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daz7 Feb 2, 2007 10:43 AM


I am looking for a cheap slave flashgun that I can mount on a mini tripod in order to light up a White muslin backdrop for my mobile portrait photography.

Any suggestions ?

I am using a Nikon D50 with the SB800 Speedlight flashgun

Thanks for your help

Darren ( in the UK )

geriatric Feb 9, 2007 1:52 AM

Most flashguns can be used as a slave providing they are used with the ubiquitous slave trigger

Ronnie948 Feb 9, 2007 7:09 AM

If you are using TTL you will probably want to get another 800 or get a SB-600 Nikon flash to use. If you get a flash that will just pop a bunch of light on to the background it will totaly mess up the TTL function in your camera.


BillDrew Feb 9, 2007 7:11 AM

If you are going to use an optically triggered slave, there are two issues to keep in mind:
1) Make sure the slave works properly with whatever preflash flashes your rig uses.
2) If other folks are shooting with a flash as well, they are likely to trigger your slaves. That means they are likely not to go off for your shot because the capacitor is recharging.

There are radio controlled slaves, but those are much more expensive.

daz7 Feb 9, 2007 7:59 AM

Thanks for your help guys.


geriatric Feb 9, 2007 8:54 AM

Of course you have to adjust the slave to suit the main light.

BillDrew Feb 9, 2007 6:30 PM

geriatric wrote:

Of course you have to adjust the slave to suit the main light.
and one of the advantages of digital is that you can take several metering shots without having to spend time in the dark with a bunch of chemicals to figure out how it worked.

I find it kinda interesting that with the ease of "metering" with digital cameras, folks are demanding much more automagical camera-flash-subject interaction. Seems at best overkill, or just plain foolish, for situations like a portrait studio where manaul settings would seem the best. Instead of letting the camera guess how to deal with a white woman in a black dress vs an African woman in a white dress, look at the results and adjust from there. And the automatic flash metering is likely to be messed up by changing from a dark to a light background.

Automagical flash is very nice for quick snap shots, and for some high action situations, but doesn't seem the way to go for studio work.

Ronnie948 Feb 11, 2007 5:47 PM

Hi Bill,

You are 100% correct except for the fact that Darren is asking because He has a mobile portrait business. I find that people just don't want to hang around and wait until a photographer that they are paying good $$$$ to wants to trial and error a photograph. When I am doing only a couple or small family at their homeI generally use My SB-800 & SB-600 and a reflector or two. If kids or pets are involve I'm always grateful for TTL and a fast set-up and photograph routine. If A person is not getting paid to do the photographs a trial & error routine would work out OK. Of course Darren would have to get His system down either way He does the job for good results.


BillDrew Feb 12, 2007 7:51 AM

...Ronnie948 wrote:

... Of course Darren would have to get His system down either way ...
I think that is a more important point than anything to do with what the system is. If he is familiar with the system, it will set up quickly and accurately without an excessive number of metering shots.

daz7 Feb 12, 2007 12:41 PM

If I were to use a halogen lamp from a hardware store to light the backdrop and then spot metered off the model's face would the SB800using TTL still provide a correct exposure ?

If I get another SB800 to light the backdrop, what settings do I use on this flashgun ?

Do I just set it to TTL like the one attatched to my D50 ?



Ronnie948 Feb 13, 2007 9:05 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Hi Darren,

Using a continuous light source to light the background may cause your white background to take on the light's color, May be kind of green with fluorescents, or red with incandescents or another color using your halogens. You would want a way to adjust the lights power. TTL will function. You must try out your settings and Write them down. ( include the distance from lights to background) after you get exactly what you want.

I use a Grey Pho-Tek background in a bag so I don't have to worry about color shifts. I set my SB-600 off camera flash even or +1 stop depending if the skin color is dark or a lighter shade when doing Afro-Americans. Photographing Caucasians I just set the second flash to the same as my main. I don't really worry about lighting my background when doing location portraits. I do make very certain I can keep the subjects far enough away from any background to avoid shadows.

And always remember that when shooting more then one person do not let a shadow from one subject fall on another.That is the main reason two light sources should always be used.

After you do it a while you will just seem to know what needs to be used and how to set things up. Even Bill's way of trial & error looking at the camera's monitor will work with enough practice.

There are a lot of lighting tips on the studio lighting post on this forum. You need to read some of them to get a hang of how light acts out on photography.


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