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Old Jul 6, 2011, 8:04 AM   #1
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Default Question on wireless flash trigger

My camera (Sony A350) supports wireless flash. I already have a wireless flash slave (Metz 48 AF-1). I would like to experiment shooting with a second flash wirelessly.

From what I read online, infrared wireless flash (which is what my Metz is, I think) will not work under bright sunlight. So radio wireless flash is better.

I see many inexpensive radio wireless flash triggers on eBay. If I buy one of these, then, for the second flash unit, would I still need to buy one that is capable of being a wireless slave (like the Metz 48 AF-1)? Or would any cheap, non-wireless, Sony-mount flash do?

Thanks!
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Old Jul 6, 2011, 9:49 AM   #2
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...From what I read online, infrared wireless flash (which is what my Metz is, I think) will not work under bright sunlight. So radio wireless flash is better.
That's not the way it works. It's not infrared, it's visible light from a flash.

Your Sony A350's built in flash is what is used to trigger your Metz when you use it as a wireless slave.

When you set your camera's flash to wireless mode, the light from the camera's flash isn't contributing to the exposure (it's just used to communicate with the off camera flash to tell it what to do via a signaling system that uses flash pulses).

I'd try it to see how it works and what kind of range you're getting with your camera's built in flash.

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I see many inexpensive radio wireless flash triggers on eBay. If I buy one of these, then, for the second flash unit, would I still need to buy one that is capable of being a wireless slave (like the Metz 48 AF-1)? Or would any cheap, non-wireless, Sony-mount flash do?
If you want to use the cheap radio triggers you see on Ebay, note that they are not "smart" triggers, in that there is no communication with the camera except for triggering purposes. That means you'll need to use Manual Exposure on the camera and use manual power settings on your off camera flashes. You also don't get HSS that way.

With a dedicated wireless setup (as in using your camera's built in flash, or a compatible hotshoe mounted flash acting as a master to communicate with your 48 AF-1), the camera communicates with the flash to tell it to perform a metering preflash and measures the reflected light, then instructs the flash to fire with the appropriate flash burst length for proper exposure for the camera settings you're using for aperture and iso speed.

But, with a "dumb" setup (those cheap wireless triggers you see on Ebay), you're just triggering the flash (with no other communications). So, you'd need to control your exposure yourself by using manual exposure with the camera and manual power settings on the flash.

Note that not all flash models have manual exposure settings available, and not all dedicated flash models can be triggered with "dumb" receivers (some require that the trigger make use of system pins and use the camera manufacturer's proprietary signaling protocol). But, it looks like that Metz 48 AF-1 can probably be triggered OK with most of the generic radio triggers (as it's listed as compatible with newer Cactus triggers, so the same thing probably applies to most other similar setups).

Your 48 AF-1 also has manual power settings (see your manual for how to set it to manual mode and set the desired power level), which is something you'll need with a dumb radio trigger setup.

Note that you would need to use a receiver that supports your Sony's hotshoe type to use that type of arrangement, or just use an adapter instead (that's what I'd do).

Here's a trigger setup that should work for you that includes one transmitter and one receiver. It's not designed with a Sony style hotshoe, but you can get adapters for that purpose and the newer V4 Cactus setups seem to be well liked (whereas some of the older models tended to have some issues forcing the use of slower sync speeds).

http://www.gadgetinfinity.com/produc...cat=317&page=1

Here's an additional receiver for a second off camera flash if you wanted to get another one:

http://www.gadgetinfinity.com/produc...cat=317&page=1

Then, you'd need to use an FS-1100 type adapter like this one to convert your camera's hotshoe so you could use a generic radio transmitter in it. It converts the Sony hotshoe to an iso standard hotshoe.

http://www.gadgetinfinity.com/produc...cat=319&page=1

If you wanted to use your dedicated Metz as a slave, you'd need an FS-1200 type adapter that gives the receiver a compatible Sony type hotshoe like this one. It converts an iso standard hotshoe to a sony style hotshoe.

http://www.gadgetinfinity.com/produc...cat=319&page=1

So, your total cost should run around $100 for a transmitter, two receivers and a couple of hotshoe adapters. Then, you'd need to buy a second off camera flash to use with the second receiver if you wanted another off camera flash (and if you buy a flash with an iso standard hotshoe, no adapter would be needed for the second receiver).

Note that Gadget Infinity is a very reputable Hong Kong based vendor, and they also list the same items on Ebay. Just allow around 10 days for delivery.

As far as extra flashes, if you're using that type of setup ("dumb" radio system) there's no need to buy another Metz dedicated flash (since you wouldn't be using it's dedicated features anyway, since you'd need to use manual power settings in that type of setup). Instead, I'd look for a good price on a non dedicated flash model you could use with manual power settings.
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Old Jul 6, 2011, 10:33 AM   #3
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Note that it looks like they've got a newer V5 version out now. It's slightly higher than the V4 version, but they keep making improvements with each newer release.

It uses a Transceiver type approach (where one of the units can act a transmitter or a receiver). Two of them would run you $59.95 (so you could use one on the camera as a transmitter, and use the other one as a receiver):

http://www.gadgetinfinity.com/produc...roductid=17567

Single units are $34.95 each (so they're cheaper in packs of two):

http://www.gadgetinfinity.com/produc...roductid=17566

I remembered Mark1616 mentioning getting a Cactus setup not long ago, and found this thread discussing them. He went with the newer V5 models:

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/st...impressed.html

Note that one advantage of the Cactus triggers (newer versions) is that the same models (V4, V5) can handle flashes designed for lower trigger voltages (like your Metz) and flashes with higher trigger voltages (as you sometimes see with studio strobes, and many older non dedicated flash models). Some of the other wireless receivers around can only work with one or the other.
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Old Jul 6, 2011, 11:40 AM   #4
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First off, thanks a lot, Jim. There's much to digest I'll be coming back here often.

I understand now about flash, not infrared trigger, on my current gear. Yes, so far I'm getting good range on my camera's pop-up flash to trigger my Metz remotely. I've only done so indoors, I have yet to try outdoors with wider separation. So if I continue using Sony's wireless method, I think I'm OK with the pop-up flash as master.

I was looking into a second wireless slave but I couldn't find info online (at least from one who actually tried) on whether 2 remote slaves can be set to fire off one master. (It should I think but I didn't want to buy a second flash just to find out.)

I also read about the radio-method of signaling. I have an external flash from my old film SLR days and wondered if I can use that to introduce myself to radio flash triggers. It sounds like I can.

I don't mind spending more for a setup that I would keep. But I feel I would buy an expensive wireless-remote-capable flash (like my Metz) anyway since my wife is now a proud owner of the Sony A550. At least we each have good (not cheap) flash guns.

So, I guess it's time now to start reading the links you sent. I just wanted to send off this reply to you to -- thank you much!

EDIT: Thank you also for the info on gadgetinfinity.com. I've ordered from Maxsavers.net in the past which I think is also HK-based.
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Old Jul 6, 2011, 1:08 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vvcarpio View Post
I was looking into a second wireless slave but I couldn't find info online (at least from one who actually tried) on whether 2 remote slaves can be set to fire off one master. (It should I think but I didn't want to buy a second flash just to find out.)
You can have an unlimited number of slaves in a single flash group. But, with your Sony A350 or A550, you only have one group available. So, any ratio control would need to be done via flash to subject distance or light modifiers, since you'd have no way to tell the system to use different power amounts between the flashes within a single group.

For example, if you were using two flashes as wireless slaves in a single group, using one as the Main and one for Fill, and wanted a 1:4 ratio between them; just move the one flash so that it's twice as far away from your subject as the other flash (since each time you double the distance, only 1/4 the light makes it to your subject).

When you get into the A700, A850 and A900; you've got more choices available. To make things more interesting, Sony changed the way the wireless protocol works with some of the newer flash models, too. So, some features only work with the newer ones, provided you use a camera that has the ability to work with those features.

For example, with my A700, I could use a Sony HVL-F58AM or HVL-F43AM as a master to control up to 3 separate flash groups with ratio control using HVL-F42AM, HVL-F43AM, or HVL-F58AM flashes as slaves. But, I couldn't do the same thing with some of the older Sony flash units. The HVL-F43AM is probably the "sweet spot" in the Sony flash lineup now for price/performance ratio, since it can work as a controller or a slave (as can the more expensive HVL-F58AM), whereas the HVL-F42AM can only be used as a slave.

Quote:
I don't mind spending more for a setup that I would keep. But I feel I would buy an expensive wireless-remote-capable flash (like my Metz) anyway since my wife is now a proud owner of the Sony A550. At least we each have good (not cheap) flash guns.
If I were buying a brand new dedicated flash right this minute and budget wasn't a big issue, I think I'd lean towards a newer HVL-F43AM or HVL-F58AM in the Sony lineup; as they'd also work as controllers.

AFAIK, the Metz 58 AF-1 and 58 AF-2 models also provide the same features with firmware updates. So, I'd probably consider those, too.

You wouldn't get ratio control with your A350 or your wife's A550 (only one flash group available with those bodies). But, if budget isn't real tight, it probably wouldn't hurt to move to something like the Sony HVL-F43AM. That way, if you did get another camera later that supported ratio control, you'd have a flash model with support for the latest wireless protocols that could work as a master or slave with bodies that allow those features.
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Old Jul 7, 2011, 7:45 AM   #6
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Thank you for all this, Jim. Iím thinking I should have mentioned Iím a newbie on flashes -- the only controls I change when using flash is slide the flash compensation on my cameraís menu to plus or minus 1 or 2 after a trial shot until I get what I want, I have yet to learn to work the controls on my flash -- but then I might not get all the useful info you gave. Today I just read about HSS, and learned a lot more (first and second curtains, etc.) about the things I like to learn. (My camera and flash have HSS so thatís good.)

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You can have an unlimited number of slaves in a single flash group.
This is what I was looking for but couldnít find.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JimC View Post
For example, if you were using two flashes as wireless slaves in a single group, using one as the Main and one for Fill, and wanted a 1:4 ratio between them; just move the one flash so that it's twice as far away from your subject as the other flash (since each time you double the distance, only 1/4 the light makes it to your subject).
I've read about "ratios" before but now understand better. For my uses (for now), I think Iím OK with just one group and moving a second flash farther away. Our nest isn't empty yet so cost is a factor.

Quote:
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If I were buying a brand new dedicated flash right this minute and budget wasn't a big issue, I think I'd lean towards a newer HVL-F43AM or HVL-F58AM in the Sony lineup; as they'd also work as controllers.
Good to know the HVL-F43AM is priced about the same as the Metz 48 AF-1. Iím really happy with my Metz but I havenít tried Sony to compare. The Metz is what I used for my sonís outdoor graduation photos but mounted on the camera.

I havenít yet gone through the wireless triggers you mentioned, which was what I asked about because Iím thinking thatís more adventurous, and will do so next. Again, many thanks!
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