Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2001/04/30

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Subject: Re: [Leica] Fast or low speed film with flash ?
From: Johnny Deadman <>
Date: Mon, 30 Apr 2001 10:15:57 -0400

interesting question.

answer: it depends

In dark situations I have two approaches: use 400 film and a relatively low
powered flash, so you can use a wide aperture and thereby get as much of the
ambient light as possible, with a shutter speed of 1/30-1/8 of a second so
not too much crazy blurring. This is for when you can focus! You can use a
little rinky dink flash like a Viv 2600 for this.

(Tip: buy some sticky back velcro and a small piece of stiff card (like mat
board) about the size of a cigarette packet. Stick velcro to the back of the
flash head and the card. Now you can attach the card to the back of the
flash really easily for a neat indoor reflector: point the flash at the
ceiling so you get bounce light, but also a bit of diffuse kick from the
card which puts highlights in the eyes. You can even adjust how much card
pokes above the head, to adjust the amount of kick. This is much more robust
than the old postcard trick & works wonders)

To zone focus with flash, use a much higher powered flash and a *slower*
film, like 160 or even slower. Use an aperture of f/11 or f/16 and a shutter
speed of 1/4 to 1 second. This way you get some very blurry ambient light
but it doesn't overpower the main flash exposure due to the small aperture.

In daylight you have to strike a balance. If the film is too fast, your
shutter speed will be too high to sync with the flash at *any* aperture. If
it is too slow, you will need a MONSTER flash to satisfactorily expose the
film. I find that 100 film is best in this situation, but you need a strobe
with some whammy, like a Viv 283 or a Metz CT45 hammerhead unless you are
just poking a little fill into the shadows.

I find it easier to use my Canon T90 which has a sync speed of 1/250 for
this kind of thing.

- -- 
Johnny Deadman