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OldNick Apr 18, 2010 7:40 PM

Sunpak PZ42X Sleep problem
With the above flash I want to use it remotely, fired by a wireless remote (Yongnuo RF602) and do some time lapse work, making use of a Yongnuo intervalometer. However when I tried it the flashes would go onto sleep mode, even though I was firing them at 1 minute intervals.

The flashes fire correctly every minute, but somehow do not seem to realise this, and go to sleep! The flash manual says that half-cocking the shutter button will wake them. Apparently the Yongnuo intervalometer knows this, because before it triggers the camera, it sends a wake-up signal to the receiver, which responds by showing a green light. Presumably this is to send a wake-up to the flash: you hear the camera wake up and focus, prepared for the shot. Then about 3-4 seconds later the camera and flash fire, when it's working. But once the flashes go to sleep, this pre-action does not wake them up.

So everything looks as if it should work, but the flashes keep going into sleep mode in spite of being fired every minute, and then do not wake up.

If I put the flash on the camera, half cocking the shutter does wake it up, so the trouble seems to be in the remote and flash connection.

It seems really weird, because you would think the flash would know it had fired!

Is there either a way to stop sleep mode, or some way to make this work?

Really appreciate any help


JimC Apr 18, 2010 8:28 PM

I'm seeing users reporting the same type of problem with them using other flash models, too. For example, if you read this review of someone using Nikon flashes, he discusses the same type of issue:

My guess is that these triggers are designed mostly for non-dedicated flash models (not flash models that may be expecting communication via other pins to function), and your Vivitar falls into the dedicated category. So, the flash is probably just triggering when it sees a short between the center pin and outside of the foot (which is likely what that wireless setup provides versus full TTL control), and it needs something on the other pins to work properly.

OldNick Apr 21, 2010 4:27 AM

Thanks Jim. At last a reply. I have been asking everywhere.

OK. I have found that if I connect the centre pin to one of the other pins, instead of earth, this solves the whole trouble. It fires the flash if it's awake. It keeps the flash awake when it does it. It wakes the flash if it's asleep!

Now "all" I have to do is work out how to rewire the receiver to stop using earth and start using the other pin.

At present I am experimenting with simply shorting the other pin to earth, in the hope that this will achieve the same thing. AFAIK this does not damage, as many flash shoes simply short all the other (unused by the shoe) pins to earth with a plate, then fire simply using centre pin and earth.

We shall see. I am experimenting as I write.


JimC Apr 21, 2010 5:43 AM

With a dedicated flash like your Vivitar, the extra pins are normally used for communication between the camera and flash (i.e., signaling telling it to fire a preflash, how long the main flash burst should be based on how much reflected light the camera saw from that metering preflash, etc.).

Most dedicated flash models will still fire if you short the center pin and outside of the foot together. But, they're really not well suited for use as a non dedicated flash using something like that wireless setup you have (as you'd need to use manual power settings to control the flash, since there is no proprietary signaling going on with a non-dedicated wireless setup like that).

Otherwise (if you don't use manual power settings), most dedicated flash models will just fire at full power. Another option would be to use a flash model with a non-TTL Auto mode (Sunpak 383 Super, Vivitar 285HV, etc.) with a built in sensor to measure reflected light during the exposure, terminating the flash output when it sees enough light for the aperture and iso speed set. That would require setting the flash and camera to match for ISO speed and aperture. But, that can be easier than trying to use a flash that's manual power only (which is basically what you have with that Vivitar using that type of Wireless setup).

With that flash, you're probably just fooling the flash into thinking it saw some kind of signaling on another pin using your kind of technique (the wake functions are probably not trying to interpret that signaling), even though you won't have any real control of the flash power from the camera via that type of wireless setup.

Now, you can buy wireless setups with full TTL control for use with dedicated flash models. For example, Pocket Wizards are popular with Nikon and Canon users. But, they'll cost you more compared to the type of setup you're using now.

OldNick Apr 21, 2010 6:39 PM

I have been quite happy using the Manual settings, actually Jim. For most of the stuff I have been doing it suits as well as E-TTL. I can use E-TTL and EV adjustment, I realise, if I work on camera, but the manual method allows a huge power range to be set and setting + or - EV is about as fiddly as setting manual power settings! When I was messaging a few guys about the lack of TTL, quite a few said not to worry about it, and they seem to be right. I am used to manual flashes from film days.

I know of the Pocket Wizard, but yeah, when you start looking at multiple receivers it really adds up the $$. The trouble is, I am now set up with 3 PZ42X's and that's a fair investment. I seem to be able to stop the sleep happening, using my fudged setup, and I will stay with that for a while. These receivers are under Aud$20 each!

Ironically, this wireless setup does exactly the opposite of what you reckon. If I set the flash to TTL, it gives out a really weak little flicker of flash!:confused: Basically it does not work.

There is talk of some Chinese stuff coming out with TTL at good prices, but I think I will ask a LOT of questions before I dive in! :)

JimC Apr 21, 2010 6:59 PM

Yea, it's going to depend on the system how it fires when you trigger it if it doesn't see any communication on other pins. If you've already got three of them and they have manual power settings then they should work for you if you've got the sleep problems solved.

Yes, it is amazing how inexpensive some of the radio trigger systems are anymore. I noticed a new Cactus version came out not long ago to at a very good price, too. See the newer V4 setup here:

It's supposed to solve some of the reliability issues found in the older V2 systems (including problems some users noticed with trigger delay forcing them to use a slower shutter speed than their cameras' x-sync speed in some case to prevent banding from shutter curtain travel). The newer V4 system is supposed to solve that, and also supports both lower and higher trigger voltage flashes with the same receivers. But, I see it specifically mentions problems with some flashes like the PZ42x (saying that they need the system pins for triggering). Interesting.

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