External Flash With Nikon Coolpix 8800

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Grumpy Grandpa, Mar 27, 2005.

  1. Grumpy Grandpa

    Grumpy Grandpa TPF Noob!

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    Does anyone have experience getting external strobe lights to synchronize with a Nikon Coolpix 8800?

    I have a set of studio strobes that includes an infrared triggering device, which can be mounted on a hot shoe or connected to a camera using a PC-sync cord. The device is essentially a little strobe light that flashes through an infrared filter. Sensors on the studio strobes detect the infrared flash and fire as slaves. Nikon hot shoes are proprietary, not standard, and their cameras seem to be compatible with only Nikon strobe lights. The device's sync circuit operates on 5.5V, with the center terminal of the PC-sync connector being positive.

    Nikon warns users that any flash used must have the positive terminal in the bottom contact of the hot shoe, and that control voltage must not exceed 250V. That tells me nothing about the polarity through a PC-sync connection, in case I want to go that route.

    The Coolpix 8800 does not have an integral PC-sync port, but Nikon offers an AS-15 adapter that converts the camera's hot-shoe connector to a PC-sync port. I got the adapter and plugged my triggering device into it, but it still does not go off when I activate the shutter.

    I also have a Nikon Speedlight SB-800, which synchronizes with the camera through the hot shoe, and which can also take a PC-sync cord. As I mentioned, Nikon said that the polarity through the hot shoe was positive at the bottom contact. I tested the SB-800 and found that its sync circuit operates at 3.8V, and the center terminal of the PC-sync port is positive. That much seems pretty close to the triggering device's circuit.

    With all of the foregoing information, one would expect that the triggering device should work with the Coolpix 8800. I have tried all of the camera's various flash-sync modes, and it simply doesn't work. I'm not sure whether there is a timing conflict between the camera and the triggering device, or what.

    One thing I am trying to avoid is having to use either the camera's internal strobe or a camera-mounted strobe when I am shooting with the studio strobes. I want better control over my lighting than that.

    While I was waiting for everything to arrive so that I could perform the tests, I decided to try an optical approach instead of an electronic one. I ordered a small piece of plastic infrared-filter material from Edmund Optics, and tried placing it over the camera's built-in strobe to see whether that would trigger my studio strobes.

    Bingo! It worked. Now when I want to use the studio strobes, I can either tape the infrared filter over the camera's falsh, or perhaps cut a piece of the filter material down to fit and use it to replace the camera-flash Fresnel lens.

    The latter method will obviously be a more-or-less permanent camera modification that will make the internal flash essentially useless except for triggering external flashes. I think I can live with that, especially since I do have the SB-800. It should prevent the internal flash from contributing visible light to my pictures, which is what I am trying to achieve. I don't know yet whether the camera's sensors will pick up the infrared and represent it as visible red.

    Does anybody have a better way of dealing with this problem?

    Thanks in advance.

    Grumpy Grandpa
     
  2. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    The hotshoe on a camera should be standard. There are two main connectors - centre and edge - that are connected to what is basically a synchronised switch inside the camera. There is also an International Standard covering hotshoes. I have never had a problem connecting any flash (including studio packs) to any camera (except Polaroids).
    If what you say is true then it looks like Nikon have decided to move away from the norm. Oh well...
    You can get slave photocells for studio flash. They plug in to the flash pack synch socket and you can trigger them using the flash on the camera.
    There is bound to be an adapter cable - there will be other people in the same situation. Try Googling.
    These links do not refer to your particular Nikon model but may give you some ideas.
    http://webpages.charter.net/bbiggers/DCExperiments/html/body_external_flash.html
    http://www.e-zonesystem.com/990flash/
     

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