Blinking from the Pre-Flash?

Feb 10, 2009
St. Paul, MN
I shot a family portrait session this last weekend, and they wanted to do it indoors in their basement by their fireplace (wouldn't have been my choice, but whatever...) The whole family was a family of blinkers. I think out of the approximately 100 photos, maybe 10 have all poeple with eyes open. I use the on camera flash to trigger my SB-600 in a soft box, and SB-700 bounced off a large reflector. I think that it must be the pre-flash causing their eyes to start blinking, so by the time the shutter fires their eyes are already closed. Any suggestions to fix this in the future, so I can avoid all of the painful post-work of cutting and pasting eyes?
Dec 6, 2006
West of Boston
One thought would be to try FV-Lock. You set the exposure, then lock the flash value in. You can program one of the buttons in the front of your body to do this.

Another would be to get the official blocker from Nikon. It blocks the visible light, but allows IR thru. Others have used exposed slide film as a cheaper substitute.
May 16, 2009
Downey, CA
How did you trigger your slaves? If you used the built-in in TTL mode, double-trouble... I've found that if I bounce the commander and set my slaves to manual power, I avoid most if not all of the blinking, for the following 2 reasons:

1) The TTL pre-flashes are not sent out if my slaves are set to manual power.
2) The visual component of the CLS/AWL triggering pulses is greatly diminished when the flash isn't aimed straight at the subject(s).
Nov 10, 2008
Some blink, fast, some slow. But they blink at first sound, not the light.

Put the camera on a tripod and use mirror up. Second time you use shutter release all that happens is the shutter moves. They can not blink in time.

With a remote release you can be watching the subjects at all times and need not be looking thru the camera.

I had one lady who blinked for a Leica R camera. I switched to rangefinder m with no mirror and never missed. You see there is delay from shutter release push to flash fire. The mirror has to go up, the lens has to stop down, and the first curtain has to open.
All this takes time and the subject blinks in anticipation. Remove that lag, and you win.

Preflash brands you as rank amateur. The flash does not belong on the camera anyway so you will not get red eye. Therefore no need to preflash which is annoying as can be if you are subject. A decent flash bracket will get the flash up high enough so you do not get red eye, but get it off camera and use an umbrella bounce or something.
Jul 29, 2005
Pittsburgh, Pa.
I shot a wedding where the bride and her mother told me at the first meeting, "she blinks every time". They went on to say that it was a real problems not matter who the photographer was, that she also blinks with flash. I used an SB-800 with a Demb FlipIt flash diffuser and a flash bracket. I also used FV Lock, blinking was not a problem.
Jun 9, 2006
Rural Virginia
I find when I use my SU-800 to trigger my SB-800s set out to either side I rarely have blink issues. My theory is that the subject looking directly at the pre-flash tends to be the cause of blink problems. Also when using bounced on camera flash blinking tends not to be a problem. But sometimes FV Lock is the only solution.
Apr 3, 2006
I bet the SU-800 cannot be considered fail-safe though. People vary. Some few people will blink every time, including even from hot shoe TTL bounce flash. FV Lock is the answer then too.

Others take more to blink, or do not respond as fast, or whatever, but hot shoe TTL bounce flash works fine for most people. Just not everyone.

The commander is something else however, adding many more people to those who will blink.

There are two issues.. one is all the command flashing that the commander does to request the TTL groups to do their preflashes individually. Infrared commands seem a big help to prevent this, either the SU-800 or the SG_3IR panel on the internal flash commander.

But even so, the remote TTL flashes still do their visible preflashes. These may not be as centrally located, less in the subjects direct view than the commander, but in TTL mode, they do still preflash, and can still cause blinking, depending on the subject's sensitivity.

Using FV Lock does all of that flashing early, and allows the blinking to finish, before the shutter button is pressed.

Also, when using Manual flash power levels with the commander (I will not say Manual flash mode - the commander is NOT manual flash mode), there are no early signals that can cause blinking. NOTHING happens at FV Lock for flashes set to manual power levels. There is nothing to do then, as the commander menu already knows the power level they should use.

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