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Off camera flash

edited January 2015 Posted in » Nikon D3200 Forum
I got myself the Yongnuo single pin flash just for fill in and experimenting. I put it on the camera hot shoe, but the auto flash still pops up and hits it. It's still going off because the wire comes out of the front of the camera. I was wondering, should I have gone for a trigger for both? Any help would be great.


  • edited March 2015
    For a single pin flash you must use manual mode, as the flash will not force the correct shutter speed. You cannot use it reliably with any other mode as settings will be wrong and any mode that calls for flash by itself will continue to pop up the built in flash.

    A single pin flash will also not operate the in-finder ready light, so only the flash will tell you when it's ready. (Edit to add: in case it's not clear, a single pin flash does not communicate with the camera at all, so the camera will behave as if there is no flash attached.)

    Set your camera in manual mode and put the shutter speed at any setting from 1/200 down. If the flash is entirely manual you must set the aperture according to the guide number of the flash and the distance of your subject for the given ISO. If the flash has an "auto" setting, it will have a chart on the back telling you what aperture to use with what ISO. Just do as it says. The photocell in the flash itself will regulate exposure by determining flash duration. If it's a good flash, that auto setting will produce surprisingly good exposures.

    If the flash is not designed for fill, it will be very difficult to use for fill as the auto settings presume you want to take a full flash picture.

    Various workarounds may be possible depending on the flash. If it has a variable power setting, you can set a normal or slightly underexposed non flash exposure, and then add a little flash manually at low power. I think that even the cheapest Yongnuo flashes will have variable power settings, and if so, you should read up in the instructions, as there may be hints. The basic idea, however, is the same. You presume an exposure that does not use the flash, and then add just a little smidgen of flash to it. It will only work if your exposure is within range of a shutter speed below 1/200.

    Back in the old days when I was using a Nikon F with a flash sync speed of 1/60, it was almost impossible to do daylight fill flash.

    If there is no power setting, you might be able to compensate, but it is difficult. To get fill flash in auto mode, you would set the camera as if you were planning a full flash picture. So, for example, the auto setting might be 1/200 at f/5.6. An equivalent exposure would be 1/25 at f/16. So you shoot at that setting. The flash is putting out only 1/4 the light that would be required for a full flash picture. That can be tricky, hard to do well, and in many situations can't be done at all, while in others it may require a tripod. Remember you can never go faster than 1/200.

    You can also experiment with using the flash manually and adding a diffuser to decrease its direct light. A piece of milk jug or paper can work. If the flash can be redirected you can keep it on manual, but aim it off the subject at the ceiling or a wall.

    Fill flash with a regular flash can be a challenge and may call for a lot of experimentation.

    further edit: Looking at specs, and assuming this is one of the lower end Yongnuo flashes, it looks as if it should work as a slave by itself. If you put it on Slave mode, sitting on its stand, and fire your built in flash at it, it should operate as a second flash. I'm not sure how useful that is with the built in flash, and the instructions are expletive-deleted poor, but it's worth experimenting a bit. In P, and S modes, the camera will use its own built in flash as fill, if you manually pop it up. You might try doing that, and then having the second flash off at some other location with its sensor pointed at the camera.

    The lowest end Yongnuo I looked at, the 460, has no on flash automatic setting, so you can't just set an F stop and go. You'll have to do some calculating.
  • edited March 2015
    I have an altura brand flash. How do I keep the camera flash from popping up when I have flash on the shoe?
  • edited March 2015
    To keep the flash from popping up, do not use any mode that automates the flash. The flash will not pop up if you're using P, S, A and M modes. It also will not pop up in Sports and Scenery modes, but it may not expose right with an external flash. In the other modes the flash will pop up automatically, except for "auto no flash" mode, which will not pop the flash up but also will not fire an external flash at all.

    How you set will depend largely on what your flash's incompatibilities and capabilities are. In this I cannot help, as the flashes I use are all older ones without TTL capabilities at all. For an old style conventional "auto" flash, the camera is set manually, and the exposure depends on the flash duration, which is set by its own internal meter.

    Page 48 of the full (PDF) manual deals with the built in flash. Page 172 begins coverage of optional units, but is silent on any but Nikon's own CLS flashes. So you will need to read your flash's instructions, and may need to experiment a bit to find what works and how.
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