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Overexposure with Nikon SB910

I love flash, without it I simply could not do my job. Back in May I had two SB900's fail on the same wedding, they had been great servants for four years so it was time to upgrade. I am now using the later model SB910 on the incredible Nikon D4 dslr. Often use speedlights on camera at events and some parts of a wedding, using the black foamie thing and bouncing off anything I can find.

Noticed that with the aperture at F4 or wider, no matter what I do the images are generally overexposed, very noticeable on the face of the subjects. These images cannot be pulled back to my satisfaction in post production, even when shooting RAW. Stopping down the aperture to F5.6 corrects the problem. I don't understand this, because with TTL its supposed to correct the flash output. Of course we all know that TTL can be fooled, but I'm experienced with TTL and know it gets you close most of the time. Generally I use Manual flash off camera, and with my Elinchrom Ranger Quadra that's all you get anyway.

Anybody seen this type of overexposure before? Any ideas if its an equipment problem?


  • TrevTrev Moderator

    This may/may not have any bearing, but I presume you are in manual mode on the camera body??? so therefore my question would be if you had by any chance done an exposure+ compensation on the body which will engage/transfer that exposure+ to the flash (on Nikons) and when you open up the aperture there is no 'wriggle room' for the flash to dial it down?

    Only a theory, as I have made that mistake in the past and before each shoot now I check my body's exposure compensation to make sure it's set to zero, and I too was left befuddled until I realised my error.


  • What mode are you shooting (manual, aperture priority, etc.)? Do you have auto ISO turned on? Are you using TTL normal front curtain, or REAR or SLOW modes?
  • Am I right in thinking you get this problem when shooting outdoors, direct on camera flash, camera on manual, flash on TTL?
  • So, all is working well at f5.6 and above? I wonder why your flashes seem to be overexposing only at 4 and below? I know that is exactly your question, right? You're using the same bodies (D4) as you had with the SB900s? I wonder if, for some reason, your 910s are not recognizing the wider apertures? 

    Do you use spot metering on faces or overall-scene metering? I use spot metering on faces and I use SB910s (or 900s too) on D700 and D800. I haven't noticed this issue though I always always have the flash knocked back some (usually negative 1.0) to avoid a flashy look. 
  • On the metering, the spot/center/matrix metering selection on the camera has no direct effect on flash exposure. TTL uses preflashes and lens focus distance data. That said, if you metered such that you overexposed the subject with only ambient light, adding flash to that is only going to make it worse. I'm still curious about what camera exposure mode is being used and whether auto ISO is on.
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    Paul ... can you show us a typical example of this? 
    And is this with bounce flash indoors, or direct flash outdoors? 
    Any other details?
  • Thanks to everyone for the comments and questions. Clues to the questions were mainly in my post. Indoors at a party, business event or wedding. I always use the Black Foamie Thing, bouncing off anything suitable, mainly into the ceiling slightly behind me and to the right or left from my subject.

    Yes the D4 is the same body I have had for over a year now, used it with both the SB900 and SB910. Manual camera exposure, usually at 1/200th F4 with ISO to taste. Standard iTTL used most often, I think this is a common sense setting on the Speedlight when working at a busy event or wedding. I don't have time to be setting and changing manual speedlight exposure.

    I never use Auto ISO, not even for daylight shots. I never use spot metering during a busy event.

    By the way, I had exactly the same problem recently when out on a shoot and testing the Profoto B1's outdoors. So coming to the conclusion it's something to do with the D4. May be I should just let Nikon look at the problem?

  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited October 2015
    Did not know we were looking for clues Paul, but I did gather, although not specifically stated, that it was indoors using bounce, and you also have now mentioned you had same trouble outdoors with the Profoto's, so obviously something is wrong.

    Just for my peace of mind, did you check on the exposure compensation on your body?

    And did you also try dropping exposure via flash compensation itself on flash head, generally speaking it will get the image into the ball park, but you still need to keep an eye on it as you know.

  • Unedited sample with full exif would help provide more clues.
  • Perhaps the hot-shoe is damaged so all the pins are not connecting properly.

    My Canon flash fires full-power when it's not seated correctly in the hot-shoe.

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