Jump to content
John Bantin

How important is TTL flash?

Recommended Posts

DSLR owners.

 

I'm writing a piece about underwater DSLR use for public consumption.

 

When I shot film I used TTL flash all the time and originally chose a DSLR camera that used Nikon TTL protocols. That was then and this is now. I haven't used TTL flash with a DSLR in years. I don't find it that difficult to get the result I want. However I am aware that many DSLRs can work with eTTL flash and probably all the other TTLs from a to z!

 

I know that those that shoot compacts and jpegs probably like automatic flash exposure. What I would like to do is a straw poll on those of you using DSLRs to know if you use TTL flash or just go for it like I do.

 

Is it important to have the facility for TTL flash with a DSLR?

 

I suppose a supplementary question would be: Do you shoot RAW files or in-camera conversions such as jpegs?

 

Thanks in advance for the info.

Edited by John Bantin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I got my first dSLR in December 2005 and up until very recently only used manual control and had no difficulty getting the results I wanted. Prior to that I had a lot of years using manual strobe exposure and film with both a Nikonos III and Canon SLR's followed by a few years of shooting TTL with film camera before going digital. My first few years of shooting digital was with a Nikon CP5000 and manual strobe control.

 

Recently I did a fibre optic conversion to my Subal 40D housing and gained the ability to use Inon's sTTL system with my Z240's. Since then I've been experimenting with using to TTL to see how well it works. So far I've been happy with the results shooting macro but go back to shooting manual for wide angle work and certain subjects (eg very shiny silver fish) which don't fare well when photographed using TTL. I look at it as a useful tool and switch between TTL and manual depending on lens, subject and what mode I feel like using. I find that shooting TTL doesn't decrease my work load with regard to getting the exposure right as I still make adjustments when shooting TTL, they are just different to what I would do shooting manual. When shooting manual I'm adjusting aperture and strobe power to get the flash exposure I want. When shooting sTTL I'm fine tuning the strobe exposure by using the controls on the strobe and by changing the camera's metering patterns to suit the subject I'm shooting. So basically I don't see TTL as a must have but another tool that is nice to have.

 

I only shoot RAW files.

Edited by Gudge

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi John,

 

I used Nikonons V's years ago, then a long break till I started using an Olympus P&S with TTL a few years ago.When I decided to move "up" to a DSLR, I was very apprehensive about switching to manual.

 

As I ended up with a D2Xs, I found that I had little choice but that shooting in manual is actually pretty straightforward and intuitive anyway.

 

Do I miss TTL-not really. If I could find a simple easy fix to get TTL would I do it-sure. It is a useful tool, but I don't think I would revert to using it that much.

 

I shoot everything in RAW.

 

Important no, nice to have -yes

 

All the best

 

Adam

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

FWIW Not important to me.

 

TTL doesn't seem to work very well on WA.

 

Works OK on macro but if you have to get your head around using flash for WA why change.

 

An often neglected point - it takes four or five wires and associated contacts / spring pins for TTL to work - only two for a manual system and one of them is ground!.

If you have a dodgey / intermittent TTL wire all sorts of strange things seem to start happening with the camera, with manual and two wires you just don't get a flash - straightforward.

 

The Ikelite system does not allow for different settings on each flash in TTL so that was restrictive if you wanted unbalanced, (ok you can play with subject - flash distance - but...).

 

Shoot RAW 100% of the time.

 

Paul C

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
An often neglected point - it takes four or five wires and associated contacts / spring pins for TTL to work - only two for a manual system and one of them is ground!.

If you have a dodgey / intermittent TTL wire all sorts of strange things seem to start happening with the camera, with manual and two wires you just don't get a flash - straightforward.

 

The Ikelite system does not allow for different settings on each flash in TTL so that was restrictive if you wanted unbalanced, (ok you can play with subject - flash distance - but...).

None of this is a problem when you are using fibre optic sync cords with Inon Z240's in sTTL mode. No wires or contacts and you can shoot TTL with one strobe and manual with the other just by changing the settings on each strobe.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use twin Ikelite 125s on my Nikon D80, and shoot RAW + small JPEG for each shot.

 

I use TTL 99% of the time. The only exception is for wide angle with small shiny object , like a jack in the blue. I am very happy with the results and it allows me to shoot many photos per dive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
None of this is a problem when you are using fibre optic sync cords with Inon Z240's in sTTL mode. No wires or contacts and you can shoot TTL with one strobe and manual with the other just by changing the settings on each strobe.

 

Hi Gudge,

 

How / where does the chord connect ?

 

Sounds like a fine idea - I am no fan of electric and water combo's in any shape or form.

 

Paul C

 

Added - :)

 

Sorry for the Hijack there John!

Edited by PRC

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I shoot TTL quite a lot of the time now on WA as well as macro. It's a useful tool and the Ikelite housing makes it easy to dial in exposure compensation. Usually set the camera to spot metering as it prevents the stupid thing blowing out the subject trying to light the background and always use manual exposure with TTL flash on macro. I do play with other settings including program on WA.

 

My previous DSLR setup didn't have a TTL option and I didn't really miss it much. I found shooting RAW allowed me the flexibility to adjust the shots slightly where my exposure was a bit off.

 

Still shoot 100% RAW underwater and think I'd miss this more than TTL.

 

So TTL as useful tool but not essential.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i shoot RAW and JPEG. use 2 x YS90's on manual.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I look at TTL as a tool, a very valuable tool. I shoot TTL all the time topside and I love the flexibility I get with Nikon CLS so it kind of bugs me that I can't get that kind of functionality U/W.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I shot TTL for many years with film cameras and Ikelite housings. When I switched over to digital I went, pretty much by default, to manual control and adapted to it quickly. One thing it did make me do was think more about what I was doing. I learned a lot of things about the effects of switching shutter speed and aperture. I learned a lot about foreground exposure vs. background exposure (you might address this in speaking to why TTL is problematic for wide angle). All stuff I should have learned before but since I had TTL, I just pointed the camera and shot. Shooting manual is not difficult and does allow for more creative lighting control. I use it 99% of the time for wide angle, though I do know people that use TTL and swear that dialing in -EV compensation for wide angle solves any issues. Having said that, when I got my Seatool housing for the 40D and INON strobes, TTL was available again to me via the fiber connection and I found that I liked that better for macro most of the time. It is very convenient if you think you might only get one shot at a critter and want something close to the right exposure immediately. Good new for me is that since I can switch between manual and TTL on the dive via a switch on the strobe, I have my choice!

 

Mike

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Like a lot of others I shot mainly TTL with film.

 

When I switched to digital with the D2X I had no choice but to go to manual and didnt find it a problem.

 

Since my cameras and housing were stolen / went missing between Mozambique and South Africa I'm now in the market for a new system and I'm seriously considering the Sea Tool / Inon / fibre optic route so I can have the choice.

 

I shoot raws all the time.

 

Colin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi John,

 

I never use it, but I think it is important. There are so many solutions on the market now (both converters and optical systems) that no manufacturer has the excuse not to offer it or at least offer compatibility with one or more of the third party systems. And all the systems I have tried very well.

 

It is a real help for beginners and as you learn more it remains very useful tool. As is often said, you can easily switch it off.

 

I don't have it on my current (old) housing, but when I upgrade I will make sure I have the ability to use it.

 

Alex

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi John,

 

Like you, I started underwater photography with the S2pro. I liked the TTL flash exposure because I had only one lens (60mm) so shot macro all the time. The TTL exposure control let me focus on my composition and focus, and not worry as much about the exposure. Let's face it, who wants to worry about the macro exposure, right?

 

Another way to look at it is this: if your topside flashgun has TTL do you use it? I sure do! When I want to do fill flash (even in wideangle) I just dial it back by -1.5 stops.

 

I always shot RAW underwater.

 

Cheers

James

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Is it important to have the facility for TTL flash with a DSLR?

 

Yes.

 

Important yet not imperative.

 

1) I don't, nor did I ever, shoot wide angle using TTL

 

2) TTL allows me to get a workable/usable exposure on the first shot more often than manual strobe controls.

 

3) Sometimes you only get one shot.

 

4) Adjusting strobe power can be clumsy and time consuming, so I found myself adjusting aperture to adjust exposure exposure. I found this sub-optimal to control exposure. With every adjustment of aperture I was either reducing DOF or increasing diffraction from my preferred choice.

 

I shoot raw.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I grew up shooting manual with a Nikonos II, then IV, I switched to TTL with the V when it became available and the image improvement was immediate. After switching to DSLR last year I've used the manual strobes with a high degree of reasonable exposures, mostly due to the much better variability in todays modern strobes, so TTL isn't mandatory.

The new S&S YS250 strobe"s TTL converter is finally out for the Canon and I've tried it out on land and in the pool with amazingly good results. I'm looking forward to the real test in the ocean. It retains the ability to control the strobes manually so I'm liking the possibilities of having the best of both worlds.

 

Only shoot Raw, I love the increased ability to control the image.

Steve

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

RAW, always.

 

Inon Z-240 x2, mostly sTTL, but with variable power to limit max. output, both in W/A and macro; fibre-optic connections.

 

Formerly, Inon Z-220 x2, manual always; electrical connections.

 

 

Tim

 

:P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

John,

 

I use Canon's eTTL2 control in Ikelite housings with Ikelite DS125 strobes for Fine / Large JPEG and RAW files (depending on situation) 99% for WA and macro shooting.

 

Only time I went manual was recently with White sharks and wanted to eliminate pre-flashes when sharks made quick passes. Being right at the surface metering was easy and this allowed me to rattle off 5, 6 or more frames without worrying about missing a shot due to the minute calculations TTL takes.

 

As Alex said, it's nice to have the option of Manual OR TTL and I like adjusting it from my housing letting the technology work for you. If you use a surface flash unit dialing in -EV flash compensation as Larry mentioned you already know how to do this rapidly.

 

Meaning I don't believe in setting everything up and blindly not picking a shutter speed and f-stop for desired effect. Since Canon eTTL2 and Nikon iTTL work in "M" modes on dSLR cameras this is still creative photography IMHO :P

 

Just 2 cents worth and hope to see you at DEMA!

 

dhaas

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have Ikelite eTTL for Canon.

 

When I swapped from my digital P&S (should be P.O.S. as I hated it) with Fibre optic trigger I thought it was a key point (and the reason for picking Ikelite at the time).

 

After using it I love when learnign it was essentail now it is just a key tool (especially with the Ikelite housing controls for +/- and manual).

 

p.s. (RAW + JPEG)

 

 

Cheers,

Richard B.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the days of film I was a dedicated fan of TTL. Thanks for all the input. What I deduce from this is that you feel it's a nice option to have. However, those of you that dial in compensation - presumably you take a shot first to know what compensation you need. What's the difference between that and dialing in compensation on a flashgun by altering the power output when it's in manual mode?

 

 

(My Subtronics vary from Full to 1/32 power but I always use my Inons at 11 because it's more than 10!!!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
However, those of you that dial in compensation - presumably you take a shot first to know what compensation you need. What's the difference between that and dialing in compensation on a flashgun by altering the power output when it's in manual mode?
The starting point can be a lot closer to the correct exposure than when shooting manual. This is good for stuff that won't hang around long enough for you to get a second shot in. Edited by Gudge

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

...and now for my thoughts on the topic.

 

I have a TTL converter and I am very happy with it.

I use it all the time when in Macro or close range WA mode. I do a bit of fine tweaking, by adjusting the max dump allowed ( possible on the INONs). In feel that the TTL gives me a much better starting point, than the Manual.

For WA then I switch over to Manual.

 

Would I survive without TTL: Yes

Would I miss TTL: Definately

 

RAW: 100%

 

 

/Erik

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What's the difference between that and dialing in compensation on a flashgun by altering the power output when it's in manual mode?

 

Dialing in compensation on the Ikelite housing still uses TTL but tells the camera to use more or less flash, useful for dark or reflective subjects. The difference is that you are still using the camera's meter. Shouldn't be any difference in the end result just saves you working out a power setting to start with.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
DSLR owners.

 

I'm writing a piece about underwater DSLR use for public consumption.

 

I know that those that shoot compacts and jpegs probably like automatic flash exposure. What I would like to do is a straw poll on those of you using DSLRs to know if you use TTL flash or just go for it like I do.

 

Is it important to have the facility for TTL flash with a DSLR?

 

I suppose a supplementary question would be: Do you shoot RAW files or in-camera conversions such as jpegs?

 

I shoot WA always in manual (2 x subtronic novas) and iTTL in macro (2 x Sea&Sea 250pro with converter or 1 x homemade housing SB800 or 1 x subtronic nova iTTL).

 

I started with a P&S digital camera so I have never shot film therefore I have never used "original" TTL. I find iTTL very helpful and reliable in my case (in all three cases).

I mainly use the Sea&Seas for macro because the recycle veeeery fast (macro pics rarely need a lot of output anyway) and the convenience of turning off one of the strobes AND still having iTTL with the other, or shoot with two if I want etc... Subtronic iTTL is my second choice but sometimes using only one strobe makes me lose photo opportunities (very close to the port subjects etc...). All said, sometimes I shoot manual just to "know" my gear in case I have to override during a competition (bad cable connection...)

 

However, those of you that dial in compensation - presumably you take a shot first to know what compensation you need. What's the difference between that and dialing in compensation on a flashgun by altering the power output when it's in manual mode?

 

From practicing I pretty much always know what compensation I need depending on how much the subject fills the frame and its colour (I also know what is the manual power for typical shots like 105mm at 1:1 and F22...). The difference (and advantage) comes to mind when that rare fish/critter gives you only one fast chance and iTTL lets you nail it. This reminds me an off topic matter called by friend Enrique Faber the "cruising parameters" :P which is to have the camera in a "usable" mode like 1/90, f8 and strobes at 1/4 should something appear and leave very fast giving you no time to change anything...

 

About your question "Is it important to have the facility for TTL flash with a DSLR?" I have to say that it may not be that important but I find wrong that with all the technical advances in the sport only a handful of brands offer it and it is always a weird working EXTRA when it should be like 1,2,3.

 

 

I shoot RAW + JPEG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sponsors

Advertisements



×
×
  • Create New...