10-31-2019 11:00 AM
If you really want a shutter speed faster than the flash sync speed, you need to use High Speed Sync, but it will cut down on the flash power so you might not get the range you need which is probably iffy now anyway.
11-03-2019 08:44 PM
What is the difference in the 1-128 power setting in the Canon 550 EX and the Flash Compesation setting.
11-04-2019 09:13 AM
You really need to get Syl Arena's Speediliters handbook, but it is currently out of print and outrageously expensive.
To answer your question, the 128 levels are for manual shooting, and the flash compensation is for E-TTL to balance flash and ambient light.
11-17-2019 10:58 PM
I have a 7D that I cannot get to go higher than 30th of a second in manuel mode, what am I doing wrong?
It may depend on what you mean by manual mode. Setting the flash to manual mode will not affect the shutter speed the camera uses. If the camera is set to one of the automatic or semi-automatic modes, it will expose for the ambient light and rely on the flash to illuminate the highlights.
11-17-2019 11:21 PM
I just received this camera for another 7D that I purchased, and it was set up for live View, but what I wanted to do was check the camera over, and make sure it was operating correctly. I wanted to check all the modes, ie Tv, AV. in this case the white balance was set to AVG and mode setector set on M, for some reason I cannot get the shutter speed past 30th of second.. I have a manuel, and will recheck it as well. Thank you for your prompt reply
11-18-2019 12:44 PM - edited 11-18-2019 01:57 PM
... in the 7D itself, there is a menu setting for for flash settings, I set this to external flash, and white balance to flash, is this the correct procedure. I am usually taking night shots at race tracks, Sometimes I can use 250th, but usually get blurred images and so I need more shutter speed. 500th would be about right, then I need more light. The lens that I have and is what I have right now is a 85 mm 1.8 and when the planets line up, it works out ok. Your article helps me understand that I have to be in M, or the camera will revert to the sync setting 250th.
Flash recycle time is a problem as I am taking photos of flat track motorcycles and go Karts...
I am using a Canon 550ex, with a vello off camera frame, and have tried using on flash soft boxes with negative results, besides being unwieldy they cover the focus assist beams from the flash
The 85mm lens is sharp, but I do understand it will blurr the background which is a good thing. I usually shoot in A1-Servo, but need to make sure the auto focus is working correctly, The number of night photos out of focus///
...I worry that the bright flash may cause a accident, thus was another reason I was trying the softboxes.
First, you are replying here to a five year old thread. You would probably be better served by starting a brand new topic of your own. People may not see this old thread. (I responded to it five years ago and, because of that, am following it and got a notification by email that there was a new response). I'll try to give you some ideas, because I'm familiar with all the gear you're using. But some other folks might have add'l ideas.
The situation you are trying to shoot is pretty difficult. A single flash on the camera... even a relatively powerful one like the 550EX... may not be enough. Fast moving subjects are not only difficult to illuminate with flash at night, it's also difficult to get autofocus to work in low light conditions!
Let's deal with focusing first. Look for locations around the track where there's some ambient light to work by... the camera's AF system requires some light to be able to focus. The flash has a "focus assist" feature, but it's only good for maybe 15 or 20 feet... which I suspect is far closer than you're able to work shooting motorcycles and carts. Just turn it off.
Even if you find a brighter spot on the track where AF can work, it still may work slower because of the limited ambient light conditions. Yes... normally you should use AI Servo mode to focus on moving subjects. This mode starts when you half-press the shutter release (unless you've set upBack Button Focusing) and AI Servo continuously updates as you track the subject. But it may not work at all or work slowly due to the low light. You may find it necessary to pre-focus the lens with One Shot or focus manually, if there's not enough light for AF to work or if it's too slow tracking movement with AI Servo. Pre-focus technique means picking a spot where you will be taking the photo, focusing upon it and then turning off AF entirely or "locking it" with One Shot mode, by focusing then maintaining half-press on the shutter release or continuing to press the back button of the camera. Then you wait for the subject to come to the point where you focused and trip the shutter when they arrive.
Try finding a bright spot, use AF set to AI Servo, and select only the center AF point. You'll need to keep that point right on the subject, to track them, but on 7D (and most Canon), the center AF point is higher performance when you are using lenses with f/2.8 or faster lenses (as you are with your 85mm). .
If that doesn't work, either turn the AF off (on the lens) and pre-focus manually on a point where you will be taking the shot.... Or, with AF on and set to One Shot, use it to pre-focus on that spot and then await ths subject to arrive. Or... what I'd do.... set up Back Button Focusing (BBF), leave the camera in AI Servo focus mode and use that to prefocus the lens. BBF is easy to set up in 7D... go into the menu to the button assignment screen, select the shutter release button and set it to "Meter" rather than "Focus and Meter". This way only the AF On button on the back of the camera will start and stop autofocus and you can leave the camera set to AI Servo all the time, You'll need to practice and learn to use BBF, but it's very popular with sports photographers in particular. In fact, all these techniques will require practice (and you will miss focus at times).
Now let's look at flash.
Forget using a softbox on it. That will only reduce the flash's reach a great deal. You need to experiment and get some feedback if using flash is a problem for the riders and drivers. If it is, you'll have to shoot by available light only. But flash may only be a problem when they are coming directly toward you, and not if they are going past you and not looking in your direction. It also may not be a problm if you are shooting from a higher position, above their sight line. You are right and it is a good thing to be concerned about, though. All I can tell you is get some feedback about using flash around the track, from the participants or the organizers. You want to do it safely.
Reflections are inevitable with or without a softbox and I imagine will ruin some of your shots. The only way to reduce them is to use a polarizing filter (possible on both the lens and the flash). HOWEVER, that filter will greatly reduce light and you're already struggling to get enough to take a shot! So I don't think polarization is an option for you. Just look for different angles where reflections are minimized and not a problem. I don't think you'll be able to prevent them!
You mention using a flash bracket...That's good and, yes, that's one of several shoe cords that should work fine. Moving the flash off to the side and higher up may help with the reflections. It reduces redeye (which is form of reflection) and makes for nicer shadow effects... However, the farther away the subject is, the less that moving the flash off-camera onto a bracket will help. Still, it's better than with the flash mounted directly in the hot show. I am not familiar with that particular bracket, but one I use sometimes for more distant subjects is an extra tall one (Manfrotto, adjustable)... but it's rather heavy and unwieldy. This moves the flash even farther away, though still connected by a shoe cord.
You'll need to use full power flash, I'm sure. Fill flash likely won't be sufficient. Because of this, the flash will need time to recycle after each shot. There is little you can do about that. You will not be able to take continuous bursts of shots, while using flash in this manner.
You can speed up recycling by using an external power source to supplement the batteries in the flash... I use Canon's compact battery packs, which hold an additional eight batteries, so the flash has a total of 12 batteries to draw upon. I also use rechargeable AA, which generally seem to make for faster recycling. However, doing this you will have to be careful not to overheat the flash with rapid repitition (the flash will shut itself down to prevent damage... but won't be usable until it cools down and resets). there are even more powerful power suppies, such as Quantum. But, you have to be even more cautious about overheating with those... And, even with supplemental power, there will be some delay as the flash recycles.
Set the flash to "ETTL" (not to M). Set the camera's exposure mode dial to M ("manual"). On the camera also set a relatively high ISO and a fairly large lens aperture.
In the camera, leave it set to ETTL flash, do not set any restriction on the shutter speeds it can use with flash (leave that at "suto"), and don't dial in any Flash Exposure Compensation to start with.
1/250 is your camera's flash sync speed. That's the fastest shutter speed normally usable with flash. You can use slower shutter speeds, but not faster. Shutter speeds shorter (faster) than 1/250, which will cause images to not be fully illuminated unless you set the flash to a special mode (more on this in a moment).
You mention a concern about using a "fast enough" shutter speed to freeze the movement of your subjects. Actually, the camera's shutter speed doesn't matter very much, when you are using flash as the predominant light source. This is because the short duration of powerful light from the flash itself "acts like" a fast shutter speed.... It's equivalent to approx. 1/720 with most flashes at full power (there are special ones where it's even faster). As a result, you would be able to freeze subject movement even with camera shutter speeds slower than 1/250.
However, slower speeds allow more ambient light into the mix (see below). And if you really feel the need to use a camera shutter speed faster than that, it's possible to do so using High Speed Sync (HSS). There's a button on the back of the flash where you can turn this on. It allows shutter speed all the way up to 1/8000 to work with flash. However, there's a catch. The faster the shutter speed above 1/250, the less distance the flash will be able to reach. To perform HSS, the flash duration is shortened and the flash's output is lessened. I suspect that will be a problem for the you, but you might try it.
The 550EX will auto zoom to match your lens. For distant subjects with an 85mm lens, you might be able to override that zoom manually, but the longest you can set it to is 105mm (ignore the crop factor of the camera for now). For distant subjects I use a flash extender. This is normally used with lenses 300mm and longer (200mm on an APS-C camera). It's essentially a bracket that mounts to the flash to position a Fresnel lens in front of the flash, which concentrates the light onto the more distant subject. This concentrated light will cover the entire image when using a 200mm lens on your camera (300mm on full frame). But with an 85mm lens, you'll see a bright spot of illumination in the distance, surrounded by darker areas, including objects closer to you. Still, you might want to give it a try. We can't post links here, but if you visit B&H, Adorama, etc. and search for "flash extender", you'll find several brands. I use the "Better Beamer FX2" on my 550EX and 580EX flashes. Normally that extender leaves open the top and bottom, so there's some light "spill" from the flash. At times I've cut whjite or silver or gold poster board and taped it onto the extender brackets, to reduce the light spill and give even more concentrated light effect.
If you don't use an extender, you expressed a concern about over exposure of closer objects with the flash. Something that might work is to cut a small piece of poster board or a translucent material to tape to the underside of the flash, so that it partically blocks the light downward in front of you.
Either set camera White Balance to "Flash" or just leave it on Auto and the camera will set it for you when it detects the flash is attached.
Experiment using the camera's metering system on Evaluative, Partial or Spot, to see which works best. With the flash in ETTL, you get auto exposure (even though the camera is set to M). ETTL actually fires the flash twice, so fast it seems like a single "pop". The first is a reduced power (1/64) "test" that the camera meters to decide how strongly to fire the 2nd, main flash exposure.
Notice the scale on the back of the 550EX, at the bottom of the display. This shows you the range of distance that the flash is able work, based upon the current camera settings (primarily ISO and aperture). It does not take into account a flash extender, if yo're using one. The extender will give the effect of 2 to 3 more stops light. I've used them up to 100 or 150 feet with telephoto lenses (mostly for fill flash, though... which is another subject entirely).
You can experiment with "mixing" flash and ambient light by using higher ISOs, slower shutter speeds and/or larger lens apertures. With moving subjects mixed light can be tricky, though. You can get odd looking effects unless you take special care. Here is an example where I used "Rear Curtain Sync" for a mixed light shot of a moving subject:
That was shot panning to follow the subject with a 1/30 shutter speed (ISO 400, f.7.1, 24-70mm lens). Notice the "shadows" caused by the flash in the image. Those occur when using a slow shutter speed and a mix of flash & ambient light. If I hadn't used Rear Curtain Sync, they would appear in front of the subjects and make them appear to be moving backward! RCS causes the flash to fire late in the exposure, so that the shadows (or "ghosts") appear behind the subject and look more normal. Obviously, you are dealing with faster moving subjects than this. The faster the subject is moving and the more ambient light in the exposure and the slower the shutter, the more you'll see those ghosts and need Rear Curtain Sync. The same button on the 550EX that sets HSS (for faster than 1/250 shutter speeds) is also used to set Rear Curtain Sync (for slow shutter speeds). Pressing the button toggles through HSS, RCS and "both off" settings. (It's impossible to set both HSS and RCS to work at the same time, but that's okay because they are used for opposite purposes.)
I'm afraid I don't have any idea why the camera might be limited to 1./30 when using flash. Might be something you've set. Maybe you should do a "reset" of the custom functions and menu back to the factory defaults. That will wipe out other settings you made, though. Hopefully it's not a problem with the camera and the rest of this response helps with other things! Good luck with your efforts!