(Relatively) Elegant solution to WIRELESSLY firing external flashes with NEX cameras

Started Aug 3, 2010 | Discussions
novak977 Senior Member • Posts: 1,400
(Relatively) Elegant solution to WIRELESSLY firing external flashes with NEX cameras

I have already reported that you could use external flashes with optical slaves and it worked great ( http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1042&message=35919930 )

This evening, I came up with an idea of how to fire external flashes using wireless trigger. It sounded a bit crazy, and I wasn't sure if it's going to work, but I am now happy to report that it works beautifully without a flaw!

Since picture is worth a thousand words, here is the concept in action; explanation follows below:

What you need:

1) An optical slave and a set of one wireless trigger and one wireless receiver. In my case I used two of the same products as slave and receiver, one is set to optical (slave) and the other to wireless. Every following external flash would need an extra Wireless receiver.

Any brand should work, I am using Yongnuo CTR-301P $35 for the set of all three items ( http://cgi.ebay.com/CTR-301P-Wireless-Flash-Trigger-Set-2-Receivers-/220527267813?cmd=ViewItem&pt=Camera_Flash_Accessories&hash=item3358730fe5 ).

2) If you want to use Minolta or Sony flashes, you will also need Sony to ISO adapter, marked B on the picture - ($10 or so - http://cgi.ebay.com/Sony-Minolta-Flash-Hotshoe-Adapter-HVL-F42AM-F36AM-/220630457918?cmd=ViewItem&pt=Camera_Flash_Accessories&hash=item335e999e3e )
If you have standard flashes you don't need anything else.

3) The flash - marked C

Again, if you are using newer Minolta or Sony Alpha flash, you will need an adapter (see 2)

The setup:

1) Attach your NEX flash to your NEX camera. Dial -2 for Flash compensation to spend as little power as possible (not shown)

2) Attach one receiver to your flash and set it to W (for Wireless). This receiver will be activated by wireless trigger. Repeat this for each flash you have. Yet again, if you are using newer Minolta or Sony Alpha flash, you will need an adapter (see 2 under What you need section). I would recommend not to use this receiver but just a tiny cheap optical slave, because it will be lighter and you won't have to worry if your NEX flash will held in "up" position.

3) Attach receiver to trigger (marked A). Set receiver to L (marked 1), stands for Light.

4) Now, attach the whole contraption (A) to NEX flash that is already on your camera - not shown because I couldn't take a photo of it with my Nex camera (OK, ok, I could have used a mirror...)

The regular office tape works great and does not leave any marks and is super easy to remove.

The key is to put the optical trigger on receiver against the NEX flash - this serves two purposes: guarantees that optical trigger will work EVERY time, even in bright sunlight, but also to hide the effect of NEX flash on model.

The action:

When you lift up your NEX flash (along with this contraption), the NEX flash is automatically ready. When you fire, the receiver will be activated by the light from the NEX flash and then will fire the attached wireless trigger, which will consequently fire any number of receivers in WIRELESS mode.

On our picture the red light (marked 2) indicates that the receiver was activated by NEX flash. It then sends the signal to trigger. Sounds complicated? Wait, there is more!

Now that wireless signal from trigger is sent to the other receiver that is set to Wireless (marked 3) and it fires the flash. The other red light (number 4) shows that receiver got the wireless signal
It all works great and syncs up to 1/165 - more than enough for studio work.

If you are using Sony or Minolta flashes and planning to purchase Yongnuo, count on modding it (explained here: http://templartan.blogspot.com/2009/08/radio-trigger-sony-flashes.html , takes 5 minutes) or just buy something else.

Enjoy!
novak

PS. Photo of my son triggered by this system - I am holding the 5400 flash and bouncing it off the opposite wall and ceiling:

-- hide signature --

http://www.supernovak.com
http://www.flickr.com/photos/rogic

FED-S (my father's) > Canon AE1 (my brother's) > Minolta Maxxum 3xi (my first precious) > Minolta Dynax 400si (hello Canada) > Minolta Dimage 7i (darling) > Konica Minolta 5D (first DSLR) > Sony Alpha A100 (killer baby) > Sony Alpha A700 (serious tool) > Canon 5DMkII (weird computer with average lenses) > Back to A700 (reassured about the greatness) + A900 (depth of colours and pixels)

 novak977's gear list:novak977's gear list
Sony a6000 Sony RX1 Sony Alpha NEX-3N Sony a7 II Sony E 30mm F3.5 Macro +10 more
Knallberto Veteran Member • Posts: 5,478
Re: (Relatively) Elegant solution to WIRELESSLY firing external flashes with NEX came

hmmmm ... looks relatively complicated
Why not slave - one/two slaves ... ready

KEITH-C Forum Pro • Posts: 14,131
Re: (Relatively) Elegant solution to WIRELESSLY firing external flashes with NEX came

Thanks Novak for very detailed explanation of the use of your flash devices , something which is actually quite rare when people are talking about flashes.

Alberto your suggestion , of course, is OK but you don't seem to be aware that slave flashes are often not readily available in some parts of the world ( mind you that also applies to Novak's devices.) You could buy over the Internet but a lot of people are nervous of doing that for fear of buying the wrong device or having to return it if it is faulty. Exercising caution , they tend to rely on the manufacturer to sell compatible devices

When giving such advice it is advisable to give very specific details for specific use with a named camera advising if there are any snags or limitations.
--
Keith-C

Knallberto Veteran Member • Posts: 5,478
Re: (Relatively) Elegant solution to WIRELESSLY firing external flashes with NEX came

YONGNUO - $45 - works with EVERY flash as slave

hanZen81 Junior Member • Posts: 48
Re: (Relatively) Elegant solution to WIRELESSLY firing external flashes with NEX came

Knallberto wrote:

hmmmm ... looks relatively complicated
Why not slave - one/two slaves ... ready

Cool. Can you explain a bit more how this works - will the flash from the clip-on flash be seen on the image as well? Or only the external flashes?

Sorry, I'm new to this - but would really like to be able to use external and wireless flash for my NEX-3

OP novak977 Senior Member • Posts: 1,400
Re: (Relatively) Elegant solution to WIRELESSLY firing external flashes with NEX came

Because, unless you really want to do the most basic setup, you will need wireless - if you have your flash in the softbox, optical signal may not get to it unless it is wireless, if you are shooting on the bright sun, same story...

One of my shots, flash buried in the softbox, very simple setup, but not sure if optical would do it.

Or this shot shot, there is a flash in the cabin with red gel on it - your optical slave wouldn't help, works fine with wireless:
http://portfolio.joemcnally.com/#mi=2&pt=1&#960 ;=10000&s=25&p=3&a=0&at=0

Knallberto wrote:

hmmmm ... looks relatively complicated
Why not slave - one/two slaves ... ready

-- hide signature --

http://www.supernovak.com
http://www.flickr.com/photos/rogic

FED-S (my father's) > Canon AE1 (my brother's) > Minolta Maxxum 3xi (my first precious) > Minolta Dynax 400si (hello Canada) > Minolta Dimage 7i (darling) > Konica Minolta 5D (first DSLR) > Sony Alpha A100 (killer baby) > Sony Alpha A700 (serious tool) > Canon 5DMkII (weird computer with average lenses) > Back to A700 (reassured about the greatness) + A900 (depth of colours and pixels)

 novak977's gear list:novak977's gear list
Sony a6000 Sony RX1 Sony Alpha NEX-3N Sony a7 II Sony E 30mm F3.5 Macro +10 more
Knallberto Veteran Member • Posts: 5,478
Re: (Relatively) Elegant solution to WIRELESSLY firing external flashes with NEX came

you can set NEX-flash to lowest intensity - then it is very weak ... slaves are adjustable in 7 strongnesses each, from low to high

NEX flash triggers slaves

Knallberto Veteran Member • Posts: 5,478
Re: (Relatively) Elegant solution to WIRELESSLY firing external flashes with NEX came

No. That isn't so.

If you cover NEX's little flash with dark-dark-red (near black!) glass, lowest intensity, then my Yongnous are triggered

a) four meters side away with five sheets white paper in front of sensor

b) four meters in back with sensor in opposite direction!
NEX lights to "south", Yongnou sensor looks to "north"

Sensors are covered by darkred glasses.

bluescoprio23 New Member • Posts: 3
Re: (Relatively) Elegant solution to WIRELESSLY firing external flashes with NEX came

How is it that the TTL Pre-flash not triggering the optical trigger??

I bought the same setup but it is not working................flash firing too early with the TTL pre flash and missing exposure.

geo13 New Member • Posts: 12
Re: (Relatively) Elegant solution to WIRELESSLY firing external flashes with NEX came

I bought 2 sets yongou ctr 301p. I do like Novak but did not work. What's wrong ?

rurouni Regular Member • Posts: 427
Re: (Relatively) Elegant solution to WIRELESSLY firing external flashes with NEX came

Nice thanks for sharing the tips. It would have been so much easier if Sony had used a standard hotshoe : p

I read that metz has a nice pocket optical flash system that is triggered wirelessly via pre-flash.

Which I guess it would be less effective outdoors, could be a nice set up for an indoors one light shoot.

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