Monday, July 8, 2019

The Godox V1 Roundheaded Flash: Field Trials

Fuji X100T w/ Wide Angel Adapter, 1/640, F 8.0, ISO 200  Godox V1 fired @ Full Power
The Fourth In Foster City:  has a very small town feel when it comes to community celebrations. Just north of Silicon Valley, Foster City  is a young city with an old town feel. The Fourth is an all-day event held at a local park at the edge of a man-made lagoon. I don't usually get great image opportunities, but this year I managed to get three that definitely had Community Page potential by concentrating on the Family and Pet Parade that initiates the event.

This is the first time I had a chance to use my Godox V1 in the field, and while my initial reaction to the unit was quite favorable, some design compromises in the controls gave me some grief. The event also reminded me that purchasing a specialty camera like the Fuji X70 does me no good if I don't bring it with me. More on that later.

The Particulars: I used the Nikon-compatible V1 even though I would be using Fuji cameras. I reasoned that the mixed sunlight/speedlight environment often rendered the TTL metering unpredictable, so I be shooting the flash in the manual mode. I felt confident that with my base aperture of F 8.0, I could set the V1 to 1/4 or 1/8 power to work at distances from 7 or 5 feet, and make reasonable exposures.

1/800th of a second, F 8.0, ISO 200, camera at ground level with flash held overhead.

The Specs Looked So Good On Paper:
In my last post, I listed the many V1 features I loved, liked, and some that I barely tolerated. This little assignment was an "in your face" confrontation of how my real world experiences don't necessarily match those anticipated by the engineers who designed the unit. The biggest problems stem from their attempts to replace multiple external buttons and rocker switches with multi-function, menu-driven interfaces.

Manual Control: My gripe involves my attempts to make manual adjustments to the flash output. The control sequence is not as straight-forward as my beloved Nikon SB-800s, nor is it as forgiving. For example, if I wanted to manually increase the output, I would first initiate the output adjustments by first pushing the knurled Select Dial at the 9 o'clock position, then either rotating the dial clockwise to increase the output in 1/10 stop increments. I might also press the Select Dial at the 12:00 o'clock position to increase the output by a full stop. Finally, I must remember to press the centrally positioned Set Button which serves to lock in the adjustment. By doing this, I would be reminded/forced to re-initiate the complete output adjustment sequence starting by pressing the Select Dial at the 9:00 o'clock "+/-" position.

I was using my dedicated Nikon V1 on a Fuji X100T camera with a generic compatible flash cable. By using the Fuji system, I had resigned myself to shooting the flash in the manual mode. When making these adjustments on the fly, one can forget to re-initiate the sequence for each adjustment. This is exactly what I didn't do, and as a result, attempts to decrease the output were instead changing the output mode to the Repeat/Stroboscopic mode, essentially disabling the flash. It took a little while to realize what was going on, and I was able to eventually get the shots I wanted.

1/500 second, F 8.0, ISO 200, flash manual let to 1/8 power
I just ordered a Fuji-dedicated V1 flash from Adorama, so I'll soon have the TTL option when I shoot. This may  reduce my reliance my manual output adjustments, providing the TTL system accurately assesses the mixed lighting environments I often find myself  shooting in. Like everything else, I'll need to see how capable the new flash is before I rely on the flash's native "smarts" to properly expose my images.

Assignment Notes: There are several Fourth of July celebrations here on the peninsula. Redwood City, the County Seat, gets the most coverage by the paper, and I "front paged" the event only once. These three images were submitted for publication, but none made it to the July 5 or the July 6 Weekend Edition. Something may appear in the Monday Community section. Since these three images are "in play", this post will be published after the Journal appears on the newsstands.