the FEL button

Researchers should really spend time figuring out why boys refuse to read the instruction manual to anything. Even if it pertains to equipment that cost roughly 4k. I decided since I was a tad burnt out from work, so I just wanted to sit down and read my instruction manual. Lo and behold, I learned something new today. What the FEL button is used for? Flash Exposure Lock. What on earth does this do and why on earth would you ever want to use it?
Apparently it works differently on different bodies. e.g. a 350D, 30D, 1D series bodies each have FEL. On 300D, the button is titled *. Ahh…standards….

Apparently, either I suck as a photographer, or the FEL button is useless. After all these years, I’ve had ZERO need for the use of the FEL button. I’m hoping it’s the latter (crossing my fingers). So what precisely is flash exposure lock?

I can’t exactly try to explain it in normal terms, seeing as I’ve never used this ever before in the field) but from what I understand, E-TTL (electronic through the lens) flash metering determines the proper exposure (provided you have an E-TTL compatible flash and camera body, will blog about this later). But for all intents and purposes, you point the camera to spot A. The lens tells the camera aprox. distance, and the camera tells the flash to be be stronger or weaker to get the proper exposure. (prior to this people had to use meters and egags!…mathematical calculations to determine proper exposure). Lets say for a given shot, you wanted to keep that same exposure and light output. If you pointed the camera to shot B, E-TTL will recalculate distance and strength. FEL essentially locks the settings from shot A and applies it to shot B. Once you hit the FEL button, the flash fires to get the exposure and locks into memory. Once you take the shot, the memory buffer is flushed and every subsequent shot calculates E-TTL normally. To maintain in memory shot A’s settings, simply hold down the button and shoot. When it is released, then the buffer is flushed and things are back to normal. Like I said…I’ve never used this.

On 1D series bodies, FEL also has another useful feature. Of which I’ve never used before either but now I know about it I really should start. The human eye is pretty darn amazing. It sees light, can focus in near dark, blah blah. If you have a pair of eyes I don’t really need to explain its features. The camera on the other hand is quite stupid. It can be tricked by say, light juxtaposed with dark areas. The meter gets confused and doesn’t know how to get a proper exposure. Snow also confuses the daylights out of it due to glare. Anyways, so the amazing people with much higher IQ ratings than I created ‘spot’ metering. So it meters the light exactly where you point the camera from within a 3% radius ( the 3% varies of course between bodies ). So if you point it at the dark scene it’ll try to get a reading and expose for that. (which means the light scenes will get uber light ) Or say if you expose for the light scenes, it’ll make that area be exposed properly, but the dark areas will be uber dark losing details. The FEL button on 1D series lets you calculate ( at least the 1DIII) up to 8 readings. Point the camera at a dark, hit FEL. point it at the light scene, hit FEL. The camera takes the average of the two readings and then calculates the exposure. I think this can be extremely useful for when you get a group of people together and some are in the bright sun, and some is standing in areas where trees put them in the shade. I really should of done this at the last wedding because I had some group shots for exactly this condition. Yippeee to reading.


About greenbeanfx

Photography is what I do =) If you wish to contact for a photoshoot, send me an email or comment on a blog with your info and I'll get back

Posted on August 9, 2008, in Aperature and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Peter Fischer

    what modes are possible for FEL usage on a 1DS Mark III? I guess P, Tv, Av? Manual does not make sense. correct?

  2. well, not only does it not make sense for Manual mode, it’s impossible to perform =) Which is a big big reason why I never used FEL. I only shoot in Manual mode. on the 1D series bodies, it’s only active when in P, Av, or TV modes.

  3. Well, in this “when you get a group of people together and some are in the bright sun, and some is standing in areas where trees put them in the shade.” situation, you should learn to use fill flash! Duh!

  4. BozillaNZ yes, I agree. You can FEL multiple spots to account for flash as well. I’m pretty much taking fill flash or fills out of the equation as it really isn’t germane to the topic, which is the FEL button. Along those lines sometimes, myself included don’t like to go out and deal with the bulkiness of lights or flash and prefer to travel light. Like I said, this mode doesn’t even work on manual mode, and I always shoot on M anyways. But figured people would like to know what the button does =)

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