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flash+ambient images soft

I'm shooting indoors, low light and have my Lumix GX80/85 set on P. I do this because I don't have time with busy moving kids to calculate M exposure as they move about different parts of the room/s. I bounce the flash off the ceiling and use -1/3 flash compensation to keep the light as natural (window) as I can. That is, ambient with fill flash. Problem is that even though I mostly (not always:( hit focus, the images are annoyingly soft 'ish. Is this from too slow a shutter? I get about 1/60 or 1/125 at 4oo or 800 iso which I cant raise 'cos of noise issues with the small sensor. Or is it from incorrect selection of 1st or 2nd curtain? or what can I do to improve the sharpness in this scenario?
Not sure what size files I can post so prepped jpegs to 1080px high with metadata intact (in a zipped folder)


  • Frank,

    Moving kids and Program mode do not get a long. Like Forest Gump said "Its like a box of chocolates, you never know what your gonna get". In all seriousness, the problem lies in the flash is not your dominant light source and the shutter speeds chosen by P is not fast enough to freeze action or camera shake. A better solution is to let your flash be the main source of light. Its easy. Even in M mode. Choose F5.6 and say 125th of a second to start. Keep flash on 0 comp. and adjust the flash up and down till you get the exposure you need. That should solve your problem. That should still let some ambient to register and produce sharp images. As long as the flash is giving majority of the exposure, the images should be sharp. Hope that helps. 

  • FrankGFrankG Member
    edited March 2017
    Thanks Jay.

    I get 1/125th even in P.  Would 1/125th in M be any different?

    It's just that I wanted a more ambient light look. Rather than a predominantly flash lit look.I just wanted the flash for some fill & to try and stop some action. The P mode gives me around 1/125 and wide open aperture.
    But likely as you say, not possible?

    And, do you think the flash should be at the beginning or end of the exposure for these kind of shots (1st or 2nd curtain sync)
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    Whether 1/125 is too slow or not, depends on the ambient light. Do you have examples with no flash?

    Also, if I look at the examples photos you sent ... I suspect they may have been under-exposed and you pulled up the exposure in post?
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    You have to keep in mind that you don't need to accurately meter for the ambient light - the TTL flash will pick up the slack. 

    You might be better off under-exposing the ambient even more, so that there is no risk of subject smear because of the ambient. The flash will expose correctly for you.  In other words, consider shooting manual on your camera. 

  • CanonJayCanonJay Member
    edited March 2017
    You are correct. 125th is 125th in any mode. Let me try to rephrase to tell you what the problem is regardless of the mode your camera is in.  The problem lies in that the flash is not really contributing to the exposure. Not enough to freeze any subject movement. So basically whatever mode you use make sure the flash is the dominant source and you will get sharp images. This can still be attained and keep ambient light in the photo without looking too flashy. Program is tough, because you don't know what the camera will want to do depending on what meter mode etc... 

    So manual is really the answer here. You can even play with the shutter speed to bring in the ambient light. You have two exposures going on. One is the camera (ambient light exposure) and one is the flash exposure. But make sure the flash plays a big time role and you will be golden. Hope that helps!

  • Thanks for your help folks. Your answers and the provided links have given me a better handle on how to proceed. Appreciated.
  • BTW @Neil - that linked B/W pic of yours of the 2 kids (wedding) is exactly what I want to be able to do with my grandkids playing around the house. When you say bounced it behind you, do you literally mean not directing the flash vertically up to the ceiling, but rather pointing it 'behind you?

    In Manual mode when you set your aperture & shutter do you ever use Auto ISO ?

  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    Frank ..... exactly that! 

    Here is another article that explains the technique.  But it really is as simple as that. 

    And no, I never use Auto ISO - that would just bring in another variable again. 
  • Got it. II guess the key (no pun intended) is to have bounceable surfaces (white) behind or to the side of you
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    Not necessarily. 
  • If it's far away, or if it's not white, you're going to lose reflectance . And if it's not white you're going to add it's colour cast. Surely? Or am I missing something?

    BTW Neil, if you don't mind me asking, are you from SA? If so, which part? I'm from Klerksdorp :-)
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    Here's more: 

    Follow the links at the end of the article as well. 

    I grew up in Kempton Park ... a West-Rand town so shitty they closed the movie theater to open a Pep Stores in its place. 
    But I regard Johannesburg as my home town. 
  • Neil - always great when you post something that I've read before. I then read it again, and it becomes just that much more instructive as I photograph more and more events, and can reassure myself I'm not really going too far outside the boundaries.

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