Flash setting for outside shoots??

Jul 8, 2008
San Francisco bay area
When I do indoor shots with a flash/umbrella my power settings are very low.

I will be doing some outside shots with flashes/umbrella's. I need suggestions on the power setting for these shots. I'm sure the setting will be much higher than indoors...
Apr 3, 2006
This outdoors ... Are we talking bright sun, or in shade? Main light or fill flash?

My honest suggestion is to take the gear into the yard this afternoon, and do some similar test shots, maybe a picture of the lawnmower or the bird bath or something on the patio table. Anything in a comparable situation as what you plan. Take a few minutes to evaluate feasibility.

Indoors, the ambient light was dim and insignificant, and it could be ignored. You may have matched the ambient somewhat, or maybe did not, as that takes some doing indoors (takes some very slow exposure). You did say low power indoors, so that means it was wide aperture, but the ambient was not mentioned.

But in either daylight, shade or sun, the issue is that you will have to match the ambient, at least in some degree. It is bright, and we cannot just ignore it, and it is not always easy to override it.

In bright sun, Sunny 16 says ballpark for ISO 200 will be 1/200 second at f/16.

With flash, we CANNOT use equivalent exposure of 1/400 f/11 or more, because the maximum shutter sync speed limits us to around 1/200 or 1/250 second. Wider aperture simply is not possible, flash in sun. In shade, then lesser requirements, but still, nothing like indoors. This is the difference you will see.

So ... for flash in bright sun, you WILL BE around 1/200 f/16 at ISO 200. Not many other choices. Camera P mode is good for TTL BL fill flash in bright sun. Wedding people call it Professional Mode for that reason. :smile: (speaking only of the sun outdoors - not indoors).

The f/16 requires 4 stops more flash power then f/4... which is 16x times more power. The difference between 1/16 power and full power.

Shade would be easier, you could open a couple stops from f/16, which helps the flash power, but the flash likely becomes main light.

A few minutes testing your situation will be the most revealing thing. Early, before the day that it counts. :smile:

One other hypothetical choice, assuming a modern Nikon flash... you could use Auto FP mode, which does allow faster shutter speeds than maximum sync speed. Then you might use 1/6400 second at f/2.8 in bright sun. However, this FP flash mode is a very reduced power mode than, and your maximum range will be less than half of its previous maximum. Unless really close, it will likely be necessary to abandon the umbrella in this mode (due to power), however, it is less important for fill flash (and the sun does not have one either). If the sun is the main light, and the flash is just fill, you maybe might possibly perhaps could get as much as ten feet range as fill. Less if you are expecting the flash to be main light, or if you add the umbrella.

Again, try it before the day comes. Work out your plan.
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