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amoz

M-TTL flash: how (and why)?

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Hi all,

 

I am saving up for my first digital camera ever --you all know which one--, having worked with an MP and R2A over the last few years. I sometimes miss TTL flash capabilities, and was expecting these to be included in the M9.

 

So, what's up with this M-TTL system? It sends out a pre-flash, but how and when, and can you take the picture in one go (i.e. no delay between pre- and main flash when pushing the shutter). I am not at all an experienced flash user, please forgive me if I am asking a silly question.

 

Thanks for enlightening me.

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It's not a silly question. The sensor is too shiny for conventional e-ttl flash exposure (i.e. reading the exposure off of the actual film) so the M8/M9 in TTL/GNC mode sends out a small pre-flash which it uses to judge exposure off of the shutter 'curtain'. Earlier versions of the M8 firmware meant that this delay was very noticeable - a bit like red-eye reduction mode on a digicam - but it is now much improved. I used the recently introduced SF-58 for a job last week where I had no option but to use flash. I found the TTL mode to be okay - there was a barely perceptible delay - but I did find some people reacting to the pre-flash and start to close their eyes in response. For shots that really mattered I resorted to manual flash exposure, the mode I'm most comfortable with.

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M-TTL-- officially GNC -- is a real boon, because it allows great freedom in positioning the flash. I do often use off-camera flash with my M8 and the SF24-D, with a Nikon system cable between camera and flash. For a description see Sean Reid's excellent piece 'Working With Flash' in ReidReviews.

 

Fill flash, on and off camera, does also work very well with this flash and the M8, and will certainly work just as well with the M9. The new SF58 does also seem to work very well, but this is a fairly big and unwieldy peice, more at home on the S2. I do actually often use my SF24-D for bounce in medium-sized rooms; it is not as wimpy as some claim.

 

The old man from the Age of Flashpowder. Whoosh--bang!

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I use a Metz 54 in 'gnc' mode on 2 M8's, and now on my M9 and am quite happy with the results. (size and weight of the flash is less satisfactory).

 

Early M8 firmware had a noticeable pre-flash lag, but 1.204 fixed this.

 

On M8's you must use IR cut filters to get correct exposure this way

 

The M9 (1.02) is perfect out of the box.

 

Nikon i-ttl also uses pre-flash but the lag is completely imperceptible.

 

I grew up with manual flash, and am proficient but particularly for bounce flash, or outdoor daylight fill flash, ttl is much easier.

 

Regards .... Harold

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Many thanks Ian, Lars, Harold,

 

Gotta love the access to all knowledge floating around these forums. Sorry about my late reply, though, I am on a mission abroad and pretty much disconnected from the rest of the world for most of the time. Anyway, you really cleared things up and I will feel confident getting into M-TTL / GNC flash --already looking forward!

 

amoz

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