Sunday, September 18, 2011

cheap triggers and cheap light

My kit sports a 580EX flash as well as two 430 EX's.  They are terrific and do the job quite nicely, however I sometimes find the required line-of-sight for infrared communication to be a bit frustrating (during wedding formals when a guest, thinking that they are well out of the way, steps between me and the OCF, at receptions when the video guy invariably gets in the way, or for a hundred other situations).

Well, you say, get yourself some darned PocketWizards or RadioPoppers.  Or the soon to be available Phottix Odin system (that sounds like it will be awesome!).  Yes, that would solve the problem, but the costs of those systems is a bit much.  So I went a different way and I'm pretty happy with things.

I bought a Cowboy Studio trigger set (and two more receivers) for $54.93 plus shipping. And they work quite well.

First the cons:

  • No ETTL communication
  • No high speed synch (have to keep it under 1/250)
  • Hit or miss over 50 feet distance

Now the pros:

  • Making me learn and be comfortable with manual flash
  • Crazy cheap
  • Compatible with a LOT of flash units
  • transmitter works in hotshoe or, with sync cable, screwed into tripod stand (with no-head screw from hardware store)
So there's your cheap trigger and here's the cheap light.  My mother-in-law likes to hit garage sales.  She found a camera kit for $1 that consisted of an old no-brand 35mm film camera, two lenses, a cool old bracket, some filters, and the two flashes seen here.

The camera is now a lovely decoration as I have no intention of finding out if it works (I'm all digital all of the time) but I bet it does.  The lenses might just be used one day if I hunt down some adapters.  The bracket might get used, too.  But then there are these flashes.  First off, batteries and hit the ol' test button.  They work!  But what good are they?  Not Canon and not compatible with my system.... or are they?  If I trip them with my new triggers, it turns out that they are swell as hair or rim lights!  I can even envision a five light situation that is now possible with my 3 Canon lights, these two, and three Cowboy Studio receivers (580EX in camera hotshoe, probably set to TTL with line of sight to one of the 430's on TTL, transmitter attached to bottom of camera and communicating via sych, triggering these these two little stinkers and the other 430).   Now I'm swimming in light from every direction for about $65 bucks over my Canon speedlites. 

You might not stumble upon these little strobes at a garage sale but Ebay is awash with Focals, Starblitz's, Thyristors, Metz's, etc. etc. etc.  Now many of these don't have any power control so you're going to have to experiment with light modifiers and/or light-to-subject distances.  Still, if the budget is tight, if's well worth it to get some advanced results with off camera flash.  It's one way to differentiate yourself from the wannabes.

Good luck and good shooting!  RW

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