Yes you CAN: external flash w/FZ18, no light from cam

Started Aug 2, 2008 | Discussions thread
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DaveG16
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Yes you CAN: external flash w/FZ18, no light from cam
Aug 2, 2008

Several threads in the past have indicated that "red eye," "digital ready" or "intelligent" slave triggers or flash units can work with the FZ18. With these, without the modification I outline below, you get both the camera flash and the slave flash.

Background

For years, you've been able to use simple slave triggers to set lighting for shots. Most of these triggers used hot shoe connectors, but, of course, the FZ18 has no hot shoe.

So you have to go with a slave that fires when it sees the camera flash... but not just any optical slave.

The reason is that the FZ18 emits a 'pre-flash' for (as far as I can tell) every flash setting in every mode. It is particulary pronounced, with a longish delay, in red-eye mode. It's meant to cause your victims' pupils to contract, allowing less red glow from the back of their eyes to be recorded in the scene.

This double flash means than an ordinary optical slave flash or trigger won't work -- a conventional trigger or slave flash will fire on the 'pre-flash' when the shutter is still close, and remain dark when the camera opens the shutter and fires the REAL burst. "Red eye" units fix this problem by ignoring the initial flash and firing on the second.

So, all you need is a digital-ready flash or slave. I already own a Nikon SB-15, a fine flash unit, so I opted for a digital slave as an add on. The slave I got on eBay is a Seagull SYK-5, and features a tiny dial for flash delay as well as a switch that lets you switch from conventional slave to red-eye type.

But wait - there's more... Squelching the on-camera flash

But here's an add-on.... though it depends on film (i.e., obsolete) technology. You don't have to have the light from the on-camera flash muck up your scene, causing flat lighting or tell-tale sharp shadows behind your subject.

And you don't have to fight the additive light from 2 flash sources.

You can use the slave flash exclusively.

You can, for example, position the slave to the side use raking light to delineate shape and depth, or get artsy effects. Use it as a bounce flash to diffuse light across the scene.

It's all IR

The trick is to trigger the slave with IR light. Like most optical slave units, the SYK-5 sensor is able to 'see' deep infra red.

Now it so happens that unexposed E-6 slide film, those black leaders you use to have thrown in the box along with the mounted slides, holds back most visible light but passes deep infra red.

You can simply tape a black slide leader across your camera's on-board flash. Nothing of the on-board flash -- or very little -- shows up in your scene. The key light is from your digital slave.

Of course, you have to position your slave where it can 'see' the camera flash output. And there is a diminishing of the distance you can use compared to non-IR-blocked light.

I haven't done full experimentation yet, but the Nikon SB-15 is firing each time, every time, at 10 feet between the camera and the slave trigger.

I do have to use the SB-15 in the A1, A2 or Manual modes, where it operates as an independent flash unit. IOW, it's not fully automatic, because (obviously) there's no through-the-lens feedback to moderate the flash. The SB-15's built in sensor kicks in in A1 and A2, but M just pulses full power... and it's a bright unit.

I'll be back with some examples and more information on distances, etc., later.

Not a pack-rat old-timer?

Obviously this works only for pack-rat old-timers who shot slide film and who for whatever reason kept the otherwise useless black film bits.

If you want to blow some cash and get a lot of black film, you can still purchase E-6 (Google shows it at B&H and Adorama and others) and have it developed. You don't run it through a camera, you just send the unexposed cartridge to the lab and ask the lab NOT to mount the slides.

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Dave G.
There are no real negatives in digital photography.

Fujifilm One Four Zero Zero Zoom, circa 2000
Kodak Dee Ex 7630, circa 2003
Panasonic Eff Zee 18, circa 2008

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