SF 26 flashlight for Leica M system.

M-E gives crisp and detailed images on low ISO. But at home with California shutters and this time of the year…

ISO 1250, aperture is 1.5 and shutter speed is 1/100 (M system doesn’t have stabilizer mechanism).  Image above is flat, almost everything I want to show is at the same distance. But if more DoF is needed it is getting complicated. I would like to have not just one person in focus and to avoid motion blur.

Leica low ISO quality, motion blur and DoF were pushing factors to use flash indoors.

Internet is shallow on this subject. Some gurus from film era are doing it with manual flash. It requires not only reading of manual, but calculations for every different frame to be able to adjust aperture or else to have exposure correct. Do you take pictures and calculate?

Leica doesn’t make flashlights. Another German manufacturer does it for Leica.  And Leica would not recognize it as their product at Leica’s owner part of their on-line site. Yes, it is branded as Leica, it has typical warranty booklet as their lens or camera. But no registration available on-line. I learned about it after getting SF 26 “Leica” flash.

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Reading manual always helps. Almost always. Leica manual explains about SF 26, even getting flash attached to the camera isn’t something very obvious. “Secret” button involved! It also explains about tilting modes. Closer to the object in focus you get, lower flash needs to be tilted.

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SF 26 is small. It is so small it is using only two AAA batteries. I was worried about capacity of two small batteries, but over few days of learning they provided enough juice to take hundred or so test pictures and recharge between single shots was without waiting.

Why do I need hundred or so pictures to figure it out? Well, I tested Auto shutter mode first. This is not for low light photography. Auto wants big aperture and slow speed. Without flash or with flash. Doesn’t matter.

Next I was trying it TTL mode. In this mode camera guts are talking with flash guts. Amount of flash is calculated not by photographer! And this is it from Leica manual.

The rest has to be figured out.

In TTL mode, M-E doesn’t understand AUTO ISO. If ISO set to be chosen by camera, lowest ISO selected. As result ISO is always set at 160, flash is blasting and solid shadows comes after it.

With test shots I came to ISO 400-640 to be used with flash set to TTL and camera shutter set to 1/125-1/60, with lens aperture 5.6 and wider.

This one was taken with ISO 1250. Still OK if you don’t mind noise over details.

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I can’t confirm it 100%, but best blending of flash light at TTL mode and available light comes with aperture wide open.

And one more mode. LED. In manual it is recommended mostly for video. But it works as classic flashlight in the dark. With LED on it is safe to walk in the dark. Picture taking is also possible.

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Cats are absolutely necessary in amateur photography. This one always knows if I’m into testing and always willing to pose!  In the dark.

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