Triggering your flash doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated. In this video, I talk about four different ways to trigger an off-camera flash. I use a manual flash to keep things simple and demonstrate optical sync, pc-sync, infrared sync and radio sync. I go into detail on all of these different methods and demonstrate how easy they are to use. For even more detailed info with actual photo shoots on off-camera flash triggering, check out the basic Flash Guide that Jared and I created here: http://froknowsphoto.com/flashguide.
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Male Speaker: Hey guys its great to be back on YouTube, and today I want to talk to you about all different kinds of ways to trigger a flash okay. And we have one off-camera flash that we’re going to be using today. This is a LumoPro LP 160. It’s a fully manual flash so that means that you basically have only manual settings on here. No TTL, no ETTL, none of that kind of stuff. I’m turning the flash on. I’m zooming to 24 millimeters. That means it’s going to be zoomed to its widest spread and I’m going to set it to his lowest power 164th okay. And the only reason I’m doing the lowest power is because we’re only demonstrating the flash. I don’t want to blind you when we’re triggering the flash.
I love off-camera flash and I think that you get a much better look and much better quality of light and so many different options when you’re creating portraits or basically lighting just about anything. When you take that flash off the camera the possibilities are endless. Now this whole thing about off-camera flash Jared and I go into great detail in the basic flash guide that you can pick up on the froknowsphoto flash guide website, which I’ll give you guys that address, but before we get too far ahead of ourselves let’s start with some of the basics. Okay, so what I want to start first with is optical sync. Now what’s optical sync? Well it’s exactly that is sinking your flash with a pulse of light.
Okay, now all you need in order to do this is a light source. So in this case, I’m going to take my little Fuji X100S which has a built-in flash, and I’m going to use that flash in Commander Mode. Now, all that means is that I’m setting the flash to it’s setting that’s creates a pulse of light, but it doesn’t create enough light to really dramatically change the look of my image okay, so I’ve already done that and now I’m just going to take a picture. I’ll take a picture of me filming this, and you see how I did that okay. The flash popped on here which in turn popped on here. Let me do that one more time to show you guys. See how I did that? Very cool. So basically the flash on here flashed it on there. Now this is set – this flash is set into slave mode, which is also known as remote mode. So what we’re doing is we’re slaving this flash off of this existing flash and we’re doing it optically.
That is with the pulse of light that we’re creating on here. If your camera has a little built-in flash you can do the same thing. If you don’t really want to affect the image that much from your camera is built on flash and you don’t have commander mode just drop the power all the way down to the lowest power setting that you possibly can, okay it and then let this flash do the majority. Now if you do have a built-on flash and you’re using a remote flash you can actually use your built-on flash as a fill light, so that means you can make this your key and this could be your fill so that’s very kind of cool if you want to really get a little bit more advance with your lighting, but at the end the day optically triggering is a cheap, affordable solution. The only limitation you’re going to have here is distance. In that if I was using this camera to trigger this flash and I was standing all the way on the other side of the room or in another room it’s probably not going to work okay.
So you have to be within relative proximity, that’s very cool. Now another option that we have here is a PC sync cord okay. Now cameras have been using PC sync technology since gee I don’t even want – Wikipedia knows, but it’s been probably at least 60 years or something like that. And all I can tell you is that I’ll even show you and I’ll demonstrate with this 40 something year old medium format Rolleiflex film camera okay. So what I’m going to do is I’m going to plug this okay the microphone port into the microphone port on the PC sync jack of my flash, and I’m going to take the PC sync jack and I’m going to plug it into the PC sync port on my old film camera. Alright rewind the film. Just bring it back like that and watch okay boom. I fired the shutter and it basically sent a signal over to my flash and fired my flash. So the cool thing about that is it if you’ve got a flash that has a PC sync port, you can basically trigger with any camera that also has a PC sync port. How cool is that? Because it’s not like this camera has like a hot shoe for a flash or anything like that. Nor does it have a built-in flash for triggering optically okay.
So those are two very, very cool things okay. Now a PC sync cable is very, very inexpensive in the grand scheme of photography equipment. This happens to be like a 3 meter cable and I’m thinking may be one of these is you know 20 bucks or so. I always keep one in my camera bag because you never know if you know your other syncing method seems to fail, or for whatever reason, you can’t sync optically or your battery just happens to go. You have another option, right over there. Okay, let’s move to a third option and that is going to be infrared. Now this is a little infrared trigger. This thing is I think maybe about $60, so it’s a little bit more of an investment, but this thing really kicks a lot of butt. And the cool thing about this is that unlike the infrared signal that your camera might produce this produces what seems to me to be like a stronger infrared signal okay.
It has a fairly good recycle time, but what I can tell you about this is that I would highly recommend that every time you use this. Now really take note here to put a fresh set of batteries and because once the battery start going in here, the recycle time gets really slow and that can really stink because if you’re trying to do a shoot with an off-camera flash and you’re waiting for this thing to recycle because that’s the weakest link. It’s really going to kind of slow everything down so remember fresh set of batteries every time and all this thing does is it creates an infrared pulse so I’m just going to trigger right now boom okay it works, very cool. You can actually hear it kind of makes a whining sound. And then there’s a little ready light on here and now it’s ready again because the ready light is blinking. You want to wait until that ready light is on before you continue to fire.
Okay, so any camera that has a hot shoe okay like let’s just pick up the Fuji X-Pro 1 here’s the hot shoe. Meaning a hot shoe is a shoe that actually sends a signal or receives a signal okay because the signal is hot. There are cameras, older cameras that have cold shoes that you can actually put something on that. Okay, you can put, you can actually slide things and then you know work as an accessory, but for today’s purposes we’re going to be talking about a hot shoe. Okay, most modern digital cameras have a hot shoe, and this is a very simple thing that basically when the signal goes into the hot shoe on your camera it tells this to create a signal which in turn is going to hopefully going to trigger a flash. So I’m putting this in the hot shoe really simply like that okay. I’m basically going to take a simple picture of us filming right here boom. Did you see that? Here we go. Let’s try one more time. Just taking a simple picture of us and I’m going to lead this infrared pulse trigger our off-camera flash.
So what are the limitations of infrared? Well, the limitations are line of sight. So what that means is that when you’re typically using infrared technology that if you are let’s say way off to the side like in the periphery of your flash with your trigger you might have difficulty triggering it. It also might have difficulty if you’re trying to trigger through a wall which means like let’s say I had my flash on the other side of the wall, and I was on one side, and I was trying to shoot and the infrared signal could not see the infrared receiver on the flash. There’s a very good chance you’re not going to be able to pop your flash that way or trigger your flash so your limit is, your limitations are going to be the line of sight and distance okay. However, I can say with this little infrared trigger it is really, really powerful and I find that it’s far more effective that in my experience that what I have seen on the infrared figures on cameras in on built-in flashes.
Okay so this is a nice little inexpensive device here. Now our third option, our fourth option because it’s been a while and I’m just trying to get back in the swing of things. Our fourth option is going to be with a radio. Okay, now radio means it uses radio waves or radio signal and the nice thing about radio is that it’s not restricted by line of sight and the distance is really, really great. So let’s say you might have 20, 30 feet with infrared depending on the conditions. You could have a 100 to a 1000 feet, depending on how you configure your radios, and you could, you don’t have to worry about line of sight and I could have a model standing outside with a flash and I could trigger it, and it’s going to trigger from inside here all the way outside and across the street, which is really cool. That’s the great thing about radios is that you’re not worried about line of sight. You’re not so worried about distance, and they’re also really, really reliable.
Okay, so let me get this thing setup really quickly. So I’m going to stick it into the microphone plug over here. I’m going to pull this out on the – this flash, and put in the microphone plug in the flash. Okay, very cool so that’s in there. And we’re on channel 1 okay. I’m keeping it really simple. Now I’ve got an identical unit right here, another pocket wizard in this case. I’ve got it to channel 1, and I’m just going to hit the test button. Okay, so we know that this radio is communicating with this radio which is in turn triggering our flash. So why don’t we take this and we’ll put it into the hot shoe, and similarly to the infrared you can see it’s got the one little access point there that basically when the camera fires, it sends a signal through this thing, which in turn triggers the flash, same kind of deal. So I’m going to pop that onto here boom. And we’ll take a picture of us filming right here.
Then there you go. Let me try that one more time just to demonstrate for you guys, and you could see via the power of radio waves we were able to trigger our flash. So again, Jared and I do a really good job of showing all of these different methods and really elaborating on these different methods in the flash video guide, the basics flash video guide which, I’ll give you guys the link to check out. I’m really proud of it. I think we did some awesome stuff in there, but I wanted to give you guys this information because I feel it’s really important. I get so many e-mails all the time asking about like should I buy this? Should I buy these trigger? Should I buy? And I try to tell people that before you go out and buy all this gear, you might actually have enough of what it takes to get your flash fired with just your cameras built-in flash or maybe you have a PC sync cable lying around or something like that.
So that’s it for now. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below and we’ll see you soon.
As you know I do not run sales very often. But for the next few days the Fro Flash Guide digital download is on SALE for only $57.
This will be a great gift to yourself or anyone looking to learn how to finally take control of their flash.
Thank you all very much for your continued support and remember to keep Shooting RAW.Read More »
Can you say fast, rugged, reliable and affordable! That’s just a quick summary for the new LumoPro LP 180 Quad-sync manual flash. Many of you already know, I’ve been a LumoPro LP 160 fanboy for some time now. Those flashes always serve me well and I love the simplicity. My only gripe was their build quality seemed a little cheap. Well, move over LP 160. The LP 180 is built like a tank! Totally redesigned and rugged. First impressions mean a lot and this thing really feels solid.Read More »
As much as I loved my Fuji X100, the X100s is that much better and is quite possibly the best camera I own. Fast, responsive, amazing color, tack sharp, great handling, spectacular low-light capabilities, flash sync to 1/4000 sec, all in one amazing little package. As most of you know, I’ve been an X100 fanboy for some time. It’s been my go-to camera for everything from portraits, to streetshots and a lot in between. It was always with me and now it’s been replaced! As great as the X100 was, the X100s is just that much better. Every gripe that I had with the X100 has been addressed with the X100s. It’s nimble and quick. Okay, not Nikon DSLR quick, but so much quicker and more responsive. The focus is fast and tack sharp. This was a huge problem with the X100. Many people were turned off with the slow and quirky focus, but Fuji nailed it with the X100s. Close focusing. I can now focus within 18 inches of my subject!!! This may be the single best feature of the camera for me! The X100 was cool for portraits – so long as you were at it’s minimum focus distance of 2.6 feet. Not quite ideal for portraits with a fixed 35mm equivalent lens.Read More »
Lighting tools are essential to controlling your light source. I love lighting modifiers and with my strobes, I always seem to use an Octa Box as well as a beauty dish. With a studio strobe, you have a lot of power to use an Octa Box as they typically are large modifiers, however I recently picked up a brilliant lighting modifier that I can see replacing my convertible umbrella for editorial portraits and beyond.
I shoot a lot of portraits and often do editorial portraits around New York City. When I travel to these shoots, I’m flying solo with a minimal amount of gear and typically on the subway. Anyone who’s been to NYC knows that the subways are totally jammed and that there’s a ton of stairs and walking involved in getting around town. As versatile as a convertible umbrella may be, it’s a pretty large and long object to be carrying around hanging out of a backpack.Read More »
PocketWizard released their new affordable and simple to use PlusX! So easy to setup and compatible with all PocketWizard products. If some of you guys were considering getting radio triggers, it looks like the wait is over!Read More »
Today we are in my home studio shooting portraits. I chose this setup because not everyone has access to a studio and wanted to show you guys that you can get killer shots virtually anywhere. In this video, I’ll demonstrate a basic one-light home-studio portrait session utilizing some very simple lighting tools and techniques.
In this setup, I volunteered to be the model and thus ended up with some self-portraits. I used a cable release to fire my camera that was mounted on a tripod. For my background, I used a 40″ bounce with the black side. I wanted something edgy and knew I was going to go black and white with my images and wanted to background to disappear. For lighting, I used a Nikon SB800 speedlite firing into a Chimera Octa Beauty. The Octa Beauty is a killer modifier. It’s a 24″ Octabox AND Beauty Dish all-in-one ! ! ! Great quality to the light and sweet catch lights. I triggered the flash with Pocketwizard Plus IIIs. I find them to be incredibly reliable and easy to use.Read More »
There are many ways to trigger an off-camera flash so lets start with the very basics. Getting the flash off your camera gives you much greater control of your light and far more freedom to be creative. There are four basic ways to trigger your off-camera flash. Optical sync, where you trigger the flash with another flash, PC Sync, where you trigger the flash with a PC Sync cable that attaches to your camera and to the flash, Infrared, where you are using an infrared signal to communicate between your camera and your flash, and, Radio, where you use radio triggers to sync your flash. All of these methods work and offer different challenges, pros and cons. The most basic and least expensive may be optical sync, provided you have a built-in flash on your camera.
In this video, I set my Fuji X100′s built-in flash to commander mode. I used commander mode, because when triggering optically, I don’t want the built-in flash to greatly affect the flash exposure. Thus, producing a pulse of light adequate to trigger the flash, but not too much so that it will mix with the flash exposure from the off-camera flash.
Optical Sync Pros:
- Low cost triggering system (provided you have a built-in flash)
- You can optically trigger as many lights as you want so long as they all see the master flash.
- Easy. Not much to know other than the basics.
- Effective. It works.
Optical System Cons:
- Limitation of proximity. Your off-camera flash needs to see the flash your camera produces.
- Not recommended in bright sun. If you can see that bright light, so can your flash.
- Other flashes will trigger your flash! So not recommended for events or parties.
Ideal for a controlled environment, shooting portraits, product etc.
Some other thoughts. There are times when you may want your built-in flash to produce more power in order to act as a fill. Why not? It’s another light and may help to get you the look you need for your exposure. I do recommend that when you are using this technique, that you get your main or Key light dialed in before you decide to add power to the built-in flash for your exposure. This way, you are making a choice on how you want your light shaped and not fighting the two lights to make them work. Sounds complicated, well, it is. Lots to consider. So, for the time being, try simply optically syncing your off-camera flash. See how it goes. Experiment with placement, flash-to-subject distance, flash power. Have fun and be creative!
Please subscribe and leave your questions and comments below.Read More »
Jared and I have been working on a beginner flash guide and will be bringing it to you soon. In the meantime, check out this video I made with tips on shooting an editorial portrait after a recent shoot I did with the chef concierge at New York City’s prestigious Pierre Hotel for Eater.com.
I love shooting editorial portraits. There’s so many variables and always full of challenges. These shoots can be a bit of an adrenaline rush, so it’s good to stay calm, and be resourceful. Think outside the box and be flexible. If something isn’t working, don’t panic. Try something else. Come up with 3 – 5 ideas before you begin shooting. At least one of those is going to work, and may even lead to something else that’s even better.Read More »