Film - Camera ISO 800, flash ISO 400 - Which ISO to Meter With?

Discussion in 'Beginner Questions' started by ijowski, Sep 3, 2018.

  1. Hello everybody,

    This is my first quest for advice here.
    I very much appreciate the help in advanced, so thank you.

    I am shooting an ISO 800 film and my camera is set to ISO 800, but my flash ISO only goes as far as 400.

    On my (external) light meter should I meter with the camera ISO or flash ISO?
    Will two differing ISO's cause any problems?

    I am using a Minolta XD7 camera with a Minolta 320x flash unit.

    I understand this might be a silly question!
  2. From 400 to 800 is one stop. So if the flash tells you to set the camera at f5.6 for 400, set it one stop down with 800 film, i.e. f8.0

    With flash, you will not be using the camera's or an external meter, so leave the camera set at 800
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2018
  3. Not owning that particular flash, I looked it up. Here's how to set:

    ASA (ISO) ------- 400 ----- 800

    Red Zone --- ---- 5.6 ---- 8.0
    Yellow Zone - --- 11 ----- 22
    Green --------- --- 22 ----- 32 (but your lens won't stop down that far)

    Hmm - this looks a bit messy

    Best to stick with the red zone as that will get you to 35 feet (what's that, about 10 meters?)

    FYI - if you are using flash only, what your camera is set at makes no difference at all, but DO leave it at the proper ASA. Exposure is determined by the flash.

    Of course later cameras did have TTL flash metering, but not your camera.
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2018
  4. Just use the Red range and set the aperture at f/8. I have both the XD-11 (I think it's the USA version of your camera) and the Auto 320X flash. I use the flash on my digital camera often.
  5. It's ONE STOP - don't worry about it - experiment and take a stop either way EACH WAY.
    Over and under expose to get used to your own kit.
    DO NOT believe that the black plastic things you have in your hands are FULLY accurate - they're not.
    Your kit is your kit - play around and find out where you like the settings to be set.

    Remember soldier, your weapon was made by the lowest bidder....
  6. For what it's worth, that's a very nice camera and flash unit you have there! The XD-7 was my first SLR camera. I still have it!

    Regarding flash use, it doesn't have TTL (through the lens) flash metering, which Minolta introduced with the X-700. But auto flash works very well with a flash like your 320x. With auto flash, the flash unit does the metering, not the camera or you with an external meter.There is a little light sensor at the front of the flash that does this.

    The camera needs to be set to manual mode (M) and the shutter speed to 1/100s (X). If I recall correctly, the 320x puts the camera into those settings automatically, since it is an Minolta x series flash unit. That's what the second contact on the flash shoe is for.

    Anyhow, 1/100s is a superior flash sync speed to all other Minolta manual focus cameras, and to most other SLR cameras of that era.

    With ISO 400 film you have a choice of three apertures - 5.6, 11, and 22. You need to choose one depending on the distance of the camera from your subject. The dial on the back of the camera shows you what range of distances each aperture allows you to cover. With ISO 800, the available apertures become 8, 22, and 32. If you don't have f32 on your lens, you have only two apertures to choose from.

    Of course the 320x will also work with older cameras like the SR, SRT, and XE series. Or cameras of other brands. The only difference is that you have to manually put the camera in manual mode and set it to the fash sync speed (usually 1/60s), because those cameras don't have the x functionality.

    Last but not least, you can also use the 320x in manual mode (M on the flash), meaning not auto flash. In that mode you have to do all the metering, and can adjust the flash power from full down to 1/16. But that's a subject for another day. I would recommend getting familiar with auto flash first.

    Have fun!
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 4, 2018
    stuart_pratt likes this.
  7. Thanks for all the help.

    I am really appreciative, and it's really comforting to know there are people to help with this kind of stuff.

    To make things even more confusing I was gonna test the camera out with two Minolta 320x flashes!
    One on camera, a second on a tripod at a different distance - both connected via the sync port (with splitter cable).
    (If it works)

    I was really struggling with the Sekonic light metering and which ISO to apply as the camera and flash both have different ISO's.
    And also the flashes will be at different distances. I couldn't work out which adjustments to make and where.

    A second also, to make things even more confusing!!!
    I am using Portra 400 film but like to push it to ISO 800 and sometimes 1600.

    So I am trying to get correct metering, for an incorrect exposure!!

    Thanks again everyone
  8. Auto flash does not work with multiple flash units. In that case you need to use manual flash. Frankly, that has always been too much of a hassle for me. When I came to that stage, I bought a X-500 and three Sunpak flash units that supported TTL flash metering, which makes this all automatic.

    Maybe somebody else can explain the basics of manual flash with multiple units. There will be a lot of calculations involved to determine what flash power to use depending on the distances and how much light you want to come from each flash. The 320x should be a good flash for that, because it allows you to adjust flash power. But that's all you can do in manual flash - adjust the flash power from full to 1/16. The ISO on the flash becomes irrelevant.
  9. I can already see this becoming very complicated.
    I think I may need to burn through some test roles and get my maths books out!!

    Thanks for the help fmueller.

    If you don't mind me asking one more question, what would the available apertures be with ISO 1600?
  10. Do you have a FLASH meter like an L-358? Which meter do you have? If the Sekonic you have is an ordinary light meter, it's useless with flash. If you do have a flash meter, multiple flashes is a piece of cake.

    If you are just starting out with film, I would not recommend pushing film. Get used to using it at the rated speed first. AND, don't shoot two frames at 400, three at 800, and then another 6 at 1600 all on the same roll.

    From 800 to 1600 is one more stop, so red would be f11.

    (but at 1600, why would you be using flash in the first place?)

    Complicated? No, not really. If you don't already have one, get a flash meter and you can sleep easy.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2018
  11. Recommendation: try to test trigger your flashes with an (in doubt isolated! if you don't know your sync voltages are safe) screw driver tip or similar, to make sure all the cable stuff is working. PC connectors and splitters are electrically pretty fishy, Especially with modern low sync voltages. That aside it is good practise to dry fire your camera with cable connected flash each time you change film, to make sure sync contacts are still working. (Check if you see the entire film plane open when the flash fires).
    OK with a light meter only the power reduction switches of your flashes are of interest.
    Pick your main light. meter it (just it! Not both). - Let's say you'll read f8. keep that in mind turn that light off / disconnect it from your meter, make sure the meter doesn't fire it. Go to your fill light and adjust it to stay below your main light at the previously determined fill ratio.

    Assuming you get f6.4 from your fill light on camera and want f5.6 to match f8 on the main light? - turn it off, walk back to your main light and get f9 out of it.

    Very true! - Are you processing that film yourself? - I didn't make good experience with pushing color. - Not sure if I had a lab doing it but it did not work out for the chemically similar Ilford XP1 with dedicated developer kit at home. Try pushing silver films be it T-Max 400 or HP5 if you are processing them yourself but stay away from color. Results will look much grainier (and IMHO "borderline" in 35mm format). - Maybe you are after that look for artistic reasons. Otherwise: Let it be whenever you can. - Just too expensive for too little IQ brought home. Since you are using flash anyhow what benefit do you get from pushing? Can't you move your flash close enough to be within it's yellow zone? But if you started shooting at ISO 800 finish the roll and get it pushed
  12. I'm about 12 months into my journey using film (but shooting 8 rolls a week and reading daily).

    I'm comfortable pushing film at this point.
    But from experience you have to know what films are capable of giving you good results. If pushing something like Portra 400 I am always relatively satisfied with the results.

    Pushing film with flash photography - to be confirmed!

    But also with pushing film it really depends on what style of photo you like, one man's grain is another man's pain!

    The automatic flash situation, this is something completely new to me.
    My initial question was really just in regards to which ISO to apply to the flash meter (Sekonic L-308S) but after seeing the replies it's opened up a box of other questions.

    Questions which I am finding quite exciting. I've learnt so much from this thread already.

    In regards to using two flashes, pushing film...

    The reason I ask is because when using a new piece of equipment I usually like to test it under all circumstances at the same time so I can test all the limits of what it is and what it is not capable. It's really just the geek in me but I find it especially helpful to know what works, but also what does not work and find that middle ground.

    In this instance I will test my Minolta XD7 with a 320x flash shot specific to the box speed with one flash, test out some shots with two flashes (both 320x), different lighting arrangements and setups and do the same using the film shot at different speeds (pushed) and again different setups.

    I will usually do light meter readings with the flashes before loading the film, meter the flashes from different distances and locations. make notes then work them out as I shoot based on my earlier metering roughly by distance. But I'm not yet great at guessing correct apertures without readings (and no chance with multiple flashes!) or using manual flash (in any instance!).

    It's not that I aim to take a perfect photo at this moment, it's that I want to know the limitations of the equipment I am using in all scenarios and setups for future reference.

    Many thanks again for all the replies.
    It's really great to be on here and listen to the wisdom of others.
    It's really invaluable to newcomers.
  13. While it's not important the Auto 320X will automatically switch the shutter speed to X sync speed if the camera is in A mode.
    For multiple flashes the best bet is to put the flashes on manual and use the flash meter which I think the OP has. Oh when using the flash meter simply use the same ISO as the film. The ISO on the flash is irrerevant.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2018
    ijowski likes this.
  14. Thanks Bebu, which ISO (film one or flash one) to use was the part bugging me.
    Very helpful
  15. The ISO setting on your flash really doesn't do anything. It's there so that you know which aperture to use for each of the range settings when you use the flash on auto. If you remember the aperture for each of the range and each of the ISO then you don't have to set it at all. For example I know for ISO 100 the red is f/2.8 then I simply set my lens to f/2.8 when on the red range. The ISO dial can be anywhere without effect.
    fmueller likes this.
  16. Assuming that your meter IS a flash meter, that will get you the correct exposure. Getting the effect you are after is a whole different matter.

    You might want to look up lighting ratios. My guess is that nearly all you find will be with digital photography, but it will be just the same with film. Way back when, if I wanted to be certain, I thanked Dr. Land.
    ijowski likes this.
  17. Dr. Land passed away and so now one can use a digital camera instead.
    fmueller likes this.
  18. If you stuck to metering the film at its rated ISO, then there'd be no problem, would there? 'Pushing' film, especially C-41 film, does nothing except underexpose it. The ISO speed is 'baked in' during manufacture. So all you're doing is setting the wrong speed on the camera meter.

    Beside which, all flash manufacturers lie about the power of their speedlights, and they're nearly always one stop less powerful than claimed when measured with a flashmeter. This means that following a flash's claimed guide-number also underexposes by one stop.

    Just use your flashmeter, set at the film's box speed, and forget 'pushing' and other mythical cryptozoological beasties.

Share This Page