Anyone here have direct experience with Nikon CLS?

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by BTilson, Nov 16, 2008.

  1. BTilson

    BTilson TPF Noob!

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    I have been reading up on the Nikon CLS, and it seems VERY intriguing. The distance limitation doesn't bother me, since I can't possibly see when I would ever need the extreme long distance provided by Pocket Wizards and the like. The only point I have thought of that I haven't been able to find much info on is how well the system performs outdoors. I know it is an optical/infrared based system, so it seems like performance outdoors, especially in bright sunlight, might be lessened by ambient light falling on the sensors.

    So, that said, does anyone here have any info on the outdoor performance of the CLS system? If it works reasonably well in outdoor scenarios, I think I am sold on this system. It just seems so incredibly robust and useful.

    Thanks in advance for any input!
     
  2. NateS

    NateS TPF Noob!

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    I use it outdoors and in sunlight all the time and it works perfect. I use it mainly for Macro photography, but outdoors it might work for portraits too. Problem with using it indoors for portraits is that the onboard flash triggers the other flash(es) and usually people will start blinking on the first flash (onboard) and by the time the other flash triggers (SB-600-900) the person is blinking or halfway into a blink for your photo. I've tried using CLS indoors many times with my son and every photo has him with his eyes closed or halfway closed. Outdoors it would be bright enough to maybe combat this problem.
     
  3. BTilson

    BTilson TPF Noob!

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    Well I will (hopefully) be triggering with the SU-800, which only emits IR. So that should get around the preflash blinking problem, correct?
     
  4. kundalini

    kundalini Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I've only used the fllashes a few times in the sunlight but without incident of missfires.

    Indoors, set the shutter speed to synch speed and have not had Nate's issues, but then again, not dealt with children.

    Curious, you have a D40, which does not have the Commander mode. You will need a SB-800 set to SU-4 to fire remotely or to act as the master in a multi-flash setup. The SB-600 will not work in CLS (I don't think) with the D40 without triggers.


    [EDIT} Just saw your reference to the SU-800. Might want to think about that some more. Get a SB-800 and accomplish the same, but also have a working flash.
     
  5. BTilson

    BTilson TPF Noob!

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    That is indeed a good point. I am getting a SB-600 come Christmas time, so that will be my first speedlight. I guess we shall see which way I wind up going. My biggest selling point for either/or would be which one had the best range/reliability.
     
  6. kundalini

    kundalini Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I realize the the 800 is double the price of the 600, but in your situation, it may well be worth to do some more research. Of course you can get some cheap triggers, but the 800 will work wirelessly right out of the box.

    The 600 is a great flash, but since you don't have Commander mode, it should be considered the second unit.

    Somebody else please chime in and say that I am wrong.
     
  7. BTilson

    BTilson TPF Noob!

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    Well the 600 would be used on camera for the time being, until I either picked up an SB or SU 800. That's my current idea anyway. Does the SB-800 have a built in optical slave or something? Is that how it works wireless out of the box?
     
  8. kundalini

    kundalini Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Right, so with the SB-600 attached to your hot shoe, you will increase you flash exposures by at least 10 fold. (I don't really know by how much, but it will be a lot)

    The 600 would work wirelessly out of the box if you had Commander mode. Unfortunately for you, that function begins with the D80 and above.

    The SB-800 can act as a master and trigger the SB-600 (slave) to fire remotely, even with the D40. I considered the SU-800, then realized that the SB-800 has all (I think) of the benefits of the SU, plus it is a flash head. The SU is only a controller. So the good news for you is that later, if you get a SB-800, you can still have wireless flash functionality for the two flashes (or more) with the 800 as master.
     
  9. sabbath999

    sabbath999 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Plus, the cheap triggers won't use the CLS for exposure.
     
  10. Sw1tchFX

    Sw1tchFX TPF Noob!

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    I use CLS exclusively on location. I just use the pop up flash on my D70 or D700.

    The only problem with the system is that it's triggered optically, so you MUST be in direct line of sight when you're outside using the system. Indoors, not so much.

    I have problems all the time if i'm shooting vertically and if I have a strobe camera right, my body and lens are covering up the line of sight, so alot of times it won't fire. However if I rotate the camera so the grip is faced downwards where i'm barely able to hold on to it, then I can get that one side, but now I have to deal with the other side if it doesn't fire. (I honestly have no idea how people can even shoot by holding the camera like that. It's incredibly uncomfortable and the camera feels like it's going to fall out of my hands.)

    However, being as it's ultra portable, fast, accurate, and incredibly reliable when you know it's limitations and are working within them, I absolutely love the system to death and is one of the reasons I shoot Nikon.

    I got a ton of examples where the speed and versatility of the system have proven itself to me:

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    [​IMG]


    90% of the strobe use I do is on location, all of these were done outside, some during the afternoon, where I could just overpower the ambient and set the tone of the image myself. I was able to control the flashes from the camera, and on the bike shot, I would not have been able to walk across the course to be able to change power if I needed to.

    I've been contemplating the SU-800, but you also need to be in direct line of sight with that too if you're outside, so I can imagine still having the same problems that I have currently. The only solution seems to be using an SB-800/900 as a master flash and using Radio Poppers for the slaves for ultra-reliability.
     
  11. BTilson

    BTilson TPF Noob!

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    Thank you very much! That is the sort of response I was hoping for! Basically one telling me to go for it! What are your thoughts on outdoor reliability? I doubt VERY seriously I'd ever be more than 20 feet or so from my strobes. Can it handle that distance reliably? I mainly focus on shooting people (haha, where else can you say that, legally?) in a portraiture sense, so a far away strobe really won't come into play for me.

    It'll be a while before I really get a full CLS setup, due to financial reasons mostly, but also due to the fact that my camera doesn't have a built in commander mode. I really like the compact size of the SU-800, versus an SB-800/900, and my full intention is to use no on camera flash at all, so I am thinking the SU-800 might be the way to go for me once I pick up a couple of SB-600's or so.

    <edit> Oh and by the way, your first two shots, of the bearded man, are absolutely amazing. I LOVE the lighting and mood in those shots.
     
  12. dEARlEADER

    dEARlEADER TPF Noob!

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    if cost is such an issue why not pick up a couple of vivitar 285hv's and cactus triggers for the same price as an SB600?

    CLS is okay but add up the dollars for the system you want... pretty pricey if ur just getting by... the cactus triggers will give you more range both indoor and out and the vivi's have a higher power output guide number(140) vs the SB600 (98)....

    I like my SB600 for ittl when on camera.... but that's about it....IMo...
     

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