Low speed flash sync with Leica
Old 06-10-2005   #1
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Low speed flash sync with Leica

Theres a technique Id like to use with Leica, where you use the flash to stop motion at really low speeds. Now I know Leica doesn't have a high flash sync speed, but does it work at the lower speeds?

Daniel.
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Old 06-10-2005   #2
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Yes it does, Daniel. I have an M6TTL and it works at the highest flash synchronizing speed (1/50s) and all speeds and B below it.

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Old 06-10-2005   #3
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Check out Magnum photographer Bruce Gilden's work. He did a lot of slow speed flash daylight fill on a Leica. His "Haiti" book has some good examples. Haunting.
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Old 06-11-2005   #4
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Thankyou guys! BTW, can I put any flash on a M6? I have a SB600 for my Nikon D70.. it wont damage the M6 will it?

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Old 06-11-2005   #5
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I believe the only flashes that are fully compatible with the M6TTL and the M7 are the Leica SF-20 and 24, and the Metz 54 MZ3. The Metz is generally used for bounce, the Leica models are I think made by Metz, or are Metz designed. Whatever. (You should get a second opinion on the suitability of the Metz 54, I am merely parroting what I have read about that flash.)

I don't know how big an SB600 is, but a larger flash will overbalance a RF camera so it becomes awkward to handle. I use a Leica SF-20 which is not very powerful but great for things like fill-in when you're shooting into a light source.

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Old 06-11-2005   #6
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I've only got an M6.. so no TTL.. Ill have to do it all manual.. any other recommendations.

Daniel.
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Old 06-11-2005   #7
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You don't have to do it "all manual".

Any flash with a sensor ON the flash (which reads light reflected back from the subject) will work on the non-TTL flash Leicas (and any non-TTL flash camera)

A Nikon SB-24,25,26 and perhaps later flashes will work, provided you use the Nikon flash on the "A" setting.

A Metz 32 series flash (the cheaper one) works well too. It is lower profiled and can bounce. Takes 4AA or a 2CR5 lithium for fast recycling.

The key is the sensor on the front of the flash (rather relying on the TTL -- through the lens -- sensor inside the camera) to properly expose your picture -- it will let the flash know once the exposure is correct (the light has travelled from the flash to your subject and back to the flash).

You will usually be advised an aperture to set either via a table on the flash (simpler models like the Metz 32 series -- the table is on the reverse side of the battery door), or by an aperture value advised by the flash with corresponding distance scale.

Just remember, and it seems counter intutitive, in "A" flash mode the WIDER the aperture the flash tells you to use the less POWER/LIGHT OUTPUT the flash will have.

Most of these flashes will have a provision for using f4 at 400ASA, and this is the "weakest" setting of the flash. You will then have to vary the amount of light by either opening/closing the lens a stop or half a stop each way or diffusing/bouncing the flash head.

My favorite slow-shutter-night-subject-about-5-feet-in-front-of-me flash exposure with a Leica was always 1/15 (or drag it even slower, depending on the effect you want or how much background light you want) with lens at f4 or f2.8 with Metz 32 flash with a small bounce card wedged in there for diffusion.

Using flash with a Leica M could be advantageous -- especially when I was shooting parties or anything in dark places where flash was "acceptable" or part of the effect I was going for -- because you are using a viewfinder camera with CONTINUOUS viewing, you see when the flash HITS. So you know what you got. No VF blackout like SLRs.

Last edited by saxshooter : 06-11-2005 at 17:11.
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Old 06-14-2005   #8
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So much to digest here. For a start I think a flash meter might be usefull. Can I get one of these that can double as a spot meter?

I had another problem with my M6 last night... I was trying to take a photo of my son inside at night with the lights on, and my Leica wouldnt meter at all, no matter what I set the ISO too.. i.e. at 1 second, f/1.4 and ISO 6400, it would surely be over-exposed, yet my Leica in camera meter was dead. This is very troubling, Im wondering if my M6 has a fault.

I know their is a minimum level they will meter, but either of my Nikons will meter in much darker situations. Im just trying to get all these loose ends tied up before my trip (7 days!!!).

Daniel.
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Old 06-14-2005   #9
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Daniel:

I don't think you will need a flash meter unless you are doing studio work in a very controlled situation. I just think it would slow you down. Just get any flash (I checked and they stopped making the Metz 32 series) that the size (small) agrees with you, perhaps it can bounce... as long as it has Auto Aperture settings on it.

As to your Nikon SB-600 flash, it should work on your Leica without damaging it. Unless it is so top heavy that somehow it damages the Leica's flash shoe in a freak accident, but probably unlikely. Use the SB-600 in Auto Aperture Flash (AA) mode. Dial in an aperture value on the flash, and it should tell you what distance it covers. You then set this aperture on your lens. Clicking the lens a half stop open will make the flash seem "stronger", clicking it closed a half stop will make the flash seem weaker. The weakest setting the Auto Aperture on the Nikon flash will probably be f4 or f2.8.

The flash will use the Auto Aperture settings (via a sensor on the front of the flash) to properly measure the right light output. So with this, you really wouldn't need a flash meter, unless you are doing controlled studio work.

But if you are set on getting a flash meter/spot meter, Sekonic makes one. They are big and expensive.

As to your M6 meter, it isn't the battery, right? Preferably you are using lithium and not the alkaline/siver oxide LR44 type. Maybe the contacts are dirty.

The beauty about Leica M is keeping things simple. I think a small flash (which you wouldnt be using all the time anyway) would be perfect.

Good luck, Charlie

Last edited by saxshooter : 06-14-2005 at 17:17.
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Old 06-15-2005   #10
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They SB600 doesn't do auto apperture mode.. All these new digital flashes only offer POWER control. I can select Full Power, 1/2 Power, 1/4 Power.... 1/64 Power...

That is it.... So I'm thinking a flash meter is faster than looking up the guide number at the various powers and measuring the distance..

Daniel.
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Old 06-15-2005   #11
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How are you going to use the flash meter?

You need to put the flash meter where your subject is to measure the flash output. Then the flash has to triggered from where you're going to shoot the picture.

You will either need an assistant to trigger the flash while you hold the flash meter by your subject, or you will need to somehow test fire the flash from where you are standing (cable, wireless radio unit), holding the flash meter by your subject, or have your subject hold the flash meter while you test fire the flash.
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Old 06-16-2005   #12
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I've borrowed and been using a Minolta Auto Flash IV F.... Its good, you put it into N.Cord (No Cord) mode.... and it waits for a flash pulse and measures it.

Ill see what the photos turn out like.

Daniel.
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Old 06-18-2005   #13
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Well, the flash works ok in conjuntion with the meter... one problem with the M6 though is the lack of rear curtain sync... using the flash to stop motion doesn't work as I expected.

Daniel.
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Old 06-20-2005   #14
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If you're willing to invest in another flash, try to find one that has rear-curtain sync. I don't own the SB600, but I doubt it has it, or at least not usable with the M6.

The motion-haunting look that I'm guessing you're going for does work with normal front-curtain sync, but it's much better with rear-curtain. This means the flash fires at the end of the exposure instead of the beginning, so any blurred motion goes into the flash instead of away from it. The best photographs using this technique usually use rear-curtain.

However, now that I've said that, I'm not sure you can find one that would work with a mechanical camera. Metz would probably be your best bet.

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Sb600
Old 06-20-2005   #15
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Sb600

Rob,

The SB600 does have rear curtain sync but it only works on TTL, which isn't compatible with the Leica M's. The Metz 54 and the Sf20/24 do it, I believe, with the M6 and M7.

Take care,

Kent
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