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Nikon Flash Problems.
Old 07-21-2004, 11:29 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Can anyone tell me why Nikon absolutely refuses to resolve the severe exposure problems with their digital bodies and digital flashes? I think it is an absolute disgrace that the Company simply will not address the issues with their digital flash systems.

I have a D100 body which I love. I bought an SB-28DX digital flash and from day one I had exposure problems. The majority of images were overexposed but it seemed to be random from over to under exposure.

A number of emails and calls to Nikon failed to correct the situation. A Nikon tech told me 'oh you have the wrong flash, you need the SB-80DX which just came out and 'fixes all the problems'. I buy the SB-80DX and what happens? More exposure problems!

I have gotten to the point where I never use my overpriced SB-80DX anymore. It sits on a shelf in my closet and collects dust and if I find a sucker I will gladly sell that piece of garbage to them in a heartbeat.

I have the best luck by using my D100 and my SB-26 flash on aperature mode. All of my exposures with that combination are bang on and I have never had any problems with over or under exposure, ever!

Nikon (and Canon as well) needs to be sent a clear message that we are not rich guinea pigs to be experimented on. We actually use their products to make our living and if they will not respect us then we need to find alternate solutions.

If anyone else out there is as frustrated as I am over the Nikon flash exposure mess and especially if anyone has found a solution to it I would absolutely love to hear from you. Thanks a bunch.
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Re: Nikon Flash Problems.
Old 07-22-2004, 12:08 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Just curious.. have you tried using the SB-80 in aperture or manual mode? The reason I ask is because that's what me and two friends of mine do and have very good results. I have one D100, one person has another, and the third person has 4 D100's (wedding shooter) with SB-80's and one SB-800.

Most of the time my camera is set to manual or aperture mode and spot metering. About the only time I use aperture-priority is when I'm shooting just to shoot.

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Re: my take
Old 07-22-2004, 04:53 AM   #3 (permalink)
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First of, let me say two things. One, I don't own any of the items you're discussing, but I did just buy a D70 (but no dedicated external flash - I have two for other cameras). Second, I don't trust auto-anything when it comes to exposure. The only way I would use auto-flash fill is with color neg film, or digital where I can see the LCD, which of course is what you are doing. The reason though may have some bearing on why you're having problems.

Remember that all meters and auto-exposure devices are designed to make everything 18% gray. Depending on what metering mode your camera is in (spot, averaging, etc) , the settings on the flash, and the exposure compensation settings on the flash and camera (seperately) the exposure and amount of flash fill can change dramatically based on what appears in the viewfinder. At the extremes, if you shoot a person against a dark background, that person will come out overexposed because the meter is trying to open up the image to 18% gray. If you shoot the same person against a white/light background, that person will come out dark because the meter is trying to stop-down to 18% gray. How over or underexposed the image is, is a result of many variables. Again, the various camera & flash settings, but also the percentage of the person that takes up space in the frame, and how light or dark the background actually is. (This is a very simplistic explanation, but you can test this). Changing the composition of your image can throw all these readings off. In neg film, you have some latitude. In digital, you have an LCD screen and the opportunity to make changes, shot by shot (I know - that's what I do all the time when shooting "grab" shots in digital, auto mode).

You state that in manual and aperature priority the exposure is fine. I suspect that since the other two settings are giving you a variable shutter speed, that is where your trouble lies. The camera doesn't know until all the light comes in, how to balance the flash with a shutter speed it doesn't yet know about, and if it decides to allow a longer shutter speed, allows too much light to enter before the flash fires, thereby overexposing. Or maybe it assumes the flash will put out more light than the flash is capable of (are you too far away?) and the image is underexposed. Also, remember your camera has a shutter sync maximum of something like 1/200 or 1/250? Maybe your settings are asking for a shorter shutter that the camera can't deliver. I know this isn't supposed to work this way, but that's why (as I stated above) I don't use auto-flash for the important stuff.

I'm not sure this will help, but its my take on it.

Good luck
Andy Pearlman
Andy Pearlman Studio

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Send Me The Flash!
Old 07-22-2004, 07:46 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I love mine, 95% of the time. I use mostly M or A on the camera and A on the flash and use the flash compensation button. It works great. I had one of my SB 80's that malfunctioned (overexposed everything by going to full power all the time). I sent to nikon twice the second time that I sent it to them nikon sent me a new SB-800. If you having that big of a problem I would send the flash and some samples with the exif info and show them the problem. But if you don't want the flash send it to me. "oh please , please"
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Re: Nikon Flash Problems.
Old 07-22-2004, 10:16 AM   #5 (permalink)
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There are a few other items you should indicate. Such as, which flash mode are you using - TTL or Auto. Since you are using a D100, there is also D-TTL and one other which I don't remember. I used the SB-80DX when I had a Fuji S2 and I can say that it was much more accurate than my Canon 1D MK II with the 550EX (by far more accurate). I don't think Canon is even close in comparison to the accuracy of flash output that Nikon is. Also, Nikon tends to lock you in at 1/60 once the flash it put on the camera if you are in AV mode causing the flash to be more like a main light. While Canon uses flash as nothing more than fill light unless you override it. So there was a learning curve when moving from Nikon to Canon with the flash system.


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