Overcoming Nikon's iTTL BL by Joe Fitzpatrick

Peggy Farren 2012-11-21

Here in Southwest Florida we do a lot of backlit sunset beach portraits.

Good results can be obtained by manually setting the exposure for the background sky and allowing the camera's flash metering system determine the exposure of the backlit subject. Peggy's note: Please join us for "The Outdoor Portrait; Speedlight Basics" if you'd like to learn how to do this.

While Canon's ETTL II system can, in most cases, handle severe backlighting rather well, Nikon's iTTL BL system is less successful. The iTTL BL system, BL stands for balanced light not back light, will often fight against your efforts to properly expose with fill flash.

iTTL BL also yields inconsistent results when exposure compensation is used. Nikon's "less advanced" iTTL system does better but is either not the default or, seemingly, not even an option with many Nikon cameras.

Fortunately, Nikon cameras can be forced into iTTL flash metering mode even when it does not appear to be an option. Some Nikon speedlights enable you to switch between iTTL and iTTL BL via the speedlight’s control panel.

When iTTL is not selectable via the control panel it can be enabled by switching the camera to SPOT EXPOSURE METERING.

This works for both the built in flash and optional flash units.

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