Lighting with 430ex and Alien Bee B400

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by artsiimages, Oct 19, 2008.

  1. artsiimages

    artsiimages TPF Noob!

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    I am new to the photography world, and I have a canon 40d camera. I recently purchased a canon 430ex flash. I am considering buying an alien bee B400 as well, but my question is whether or not these two lights could work together. I have no idea how to sync the lights so that they flash at the same time if they are both off camera. I know I may need a transmitter and a receiver, but I have no idea what type to buy! If somebody could please give me specifics on what to buy and how to sync the lights to my camera, that would be great!

    Also, eventually I would like to move to the high key bright white backgrounds. Do you think the 400b would be powerful enough to produce that bright white background? Thanks!
     
  2. bigalbest

    bigalbest TPF Noob!

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    There are a lot of different options for syncing these strobes off camera including a sync chord with a splitter. Top of the line option is Pocket Wizards (you need one for the camera and one for each light), with several similar options including Radio Poppers and others (find out more at Strobist and read the Lighting 101 section first). There are also some low cost options on ebay called cactus triggers, which might work fine for you also.
    As far as white backgrounds it usually takes two lights to get a nice blown out pure white effect on paper depending on the size of the paper. Find out more about the technique at zarias.com.
     
  3. icassell

    icassell TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for this link! I hadn't seen this one before!

    Ian
     
  4. frXnz kafka

    frXnz kafka TPF Noob!

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    To trigger the two lights off camera, you have 2 options. You can use either optical slaves, or radio triggers. Radio triggers are far more reliable, and will work much better if you ever shoot in bright daylight. Optical slaves are cheap though, so if your budget is like $20 or less, they'll work. I believe the B400 has a built-in optical slave.

    If you go radio triggers, you'll need a transmitter and 2 receivers. Again you have a few options for radio triggers. From cheapest to most expensive...
    Cactus or "eBay" triggers - $35 for a transmitter/receiver set, $20 for another receiver. Not that reliable out of the box, pretty good with a couple simple mods.

    Alienbees CyberSyncs - Something like $60 or $70 per unit. More reliable than the Cactuses, not quite as reliable as Pocketwizards.

    Elinchrom Skyports - $185 for a transmitter and receiver, $100 for additional receiver. Very nice radio triggers, as good as PocketWizards, just not industry standard

    PocketWizards - $185 per unit. Each unit can act as transmitter, receiver, or both. Great range, very reliable, the industry standard.


    You can also go corded, but that's no fun, and Cactus triggers are cheaper. Also, definitely check out www.strobist.com
     
  5. artsiimages

    artsiimages TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for all the info. I am reading the lighting 101 right now, and it is very helpful! I have a question though. The B400 that I am buying does have an optical slave, so I thought I might start by trying that, and then move on to something better. However, I know that the 430ex can be used as a slave, but this is different that an optical slave, right? So do I still need to buy a transmitter and a receiver for the 430ex? Thanks!
     
  6. frXnz kafka

    frXnz kafka TPF Noob!

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    The 430ex can be used as a slave, but it requires a 580ex or an ST-E2 be on your camera. It's triggered by an infrared signal.

    If you ever do try to trigger your 430 with a 580ex on camera, just remember there will be a preflash, which will trigger your B400. And it probably won't recharge in time to go off when the real flash goes off.
     
  7. artsiimages

    artsiimages TPF Noob!

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    I started thinking... The B400 comes with a 15-foot sync cord, that I am assuming would be plugged into the camera's pc outlet and the B400. However, I was wondering if this cord could instead be plugged into the 430ex and the camera's pc outlet, so that the 430ex would go off when I fired a shot. And then, if I set the B400 on slave, would it go off when the 430ex goes off? I am probably way off with this scenario, but I am just trying to figure everything out!
     
  8. frXnz kafka

    frXnz kafka TPF Noob!

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    The sync cord that the AB comes with is a PC-1/4" cord. The only way to get that to work with your 430ex would be to buy about $40+ worth of adapters. And then you're limited to less than 15 feet (a 15 foot cord isn't actually going to get you 15 feet) with your 430ex, when for $15 more you have wireless freedom with the Cactus triggers.
     
  9. artsiimages

    artsiimages TPF Noob!

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    Ok, that makes sense! Could you please give me a direct link to a place where I could buy the cactus trigger. I tried looking it up, but I don't know exactly what I'm looking for. Thanks!
     
  10. frXnz kafka

    frXnz kafka TPF Noob!

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  11. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    and unreliable operation
     
  12. frXnz kafka

    frXnz kafka TPF Noob!

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    If he's even considering Cactuses (and a B400) he's not shooting professionally, so a mis-fire once in a while is no big deal. Furthermore, with the mods that I linked to you should be able to get VERY reliable operation in a studio setting, and only the occasional misfire in more complex situations. I don't know what your experience with these triggers is, but I've been using them (modded) for quite a while, and they do just fine. I get at least 200 feet from mine, without line of sight (which translates to very reliable operation in the studio).

    And when the alternative is cording the 430ex, and using the optical slave on the B400, you're probably going to get a few misfires on the B400 anyway. And you can forget using them outside during the day.

    Regardless, I mentioned that the Cactus triggers aren't the most reliable in my first post. But they work, they're cheap, and they're better than cords unless you're only doing close-up work.
     

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