Canon S5 IS + Bowens Gemini strobe synching problems

Started Jan 2, 2013 | Discussions thread
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Goldey New Member • Posts: 8
Canon S5 IS + Bowens Gemini strobe synching problems

Hello lighting pros,

This is my first thread after lurking for awhile.  I hope this is the proper forum for such a question:

I operate a small, homemade studio with a Canon S5 IS set at 1/100, manual connected via Weinsafe hotshoe adapter to Bowens sync cord to Bowens Gemini 200WS monolight.  This set up has provided relatively good syncing (perhaps one misfire in 250 shots), however this was not always the case, and is still providing some difficulty syncing.  In the past, I have tried a different hotshoe adapter (with metal removed to connect with the pins on the hotshoe), and used  a non-Bowens sync cord.  This set-up also produced misfires, but much more than with the current set-up described above.  I also have experimented with shutter speed, using speeds too fast for proper syncing (1/250, 1/125).  I have also used a Microsync radio transmitter and have used the Bowens as a slave.  Both of the latter two set ups produce misfires at a rate that is unacceptable.

Finally, this last month—after much frustration with the Microsync radio transmitter (BnH photo video recommended this product over the pocket wizard because it “does the same thing and is less expensive”), I decided to go back to sync cord and bought the Weinsafe, used the factory-Bowens sync cord, and lowered the shutter speed to 1/100 like stated in the opening sentence of this post.  I successfully completed 2 studio sessions this month of about 100 photos per session without misfire.  However, yesterday, I misfired 1X after taking about 100 frames.  The reason the misfiring is so critical is I connect my camera to a computer which prints the images in a "photo booth" type set up.  I cannot tolerate such a high misfire rate when the photos print into a "photostrip" of 3 frames (this means one frame out of three is a black blank and client is very unsatisfied).  I realize if I was firing off dozens of shots without printing to “photostrip” it might not be as big of a deal—just take another photo!

Finally, I have two of these "photobooth studios" with matching S5 IS cameras and Bowens Geminis.  I also have back up S5 cameras for both.  Thinking my misfire rates may be a faulty camera or strobe, I have tried changing out both (including purchasing a brand new Bowens Gemini) with the same results - always eventually (within 100-200 frames) producing misfires.

I feel I have tried nearly every avenue:  changing shutter speed, trying different triggering methods (slave, radio, different hotshoe adapters, different sync cords), trying the back-up cameras and trying a brand-new Bowens Gemini.  There is no doubt that the latest set up of Weinsafe + Bowens sync cord + slower shutter has helped but it is not 100% syncing.

My question, then, is:  Is this problem intrinsically due to the Canon S5 IS not being designed for use with a studio strobe?  Is there a faulty “signal” being sent or not sent to the Bowens?  Do I need to get into a DSLR or a higher model/newer Canon point and shoot like a G9 or G10?  Do I need to try an on-camera flash unit like the Canon 450 Speedlite to guarantee syncing?  Do I need to reduce the shutter speed further?

I so hope folks will have patience with me and my questions.  Thank you in advance for your help.


Canon PowerShot G9 Canon PowerShot S5 IS Casio Exilim EX-S5
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