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Oysteinsmalme

Flash settings with the M6 classic

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Hi

 

I just got a flash for my M6 classic (the sf24d). I got it from a friend, because he thought it was broken. I sent it to Leica and got a new one in return!

But:

I dont know how to use it with tri-x in semi-sunny daylight (sunny-16 dont work with 1/50th shutterspeed and f/8:)). Do any of you have a few tips to a novice in flash photography?

Thank you.

 

Regards

Øystein

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The 1/50 sync speed means that low-power flashguns like the SF24d are almost useless in bright light.

 

The main use for a portable flashgun in daylight is as "fill-flash" to lighten deep shadows in a sunlit subject.

 

You set the shutter speed to (for the M6) 1/50, then set the aperture to get the correct daylight exposure or maybe half a stop underexposed.

(With ISO400 film, in sunlight would mean 1/50 at about f/64, so already you're stuck. Switch to ISO50 film so the exposure is something a Leica can do - say 1/50 at f/16.)

To get a good "fill" effect, lightening the shadows but not too much, you need the flashgun to deliver two to three stops less light than you'd need if the flash was the only source of light. So (if the flash is in Auto mode) you tell it that the aperture is f/8 not f/16.

 

Unfortunately, the maximum working distance of the SF24D at ISO50 is about 2m, which severely limits its usefulness. For longer distances you need much a more powerful flashgun.

(The problem is that that the flashgun's 1/1000 second flash has to balance what the sun delivers in 1/50 sec. If the camera has a faster sync speed, like the 1/180 of the digital Ms or 1/500 of a traditional Hasselblad, fill-in flash is much simpler.)

As an alternative to switching to slow film, you can use a neutral density filter on the lens. This solves the problem of getting a usable aperture at 1/50 sec in bright light, but does not alter the other problem of getting a little flashgun to balance the power of the sun.

 

PS: if you don't have the manual for your SF 24d, an internet search will find a scanned copy.

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Thank you, that was helpful.

 

I'll try with some Pan F and other slow films.

 

But one thing I don't understand is:

Photographers like Bruce Gilden uses flash in daylight, and almost always with Tri-x - how do they do it?

 

Øystein

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[...] Photographers like Bruce Gilden uses flash in daylight, and almost always with Tri-x - how do they do it?

 

Gilden uses an MM, M9 or S2, all of which have faster X sync speeds than the film Ms have.

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I have the impression Gilden often (usually?) uses his flash as the main light source, not just to lighten the shadows. This means the flash has to be stronger than the daylight rather than two or three stops weaker. But he typically works very close to his subject, and - from the pictures I've seen - uses a flashgun that's a good deal more powerful than the SF24.

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But he typically works very close to his subject, and - from the pictures I've seen - uses a flashgun that's a good deal more powerful than the SF24.

 

Indeed and clearly he's adopted the very harsh lighting style as his 'trademark' but it's not a look that I would aspire to.

 

To the OP, what exactly are you trying to achieve by using flash in daylight? Are you having issues with fill flash/shadows or something else?

 

When I shot weddings with my Bronica, if it was a dull day I'd use a low power flash outside to provide a little 'lift' to the shots which worked well - the Bronica has a leaf shutter so flash works at any speed.

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I just want to "master" flash use with the M6

 

I didn't know that Gilden used a more powerful flash, but I thought he still used film

 

 

Thank you for all help!

 

 

Øystein

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I'm not sure if Gilden is actually photographing in bright sunlight when his flash is being used. At f/16, 1/45, and with pulled TriX, chances are he is still imaging in late afternoon. Darker skies may just appear brighter. There are plenty of examples of his work in broad daylight where no flash was used.

 

He experimented with the M9 in Rochester (spring 2012) and the S2 in Florida this year. These have higher sync speeds and his efforts show useage in sunny conditions. This is a different aesthetic compared to his film work, and can be due solely to a change in sync speed. For what it's worth, his really really close-up film work is often done with Nikon's 28mm, which allows closer focus; his Nikon bodies I think offer a slightly faster sync speed, which would take his flash closer to the fill you're interested in.

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