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Trouble using off camera TTL Flash

PictureYouPictureYou Member
edited August 2011 in flash & lighting
I've been following the Tangets blog for some time now and in the last year have tried to use my flash off camera with TTL instead of manual thinking it would save me some time when running around on a photo shoot. I'm currently just using a teathering cord hooked to my camera with my assistant holding the speedlight in a softbox. My issue is that it seems like the camera almost never gets the exposure correct, more times than not the person is completely blown out or it' just hit and miss even in the same location. I usually end up going back to manual flash in frusteration. Seems like Neil does this all the time and his results look great so I'm wondering maybe if there is some setting on the camera I need to change to get it to meter better. I'm using a Nikon D700 and usually an sb-800 flash. If anyone has any info that may help me get the exposure to be more reliable I'd love to hear it.



  • Sarah what kind of cord are you using to tether the flash to the camera? If you are using PC to PC cord TTL will not work. You would have to set the flash to manual and adjust the power accordingly You need something like a Nikon SC-29 cord to get TTL tethered. The other option is to use Nikon CLS without tethering. This usually works very well indoors even if the flash is in a soft box. Out side CLS is very hit and miss.
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    Sarah ... a couple of things might affect this.

    With some softboxes or diffusers, the pre-flash that the TTL flash system emits, is so attenuated, that the camera can't read it. Then the exposures can be all over.

    So what kind of softbox are you using?
    Also, try it with only a single diffusion layer next time, and see if that affects it.

    What kind of tethering cord are you using? SC-29 ?

    And also, are you using a battery pack of some kind? This will help in getting more consistent exposures, in having your flash always charged and ready.
  • Thank you both, I am using the sc-29 cord, I figured I'd try this method and see how the TTL worked before purchasing a new trigger set. The softbox I'm using is a Flashpoint softbox from Adorama, I believe it's a 24X24in with just one diffusion pannel. However I don't think I've tried it without a softbox so you may be onto something there. I'm not using a battery pack, but I think what I'm more concerned with is the over exposure not under exposure from the flash not recharging enough before I take another shot.

    As far as using the CLS it was too hit and miss for me. I am just talking about the outdoors shots as I have a studio for my indoor portraits set up with my studio lights and triggers etc. I'm just trying to make my outdoor (mainly senior sessions) go a little quicker as far as the lighting goes when were running from place to place. I wasn't sure if maybe there was some setting on the flash or camera that I've maybe never come across or don't use enough to think of that could be causing the problem. I do use spot metering.
  • MicMic Member
    Sarah, I'm certainly no expert here, but I would suggest that you try Matrix or Center-weighted metering. I've had fairly good luck using CLS/TTL outdoors using Matrix. I do meter the background first, set my carmera in Manual accordingly, then dial in a -.7 or so to start and the balance is generally pretty good. It's worth a try on changing your metering...
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    when you say CLS is hit-and-miss .... are you talking about exposure, or that you get mis-fires?
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