon's own flash". WTF?!

I wonder about the reference to "EFV" camea. He may be using that
just to group the particular Nikon cameras he has that opinion about,
in which case fine. But if he's claiming there's some actual
cause-and-effect relationship between EVF and this flash problem, I'd
worry about his reliability.

> He's more than willing to let me return the 8800 and SB-
> 800 if I can't get it to work to my satisfaction, at
> least. His best suggestion was to take the SB-800 out of
> TTL mode and use in on "Auto" mode, which supposedly
> bypasses TTL communication with the camera and just does
> its exposure cut-off of the length of flash pulse based
> solely on its ability to judge distance to the primary
> subject.

Yes, auto mode will give you different behavior, and takes the camera
out of the circuit so it's *simpler* behavior. Possibly it'll
actually work better on these subjects. Only one way to find out
:-).

> I don't mind the expense of the new 8800 camera as Nikon
> has improved just about everything I care about visa vie
> my older 5700. And, I intentionally bought the big bucks
> SB-800 so Nikon couldn't cop out on me again and say the
> problem is the Sunpak.
>
> I have /no/ exposure problems in daylight with my current
> 5700 nor the little experience so far with the 8800. The
> /big/ issues is I /want/ and EVF and I /want/ to shoot
> flash in car museums, and /not/ available light on a
> tripod. But, naturally, I also /want/ consistent
> exposures that are within the dynamic range necessary to
> post-process with quality in Paint Shop Pro 9.

Well, if the AUTO mode works -- try it with your old flash. You may
at least be able to return the expensive SB-800. Sounds like you
might want to keep the 8800 anyway :-).

> I am open to any/all advice or recommendations, including
> "dump the Nikon and buy XXX with YYY flash". The only
> thing I don't want is anybody's DSLR because I prefer the
> EVF to the SLR view and like the large attached zoom of a
> top-end pro-sumer EVF.

I find that TTL works poorly with my Fuji S2 DSLR and Nikon SB-28 and
SB-80dx flashes, and end up using manual a lot, exposure compensation
a lot, and ordinary AUTO on the flash some (but it doesn't work very
well either). I'm *extremely* disappointed with this, because the TTL
flash with my N90 was *so much* better than all my previous auto-flash
experience (TTL *and* 'D' lenses). I hate losing that in digital
(though, with the preview, I can at least tell I have a problem, and
work around it; but it's still more work and slows me down, and I want
the automation to work better there).

I believe the DSLR cameras have particular problems with TTL flash
because the sensor surface has very different reflectivity from film,
so the stuff built into the film SLR bodies the DSLRs are built from
isn't happy. I think Nikon and Canon have created new flash modes to
try to address these problems (but they don't help me, not being in my
camera or flash yet).

I would have hoped that a non-DSLR wouldn't have that particular
problem, though.
--
David Dyer-Bennet, <mailto:D d-b@dd-b.net>, <http://www.dd-b.net/dd-b/&gt;
RKBA: <http://noguns-nomoney.com/&gt; <http://www.dd-b.net/carry/&gt;
Pics: <http://dd-b.lighthunters.net/&gt; <http://www.dd-b.net/dd-b/SnapshotAlbum/&gt;
Dragaera/Steven Brust: <http://dragaera.info/&gt;
Anonymous
May 25, 2005 9:21:42 AM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

Paul Rubin commented courteously...

> Maybe some specular reflection just happening to hit one of
> the multi-zone sensors? I haven't heard of this happening
> with the SLR/DSLR cameras though. And I don't see any
> inherent reason the 5700 should be worse than a D70 at
> getting the right flash exposure, if iTTL is one of its
> advertised features.

The camera store manager, who sounds like he's very
knowledgeble, says this problem occurs with both EVF and DSLR
Nikons, all vintanges. Again, I dunno.

The 8800 is the last in a chain of upgraded cameras off the
basic 5700 architecture. While significant changes have been
made, not the least of which is 8MP vs. 5MP, and the new iTTL
flash system system (which was why I bought it), the basics
are virtually identical.

As to specular tricks, I dunno that either. All I know so far
is that it doesn't matter much what the ambient light it,
still is "random" and uncontrollable.

I'm going back today to shoot with the flash on Auto, Manual,
and Guide Number, and the camera on Programmed Auto, Aperture
Priority, and Manual, and see if there's a combination that
works consistently. Otherwise, it's gonna go back for a charge
credit, and I'll look for something else.

--
ATM, aka Jerry
Anonymous
May 25, 2005 9:30:53 AM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

David Dyer-Bennet commented courteously...

Thanks for the long and detailed comments, David!

> Are you sure you're watching for underexposure
indications
> from the flash? One possible contributing factor is
the
> flash being unable to produce enough power. This is
more
> likely if you're bouncing (I can't imagine decent
photos of
> this sort of subject with direct on-camera flash).

Yes. The flash has a range of over 30' at f/2.8, and I'm
shooting at under 20'. The issue seems to be that the
iTTL auto exposure system "thinks" it has enough light
when it doesn't, hence it cuts off the flash pulse
prematurely.
>
>> Well, I took my brand new 8800 for a "test drive" this
>> morning at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum, in Auburn
>> Hills, Michigan. It is only 15 minutes from me and I
get
>> in free as a DCX retiree, so I spend lots of time
there.
>>
>> Got the same 1/3 good, 1/3 OK, and 1/3 dark /on the
very
>> same/ cars as I had shot just a week ago with my 5700!
>> (((-;;
>
> AAAIIIEEEEEE! Oh, *man* would I be annoyed.

Yepper! "$1,400 pissed off" was more like it!
>
>> So, back to my camera store for some discussion with
the
>> manager. He checked the camera to be sure I hadn't
messed
>> up some setting, then announced "I don't think you are
>> ever going to get a Nikon EVF camera to work
consistently
>> with TTL flash, even with Nikon's own flash". WTF?!
>
> I wonder about the reference to "EFV" camea. He may be
> using that just to group the particular Nikon cameras
he
> has that opinion about, in which case fine. But if
he's
> claiming there's some actual cause-and-effect
relationship
> between EVF and this flash problem, I'd worry about his
> reliability.

Everybody has their "reliability" problems, not just this
guy, hence my post here to "calibrate" his assertions.
But, I've "talked" to 5700 owners who saw this phenomenon
as well. Iffn I can believe the camera store manager, it
isn't so much an EVF vs. DSLR issue, as it is Nikon's
choice for the underlying flash auto exposure. That's why
I'm so perplexed - and pissed off - iTTL is supposed to
fix this sort of thing, right?!
>
> Yes, auto mode will give you different behavior, and
takes
> the camera out of the circuit so it's *simpler*
behavior.
> Possibly it'll actually work better on these subjects.
> Only one way to find out

Yes, I'll be back to the museum this morning, also with
my 5700 and its Sunpak 433D. I'll be shooting the 8800
and flash in all the relevent modes, on a representative
set of cars, some known to work OK and others know to be
badly underexposed.

> Well, if the AUTO mode works -- try it with your old
flash.
> You may at least be able to return the expensive SB-
800.
> Sounds like you might want to keep the 8800 anyway :-).

Maybe so. My Sunpak won't be able to talk TTL to the 8800
at all, but as you say, there may be some reason to keep
the camera but not the flash.
>
> I find that TTL works poorly with my Fuji S2 DSLR and
Nikon
> SB-28 and SB-80dx flashes, and end up using manual a
lot,
> exposure compensation a lot, and ordinary AUTO on the
flash
> some (but it doesn't work very well either). I'm
> *extremely* disappointed with this, because the TTL
flash
> with my N90 was *so much* better than all my previous
> auto-flash experience (TTL *and* 'D' lenses). I hate
> losing that in digital (though, with the preview, I can
at
> least tell I have a problem, and work around it; but
it's
> still more work and slows me down, and I want the
> automation to work better there).

I'm sorry to hear about /your/ troubles, but maybe it at
least tells me I've not gone into the Twilight Zone!
Still, my first digital, a 4MP Fuji 4900, worked 100%
consistent even with its small built-in flash (up to max
range, of course).
>
> I believe the DSLR cameras have particular problems
with
> TTL flash because the sensor surface has very different
> reflectivity from film, so the stuff built into the
film
> SLR bodies the DSLRs are built from isn't happy. I
think
> Nikon and Canon have created new flash modes to try to
> address these problems (but they don't help me, not
being
> in my camera or flash yet).
>
> I would have hoped that a non-DSLR wouldn't have that
> particular problem, though.

I don't have nearly enough data points to make a judgment
here, I'll just have to fall back on the ole "trial and
error" method to see if I can make the 8800 and SB-800
work minimally consistently.


--
ATM, aka Jerry
Anonymous
May 25, 2005 9:39:24 AM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

Paul Furman commented courteously...

> Ugh, I'm glad I haven't had to deal with flash. Even
DSLR
> users always seem to be struggling with it. I also
don't
> care for tripods but that would be the next step I
might
> try to solve this. Also, I would just try putting it in
> manual and bracket till it looks right. Ultimately
that's
> going to give more control and understanding.

I prefer flash because my cars are brighter, contrastier,
and look snappier, albeit I have to watch for flash
glare. Tripods and available light work OK in museums,
but are /really/ slow and upset the other visitors to the
point that some museums won't let you do it.

And, upping the ISO to get decent exposures invites an
attack of the dreaded sensor noise!

Thanks for the comments/suggestion, I'm gonna do exactly
what you and the others, as well as the camera store
dude, suggest, and try out various flash and camera
modes.

--
ATM, aka Jerry
May 25, 2005 1:50:59 PM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

"All Things Mopar" <noneofyour@busi.ness> wrote in message
news:Xns9660D93BD3E1ReplyToken@216.196.97.131...
> After getting fed up with highly inconsistent flash
> performance in museum and car show environments with my
> Nikon Coolpix 5700 and Sunpak 433D external, I plunked
> down $1,400 for an 8800 and Sb-800 external.
>
> I investigated both this camera and the flash extensively
> earlier this year and was convinced the new iTTl flash
> exposure system would solve my problems with the 5700,
> namely 1/3 of my flash pictures on Programmed Auto and
> TTL on the Sunpak looked just fine, while another 1/3
> were maybe 2 f/stops under, but the remainder were 5-6
> stops under.
>
> I never was able to find a root cause for this
> inconsistent behavior. I could take a dozen pictures of a
> particular car, all looking like the proverbial black cat
> in a coal bin, then turn 10 feet away and shoot another
> dozen pics of another car in the museum, which were
> perfect. And, there wasn't anything obviously different,
> such as backlit scenes or strong ambient lighting to
> "fool" the TTL system.
>
> Well, I took my brand new 8800 for a "test drive" this
> morning at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum, in Auburn
> Hills, Michigan. It is only 15 minutes from me and I get
> in free as a DCX retiree, so I spend lots of time there.
>
> Got the same 1/3 good, 1/3 OK, and 1/3 dark /on the very
> same/ cars as I had shot just a week ago with my 5700!
> (((-;;
>
> So, back to my camera store for some discussion with the
> manager. He checked the camera to be sure I hadn't messed
> up some setting, then announced "I don't think you are
> ever going to get a Nikon EVF camera to work consistently
> with TTL flash, even with Nikon's own flash". WTF?!
>
> He's more than willing to let me return the 8800 and SB-
> 800 if I can't get it to work to my satisfaction, at
> least. His best suggestion was to take the SB-800 out of
> TTL mode and use in on "Auto" mode, which supposedly
> bypasses TTL communication with the camera and just does
> its exposure cut-off of the length of flash pulse based
> solely on its ability to judge distance to the primary
> subject.
>
> I was advised to go back to the WPC museum tomorrow, and
> shoot another series of the same cars on Programmed Auto
> or Aperture Priority, and let the flash do its thing on
> Auto instead of TTL.
>
> I can and will do this. But, I'm wondering if any of this
> makes sense to those of you that understand TTL flash in
> EVF cameras in general, and the Nikon 8800 in particular.
>
> I don't mind the expense of the new 8800 camera as Nikon
> has improved just about everything I care about visa vie
> my older 5700. And, I intentionally bought the big bucks
> SB-800 so Nikon couldn't cop out on me again and say the
> problem is the Sunpak.
>
> I have /no/ exposure problems in daylight with my current
> 5700 nor the little experience so far with the 8800. The
> /big/ issues is I /want/ and EVF and I /want/ to shoot
> flash in car museums, and /not/ available light on a
> tripod. But, naturally, I also /want/ consistent
> exposures that are within the dynamic range necessary to
> post-process with quality in Paint Shop Pro 9.
>
> I am open to any/all advice or recommendations, including
> "dump the Nikon and buy XXX with YYY flash". The only
> thing I don't want is anybody's DSLR because I prefer the
> EVF to the SLR view and like the large attached zoom of a
> top-end pro-sumer EVF.
>
> Thanks in advance!
>
> --
> ATM, aka Jerry

Hi there.

I have the D70 and SB600, and also found some inconsistencies with exposure.

I have found that the best combination is to set the Camera to Manual,
choose the fastest flash sync shutter speed, but ensure the f number is
within the correct range for the Flashgun. Leave the Flash on iTTL.

This seems to solve the problem, because I suspect that otherwise the Flash
is working more as a Fill Flash and the ambient light is having too much of
an effect on the exposure.

The only problem is that there does seem to be a slight under exposure, but
it is a constant value, so "Plus" a half stop of Flash compensation corrects
it.

I also put the SB600 on a bracket, and set the on board Flash to "Commander
Mode", just to ensure there is no red eye, that might also help you to
eliminate any Specular Reflections.

The highly reflective surfaces on car bodies, could just be the main source
of all your problems, and using a Manual Flash and an Incident Flash meter
might be the only real answer.

Any Auto system could be confused by a "beam" of light being reflected back
onto either the TTL or Flash Sensors.

Hope this is some help.

Roy G
Anonymous
May 25, 2005 4:12:18 PM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

Roy commented courteously...

Hi, Roy. Thanks for continuing the dialog with me, I
appreciate it.

> I said leave the Flash on iTTL. Put the camera on the
> Manual Exposure Mode, ( further round the dial from P,
S,
> A.), dont go into the menus and change Flash Control
to
> Manual, leave that on iTTL on both the Camera and
> Flashgun.

Guess I misunderstood what you were saying, but what I
did was "obey" the advice of the camera store manager, so
I actually shot this morning in the same museum, the
same cars, in a very methodical fashioon.

I shot with both the 8800/SB-800 /and/ 5700/Sunpak 433D,
cycling between TTL, Auto, Guide Number, and Manual on
the SB-800. On the Sunpak, I shot with TTL and their
Auto. Then, for each and every car, I shot both
Programmed Auto (5700 & 8800) and Aperture Priority (both
again).

I haven't had time yet to look at the nearly 300 pictures
I took on my computer, but just looking at the 5700 and
8800 LCD's in Playback, it looks to me like I'm better
off with my /old/ 5700 with the Sunpack on Auto.

So, my first blush reaction is still WTF?! Why should I
invest $1,400 for and 8MP camera that I'm really only
going to shoot at 3MP? Yes, there are some /significant/
upgrades besides just more MP, and I'll make the
"decision" this afternoon.
>
> So the Camera and the Flash will still communicate, and
> control the amount of light emitted.

As best I can tell, Roy, the "problem" is that the SB-800
on TTL is shutting down the flash pulse pre-maturely,
thus underexposing 30-40% of the time. I don't know, but
I suspect it's short-burst flash to get the distance
isn't right somehow.

> All you are doing in Manual is selected a shutter speed
and
> lens aperture, which the Camera / Flash Auto systems
will
> not alter. The Camera will still Autofocus.

I still have trouble doing full manual, but I didn't try
that today. I have AF turned off in favor of focus lock
via half-push on the shutter release. AF is just too slow
and I /always/ lock the focus anyway.
>
> You don't need to do any calculation other than
checking
> that the aperture is not so small that the Flash won't
be
> able to provide sufficient illumination. It will tell
you
> if it was "Out of Range" automatically.

Yes, what you describe is exactly how I was shooting this
morning on Aperture Priority, and it worked OK but not as
well nor as consistent as I'd like.

> I don't know your Camera, but on the D70 I can dial in
> Flash Compensation to up the output by up to 1 stop, or
> reduce it by up to 3 stops, to get the histogram the
way I
> want it.

Yes, me, too. The flash will go +/- 2 stops and so can
the 8800. But, while I'm willing to "calibrate" both the
camera and flash to my own idea of what consitutes "good
exposure", I'm reluctant to play with these controls on
30-40% of the pictures I shoot, until I think it is
"right". Too much work, I'd rather keep my 5700 until
something better comes along, and/or reluctantly switch
to somebody's DSLR.

> I am too much of a realist to expect any Auto System to
be
> able to work entirely without Input from the
Photographer,
> all they do is make it a bit easier for me to exert
> control.

Me, too, albeit, I /do/ expect something as advanced as
iTTL on the $995 (before $100 rebate) 8800 replete with
Nikon's own $330 SB-800 /should/, IMHO, be able to do
better than only 60% "good" on the first try.

> Nikon's have been "under-exposing" (in the view of
some)
> ever since I have owned one, early 80s, and probably
well
> before that.

Yes, that's true of the digitals I've tried, but was
/not/ true of my $450 (body-only way back in 1969) Nikon
Photomic FTN. If I centered the "TTL" indicator in the
viewfinder using compatible aperture and shutter, at
/all/ file types and ASA (then the "standard"), I got
exposures "right on the money", across maybe 10,000
slides over 15 years or so.

Thanks again for taking time to help me!

--
ATM, aka Jerry
Anonymous
May 25, 2005 4:50:01 PM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

All Things Mopar <noneofyour@busi.ness> writes:
> > with the SLR/DSLR cameras though. And I don't see any
> > inherent reason the 5700 should be worse than a D70 at
> > getting the right flash exposure, if iTTL is one of its
> > advertised features.
>
> The camera store manager, who sounds like he's very
> knowledgeble, says this problem occurs with both EVF and DSLR
> Nikons, all vintanges. Again, I dunno.

iTTL is a brand new feature and so it's absent in all but the newest
Nikon cameras. So I'm skeptical. What happens if you just crank up
the flash exposure when you see on your LCD that there's a problem?
What happens if you just use the SB800's built-in autoexposure mode
instead of messing with iTTL?
Anonymous
May 25, 2005 7:06:01 PM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

Paul Rubin commented courteously...

> iTTL is a brand new feature and so it's absent in all
but
> the newest Nikon cameras. So I'm skeptical. What
happens
> if you just crank up the flash exposure when you see on
> your LCD that there's a problem? What happens if you
just
> use the SB800's built-in autoexposure mode instead of
> messing with iTTL?

What happens if I crank up the flash? The image gets
brighter, naturally, but that isn't the point. The point
was, and is, that the dang thing cannot /consistently/
expose pictures from one to the next, even of the same
car, much less a car 10 feet away.

Yes, iTTL /is/ new to the 8800 and other "new" Nikons,
that's the reason I bought it! But, the 8800 and SB-800
have been out, I think, since September, 2004, and mine
is "fresh from the factory" (i.e., my store ordered it
from his distributor, as his stock was depleted from an
in-store sale the previous week). So I'd expect it (maybe
naively!) to have the latest firmware patches (no, I
haven't looked for a patch or hack), but again, this is a
/new/ machine, why should I have to patch it right out-
of-the box?.

Please see my other posts where I said I launched a test
this morning with all the relevant flash mode, including
Auto vs. TTL, and the relevant 8800 exposure modes.
Leaving the 8800 in either Programmed Auto or Aperture
Priority and the SB-800 in Auto rather than TTL does work
the best. But, my 5700/Sunpak still beat it all hollow!
And, it is both smaller and lighter...

I'm still evaluating the 8800/SB-800 images I took this
morning against my "old tech" 5700 and $80 Sunpak, but
right now, it is leaning /clearly/ in favor of the older
stuff. I need to be sure, and weigh the other advantages
that the 8800 offers before deciding (such as much better
ergonomics, more mega pixels, quieter images, and some
other things I value), but I'm in the 90%+ range right
now that I'll be taking it back tomorrow for a charge
credit.

I'm not arguing with you or anybody, but for $1,400
before rebates, I have a (maybe unrealistic) expectation
that I should get "correct" exposures in "easy"
situations +/- one f/stop without resporting to various
tricks. Iffn that ain't reasonable, I'll drop back to my
(paid for) 5700 and wait until fall, and re-eval the
latest Canon DSLR as well as what new EVFs come out in
the fall, if any.

As for everyone else who has responded, I thank you for
your perspectives.

--
ATM, aka Jerry
May 25, 2005 7:57:00 PM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

"Roy" <royphoty@iona-guesthouse.co.uk> wrote in message
news:0h%ke.959$c4.954@newsfe3-win.ntli.net...
> Hi. Again.
>
> I said leave the Flash on iTTL. Put the camera on the Manual Exposure
Mode,
> ( further round the dial from P, S, A.), dont go into the menus and
change
> Flash Control to Manual, leave that on iTTL on both the Camera and
> Flashgun.
>
> So the Camera and the Flash will still communicate, and control the amount
> of light emitted.
>
> All you are doing in Manual is selected a shutter speed and lens aperture,
> which the Camera / Flash Auto systems will not alter. The Camera will
still
> Autofocus.
>
> You don't need to do any calculation other than checking that the aperture
> is not so small that the Flash won't be able to provide sufficient
> illumination. It will tell you if it was "Out of Range" automatically.
>
> I don't know your Camera, but on the D70 I can dial in Flash Compensation
> to up the output by up to 1 stop, or reduce it by up to 3 stops, to get
the
> histogram the way I want it.
>
> I am too much of a realist to expect any Auto System to be able to work
> entirely without Input from the Photographer, all they do is make it a bit
> easier for me to exert control.
>
> Nikon's have been "under-exposing" (in the view of some) ever since I have
> owned one, early 80s, and probably well before that.
>
> Roy G
>
>
You need to be certain that the flash is not set to balanced fill. You are,
after all, using the flash as the main source of light.
As for cameras in general, my ranking for best to worst (of those that I
have owned) is:
1. Nikon N90s with SB27
2. Nikon F3 with SB16
3. Canon FT-QL with Vivitar 283
4. Canon FT-QL with off brand Vernon flash
5. Nikon S2 with Zeiss BC flash gun (which burned to S2's flash contacts)
6. Practica FX with Zeiss BC flash gun

There was a big gap in ease of use between the N90s and the F3. I can't see
any under-exposing in these cameras.
There was an immense gap in ease of use and exposure between the F3 and the
Canon. The other two represent ancient technology and really don't count.
Jim
Anonymous
May 25, 2005 7:57:01 PM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

Jim commented courteously...

Hi, Jim.

> You need to be certain that the flash is not set to
> balanced fill. You are, after all, using the flash as
the
> main source of light.

There's more controls/options on the SB-800 than "I can
shake a stick" at! But, I've not read anything in the
manual about whatever "balanced fill" might be - it may
be there, but I don't recall seeing it.

> There was a big gap in ease of use between the N90s and
the
> F3. I can't see any under-exposing in these cameras.
> There was an immense gap in ease of use and exposure
> between the F3 and the Canon. The other two represent
> ancient technology and really don't count. Jim

I can deal with overall underexposure by altering the EV
on the flash or camera or both, plus I can easily fix +/-
2 stops or so in Paint Shop Pro 8/9. What I /can't/ deal
with is /inconsistent/ flash up to 5-6 stops under, on
30-40% of my car pictures. That's the connundrum I'm
trying to reconcile.

Thanks for your observations!

--
ATM, aka Jerry
May 25, 2005 9:13:47 PM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

"Jim" <j.n@nospam.com> wrote in message
news:gf1le.2799$TJ2.454@newssvr11.news.prodigy.com...
>
> "Roy" <royphoty@iona-guesthouse.co.uk> wrote in message
> news:0h%ke.959$c4.954@newsfe3-win.ntli.net...
> > Hi. Again.
> >
> > I said leave the Flash on iTTL. Put the camera on the Manual Exposure
> Mode,
> > ( further round the dial from P, S, A.), dont go into the menus and
> change
> > Flash Control to Manual, leave that on iTTL on both the Camera and
> > Flashgun.
> >
> > So the Camera and the Flash will still communicate, and control the
amount
> > of light emitted.
> >
> > All you are doing in Manual is selected a shutter speed and lens
aperture,
> > which the Camera / Flash Auto systems will not alter. The Camera will
> still
> > Autofocus.
> >
> > You don't need to do any calculation other than checking that the
aperture
> > is not so small that the Flash won't be able to provide sufficient
> > illumination. It will tell you if it was "Out of Range" automatically.
> >
> > I don't know your Camera, but on the D70 I can dial in Flash
Compensation
> > to up the output by up to 1 stop, or reduce it by up to 3 stops, to get
> the
> > histogram the way I want it.
> >
> > I am too much of a realist to expect any Auto System to be able to work
> > entirely without Input from the Photographer, all they do is make it a
bit
> > easier for me to exert control.
> >
> > Nikon's have been "under-exposing" (in the view of some) ever since I
have
> > owned one, early 80s, and probably well before that.
> >
> > Roy G
> >
> >
> You need to be certain that the flash is not set to balanced fill. You
are,
> after all, using the flash as the main source of light.
> As for cameras in general, my ranking for best to worst (of those that I
> have owned) is:
> 1. Nikon N90s with SB27
> 2. Nikon F3 with SB16
> 3. Canon FT-QL with Vivitar 283
> 4. Canon FT-QL with off brand Vernon flash
> 5. Nikon S2 with Zeiss BC flash gun (which burned to S2's flash contacts)
> 6. Practica FX with Zeiss BC flash gun
>
> There was a big gap in ease of use between the N90s and the F3. I can't
see
> any under-exposing in these cameras.
> There was an immense gap in ease of use and exposure between the F3 and
the
> Canon. The other two represent ancient technology and really don't count.
> Jim
>
>
Sorry, I left out the D70... With the built in flash, it ranks below the F3
with SB-16. With an SB600, it ranks below the N90s and SB27. You also
should note that the D70 manual mentions that dark subjects may be
underexposed. The photographer should review the histogram and set the
exposure compensation as needed. I never use exposure compensation on the
N90s or F3.
Jim
Anonymous
May 25, 2005 9:13:48 PM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

Jim commented courteously...

> Sorry, I left out the D70... With the built in flash,
it
> ranks below the F3 with SB-16. With an SB600, it ranks
> below the N90s and SB27. You also should note that the
D70
> manual mentions that dark subjects may be underexposed.
> The photographer should review the histogram and set
the
> exposure compensation as needed. I never use exposure
> compensation on the N90s or F3.

Hi, again, Jim!

I understand histograms, both in-camera and in PSP 9, but
us simple folk <grin> don't do much with them. The 8800
has an excellent alternate display that shows a thumbnail
of the histogram in the EVF, so iffn I were so-inclined,
I could take note of the shape of the dynamic range
profile, and tweak the settings accordingly.

BTW, I call myself a "documentary" photographer of cars,
not an "artistic", "creative", or "dramatic"
photographer. For example, when I'm shooting a full-on
front or rear view, I'll back up enought to zoom in to
100-150mm equivalent, so as to have the windshield or
backlite look like it belongs, and not a little piece of
glass on top of a big body. For the same reason, I don't
shoot at full wide-angle down low for the "dramatic"
effect, unless I really have to because I can't go
farther back.

I sometimes I wish I had more "creative" talent, but I do
OK, I guess, for what it is I'm trying to accomplish. So,
to get back on-point for this thread, I'm most interested
in getting an exposure no more than about 2 stops under
so I don't block up the shadows nor induce underexposure
noise or distort the colors, and a few other nasties.

--
ATM, aka Jerry
Anonymous
May 27, 2005 3:18:48 AM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

chrlz@go.com writes:
> I'll be very surprised if you can find any system that will work
> reliably in these conditions even 70% of the time, let alone 90%.. So I
> would think manual settings are by far the best solution. I'm guessing
> there are probably only a few set distances that you use very
> frequently, so maybe it wouldn't be too onerous..? And you pretty well
> guarantee successful exposures every time.

Yeah, the best answer may be off camera flash positioned so it won't
cause reflections in the image. That will make the pics look better anyway.
Anonymous
May 27, 2005 9:52:52 AM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

Paul Rubin commented courteously...

> chrlz@go.com writes:
>> I'll be very surprised if you can find any system that
>> will work reliably in these conditions even 70% of the
>> time, let alone 90%.. So I would think manual settings
are
>> by far the best solution. I'm guessing there are
probably
>> only a few set distances that you use very frequently,
so
>> maybe it wouldn't be too onerous..? And you pretty
well
>> guarantee successful exposures every time.
>
> Yeah, the best answer may be off camera flash
positioned so
> it won't cause reflections in the image. That will
make
> the pics look better anyway.
>

I'm sorry, Paul, but you're just gonna have to trust me
on this - /ain't/ flash off reflective objects! If this
were a binary NG, I could post dozens of shots from my
old Fuji 4900 or my current Nikon 5700, in many
environments, that do work. Then, post the nearly
identical situation where the 8800 fails miserably.

To conclude, I am very relucatantly going to return the
camera for a charge credit. I fell in love with the feel
and the features of the 8800, not the least of which was
higher quality, less noisy images and many more MP
resolutions to choose from. But, I just can't live with a
camera that isn't reliable.

Thanks again for your help and comments.

--
ATM, aka Jerry
Anonymous
May 27, 2005 4:06:55 PM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

On Fri, 27 May 2005 05:50:10 -0500, All Things Mopar wrote:

> I'll take a look, although I'll comment now that auto
> shows are /much/ easier to shoot than museums! That's
> because they are so bright, the auto exposure system in
> the camera gets a lot of help and the flash isn't much
> more than fill in many cases.

Here's a bunch of questions, that may or may not help . . .

If it's so bright, if you blocked the flash's output with
something opaque, would the result be a dark as the underexposed
pictures you were getting? If you check the shutter speed and
aperture, either in-camera or using EXIF data, is there a difference
between the shots where the flash worked properly and where it
didn't? When the pictures turn out very dark, did the flash fire
weakly or not at all? Is it possible that the problem is not with
the camera or flash but with the environment? Something that might
effect an SB-800 but not a simpler built-in flash? In other words,
if you found another place to take pictures of cars that is as
similar as possible to the auto show, would some of your pictures
still come out dark? Maybe even the same building used for the
auto show, but on a day when there's no show taking place.
Anonymous
May 27, 2005 5:47:53 PM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

ASAAR wrote:
> On Fri, 27 May 2005 05:50:10 -0500, All Things Mopar wrote:
>
>> I'll take a look, although I'll comment now that auto
>> shows are /much/ easier to shoot than museums! That's
>> because they are so bright, the auto exposure system in
>> the camera gets a lot of help and the flash isn't much
>> more than fill in many cases.
>
> Here's a bunch of questions, that may or may not help . . .
>
> If it's so bright, if you blocked the flash's output with
> something opaque, would the result be a dark as the underexposed
> pictures you were getting? If you check the shutter speed and
> aperture, either in-camera or using EXIF data, is there a difference
> between the shots where the flash worked properly and where it
> didn't? When the pictures turn out very dark, did the flash fire
> weakly or not at all? Is it possible that the problem is not with
> the camera or flash but with the environment? Something that might
> effect an SB-800 but not a simpler built-in flash? In other words,
> if you found another place to take pictures of cars that is as
> similar as possible to the auto show, would some of your pictures
> still come out dark? Maybe even the same building used for the
> auto show, but on a day when there's no show taking place.

My standards are relatively low for photos of static car exhibits.
Cars are dynamic, and I reckon a fair representation of a sitting car
is plenty good. So, I don't devote a lot of attention to museums and
car shows. I tend to see them when they are attached to some other
activity that means somewhat more to me.

Such an event was a tribute dinner at the Petersen, Phil Hill was the
honoree. It was a fine, fun, and fulfilling evening, hearing Phil talk
about the way it was during his ascent to the World Driving
Championship, first American to accomplish that monumental feat. Other
stars in the auto racing firmament adding their perspectives and
anecdotes included Dan Gurney, Carroll Shelby, Jim Hall, Bob
Bondurant, Bernard Cahier, Chuck Daigh, John Fitch (_via_ telegram).

Several cars the like of which Phil had driven were on exhibit, sort
of an endurance-race display, as that was one of Phil's specialities.
I pretty much felt obligated to photograph them, so I waved a cursory
camera in their direction and returned to the gossip and glad-handing
in the buffet line.

You can see some of what I recorded in the album at:
http://www.fototime.com/inv/4C7B4D180AEE178

There are 21 images, three versions each of seven exposures. None has
been manipulated in any way, other than resized in 10% decrements
(first seven) and Saved For Web at Photo Shop 30 quality (first seven
and second of each of the remaining pairs), or simply Saved As at full
size and Photo Shop jpg quality 5, to maintain EXIF data (first of
each of the pairs).

My philosophy, beyond preferring to photograph cars in motion and in
their natural habitat, has something to do with recording what you
found the way you found it. I pretty much avoid flash photography
unless there is no alternative. I'm not very assertive, so I don't
often try to push people out of the way, nor do I use a tripod in the
field, unless there is no alternative.

You'll see five hand-held (propped when possible) available light
exposures, two with a "digital slave" flash held high and
supplementing the on-camera flash. I don't like the flash pictures,
and am not much tempted to perfect the technique, given the
satisfactory nature of the first two photos in the album: I think the
GT40 and the Porsche fairly represent what was there, and is of
sufficient quality to meet my requirements, which include Web and
other monitor viewing, and low likelihood of big ol' prints.


--
Frank ess
Anonymous
May 27, 2005 6:25:27 PM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital (More info?)

ASAAR commented courteously...

> If it's so bright, if you blocked the flash's output
> with something opaque, would the result be a dark as
> the underexposed pictures you were getting?

First, ASAAR, I returned the camera and flash for a Visa
credit, but I'll try to answer your questions for any
lurkers who may be listening in.

First, traditional auto shows, such as NAIAS (North
American International Auto Show, formerly called the
Detroit Auto Show, are simply awash in lighting -
flurescent/incandesent over head, fill lighting from top
and sides, even spots. They are /bright/, enough that you
can easily shoot available light at ISO 200 if you have
steady hands and/or stabilization on the camera/lens.

Typical museums, such The Henry Ford, in Dearborn,
Michigan, the WPC I talked about, Petersen's in LA, etc.
are /very/ dark places. There's some windows but they
cause even more problems from backlighting the car. To
shoot available light in a museum, you definitely need a
tripod and long exposures; high ISO isn't a good idea
because of noise.

If the auto show or museum is at all busy, crowd control
is a very big problem, as are museum curators that don't
like people setting up shop getting in the way of other
visitors. It /can/ be done but it is neither easy nor
fast.

The brightness problem I am talking about is /not/ from
the flash, it's from window or high-intensity ambient
lighting. I'm really not sure, but it kinda looks like
the 8800 (and, my 5700) appear to use the flash output to
do the TTL, /not/ the normal AE, hence changing from
Matrix to Center Weighted or Spot does not appear to help
at all.

So, if the flash were causing over-exposed pictures all
the time or a large percent of the time, I could cut the
EV on either the flash (+/- 3) or the camera (+/- 2). In
other words, I could quickly "calibrate" the lighting for
a particular set of pictures.

The SB-800 comes with both neutral density and diffusers,
which I undoubtedly would have used, perhaps with a
polarizer, but I never got that far, as severe
underexposure far outweighed uneven lighting and flash
glare challenges.

> If you check the shutter speed and aperture, either
> in-camera or using EXIF data, is there a difference
> between the shots where the flash worked properly
> and where it didn't?

The short answer is No. The reason is that 5700s and
8800s set the aperture wide-open, which varies as to
focal length of the zoom, then use the length of the
flash burst and shutter speed to "modulate" the exposure.
Besides full manual, I could also shoot Aperture or
Shutter priority, keeping an eye on the mins for correct
exposure. I did do those things, but to no avail.

Further, the SB-800 has iTTL, Auto, Manual, and Guide
Number modes, with the usual definitions. Again, I tried
all 4 but was unable to consistently get good exposures,
in fact, there were cars that were way under no matter
what I did!

> When the> pictures turn out very dark, did the flash
> fire weakly or not at all?

No, it fired, but it looked OK to me. It is imposible to
judge the length of the pulse either through the EVF or
by holding the camera at arms-length and just observing
it.

> Is it possible that the problem is not with the camera
> or flash but with the environment? Something that
might
> effect an SB-800 but not a simpler built-in flash?

Again, on both the 5700 and 8800, I can switch to the
built-in Speedlight by just turning off the external, so
that isn't it at all. In my view so far, the problem is
two-fold: environment is a biggies, but not one a
photographer can control, so ya has ta do the best ya
can, and there appears to be an issue with the underlying
algorithms in the entire series of Nikon EVFs, beginning
with the 5700, through the 8600 and 8700, and now to the
8800.

I don't think the engineers at Nikon are dummies, hardly.
I just don't know if they tried what I'm trying to do.
Iffn they did, they probably used a 2nd slave flash, and
probably set the camera manually. It is /very/ hard for
me to believe the engineers ever went to museums, whether
cars or the Smithsonian, or the Science & Industry Museum
in Chicago, or where ever.

These places are generally all the same. What galls my
butt is that I can get itty bitty $150 P&S cameras to
work, as well as el cheapo range-finder 35's.

> In other words, if you found another place to take
pictures
> of cars that is as similar as possible to the autoshow,
> would some of your pictures still come out dark? Maybe
even
> the same building used for the auto show, but on a day
when
> there's no show taking place.

I don't want to belabor this point, but if you travel
even across-town and pay money to get in the building,
you're usually on a tight schedule, which doesn't help.
In the case of the WPC, I popped over there 4 or 5 times
since Tuesday, since it is only 15 minutes from my home
and I get in free as a DCX retiree.

So, that's a round-about way of saying that I
intentionally went to the WPC because it possesses, in
one moderate size building, /all/ of the various
available light and flash-mode photography.

I can shoot pictures in small rooms with aplomb. That
includes my house, close to museum small exhibits, in
stores, you name i. They work fine. But, it drives me up
the wall to take a picture of the left side of a car,
move 10 feet and try to get the right side or rear, and
have one or the other go dark.

For the time being, I'm gonna cool my jets and continue
to use the 5700, albeit now that I'm a little smarter on
how to get better results than I'd previously attained.

Then, later this summer, I start haunting the
manufacturer's web sites, dpreview.com, even here on this
NG, to learn what's coming up in September. Then, too,
I'd like to confirm or deny the "claim" lots of people
have that EVF cameras - specifically Nikon - just don't
perform as well with flash as DSLRs.

Being an engineer by education, that makes /no/ sense to
me at all! Still... One more time for any lurkers, my
/big/ hang-up with DSLRs are that I see /not/ what the
digital sensors "see", but rather what the lens sees.
Duh?! And, my experience is that trying to make a valid
judgment off the little LCD on the camera back just
doesn't cut it.

But, as part of my summer/fall planned investigation,
I'll definitely look at the latest crop of pro-sumer
DSLRs. I do have an open mind, it's just that no one has
been able to make me feel "warm and fuzzy" with through-
the-lens vs. EVF viewing.

--
ATM, aka Jerry
!