Silly question from a silly boy about flashguns

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Dubious Drewski, Mar 31, 2008.

  1. Dubious Drewski

    Dubious Drewski TPF Noob!

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    I want to understand this perfectly, so I'll ask: any flashgun can be used as an optical slave, and be commanded by any other flashgun, right? For instance, my Pentax flashgun could optically trigger Nikon or Canon flashes just fine, right? There aren't any issues with compatibility, are there?

    I just want to know, so that I can spend the least amount possible to buy some slaves.
     
  2. Helen B

    Helen B TPF Noob!

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    Triggering with an optical slave should not be a problem at all, if that's what you mean. Any make of flashgun will trigger an optical slave, and most optical slaves will trigger most small flashguns. There may be some voltage issues (trigger voltage of an older flash being too high for the optical slave) but I've never come across an optical slave that can't handle fairly high triggering voltages.

    I use Wein (studio) and Metz (portable) optical slaves. The Metz equipment has worked flawlessly (some of which has been in use for about thirty years), which can't be said for the Weins. I used to use Ikelite Lite-links (I think that was the name of them) that worked with Nikon TTL flashguns. They are optical slaves that trigger when the camera flash fires, then quench when the camera flash quenches, and it doesn't matter what brand of triggering flash is used, but the controlled flash had to be Nikon.

    With all simple slave systems the triggering flash must not emit a pre-flash, of course.

    Best,
    Helen
     
  3. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    No. Some Canon flashes like the 430EX are known to have problems with optical slaves iirc.
     
  4. Helen B

    Helen B TPF Noob!

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    Isn't that a problem with the built-in optical slave, rather than with the use of a separate optical slave? Could you give more details?

    I've just read part of the original post: "...any flashgun can be used as an optical slave, and be commanded by any other flashgun, right?"

    That's not right. In my previous post I was referring to the use of separate optical slaves. Not all portable flashguns have built-in slaves, and some that do are for dedicated system use, so they may or may not be compatible with the simple flash from another gun.

    Thanks,
    Helen
     
  5. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    No. The Canon flashes use a proprietary system, so it's not a true optical slave. The 430EX does not have a pc sync port on it, so you have to have a hot shoe optical slave to use as a true optical slave which will fire whenever triggered by any burst of light. I believe the problem reported is that the 430EX will fire fine the first time, but then will have to be turned off then back on before it will fire again. It then continues to do the same thing only firing once with an optical hot shoe slave unless they unit is powered off then on for each shot.
     
  6. Helen B

    Helen B TPF Noob!

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    Interesting. How does the 480EX perform on simple hot shoes? Does it have a problem with those as well? It seems to be a mean thing for Canon to do.

    Thanks,
    Helen
     
  7. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I've also heard that. Some Canon EX flashes (most notably the 430EX) can have problems with cheap optical slaves or cheap radio slaves. The triggering is inconsistent and (as mentioned) sometimes it will fire fine, but then needs to be manually turned off and on again to be reset.

    Also, some of the newer/better optical slaves can be set to ignore a preflash. So they can be used with master flashes that use a preflash for metering. This may cause exposure confusion because the metering of the 'master' flash can't take into account the slave flashes.

    I haven't tried my 430 with my cheap optical slaves...but I do have the cheap Cactus radio trigger and it does have problems with the 430 (commonly known problem).

    The flash works perfectly well when used on camera or with a Canon off shoe cord.
     
  8. Dubious Drewski

    Dubious Drewski TPF Noob!

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    Hmm, ok. Now let me just make it clear what I want to do.

    Currently, my main flashgun almost always fires on manual. Sometimes, I'll also have it off of the camera
    and triggered by the onboard flash(Which is set to trigger only and not appear in the picture)

    What I guess I'm asking is: How easy will it be for me to find one or two cheap fill flashes that I can set up around my subject while I still shoot in the same manner?
     
  9. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    If your master flash is firing in manual mode (no preflash) then any optical slave should work. You can get hot-shoe optical slaves or if your slave flash has a connection port, you could use a peanut slave.
    HERE is an example of a simple hot-shoe optical trigger (can be found quite cheap on E-bay)

    If your master flash is using a preflash, then you will need an optical trigger than can ignore the preflash....like THIS.
    As mentioned, you can put an optical trigger on just about any flash.
     
  10. Dubious Drewski

    Dubious Drewski TPF Noob!

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    Hey thanks for that info. I kind of thought I'd need a hot shoe slave (though we sell them where I work for much cheaper than $32, so I'll pick it up there!)

    But let me get this straight. What I need to buy is a peanut slave trigger and a small flashgun, right? That flashgun can be any model at all and work fine - as long as it's being triggered by the peanut. Right?
     
  11. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    You don't need the peanut slave if you have a hot-shoe slave. They are basically the same thing...but the peanut slave has a male plug to connect to the flash as opposed to the hot-shoe slave, which obviously attaches to the hot shoe.

    Many flash units these days, don't have connection ports, so wouldn't be able to use a peanut slave anyway.

    Just go with the hotshoe slaves and whatever flash units you want.
     
  12. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Sunpak 383's are $80 a piece. Vivitar 285HV's, $90.
     

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