A Canon digital SLR with non-sucky flash metering?

Discussion in 'Canon' started by Todd H., Apr 9, 2005.

  1. Todd H.

    Todd H. Guest

    What if anything does Canon sell that does a respectable job of flash
    metering without tons of caveats that'll make use of my 550EX and
    75-300mm IS lens.

    The more I play with the Digital Rebel's metering with the external
    flash unit, and see how hell bent it is on apparently spot metering
    the center focusing point on P mode, the more it makes me yearn for
    something that's truly reflective of the year being 2005.

    I didn't have to think this hard to take good flash photos with the
    Elan and the 540EZ back in 92!

    Does the newly released 350D improve upon this sad state? The 20D?
    Or is it more of the same? I suppose with my new found flash
    exposure and "hunt for a midtone portion of the frame" skills, I can
    get by until Canon gets their head out of their a** on this.

    Not that I'm bitter, mind you. :)

    Seriously, any enlightenment on better Canon dSLR flash systems
    released in the past year, or in the pipe would be welcome. If I knew
    then what I know now, I'd night have dumped EOS when I made the jump
    to DSLR.


    Best Regards,
     
    Todd H., Apr 9, 2005
    #1
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  2. Todd H.

    Todd H. Guest

    Greetings,

    It seems the 350D might be an answer to this... on paper. It's the
    first affordable DSLR in Canon's line to sport E-TTL II flash
    metering. Prior offerings with E-TTL II include:
    EOS 20D
    EOS 1D mark II (digital)
    EOS Elan 7N/Elan 7EN/EOS 30V/33V/7S

    Those of ya with 20D's Elan 7's or 1D's, can you comment on whether
    ETTL-II does a good job of flash metering. I can personally vouch
    that E-TTL on the 300D does _not_. It horribly overweights exposure
    to the selected focusing point, which in general is not really want
    one wants.

    I'd love to hear some experiences.

    Best Regards,
     
    Todd H., Apr 9, 2005
    #2
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  3. Todd H.

    jfitz Guest

    What portion of the frame would you want to expose for if not the point of
    focus?
     
    jfitz, Apr 12, 2005
    #3
  4. Todd H.

    Todd H. Guest

    Ah, but the focusing point doesn't always end up in the dead center
    upon recomposition? In fact, good composition tends to dictate that
    your main subject not be in the dead center. Also, what if the point
    of focus is black? Or white?

    Spot metering fails you in all these cases.

    Without taking the extra step of flash exposure lock after carefully
    selecting a mid-tone spot to meter at the same distance as your main
    subject, you won't get a proper exposure. All of these steps and
    concerns are quite a pain in constrast to the far preferable TTL
    center weighted averaging metering that my film Elan did in 92, and
    hell, my Pentax SF1 did in 1988!

    As such, I remain in the hunt for whether ETTL-II (in the 20D, 350D,
    1D) improves upon Canon's dramatic step backward with their E-TTL
    incarnation for the digital Rebel 300D.

    Best Regards,
     
    Todd H., Apr 12, 2005
    #4
  5. Todd H.

    Skip M Guest

    Frankly, IMHO, ETT-L II is a huge leap backward in flash metering. It is
    excellent, and produces excellent results as fill flash, but when called
    upon to provide good light levels with normal levels of ambient light, it
    fails miserably. But only in conjunction with Canon flashes. With
    aftermarket flashes, it seems to work very well. We use Quantum, but I've
    heard the same thing from people using Sunpak, Sigma and Metz.
     
    Skip M, Apr 12, 2005
    #5
  6. Todd H.

    Todd H. Guest

    Interesting.

    Curious, what technology are the aftermarket flashes using for
    metering? Are they doing anything through th elens or off the
    sensor?
     
    Todd H., Apr 12, 2005
    #6
  7. Todd H.

    jfitz Guest

    But E-TTL does not automatically meter the center of the frame unless you
    are in manual focus, even then it is not a spot meter, just center weighted.
    When in autofocus, E-TTL and E-TTL II use evaluative metering heavily biased
    on the active focus point. If the camera does not choose the correct point
    it can be manually selected.in any of the creative zone modes including P.
    The key is to select the appropriate focus point from the seven available
    rather than focusing with the center point then recomposing. E-TTL and
    E-TTL II do not determine the flash exposure until the shutter button is
    fully depressed. At that time it will fire a preflash and take an
    evaluative reading biased on the active focus point. If you are using AF
    lock by keeping the shutter button half depressed and recomposing the wrong
    area will be evaluated by the E-TTL or E-TTL II system..
    Then your subject may be over or underexposed depending on how much of the
    metered area it fills. This holds true for any metering system and any type
    of flash system. E-TTL helps in those situations by offering Flash Exposure
    Lock.
    Probably why Canon doesn't use it. Canon's 9% partial metering used in AE
    lock is a long way from a spot meter.

    In my experience the E-TTL system works well, especially when the subject is
    off center, average or lighter in color and the background is dark, a fairly
    common occurence . Center weighted systems invariably overexpose the
    subject in those situations. E-TTL also provides excellent automatic fill
    flash in high ambient light levels.
     
    jfitz, Apr 13, 2005
    #7
  8. Todd H.

    Todd H. Guest

    It's no garden variety centerweighted... .it's _strongly_ center
    weighted. I've taken the liberty of calling it "practically a spot meter."

    http://photonotes.org/articles/eos-flash/#digital talks more about this.

    My tests absolutely confirm "The main problem appears to stem from the
    way in which E-TTL on these bodies biases flash exposure heavily to
    the focus point."
    I won't argue that that's the way this camera forces you to shoot. So
    instead of it just working in the Elan metering system, with the
    beauty and simplicity of digital, you know have to
    select a focusing point
    find the focusing point in the viewfinder (they're very tiny)
    prefocus hoping the focusing point happens to land on a place
    where you want it in your composition
    pray to god for good exposure
    shoot the photo
    go run after the candid moment you just missed and see if you
    can get it again.

    Or you can
    prefocus
    find a mid tone area of the scene, recompose to put the af
    point on that area
    engage the flash exposure lock and fire a preflash
    recompose the shot you really want
    pray to god
    shoot the photo
    go run after the candid moment you just missed and see if you
    can get it again.


    With the Elan's metering system in contrast I
    prefocus (fires preflash if bouncing)
    recompose
    press the shutter
    enjoy consistent flash exposures when the prints or slides came back

    My point is that TTL and A-TTL from the ELan did this a hell of a lot
    better, and it's sad that Canon has taken a step backward with ETTL on
    these digital bodies.
    I'll give it that--it does do a good job with fill flash.

    I'll concede the former, however, only if you fall in lock step with
    the focus point selection garbage. I'm not convinced it selects points
    intelligently or consistently enough to rely on it i'm afraid.

    Basically I'm disappointed that the Elan shoots flash photos a lot
    more consistently than the digital rebel released 10 years later and
    costing 2x.

    Heck, my G2 with the 550EX nails flash exposures a lot better than the
    300D...which just seems insane. The flexibility of being able to
    select different flash metering patterns would be welcome. It's not
    clear to me that the 350D would give me that either.
     
    Todd H., Apr 13, 2005
    #8
  9. Todd H.

    jfitz Guest

    I don't consider that a "problem" but a desirable trait. The selected point
    of focus is what I want exposed correctly.
    That is the basic problem. E-TTL does not blend well with your method of
    shooting and from your post it is apparent that you are resistant to
    changing to a different method. This does not make E-TTL bad; it is just
    not compatible with the way you choose to take photographs.
    You will never know unless you give it a fair trial. The "focus point
    selection garbage" works very well in both automatic and manual modes.
    E-TTL II will not solve your issues. Both the 300D and the 350D allow you
    to choose your focus point from the 7 or 9 available or the camera will
    choose one for you but you have indicated that you don't care for the "focus
    point selection garbage". You need to either look elsewhere for a brand of
    DSLR that uses a less sophisticated method of flash exposure determination
    or slap a Vivitar 283 on top of your EOS digital SLR.
     
    jfitz, Apr 13, 2005
    #9
  10. Todd H.

    Todd H. Guest

    Clearly I've called your baby ugly. I apologize.

    To save money, I will have to change the way I shoot with the 300D
    obviously, but don't try to make me happy about it and defend Canon's
    questionable design execution here where I haven't found anyone whose
    shot with a good flash system not dialing in exposure compensation to
    make up for consistent underexposure with the E-TTL system, or using
    FEC a great deal.

    Consider also that it's reasonable for a prior Canon user to expect
    the flash metering one enjoyed on a prior TTL Canon SLR to improve
    with 10 years of design iteration rather than become more of a pain
    in the butt and consistently underexpose things even if you shoot the
    way the camera wants you to.

    Until I find one that works better, here's to living with +1 FEC all
    the time, and making sure the focusing point is on a mid-tone item in
    the final composition, and reviewing every shot's histogram to see if
    there's anything in the right 1/5 for a subject that has some light
    colors in it.

    Best Regards,
     
    Todd H., Apr 13, 2005
    #10
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