Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Fuji X10 – Review Part 30 – External flash versus internal flash versus ambient light …

This is the final part to this series, unless I find something to write about later on in the archives.

I pulled out the Nikon SB800 TTL flash for this exercise. I taped up all but the center pin since I wanted the flash triggered but I did not want the Nikon TTL pins to interfere with the Fuji TTL receptors.

The two external flash images lead off. The first is 1/16 power. The second is 1/8 power minus 1/3 stops. I.e. 2/3 stops brighter than the first image (I think :-) …

I bounced the flash at a slight forward angle with a Stofen Omnibounce clone as the diffuser. This throws light in all directions and effectively lights the whole room. I let the Fuji choose the shutter speed and it went for 1/60s for the external flash images.

These are simply fabulous. Perfectly clean tones and no noise at all. The room is lit with perfect balance and the color temperature is even and accurate. I did process these a bit to equalize the final exposure, and clearly there is a lot of latitude when using flash. I’m really pleased and I cannot stress enough how much most peoples’ party and family images would improve with a little bounce flash in the picture.

And this was without any attempt at TTL. I took a test shot, adjusted the flash and then nailed to perfect images.

I put the SB800 back where it belonged and shot a series of images with fill flash. I grabbed a CTO orange gel to try to balance the lighting and set the flash at –1/3EV. And the result is ok, but nowhere near as nice. To get decent shutter speeds (needed the room’s ambient light as I could only fill from the front) I needed 3200 ISO.

It’s not a terrible shot, but there are blown out areas all over and the color balance is wonky. Balancing the light is very difficult with CF and Halogen and flash. And the X10 seems to love overexposing if you let the meter have its way.

And finally … pure ambient light. The same shutter speed as the fill flash image, but even more overexposed. Interestingly enough, I like this image just as much as the fill flash image. Everything looks brighter, but I like that despite the blown background elements. It is almost a high key presentation, and that’s a good choice sometimes.

So there you have it … external flash is very useful for interior images at low ISO. If the flash is powerful enough to fill the room of course. And make sure that you bounce that flash …