Fill flash for LF : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Question: I need suggestions on a good fill flash; preferably one I can ajust manually, say, to 1/16 power. All I probably need is a shoe-mounted flash, but I'm open to suggestions...

-- Alan Cecil (, November 08, 2001


Just about any flash will work. I think having a good incident light meter (if you're using fill flash, you're nearby the subject, right?) to read both flash and ambient light to balance the lighting is more important than the flash used.

Personally, when the need arises, I use my old reliable of Metz 60 CT1 flash and a Sekonic L-328 meter. It's a combination that served me well for nearly 10 years with LF, longer with MF.

The key, I think, is to meter carefully and not blow out the scene with too much fill-in light from the flash. I typically start with a fill-in of one-stop less than the ambient light.

One good thing about most scenes using large format and modern lenses (in #1 & #0 shutters) is full flash synch up to 1/400-1/500 second and the ability to stop down to f/45 or f/64 if needed to balance the flash.

Whenever I find I have too much power from my Metz at full manual (as in a portrait where I want to use a wide aperture for shallow focus or slower shutter speed to blur a waterfall, etc), I use the auto settings with the unit on a light stand and test fire using the meter at various settings until the right balance is achieved.

You're almost always on a tripod anyway and there's usually plenty of time to set up the lighting just right.

If you have a Polaroid back, this is also a great help, especially when working early or late when the film's sensitivity to ambient light is reduced.

Hope this helps.

-- David Haynes (, November 08, 2001.

I guess I need to explain my situation...the meter I am using is a Gossen Ultra-Pro, which can meter both ambient light and flash together. I'm shooting with a Toyo C, using a 12" Rodenstock Imagon lens, which works best at fairly wide apetures [6.8-11], so I don't have the luxury of stopping down. I need a flash that I can ajust manually to low power [due to the wide apeture], and that will be consistent.

-- Alan Cecil (, November 08, 2001.

Key question is the maximum power you'll need. Virtually any unit that has a power ratio control to dial down flash output in manual mode should do the job for close work. Maximum working distance and bounce/diffusion needs should determine the maximum power you need, plus the usual tradoffs of size, weight and budget.

-- Steve Singleton (, November 08, 2001.

The most versatile gun I know of, bar none, is Sunpak's old Autozoom 3600 hammerhead model. It allows full manual control of its output down to 1/64th power, in 1/3rd stop intervals.

-- Pete Andrews (, November 08, 2001.

OTOH since you are able to totally control your environment why not go for maximum control and use at least one stand mounted strobe shooting with a softbox or some other reflector arrangement to guarantee you get the lighting effect you seek. Since I dont know what you are shooting I can;t be more specific.


-- quimby (, November 08, 2001.

you dont need variable power, you can always move the flash closer or farther to change the light intensity.

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (, November 08, 2001.

On the other - other hand . . . Here's my 2 cents. Sounds funny but it works for me.

Using any auto-exposure flash, adjust the ASA to double that of the film in use. This will yield 1/2 power or 1 stop less exposure. Double again for 1/4 power (2 stops less). And so on.

Example (with ASA 100 film -assuming ambient light of 1/400 sec. @ f8)

Set Flash ASA to 800 = 1 stop less (1/2 power) " " " " 1600 = 2 " " 1/4 "

Extrapolate the rest.

Then drink beer.

-- Steve Feldman (, November 09, 2001.

OOPS! Obviously I shouldn't use ditto marks in this posting. I'm sure you get the ideas though.


-- Steve Feldman (, November 09, 2001.

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