TTL vs manual – stop telling people to buy manual strobes!

It’s strange how technology moves on and people still revert to old advice. I’ve seen it occur through many types of technology.

It occured with DSLR’s, the naysayers proudly proclaiming that digital would never be good enough long after DSLR’s became pro ready. Ask for advice on whether to get a DSLR and they would still be spouting their film isn’t dead mantra, how. shooting DSLR made you lazy, and any other excuse they could come up with.

Then it happened with mirrorless. It wasn’t about mirrorless vs DSLR, it was about the idea that mirrorless would never be used by “real” professionals. There are still some naysayers, dinosaurs if you will. Obviously I’m not saying DSLR is dead, but mirrorless has been pro ready for a long time.

These days it’s still the case with the whole “manual vs TTL” argument with people still hanging onto manual like TTL is some sort of bad rash they can’t get rid of. Not a day goes by where I see someone ask what strobe to get and the suggestion “Don’t worry about the TTL version, just get the manual version, pros don’t shoot TTL” . My first question back to these naysayers is “when was the last time you actually used a TTL strobe?”.

For the most part the answer is never, at least not a strobe. Some of them may have tried it once in a galaxy far far away in the form of a speedlight, and let’s be honest, any issues are more likely to be to do with the use of a speedlight than TTL.

I’m not saying there isn’t a time and a place to shoot manual. If you’re shooting studio, manual makes sense because you’re lighting conditions don’t change. I use manual for my gear photos, but in a day and age of battery powered strobes, confining yourself to the studio seems strange. Again, people will argue that you can use HSS on manual strobes but in changing conditions where TTL would work perfectly, why would you make the conscious decision not to use it. It’s like going out of your way to find a car without ABS.

Last year, I did a shoot recently with the Magmod Mag box prototype using two AD200’s and an XPro Trigger. I set up close to golden hour with TTL, did multiple lens changes and not once did I change my strobe settings. It may not be perfect, but for many people, this is more than good enough, and the reality is you can always revert to manual when you want to. From that point onwards, I’ve continue to use TTL with the only time I use manual in consistent conditions in a studio.

2 thoughts on “TTL vs manual – stop telling people to buy manual strobes!

  1. Ridiculous. This is an article arguing about nothing. Comparing shooting manual vs. shooting TTL to mirroless vs. non-mirroless is comparing apples and oranges. Manual shooting gives more control, while TTL gives more convenience. That isn’t the same as mirrorless simply being a different type of mechanism. What a waste of time.


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