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Flash photography with R8



would like to know more detail of flash photography with R8 and ttl with Sf-20. Main concerns with fill-in flash, does it work with R8 program mode? Is it better to use flash with decreased power eg: 1/2,1/4 or 1/8 power,to me this just reduces power and the camera will compenste for availabe light? Also when using the flash what good does it do to place time shutter on 1/30th when on program mode when TTL will automatically put sync on 250/sec. For now I just use Camera on Manual mode with sync at 250/sec set my arpeture accordingly then turn on fash on manual and step back approximately 4-6 FT. or close arpeture 1-2 stops. Or can I keep it in program mode and adjust the EV-1, or -2 to achieve a good fill -in flash. Please don't tell me that the camera will take care of this on its own, I know better. When taking pictures in the daylight in program mode with flash on TTL the flash never fires due to enough daylight, not giving any fill flash. I know what to do with my Nikon F3 but I would like to get the straight dope on this for my R8 to use it to the fullest capability. The instructions regarding this aspect are vague in the R8 manual and SF-20 flash manuals , they just keep repeating how the adapters work for converting to TTL and Metz flashes. HELP ME.



My experience is that the R8 will provide for "fill-in" flash with reasonable accuracy in "Program Mode".

"Reasonable" = about as good or better in most instances than I can guess using traditional "seat of the pants" methods.

Set up your R8 like this:

A. Operating mode wheel to the "P" position.
B. Aperture ring to smallest f stop (16 or 22).
C. Shutter speed dial to "30P"
D. Exposure metering mode to the "MATRIX" position (multiple field metering) (box with dot).
E. Set flash or SCA module to "TTL"

Set in this way your R8 will automatically choose to operate the flash as follows:

1. Full Flash = If a proper exposure cannot be made due to low light. The R8 CPU will select a shutter speed of 1/250 sec and the camera will select f5.6 and regulate flash output as the main light source to gain a proper exposure (within the distance range available to you depending on the power of your flash unit)

2. Partial/Fill-in Flash = The R8 CPU will select a shutter speed of 1/250 sec AND an aperture to expose the scene AS IF NO ADDITIONAL FLASH IS USED. The CPU will then regulate the flash unit to a -1 2/3 EV light output. This should just noticeably lighten shadows without over lighting highlight areas.

3. No Flash in Bright Light = If the scene produces an exposure value that is at or below the minimum f stop available on your lens at 1/250 sec, the CPU will NOT fire the flash as this added light would cause a general overexposure. In bright scenes with fast film this can be the case. Use a slower film speed to cause the camera to add fill-in flash.

Here is a way to check out the CPU. Select a "test" scene in which the light is causing the flash to NOT fire.(too bright).

Set the camera to "M" manual mode. Set the flash unit to work in "AUTO MODE" and select an appropriate f stop. trip the shutter causing the flash to go off and the flash unit will meter the reflected flash light and adjust light output for the distance. Check in the camera viewfinder for an "Overexposure" as indicated on the light balance graphic bar. I would expect to see an overexposure indicated and this is the reason the CPU is choosing to not use fill-in flash.

If your scene is too bright and fill-in flash is desired (even though it may cause overexposure to some areas) your back to using manual mode and regulating the amount of added flash light with the switches on the SCA adapter. Of course, here your really in uncharted territory and working on experience and "best guess".

I hope this helps somewhat. Best of luck!


Hi Rodney,

I agree that the R8 manual is not as helpful as it should be when it comes to describing flash. What Thom says above is correct, as far as it goes. One other point, though, about program ('P') mode: the compensation switches on the flash unit are inoperative in 'P' mode! The camera selects either full flash, -1 2/3 EV flash or no flash at all, depending on the ambient light (just as Thom describes). Frankly, I never used 'P' mode for flash, with either the R7 or R8, because of the lack of control.

What I found more useful for fill-in flash was shutter priority ('T') mode. This is really the fill-in flash mode for either the R7 or the R8. With the R8, 'T' mode enables you to select the intensity of the flash via the switches on the SF20 (or SCA adapter) to suit your requirements. You don't have to use -1 2/3 EV if you don't want to (although it's usually satisfactory, which is why program mode uses it). Select 'T' mode, with whatever type of metering you want to use. Select the smallest aperture on your lens. The shutter speed will be set automatically by the camera to 1/250 sec and the aperture will be selected automatically to suit the ambient light. If this would lead to an over-exposure at the smallest aperture, you are warned in the viewfinder display but the camera can still be forced to take the picture.

With manual ('m') mode, you are in complete control. You can set a shutter speed and aperture combination to suit your own requirements for the ambient light. You can still use the compensation switches on the flash unit to get as much or as little flash as you like. 2nd curtain synch is probably better in 'm' mode, with shutter speeds slower than 1/250, because it allows the ambient light to register before the flash, thus avoiding the flash dominating the exposure. (At 1/250 sec, it doesn't make any difference whether you choose 1st or 2nd curtain synch).

Hope this helps too!


Thom and Ray thanks for getting info to me about the R8 with fill flash answers. I posted other responses to you via e-mail. Thanks and keep in touch.


Ray, in the T mode on the R8 for fill flash I assume that the the setting on the SF-20 is on TTL setting? And if so, setting the power mode on the flash either 1/4, 1/2 or 1/8 power will overide the auto function of the R8? ROD


Rod, yes, you're right. With the R8 in 'T' mode, the SF-20 should be set to 'TTL' mode. The power setting on the flash (up to + or - 3 EV, in 1/3 EV steps) does indeed override the camera's automatic exposure function. I can understand your concern but please be reassured that the compensation switches are taken into account by the camera, even with the flash in TTL mode.

The problem is, the Leica manuals don't make this clear and you could gain the impression that the flash communicates nothing to the camera. If that were indeed the case, the camera wouldn't know that you had adjusted the compensation switches on the flash and it would still demand full flash to illuminate the subject. However, this is not the case.