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Testing ttl strobe accuracy on a film camera?


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#1 Larry C

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 03:30 PM

Is there anyway other than trial and error that I can test the ttl performance of a newer non film strobe on my F100?  The Sea & Sea NX100 pro housing puts out a five pin signal with the F100 that my YS-110 responds to, but I have no idea if the output is adjusting or if it just flashes the same every time.  I was thinking of trying a longer shutter opening with my D300 in a totally dark room and flashing the strobe at different settings with the film camera to see if there's a difference in lighting.  Am I way off base, or might this work?  Is there any other way without fancy light duration measuring instruments?  I shot my last two rolls of film on ttl, with the second having the camera set to +2 on the metering, so hopefully I'll know a little more when I get the slides and scans back.  Hoping there's a better way, as it's costing me two dives, a $10 roll of Velvia and $24 worth of processing per roll for the way I'm doing it now.


D300 MDX-D300, 2xYS-110, 1 YS-D1, Tokina 10-17, Nikon 60AF D, Nikon 35mm f2.0, L & M Sola 600

Nikon F100 w/Sea & Sea NX100 Pro

 


#2 saga7

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Posted 31 December 2013 - 09:09 AM

Testing ttl from the Jim Church essential guide to nikonos systems book. This is for nikonos strobes but your strobe should work this test also. 

Part 1

Set shutter for a

Open aperture to the lowest  number f stop

Set strobe to ttl

Aim strobe into camera lens

Trigger shutter

If ttl is working it should be a brief flash and a quick recycle

If the flash is long and the ready light blinks for a full flash signal ttl is not functioning

Part 2

Set aperture to f22

Aim strobe away from camera

Cover the lens with lens cap or hand

Trigger shutter

If ttl is working it should be a bright flash and the ready light will blink as you have done a full power flash.

On the nikonos 5 if battery is weak the ttl system will fail also. So check your f100 camera battery too.

On a roll of film using macro or close focus shots if 1 or more shots are black the ttl is failing



#3 Larry C

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Posted 31 December 2013 - 09:55 AM

Thanks.  I never thought of checking the flash recycle time.  I'll try it.  Meanwhile, in about 2 days I should have the scans online from the two rolls I just shot.  If they're brighter on the later ones where I set the +/- at +2, I'll know it's at least adjusting and I can use the +/- to adjust the ttl if it's not accurate.


D300 MDX-D300, 2xYS-110, 1 YS-D1, Tokina 10-17, Nikon 60AF D, Nikon 35mm f2.0, L & M Sola 600

Nikon F100 w/Sea & Sea NX100 Pro

 


#4 bvanant

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Posted 31 December 2013 - 10:06 AM

The simplest approach (although it might be too late) is to get a digital oscilloscope app and use that to monitor the flash length. Costs $10 but very useful for all kinds of useless info.

 

Bill


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#5 Larry C

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Posted 31 December 2013 - 02:51 PM

Thanks Bill.  (This reply also posted on Scubaboard).

Experiment was quite successful. Unfortunately, TTL wasn't. I sealed a Costco milk box and cut a hole in one end for my 10-17. At the far end of one side, I cut a hole for my YS-110. I took a couple of shots unlit to make sure the D300 would shoot set at 2 seconds with smallest aperture. Got a nice dark box with a couple of pinholes of light. Turned on the F100 (empty of film) inside it's housing with strobe connected and focused on a roll of tape in my dimly lit kitchen. Started at f2.8 1/15th and went through each step on the aperture, down to f32, then went through each step on shutter speed down to 1/250th. I got pretty much the same well lit box every time.
Then I set the strobe to manual and made about 12 adjustments, from minimum to maximum output. Went from a dark box with a small lit area gradually to the same picture the ttl settings gave me. Apparently, the strobe fires full blast when connected to the F100 and set on ttl, no matter what the settings. We'll see how my pictures came out and that should give me a good idea of what my strobe settings should be for various shots. I suspect that most of them will be blown out, as most of the time I was set at 1/60 f8 or 1/60 f11, which typically work pretty well for portrait shots at 80-100 feet depth in NorCal water when I want a natural background. I got pretty good results on my first two rolls with those settings and about 50% strobe on the 60AF-D.


D300 MDX-D300, 2xYS-110, 1 YS-D1, Tokina 10-17, Nikon 60AF D, Nikon 35mm f2.0, L & M Sola 600

Nikon F100 w/Sea & Sea NX100 Pro

 


#6 tdpriest

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Posted 01 January 2014 - 04:50 AM

Apparently, the strobe fires full blast when connected to the F100 and set on ttl, no matter what the settings.

 

Isn't this predictable from the known differences between digital- and film-compatible strobes? It's exactly what happens when an old strobe is connected to a digital camera. Digital TTL relies on pre-flashes and not on a sensor behind the mirror: with no pre-flash the F100 can't activate a digital TTL function.



#7 Larry C

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Posted 01 January 2014 - 09:09 AM

Apparently, the strobe fires full blast when connected to the F100 and set on ttl, no matter what the settings.

 

Isn't this predictable from the known differences between digital- and film-compatible strobes? It's exactly what happens when an old strobe is connected to a digital camera. Digital TTL relies on pre-flashes and not on a sensor behind the mirror: with no pre-flash the F100 can't activate a digital TTL function.

I'm not that familiar with the functions of the two types of strobes, but both cameras send an electrical signal to the strobe.  I assume the strobe is just not set-up to translate the F100's signal.


D300 MDX-D300, 2xYS-110, 1 YS-D1, Tokina 10-17, Nikon 60AF D, Nikon 35mm f2.0, L & M Sola 600

Nikon F100 w/Sea & Sea NX100 Pro

 


#8 Larry C

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Posted 02 January 2014 - 08:07 AM

Having read a couple of nice articles on ttl, i-ttl, d-ttl and various strobes (one in Cameras Underwater was very helpful) I can see that ttl is probably hopeless between digital strobes and film cameras.  Apparently, the digital strobes don't use a "quench" signal, although I still have no idea how they alter the firing time of the strobe.  Also, my experiment was useless because a: I didn't have film in the camera to reflect light to the sensor, and b: I had the strobe pointed into a box, so the quench signal was dependent on ambient light which was only altered by the camera settings and was in most cases inadequate-this pretty much guaranteed a full dump of the flash even if it was communicating properly with the film camera.   Live and learn.


D300 MDX-D300, 2xYS-110, 1 YS-D1, Tokina 10-17, Nikon 60AF D, Nikon 35mm f2.0, L & M Sola 600

Nikon F100 w/Sea & Sea NX100 Pro

 


#9 BottomTime

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Posted 02 January 2014 - 12:09 PM

The YS-110 should work with your F100 and TTL flash exposure. Your YS-D1 should work with your F100 as well. Pretty much all strobes that accept a hardwired connection should work with the nikonos TTL specification. I used to use a pair of YS-110's with my F90x when I was still shooting film.

 

The easiest way to tell if your YS-110's are working properly with your F100 is to look at the ready light on the strobe. I no longer have my YS-110's, but my memory is that the ready light should change from red to green if TTL was utilized successfully.

 

If it is not, then you will need to figure out if it is the camera, the cables, the strobes or the user which is the source of  the error.


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#10 bvanant

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Posted 02 January 2014 - 04:31 PM

The YS-D1 with a Nikonos sync cable certainly does ttl with a Nikonos, this should work with the F100 as well but a lot depends on the bulkhead for the housing since some bulkheads just have two pins connected.

Bill


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#11 tdpriest

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 08:15 AM

The YS-D1 with a Nikonos sync cable certainly does ttl with a Nikonos, this should work with the F100 as well...

 

I'm surprised: this isn't noted on the Sea & Sea website. It would mean being able to switch between different circuits on the strobe: how do you do that? 



#12 BottomTime

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 11:31 AM

 

I'm surprised: this isn't noted on the Sea & Sea website. It would mean being able to switch between different circuits on the strobe: how do you do that? 

When it comes to wired communication, Sea & Sea has never adopted any of the newer TTL protocols (iTTL/E-TTL). They continue to work with the old analogue specification. This is why Sea & Sea builds their TTL converters; to convert the native iTTL/E-TTL instructions of the camera to the analogue instructions that the strobes still work with. This is true of Inon and Ikelite as well.

 

AFAIK, the only flashes that support iTTL/E-TTL natively are some of the Seacam seaflashes. There are a couple of others (Hartenberger & Subtronic) that can have a converter installed inside the flash head.


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#13 Larry C

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 09:45 PM

Interesting.  I got the scans on an e-mail this evening, and the lighting is decent on most of them.  Some were a bit washed out, some a bit underlit, some dead on. I'll have to try some different camera settings as well.  I've been sticking mostly to 1/60 f8 and f11 because it's always been pretty close for portraits with the D300.  Maybe I'll pick up the YS-D1 at Backscatter tomorrow and give it a try too.  I left it there with the housing because the film camera will only support a single strobe and the YS-110 seemed to be the one that worked.  Both of the NX-100 Pro bulkheads are 5 pin.
 


D300 MDX-D300, 2xYS-110, 1 YS-D1, Tokina 10-17, Nikon 60AF D, Nikon 35mm f2.0, L & M Sola 600

Nikon F100 w/Sea & Sea NX100 Pro

 


#14 Larry C

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 09:37 PM

  I've used both strobes now with ttl settings and results are wildly inconsistent.  The YS-110, I shot with center weighted area metering and set the +/- to +2.  I got mostly slightly underlit subjects with dark backgrounds, using settings that give me natural backgrounds and fairly bright subjects on the D300 (1/60 f8 & f11 with the 60mm f2.8) at just over 50% strobe.  I chalked this up to a single strobe (I normally shoot 2).

  I tried some macro; nudi shots and such with the YSD-1.  I tried some black background settings- 1/250 f18 using spot metering and +/- set at 0.  My shots with an open water background came out consistently underexposed.  A couple of Hermissendas shooting downward on a sandier background came out stunninly perfect, with great lighting and detail on subject and background.  My strobe angle is about 45 degrees from one side and downward on most shots.  I'll try center weighted metering and compensation with the YSD-1 tomorrow, using more neutral camera settings.  If that doesn't work, it's probably back to manual strobe.  At $35 bucks a roll for film and developing/scanning I think I'd like a little more personal control over the lighting if the sensor won't give me consistent lighting.


D300 MDX-D300, 2xYS-110, 1 YS-D1, Tokina 10-17, Nikon 60AF D, Nikon 35mm f2.0, L & M Sola 600

Nikon F100 w/Sea & Sea NX100 Pro

 


#15 Larry C

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 10:49 PM

YSD-1 did better ttl than the YS-110 with pretty much the same settings.  The two of them, using single sync cords out of both ports on the housing, took better ttl than either alone.  Nice even lighting on a variety of subjects and backgrounds, no pictures blown out.


D300 MDX-D300, 2xYS-110, 1 YS-D1, Tokina 10-17, Nikon 60AF D, Nikon 35mm f2.0, L & M Sola 600

Nikon F100 w/Sea & Sea NX100 Pro

 


#16 bvanant

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Posted 26 January 2014 - 01:46 PM

 

I'm surprised: this isn't noted on the Sea & Sea website. It would mean being able to switch between different circuits on the strobe: how do you do that? 

I was surprised too, my suspicion (not willing to destroy another strobe for testing) is that when the electrical sync cable is plugged in the old TTL circuitry is working. I didn't test how well the TTL was working on the Nikonos, only that it worked (fired the strobe with no film in the camera, into a digital power meter). As the f-stop got smaller the flash intensity went up.

 

Bill


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www.blueviews.net


#17 Larry C

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 10:36 PM

I just got the scans online from my latest roll, all shot with two strobes in ttl.  Settings ranged from 1/60 f8 to 1/250 f22, and not a poorly lit shot in the bunch.  Most were perfectly lit.  Now that I've figured out the lighting and got my best shots, I got my D300 housing back from the shop and I can quit spending one dollar per picture and save the film camera for occasional kicks.  It's been a learning experience and a lot of fun.   I might have to sort out my N90S and Nexus housing and see how it does.  I also want to throw my 10-17 on the F100 with the mini dome and maybe a 1.4 tele and see how some wide angle comes out.  The dome was on the D300 housing, so I was stuck with the flat port or my fisheye dome.  I would have tried the fisheye dome, but even on the MDX-D300 which is amazingly negative, the thing holds so much air it becomes positive and tilts the rig upward.  The NX-100 pro is much lighter and pretty neutral, so I didn't feel like adding 2 lbs. of extra weight to my dive kit to keep it underwater with the big dome.


D300 MDX-D300, 2xYS-110, 1 YS-D1, Tokina 10-17, Nikon 60AF D, Nikon 35mm f2.0, L & M Sola 600

Nikon F100 w/Sea & Sea NX100 Pro