Off-Camera Flash Basics: Triggering your Flash – Part 1

May 20, 2010

Phottix Foton Flash - Coming Soon

Phottix Foton Flash - Coming Soon

You’ve seen some great photos taken with off camera flash. You want to get into the “Strobist” movement and be creative. But how? So many new terms, so much jargon. Where do you begin?

Phottix wants you to be successful in your photographic endeavors. We want to help you take better photos. In this series of articles we’ll take a look at the nuts and bolts of moving your flash off the camera.

There are several ways to trigger your flash once you move it off the camera. These can be summed up simply: Wired solutions and wireless solutions.

Wired off camera flash

PC Sync Cables

Using a wired solution to trigger your off camera flash can be an easy way to get started.  Flashes can be triggered using a PC Sync cable. These are “old school” cables used before camera hot shoes – when there were only cold shoes.

Many “prosumer” level cameras have a PC Sync port. Some flashes do as well. Triggering an off camera flash by PC Sync Cable is a simple matter of connecting the camera and flash with a PC Sync cable. That done, you can fire away and enjoy the new-found creative freedom off-camera flash provides. PC Sync and hot shoe adapters can be purchased if your camera and/or flash does not have a PC Sync port.

PC Sync Cables

Benefits: Simple, cost effective.
Drawbacks: PC Sync connections can be cantankerous – they tend to come loose unless you have a locking PC Sync Cable. Using cables also restricts your movement – you can pull down light stands, trip over cords, etc. Many flashes are not equipped with a PC Sync port, you will need to buy adapters to use this method. With these cables you have no TTL functions.

Phottix Duo TTL Cord

Phottix Duo TTL Cord

TTL Cables

If PC Sync cables aren’t “your bag’ consider a TTL cable. One end of this cable connects to your camera’s hot shoe, the other to the flash hot shoe. Cables come in various lengths, coiled and straight.

The great thing about TTL cables is you can still use your camera/flash TTL functions and the dandy AF assist light present on most flashes. These cables can be an easy and inexpensive way to get started, as well as take exposure out of the off camera flash equation.

Phottix offers several TTL cords, as well the innovative Duo TTL cord, that can be used on both Nikon and Canon cameras.

TTL Cables
Benefits: Easy for the beginner, no experience needed. Access to camera/flash TTL functions and AF assist light. Dead-easy to get the correct exposure.
Drawbacks: Restricting: It’s a cable – you’re limited in how far you can place the flash from the camera. You also need to worry about the “Three Stooges” tripping factor and pulling down light stands, etc.

Next week: Off camera flash: Wireless triggering



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