Shooting Sony with Off Camera Flash: The Breakdown with Miguel Quiles

Hey what’s up everybody? Miguel Quiles here and in this episode of The Breakdown I’m going to walk you through how I set up my Sony cameras to shoot off camera flash. Hey what’s up everybody? Miguel Quiles here. Welcome to The Breakdown. One of the questions that I get most often, whenever I’m teaching workshops, or I read the YouTube comments that you guys leave on my videos and one that keeps popping up all the time is, “Miguel how do you setup your Sony A7 cameras to shoot off camera flash?” So what I’m going to do today is to walk you through every single one of my settings to make shooting with off camera flash very very simple. So I’m going to be using my Sony A7 RII and I’m actually using a brand new lens from Sony, which is the 100mm 2.8 STF lens. I’m going to do some demo shots with you with that but we’re really going to be focusing primarily on the settings. So we’re going to go ahead and I’m going to take you into the camera menus and show you how I do that. Alright, so let’s go ahead and dig into the menus here. So I’m actually going to go ahead and start by hitting the Function button on the back of the camera and so when you hit the Function button on the back of the Sony camera, you have very fast access to a variety of different settings. So the very first thing that you want to do is go over to your Flash Mode and the menu there. You want to make sure that it’s set to WL or Wireless. Many times whenever people try using off camera flash for the first time and it doesn’t work, chances are they have it set to either Fill Flash or they’ll have it set to one of the other flash options. So you want to make sure that it’s set to Wireless. That’s the first thing we’ll hit or the Function button one more time, the next thing that I do is the Focus Mode and this is another question that I get quite often. As far as what modes do I use for focusing what I’m shooting portraits in the studio. So I typically will use Single-shot Auto Focus if I’m shooting a static subject. From trying to focus on anything that is fast-moving, I may actually change it to Continuous Autofocus but typically, 99.9% of the time, I’m in Single Shot Autofocus. So we’ll dial that in and then as far as the focus area, this is what’s very important because you want to make sure that when you’re focusing on people, when you’re doing portrait, you want to make sure that their eyes are in focus. Far too often I see portraits where people use the wrong focusing mode or the wrong focusing area on the Sony cameras and they’ll get portraits where the eyes are out of focus and it’s very off-putting for the viewer. So getting the eyes in focus, of course you have Eye autofocus, which I talked about that in a prior video of The Breakdown but let’s just pretend like you don’t have Eye Autofocus or maybe it’s just not your thing. What I will end up doing for focus area is one of three things. So primarily I will either use the Center focus area so if I’m focusing at let’s say f/8, f/9, f/11. Any of the higher f-stops. What I’ll do is, I’ll actually use the Center focus and I’ll focus and recompose. Which means and I’ll actually show it to you here in a few moments but you take the Center focus dot, you place it over the person’s eye, you push the shutter halfway down until you hear the beep that it’s confirmed, that’s in focus. Recompose your shot and then finish pushing the shutter the rest of the way down. So that’s typically how you use that but you have to use it at a high enough f-stop because if you shoot it wide open, let’s say at a f/1.4, the focus recompose method will end up giving you portraits that are out of focus. We don’t want that. So Center focus if you are doing any aperture, whether it’s wide open, or a higher f-stop. The one that I really like to use is Flexible Spot and you actually get three different flavors of Flexible Spot. So you get kind of a small, medium and a large setting. And the nice thing about this is that, you can move the box, the focus area, anywhere around the screen. So one of the cool advantages to shooting with Sony is that you have, on say the a7R II, you have many focus points, it basically covers almost the entirety of the frame. As to where with some other DSLRs, it’s really kind of centered around the center of the screen. So here you could actually move your focusing point anywhere within the frame which is kind of nice. You could change the size of it. So if you’re trying to focus on, let’s say, a person’s eye, I might actually want to use focus areas small and place that right over the iris, push halfway down to get it in focus, and then take the shot. So you can choose whatever size the situation calls for, but the other one that you can use it, for example, on the a7R II is Expand Flexible Spot and this particular option will basically work very much like the Spot Focusing, but it also sometimes will pick other areas that are nearby. So this could be something that could come in handy as well, but again, same theory, you want to place this box over the person’s eye, so the biggest difference between Flexible Spot and Expand Flexible Spot and let’s say Center is that, with Center you have to focus and recompose; With the Spot Focusing features you actually will compose your shot. You’ll frame it the way you want it and then you just move the focusing dot over to the person’s eye and they get them in focus that way. All right so we’ll hit the Function button one more time to go back into the menu and the next thing is, if you’re shooting with off camera flash, one of the big advantages is that you get to shoot at a very low ISO. That gives you the best quality images. So you want to shoot at whatever the lowest ISO is on your camera. Which on the a7R II is going to be 100ISO and your metering mode is not really going to matter so we’re not going to talk too much about that. The other question that comes all the time, I mean I get this often, “Miguel what white balance are you using for shooting your portraits whenever you’re using off camera flash?” Really I only use one of two. I’ll either have it on Auto because, again, if you’re shooting raw you could actually change your white balance in post. So even if you shoot with Auto and let’s say you want it to be sunlight, or rather daylight, or a shade, or tungsten, or whatever, you could actually set that up in post afterwards. So typically, 99% of the time, I’m using Auto White Balance. There will be some times when you shoot Auto White Balance and the image comes out looking kind of blue. So in those types of scenarios, even though I can change it in post, it makes it a little bit difficult for me to show someone the back of my screen because they don’t get to see the post result. They’re looking at the back of my camera, so any time it shows up blue I will go to daylight and that’s really the only two that I will use. If I’m using off camera flash is to either set it up to daylight, or to Auto White Balance, unless I’m trying to go for some sort of artistic effect which, again, I tend to do that in post. But if you want to see it out of the camera the way that you’re hoping it’s going to look, you can choose one of these other White Balance options but for me Auto White Balance, that pretty much gets the job done. All right, so now those are all the settings that I really play around with, as far as the fast menu options that you get by pushing the Function button on the back of the camera. Now I’m actually going to go ahead and press Menu to go into the cameras menu and I’m going to show you guys how I set it up from here. So in the very first menu you have your Quality again. You want to shoot these in raw, cause this gives you the most flexibility to be able to manipulate your images in post. If for some reason, let’s say, you are shooting an event where somebody says, “Hey I need these photos right away.” Then what I will often do is shoot raw and JPEG so that way have the option afterwards to post-process an image further if I need to, but I’ll still have the JPEGs being saved on the card so that I can deliver that to my client. But most of the time it’s going to be raw. Your raw file type, it can be uncompressed, it can be compressed, to be honest, for off camera flash, for most portrait work you’re really not going to see the difference. I’ve never been able to see it but there are certain scenarios where you may want to choose one or the other. I will tell you that the file size is much much bigger when you’re shooting uncompressed, it’s almost double the size so you’re not really seeing that big of a difference to really warrant having double the hard drive space being taken up. So oftentimes I’ll shoot compressed but I’ll just leave it for uncompressed for now and from there everything is set up. My camera is ready to go as far as for shooting off camera flash so I’m going to go ahead and actually demo this for you. We’ve got a little studio light setup here and I’ll talk you through the setup and show you the results using these menu options. OK so we set up everything in the camera I’ve walked you through all of the different settings for being able to use your off-camera flash and so I’m going to go ahead and just demo this here for you. I have my a7R II like I mentioned before, got the newly announced 100mm 2.8 STF lens, I’m actually going to shoot wide open for these shots so that you guys can get an idea for what this lens is capable of producing, one shot wide open. For my off-camera flash lighting I’m using a ProPhoto Air remote which gives you high speed sync in TTL which is really awesome and I’m really excited I actually just upgraded my lights here in the studio so I have a ProFoto D2. One of the brand new 1000 watt strobes and that also offers high speed sync in TTL. So make sure that you check that out. I’ve got it paired up with a 5ft ProFoto octa which is one of my favorite modifiers to use in the studio for my backdrop. I have a really awesome collapsible backdrop from Savage. It’s called the Lakeside Collapsible, so it’s double sided, one side is green, and one side is kind of a beige color. Looks really, really beautiful and if you’re seeing this on the screen so that’s really what I’m using for the shooting part of it. What I wanted to do is I wanted to actually show you what I see through my electronic viewfinder as I’m looking to take these photos. So I’ve also connected this here within Atomos Ninja Assassin and this is basically just hooked up through HDMI to record what I’m seeing through the electronic viewfinder. So this isn’t part of the shoot, in so much as it is just the record, and show you guys what I’m actually seeing through the viewfinder. Hopefully this gives you a little bit of an almost like a POV perspective of what I’m seeing when I have the camera up to my face. So we have all of our settings dialed in and I’m going to go ahead and take a couple of shots and show you guys how this looks. I mentioned before that you have a couple of different options when it comes to using your focus areas and one of the ones that I really like using is the Flexible Spot. Where you actually will frame yourself up, so Noel stand very still right there. It’s perfect. I frame the shot up the way I want it, and what I’ll do is I use the joystick on the back of the camera to move this over her eye, I push down half way and we’ll do one more… Perfect. So that’s how I’ll go ahead and basically frame up all of my shots. Now you guys are seeing it here through the recorder, so it’s a little bit slower but we’ll go ahead and do that one more. Very nice, excellent stuff. Like that. So you’ll see that if I keep it around the area where her eye is going to be, you really don’t have to do very much in terms of framing it. I just follow her around and the shots will come out really nice and sharp and in focus. Now I mentioned before using Expand Flexible Spot which is another one and do the same thing. You’re going to notice that you’re going to get results that are very, very similar using both options. Very nice, excellent. One more. There we go. Perfect, Awesome! So very simple, very easy way. You notice every single one of these shots. All I’m doing is, I’ll find her eye, frame up the shot, and then take it. Or I could leave it like this, move the box, and then take the shot. So it just all depends, you know. I’m shooting this at an aperture to where I could, kind of, follow her around and I’ll be assured that I’ll get a shot nice and in focus. But really the easiest way is just to compose a shot in the camera, move the box over to where you’re trying to focus and then take the shot. Very quick, very easy. We have the Flash set up right now in manual mode I have the Profoto D2 set up to a power of 3.2 and that’s pretty much it. I’ve got the lights feathered a little bit forward so that, it’s actually not pointing directly at her, and that’s what gives you this really soft, beautiful quality of light. There we go, I think we got some pretty awesome shots. Alright everybody, hopefully you found that helpful. These settings are the ones that I use all the time for shooting all of my portraits. So anytime you see a video, if you’re wondering what White Balance I’m using, or what Focusing Mode, again, 99% of the time it’s going to be what I just showed you in this video. So if you have any friends that use Sony and they’re struggling with their portrait work, make sure that you share this video with them. Also, while you’re here on AdoramaTV, subscribe lots of videos. I come out with videos every other week. But every single day there are amazing videos being dropped on this channel, so make sure you subscribe. Also, check out the Adorama Learning Center where there’s more amazing content for you to read. Thank you guys so much for watching The Breakdown. If you guys enjoy the video leave a comment in the comment section below and again if you have any questions, make sure you leave that in the comments as well. Thanks for watching The Breakdown and before I go follow Noel, make sure that you follow her as well on Instagram. What’s your Instagram? It’s Noely1224 There you go. Follow me on instagram as well @miguelquilesjr I knew you guys were wondering am I going to forget about her. No I’m not going to forget, not again! It’s not ever going to happen. Hopefully you guys enjoyed the video today. I will see you in the next episode of The Breakdown. Bye everybody. That’s really awesome. Just like that, yes perfect! Work it girl, amazing, oh my gosh! That’s what really goes on.

Comments 83

  • Very elaborate video, Loved it.

  • the model is so beautiful.

  • Thanks for going over the settings step by step. Very detailed explanation and demonstration. The video recorded by Atomos Ninja Flame is very helpful displaying all the camera settings during live shooting. It allows viewers to see what the photographer sees. Great experience. Noel Moore is fantastic as she always is. Thank you both.

  • Why do you use WL-flash. I always use FILL-flash with my A7II?

  • Nice you keep it simple

  • Is it actually using the focus point since you have face focus on? It looked like they were competing.

  • Another great video! Thanks Miguel and Adorama!

    When shooting in studio with flash, do you turn off live view?

  • Hi Miguel, I use a lot of off-camera flash with my SONY cameras but I have never used "big guns" like the Profoto, just small flashes.
    Did you turn off your Electronic First-Curtain sync if you are shooting at very high shutter speed (over 1/2000 sec)?
    Also, I only use WL when I was using IR to my SONY flashes, but if I am using RF I will use Fill, Rear or Slow depending what I want from my OCF.
    Is the Profoto Air sharing the SONY protocols to use WL?

  • Do you put a light warming gel on your flash? How has eye follow AF worked for you–you didn't use it here.

  • Hard to hide via my photo that I am way older. Even as such I appreciate the newer stuff. The part that I find difficult for me is that all that you and others are doing new was done already, but in an an antiquated way in comparison to what available today. But is still was all done, but manually… sort of.

    Note: Lovely-lovely model. Seems to be one happy to be a model. So many are not happy. But those that are, are fun to put on film.

  • Great video. Couple of comments
    1) Using WL is only for some brands off flash like Sony and maybe your Profoto. For example if you want to use GODOX anything (aka Flashpoint etc, a very popular brand) to wirelessly trigger you need to put your Sony in ANY MODE OTHER THAN WL. WL is the only mode where it won't work;
    2) Why do you bother with small point etc? you only have one person in viewfinder. Just using face detection in any af mode will focus on an eye, especially if you use eye detect.

  • Shots appear a bit muddy. Also was the studio cold? always handy to wear a couple of coats when shooting.

  • Great video, important information. But do you have a video on setting up your equipment if you have a single camera, with a single flash, with or with out a wireless transmitter/receiver photographing in the streets?

  • I was expecting more information about the flash.

  • I just watched a beautiful woman….I think somebody may have been talking & maybe I heard the word 'flash'….I'm not sure….I think I'm in love…:)

  • This is the most helpful video I've ever watched. Thank you.

  • When I connect godox TT350s flash on sony A6000 it show this accessory is not supported by the device and cannot fire. What should I do please help please

  • how cold was it in the studio that you needed 2 jackets. lol

  • I don't think anyone else has mentioned it and I know this wasn't a specific portrait tutorial but the lights were pretty high and there was no catch light in her eyes. Sorry…but those shots were kinda lousy.

  • Over 5 minutes into this video and absolutely no demo or tutorial regarding flash.

  • Are you kidding? Those shots are way underexposed.

  • What is the name of your model ? we got every name of what you are using , by the way can the flash of that camera trigger wireless or a capable flash or device have to be on the flash mount ?

  • Great video, thank you

  • 80% talking about focus…in a video about of camera flash.

  • Hello Miguel, I just purchased a Sony a7rii and I'm looking for a flash or it. What do you recommend. I need a flash to mount on the camera itself and wold like to use a wireless remote as well. Thanks!

  • finally a video that actually walks you through the settings on the back of the camera for off camera flash! thank you, extremely helpful. Only thing i can get see getting confusing is trying to spot meter with face detection.

  • Well done… I just purchased an A7R3 and this was exactly what I was looking for. I'am assuming that what you presented is applicable between a 2 and a 3. If not a tutorial on a 3 would be nice for us converts to Sony.

  • …..but what settings did you use on the flash?
    these settings are dependent on the settings you have on the flash.
    or am i wrong?

  • Yeah and We can’t see her blue eyes. In the pictures meaning

  • I would like to know how to get the dial on the back (which I think you call the Joy stick) set up to adjust the expand flexible spot feature.

  • I am totally confused as to why you would ever want to shoot a person with eye auto focus off.

  • Maybe a good pointer for people that jumped ship recently with the introduction of the Sony A7RIII (including myself) is "Live View Display"" (page7 of 9 on tab 2). When shooting in a studio with f/11 and 1/200 it can get very dark in your electronic viewfinder. Just turn off "Live View Display" in the menu and you can see in the dark 🙂

  • I have the a6000 with Flashpoint Zoom and the R2 transceiver. I don't know how to make them talk to each other it wont fire. Any help is helpful T.I.A what setting do i need to change on the a6000 ??? I tried the W.L and it wont work

  • The shots look awfully dark to me. Is that on purpose?

  • There are some things that have to be mentioned about the AF :).

    First – using closed down aperture is making the AF-C very unreliable. So you better use AF-S.
    Second – Eye AF is actually the best option you can use for portraits.
    3rd – the best flexible spot is the Expanded one. It is the most accurate with the newest algorithms and as far as I tested the best for AF-C. Also the best option for adapted lenses.
    4th – some settings use contrast detect AF in AF-S and phase detect in AF-C. For example – Zone and Wide are like that.

  • great teaching tool

  • the model is blessed with really nice eyes

  • Hi MIGUEL ! I've just got my SONY A9 and I wanna know if for HSS photography just buying a Sony FA-WRC1M Wireless Radio Commander and 2 Sony HVL-F45RM Wireless Radio Flashes OUT OF THE CAMERA both of them can work faster than 1/250. For example: 1/8000 ??? Or I need buy 2 Sony FA-WRR1 Wireless Radio Receiver too??? Thanks in advance.

  • Thanks for the video. We have nearly the same set up for corporate headshots, but with four profoto lights. The room is dark, except for the modeling lights. When I set the appropriate exposure manually, it's so dark through the view finder that it's almost impossible to see the subject clearly enough through the view finder to find focus. What do you recommend? Using more ambient light in the studio?

  • I just could not get one thing and that is why before taking the picture it is bright on the screen and why after taking the picture it is much less bright because mirrorless system your end result is the same that what you see through the evf or on the back of the camera

  • Thanks Miguel, I really needed some help with knowing how to focus with the Sony cameras – mostly when there's a busy background. But my new issue is setting up my Sony A7Riii or A9 with the Profoto Air TTL-s. When I shoot in A, P, S or M modes my B2's work fine with the flash mode set to Wireless. But the B2's do not work when I switch to AUTO mode – I upgraded the firmware on the Remotes to A3, and the B2's to A8 – What am i missing?

  • I cann't found WL-flash whit my A7III 0.0

  • 9:22 is where he actually starts talking about the off-camera flash gear.

  • Hi Miguel,
    I have the sony a7ii and ad200 godox with x1 trigger. For some reason my shots aren't coming out in HSS. Even though the flash says HSS with the lightning bolts, on the sony the curtain is showing anything over 1/250. What am i doing wrong?

  • Sony A7riii does not feature the WL (wireless) tab in the menu. How do you set-up Wireless for A7riii?

  • Nicely done. Why the "-2" exposure Compensation? All photos looked very dark. I know you don't want to blow highlights, but are Sony cameras so inaccurate that you require a -2 stop underexposure?

  • Sony Pro Here, yes to me the shots are under exposed, But this photographer sees it different/otherwise, that is normal, Good Shoot right on track, WL is the choice for sony flashes

  • Hey Miguel, could you please add a couple of f/2.8 shots of this lens? Thanks

  • everytime i watch this guy Do tutorial feel ……

  • can we use off camara flash on a7iii

  • must be COLD in there with all those coats etc. great in-depth vid

  • I didn’t any effects from the lighting kit.

  • Why is this video still up?

  • These shots seem under-exposed, and don't tell me you can "fix" in post-processing. Wonder how you would do with a fiol camera.

  • Now, show us how to shoot and get ATG's AF Assist Beam to come on?
    Just too many reviews are being paid not to let you know about how important this is.

  • Didn't mention THE most important setting when you're shooting mirrorless in the studio…Live View Setting Effects needs to be OFF. Otherwise, all you will see is blackness and won't be able to focus or compose. I know several Sony shooters that told me they didn't think of that and flipped out the first time they tried shooting inside with lights.

  • Hi Miguel, a silly question, I just got a godox ad600pro and have watched some videos from Manny, Jason and other pros here on youtube. I realized that when exposing for the background on let's say 1/8000 (sunny day of course) it's a lot harder for the camera to focus (sony a7r3 with either the 90mm f.28 macro or the 55mm f1.8 Zeiss), am I doing something wrong? thank you for posting incredible content

  • Really love the EVF recording. Thank you

  • I need more models in my life.

  • Thanks for the great Video…I Have a Question about shooting with Flash on my A7iii…My Problem is sometimes, that the Shutterbutton has a delay, sonit dont fires right away…sometimes i push its very often to Fire the the BUTTON. I dont know what to do, i have powerful flashes, so thats not the Problem…Maybe you can help?? Thanks for the Support!

  • I have a sony nex 7 and a canon speedlight 580exii. I put a flash adapter pixel 325 on tje sony camera and then the flash. I can't get the flash to fire. So what should the camera settings be to shoot manually with a non sony flash?

  • R u kidding me. It's not even about flash!

  • My new a7iii does not have the wireless option?

  • How does it work if you want to get rid of all the ambient light.Does the view find go black and you can't see your talent.

  • Sorry did'nt read the whole post, Frank Zayas covered this as it happened to me today when photographing a dancer.Drove me nuts so grabbed my canon.

  • I think it will be easier to use DSLR for photos with off camera flash cause in real world time is valuable and we don't do potraits all time , we do events too . 🤔

  • hi i think looking at this even though you have flexible spot over the eye the face detect actually overrides it as it goes green just before to photo is taken so focus here is being achieved by face detect

  • Why is everything so dark though? Feels like the fill flash should be turned up higher. You might be able to bring all those things up in post, but shouldn't you be getting it close in camera?

  • hello there. I'm looking for an answer before I switched from canon to sony. ( i own an a7r3) . I work like 80 % with my Speedlight on. BUT, at mirrorless cameras ( i I think all of them) the TTL assist beam won't fire and I cant easily ( like never) focus in the dark. maybe you've heard something or is any update going to be released that helped with this issue?

    I mean I have events concerts that are really really low light and I end up getting my old Canon DSLR because of the assist of the beam. thanks.

  • I realize you can't cover all aspects of different types of equipment tho it would be nice if people doing videos would describe the video properly, like ( how to use a wireless flash on a Sony camera that has wireless settings ). And it's not supposed to be about other gear – get to the point, show some examples, and explaine how, in a professional thorough clear and even idiots 101 way, thats all it takes. I'm not criticizing negatively but if you could read through your comments and learn from what people say, you could go further. Keep it in focus y'all.

  • The images are underexposed as stated…

  • My camera is sony a7riii but it doesn't have that option for the flash mode/WL how can I do?

  • What a bad tutorial!!!!!

  • This is the most amateurish video I ever seen with all misleading setup..Viz flash is not needed to set at WL to use in wireless mode.

  • Awesome video! Thanks!!

  • tooooo much gear for poor shooting results….

  • Hi Miguel, how you have fix the problem coming with last update of a7iii and a7riii where now the eye focus don't work in single focus ?

  • The video has only just started and I’m confused already as my A7RIII doesn’t have a wireless flash mode. It simply has Auto, fill flash, slow and rear. Please advise thanks

  • Are you in a deep freeze??? What's up with the COAT while the model is in a light shirt?? Underexpose??

  • This was a garbage video. Basically all it said was to set the camera to wireless flash. What a waste of 15 minutes.

  • Do you have a link for eye auto focus video ?

  • idk I'm learning off camera flash. But doesn't it seem like the pictures are a bit Underexpose? Am I wrong? GREAT video BTW. Do you ever come to Anchorage, AK?

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