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Using radio controls to fire a flash

From: Foundations of Photography: Flash

Video: Using radio controls to fire a flash

So you've seen how a sync cord lets me get the flash off the The downside to these Cowboy Studio units Also

Using radio controls to fire a flash

So you've seen how a sync cord lets me get the flash off the camera and opens up a huge amount of creative flexibility in my flash work. There are limitations to a sync cord though. And you've probably already spotted some of them. I've only got so far that I can go. And you may think well no, the real limitation there is the length of your arms, and that's true. But thanks to flash stands and things like that, I could conceivably put the flash somewhere far away and, and fire it from there if I have a longer cord. So I've got length of the cord.

It's cumbersome. It's kind of heavy, and it requires a physical connection. If I want to put a flash up in the ceiling or something like that, or on the other side of a, a body of water or something, or just on the other side, outside of a wall, maybe shining through a window. The cord is just not going to work. Fortunately, there are now radio transmitters that are extremely affordable and give you a wireless solution for getting your flash off camera. Now you may find that your camera vendor makes one. I got a Canon camera here, and they in fact make a set of transmitters and receivers specifically for their cameras.

You know you're going to get full compatibility with your flash TTL system. You're also going to have a much lighter wallet afterwards. They are very expensive. So, before I even look at that stuff, I'd check out the third party stuff. It's much less expensive and offers some of the same functionality. I have here a set of transmitters made by Cowboy Studios. So this is a transmitter, this is a receiver. The transmitter just snaps onto my, or slides into my camera's hot shoe, the receiver goes on the bottom of my flash.

That's about all there is to it. I have to turn the receiver on. The transmitter is actually powered by the camera. And I have some options here, some little dip switches here that give me the option of setting channels. In case I've got a bunch of transmitters working with same room, and need to, to I'm, I'm having interference from other radio signals. Once those are turned on, I've now got just what I have with the sync chord except I don't have a chord. So now I've got full flash control without a cord. The downside to these Cowboy Studio units is that they have a somewhat limited.

Wow they really stick a notch you, they have a somewhat limited amount of electrical connection here. I've only got this one contact here, which means I don't get any TTL information and, I cannot change the brightness of the flash from the camera. The camera and the flash can not communicate with them with each other. To use this setup, I have to be using manual only. I'm controlling flash power myself by dialing it around on the flash. I'm used to working that way, so this is a great solution for me. 20 bucks to get a remote flash system.

Here is another option. This is made by these are PocketWizards. This is a company called PocketWizard. If you just Google around, you will find that they make all sorts of different units for different types of flashes. Now, right away, the next thing you're going to notice is that they're more expensive. These start at 150 and go to 250, 300 bucks, depending on what features you want. They're larger but they also provide a lot of different options. First of all, some PocketWizards are apparently easier to get in a hot shoot than others. Some PocketWizards offer full TTL.

So, I get all of the same flash functionality that I am used to when my flash is on the camera, but with the advantage of having the flash of the camera. Also PocketWizards allow me to define groups of flashes. So if I'm creating complex multi-flash set-ups, I can program all that into the PocketWizards and have all sorts of finicky maniacal control. So this is another option. There are other third part options that compete at, more like the Cowboy Studios level. Inexpensive. These are kind of flimsy, but for 20 bucks, I can break a bunch of them before I've paid for a PocketWizard.

So, I heartily recommend getting some sort of radio transmitter for your off-camera flash work. A lot of people think well, I don't need radio, because I'm not doing complex, multi-flash set-ups. But I'm, I'm not even talking about it for that. I'm just talking about handheld, even if all you're doing is handheld off-camera work, just having this instead of that cable is just a, it's a much nicer way to work. So, once you're starting to get ready to get your flash off camera and you're thinking about how you want to do it. Start looking into these radio transmitters.

See what they cost. And see if maybe you like that idea, better than the somewhat less flexible sync cord.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Foundations of Photography: Flash
Foundations of Photography: Flash

40 video lessons · 17536 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
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  1. 1m 35s
    1. Welcome
      1m 35s
  2. 33m 1s
    1. Exposure revisited
      2m 22s
    2. How flash works
      2m 12s
    3. Balancing ambient light and flash
      3m 54s
    4. Shutter speed, aperture, and flash
      4m 11s
    5. Fill and key light with flash
      4m 13s
    6. Understanding flash range
      2m 47s
    7. Understanding flash modes
      5m 16s
    8. Flash sync options
      3m 2s
    9. Some notes about your camera's built-in flash
      5m 4s
  3. 32m 50s
    1. When to use fill flash
      1m 39s
    2. Using fill flash in auto and program modes
      2m 44s
    3. Fill flash in priority or manual modes
      2m 38s
    4. Using flash exposure compensation
      9m 14s
    5. Using fill flash to eliminate unwanted shadows
      5m 46s
    6. Using fill flash to darken a background
      5m 1s
    7. Using flash to supplement ambient light
      3m 48s
    8. Filling in for a bright sunset
      2m 0s
  4. 33m 53s
    1. Shooting a portrait with flash as the key light
      4m 27s
    2. Why use an external flash?
      3m 34s
    3. Flash power and recharging times
      4m 21s
    4. Flash zoom
      1m 45s
    5. Taking the flash off camera
      5m 35s
    6. Using a softbox
      5m 3s
    7. Balancing flash and window light
      4m 22s
    8. Paying attention to the light in the room
      3m 39s
    9. Flash and white balance
      1m 7s
  5. 54m 20s
    1. Bouncing flash to improve lighting
      13m 8s
    2. Alternative options for bouncing flash
      5m 12s
    3. Using slow sync with flash
      8m 50s
    4. Rear-curtain sync
      11m 54s
    5. Using radio controls to fire a flash
      4m 32s
    6. Working with manual flash
      10m 44s
  6. 25m 16s
    1. Building up to multiple flash units
      13m 3s
    2. Adding the second flash for fill
      5m 19s
    3. The third flash as a backlight
      6m 54s
  7. 7m 50s
    1. Which brand of flash should you buy?
      1m 27s
    2. Guide number considerations
      3m 13s
    3. Shopping recommendations
      3m 10s
  8. 42s
    1. Next steps
      42s

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