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When you remove the camera from the flash, you have a couple of different ways they can communicate with one another: Slave and Dedicated. I'm going to start with Slave, because it's the more basic of the two. The way the Slave works is basically you have a trigger that's attached to the flash, and in this case, this is a light trigger. So if another flash goes off, this sees it, makes this flash go off. Pretty simple! You can have as many of these as you want. The other type of trigger is a radio trigger - Same thing except it uses radio waves, so we have greater distance.
In both cases, it's only triggering the flash. There is no exposure information related at all. Now, Dedicated is a little different animal. In Dedicated, you have both exposure and flash trigger at the same time. Now, if we look at the camera here, we can see a little bit about how this works. Right here, you have the main trigger, right here. This is what Slaves use and Dedicated. This is what fires the flash when there is a contact right here. But you notice we have these other contacts also.
This is where the exposure information is conveyed. Now, when your camera is on the flash, they're talking to each other. But you can also have this communication go on with a cord, as long as they match up, in this case Canon to Canon. You can have a transmitter, again though, you notice they're matching up right here. So then this is the wireless situation. In some cameras, such as this Nikon, the controller can actually be built into the camera itself.
The main thing to remember is that when you're using a Dedicated system, a lot is being done by the camera and the flash. This allows you to stay behind the camera, think about composition. It's the way that I like to work. Let the exposure be handled by these guys, and let me think about getting a great shot.
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