Saturday, 28 May 2011

How To: Use Nokia N8 With An External Flash


Due to Nokia's general complacency over the past four years, many former Nokia fans have moved onto 'greener' pastures, and I'm no exception. I now use Android phones as my 'daily drivers', mainly because the Symbian devices of today would have suited my lifestyle in 2008; they're just not modern enough. There are, however, a number of things that I miss dearly from the glory days of the E90 and N95 8GB: battery life, loudspeakers and of course, the cameras.

Despite having being announced over a year ago, it would be very difficult to argue that the N8 is not the best cameraphone available. Even with this in mind, there are still ways to improve its photgraphic performance.




Those of you interested in photography might have your own 'speedlite' for your dedicated camera. Being a student, I opted for the cheap and Chinese Yongnuo YN-460II, which I feel provides great value for money. An interesting feature of the YN-460II is its optical slave mode. When set to this mode, the flash is triggered by any other quick bursts of light. Unfortunately, LED flashes are rarely picked up by optical sensors, as the light is not really a burst. That's where the Nokia N8's Xenon flash comes in.

So, with the YN-460II set to optical slave and the N8's flash forced to on, I went about the house to see what sorts of results the combination would yield...

N8 Xenon flash alone:
N8 Xenon flash + YN-460II bounced off ceiling:
N8 Xenon flash alone:
N8 Xenon flash + YN-460II bounced off ceiling:
N8 Xenon flash alone:
N8 Xenon flash + YN-460II bounced off ceiling:
N8 Xenon flash alone:
N8 Xenon flash + YN-460II bounced off ceiling:
N8 Xenon flash alone:
N8 Xenon flash + YN-460II bounced off ceiling:
N8 Xenon flash alone:
N8 Xenon flash + YN-460II bounced off ceiling:

As you can see, the pictures using the external flash have a more 'natural' tone to them. The lighting is less harsh due to the extra light that's being bounced off the ceiling.

There are of course limitations to using an external flash. For example, the flash has to be able to see the sudden burst of light. This means that it would be difficult to use this setup outside on a sunny day.If you really wanted to get serious, you could purchase a separate standalone optical trigger, attach it to a radio trigger such as the Yongnuo RF-602 and then fix this to the N8 so that the flash would be fired irrespective of its location and external lighting conditions. I don't have a standalone optical trigger so I was unable to test this, and it does seem a bit over the top for a cameraphone. There are also occasions when the N8 will fire multiple flashes, causing the YN-460II to be triggered at the wrong time and resulting in poorly-exposed pictures.

One practical use that I thought of for this combination would be at house parties, where the external flash could be positioned in a high spot, allowing for more even lighting in any pictures that you or your guests take.

2 comments:

  1. traumerei

    Hi, other than red-eye reduction mode, when does the N8 fire multiple pre-flashes? Is it common? I'm thinking about picking up the YN-460II for my N8 thanks to your post.

    How did you handle metering? Was it TTL or did you use manual modes on the flash?

  2. Mr. X

    Hi Traumerei,

    I'm not sure of the reason why the N8 chooses to fire multiple flashes, but it isn't very often. I don't currently have an N8 anymore to test this further, sorry.

    With regard to metering, TTL isn't possible with the N8, so you'll have to manually set the intensity of the flash on the Yongnuo.

    Thanks for the comment, and I hope it works out well for you if you decide to go ahead!

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