SB-700 driving me crazy with Z7ii

Joined
Apr 10, 2021
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Is anybody using the Z7ii with an SB-700 flash?

I am so confused that I am actually thinking of returning it out of total frustration.
It seems that no matter what I do, the exposure is impacted by ISO and flash compensation changes but acts completely irrationally otherwise
For instance, if I use TTL-BL and shoot something about 10 feet away using manual f-stop and shutter speed, the image will come out about a stop and a half OVER exposed (and by the way, the light on the flash will blink, supposedly telling me that it is underexposing!!). If I then keep the settings exactly the same and shoot something a couple of feet away, the exposure is better. Maybe not perfect but better. In either of these scenarios, changing aperture does basically nothing to alter the exposure but changing ISO or flash compensation does. It's almost as if the only way I can get a good exposure is by adjusting either the ISO or the flash compensation by hit or miss. If I change the camera metering to spot metering (thus turning off the TTL-BL and using TTL instead) there is no difference whatsoever. I still have this irrational behavior. It makes no sense to me that I should see overexposure from 10 feet away and better or good exposure from 2 feet away. If anything, I'd think the opposite would happen.

On the other hand, if I use the setup in a backlit situation, it works better. It's not perfect but at least the background will be exposed correctly (if I set the camera to manual and set f-stop and shutter speed for it) and the foreground subject will have some fill added. This seems to be how a TTL-BL system is designed to work and that's ok. But otherwise, it almost seems as if this this is the only way this flash is designed to work properly. Even manual flash is pretty much useless unless one can guesstimate how far away the subject is.

The camera is about a month old, the flash is a week old. I picked up a second hand SB-700 to use as a remote and this one behaves exactly the same way.

I really hate to think that the camera itself has a defect, but I suppose that is possible. Everything else works just fine with the camera and I have absolutely no issues with its metering system in non flash shooting.
Nikon charts indicate that the camera and flash are compatible with some limitations, but I don't see that there should be any problems with the way I am using them.

If anyone can make any suggestions as to what I may be able to check or set, I am listening. I usually use the combo on manual exposure and choose f-stop and shutter speeds so that ambient light will have no impact (unless I do want TTL-BL to fill). If my shutter speed is 1/200, it seems to make no difference what f-stop I choose, exposure will be good or not good depending solely on what ISO I shoot at or whether I have dialed in any flash compensation. It also makes no difference whether I shoot in TTL-BL with matrix metering or in TTL with spot metering. The SB-700 does not allow choosing between TTL-BL and TTL any other way than changing to spot metering (strange but true).

If anyone concludes that I am indeed using the flash correctly and it's all just a matter of "this is how TTL-BL works and I must live with it," I then ask, HOW on earth do you use this flash as a regular TTL flash intended to light up the subject correctly regardless of the background? I honestly cannot believe Nikon would design a flash for only backlit situations! I actually have a 35 year old Sunpak thyristor flash that is providing better results.

Someone please help! Thanks!!
 
Joined
Apr 10, 2021
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37
Well I just realized something...
Setting e3 (exposure compensation for flash) defaults to "Entire frame" which is where I have had it set. Just for laughs, I decided to change this setting to "Background only" and lo and behold, the exposures are now coming out properly!
I am not sure what is going on here and perhaps I am misinterpreting "Entire Frame" and "Background only." To me "Entire frame seems to indicate that if a flash compensation is made, the entire frame (flash and background) will be affected and that "Background only" indicates that the flash output itself remains the same but the background exposure is what changes.
Is this an incorrect assumption? It seems as though these 2 menu items are working in reverse. Have I possibly discovered a bug in Nikon's menus?
 
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Joined
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Right you are! Confusing as all heck. But setting E3 to background only allows you to control ambient yourself, as to "entire frame", which is the same as using exposure compensation (+/- button). Thom Hogan addresses this, so I don't see a bug here, just sloppy language.
 
Joined
Apr 10, 2021
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Right you are! Confusing as all heck. But setting E3 to background only allows you to control ambient yourself, as to "entire frame", which is the same as using exposure compensation (+/- button). Thom Hogan addresses this, so I don't see a bug here, just sloppy language.
Is it indeed just sloppy language? Fact is, in "entire frame" I cannot seem to get consistent or even good exposures from the flash. In "background only" things seem to be working as they should.
 
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Mar 22, 2008
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I have been having problems off and on with the Z6 II/ SB-700 combination. For me, it's like they aren't synching correctly half the time. I will see the flash fire. But, the frame is nearly black. Sometimes it works great. I bought a Godox flash that works great all the time after I performed the firmware update.
 
Joined
Apr 10, 2021
Messages
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I have been having problems off and on with the Z6 II/ SB-700 combination. For me, it's like they aren't synching correctly half the time. I will see the flash fire. But, the frame is nearly black. Sometimes it works great. I bought a Godox flash that works great all the time after I performed the firmware update.
I had Godox but sold them when I got the Z7ii instead of going through upgrading the firmware. I had issues with their instructions on how to upgrade using a Mac.

How are you shooting with the SB-700? Manual exposure? Or one of the auto options? Do you actually see the entire frame albeit dark? If you see the entire frame, the flash is syncing correctly. Too dark an exposure would more likely indicate incorrect f-stop. Like I said, mine was having erratic exposures too until I changed that flash compensation menu option. Perhaps you may want to take a look at that.
 
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Joined
Mar 22, 2008
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I had Godox but sold them when I got the Z7ii instead of going through upgrading the firmware. I had issues with their instructions on how to upgrade using a Mac.

How are you shooting with the SB-700? Manual exposure? Or one of the auto options? Do you actually see the entire frame albeit dark? If you see the entire frame, the flash is syncing correctly. Too dark an exposure would more likely indicate incorrect f-stop. Like I said, mine was having erratic exposures too until I changed that flash compensation menu option. Perhaps you may want to take a look at that.
I have played with multiple exposure modes. I actually started having the same issue when trying it with the D750. So, I am back to thinking it's a problem with the flash. I did a reset and it is now working again on both cameras.
With the Godox I had to use a machine at work as I also use Mac at home. The firmware is incompatible with them.
 
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Apr 10, 2021
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I use SB-800s with my Z6/7. Typically with radio triggers. No problems. I made the change to E3 way back when Thom Hogan first recommended it.
Which e3 setting does Thom recommend? Does he also feel that "background only" is the way to go? And this is what you use? Boy, if so, this sure makes me feel a whole lot better!

What radio triggers are you using? I have a couple of Pocketwizard TT5 which are Nikon dedicated. Only problem is they do not yet support the Z7ii.
 
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Joined
Apr 10, 2021
Messages
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I have played with multiple exposure modes. I actually started having the same issue when trying it with the D750. So, I am back to thinking it's a problem with the flash. I did a reset and it is now working again on both cameras.
With the Godox I had to use a machine at work as I also use Mac at home. The firmware is incompatible with them.
Yeah, I almost got my old PC out of the attic to attempt the upgrade but decided to just sell off the Godox and give the Nikon a try. Like I said, I had good results with Nikon flashes in the past, so I thought it might be time to go back.
 
Joined
Oct 9, 2005
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Thom notes this about the SB 700 and cameras with internal flashes (this from his D850 book):

"You can also set flash exposure compensation on the D850, D500, and D850, plus other camera bodies that have an internal flash, such as the D750 or D810. If you do this, the value is cumulative with that you might set on the external flash. Get in the habit of only setting the flash exposure compensation in only one place (body or flash)."
 
Joined
Apr 10, 2021
Messages
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Background only is what Thom recommends.
I use Phottix Odins.
Thanks. I have a week to play some more before I have to return for a refund. Now I do feel more confident that I can make this work.
I may give the SU-800 a try. I'd rather use radio but don't really want to spend money on that right now.
Do you know if the Odins will work with a Z7ii? My old Godox flashes wouldn't even fire using this camera.
 

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