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Question:

I am wondering about the ready light on my strobe. I wait for the light to come on, but when I shoot two or three photos in a row, although my first exposure usually is correct using TTL, often the second or third are underexposed.

 

 

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Questions and Answers (Q & A's)

From Alan Broder (from Ocean Realm Magazine - January 1994)

Answer:

They should not be allowed to call them "ready lights" lights. Instead, they should call them "Freddie lights" or "reddish lights" or they could call them "I’m ready, honey, lights"—then we’d know that they really mean "I’m getting ready," "I’ll be ready soon," "I’ll be ready someday," or "by the time I’m ready, the party’ll be over." The manufacturer decides at what point during the charge cycle the ready light is to come on, and this decision may be affected by marketing considerations. Most strobe capacitors measure around 350 volts at full charge. The ready light may be designed to come on at any arbitrarily set voltage. When strobe comparisons are made, the buyer commonly watches to see when the ready light comes on, and fires the strobe, then waits for another ready light. The time between ready lights is assumed to be the recycle time. In order to have their strobe compare favorably, manufacturers may lower the ready light turn-on voltage—sort of a ready light come-on—come on. We compared over a dozen strobe models by metering their outputs at three points. We fired and metered them at the point the ready light came on, at ready plus five seconds, and at ready plus thirty seconds. We found that the best performer, relating ready light to peak power, put out one-quarter stop more at ready plus five seconds than at ready light, reaching full power within the five second period. For all practical purposes, this is probably not going to get much better. The phoniest baloneyest ready light came on almost two stops short of full power and took the full thirty seconds to drag itself to the top if its peak.

If you’re looking for consistent recycle times, and you want them as short as possible for the strobe you don’t have, don’t use alkaline batteries. They’re slower than NiCads when fresh, and the alkaline batteries will give slower recycles and less peak power as their voltage drops with use. NiCads are faster and will be much more consistent in both recycle time and peak power as they’re discharged.

Place a freshly charged set of NiCads in your strobe and shoot a test roll. Since you shoot TTL, set everything up for TTL and determine the aperture and strobe-to-subject distance at which the strobe is just putting out full power by finding the "blink point." Find this point by starting with the in-air guide number and making successive exposures thirty seconds apart with one-half f-stop adjustments on the lens until the ready light starts blinking after the flash goes off. Open up to the last f-stop that didn’t blink. After at least a thirty second delay, take a test exposure. This is your control sample. Make a second exposure as soon as the light comes on. The next time the light comes on, start the "Lawrence Welk" count immediately (ah-one ana-two ana three-ah), and push the shutter release on three. Repeat on a count of five, then ten, then fifteen, then twenty, then thirty. Develop the roll and check for the first exposure that looks like the control. The count you made on this exposure is the full-power recycle time. There is additional useful information on the roll. You may find that you can short the full-power recycle time by half and only lose a quarter of a stop. You can now decide how much you can cheat when you need a quickie.


 

 

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