Canon Flash vs Nikon Flash issue!

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by ciprian, Aug 11, 2009.

  1. Before I decided to post this I've read a series of post about the "battle" of flashes ( Canon vs Nikon) and couldn't find the answer to my dilema so I decided to ask for your help.
    I shot a wedding recently together with a guy who was shooting Nikon and he told me that he switched from Canon to Nikon because he shoots with flash a lot and the Nikon flash system is so much better. Being a Canon shooter I took that to heart and I argued that it's not true, Canon is just as good. So he challenged me to a test.
    We were shooting inside a ball room, so we set the cameras to the same settings ( ISO, shutter speed and aperture, I don't remember the exact settings) and we did some tests. We shot in manual mode, aperture priority and program mode.
    To my surprise and disapointment hes images were better than mine. The images had people dancing in the foregraund and other people at the tables in the back ground, my images were only well lit in the foregraound but the background was dark. His images( remember we were shooting at the same settings) wre lit form foreground to background. For me to get the same result I had to bring down the shutter speed at like 1/30 of a second while his were at around 1/100 of a second. Even today I have to bump up the ISO and bring down the shutter speed to gather light in the back of the picture.
    I still believe to this day that the reason for this is because I don't know how to use the flash settings right despite the fact that I read the manual ( and books and on line articles) inside out.
    What was I doing ( still doing) wrong, why he's images at the same settings were so much better?
    How can I improve on this, and were I can go ( on line or books) to learn how to use the damn flash better?
    It's hard for me to believe that Canon doesn't make a flash system that is just as good as Nikon's.
    Thank you for your time, you can rip me a new one if you think I deserve it.
    Thank you.
    Ciprian.
     
  2. What was the equipment used? And can you post example photos? My guess is one of the following:
    * You missed a setting which was enabling his camera to better expose for ambient light. Either his ISO was higher or his aperture was wider.
    * His camera was set to optimize the highlights / shadows using the D-Lighting setting. Something you could have done in post processing or, with a newer Canon, using whatever they call their equivalent setting.
    I don't think it would have been a flash power issue because that would have likely overexposed the foreground on his shots. And I doubt you missed something as obvious as him bouncing his flash while you were shooting straight on. It has to be one of the other two.
    "Nikon has better flashes" is one of those urban legends I've heard many times but cannot substantiate. (I've used both.) The only problem with Canon's flash system IMHO is that Canon cameras bias the meter too strongly to the selected AF point. Since I have shutter AF activation turned off, I don't have to deal with that problem. (If you activate AF, then press the shutter as separate steps, the camera doesn't give any bias to the AF point that was used. Much more consistent flash exposure, at least with my older equipment.) But this is an issue when it comes to consistent flash exposure, not ambient light exposure. You're describing the latter problem.
    For the record I pretty much always shoot Manual when using the flash. I set my shutter speed as necessary to freeze subject motion and control ambient light exposure with ISO and aperture.
    If there's a Nikon advantage here it's in producing better out-of-camera JPEGs with D-Lighting when it comes to scenes with areas in deep shadow, which does seem to work. I can't say how Canon's new feature compares, and I never really cared because I post process my images any way and can do an even better job in PS.
     
  3. I should note that sometimes you also have to lower shutter speed to capture more ambient light, given the lighting conditions, and it can be a balancing act between freezing subject motion and getting the background.
     
  4. Daniel,
    I use a Canon 5D MII with a 35 mm 1.4 lens, canon 580 EX II, he had a Nikon ( ? model, I know it was not a full frame) and whatever top of the line SB flsh from Nikon. I did not miss any settings, we sat side by side and set the cameras and the flash to the same settings. We both bounced and use direct flash. His images were BETTER lit from foreground to background AND the people in the foreground were not overexposed. I had to lower the shutter speed ( as you suggested ) to get the same amount of ambient light in. So as I explained above I had to open the lens up, bump the ISO and lower the shutter speed to get the same kind of exposure ( i.e. shutter and aperture were higher than mine, a. e. I was: ISO 1250 , he was ISO 400, I was shutter 2.8 he was 5.6, I was 1/30 he was 1/100.
    This issue it's been bugging me ever since and I don't seem to find an explanation, maybe, as you suggested , is the D-Lightning thing that Nikon has!
    Now since you mentioned the AF bias with Canon ( my AF is always on the center point, the outside AF points are useless for direct focusing - they miss the exposure EVERY time. I know they are only suppose to help) maybe he had all the camera AF points active, however I still believe that with all AF points selected my Canon would have still gotten worse exposures than the Nikon.
    There must be an explanation! this is so annoying, I'm almost afraid to use flsah anymore ( I don't like on camera flash anyway !)
    Thanks,
    Ciprian.
     
  5. I'm having a hard time understanding the differences from your explanations. This could be answered very quickly with a couple shots from the test.
    If the foreground was equally exposed (roughly speaking), but the background had more ambient light exposure in the Nikon shots, then either a) the settings were not truly identical, or b) in camera processing lifted the shadows in the Nikon shot. The solutions are either a) match the settings, or b) try turning on HTP and Auto Lighting Optimizer. Another option in the case of b is to simply not worry about it and adjust levels to taste in post processing. There isn't really another option. Nikon flashes can't defy the physics of light fall off and give the background more output while holding the foreground the same as yours. I thought it was this situation from your initial post.
    If the foreground and background were brighter because they received more flash output in the Nikon shots, then you need to determine why your flash output was less than ideal. Your second post makes it sound like this was the problem. Was the AF point over a lightly colored foreground object? (I don't know how much AF bias there is in newer Canon cameras, I recall a friend telling me this was evened out a bit in later models. I would still test this.) Were you in the wrong metering mode? Did you have a flash attachment eating light output and not realize that your flash was struggling at its max output? Was flash exposure compensation set inadvertently on either the camera body or the flash? Was some other manual setting on the flash involved, messing up the situation?
    So as I explained above I had to open the lens up, bump the ISO and lower the shutter speed to get the same kind of exposure ( i.e. shutter and aperture were higher than mine, a. e. I was: ISO 1250 , he was ISO 400, I was shutter 2.8 he was 5.6, I was 1/30 he was 1/100.
    That's a 5 stop exposure difference. That leads me to believe one of the following:
    * Your flash wasn't firing correctly at all, and you were increasing exposure to the point that the scene was well lit off ambient light not realizing that the flash wasn't firing, or was firing but was not synced correctly to the shutter.
    * Your flash was firing, but was manually set to an output way too low for the scene and initial settings. As you increased exposure you made the camera more sensitive to both flash output and ambient light until you had an image roughly as bright as your friend's. (I suppose being in the wrong metering mode, i.e. partial or spot, could also bias the flash output to be way too low. But I would think over multiple shots this would swing the exposures from over to under exposure depending on what happened to be under the partial/spot section of the meter.)
    Again, a pair of test shots would really help. But something was clearly off if you needed 5 stops of additional exposure to get an image as bright or well lit as his. Your flash output was either not there (misfire), or way too low (screwed up setting). FYI, when attaching my flash I always, always do a test shot to make sure it's firing and syncing correctly. This is because on occasion I attach the flash and even though it fires, it's not syncing correctly and I have to detach/re-attach the flash and make sure it's seated properly on all contacts.
     
  6. zml

    zml

    my images were only well lit in the foregraound but the background was dark.​
    So how does it make a Nikon system better..? Do you think that the Nikon flash has some magic property and flashes more light on the background than a Canon flash..?
    It's all technique: you gotta lern what ratio of f/stop and shuter speed will give you a properly exposed background (i.e. mainly existing light exposure) and foreground (i.e. mainly flash exposure.) Play not only with f/stop and shutter settings (and ISO if you need to bump up exposure) but also with the flash power setting: sometimes it is very beneficial to set the flash output to less than 100% to make the foreground better exposed in relation to the background (not to mention that the lower power settings produce flashes of much shorter duration.)
     
  7. Ciprian,
    I use both Canon and Nikon cameras in my job as a newspaper photographer. When I need to use flash, I grab the Nikon. I believe the flash system is far superior and simpler to use, as you intimated. My assessment: Canon for autofocus excellence; Nikon for flash excellence.
    Regards,
    Steven
     
  8. When then new SB-800 flash features were discovered, some well known authority on photography (MP) wrote about Nikon iTTL/Balanced SB-800 flash revelation on his web site:
    Not remember exact words, something like: "The flash circumnavigates the inverse squre law"
    ... that seems to be the most reasonable explanation up to date, about the Nikon flash success.
    That falls right into saying: "in every gossip there must be a little doze of truth".
    Of course you deserve rights to laugh :)
     
  9. Have you actually looked at the images on a calibrated computer monitor? I think your 5-stop difference comes from simply looking at the images on the camera's LCD... and we all know accurate that is ;) That said, I did switch to Nikon for their flash system and couldn't be happier. I have also read that the Nikon flash system is better than Canon's and for me, I find this to be true. I had also read that Nikon treats the flash more as a key-light while Canon treats it more as a fill light, hence the out of box difference. Again, for me it seemed I had to constantly fiddle with the FEC on my 580's whereas I seldom fiddle with the FEC on my SB900. So I can relate as to why another photographer switched. But I do miss the wide, fast primes. Attached is a shot that amazed me soon after we switched. This was one SB800 on camera flash, taken by an assistant in training.
    00UCBJ-164483684.jpg
     
  10. All I know is that all the Nikon users I know tell me how much better their flash system is than Canon's. I think it's a meme.
    Since I don't use flash much, for all I know they're right, but it seems to be some sort of compensation for their jealousy of all the other things Canon got more right than Nikon (jes' joking, folks).
     
  11. zml

    zml

    Attached is a shot that amazed me​
    Could you elaborate..? Is the amazement due to a totally off white balance setting, iffy framing, psoriasis-like skin tones, ghastly shadows,..? Something entirely else..?
     
  12. Firstly , ask the Nikon guy if he used a feature on his camera called "BACKLIGHT"
    i have used both Canon & Nikon both with flashes and i have found both to be just as good except for that one feature on Nikon body ( 200D ) called BACKLIGHT .
     
  13. Could you elaborate..? Is the amazement due to a totally off white balance setting, iffy framing, psoriasis-like skin tones, ghastly shadows,..? Something entirely else..?​
    It was shot by an assistant in training from the back part of the pews with a 105mm lens. The framing may not be perfect, but for what she had to work with I think she did just fine. White-balance and skin tones are perhaps a bit cool- but this is as shot. The "ghastly" shadows are indeed the work of the flash. However, for some reason this was shot @ f/5. Not that it would have mattered much, there was virtually NO ambient light in the church. By that I mean a shot at f/2.8 w/o flash and a shutter of 1/50 @ ISO 1600 yielded a practically black frame. So while I don't understand the f/5 choice (which is why we train assistants), I am still amazed at the edge to edge coverage of the flash and the exposure of the flash at f/5 in a very dark church and at that distance. There wasn't a way to avoid the "ghastly" shadows at that point- and I think I would rather have this shot then none at all. On top of that, the people closest to the flash, while too hot, are not blown out white. Something Frank eluded to in his post:
    "The flash circumnavigates the inverse squre law"
    As to your personal opinion of the shot, well they are what they are. But it still doesn't detract from the fact I never got this kind of flash coverage from my 580's.
     
  14. I shoot Canon and love it. However, in my opinion and experience the Nikon flash system is far superior. After spending time in St. Lucia with Joe McNally and seeing what everyone else in the class was doing, it was fairly obvious. Also read Syl Arena's blog post about Canon flashes. he's a die hard Canon guy and has several complaints about the system. Even with the new Pocket Wizards which do TTL, I was still struggling. Now with that said, if I went old school and use my PW and everything manual, I can get the same results, but it takes more time to dial everything in. IN a wedding situation, this might not be desireable.
    My two cents for what it's worth.
    -John
     
  15. I've also used both Canon and Nikon flash, and basically what I found is that Canon tends to underexpose in comparison. I shoot Canon for weddings and I hate ETTL--evaluative. Too much mumbo jumbo about comparing segments, trying to figure out foreground and background, etc. ETTL evaluative will also almost shut down when there is flash back or highly reflective material in the scene. I use ETTL averaging flash metering and generally do OK. The best flash metering I've used is actually Metz auto thyristor. Not perfect, but logical, and therefore, controllably consistent.
    As for doing comparison testing, the LCD is not the best thing to use for comparisons, as mentioned, and auto modes are not the best thing to use either. I don't know about the 5D II, but on all cameras previous, using aperture priority, for instance (on custom function default), means that the camera sets an EV appropriate for the ambient light--always. With Nikon cameras, I believe in aperture priority, the shutter is set around 1/60th. So big difference in how the comparison images will look. I believe the 5D II has a custom function whereby you can make the camera use 1/125th or something in AV, don't know for sure. I would also venture to say that probably ETTL evaluative is 'better' than Nikon for outdoor fill flash.
    Also, on the 5DII, I assume the metering pattern is the same as the 5D--a grid of 35 segments. I find that with ETTL evaluative, any light colored objects in front of the subject skew the exposure a lot. So a guy in a white shirt standing in front of the main subject is going to cause a lot of underexposure of anything beyond the guy/white shirt. Not to mention the white shirt causes underexposure to begin with.
    The best way to test is to use manual camera mode, to control the flash/ambient balance yourself. I am sorry, but I don't believe any flash can circumvent the inverse square law. I would also leave bouncing out of this. Bouncing brings in a whole other set of variables, namely the bounce surfaces.
    Did you test Canon ETTL-averaging?
    By the way, Daniel, ETTL II is not so active focus point dependent. It is a factor, but one of several/many factors considered.
    Read all the articles at planetneil.com on using on camera flash. There are a lot of them, and if you read and understand them all, you will know a lot about using flash. If you've read them already and are still using automated modes to shoot wedding receptions, I'd say go back and re-read them. Even if you are using a Nikon.
     
  16. zml

    zml

    (a duplicate of my earlier post - no idea it ended up here, perhaps because I hit the refresh button...please delete it if possible)
     
  17. The assumption that the same camera and flash settings should lead to the same result is probably wrong. Both systems have their own idiosyncracies that you should be aware of before comparing results. I have never used Nikon but from several pnet posts I have the impression that Canon is better for fill-in flash, Nikon for using flash as a main light. Whatever the differences are, when you have chosen the shutter speed, aperture, ISO and amount and direction of flash(es) you basically have defined all paramaters that matter. It is not so much the brand but the photographer that matters.
     
  18. First off, the examples that I gave in regards to the camera and flsh settings were arbitrary, I can't remember the exact settings so there weren't 5 stops difference. I can tell you for a fact that we set up the cameras and the flashes to EXACTLY the same settings, in manual mode ( the big settings that is - ISO, shutter and aperture).
    Daniel, I dont use the Canon Software so I can't use the HTP, I shoot thousand of images every week and going in PS to fix stuff is not an option so I need my images to come properly framed and exposed out of the camera. How do I know if the flash is synced correctly, how do you test that?
    Michael,
    I know that by doing different settings ( aperture, shutter, ISO) you can get the correct exposure, the issue here is that, and I hate to say it, at the same settings Nikon blows Canon out of the water.
    John,
    I do use a calibrated NEC monitor and you coudn't be more right about Canon being more of a fill flash, I attached your image to what I believe the Canon flash would have done to this image.
    Nadine,
    You're so right about the underexposed shots with ETTL evaluative. I will try using ETTL average but I'm very doubtful that will change things for the better.
    Jos,
    It's not that the results should be the same, the problem is that the results are drastically different. I dare you to go shoot with a Nikon guy, get the same settings on both cameras and fleshes and you'll be blown away how big of a difference there will be between the two.
    I've been a Canon shooter for over a decade now and I love Canon but I do feel like *X&$#**X&$#**X&$#**X&$#* everytime I have to put the flash on.
    I will try to find somebody with Nikon system and do some testing, i will post the results here.
    Thank you all for the insight in what to me is my nightmare, flash photography.
     
  19. Here is what I think Canon would have given you.
    00UCO3-164601584.jpg
     
  20. First off, the examples that I gave in regards to the camera and flash settings were arbitrary, I can't remember the exact settings so there weren't 5 stops difference. I can tell you for a fact that we set up the cameras and the flashes to EXACTLY the same settings, in manual mode ( the big settings that is - ISO, shutter and aperture).
    Daniel, I dont use the Canon Software so I can't use the HTP, I shoot thousand of images every week and going in PS to fix stuff is not an option so I need my images to come properly framed and exposed out of the camera. How do I know if the flash is synced correctly, how do you test that?
    Michael,
    I know that by doing different settings ( aperture, shutter, ISO) you can get the correct exposure, the issue here is that, and I hate to say it, at the same settings Nikon blows Canon out of the water.
    John,
    I do use a calibrated NEC monitor and you couldn't be more right about Canon being more of a fill flash, I attached your image to what I believe the Canon flash would have done to this image.
    Nadine,
    You're so right about the underexposed shots with ETTL evaluative. I will try using ETTL average but I'm very doubtful that will change things for the better.
    Jos,
    It's not that the results should be the same, the problem is that the results are drastically different. I dare you to go shoot with a Nikon guy, get the same settings on both cameras and flashes and you'll be blown away how big of a difference there will be between the two.
    I've been a Canon shooter for over a decade now and I love Canon but I do feel like *X&$#**X&$#**X&$#**X&$#* everytime I have to put the flash on.
    I will try to find somebody with Nikon system and do some testing, i will post the results here.
    Thank you all for the insight in what to me is my nightmare, flash photography.
     
  21. Nadine - I have to believe from your post that ETTL-II is still too biased to the AF point. I don't have the problem of brightly colored objects severely skewing flash exposure. But I can reproduce that behavior by activating AF simultaneously with the shutter release. (I have a sneaking suspicion that this single mistake is why Canon's flash system has a bad reputation.)
    Ciprian - I thought HTP was a setting on the camera and usable with JPEGs? Same with Lighting Optimizer. As for the flash firing correctly you just need to walk into a dark room and take a shot with aperture/shutter/ISO settings that would result in a black frame without the flash. Either the shot will be black or properly lit. If it's black, the flash isn't seated properly.
    I know that by doing different settings ( aperture, shutter, ISO) you can get the correct exposure, the issue here is that, and I hate to say it, at the same settings Nikon blows Canon out of the water.
    What you're saying doesn't make sense, and the more I think about what you've described, the more I think you missed a setting, or something is very wrong (i.e. flash on manual or not seated properly). (Again, a sample pair would put this to rest.)
    * If the Nikon captured more ambient light, not raised the shadow detail with in camera processing but actually captured more ambient light, then the settings could not have been identical. Period. A Nikon sensor at ISO XYZ has the same sensitivity as a Canon sensor at ISO XYZ, and the same aperture/shutter values allow the same amount of light to fall on the sensor.
    * If the Canon is underexposing the scene with flash output that is too low, then changing the settings won't help. The camera will keep adjusting the flash output lower as you open the aperture and raise ISO because this is a metering mistake, and the camera computes the meter reading against your settings to determine flash output. It's going to make the same mistake regardless of your settings.
    I'm curious: did you happen to try flash exposure compensation during your test? If so, what were the results? If your 5D mkII just consistently chooses a lower flash output versus your friend's Nikon, then you should be able to get what you want by dialing in +1 or +2 stops. (The question then becomes why do you need to do this? I would test AF point bias and metering pattern.)
    BTW, the photo posted by John is about what I would expect from my Canon equipment. I don't know why he considers it to be a special Nikon achievement unless he was constantly running into excessive AF point bias with Canon. (Though, in my testing, that can go either way, under or over exposure.)
     
  22. Daniel,
    What do you mean by "activating AF simultaneously with the shutter release"?
    HTP is post processing only, what I meant by "doing different settings" was that yes, if you change settings around you will get same results as the Nikon flash only that the shutter speed on Canon is say 1/30 instead of 1/100 on a Nikon. I know that looking at things from a complete realistic and methodical view it's impossible for a Nikon flash to get more ambient light in and yet IT DOES! How? No clue!
    Where I find Canon flash to suck big time is when the subject is back lit, it underexposes EVERYTIME!
    If did play around with flash exposure compensation but it overexposes the foreground.
    The photo posted by John would have never come out that well exposed out of a Canon camera, the further away from the subject the worse the Canon flash exposure gets.
    You seem a very avid suporter of Canon flashes , I wish I could be the same, I still belive that I'm the one who doesn't know how to use it properly but at the same time I have my doubts about the Canon flash.
     
  23. I don't use flash. So I asked at work about this, as I thought the top two manufacturers flash systems would be comparable. The answer from our resident tech guru is that Nikon sometimes gives you better results because of colour matrix metering and Active D Lighting. The flash systems themselves are comparable. On the stats it seems that less pros are actually buying flash systems now because the latest offerings from C and N are so good at high ISOs. The news guys seem to just put everything on auto, flash included, and fire away. In this manner it seems that a current Nikon D300/700/3 camera figures it all out a bit better on auto than Canon. Would we amateurs notice? Probably not.
     
  24. Daniel--it isn't brightly colored objects, it is white or light colored objects. And if you have a 1 series camera, the metering pattern is different. On the 5D (and II, I think), the metering pattern is a grid of 35 segments. On a 1 series camera, the metering sensitivity is kind of center weighted.
    As for the focus point bias, it used to drive me crazy on my EOS 3 and Elan (original ETTL), and it isn't half as bad with ETTL II, so got to disagree with you there. I also disagree that this one thing is Canon's flash downfall. To me it is the set of ETTL evaluative algorithms--that they don't explain. Averaging on a 5D type camera I understand--the exposure is averaged across the 35 segments, period.
    As for the rest of it, Ciprian, unless you intend to use automated camera modes for flash indoors or when flash is primary, I don't know why it matters if Nikon has better 'set and forget' flash metering. If you use camera manual mode, you are controlling flash to ambient balance. If you test your flash metering enough to predict how it will respond, you are controlling the flash metering. So you are master of the light, which is what a photographer is, right? :^)
    If the flash underexposes EVERYTIME in backlit situations, you should be setting plus comp EVERYTIME.
    On John's sample, I would say any flash is going to overexpose the foreground. That is according to the inverse square law. Sorry, but I don't believe a flash metering system can circumvent that.
    I think you should do more tests before giving up on the Canon flash system. Just curious--have you read the planetneil articles or the photonotes.org/eos flash articles?
     
  25. In response as to why I think that's a good example photo, let me "dissect" that photo. First, it was shot @ f/5, the ONLY light present in that image is the light from the flash. At f/5, there is no ambient to speak of. What impresses me is first, just the pure reach of the flash. To get the same type of throw (about 15' at the closest and up to 20-21' at the furthest) from my 580's would have meant bumping the FEC to +2 or more. If I did that though, the heads in front of the lens would be completely blown out. Besides the throw, the priest is about 3 feet behind our subject (the couple coming down the aisle) and the other bridesmaid is about 3 feet behind our subject in another direction. And, the curtain behind the priest is yet another 4 feet or so behind him. This was shot with the flash forward (Cathedral ceiling) using the Nikon diffuser (Sto-fen type). I was impressed by the overall lighting of the scene, front to back, corner to corner, from a shoe mount flash. Perhaps I was more impressed than I should have been but in my 6 or 7 years shooting Canon, I never experienced flash coverage like that. Ever. Assuming I had upped the FEC to cover the distance, I would have still had normal flash fall off on the subjects behind as well as bright white heads in front of the lens. In other words, my light would have been all over the place. Could I have been doing something wrong with the Canon system all these years- sure. Whatever it was, it's a non-issue with me and Nikon. Which all leads back to: "The flash circumnavigates the inverse squre law". So I am saying I can relate with what Ciprian is saying/experiencing.
    On another note, I can whole-heartedly say that I wish I had tested a 1D series camera prior to making the switch. According to Canon's own literature, the 1D series has the best AF and metering system. All other Canon bodies use their 2nd best system! I have both a Nikon D90 and a D300 (two of each actually). The D300 uses Nikon's best AF and metering while the D90 uses their "in-between" system. There is no doubt the exposures are more consistent on the D300. There is no doubt the AF is better- as judged by the number of OOF shots of moving subjects I get with the D300 vs the D90 AND the ability to Macro AF (on something like the rings in the flowers). Which leads me to conclude that there is a respectable difference and I wish I had tried Canon's "best" prior to the switch. But I am happier with my current results than I was using the 40D/580/24-70 f/2.8 when I was shooting Canon.
     
  26. I use both Canon and Nikon. I typically also preferred my Nikon when shooting flash, especially when I used my 5D which I found gave me very poor flash results. I now find using the 5D Mark II that I am getting exceptional results when using it with 530EXII. IMO, the flash results are every bit as good and in some cases better with the Canon setup than my Nikon. Nikon's wireless CLS system is far superior to Canon's at this point in time.
    Getting back to your original question... A friend of mine has a D90 and amazed me with some of his shots of large halls he shot using his SB-400 flash (Nikon's smallest, lowest power flash in their current lineup). In evaluating his images and looking at his camera's settings, I believe that certain settings in the camera, specifically but not limited to Nikon's 'D-Lighting' is why the flash exposures appear to be so well balanced. Using software like Photoshop, DXO, etc., you can get the same results.
     
  27. OK, this is a topic for another discussion perhaps, but I still can't believe a flash metering system can circumvent the inverse square law. I don't see evidence of that in the sample shown. The heads in front are blown out. I do see that the subjects are correctly exposed. I do see that subject distance has helped even out apparent light fall off (this is nothing special to Nikon) and I do see that the Stofen type diffuser has had some effect, probably from the white walls of the church (again, nothing special to Nikon). I know that without upping the compensation, ETTL evaluative would have underexposed, not only from 'seeing' the heads in front, but because of the white wall. ETTL averaging less so. So far, the only thing I see different is that ETTL would have underexposed, and i-TTL got the subject exposure correct without comp. I do not see any circumventing of the inverse square law.
    I know nothing about D-Light. What I just read is that it alters the contrast in a scene and there are a few downsides, such as increased noise. How does that work with flash?
     
  28. Ciprian -What do you mean by "activating AF simultaneously with the shutter release"?
    On my camera I use a custom function so that AF is activated with the rear button, not the shutter button. If I AF, release the AF button, then fire a shot, the camera does not bias exposure to the AF point that was used for focusing. If I hold down the AF button and fire, it does. Playing with the flash attached I can see a large difference in exposure depending on whether or not I'm holding the AF button. Canon's flash metering is too biased to the selected AF point IMHO, especially in E-TTL I.
    what I meant by "doing different settings" was that yes, if you change settings around you will get same results as the Nikon flash only that the shutter speed on Canon is say 1/30 instead of 1/100 on a Nikon. I know that looking at things from a complete realistic and methodical view it's impossible for a Nikon flash to get more ambient light in and yet IT DOES! How? No clue!
    Ambient light is existing light in the scene that has nothing to do with the flash. It's light that would be recorded if you took the flash off and put it in your bag. The flash brand or model cannot "get" more of it.
    You're saying different things in different posts and therefore it's impossible to nail down what was going wrong. At this point I would guess multiple things. If there were shots with identical settings, identical foreground flash exposure, and background ambient exposure which seemed to be different, the only answer is in camera processing. There's nothing wrong with that answer. I've read high praise for D-Lighting. But it's nothing that couldn't be done in post, even with thousands of images in an automated fashion. (I have no idea if Canon's Lighting Optimizer works as well or not. It would be worth trying.)
    If the background was also lit primarily by the flash, and this light from the flash looks better in your friend's shot, it's not because Nikon learned how to break the laws of physics. It's also most likely due to in camera processing, or possibly due to a flash attachment. (I'm assuming you weren't overlooking flash head position.)
    There's not much else to say without sample photos.
     
  29. Nadine - OK, this is a topic for another discussion perhaps, but I still can't believe a flash metering system can circumvent the inverse square law.
    Of course not. It's a law of physics.
    I know nothing about D-Light. What I just read is that it alters the contrast in a scene and there are a few downsides, such as increased noise. How does that work with flash?
    It would brighten the shadow detail (i.e. the background which received less light due to fall off) to achieve better balance with the rest of the photo. You can do the same thing with various PS tools, such as the "Shadows/Highlights" command. One version of PS Elements had a similar command literally named "Fill Flash". (It might still be there in the latest.) This would increase noise because you're making everything in the shadows brighter, including noise.
     
  30. Here is a sample of Auto Lighting Optimizer at work with the 5D mkII: http://thefire.us/archives/292
    It's going to do something similar with a background which is dark due to flash light fall off. It's what D-Lighting would do.
     
  31. OK Daniel, understood. Now, what camera are you using? I'm going to try your experiment with the AF button on my camera, but since I use ETTL averaging, I kind of doubt anything is going to happen. That is one of the tricks I used to use with ETTL, the original.
     
  32. There seems to be a surprising lack of understanding of the inverse square law by some participants of this forum. If his background is better, then it's very unlikely to be a difference in flash output. It could certainly be technique, such as bouncing light against a white ceiling or using a flash diffuser. But that's a difference between photographers, or between sensors, or a difference in high ISO capability of the sensor. That's not flash output.
    To make your point that one system is better, you need to balance the most critical variable in photo quality -- the brain two inches behind the eyepiece.
    As a Canon shooter, I envy the ability to do second curtain sync on a remote, and some subtle qualities of the Nikon trigger system. But I'm not sold by the above unfair comparison.
    Dave
     
  33. My freind has a D80 and I have seen some flash shots from him that amazed me and would simply be impossible on my drebel - dark guy in dark shirt sitting back, fair girl forward yet both perfectly exposed.
    I think Nikons flash system also has different diffusion modes - portrait throws mre light to the center, group throws light out evenly and I think they have one other mode. Maybe this accounts for soem of Nikon's flash superiority.
    I have never thought the canon system very good and I look at photos I shot 20 years ago with a Sunpak autothyristor and suspect that all this ETTL and ETTL11 nonsense while very technically advanced has just taken things backwards.
     
  34. I will try to get a friend ( Nikon shooter)to shoot with me soon and I will post the results.
    Daniel,
    I also use the back AF for focusing so i'll pay attention to what you mentioned about it.
    Thank you guys.
    Ciprian.
     
  35. "I think Nikons flash system also has different diffusion modes - portrait throws mre light to the center, group throws light out evenly and I think they have one other mode. Maybe this accounts for soem of Nikon's flash superiority."
    i'm a nikon shooter, and there is nothing like what you are describing. the sb900 has different dispersion patterns from center/standard/full but this is a custom engaged function and not updated by the metering or whatnot. i've switched to pocketwizards and a vivitar along with my sb900 as 500 ponies a flash is too much. going manual is what i'm liking.
    this is plain and simple the other shooter knowing more how to balance and control his light. i'm sure you're all aware that flash technique is so far more important than just simply metering and blasting. if there was more "ambient light" at the same ISO, shutter and aperture, that must mean s/he bounced his/her flash to get more light thrown around and appear ambient. don't switch to nikon just for flash, read strobist or zach arias' one light dvd. it'll be far cheaper and more rewarding.
    but i guess my main point is that if the other shooter can't drag the shutter to get more light (against the rules of the contest), then you are not actually seeing "ambient" light at all- that's good flash technique--bounce. but i wasn't there so i certainly don't know. about active d-lighting, i don't use it and but it certainly won't give you results like what you are describing; if i understand, you are saying your background was a few stops underexposed: d-lighting will not give you this back.
    and yes, you can get a general idea about exposure from LCD screens, you don't need a calibrated NEC to see differences. i agree that LCD's make underexposed shots look better than they should, but you can tell global contrasts like background way lower relative to foreground on an LCD. The calibrated monitor test fails.
     
  36. "active d-lighting, i.... won't give you results like what you are describing"
    Either D-Lighting or something else in the camera's settings or a combination of in-camera settings do give the exact results the OP is describing. The good news is that this appearance can be reproduced well via software during post and perhaps in-camera with some setting adjustments.
    The bottom line is that there is no 'magic' to Nikon's results, just clever and effective and image processing. Nikons SB flashes are equivalent to Canon's EX flashes - both offer a single light source. Whatever the Nikon can produce via flash can be reproduced with Canon all things being equal.
     
  37. I dont understand why for some people is so hard to understand that the whole Nikon lighting system is just far superior period.
    I shoot both Nikon and Canon and for me this is just a matter of choosing what I need, where I need, when I need, so if heavy use of flash is needed then Nikon will be the obvious choice for the easy of use and reliability on the exposure, not to mention you can use multiple units as slaves without the need of a pocket wizzard,,, but then again this posting will become a war of the brands, cause ppl who only use Canon will feel insulted.
    The Nikon lighting system is just good out of the box, easy to use and reliable, I dont say Canon can not replicate the results on the hands of a very experienced person but sometimes that takes precious time away from a shot...
     
  38. I understand, that with Nikons more advanced cameras (e.g. D3/D700) and flashes (e.g. SB900/800), several systems work together to ensure good flash exposure. The iTTL-system fires pre-flashes and the result is measured by a separate 1005 pixel RGB sensor. The information is then evaluated by the 3D Color Matrix system, which tries to recognize the motive type by matching with a build-in motive database (containing information like brightness, contrast, chosen AF-points, colors, distance to motive, bounce setting etc.) and then tries to expose best possible. The iTTL-BL tries to balance the flash, with ambient light. These systems also support multiple flashes – either by sync cable or wireless. The iTTL-system works well in practice, but is not flawless. Then again - what is?
     
  39. Same ol', same ol'? Atually this seems to be quite an sensible thread for beeing on such a sensitive topic.
    I am also one of those that have used both systems (film based). I used the Canon EOS 5 (A2E + 420 EZ flash) for several years and liked it a lot. It had all the bells and whistles I thought I could ever need. Boy was I in for a surprise when I later discovered that I ended up taking better shots with the Pentax 67 using a separate Minolta meeter. And that with a camera that only had shutter and aperture dials... My, my, it is not the camera then, but the photographer. The lack of features on the Pentax made me think more before snapping away. I later went back to 35 mm, this time with a used Nikon F90 (+SB-25 flash) and loved it so much I stayed with Nikon when I moved to digital. My point is that both systems are equally capable. However, for certain situations one might be easier to get perfect results from than the other. And perfect here is in the eye of the beholder. If one really was that much better the other would dissappear, but they are both still around. Any difference observed between two systems under identical conditions might also reflect the manufacturers ideas of what makes a good photograph, right?
    A good photographer learns the tools he/she uses and learns how to master it for any given situation. This includes using compensatory tools every now and then. The secret of the trade is knowing when to do what and how. So what if our Canon friend here has to open up an f/stop or use a longer shutter speed than his Nikon using friend? Does is really matter to their clients? Surely not. Many people say Nikons overexpose, well if it does overexpose dial in some exposure compensation then? Nowadays, photopgraphy is a hobby of mine and yes, I am amazed by some of the "toys", but they are merely tools for creating images.
    One a sidenote (related to the ever so infested Canon vs. Nikon flame war), a large Swedish consumer guide-type of magazine tested about a dozen DSLRs. The Nikon D90 gave the worst images of the lot right out of the box. Haha said the Swedish Canon users. While the Nikon camp questioned using only out-of-the-box-settings the Canon fans said this was a reliable test, especially since Canon came 1st, 2nd and 4th. This showed everyone that Canons are the way to go. The Canon fans overlooked the fact that the Canon that came in first was the cheapest Canon, the one in second place the second cheapest and the one in fourth place the most expensive of the three. They where so enthusiastic over the "proof" of Nikon's "lousy camera" they gladly overlooked the other equally obvious conclusion from that test; the more you pay for a Canon, the worse camera you get for your money...
    Cipric, why not have a look at the EXIF data since so many people question your claim on using identical settings? Does it really matter if what you say is true? I think not.
    What matters is learning to get the most out of your gear, no matter what name might be inprinted on the pentaprism...
     
  40. "Whatever the Nikon can produce via flash can be reproduced with Canon all things being equal." - problem with this statement is that all things cannot be equal. Both systems use different algorithms, metering, balancing and knowledge base refrenced to achieve final effect
    "why not have a look at the EXIF data since so many people question your claim on using identical settings?" - EXIF data cannot provide a clue what flash determination was used, how flashes arrived with different settings, what influenced final outcome, etc. EXIF just cannot contain, and is not ready yet for this amount of information, that is not provided to recorded image file by the CLS processor.
    " The iTTL-BL tries to balance the flash, with ambient light. These systems also support multiple flashes – either by sync cable or wireless." - CLS multiflash system is totally wireless. It cannot accept cables to sync other remote flashes.
     
  41. shouldn't use a hand-hold meter to get the ambient light measurement first? this way, both camera eliminate the measurement difference.
    if a half frame camera obtain a f 4.0, 1/100, how can you use it on a full frame camera?
     
  42. I've heard good things about the Nikon flash system. I've heard that it's easier to use than Canon's.
    That said, once I learned how to use Canon flashes, I've been very happy with what I can do with them.
    Eric
     
  43. Two words: Commander mode.

    Pretty soon that will probably be enough to get me to change brands...
     
  44. Nadine - all my bodies / flashes are currently ETTL I. I'm curious to see if you find any differences with ETTL II depending on AF point.
     
  45. So where's the bad Canon shot that is shooting the same scene as the great Nikon shot? All my bodies and flashes are ETTL II, and I have no problems with flash.
     
  46. Daniel--I did a test using my 5D and 580EX (both the original, not II). I used a black desk clock (centered) sitting on a dark wood surface with a light yellow wall right behind. First, I would expect, using ETTL averaging, that I'd need to up the compensation by 1 1/3 stops, due to the light colored wall. I used 1/200, f4, ISO 400, zero comp on the flash.
    I used ETTL averaging first, using the * button to focus. Taking my finger completely off the button, I took a shot. It was underexposed as expected. It took, actually 1 2/3 stop or 2 stops comp to get the histogram to where I wanted it.
    Then, I set the focus to the shutter button, used the center focus point (dead center on the black clock), and shot again. Then I set the focus point to one of the outer ones on the light colored wall and shot again. All of the exposures and histograms were basically the same. Slight variations (less than 1/3 stop) were probably from framing--I didn't use a tripod to lock the camera down.
    Then I did the whole thing again using ETTL evaluative, and results were almost exactly the same. What do you think?
    Jose--I don't have a hard time understanding why Nikon's flash system is superior (I wouldn't say 'far' superior). I think anything is better than ETTL evaluative when using flash as primary. The question, "Why?" is interesting though. Reading Torben's description, I think maybe the database or distance info makes a big difference. Didn't Nikon patent their distance using flash metering system? And didn't Canon have a hard time incorporating the distance method into their system?
    In any case, to me, it doesn't matter if iTTL is 'better'. Maybe, if flash primary shooting is highly important, one should use Nikon. Use the tools that make your job easier. Or if you want a flash system that you can 'set and forget', use Nikon. Its just the urban legend aspect of Nikon flash that is amusing. Such as circumventing the inverse square law. It seems to me the only thing I can figure out is the difference between ETTL and iTTL is that iTTL gets the subject exposure correct more often and ETTL underexposes. There is no way that iTTL can be selectively determing that this part of the scene needs more light and that part, less light...especially if it goes against the law of physics.
    I agree completely with Neil Van Niekirk, who wrote the following piece. Use and test the camera and flash that you have, learn to work it and work with it, and be happy.
    http://www.planetneil.com/tangents/2009/03/25/ttl-flash-canon-and-nikon/
     
  47. Also, any definitive conclusions about the differences between the two systems should only be made after testing identical subjects and conditions, as Neil did. And defining the goals first. I'd say, and Neil's test kinda supports this--that ETTL is 'easier/better' to use for fill flash than iTTL.
     
  48. Frank ... "all things cannot be equal"
    I am referring to shooting RAW, and using the same ISO, aperture and shutter speed. Flash output would be more difficult to control as you cannot use the same flash on both cameras but I believe through simple adjustments you can get the two flashes to be balanced so the output is equivalent. While examining Nikon's RAWi mages in NX and Canon's RAW image in DPP will have camera settings affect the images, opening the files in a setting neutral program like Photoshop will give unbiased results.
    Although the testing method is flawed (IMO), if you look at the backgrounds of the images in the link Nadine gives, you will notice little or no difference in illumination between the two cameras. This is to be expected WITHOUT taking in-camera 'D-Lighting' or equivalent features into account.
     
  49. Frank, EXIC data will give us ISO, shutter speed, aperture and camera mode, RAW/JPEG settings - settings previous posters doubted where identical in Cipric's comparison.
     
  50. I believe reliability is what a photographer expects from a camera system.
    A hand held exposimeter will always read the incident light in the same way, and reflected light in the same way, so this gives the photographer the expected reliability.
    If I use a handheld exposimeter to measure reflected light from a white surface, I need to compensate before entering the exposure value into the camera. Same thing if I meter from a black surface.
    The exposimeter within the camera is a reflective exposimeter, and I expect it to behave just like that, and that's they way the exposimeter in my cameras behave (with some minor changes when the exposure pattern is changed).
    A couple years ago I did a quick test with my 20D + 580EX to compare the ETTL-II to the equivalent Nikon Flash Exposure algorithm, but never found a Nikonian to complete the test. This test basically demonstrates that the ETTL-II needs the same compensation needed when measuring with a reflective handheld exposimeter. Perhaps the Nikon's RGB system will find the difference between white, gray and black, and neglect the need of manual compensation, Is that the case? I really would like to know that. Perhaps my test didn't include more elaborated scenarios, like a white target over a black background, or focus point bias, or several targets at different distances, but I will add those if a Nikon user wants to perform the same set of controlled tests to compare the systems.
    Real life experience would be much better, but difficult to measure. If the photographer in the only photo in this thread would aim higher, to avoid the heads in the foreground, the exposure could be quite different, so that test doesn't helps to me. If, in the same photo, a Canon flash had a Stofen, we don't know if the Nikon diffusor could make the difference, so this is how we end taking pictures of brick walls, just to have a measurable comparison.
    Is a Nikonian interested in the test? Could we open a new thread to let fellow photonetters decide the test rules?
    My old test is in Spanish (http://www.rubenleal.com/ETTL/), but here's an auto translation from Google (I need to translate it to make sure we don't have Google translation errors):
    http://translate.google.com/translate?prev=hp&hl=en&js=y&u=www.rubenleal.com/ETTL/&sl=es&tl=en
     
  51. I also want to add (in a separate message, to avoid mixing it with the test mentioned before), that I believe the Nikon flash can not "circumvent the inverse square law", but it is possible that the OP could find a difference in the final results due to additional in-camera processing, such as the mentioned D-Lighting, which, at the end, may be considered as an integral part of the Nikon Flash System.
     
  52. Just a bit of a guess...I think the one feature at play here is i-TTL BL (balanced lighting), where the flash will attempt to light fore- and background. I'm not a flash guru, and I have very little experience with Canon flashes, but the effect in what the topic starter described seems to fit the marketing description of iTTL BL perfectly.
    Active D-Lightning (ADL) does not make flash work any better, in my experience the opposite. Since the camera is set to underexpose with ADL turned on, the flash also seems to be underpowered when used on auto. I found results with flash (on auto) and ADL activated quite disappointing, but I'm no flash wizard so I might have missed a setting. And to put this difference on the post processing... well, sounds a bit unlikely, a Canon RAW will have around the same latitude as a Nikon RAW.
    By the way: one of the reasons why these forums are a nice place to hang around: a Canon versus Nikon discussion without senseless name-calling... you honestly don't find that elsewhere.
     
  53. I'll admit I'm far from a professional, but I'm having a hard time following some of the arguments in this thread. How can one camera and flash system really be "better" than another? I will give you that some of the automated systems may do a better job of metering the scene, but in the end metering serves only to decide which settings to use and the final result is this shutter speed, this aperture and this flash output (and possibly this ISO setting). I don't see how one camera can use these three (or four) settings better than another.
    Can the Nikon flash output different amounts of light to different areas of the scene? Can the camera amplify or suppress light selectively from different areas of the scene? Discounting drastic differences in sensor quality, one should be able to set either camera up to do whatever you want (within the confines of what's possible). I don't see this as a superior system, I see it as a superior flash photographer. Perhaps Nikon's system lends itself to better results with automatic settings or "out of the box," but I just won't believe that one system will do something that another won't with only four perameters of exposure since both cameras use the same type of shutter, aperture, flash output and ISO settings. It's just a matter of learning your system.
     
  54. With respect, I disagree. I know how to control my exposure. I am versed in the shutter, aperture, ISO (and WB!). I would agree that proper exposure is obtained via these controls. However, according to Canon's own literature, their top two bodies have a better metering system then all their other bodies. I never had the pleasure of shooting with one of Canon's top two bodies. I have however, shot with a Nikon D90 and a Nikon D300. The D300 essentially uses Nikon's best AF/metering whereas the D90 uses what I guess we will call their 2nd best system (and their cheaper bodies use a different system). I can say that there is a difference. The D300 will meter more accurately than the D90. I can only assume that Canon's top two bodies will meter more accurately than their other bodies. Therefore the D300 is more consistent than the D90. And when using your flash in Nikon's iTTL or Canon's eTTL, this initial metering is critical, in event shooting you often don't get a 2nd shot. Perhaps it is a simple as Nikon utilizing a their in camera database to determine the exact power at which to fire the flash, I don't know. And honestly don't care. I do know that my flash exposures are far more consistent than anything I got using eTTL. Could I achieve what I wanted with eTTL, sure. It just took more of an effort- where flash photography was concerned. If we assume a scene has a perfect exposure, the question becomes, which system will get you closest to that perfect exposure faster? Not that each can't create a perfect exposure.
    I want to add that I really wish I could afford to shoot both systems. I really miss my 24-105 at times. I really miss the availability of wide, fast primes. I really liked having more affordable lenses. It seemed to me that the AF on the Canon cameras was faster (though ultimately not as accurate- but again I wish I has shot with a D series.). It's a matter of choice.
     
  55. I guess I don't agree with you on the definition of "better." As I noted, the Nikon system may be "better" faster or easier, but the OP was suggesting that the Nikon system would do something the Canon would not. To that I say, no way. In the end, it all comes down to aperture, shutter speed, flash output and ISO. I don't consider white balance a part of it because when shooting RAW, it is a factor for post processing and not exposure. And even if you're shooting JPEG, if your flash is the primary light source (particularly in a dark setting with little other influencing light) then white balance should be straightforward.
    The OP was suggesting that the Nikon flash was doing a better job of lighting the main subjects and the background, all while correctly exposing all parts of the frame. Like I said before, perhaps the Nikon camera metered it better, but in the end it exposed the scene using the same four aspects of exposure that the Canon did.
     
  56. I use the ettl system and have very little probs, its not fool proof and does require imput to work it, I still use the FEL dance which started back with the T90 as I still don`t trust full auto and prefer control. the same settings and distance to subject requires the same intensity of light for correct exposure with a foreground subject regardless of equipment used as I see it. Fall off would be the same if the angle of the flash head reflectors equal. One thing that gets overlooked often when bouncing canon flashes is they default to 50mm and to spead the light further has to be manually zoomed, so I wonder if the Nikon still zooms in the bounced position? as this would account for a larger light source, and did the OP use the flash with wider adjustment. As for the straight on shots to me I only see possible `in camera` inhancement. But the amount of difference needs to be seen in the same computer and software or printed. My most used tool for us since CS3 has been `shadow & highlight` as nearly all our work is flash in many different venues. I often think of getting a Nikon just to try as I sold them alongside most brands years ago (film) and never liked but recent times have seen vast improvement, a freind another pro raves how his D3x +12 ~24 + latest flash gives amazing results used like a P&S, Too easy. I`ve also wondered, does the Nikon metering system see white as 18% grey like Canon does? ;)
     
  57. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    So where are the comparison shots with EXIF data that would actually prove something? It's just a bunch of random opinions and hearsay without anything to show that one is better than the other. This "conversation" has no basis in demonstrated fact.

    FWIW, I have shot with on-camera flash, dedicated flash, non-dedicated flash on and off camera, and studio flash. Nothing, I repeat nothing, changes the inverse square law. The character of the light is far more similar between any two standard on-camera strobes than between a bare bulb and a standard flash. The light quality is what matters - control of exposure may be slightly easier or harder with one system, but it can always be controlled, and it won't be different once the controls are in place. People go nuts when they see photos I take with the Sunpak 120J, it's just got a different character (and round catchlights), especially with the Norman diffused head I usually put on it, but that's all about the quality of the light. And it's fully manual and still gives fine light.

    The rework of the rather poor photograph above only proves how silly this is. This is what someone "thinks" it would result in? How valid is that?

    It's not that difficult to put two equivalent systems together and work through the settings to understand the differences in the system and what it takes to get identical results. However, it seems far easier to blather on endlessly without anything to bo by.
     
  58. I'll be the first to say I don't have all the answers. I do have my experience with both systems. I do process literally tens of thousands of images a year from both Canon and Nikon (and one Fuji user) and I can state that you aren't likely to find ONE image that defines it all. Even if it's a very controlled test image. I can state with certainty that in my experience the Nikon flash system does better. Is it because the Nikon system gauges the distance more effectively based on the metering information or knows when and at what angle the flash is being bounced? I don't know. I know the SB900 knows when the diffuser dome is on (does a 580 EXII?). The flash knows if it's on a DX or FX camera and adjusts accordingly (does a 580 EX II?). I know the flash is probably smarter than me and I know in my experience, I get better, more consistent results. Again, it is slightly unfair since I never shot with Canon's better system (by Canon's definition, not mine). Can one flash have a better output than another? Heck yes. I much prefer the output of my Quantums- in large part because of the flash tube and the parabolic reflector I should imagine. But in any case, I whole heartedly believe that different flashes can offer a different level of performance one not based on simply power alone. I just don't like shooting my flashes in manual for run and gun shooting. I will even go back to my criticized image and state I have never seen such even frame coverage from my Canon flash. Maybe the 580 EXI didn't know the difference between FX and DX, and thus the distance ratio was all screwy and thus my frame coverage never quite the same. Again, I don't know! But one has to admit that it's interesting that those of us that have used both systems tend to agree (for the most part) that the Nikon does flash better. As I said, there are things Canon does better and I have no problems saying that.
    On another note, I have no idea if the Nikon metering system sees white as 18% grey. I do know that my Canon system (camera & lens) tended to produce a naturally warmer image with a more pleasing skin tone. I find that I use a 1/2 warm card to get a warmer tone from my Nikon's. And I had to re-evaluate how I read the histogram when I made the switch. The Canon seemed to use a 5-f/stop histogram which seemed to work well: I knew if I was 1-f/stop under/over. The Nikon histogram is 4-sections, but the middle is 18% grey and it took a bit to adjust. I can easily be a almost a whole section "under" on the Nikon and still have correct exposure provided that most of by pixels in the scene are to the left of 18% grey. With my Canon, if I was one section under, I was one f/stop underexposed! Not saying one is better than the other- just different. We loaned our D90 to one of our Canon shooters and nearly every image came back 1 f/stop overexposed!
     
  59. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I know the SB900 knows when the diffuser dome is on (does a 580 EXII?). The flash knows if it's on a DX or FX camera and adjusts accordingly (does a 580 EX II?).​
    Yes to both, although it's a diffuser panel and not a dome on the 580.
    those of us that have used both systems tend to agree (for the most part) that the Nikon does flash better.​
    Until someone can post some controlled examples, that's meaningless. It's called "hearsay" and it really has no value.
     
  60. Perhaps, but controlled examples aren't of much more value. At least to me. I want real world results/feedback. If one system tested better but another actually performed better, which would you choose? The one that tested better so that you could point that out, or the one that that in your experience delivered better results even though there wasn't any scientific proof? I believe both hearsay (user feedback) and controlled tests each have their place and one should use what works for them. I wouldn't place too much emphasis on either. Heck, Viagra was a scientific accident and Gary Fong as made a fortune selling better light diffusion! Someone could walk in here tomorrow and show me conclusive testing and charts and white-papers and pictures about how much better the Canon flash system is and I would simply dismiss them because my experience, hearsay as it is, shows me otherwise. Whenever anyone tells me that the proof is measured only in static terms I am reminded of this... paradigm...
    40% of all accidents on the road are caused by drunk drivers. Therefore, 60% of all accidents are caused by sober drivers. Conclusion: if we all drove drunk there would be less accidents.
    Joking aside, each much evaluate what works for them. I understand the OP's original frustration because it was my frustration. If someone else isn't having this frustration- then it's a non-issue! BTW, the SB900 has a pull out wide angle adapter as well but it also recognizes when the actual dome is attached. It is good to hear that the 580 EX II knows if it's DX or FX. I imagine that contributed a lot to my issues.
     
  61. How can distance be gauged from metering?
    Canon USM lenses return distance information to the body. If the body and flash both support E-TTL II, and a Canon USM lens is attached, then distance information is used in calculating flash power / exposure.
     
  62. John Deerfield: Actually the original 580 EX also knows if it is APS-C (DX) or 35mm (FX). But the only issue with that is the use of a wider or tighter angle of coverage, which will lead to a longer or shorter reach. But once an angle of coverage is set (in the way of a focal lenght), the flash will generate an specific amount of light, and then knowing the camera sensor format is irrelevant. What I mean is, the only problem you could have when using a 580 EX with a APS-C camera (at least a problem related to the sensor format), could be the waste of light all around the area you were trying to illuminate, which could lead to a lack of reach for further subjects, but the system would know that the power wasn't enough by the time the preflash from the ETTL-II was fired.
    Anyway this may become quite technical, and the point is, what really matters is the end result for the user. That's why I want to do an objective ETTL-II vs iTTL test. I'm not trying to demonstrate that Canon or Nikon is superior, I just want to understand how both systems work, as I believe ther must be a logic behind the algorithm from each system, and perhaps the Nikon algorithm is more user friendly.
    Let's put it this way: If I were to shot using whatever system available, I would test it before hand, and that testing would be in a very controlled environment, in such a way that it should let me take advantage of it's pros, and take care of it's cons when used in a real scenario, but I can't admit that the only way is to take a new camera, and just go out and take photos of, say, a wedding, and hope the system worked fine without intervention, and then learn from the errors, and try to compensate next time. That just isn't my way, I need to test, and test, and then test again, until I have a degree of knowledge of what's going on. And trust me, that testing is quite simple these days, at least compared to when I used to do all that testing on positive film, spending lots of money and time in the process.
    John Bolton: Just to clarify, not every USM lens returns the distance, such as the 50mm f/1.4 and the original 85mm f/1.2L (source: http://photonotes.org/articles/eos-flash/#distancedata).
    And now that I am talking about http://photonotes.org, perhaps that kind of article is the problem of the people who trust their work to the Canon ETTL system: We may be way too technical, and we may search and read lots of information, and then try and try and try, until we believe we understand the system. And that's not natural, that's way too complicated, and, I agree, it took me a while to understand ETTL, so maybe we should just gave up before hand, and let Canon know that their system was too complex, but at least I can't do that, I must master whatever I'm on, and that's how I understand ETTL, so maybe Nikon's iTTL is just the way it should be: Shoot and expect for the best. But at the end we have these discussions because, after years mastering a techinque, we can't tell we had a hard time to figure it out at the very begining, maybe because we don't want to, or maybe because we already forgot that obscure time in our past...
     
  63. That's why I want to do an objective ETTL-II vs iTTL test. I'm not trying to demonstrate that Canon or Nikon is superior, I just want to understand how both systems work, as I believe ther must be a logic behind the algorithm from each system, and perhaps the Nikon algorithm is more user friendly.
    I'm curious about this to. The equipment I have immediate access to (i.e. I can use or borrow at any time) includes my Canon equipment (all E-TTL I) and my neighbor's Nikon equipment (D70, D200, lenses). Unfortunately my friend does not have a Nikon flash, and I don't know if there's any difference between a D200 and the later D300 on flash performance.
    With a little effort I could probably borrow a Nikon flash to use with my neighbor's D200. I'm not sure about putting together an E-TTL II setup though, at least not until I upgrade.
    Ruben, if you come up with a test that anyone can perform I will put together a D200 plus flash and try the test. I can try ETTL I as well.
     
  64. Nadine - it sounds like ETTL II is not sensitive to AF point?
    When I was testing and figuring out my 420EX I put a dark blue bath towel and a white beach towel next to each other, then got close enough that they filled the frame, each covering 1/2 of the frame. With AF on the shutter release, if I chose an AF point over the white towel I got severe underexposure. Over the black, severe overexposure. With AF not on the shutter release the exposure was pretty close to perfect.
    As I continued to play around with other subjects I found that engaging AF while shooting yielded under/over exposed shots. Using AF first, then shooting yielded pretty consistent exposures.
    I've shot a few weddings as favors for friends. Naturally I engage AF separate from shooting because of the AF point bias in ETTL I. In my experience exposures are pretty consistent when used this way. I sometimes dial in additional flash output via FEC. I might be tempted to say that Canon's flash program is a bit too conservative with flash output, but then I prefer to 'expose to the right' with the histogram.
    There's no getting around the inverse square law, so I have often used Photoshop to lift the background shadow detail relative to the subject who is primarily lit by flash. I'm really curious as to how Canon's lighting optimizer might work here.
     
  65. Daniel--yes, I think with ETTL II, just as Canon describes, the active focus point is a factor but not a very large factor in the overall determination of flash exposure. Let me add that you might want to go back and see if the degree of under or overexposure between the black and white was equal. In my experience, white produces a larger degree of of underexposure than black produces overexposure. The oversensitivity to white or light values is one of the things that drives me nuts with ETTL. In other words, your test might not be really testing active focus point sensitivity because of the oversensitivity to white, although the latter might be an ETTL II thing. Perhaps using gray and black, rather than white and black, might be better for noticing whether a change in metering occurs.
    Based on my recollection of ETTL original, the 'off the * button' response sounds correct--as I heard, this forced the flash metering to revert to averaging. ETTL original, actually, made me buy a Metz 54MZ4-i, which, when combined with the 3102 M1 module, allows me to use auto thyristor in all camera modes.
    I am somewhat skeptical of features like D Lighting or Canon's lighting optimizer. I've tried, for instance Highlight Tone Control on my 40D. While on the surface, they work as advertised, there are always some downsides because one is basically 'tricking the system'.
    As for Nikon vs. Canon flash metering, I would also be interested in a fair and precise test. I, for one, do think that Nikon's database and distance data evaluation had something to do with the fact that in John Deerfield's submitted image, the subject was correctly exposed. As far as I know, Canon does not use a database, but tries to determine background and foreground by other means. As I said above, this one fact (the subject is correctly exposed) is the only one that I see that supports the statement that Nikon's flash metering is better. The statement that the background is nicely lit (the officiant) and the other wedding party members, has more to do with light fall off at longer distances and the use of a bounce diffuser, both of which would have happened with a Canon flash, given that the exposure on the subject was correct.
     
  66. Perhaps Nikon will agree to make flashes for Canon if they're asked reeeally nicely :)
     
  67. Is it really that important which brand are we using? I trully do not care, I just need a fully manual mode. BTW. I just made this http://www.redbubble.com/people/michalfanta/t-shirts/3658558-1-does-this-really-matter
     
  68. Not my experience. I shoot both - I am a newspaper shooter etc and I teach photography. Both Canon and Nikon. I am teaching a course "Advanced Flash for Wedding Pros" tomorrow night in Phoenix, AZ. I am a Canon shooter but know Nikon well.
    The Nikon SB900 overheats too easily. Other than that systems are the same if you know how they work.E.g.:
    • "Slow flash" is automatic in Av mode in Canon but must be enabled with "Slow" on Nikon.
    • Canon is more prone to underexposing if there are reflective surfaces
    Flash is perfect light, once you know how to use it, and "x is better than y" in this instance really is a meme.
    On my blog, http://blog.michaelwillems.ca search for (or use keyword) "Flash" and see what Canon flash does when used properly. Nikon would get the same results when used properly.
    Michael
     
  69. Jeff said:
    Nothing, I repeat nothing, changes the inverse square law.​
    Hear hear! And also, nothing changes exposure (as in ISO/Aperture/Shutter).
     

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