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A friend is shooting some photos at an indoors night event and he only counts on a Nikon d3200 plus a super old flash Philips P36 TSL.

What would be the recommended shooting mode and shutter speed? Any other advice so he can maximize the quality of the pics?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Shutter speed should be whatever the body supports (so 1/200) probably best to shoot in Manual mode.

WARNING! Some older flashes can damage your camera. You should check that the trigger voltage for the flash is within the rated tolerance for your camera before attaching it.

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Good source here: the Phillips looks like it will be fine, but use at own risk as it were. – John Cavan Jul 18 '13 at 10:50

There is more than one right answer. I like to show a lot of ambient light and use the flash to emphasize my subject, so often use the following steps.

I start without the flash and find an ISO/Aperture/Shutter that works, generally I start with Aperture and go wide open. Then I set a shutter speed as slow as my subject and shaky hands will accept (with stationary subjects and not long focal lengths around 1/30-1/60). Now I take a test shot, if everything is black (I check the lens cap) I start walking up the ISO. If I am over exposed I lower my ISO/increase my shutter speed.

At this point I am not going for a perfect exposure, just making sure that my background is not a black cave (generally 1 to 1.5 stop under exposed).

Now turn on the flash, choose a bounce surface and fire off a shot -- check exposure on my subject, too dark increase flash power (or ISO), too bright decrease flash power (or ISO).

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