Too much light with ISO 400 film

Chris wrote:

I use a small bedroom in my house for a studio. I’m just getting started and only have a 100 w/s strobe with an 18 inch silver umbrella. Even with such a small light, I’m still getting too much light. If I shot b&w 400 iso film, I struggle to get shutter speeds slow enough to sync with my flash. It’s okay if I use 100 iso. I’m using the 1/2 setting on my strobe.

What can I do to get rid of some light? Is a softbox going to fix it? Can I just shoot through or reflect off a translucent umbrella?

Thanks in advance.

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6 thoughts on “Too much light with ISO 400 film

  1. Post author


    Your problem of having too much light can be solved in a number of ways. If you are unwilling to shoot with a lower ISO rated film, consider placing a neutral density filter on your camera to evenly reduce the amount of light hitting your film. They also make neutral density gels for your lights that would have a similar effect.

    You are correct in thinking that shooting through an umbrella or softbox will reduce the light output. Another way to do it would be to bounce into a nearby wall or reflector. All of these methods will help you get the shutter speeds you are looking for.

  2. Jim


    Film needs light. Most of the time, photographers struggle with not having _enough_ light. So your problem is easier in some ways to deal with. The amount of light reaching the film (or cmos sensor) is controlled by only three (3) things.

    ISO (ASA) film speed
    Shutter Speed

    If you have too much light, simply close your aperture down (higher number). This will elongate the field of depth so everything is in focus, while reducing lighting coming through the lense.

    Next, lower your film speed to ISO/ASA 100 or 200. This means the “film” requires more light in order to fully expose.

    And lastly, up your shutter speed, so that less light is allowed to get in.

    Getting rid of light is easy :P

    OMP 91734

  3. Mike

    Hey there! I think your website rocks and Im glad its so informative. A friend of mine wanted me to take some pictures of him and his family for a Christmas card..the pictures I took was indoor and at night…I am a graphic artist by trade and an excited newbie photographer, anyhow, the pictures came out crappy! Im trying to setup something that will solve this problem. Would you suggest a high-powered slave flash for my camera or some lighting equipment? I found this item on Ebay and I was wondering what you guys think, here is the link:
    Can you tell me if I should go this route or what should I buy first? I own a Konica Dimage A2 8 megapixal

  4. John Paulson

    What does shutter speed have to do with the exposure when you’re using strobes?

    I thought that once you set a certain minimum shutter speed on a camera (say, 1/60 sec), the shutter speed is irrelevant. Only the f-stop or a ND filter will change exposure in the camera.

    The answers to the original question seem to ignore this.

    Shutter speed IS relevant if you want to factor in ambient light in the room (slower shutter speeds allow more ambient light to show).

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Mayfair Multilite Jr. Portable 2 Light Unit with Dim Bright Switches