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600EX-RT--Need some good, quick settings!

nuncle
Contributor

Greetings everyone!

     I've got a not-very-difficult-to-solve problem..but perhaps a new situation to which it applies Smiley Wink

     I've got two Speedlite 600EX-RT's. I bought the second when the first stopped working. The second one stopped working as well. Sent it in for warranty work and it's fine. So I sent the first one in as well. It's in the shop right now.

     The issue is this: I'm leaving town this coming Tuesday for San Diego to shoot pics at Comic-Con. I'm comfortably certain there's no way that my flash will be reparied and sent back to me here in Alaska by Monday night.

     Now the potential saving grace...the repair office is only 86 miles from San Diego!  So there's a possibility I can drive and pick it up in person Smiley Very Happy

     Now the problem (Sorry for the long-windedness): The whole reason I want this flash reparied is to use as a portable off camera flash setup. And Comic-Con is where I really want to do this. But I've never worked with two flashes like this before.

 

     So...what are the "best" settings to use for this setup? I'm envisioning the on-camera being just the transmitter, no flash. And I'm most comfortable using E-TTL. So, since I will have almost no time to play around with this before Go Time, what settings do I need to use for the on-camera "transmitter" and the off-camera flash?

     The "good" news is that this is just me, not a paying/pro gig, so there's no pressure to perform, apart from my desire to get quality shots for people.

     Thanks a ton in advance for any help you fine folks can provide!

 

P.S.- I do have the manual...what I'm looking for are "For Dummies" explinations and anything that's not in the manual 🙂

17 REPLIES 17

Skirball
Authority

I'm not really sure what you're asking.  Are you just wanting to know how to set up the 600exRT to have a non-firing master on-camera and just use the off-camera eTTL slave?  Or are you actually asking our recommendation for what lighting setup we'd use?

 

I'm sure plenty can weigh in on the first question.  I don't have a 600ex, but on the 580ex you hold the zoom button to access that menu.

 

As to the second:  Off-camera flash is great, and in general, better than on-camera.  But how do you expect to stage the off-camera flash?  Do you have an assistant?  Or is it stationary?  If you have an assistant that will walk around all day holding a softbox, then sure, that sounds great.  Personally I'd still have my on-camera flash firing, probably at a 1:4 or 1:8 ratio, for a fill.  The light in there is going to be terrible, and probably florescent.

 

As to the second:  Off-camera flash is great, and in general, better than on-camera.  But how do you expect to stage the off-camera flash?  Do you have an assistant?  Or is it stationary? 

 

If you have an assistant that will walk around all day holding a softbox, then sure, that sounds great.  Personally I'd still have my on-camera flash firing, probably at a small 1:8 ratio, with a big white bounce card, for a fill.  The light in there is going to be terrible, and probably florescent. I’d want to rely on my light as much as possible. I’d have my assistant at about 45 degrees off axis with me for key lighting. Then use the ambient at a good 2 – 3 stops below key so you have some ambiance.

 

If I didn’t have an assistant to follow me around, and I was going to ComiCon, then I’d go big and make my own solo off-camera lighting suit (a la Eric Schwabel at Burning Man) only with a Comic based theme. I don’t know some sort of spider superhero?

 

g

 

Barring all that, I’d just use a single on-camera flash. It might not be portrait quality, but a single on-camera flash with a big bounce, used as a key and ambient for fill, can be decent. I put my camera on manual, and set the exposure for about 2 stops under normal, then have the flash bring my subject back up to normal. Since you’re not fully relying on your flash for the exposure you don’t get that deer in the headlights look. Done properly it can give quite good results. I’d swing by a camera store and pick up one of those free books of Roscoe gel samples. You’ll probably need the “window green” gel for the fluorescents.

Thanks for the reply!

I shall try to clarify my admittidly muddy post Smiley Happy

 

The answer to your first question is..both 🙂

I'm actually anticipating the bulk of the off camera flash work to be done outside. The main convention area is far too crowded to try to set up a area to take pics, and I'm sure I'd get asked to take it down. However, outside there are walkways and ledges where one can set up a temp place to snap a few portraits.

     While wandering around inside, I use either no flash with the white balance adjusted, or I bounce my on camera flash, for the most part.

My setup is just me. I've got a small umbrella and light stand for the flash. So the setup will be a single flash setup, unless I also use the on camera for some fill.

I went to CC last year and I did see someone with a similar setup to the Eric Schwabel photo in your post 🙂 But for little o'l me, all I have is my camera and the off camera source 🙂

 

But yes, I'm looking for the simple setup to use the on camera as the transmitter and to power the off camera flash.

But you've brought up a good point...I might want to use the on camera as a fill flash, too.

So, if you were outside, with either bright sun or partly cloudy (That was the weather there every day last year), with the two flash setup, what would you use for settings? 🙂  🙂


@nuncle wrote:

 

     While wandering around inside, I use either no flash with the white balance adjusted, or I bounce my on camera flash, for the most part.


Just remember, white balance won't fix the difference between fluorescent and your flash (which is essentially the color of daylight).  If you set the white balance for the flash then anything exposed by ambient will be a sickly green color.  If you set for ambient then your subject will be magenta.  I'd pick up a Roscoe sample book.

 

Also, don't rely on being able to bounce.  Bouncing is great, when the room allows it.  But if you don't have low white ceilings or a big white wall you might run into problems.  Isn't in the SD convention center?  The big glass one?

 

 


@nuncle wrote:

So, if you were outside, with either bright sun or partly cloudy (That was the weather there every day last year), with the two flash setup, what would you use for settings? 🙂  🙂


So, am I correct that you're going to be asking people to pose for you?  As opposed to taking quick candids of whoever walks by?

 

In bright sun I'd probably just keep the flash on-camera in and hope for the best .  If the sun is hitting your subject straight on then you'll need a bare flash shooting straight at them just to try to fill for the sun.  In this situation you're actually better off with a reflector and/or scrim (translucent shade held between sun and subject).  But both of those require assistants.  Direct sun is harsh, not great for shooting.

 

If the sun isn't directly overhead and you can get your subjects back to the sun, then you can get some real nice shots with just a single fill.   An off-camera flash in a softbox is great, but it has limitations:  it might not be strong enough, you have to get your subject to pose up close to the modifier, you lose the freedom of movement with on-camera flash, and umbrellas in outdoor situations tend to blow over, a lot.   It's worth a shot if you want to give it a go, but I'd bring sand bags, and be prepared to scrap the whole setup and go on-camera if it doesn't work out.  Put a big white bounce card on your flash and let er rip.   If the flash isn't strong enough to match the background with the bounce, then just shoot direct. 

 

Now, if I could find a some decent shaded area, or it's overcast enough, then optimally I'd set up my key in the umbrella (sand bags!) just off to one side and keep my on-camera flash dialed way down (2-3 stops).  Actually, using the bounce card on the on-camera will help diffuse the light and you don't need it too strong anyway.   If you had a way to get both flashes off camera I'd go with a standard high-key lighting setup.  Lights on each side at 45 degrees, drop one of them 1 stop below the other.

 

One note about eTTL.  The pre-flash can make people blink.  It's also inconsistent, moreso when working as fill.  If you're going to set up lighting and have people pose, then I'd just shoot in manual.  If you're shooting on-camera and trying to be quick, then eTTL is the way to go.

Yes, you're correct...if I'm using the off camera setup, that will be with people that are actually posing. The rest of the time it will be a quick "Hey, can I take your photo?" kind of thing.

 

Thanks so much for your input, it is greatly apprecieated! Smiley Very Happy

 

 

 

Now to find a place to shop for sandbags in San Diego...after I get my non-over-the-weight-limit luggage off the plane... Smiley Wink

If outside in full sun you probably want to use on-camera flash to reduce shadows -- but not at full power.  I typically set mine to -1 flash exposure compensation.  

 

If outside in shade then I'd probably set a flash ratio -- about 2/3rds power to the off-camera flash and 1/3rd to the on-camera flash.  If you use only off-camera flash then it can create stronger shadows than you may want.  But with a bit of on-camera flash (dialed weaker than the off-camera flash via the ratios) you can use that as fill to weaken the shadows.

 

A means to soften the shape of the light would be nice... e.g. softbox, shoot-through umbrella, etc.

 

Reflectors also work really well... but it helps to have someone to hold the reflector and control it.

 

Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da

Thanks Tim!

I will indeed be using a umbrella for the off-c flash.

My original idea was to use the OC-flash as the only light source...but if both of you say to still use the on camera flash as well, then I'll definitely take a look at that!

The main concern I have is that I'll have very little time to experiment with the setup before it's time to use it at the con. And of course I don't want to be fumbling around and looking like an idiot when I've got someone there waiting for their shoot, you know? 😉

Thanks again for the help, everyone! 😄


@nuncle wrote:

 

Now to find a place to shop for sandbags in San Diego...after I get my non-over-the-weight-limit luggage off the plane... Smiley Wink


I have these, and they work great.  Good quality double zipper, strong material.  There are cheaper out there, but based on the reviews they don't work that well. 

 

http://www.amazon.com/StudioFX-SANDBAG-SADDLEBAG-DESIGN-WEIGHT/dp/B00CXUT5ZG/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=...

 

If you have Prime then they'll be there in two days, one if you expedite.  Then just take a couple of quart ziplock bags to the beach, fill with sand, and you'll get bout 10 lbs per bag.

The single light stand I have is pretty small and lightweight, so I'm sure these would work perfectly...thanks again! 😄

 

 

 

Here's what the Amazon page says:

3 new from $14.99 1 used from $19.66

 

Wonder if I should get the used ones, since they're obviously the better option...hahaha! 😉

I'm assuming that you don't have Amazon Prime?  The prime bags are $19.95, but no shipping cost.  The $14.99 one (from the same vendor, heh) has a $5.50 shipping charge, and it won't ship for two days.  Probably won't get there in time.  Might want to just find a camera store and pick them up.  Although they might charge you more than the expedite fee.

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