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I very rarely use flash. I've got a little SF20 which predates digital cameras and their pre-flash rigmarole. Running an SF20 in its own native "A" mode has always worked well enough for my needs on film cameras (it's essentially using the Metz SCA Leica coding) so from that point of view I would be happy. I just want to make sure that putting an SF20 on an M240, setting the aperture (and possibly ISO) manually on the flash won't actually damage it or the camera because of serious pinout incompatibilities on the hotshoe.

Has anyone actually put an SF20 on an M240 please?

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1 hour ago, masjah said:

I very rarely use flash. I've got a little SF20 which predates digital cameras and their pre-flash rigmarole. Running an SF20 in its own native "A" mode has always worked well enough for my needs on film cameras (it's essentially using the Metz SCA Leica coding) so from that point of view I would be happy. I just want to make sure that putting an SF20 on an M240, setting the aperture (and possibly ISO) manually on the flash won't actually damage it or the camera because of serious pinout incompatibilities on the hotshoe.

Has anyone actually put an SF20 on an M240 please?

I’ve used it once on M-240. It worked but not like a more modern flash.

 

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I use a Nikon SB800 on my M262 in non-TTL Auto mode with no issues. The SB800 in non-ttl auto provides better, more consistent results than current “Leica” branded flash units do in TTL mode.

There are a lot of things Leica does well. Providing good, capable flash options…..is not one of those things.

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6 hours ago, Gregm61 said:

There are a lot of things Leica does well. Providing good, capable flash options…..is not one of those things.

I agree, but I believe it is the digital Leica M's privative exposure metering that is the problem rather than the Leica Branded flashes themselves.  That is why most flashes with Auto (auto-thyristor) Mode will provide more consistent results than  Leica TTL.  

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Yeah, I think it’a a little bit of several things.

The current Nissin knock-off Leica-branded SF60 and SF40 units are spectacularly over-priced for both what you get and how they perform.

The controls are flimsy (the on-flash exposure compensation wheel is a disaster), the Leica-branded wireless controller is not the best thought-out device out there and less than efficient in how you always have to re-sync them and the SF40 and 60 are wildly unpredictable in how they respond in anything remotely more difficult than constant lighting vs using the SB800 in non-TTL auto on the M262 or on the Nikon Df in TTL in any kind of lighting using Nikon’s creative lighting technology, which just works, and makes the Leica flash system look like we’re still trying to flash subjects with Sylvania Blue Dot Press 25 flash bulbs.

Edited by Gregm61
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I agree that the Nissin rebranded flashes are unimpressive in build quality.  I have the SF-40 for when I want to go small and light.  I also have the SF-58, a re-branded Metz, which is a professional quality flash in all respects.  It doesn't perform in TTL mode any better than my SF-40.  For ambient light photography the Leica M center weighted metering works fine.  We all quickly learn to work around its limitations which are typical to this form of metering and not unique to Leica.  I bright light source in the frame? Meter an area without the light, lock exposure, recompose, take the shot. Basic stuff.

The problem arises when we need to use flash. Say I have a backlighted subject. The subject is in shade and behind is a landscape in full sun.  If I expose for the subject the background will be seriously overexposed and the resulting image will be unappealing. If I expose for the background the subject will be a silhouette.  So I mount a flash to put enough fill light on the subject to balance foreground with the background.  In this situation if I am in TTL mode the Leica metering will see the bright background and either refuse to fire the flash or put so little light on the subject that it is still very underexposed.  None of the techniques I use to get good exposures with center weighted metering in ambient lighting correct for this situation since the TTL metering occurs during exposure and reacts to the bright light in the frame.  To get this shot I have to put the SF-40 in Manual, or grab the SF-58 and put it in Auto.

With my Nikons I experience none of this and they are expert in balancing foregrounds and backgrounds as well as producing correct flash exposures in almost any situation.  I just mount my Nikon flash and concern myself with composition rather than exposure. This is entirely due to the very sophisticated metering in the cameras.  For all intents and purposes my Nikons are computers on which one mounts a lens.  I view my Leica cameras as a film body that has a digital sensor installed at the film plain. It has the same metering as the film Leica bodies .  I know this is an oversimplification, but it is the reason I enjoy my digital Ms as much as it do.  But flash presents a problem because while Leica film camera TTL works fine , it cannot be replicated in the digital Ms.  Film TTL meters the flash as reflected off the film and quenches when correct exposure is achieved.  Digital sensors are not reflective enough for this to work. So with digital we have pre-flashes and complex computer calculations to achieve proper flash exposure.  Except the digital Ms can't compute very well so the center weighted metering has to do the job with all its limitations.  

Auto mode  (where the flash controls the flash exposure) represents  the earliest form of automated flash exposure and was used until film TTL was introduced.  Many modern flashes no longer offer it, but it is the only mode I've found that produces correct exposures with my digital Ms in difficult lighting situations.  Leica certainly has competent TTL flash exposure in its S, SL, etc. models that are true digital bodies.  I'm not sure how they could do that in the M without making it a different camera, one I might not love as much.

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I’ve found the SF units perform “better” (I’m using that term very loosely here) on the CL, and I imagine they do on the S bodies too, and maybe it’s because they can “tell” the flash exactly where in the field the focus is placed.

Of course, I use all manual focus AIS Nikkors on the digital Nikon Df body, can mount the SB800 flash or use it wirelessly with the SU800 commander, place the focus anywhere in the field of view and that setup will nail flash exposures and blend with the ambient light flawlessly and consistently, every exposure.

Whether it’s the M fitted with 6-bit coded lenses or the Nikon Df with manually coding the focal length and maximum aperture of the mounted manual focus AIS lens, both systems have the same lens detail for the camera to “share”’ with the flash in order to get the flash right. One system does consistently while the other is-quite simply, a disaster.

Edited by Gregm61
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15 hours ago, Gregm61 said:

Whether it’s the M fitted with 6-bit coded lenses or the Nikon Df with manually coding the focal length and maximum aperture of the mounted manual focus AIS lens, both systems have the same lens detail for the camera to “share”’ with the flash in order to get the flash right. One system does consistently while the other is-quite simply, a disaster.

Actually the only "sharing" with the flash is in Auto Mode where the body communicates the aperture and ISO setting (Nikon) or aperture setting (Leica).  In TTL (film or digital) the flash output for both brands is totally controlled by the camera.  The difference in performance between Nikon and Leica  is a function of the capability of the camera's flash exposure system.  Nikon uses its matrix metering in conjunction with a database of image characteristics to calculate proper exposure for the scene from the pre-flash.  Initially it was a poor substitute for the film TTL that preceded it, but as camera processing power increased has become very competent.  Leica appears to monitor the pre-flash data with its center weighted metering and calculate flash exposure.  So in the digital Leica M world, TTL flash suffers from the same limitations we experience when metering  without flash.  

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…and without the benefit of really nice flash units…

I don’t know how Leica came to be tied to Nissin for flash units, and I guess that is a somewhat limited world, but at least make those $675 “Leica” SF60’s look even a little fundamentally “different” (other than the red badge and name) compared to the same unit with the Nissin name on it for everyone else for $300.

If one stays on the various Leica boards long enough it’s also very rare to ever see much of a discussion about flash relative to the M system and, I’m assuming, not all that much interest by Leica in advancing the tech in the M world.

Edited by Gregm61
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21 hours ago, Luke_Miller said:

Actually the only "sharing" with the flash is in Auto Mode where the body communicates the aperture and ISO setting (Nikon) or aperture setting (Leica).  

Foiled again by the short period editing is permitted.

I meant to say only ISO setting for Leica.  The shooting aperture must be manually entered on the flash in Auto Mode.

Edited by Luke_Miller
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