Off camera flash with Vivitar 283/Leica M6 (non-TTL)

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by robert_brown|30, Mar 24, 2016.

  1. Hi,
    I just bought a Vivitar 283 to use once in a while with my M6. I've always used available light in my photography, but am shooting an indoor event in a very dark bar that calls for flash. I've also wanted to experiment with flash in my street photography. What type of cable do I need exactly? Generally my subjects are 3-5 feet away, so I just need a cable that'll allow me to move the flash around easily, without getting tangled. What are you guys using? If you can recommend something through Amazon Prime that'd be amazing as the event I'm shooting is in 10 days and I'd like to shoot a few test rolls beforehand.
  2. AJG


    I have used Paramount coiled cords for many years for this. Your Vivitar flash has a proprietary receptacle, so cords for that can be a little hard to find. Option B would be a hotshoe to PC connecting cord, which would be easier to find but a bit more bulky. Be aware that sync cords are not the best designed accessories in all of photography; get more than one to make sure you have one that works.
  3. Back when you could still buy 283's and 285's new, this was the Vivitar cable I was using..
    Works great, as you pull the sensor off the flash and plug it in to the foot mounted in the M6's hot shoe, so flash metering is done just over the lens, meaning you can point the flash in any direction for bounce or directional lighting, while the light is still being metered off the subject.
  4. Thanks for all the info! Looks like I'll go with
    one of these as it is coiled and cheap.

    3' seems a bit long but I'll live.
  5. AJG


    3' coiled should work well for what you need--I think that's what my Paramount cords are.
  6. Robert, your subjects won't like a flash-gun going off so close to them.
  7. Three to five foot coiled cord is standard. That way you can hold it off to the side at arm's length so you get better lighting than having it on the camera. I have more of them than I can count.

    No, Vivitar sync cords are not the least bit difficult to find. The Vivitar 283/285 was probably the most popular hotshoe flash ever made. B&H, Adorma, Paramount, everybody has the cords.

    "Robert, your subjects won't like a flash-gun going off so close to them."
    Pretty much anybody who's ever had their picture taken is used to flash. But holding it off to the side at arm's length or bouncing it off the ceiling or wall are all good for 1) not blasting them right in the eye and 2) getting better lighting.

    B&H also has this Paramount cord for Vivitar, roughly the same as the one you linked to. And they have one-foot cords if you want shorter.

    I believe the M6 has a standard PC socket. But my M3 has the older proprietary Leica sync connection, which requires this adaptor to work with a standard PC cord.

    The sensor cord Greg refers to is great. They don't make them any more but you can find them on ebay.
  8. Rob,
    You might want to consider a wireless trigger/receiver set to allow you to move the flash off camera onto a light stand. This would allow you to be free of a cable to the camera.
    A Rogue Photographic Design ROGUEXLPRO2 Flash Bender 2 XL Pro Lighting System (Black/White) on a light stand softens the flash light on your subject(s). The wireless trigger and Vivitar 283 provides lots of flexibility for what you might want to photograph indoors. I have used this off camera flash, light modifier and wireless remote setup with great success. The Pocket Wizard wireless triggers work reliably.
  9. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Vivitar made a flash activated trigger for the 283, I have one somewhere. The flash slid right into it and the unit could be mounted on a tripod or stand. They were inexpensive even when new. Firing another flash unit would fire the 283 -- all wireless. If I come up with it, I'll post the info. Very handy, since you could do all sorts of bounce angles, even rimlight from behind.
  10. Thanks for all the info, everyone.
    Ended up finding the sensor cord Greg recommended at a camera shop in my town for $7.50. I ordered a PC-31 off eBay as well. This setup seems pretty solid. Focusing is going to be a bit of a pain as my hands will be full, but I'm sure I'll figure something out.
    Also, is it normal for the sensor to feel a bit loose in the flash? It's pretty secure in the sensor cord, but on the flash itself, it's extremely easy to pull in and out. Like it doesn't feel like it's firmly in place. The end of the sensor cord that is inserted into the flash obviously fits pretty loosely as well.
  11. I bought the vivitar 283 cord not long after my 283, when it was new. (That is, about 40 years ago.)
    I haven't used it all that often over the years. Unles other cords, the sensor is in the right place to measure the light at the lens, no matter which way you point the flash.
  12. AJG


    My 285 sensors are a fairly tight fit, so I don't think that's normal. As for feeling like you're running out of hands, a flash bracket can be helpful.
  13. The Vivitar flash is old.
    It may, probably has a high voltage trigger
    That is bad for the M6 TTL.
    Like electronic damage..
    Check with a serviceman, Gus? or Leica itself..
    I don't use my Vivitar on any Electronic camera, Canon Ae-1, Ae-1 Program.etc.
  14. I'm shooting with the Non-TTL so it's all good.
  15. Play it safe with the flash trigger voltage. Test it out with a meter to make sure you don't have a high-voltage version. I have a very late production model of the 283 and it tested at low voltage. Even in non-TTL mode, don't risk frying a Leica.

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