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January 1, 2013

Sony Nex-6 and Flash Photography – On and Off Camera!!

Sony Nex-6 and Flash Photography

In this article I’m going to go over Flash Photography with the Sony Nex-6! Both On Camera flash modes and Off Camera options  using the Multi-purpose Hot Shoe.  I also have tons of sample photos demonstrating what each flash setting does and how the flash exposure compensation works!!

The Sony Nex-6 comes equipped with a pretty powerful and versatile on camera flash that is completely tucked away inside the camera when not in use. There is a button on the back of the camera that you have to physically press in order to release the spring loaded flash mechanism unit. It’s a really innovative design that I first saw on the Sony Nex-7 and was very impressed by the engineering then, and still am now ;)

 

Enabling the On Camera Flash

To use the Nex-6 on camera flash you have to press the littl flash button on the back of the camera just above the screen. This button physically moves a little hook inside the flash chamber which then releases the flash mechanism, and takes a little more effort than you might think you first try.

Sony Nex-6 and Flash Photography

Sony Nex-6 – Pushing the On Camera Flash Button

The flash then springs into action pretty high above the camera allowing it to reach over the lens without the hood even on the wide angle end.

Sony Nex-6 and Flash Photography

The Little Hook Mechanism that holds the OMC Down

Sony Nex-6 and Flash Photography

Sony Nex-6 On camera Flash Open

Sony Nex-6 and Flash Photography

Sony Nex-6 On Camera Flash Towering Up and Extending Forward

 

From the Nex-6 Manual

Nex-6 and Flash Photography – It’s actually not to bad in the Nex-6 Manual! (Click here to download)

Sony Nex-6 and Flash Photography

Enabling On Camera Flash

Sony Nex-6 and Flash Photography

Nex-6 On Camera Flash Modes

Note: When the camera is charging the flash, the little flash icon blinks on the LCD screen. You cannot press the shutter button when this icon is blinking!!

Nex-6 and Flash Photography

Sony Nex-6 Available Flash Modes Chart

 

Nex-6 On Camera Flash Specs:

  • Flash guide number: GN 6 (in meters at ISO 100)
  • Recycling time: Approx: 4 seconds Flash coverage: FOV covering up to 16mm lens (focal length that the lens indicates)
  • Flash compensation: ±2.0 EV (1/3 EV step)
  • Flash Sync Speed: 1/160 sec

The range of the flash depends on the ISO sensitivity and Aperture value.

 ISO / Aperture F2.8 F3.5 F5.6
ISO100 1 m – 2.1 m
(3.3 feet – 6.9 feet)
1 m – 1.7 m
(3.3 feet – 5.6 feet)
1 m – 1.1 m
(3.3 feet – 3.6 feet)
ISO3200 5.6 m – 12 m
(18 feet – 39 feet)>
4.5 m – 9.7 m
(15 feet – 32 feet)
2.8 m – 6 m
(9.2 feet – 20 feet)
 

So Which Flash Settings to Use and Why?

We have all had frustration with flash at times, so please don’t feel alone if you are struggling to get the results your after!! Using the correct flash settings for your environment is critical to getting a “proper” exposure overall. Flash helps freeze your subject, so often you will need to sacrifice the best exposure possible for a sharp shot. I’ll explain as we go..

Flash Off

Besides the obvious, it’s worth mentioning that the flash will not fire under any circumstance! Even if the flash is open and looks ready to go.

AutoFlash Mode

When using AutoFlash on the Nex-6. it will chose to use it at it’s own discretion in both dark environments and bright sunny environments. This mode is available in The iAuto Modes and a few scene modes, but does not allow for flash exposure comp adjustments.

I had pretty good luck with AutoFlash on my Nex-6 taking a few snapshots of Chubs and Layla around the house.

Sony Nex-6 and Flash Photography

Nex-6 AutoFlash ISO 200

 

Nex-6 and Fill-Flash Mode

The purpose of fill flash, as I understand it and apply it to my photography, is this: Theoretically adds a little extra Fill Light into the scene to help soften harsh shadows due to the Sun or other harsh lighting scenarios.  Great for brightening deep eye sockets or under hat brims for example.

Real world on the Sony Nex-6 I find this works pretty good, but the shutter speed seems to lock @ 1/60sec or 1/100sec which might cause some issues depending on your exposure goals. The flash also fires every time in this mode which is important to note. I often prefer natural light, but the results are pretty good when you need flash and want to control the power with flash exposure comp. This is also a good option for outside and when hand holding as the shutter speed is high enough to help avoid camera shake and freeze the action.

Note: You might experience blown out scenes or subjects when using the Fill-Flash mode. If this happens, check your ISO setting and make sure it’s not set way to high for your conditions. Auto ISO might not work 100% either, so Flash Exposure Compensation can come to the rescue!! Also, if your using a really fast lens the aperture may be wide open and allowing to much light in. Try stopping down to f/2.8 or so.

Sony Nex-6 Fill-Flash Mode @ ISO 100

Note: how the background is really dark do to the shutter speed of 1/60sec to help “freeze the action”, and ISO 100 in really dark conditions.

Sony Nex-6 and Flash Photography

Sony Nex-6 – Fill Flash @ ISO 100, 1/60sec

Sony Nex-6 Fill-Flash Mode – Auto ISO

Here is the same exact shot using Auto ISO as apposed to ISO 100. The Nex-6 decided to jack the ISO up to 800 which helped fill in the background ambient light really well. By raising the ISO the flash got more powerful?? Yes!! It gets more powerful in relation to the sensor sensitivity.  In other words, the higher the ISO is set, the more distance and exposure power you can get out of the flash unit.

Sony Nex-6 and Flash Photography

Sony Nex-6 – Fill Flash @ ISO 800, 1/60sec

 

Slow Sync Flash Mode

When working with flash you need to remember one very important concept that honestly took me some time to wrap my hear around.  Aperture and ISO controls the  flash exposure and shutter speed controls ambient light exposure!! You may have heard the term “Dragging the Shutter”?? This means the same thing as Slow-Sync.

So what the slow sync flash mode actual does is first fire the flash for the subject exposure, then allow for a longer shutter speed which will allow for more ambient light to be captured by the sensor. Remember, shutter speed controls ambient light when using flash!! Aperture and ISO control the Flash Exposure/ Power.

Check out this photo of Santa with the Nex-6 set to Slow-Sync Flash Mode:

Note how the shutter speed is @ 1/4sec now allowing all that ambient light to come in. Not good for hand hollding, but makes for a pretty well balanced image when using a tri-pod! This techniques is often used for wedding portraiture inside Church’s and other dark environments to help balance the scene and open up the harsh shadows.

Sony Nex-6 and Flash Photography

Slow Sync Flash @ 1/4sec, ISO 100

 

Using the Flash Exposure Compensation to fine tune your exposure.

By adjusting the flash exposure compensation you can dial in the power if your camera is not doing the best job. I used this feature often and it works great!!! You can get to in the Menu> Brightness/Color> Flash Comp.

Here is what it looks like with Santa at various exposure comp settings still using the Slow Sync Flash Mode.

First a normal slow sync exposure with no flash exposure comp applied:

Sony Nex-6 and Flash Photography

Slow Sync Flash @ 1/3sec, ISO 100 – No Exp Comp

-1 Flash Exposure Comp

Sony Nex-6 and Flash Photography

Slow Sync Flash @ -1 exp Comp

-2 Flash Exposure Compensation

Sony NEx-6 and Flash Photography

Slow Sync Flash @ -2 exp Comp

 

Rear Sync Flash Mode

Rear Sync Flash Mode is really powerful and can yeild you some really excellent and creative results!! Basically what the camera does exactly this: Fires the flash just before closing of the shutter, so that moving objects will show a streak where they came from and a sharp image where they were at the end of the exposure. Very useful for conveying a sense of speed with moving objects!! This mode is also reffered to as rear-curtain sync or 2nd-curtain sync.

I have honestly never tried using this feature till just now as I was writing this. I have been wanting to for some time though mind you. So, I ran out into the living room and set the Nex-6 on the table with the flash set to rear sync mode, ISO 100, f/5.6, in Aperture Priority mode, and the resulting shutter speed for the lighting conditions was 1.3 seconds!!

Sony Nex-6 - Rear Sync Flash Mode

Sony Nex-6 – Rear Sync Flash Mode

 Note: I was shuffling across the room pretty quick so I’m a bit ghostly which is pretty neat looking. I also was wearing my checkered shirt to try and add a better streaking effect. The long exposure allows for all the background information to come into the sensor while the subject, Me, is captured for the given time and space, plus flash exposure at the end.

This is by no means a good result of this effect, but it does illustrate how it works to some degree. If you do a google search for rear sync flash photography you will see many samples!! I’ll do a better job with some lights or something asap, and update this article as such. The potential is really high for cool effects with the rear sync flash mode feature on the Sony Nex-6.

 

Wireless Flash Mode

Sony Nex-6 and Flash PhotographyThe wireless mode is used for just that, compatible Wireless flash units. The Wireless setting cannot be used with the camera’s internal flash. This mode is really only effective when you attach a remote control compatible external flash to the camera, and shoot with a wireless flash placed away from the camera. For compatible Sony flash units be sure to check out my Sony Flash Guide >>

Multi-Purpose Hotshoe Adapter

The Sony ADP-MAA adapter allows you to use your auto-lock shoe-compatible accessories like flashes, viewfinders and more!!

With the Nex-6 multi-interface shoe so you can take advantage of many additional accessories!!

 

What about White Balance?

Your going to have to play with the white balance as the scene really dictates the color cast.  Auto modes will force you to use Auto WB, but in the more creative modes like A,S,M, and P you can experiment!! Sometimes Flash WB does a good job, but often not.

Your best bet is to use custom white balance and a calibration target or gray card to insure accurate colors!! This is what I do for all my professional work and makes for excellent skin tones and much less work in post processing. On this Santa scene I just used Auto however as you will see the colors are not perfect.

 

Off Camera Flash and Sony Nex-6

So you want to get professional results?? Then use off camera flash and manual mode!!

I hooked up my wireless flash trigger to the Sony Nex-6 Multi-interface Hot Shoe and had the flash mode set to fill-flash. The flash itself was closed though, but I wanted to make sure a signal was going to the hot shoe to trip my wireless flash transmitter every time I pressed the shutter. It’s totally possible this would have worked with the flash set to another mode, but I did not test it as this worked first try!! I used manual mode and had no aperture to adjust due to the lens set-up, so I just dialed in the shutter speed till the background looked good.

I also used my adjustable neutral density filter to help darken up the scene as the B800 flash unit was to powerful for the lenses f/2.8 aperture. Even at ISO 100. Remember that, aperture controls flash and in this case I had no working aperture on my lens, so the ND filter acted as my tool to darken the scene without sacrificing the depth of field I wanted.

Check out the set-up:

Sony Nex-6 and Off Camera Flash

Sony Nex-6 and Off Camera Flash

Sony Nex-6 and Off Camera Flash

Sony Nex-6 and Off Camera Flash

Sony Nex-6 and Off Camera Flash

Sony Nex-6 and Off Camera Flash

Sony Nex-6 and Off Camera Flash

Sony Nex-6 and Off Camera Flash – Alien B800

 

Nex-6 Off Camera Flash Results

Sony Nex-6 and Off Camera Flash

Sony Nex-6 and Off Camera Flash – 1/4sec

Sony Nex-6 and Off Camera Flash - 1/3sec

Sony Nex-6 and Off Camera Flash – 1/3sec

 

Using Other Flash Units?

I also hooked up my Canon 580EX II flash unit to the Mutli-Purpose Hot Shoe and it fired as expected!! I had to use manual mode of course, but I was able to adjust the settings easily and get a correct exposure. I bounced the flash off the ceiling and it worked just like on the DSLR’s. This is an awesome feature as pro level flash units are expensive and if I can use what I have already, why not?? Manual mode is not as easy as full TTL Auto, but if you know how your flash gear works, it’s pretty easy to get good exposures!

 

Closing Remarks

As you can see the Sony Nex-6 and Flash Photography is really not that bad. There are a lot of options, but if you go over them, they all make sense for the most part. Practice also makes perfect and exposure comp and distance to your subjects can take some time to get used to.

Please feel free to ask questions if you have any, as the subject can be confusing for sure ;) Also be sure to check out the Sony Flash Photography and Video Lighting Guide Over Here >>

Jay


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Thanks,
Jay

 

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About the Author

Jay
Hello, I'm the owner and operator of SonyAlphaLab.com. Please check out the About page for a full background on myself and the Lab ;) Google+ | Twitter | RSS-feed | Email Updates!!




76 Comments


  1. Great article, Jay!

    I’m a big believer in off camera flash and it’s good to see such comprehensive coverage on how to use OCF with the NEX cameras.

    I am curious about something (because I don’t own an NEX camera and I just don’t know). Is the power level of the flash also adjustable? It makes sense that you lose power compensation in auto modes but is there a mode that gives you power level control? I know that I’ve had success using built in flashes on DLSRs to trigger optically triggered off camera flashes (including Alien Bees units and my LumoPro hot shoe flashes). It would be cool if the power level of the on-camera flash set all the way down so that it can trigger an off-camera optical triggered flash (and at low power it shouldn’t effect the overall exposure of the shot).

    Also – you mentioned using a ND filter on your lens because your B800 strobe is still too much power at the lowest setting. This is definitely a good technique and I use ND filters when I’m on location all the time. But I’d like to offer you and your readers an alternative method of getting the off camera flash power under control.

    I’m a huge user of gels to control the color and power of my flashes (on-camera and off-camera). When I’m on a location shoot I often change lenses to go from tight shots to wide shots. Because lenses might have different filter sizes (It seems like all of my lenses are different) you would need to invest in ND filters for every possible lens you might use. For the highest quality ND filters you can spend big money (and I don’t believe in going cheap on anything that goes between my subject and the sensor of my camera). Instead of taking a lot of ND filters out on location I prefer to use ND gels at the strobe.

    ND gels are grey film (theoretically color neutral) and they are placed in front of your flash to decrease output. They are available from 1/2 stop to at least 4 stops and you can stack gels to get more precise. And the best part is that a sheet of ND gel costs about $7 for a 20″x24″ sheet (my 77mm 3 stop ND cost me over $100 and it only works on my longer lenses). With a 2 stop ND gel on my flash I can bring down the output of the flash and change lenses without missing a beat (and that’s super important when you have a client in front of your camera).

    Great article, Jay, and thanks for your hard work putting it together.


    • Jay

      Thanks Monico :) The power level of the flash is not adjustable and will ruin your shot if you try to use it as a trigger. It also does not support the advanced Sony trigger system either, so a Hot Shoe unit is pretty much required for the Nex-6. It’s really convenient now though, for me at least. Regular Sony flash owners will need to use that adapter.

      Great suggestion on using ND Gels!! I have never used them, but it would clearly work great in this situation as you explained so well ;) I will have to look into those for sure, and the less glass in front of the lens the better. Huge savings in price as well!!

      Stacking multiple umbrellas, or an extra diffuser in front of the model will also work to a degree in a real pinch.

      Thanks again,
      Jay


  2. That is a great article, Jason, and very timely too. I’ve even picked up a few pointers myself, particularly the use of ND filters to temper the flash output while maintaining a big-aperture DOF. Ingenious! I hope you don’t mind me linking to it on a relevant post over at the forum, too –AL :)


  3. Thanks Jay. I don’t have the NEX 6, but I have a built in flash on my RX1 and what you provided in this article helps me to better use the flash . . . even though I’ll rarely need it. :~)


    • Jay

      Thanks Sean for the comments!! Yeah, I really don’t like using on camera flash at all to be honest. My Canon 5D mark II doesn’t even have one. It is handy though when getting nothing or a blurry photo is the alternative ;)

      Jay


  4. Alf

    Great article Jay.
    (Looks like my former comment disappeared after pushing “post comment”?)

    I was looking into getting off camera flashes too, and this article will be a good help.
    Thanks.


    • Jay

      Thanks for the comments Alf! I need to approve the comments if you are a new commenter, so it make take a few hours or longer depending on what I’m up to ;)

      Best,
      Jay


  5. Javy

    Hi Jay,

    I got a NEX-6 recently and wanted to try out external flash photography. However I tried couple of flashes (ISO standard mount, Sunpak, forgot for which camera) at the local camera store, but the camera cannot trigger the flash to fire. The flash did fire when the it was mounted onto the shoe. I also tried out wireless flash trigger but the result was the same. Got any idea? I suspect the shoe for my camera got problem.


    • Jay

      Javy,

      I’m not 100% sure what your issue is. My particularly flash trigger worked and my Canon flash worked. That is all I tested so far.

      It seems to me that they should work I would think. Are you using fill flash mode?

      Jay


      • Javy

        Hi Jay,

        Thanks for the reply. I did use the fill flash mode during the testing.

        Now my problem is unable to be sure is the shoe is workable or not. Even if I claim warranty, the service center might just say the flash is incompatible with the Sony multi interface shoe.

        Might need to wait for the HVL-F60M come to my town and try on it. If that flash cannot be triggered, then it is confirmed that the shoe is having problem.


      • Jay

        Hmmm. That is weird Javy. No chance for a Sony store or a Best Buy where you can try a few more out? It’s odd that both mine work and it’s two different manufactures.

        Jay


      • Richard

        I’m having the same problem with my Sony NEX-6, Any flash I try, and ive tried five different kinds made by many different brands are not fired off by the hotshoe, in any mode or any program. I contacted Sony and they recommended I send in for warranty repair. :-(


      • Jay

        Hi Richard,

        Really sorry to hear that, but at least we know it appears to be an official issue if Sony told you to send it in for repair!! Curious to see how the repair turns out??

        Thanks for sharing the info,
        Jay


  6. Robert

    Thank you for the extremely helpful article Jay! I have had some pretty good results using the on camera flash as a bounce flash by simply pulling the hinged flash all the way back with my forefinger and clicking the shutter with my middle finger.

    Cheers!


    • Jay

      Thanks Robert for the comments and tip with the flash ;) It totally does work like that, but you need to hold it with your finder and you end up covering part of the flash usually. It’s a great trick though, but I wish it clicked into that position somehow! Putting a little piece of tissue over the flash helps soften a bit as well if your in a pinch ;)

      Thanks again, and have a good day,
      Jay


  7. Gord Profit

    Hi, I’ve used the hotshoe with the Nex 6 without any problem but you must have the on camera flash in the open position. This tells the camera to set the correct shutter speed ( synched). I’ve also used the little flash to trigger my other lights. As you’ve said, You have to manually play with settings, auto doesn’t work.


    • Jay

      Very interesting Gord about the sync. I did not have to do this with my Canon 580exII flash unit. Was a specific shutter speed you were using that caused the sync issues?

      Thanks again for sharing and the info!!

      Jay


    • Gord Profit

      Sorry, but the on camera flash fooled me into thinking the hot shoe was working. It doesn’t seem to work and for some reason the output from my studio lights is not being picked up either.


  8. Deric Kryvenchuk

    Great article. I have a Nex-6 and have tested it with my Sb80DX and it works albeit in manual mode of course. I was wondering, though, if there is any word on Sony releasing a low or mid level flash unit with the new hot shoe? I woud be very interested in this as the Nex-6 has the setting for wireless trigger, but only their top line flash has the new hotshoe.


    • Jay

      Hi Deric,

      I have not heard much of anything about another flash unit, but I do believe a few will be coming shortly!! Demand is extremely high ;)

      Best,
      Jay


  9. Rudi

    Hi Jay
    I’ve a NEX7 with various lenses and I find the flash is often far too bright and/or I get really big shadows. Is there any advice on avoiding shadows and reducing the flash strength as I am just a novice.
    Many thanks
    Rudi


    • Jay

      Hi Rudy,

      You can control the power of the flash with the flash exposure compensation. It’s in the menu and very helpful depending on your distance to the subject. It can aslo be tricky when using high iso’s in low light, as the flash is more sensitive the higher the iso value set. It takes some practice with the various setting as you can see in this article. Shadows are harsh when using on camera flash. The fact that the light source is coming from the camera and so small, means it will create harsh shadows behind the heads of people with a wall behind them. You can bounce the flash off the ceiling by holding it back on the nex-7, but it’s still hard I think. Limitations of the on camera flash. Off camera flash will get you way better results, but it takes more work and skill. I would recommend looking into a hot shoe mounted flash which will raise your light source up from the camera and it’s much larger also. Shadows will still be an issue, but bouncing the flash off the ceiling is very effective, and you can add diffusers to get a much softer look. Check out the Flash Guide over Here >> for more info and feel free to ask more questions if you have them ;)

      Jay


  10. maritimedoc

    Jay
    I’m considering the purchase of a NEX-6. I have a Canon Speedlite 430EX which I would like to continue using. Do you know if it would fit directly on the new style hot shoe? How does the use of the Sony ADP-MAA adapter figure into the picture?

    Great article by the way!


    • Jay

      Hello and thanks,

      It should work as my 580ex II works fine in manual, no ttle though. It will fit on the new standard hot shoe with no adapters or anything. Looks just like the canon hot shoe pretty much :)

      Best,
      Jay


      • karen

        Hi and thanks for this thread.
        I have a Sigma EF530 DG ST for Canon, and this does not fit directly on the camera obviously, and the ADP MAA is incorrect. So how have you used the Canon flash please, with the AMA adapter, which is a slide in, as opposed to the MAA where the flash unit fits over and slides along the sides?
        I’m just a bit unsure how to go about attaching this flash, if it is possible at all.
        Lots of confusing information out there!!
        thanks again.


  11. Jim

    Great article.

    I have Elinchrom D-Lites, which come with a wireless trigger. I am looking to purchase NEX 6 as a 2nd camera. ( already own a 5d Mark II )

    Will the Elinchrom lights work with the NEX 6, if the wireless trigger is attached to the hot shoe?

    Let me know your thoughts. I would love to own a compact NEX 6


    • Jay

      Hi Jim,

      It should absolutely work, as my alien bee flash transmitter works, and canon 580ex II Flash also works. Take the leap, you won’t be disappointed by the versatility or huge size/ weight savings the Nex cameras have to offer. Not to mention lens adapters and old school lenses or your canon lenses for that matter ;)

      Jay


  12. Jim

    Jay,

    Thank you for your advice. One more question: will need to acquire the ADP-MAA hot shoe adapter?
    I was looking at the lens kit 6y – SEL 16-50mm & 55-210mm lenses.

    Have you had any chance to try them out?

    Jim


    • Jay

      Hi Jim,

      Thanks for the comments and yes I have tried those lenses out!! I’m not the biggest fan of the 16-50mm lens, but the 55-210mm I love :) I really want to buy one for myself, but just don’t have the money these days. Check out the review if you didn’t find it yet ;) SEL55120 E-Mount Lens review >>

      Jay


  13. Jim

    Found the lens guide your website :) should have looked first.

    How about the hot shoe adapter, is it required?


    • Jay

      If you use the new super expensive HVL-F60M flash then no an adapter is not required. If you use the older style flash mount, like the one on the nex-7, you will need an adapter in order to use it on the Nex-6 ;)

      Best,
      Jay


  14. Hey Jay – first, your in-depth analysis of all things NEX-6 played a large part in my recently purchasing one :) I would have done so with a click-through – but I thought I’d support a good brick-and-mortar local shop. I did, however, throw you a l’il chunk with my more recent purchase of Lightroom. Learning that as well as the NEX 6 has kept the ol’ grey matter firing heavy lately :D

    Ok, rambling preamble over – I too am having difficulty getting a plain on-camera-via-hotshoe flash to trigger. It’s a Promatic STT4100, which I used to use all the time on my Minolta X700. I’m set for Manual, and have tried setting flash for both slow sync and fill flash.

    Am I missing something?


    • Jay

      Hi Doug,

      Sorry for the delayed reply and thanks for the support ;) It’s all greatly appreciated!!

      I don’t think your missing anything. It should fire assuming the electrical contact to trip the flash is touching? If not your Nex-6 might be messed up like others have reported possible?

      Jay


  15. Shane Francescut

    Hi Jay,

    Thanks for yet another amazing article.

    I am in the early stages of researching off-camera flash photography. I’d love to experiment with it over the next little while. While I found this article to be very informative and helpful, I was wondering if you had any suggestions for setting up a NEX F3 for off-camera flash photog. My issue is (I think) the goofy hot shoe that the camera has.

    I am aware that I would need a hot shoe adapter such as the JJC adapter found on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/JJC-Flash-Adapter-MSA-10-MSA10/dp/B008NBXNRU, but then I would need a trigger… correct?

    I guess my question to you is this, with the above adapter (which seems to work fine according to some research I’ve done), what would you recommend for a trigger and what flash (an inexpensive one) would you recommend?

    I also don’t really know the difference between a flash and speed light. I have learned that I should look for something with different power settings, but my knowledge kinda ends there.

    Thanks again for your great insights,

    Shane


    • Jay

      Hi Shane,

      That adapter will do the job and you have a number of options for flash trigger’s and flash units. You will need to get a transmitter that is designed to work with a specific flash unit usually. I use Alien Bee lights, transmitter and receivers. I have the B800 flash unit, but it’s not the cheapest. They work great though and you can find some deals on Ebay Here >>

      Here is a great set of lighting kits that will give you an idea of what you might need and or want: http://www.paulcbuff.com/packages.php

      BHPhotoVideo also has some really affordable lighting kits from Impact Here >>

      I hope that helps Shane,

      Jay


  16. this was very interesting to me, as i tried a bunch of flashes, and none worked on the hotshoe, which leads me to believe that the hotshoe is broken and i need to service it


    • Jay

      It is a real shame Nemo, but Sony seems to have re-leased several Nex-6 units with faulty hot shoe or something. I’m not sure exactly what the issue is, but you are not the first with the issue :(

      Jay


  17. Steve Russell

    I have noticed that the in built flash on my Nex 6 fires even when in the closed position, based on the notes in the table above this appears to be fault, does anyone else’s camera do this?


  18. Hi Jay

    Excellent article! I have the NEX 6 and want to start out doing some off camera flash work. To keep the costs down I want to use a speed light and remote trigger. Do you have any experience with Yongnuo speed lights and triggers. I hear the Yongnuo RF 602 (Nikon) works for the 6 and the speedlights are cheap. I appreciate the flash is manual but I shoot the NEX 5 underwater with manual strobes so its not completly new to me. Any help on third party remote triggers and speedlights would be greatly appreciated


    • Jay

      Hello Scott,

      I have never used those flash triggers or speed lights you mentioned, sorry. I have experience with Sme Sigma ring flashes, the Canon 580EX II, and the Metz I have played with briefly. Underwater flash photography has some specific requirements though I think to cancel out the particles in the water. Perhaps a twin light set-up is needed? I apologize, but underwater flash photography is not my area of expertise. If I were you, I would look for waterproof solutions or cases that are made for flash units. Once you identify those, you will have a starting point. There are not that many under water housings available for aftermarket on camera flash solutions that I know of. Triggers certainly seem like the way to go for sure.

      Sorry I can’t really offer much on this topic, but I really do think underwater flash requires some specific tricks that you need to look out for.

      best,
      Jay


  19. john

    nice article – what brand of wireless trigger are you using – looks so compact –
    I use Phottix Strato II Multi for Sony – works ok – has channels and groups but just a bit large for my taste – so have been looking for something smaller – ( do not have AlianB lights – other brands ) – So the Pocketwizard III comes to mind at $150 a piece – but again sticks up way high – the Phottix is low but sticks way forward – about the same size as Pocketwizard – wanted to try Phottix as if I had gone with Pocketwizard standing up style on top of the hotshoe adapter for my NEX7 it would look stupid and way high – so curious what brand you are using – I suspect the Alien B trigger – but not sure if it will work on other lights or flashes


    • Jay

      Hello John,

      I use the AlienBee Trigger which works perfectly on my Nex-6 and the receiver plugs into the actual light. It should fire any lights that have a headphone style jack which is how I use it. AlienBee doesn’t make one specific for the Nex-7 though, so You would still need the hot shoe adapter unfortunately. One huge advantage of the standard hoteshoe on the Nex-6, as seen here.

      Jay


  20. Precious

    Hi, I’m wondering… did you really just set both the camera and flash to manual modes? Turned on fill flash? Then it fired? I tried a lot of things, even different manual flashes, but nothing triggered… did you tape over any existing contacts that may cause cross talk? from what I’m seeing, it looks like my hotshoe doesn’t even work. :-(


    • Jay

      I didn’t do anything special Precious, it just fired. The On camera flash was not needed to trigger anything as my trigger worked as it’s supposed to.

      Perhaps your hot shoe is broken? I have heard of a few people that had issues with the Hot Shoe not working for some reason. Mine just worked strait out of the box.

      I hope that helps,
      Jay


  21. David

    None of my Olympus, Vivitar, Panasonic flash gun works on the NEX6 ( they all works on my Fuji hotshoe), took it to sony and it only works on the most expensive $600 dedicated flash- they said my hotshoe is fine- no repair needed- just buy the sony flash. Yikes! I want to return the camera- what a scam.


    • Jay

      Sorry David,

      I would not expect a non compatible Sony flash to work on a Sony camera? It’s not a universal standard hot shoe gfor anything that fits. Sony is very proprietary when it comes to that. You need to use a flash made specifically for Sony or a universal flash trigger like the Alien Bee unit I have for off camera lighting. Not really a scam, just a compatibility issue. Sony is always a bit more proprietary than other companies as history seems to show.

      Jay


      • David

        Jay,

        Yesterday bought a HVL-20M spanking new Sony flash, just released for the NEX series, get this… it fires the flash, but the sync does not register- so the dark scene remained completely dark like no light reaches the sensor at auto, manual or whatever mode. I also loaded on the fancy 2 way NEX friendly audio mic, only hisses, no sound recorded on video. Had spend enough time and money- so I send it in for repair, the ‘hot shoe’ is definitely faulty hot issue.

        Sony need to get this issue fixed. Too many complains on the web about this- bad for the brand.


      • Jay

        Thank you for reporting this David and I totally agree with our assessment. Sorry your camera is not working properly :( So frustrating! Sony should cover the cost of any Nex-6 hot shoe repairs, because there have been way to many complaints of it not working out of the box, or just being faulty. I’m very fortunate that I never had any issues with mine yet!

        I’m glad you sent it in for repair David and I really think it should it be covered under warranty.

        Thanks again for your report,
        Jay


  22. rpavich

    I have an RX1 which has the multi-function hot shoe and I can’t get ANYTHING to fit on the hot shoe, no flash, no trigger…nothing. They don’t slide in far enough to get the center pin lined up with the center hot spot.

    I don’t know how you are able to do it on your camera, they should have the same hot shoe…right?

    I ended up just using the onboard flash as a trigger to trigger other flashes optically…it’s crude but it works fine and with no extra gear.


    • Jay

      Hi Rpavich,

      That is odd, because my Alien Flash trigger fit and worked fine in the RX1. Which brand trigger are you using?

      Flashes will not work if they are not made for Sony. It works on my Nex-6 the same way.

      That will work using the on-board flash, but not the greatest lighting is produced usually.

      Jay


  23. Don

    Thanks you for the review. I attached a pocket wizard plus ii onto my NEX 6 hot shoe and triggered my Canon 580 EXII (manually) and it worked great. I love this little camera. Does anyone have any experience with TTL.


    • Jay

      Thanks for the comments and information about your pocket wizard! I don’t have much experience with ttl on the Sony cameras, but on my Canon gear I do. You have any specific questions?

      Jay


  24. iceman

    Interesting…. Just one question.
    How do you do your Focusing and Composition when you do off camera flash.
    I try to do it and I want no ambiant light and just my strobe to light my subject. Problem is after setting my NEX 6 with 1/250 ISO 200 f5.6 my live is backout same thing with my viewfinder?


    • Jay

      Hello Iceman,

      You need to find the setting that makes the LCD screen behave like an optical viewfinder. It’s in the menu under set-up called Live View Display Setting effect on is default and an awesome feature, but if you want it to behave like a normal viewfinder so it shows you what you see when in manual mode for focusing etc.. Change the Setting Effect to OFF This setting got me the first time I tried to use studio lights and manual mode also with the SLT-A77. Same thing with all the EVF enabled Sony cameras.

      That should do it Iceman and I hope that helped,
      Jay


  25. Andrea

    Hello Jay, need your help again. I use flash rarely, but when I use it is because I want to be sure to catch the right momenn low light, not blur even if i lost in quality of the immage. But I found the flash very slow because it takes some second to shut and makes like 3 or for 4 flash before taking the picture. Is it possible to set it faster (like in the rear flash mode that you just press and it shut), but without having that creative results?

    Thanks as usual
    Andrea


    • Andrea

      Ok, I just have an “illumination” (just because we are talking about flash photography…ahahah:-) ). It’s because of the red eye option on…I guess!

      I take the advantage of this occasion to thank you once agian and to wish you and your family a Merry Christmast!

      Andrea


      • Jay

        Glad you figured it out Andrea ;) The camera will often fire a pre flash anyway in order to get a read on the room and distance to your subject. Not the same as red eye reductiion though. That pulses the flash a few times for sure!

        Have a great day and sorry for the delayed reply!

        Jay


  26. […] actually put together another flash tutorial a while back called Sony Nex-6 and Flash Photography ON and OFF Camera. It’s pretty thorough and explains a lot about off camera flash and using the regular Nex-6 […]


  27. Kurnia Lim

    Thanks for the article, but I still confuse to buy the wireless trigger. I own Nex 6, what wireless trigger should I buy so I can do HSS, or at least I need above 1/160s, if it can do TTL is better but not a must, but I need faster than 1/160s. I know pixel king works for Sony with minolta hot shoe, but then I need ADP-MAA adapter, maybe this will be my last option if I can’t find wireless trigger that I need. Thanks


    • Jay

      Sorry for the delayed reply Kurina Lim and thanks for the comments/ questions!

      I honestly don’t know how to get HSS on the Nex-6 other than using one of the high end hot shoe mounted models that has the feature built in. The Nex-6 does not have the feature on the camera itself.

      Jay


  28. Hello there Jay!

    I recently tried Rear Flash sync photography in the streets and I was amazed with the results of the little NEX-6. I have one question though. Is there a way to make the flash go off without that flash warning? I lost many shots because of that silly warning and I would love to turn it off. I looked through the menus but I didn’t find anything unfortunately so I was wondering if you knew something about this.

    Stay Sharp & Keep Shooting!


    • Jay

      Hi Spyros,

      That red light is the focus assist beam, and the flash fires twice in rear sync mode. The AF Illuminator can be turned off in the menu setup, but the 1st flash can’t as far as I know.

      I’m honestly not 100% sure why that first flash is there Spyros, sorry.

      Jay


  29. Thank you Jay. I have turned off AF assist ages ago, but that other flickr is so annoying! LOL!
    Anyway, I appreciate you taking the time to reply mate. Keep up the good work!

    Oh, by the way, I don’t seem to be receiving email notifications about updates to the comments from your site. I have checked my spam and nothing. Just letting you know that I check manually each time. So sorry for late replies.

    Stay Sharp & Keep Shooting!


  30. Andrea

    Hello Jay,
    I’m looking for extra and soft light especially for portraits + interior.
    what do you think about LED external flash? Did you heard for example about Manfrotto’s series (eg ML 360HP with diffusor, around 100$); they also talk very good about Kaavie (cheaper 50$). Even if I don’t think it is compatible with our NEX 6, but we can use in continuous mode. Can you give advice about any other flash?
    Thank you so much.
    Andrea


    • Jay

      Hi Andrea,

      I have yet to use a constant LED light myself, but will be testing some shortly. I’ll do a little re-search and get back to you with some suggestions. the reviews on the ML 360hp do not look very good on amazon at a quick glance. Continuous mode would definitely work, but only at a limited distance and aperture/ ISO.

      Flash unit wise, FLV-F20M I just tested on the A7r was pretty awesome for the money I thought and it work on the Nex-6 the same way. It doesn’t have a constant light though.

      I hope that helps in the meantime,
      Jay


      • Andrea

        Thanks Jay.
        Your flash suggestion is great!

        From my (very begginer) point of view:

        PRO ABOUT THIS LED:
        However it seems (to me) that the ML360hp “fits” better in the nex6 body (comapring dimensions and weight). Moreover i read somewhere that LED is the next frontiere and it’s much better than the flash light, and as you said, it’s constant, that is great for video and also (i think, but please correct me) used for low light children portraits as I often shoot, and beeing compleate stand alone form the camera I could also use higher shutter speed (with moving children, not onliy the 1/160 of the nex…What is the reason why they put these limits???).

        CONS ABOUT LED
        On the other hands of course, I could not take advantage of the flash sync because it will not be compatible with nex. And it seems that the max distance is 3 meters…not very good but enogh for portraits. What do you think?

        In any case I will be waiting for your kind little re-search and for some more suggestions.
        Thanks for now
        Andrea


      • Jay

        Hi again Andrea,

        The Pros list is good and the 1/160sec shutter speed limitation has to do with money pretty much and hardware limitation. The flash sync cycle is so short and the shutter has a few moving parts, pl;us the sensor scans line by line. A lot going on, but all that stuff create the sync speed issue I believe. A huge advantage for the constant light.

        As you pointed out in the cons is the distance limitation of the LED lights. 3m. The power required to illuminate subjects with a constant light is significant. The small LED’s will work, but with limited power. This means a fast f/1.8 lens will be helpful to get higher shutter speeds. I really need to use one before commenting much more, but the small size of the light source is also a factor in the softness of the light. Portrait lighting is usually more pleasing to the eye with a large softer light source. (soft box).

        I hope that helps a little,
        Jay


  31. Errol

    I bought an external flash for SONY NEX-6. It is a SONY HVL-20AM. How do I attach the flash to the camera? I am looking at instructions everywhere. How do I get to the hot shoe? Grrrr…..
    Errol


    • Jay

      Sorry Errol for the bad news, but that is the older flash unit designed for the older Nex-7 style hot shoe. Sony switched it to the standard style with the Nex-6 and and all the new cameras. The model you really want is the HVL-F20M, but you can use the ADP-MAA adapter (Click Here). That will marry up the older flash unit with the new multi interface hot shoe on your Nex-6.

      I hope that helps you out,
      Jay


  32. Kip Warr

    Very helpful article, thank you Jay.

    I have been trying to use an external slave flash and had no joy. The slave flash does fire in response to the internal flash but its illumination does not appear in the photo.

    I have tried all of the flash settings on the NEX-6. I think that the slave is firing too soon (really counter-intuitive!).

    I see from your answer above to Spyros that the flash fires twice in rear sync mode – perhaps it does in all modes, hence my problem.

    Can you suggest a solution?
    Thanks,
    Kip


  33. Johannes

    Hi Jay,

    Let me clarify a few things.

    I have read somewhere that Sony Nex-6 uses attached flash such as Sony HVLF20M as the trigger for the slave flash. It triggers the slave by firing light/flash. This set up is if we are using all compatible flashes for Sony Nex-6, the main attached flash and the slave.

    Then I read from you that using a device such as Pocket Wizard (and adapter), I may be able to make Sony Nex-6 to control any wireless flash (Not Sony compatible)?

    Do I have the right understanding?

    Thanks,
    Johannes



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