Smarten Up Your Dumb Optical Slave By Hooking it Up With Arduino

Smarten Up Your Dumb Optical Slave By Hooking it Up With ArduinoOptical Slaves are the simplest (and cheapest for the most part) method for using off camera flashes.

The principle is simple, when the optical slave sees another flash fire, it fires too. Kinda like yawning. Once one of goes, it is catchy.

Of course optical slaves have their limitations, one of which is that they are too dump to understand the difference between a flash and a pre-flash. There are a few more limitations to optical dumb slaves, but this post is about overcoming the pre-flash issue with a cool gizmo called Arduino. [Read more...]

The Strobist Corner: Attention Pocketwizard Flex TT5 Users

DIY RF shield for strobe The fact that Pocketwizard have a new TTL enabled unit is old news. The Flex TT5 and Flex TT1 have been shipping for almost a year now.

In the beginning the Flex units were having some hard time dealing with radio interference coming from some of the Canon flashes. This interference comin from the Canon flashes had impact both on distance and reliability of the TTX units.

The good news: Pocketwizard made a 580 radio-frequency-blocking-beer-holder for the delinquent Canon flashes. They go by the code name AC5 (I can only guess that it stands for Allocation Control, or Algorithmic Collision. Go figure).

The even better news: Pocketwizard decided to provide them AC5s shields free of charge to US photographers who bought the Flex units.

The not so good news: If you are living outside of the US, this offer is not for you. Other thing is that the AC5s will be free only till the end of the month.

Good news again: photographer Daniel Aqua posted a DIY tutorial on the Flickr pool that shows how to build a Canon shield at home. [Read more...]

Don’t Give Up On Your GI Trigger – Three Ways To Revive It When It Looks Dead

GI Trigger (by udijw)So you hacked yourself a gadget infinity flash radio slave and you are happy. You are shooting off camera flash and things work splendid. Actually, you really wanted a pair of pocketwizards, but it was 26 big ones Vs. 360, so it’s GI. Actually they work quite well. They worked quite well for a long while now. Then a crisis. Flash wont fire. 

Camera clicks, but flash won’t fire. Darn! It was working just a second ago. What could have gone wrong? (Or in the words that the guys from the internet service hear 1000 times a day – I did not touch it.)

Here are three things to check before giving up on your cactus remotes.
[Read more...]

Exploring Small Strobes: Going Wireless

Exploring Small StrobesWelcome to this multi-part series of articles on Exploring Small Strobes by Yanik Chauvin from Yanik’s Photo School.

In part 1 on Exploring Small strobes, I looked at why using flash guns instead of the built-in flash and studio strobes. In part 2, I went through the importance of using your speedlight off camera.

What I’ll be going through today, in part 3, is looking at how to trigger and control your speedlights off camera; more specifically wirelessly. You’re probably saying to your self, it’s about time Yanik gets to the practical stuff! And you’re absolutely right! But I had to convince you first! ;-)

[Read more...]

Studio Lighting – Cactus Slave Flash Cable Hack

Nikon sb800As you may know, I am a great fan of off camera flash

I’ve owned a Nikon SB-28 since my analog days and added a Nikon SB800 when going digital. Advised by Strobist, I added a third flash – a Nikon SB26.

To get all those flashes going off camera, I bought some cheapo Cactus (AKA Gadget Infinity) flash radio triggers – those can be found at eBay for just a few dollars. I initially bought two receivers and when I added the Nikon SB26 to my collection, I bought the third one.

I really like those cheapo triggers and up until now they were lots of fun (see this shot, I just can’t miss a shot at showing my son off). Of course, if you need high reliability, you should consider the big brother: Pocket Wizards.

[Read more...]

DIY – hacking the sync outled for an ebay remote

Nikon sb800I finally got my slave flash from eBay. This is extra cool, because unlit now I had to choose between two alternatives – none was giving me the flexibility that I needed for my studio shots. (If you are in to optical, here is a cool slave that you can build @ home)

Studio Slave Flash Option #1 was to use my Nikon SB-800 speedlight set on Slave mode, utilizing Nikon’s CLS (Creative Light System). The benefits of this mode were exact flash output (Those guys at Nikon really knows what they are doing). The down side here was that I could only use one flash at a time and that I had an annoying “shutter lag” until the camera and the flash did their negotiation thingy. Now that was sad, because I often needed more then one speedlight, and did not enjoy the lag at all.

So Studio Slave Flash Option #2 came into play, which was setting all my flashes with sync cord. That was nice – I could hook up 2 or flashes and had no lag at all. The trouble here was that sync cord is A – expensive and B tends to get in your way. For awhile I use option #2.5 – One speedlight with sync cord and the other on optical flash (I set the Nikon SB-28 on sync cord, and used the built in “stupid slave” capabilities of the SB800).

I was not satisfied. So I got on eBay and got me a radio slave flash. The model I got is called RF604 and has 4 channels. Shipping was fast and I was satisfied. I also ordered an extra receiver, to attach to my second flash. [Read more...]

Very Cool Optical Slave Unit

optical flash slave
This guest post was made by Rolf Randby, the same person who wrote the Hot Shoe Adapter article. In fact, This slave trigger was the “trigger” (pan intended) for building the hot shoe adapter in the first place.

There are some Gazillion optical slaves out there. We even one optical slave unit published on this site. So what is so special about this circuitry? Rolf used a PIC (Programmable Interrupt Controller) to give this unit some very nice features: 1. No setup 2. It will work with a red eye setting in your camera. Yep, those annoying red-eye pre-flashes will not trigger the flash, it will “magically know” when the main slash if fired and activate the unit. 3. It will work with all point and shoot cameras.

Those three nice features accomplished with PIC hex code written by Evan Dudzik, from a algorithm by Rolf, make this unit an optimal optical slave unit for P&S cameras. It is the reason I call it the “Very Cool Optical Slave Unit”. Rolf, for some reason, insists on the boring name “STF 1″. I’ll stick with my name – “Very Cool Optical Slave Unit” or VeCOSU :). [Read more...]