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FEV apparently not working - Fill flash

enricoenrico Member
edited February 2013 in Nikon
Hello everyone,

I don't undestand why I cann't see any difference in the following photos.

The first one is without flash at all.

The second has FEV -3.0, following ones have FEV at -2.0, -1.0 and 0.0

The exposure is fixed in manual mode.

The focus is on her right eye.

I just wanted to see the effect of a little touch of fill flash! But the effect looks to too strong.

And it looks to me that her face has always the same level of illumination.

Can someone tell me what I am doing wrong?

I think I used setting very similar to the ones of the second photo of this page by neil:

I hope exif info are intact, anyway here they are:

Nikon d7000 +sb600 direct
F/5.6 1/250s iso100 flash i-TTL metering matrix, focus mode af-c

ND filter4 (-2stops)

the flash in i-ttl mode (and not i-ttl BL) and as the exif information of those photos confirms.

fev dialed in camera

I asked the same question in dpreview's forum, but the problem remains.

Thank you in advance.





  • ZenonZenon Member
    edited February 2013
    I have been trying to figure this out and having a tough time. You sure the order is correct? You said the first image had no flash but it looked like it did to me. I confirmed it with PS. The 4 the image you say is 0 FEV but file info stated the flash did not fire and that looks correct as this scene is backlit so the subject is underexposed.

    I can see subtle differences in the shots. Are you working with a calibrated monitor?

  • Oh yes. You have 6 images posted but only talk about 5. There are two images named 4681 but after download the last is 4681-1. Is there a significance to this?

    If you can get them in the correct order it will be easier for us to help you.
  • Another thing that is maybe a little too soon right now. Is TTL perhaps causing some issues that is preventing a substantial difference between shots? I'm not a Nikon flash owner but I am curious. I'm a Canon owner and by looking at this scene I might have metered the camera for the background and then turned the flash on to manual and adjusted the power output to expose the subject.

    What mode is was the camera in? Manual, aperture priority?
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited February 2013

    Hi Enrico;

    Zenon is right. Your order of images listed seems wrong compared to your list, with image 4681 uploaded twice; which is no flash.

    Dead easy of course to see which were flash, and with those circumstances you were shooting under, there's no way it was ever going to be a 'touch of fill flash'.

    That's dominant flash, since you needed an serious amount of flash to bring back her face compared to the manually set ambient in camera which the no flash shot showing her face way underexposed confirms that.

    The background is blown out too much for my liking, or, if going for that look, not enough, it's distracting with the doughnut specular highlights coming directly behind her head/left.

    My eyes keep wandering to the upper left, it's so bright, it needs a tighter crop to lose a lot of distraction.

    If you wanted that type of shot, I'd say the aperture needed to be opened by 2-3 stops further or crank up the ISO, and take off the ND filter, which will affect flash as well as ambient don't forget, this will bring her face somewhere in the ball park of correct exposure and really blow out the background, so a touch of fill then would apply.

    Other option would be to get ambient exposure near correct so much more details in sky/sea, then flash to suit.

    So, having said that, as Zenon said, manual flash would have been the option here since it is the dominant light source, key word dominant, because your ambient exposure was not enough to bring her face up anywhere near to correct levels.

    Images 4679 & 4682 are good exposures for her face. [Image 4679 is my pick]
    There are good details in the jacket.
    I'd say these were the 0.00/-1.0 evs, so close in exposure on the face.

    Images 4688 & 4685 her face is underexposed by a stop.
    Details in jacket are less which you can see.
    I'd say these were the -2.0/-3.0 evs, both so damn close in exposure.

    Image 4681 [uploaded twice] is obviously no flash.

    I sincerely hope this helps.

    Actually, all I did with 1 of the good face exposures was to crop, that in itself will show a lot nicer balanced image and now my attention is drawn from left to right stopping at the face.

  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited February 2013
    Enrico, having posted above, it's not meant as a bad critique of the shot at all, but showing the differences between dominant and fill flash and why you maybe were better off shooting wider open or to stop down for more ambient.

    I decided to add this since doing an edit may be lost if someone has already read it, and I have already edited it 3 times.

    Totally forgot to say, regarding the differences in your Evs, when you are down in the minus Evs, sometimes the difference between a -2 or -3 is so so small as to be indistinguishable, so therefore what you may/may not see is not what is expected at all.

    Remember, the flash is still trying to give a good exposure and having a Nikon a 'bit of fill flash' can be dialled in up to -5Ev [flash and body if camera set to manual exposure].

    So for a comparison if you looked at the 4688 & 4685 set, compared to the 4679 & 4682 set, there is a substantial difference, but in each of those 2 sets in themselves, the difference is very hard to see even though there may be a -1Ev difference you set at time of taking the shot. ie: 4679 & 4682 are so close same with the other set.

  • Good info and pointers from Trev. I thought the 0 FEV exposure looked pretty good Enrico. Just shows the system did OK. -3 FEV looked underexposed.
  • enricoenrico Member
    edited February 2013
    Dear Zenon, dear Trev,
    I am sorry the things are not completely clear.
    1) The order is not correct. I loaded in the right order, but, I don’t know why, at the end they are displayed in different order. So the order I am seeing now is :
    DSC_4679 with FEV -3.0
    DSC_4682 with FEV -2.0,
    DSC_4688 with FEV 0.0
    DSC_4681 with no flash,
    DSC_4685-copia with FEV -1.0
    It is not logic, but I am not able to change it.
    2) Since yesterday it looked to me that the attachments were corrupted, seen that the icons have a cut through them, I tried to upload them again, but I saw that the result was the same. So I uploaded only one photo (the 4681-numbered one) twice, the one without flash.
    3) I was not allowed to delete it
    4) Furthermore I was not able to insert them directly in the post
    5) What you saw with Ps is correct, the 4th image is without flash
    6) Yes I am working with calibrated monitor, but I looks to me that the differences are minimal, I think that they should be obvious between FEV-3.0 and FEV0.0. And I think I should see very little effect in FEV-3.0
    7) The camera was in M
    8) Trev, you are right, I too see the background overexposed, anyway I just wanted to see how much Fev compensation was enough, but it turned out that also -3.0 is too much.
    9) Trev, if I understand it right, you are saying that the cause that forced to flash to be so strong is that I overexpose for the ambient? It is strange anyway that fev had no effect
    10) Trev thank you, you are right in considerations about composition and ambient exposure, I
    11) Trev, hearing that it may need to go down up to -5.0 is for me something new, so I will try. To get to -5.0 I will have to use both in camera Fev and in flash dial.
    12) Now that you have the order, you will see that it looks that the 4679 (FEV-3.0) is lighter than the 4688 (Fev0.0).
    13) What I am thinking now is that the focus point is so close to the edge of the face that maybe the flash was confused by the light coming from the sea, very close to the focus point.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited February 2013
    enrico said: 13) What I am thinking now is that the focus point is so close to the edge of the face that maybe the flash was confused by the light coming from the sea, very close to the focus point.
    Yes, flash is influenced by backlighting for sure, so having flash in manual would have been my preferred option as stated, probably quicker to get to the end result also, and not only that, but you would be totally consistent in getting the correct exposure of the face by the flash regardless of focus, composition, even ambient as long as you did not change aperture or ISO and only the shutter speed.

    When I said you can lower the FEC to -5Ev on Nikon through the flash combined with the camera body as long as the body is in manual, I did not mean it 'should' have been that. It's just a way to get a lot softer 'fill' flash and greater control.

    The trouble is I think you are slightly confusing 'a bit of fill' as opposed to dominant flash.

    A bit of fill would be when the subject is correctly exposed by ambient, then a tiny bit of fill is added by flash so that it lifts shadows in eye sockets, maybe putting some light under the brim of a hat if subject is wearing one to reduce harsh contrast, but in this particular scene you are shooting, the flash is dominant, it's the *main* light exposing the face correctly so there is nothing in 'a bit of fill' in that situation.

  • Trev, that makes sense, you are right, this is not fill flash, it is dominant flash. Thank you for explaining it.
    However, I think I had to get different results by changing flash exposure, and, in my opinion, there is too little visible difference.

    I agree also about the manual flash, but I just was trying to learn the behaviour of my flash in ttl mode. Usually I don't have the time to do some test photo.

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