Best trigger for off-camera flash

Discussion in 'Lighting Equipment' started by dominique_r, Dec 14, 2014.

  1. Hi guys,

    Here's my situation: in architecture photography, to properly light a darkish building (say, an 11th century chapel), I intend to set up the
    camera on a tripod and walk around with an SB-910 attached to a monopod and angle it so that the flash illuminates the parts of the
    building I intend to light. I have a transmitter in hand, and every time I press a button, the flash goes off as the camera takes a picture.

    The various photos are thereafter composited in Photoshop, a bit like some people do for real estate/interior design photo.

    My question is: what would be the best trigger/radio equipment to achieve this, bearing in mind I will not always have line of sight and the
    radio path may be obstructed by, say, large stone pillars.

    Thanks very much in advance for your tips.
  2. I just did almost exactly the same thing when shooting a recruitment poster for firemen. I had to light two large fire trucks
    parked end to end with a space between them to put the logo / badge of the county fire service. The only difference
    from what you proposed was that I wanted to see things from the camera position to make sure I was getting full
    coverage, no bad reflections from the shiny parts of the trucks, nobody was wandering through the set, etc. I found that
    doing it this way (ie, instead of wandering around myself) is always a better approach.

    I controlled the camera, and my assistant carried an sb-910 on a tall light pole. I had one Pocket Wizard TT5 on the
    camera hotshoe, and a second TT5 under the remote flash. I used a walkie-talkie to tell her where to stand, how to angle
    the flash, etc. Typically, she was about 50 - 75 yards away. The TT5's worked flawlessly, but probably any good quality
    RF trigger would work as well outside, at that relatively short range.

    Like you, I composited the images aftter the fact. The process worked beautifully.


    Tom M
  3. Hi Tom,
    Yes, your setup does sound nearly identical to what I have in mind, but let me ask you (and the others, of course) two things:
    1. What do I do to have a transmitter/trigger in hand? Remember, one receiver thingy on the camera, and one screwed between the top of the monopod/pole or whatever, and the flash, maybe a couple meters up there in the air, so there is no way I can reach any button on the second receiver thingy... In your case, you triggered from the camera, which was within reach, but I won't have that option as I operate alone, most times.
    2. I know Pocketwizards are good and reliable, however they are a bit expensive, and having just forked out the cash for a Carl Zeiss UWA, I was rather looking at something like the Phottix Odin line. Would those be able to replace the Pocketwizards?
  4. For manual mode flash a pair of PocketWizard Plus III transceivers : one in the camera's hotshoe and the other
    connected to the Speedlight. You could add a second pair with one connected to your camera's remote trigger port and
    one you carry around to fire the camera.

    I'm recommending the Plus III or better yet the MultiMAX as they have the strongest signal and highest reliability of all radio triggering systems on the market.
  5. Ellis, thank you very much.

    However, unless I'm mistaken, the Plus III does not have a hotshoe, and the Multimax is limited to manual mode, as you said, therefore no option to go TTL if desired at some point, right?
  6. There are plenty of triggers for linking a flash(s) to the camera via a hot shoe mounted unit. I use the budget YN-622N receivers and YN-622N - TX Controller on the camera; a combination which offers TTL flash metering.
    Likewise, there are plenty of cheap radio shutter releases available which enable you to trigger the camera remotely. These generally plug into the camera via an accessory port. I use a cheap set of Calumet radio triggers.
    So, use flash triggers to link the camera to the flash via a hotshoe mounted unit. Fire the whole set up using a shutter release in your hand which communicates with it's receiver plugged into the assessory port of the camera. Simple - I think!
  7. OK, I'm beginning to see the light... I already have a camera radio trigger, a Phottix Aion. So, I attach the receiver of the Phottix Aion to the 10_pin connector on the Nikon body, but I do not slide the receiver's cold shoe into the camera's hot shoe. Instead, I insert the flash trigger transmitter (let's say, a Yongnuo, for discussion's sake) in the camera's hot shoe, and finally attach the flash trigger receiver to the flash unit atop my monopod or light pole.

    And so, when I press the button on the Aion, it triggers the camera, and the camera then automatically sends to the flash the order to fire, via the Yongnuo transmitter and receiver. One button to press for me, two simultaneous actions: shutter actuated, and flash triggered.
    Am I right?
  8. Hey! I just found out in this Youtube video ( that Yongnuo RF603 triggers can (provided you own 3 units) be used as I need: one on the flash, one on the camera, and the third one in hand, to set off both camera and flash...
    I wonder if this applies to the Yongnuo YN-622... Would anyone know? Or would anyone have actually used them that way?
  9. Well, I thought, what the heck...! 75 euros for 2 sets (that's 4 transmitters/receivers) of Yongnuo YN622 for Nikon, delivered in 3 days, can't go wrong with that... I'll see if they work as expected and let you guys know.
  10. OK guys, so, first update: I realized before I purchased it that the Yongnuo YN-622N (the last "N" means "for Nikon", there is also a "C" version for Canon) are only flash triggers, not shutter triggers as I first thought. However, all hope was not lost, as Yongnuo also have another model, which is called YN-622 TX, and the "TX" (as in "transmitter") makes all the difference: not only this latest model has a nice LCD screen via which it is very easy to adjust all flash parameters for 3 different groups, but it also sports a socket on one side for a cable that goes, at the other end, into the 10-pin connector on the Nikon body.

    And (I checked before I ordered), this TX model does indeed do shutter trigger.

    So, I bought two... but while I thought I was buying two sets (read: pairs) of thingies (one to put on the camera's hotshoe, one to place under the flash gun), I was actually only buying two units of the YN-622 TX... OK, well, that's a start, and those two should allow me to verify the capability to trigger the shutter, right? Right. So, I set them both to the same channel, attach one to the camera, plug the connector into the 10-pin socket, and try to fire the shutter with the second.

    Nothing happens.

    I check, double-check, everything is in order. Except it doesn't work.

    So, it's back to Google to try and understand why. I also fire off an email message to Yongnuo customer service, they promise to answer within 3 business days but they never will. Or rather, to be truthful, 10 days later, they haven't yet. However, I found online a very useful review by David New (here: of the YN-622N TX that explains clearly that the proper way to do it is to use, not another YN-622N TX to trigger the shutter, as I had thought, but a simple YN-622N!

    Therefore, I went back to eBay and promptly ordered two: one to use with the flash (the TX version, you will remember, has not hot shoe), and the other to (hopefully) trigger the whole thing, i.e., the shutter and the flash at the same time.

    I soon received the two YN-622N units, and yesterday evening I did a very quick and dirty test on the D810 with the Nikkor 24/1.4 mounted, and it works! First of all, the YN-622Ns look like Christmas trees with all their flashing red and green lights, and that's a nice thing, in the spirit of the season. More importantly, I verified repeatedly that the "Test" button on the YN-622N, when pressed, activates the autofocus on the lens, and when released, fires the shutter.

    OK, so I got myself a shutter release that works. Yes, I know I already had one (a great Phottix Aion), but with the Yongnuo, there's the hope of (as I said) triggering both the shutter and the flash at the same time.

    I will try that as soon as I have a chance and keep you updated.
  11. Tests done, the whole thing works a charm :
    . Press the Test button (and keep it pressed) for the lens to autofocus (if not needed, this can of course be disabled on the lens and/or camera body), and
    . Release the Test button for the shutter and flash to fire simultaneously in whatever mode (TTL or other) you set the TX on the camera.
    With my second YN-622N, I can fire another flash if needed. However, I think I have one YN-622N TX too many, so I will most likely end up reselling it.
    I hope my account helps.

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