quasiphotoo [deleted] 12:05am, 25 May 2009
Hi. I want to use the SB-600 on-camera as fill flash for outdoor portraits. Will use primarily ambient light but want to use fill flash to cut the shadows and lighten the subject a little.

I plan to use 50mm f/1.8 at f/2.8 and 18-200 mm at f/5.6

I "think" that .. as a starting point .. I should use the on-camera SB-600 straight on with no diffuser and flash compensation set to -1.7. From there I plan to check the histogram and adjust flash compensation accordingly. Standard TTL mode, not TTL-BL.

Should I shoot in AP mode or Manual and set Aperture as above and
shutter to around 1/250?

I did read some other threads on this but the off topic discussions that brought in off camera flash units and other accessories left me more confused than when I started. Thank you ...
Leighgion 9 years ago
That sounds a bit labored to me and rather like too little power for daylight fill.

You said on your initial thread you'd have time to practice. I'd just head out and start trying things out without trying to conjure up a theory in advance as to how to mess with your settings. Nikon iTTL works pretty well for the most part just on full auto with some compensation dialed in to suit your taste and situation.

I would through, recommend the diffuser right from the start.
quasiphotoo [deleted] Posted 9 years ago. Edited by quasiphotoo (member) 9 years ago
Yes, I am probably driving myself and everybody else nuts trying to fully grasp this before my equipment arrives next week. I do have the Demb Diffuser but get no consensus on whether to use it outdoors at 10+ ft on an SB-600 or not.
starfish235 9 years ago
I should use the on-camera SB-600 straight on with no diffuser and flash compensation set to -1.7. From there I plan to check the histogram and adjust flash compensation accordingly. Standard TTL mode, not TTL-BL.

If that's the plan, I would just leave it in the car . . . let your equipment work for you instead of manually forcing it into useless configurations.
shad_41 9 years ago
As Leighion says, don't try and theorise too much, just take something outside (wife, teddy bear, whatever!) and see what works. The other thing that he says which is true is that Nikon ttl works very well. Whenever the old Nikon v Canon argument surfaces, the Canon mob keep quiet about flash and with good reason. Personally I found ttl-bl mode worked pretty well with some compensation dialled in when I had my SB600, but I did use a Sto Fen diffuser.
Leighgion 9 years ago
Thing is, QF, flash photography is an art.

While there's a general warchest of techniques, you're not going to find consensus on the finer points because there is no one "right" way to do it. You've got to find what's going to work for your situation and taste.

Even my recommendation of the diffuser is based on aesthetic, not technical concerns. You're ramping up to shoot a wedding, so soft light is generally going to be more desirable since it's generally more flattering to your subjects. But I'm sure there's creative souls out there who done cool hard light wedding photos too.
lanegreene 9 years ago
I think more like -1 EV myself. And why not BL?

Also, if you have the memory cards for it, shooting RAW will both allow you to lift the shadows more easily and protect highlights. And turning up the Active-D lighting will help too.

You will be contending with a famous exposure challenge: a white dress with fancy detail next to a dark suit, on a sunny day with high-contrast light. In other words, proper exposure hell. For anything you can pose, get people to shade.
Arie's Photography 9 years ago
SB-600 is already underpowered for outdoor shots when it's bright outside so I don't see why you would want to change the compensation. I shot a model who was wearing a white dress and it was murder on my metering so RAW really saved my butt. Might want to try spot metering also.
kcactionphoto / Kevin Camp Photography [deleted] 9 years ago
I'm no expert, been doing the Strobist thing for about a year now. One thing I've been telling other fellow shooters about off cam lighting, don't make it a math exercise, make it a shooting exercise. Stop worrying about the exposure comp and EV settings and shoot and make adjustments. You can drive yourself nuts if you turn it inot a math exercise and its not helping you make pictures. As you do it more and more your starting settings will get closer because you just know what you need by looking at the light and subject.

I use my SB-600 all the time for fill flash and use the sun for rim or full on side light. Works great. If you can, work in open shade to help baseline the exposure and remove hard highlights that the SB-600 has to fill in or flash through.

If your shooting against the sun, with it behind the subject for that special rim light, then add on a white foam board reflector to bounce a little sun back into them and help out the flash which doesn't have enough power alone (usually) to overcome the sun.
quasiphotoo [deleted] Posted 9 years ago. Edited by quasiphotoo (member) 9 years ago
Great advice all around ... I have a lot of experimenting to do.

I can do most of the shooting with the subjects in the shade. Will experiment with the difuser to get softlight. I suspect that after some experimenting and many test shots I will find that this is not nearly as complicated as I now make it out to be ...
tuxxme 9 years ago
Wouldnt worry about a difuser outside, it's not going to do you anything but eat up valuable light, and if you're outside in the sun with a sb600 you dont really have alot to spare :)

One other thing to remember though, on camera flash is on camera flash, no matter what you do with it you're not getting the best out of the flash
I went out yesterday and shot street portraits with a Nikon SB24 and my D300.....by the way my strobe was bare......there is no need for modifiers at all....you can get great shots using hard light. You have a SB600 you can use it off camera by using CLS...Flash on camera sucks period.....it is not natural and you get that deer in the headlights shots. Take it off and hand hold it to the side and you will be good to go. Use the sun to backlight your subjects and the flash to fill....you paid for CLS and a CLS compatible flash for off camera lighting......use it.

Here are some shots from yesterday using a BARE SB24 hand held camera left....sun to backlight.

The Balloon Man

Who got Tongue?

I China....You Mexico was what he told me.

Precious and Her Human....

Nina.....Being Nina....
MortonPhotography 9 years ago
BigBoy...I hope that first photo isn't a self-portrait, and what's with that orange thing he is wearing (is it a bow tie?)

quasifoto I find that using flash compensation screws up my overall metering. I prefer to use a manual flash power setting. Start with 1/2 power and work up or down from there. Use shutter priority and set for the highest flash sync speed. 1/250th I think.

Thats what works for me.
kcactionphoto / Kevin Camp Photography [deleted] 9 years ago
BigBoyDrums is right on target. Simple but very effective shots with minimal gear and setup. The hard light is very effective with male subjects, some care needs to be taken with women as it can magnify skin flaws and wrinkles that get classified as character for male models. I also agree with MortonPhotography too, manual offers much more creative control.
quasiphotoo [deleted] Posted 9 years ago. Edited by quasiphotoo (member) 9 years ago
Simon Wilde Photography Posted 9 years ago. Edited by Simon Wilde Photography (member) 9 years ago
It depends for me... Im either using TTL or Manual... depends on what exactly im mettering. Obviously you can't use BL on Spot Mettering. But over all im generall under exposing the flash a tad (SB600) with a diffuser on aswell.

Im as follows:

To pop the portrait During the day i shoot at my highest sink speed 320* and under expose the photo by 1-2 stops then flash.

To balance the portrait I shoot at any shutter speed (even into the 1000's) meter the scene correctly and add the SB600 with BL to lift any shadows... sometimes have to under expose the flash a little.


Front on flash SB600 w/ difusser
 Charlie & Amanda's Wedding

SB600 off camera pointing at them
Chris & Kylie's Wedding

SB600 off camera pointing at them
Centenial Park - Strobist

Front on flash SB600 w/ difusser
Derby Day - Randwick - Emirates Tent - Sophie falkiner

Front on flash SB600 w/ difusser
Derby Day - Randwick - Lawn Party

SB600 off camera pointing at them
Mish & Shaun's Wedding

Two SB600 either side pointing at her
Little White Dress

SB600 off camera pointing at them
Chris + Kylie's Wedding

SB600 off camera pointing at them
Chris & Kylie's Wedding

SB600 front on w/ diffuser

Chris & Kylie's Wedding
deep blue2 9 years ago
@Simon - some lovely wedding/portrait work - inspired me to pop over & have a look at your 'stream!
zippy_monster 9 years ago
@quasi: on or off camera, you're going to be thinking about where the light is aimed. Being able to aim the flash is, after all, one of the biggest advantages of the SB-600 over the built-in unit. Since you're using all Nikon gear, you maintain just about as much automation over the flash off-camera as you do in the shoe.

Using the 50 so far open may prove difficult in the outdoor shots since you're essentially* limited to 1/250 sec exposures at the fastest.

* You can go faster, but be prepared with some extra batteries...
quasiphotoo [deleted] Posted 9 years ago. Edited by quasiphotoo (member) 9 years ago

Here is a summry of the info as I understood it from my flicker and Nikonian friends. My intent here is to summarize the basics as a reminder until it becomes second nature. I understand the concept and settings impact of bouncing the light, using a diffuser and "dragging the shutter speed". Those are not included below.

Please take a look .. if you get a chance .. and let me know if I have misunderstood something. Thank you ..

Basic Flash Initial Set-Up


Ambient light behind subject is brighter than subject:

iTTL-BL , set flash comp to -1.7EV (on D300, lower on some other
cameras) , with/without diffuser depending on how close you are
to the subject). Matrix metering mode.

Outside with virtually no ambient light (in the dark): iTTL with
or without diffuser, No Flash EV comp. Center-weighted or spot
metering mode.


Strong ambient light in background and on subject:

iTTL with flash comp to -1.7 EV min. (on D300) with or without a
diffuser. Center-weighted or spot metering mode.

With strong light in the background, indoors or out, TTL-BL usually
works best. In fact, the original meaning of 'BL' was BackLight'.

Any shot can also be made with regular TTL (and a lot of pros do it
this way). You just have to do a lot more thinking, because in TTL
mode, the flash disregards the background (ambient) light and
exposes as though the flash is the only light. The TTL flash adds to
the ambient and can easily cause overexposure. This is why you
have to use -1.7 to -2.5 ev (or even more) negative flash
compensation if you decide to use regular TTL in bright ambient.

Aperture Priority or Program Mode on D300?

Aperture Priority A mode will work fine providing you are careful about one specific thing: if you are using normal flash sync, the shutter will max out at 1/250th (or 1/200th - depends on the camera). If you choose a wide aperture on a bright day, the shutter will not be able to go up high like it needs to, and you will horribly overexpose.

One simple way to prevent that is to use Program mode. On a bright day, it will run the shutter up to 1/250th and then start closing down the aperture to make the ambient exposure correct.

Another way around this is to use Auto FP High Speed Sync mode. This works great as long as you are close to your subject (since the flash power is weakened). There is also one situation that will really cause Auto FP mode a lot of problems. Whenever you are in heavy shade and there is bright light out in the background from outside the shade, the matrix metering will cause the shutter speed to run way up high. This will drastically lower the power of the Auto FP flash and your images will be dark. In this situation, I switch to camera Manual mode and set the aperture and shutter to give me a slightly underexposed ambient on my subjects, Then, I use TTL-BL mode at about -1.0 EV to brighten it back up.
zippy_monster 9 years ago
I think you're worrying too much about the specific settings. For all of the fiddling I think that the best method is shoot so that your strongly lit part is exposed how you want it, and add the flash so that the dim areas are lit how you'd like.

Likewise I would pay a lot less attention to hard fast rules, and get out there and start experimenting.
Mano. 8 years ago
Has anyone tried firing two SB 600 with D300,

I have tried firing one remotely once and it has worked.
peterjaena 8 years ago
@Mano - YES, nikon CLS allows us to do this. I use 3 speedlights remotely on my shoots most of the time..
deep blue2 8 years ago
Yes - routinely fire 2xSB600 + 1x SB800 using CLS from D300
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