Trouble with my new D750 and Sb910 Flash

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by mnanes, Dec 17, 2014.

  1. I am an amateur photographer doing mostly travel and landscape photos. This week I upgraded from a D300 to a D750. I am very excited
    about the new camera. Before I had much chance to use it, I was asked to do a large group photo. I have taken the same photo every
    year using my D300 and two speed lights? I should have used the D300 for the shoot since I had not had much chance to use the D750.
    Dummy me, I took the D750 and things did not go smoothly. My set up was the D750 in commander mode with the on board flash not
    firing but opened, and two off camera flashes on my left and right. A SB600 was on my left and a SB910 on my right. Both speed lights
    were in wireless mode but the SB 910 would not fire. I changed batteries and moved the flashes around a bit bit the 910 would still not
    fire. Unlike previous photos of the group, this one was done outside while previously all of the photos were done indoors. I had tested the
    set up at home before heading out and everything was working before I left. I did find that the 910 would fire if I faced it directly with the
    D750 so I am wondering if this was a camera issue or if the commander mode on the camera and the flash just could not see each other
    in the outdoor environment. This was an open area in a parking lot without any walls or bounce surfaces. Thanks in advance for any help.
  2. In an indoor environment, the light from the commander flash may bounce around from walls and other surfaces to reach the detector in the remotes. Outdoors these reflective surfaces may be missing or are too far away. It is also possible the light from the pop up flash is not strong enough to be detected in the presence of daylight.

    What you need for outdoor remote flash photography are radio triggers.
  3. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The problem is that the SB-910 was to the right of the camera whose pop-up flash is the commander, in an outdoor setting. It doesn't matter whether the camera is a D750, D300, or D810 ....
    On pretty much all Nikon SB-nnn flashes, including the SB-910, the "eye" that senses the infrared commander signal is on the right side of the flash. When the flash is to the right side of the camera, that little receptor window is facing away from the camera. In an outdoor setting, the commander signal is not going to reach the flash. When it is indoors, the infrared signal can bounce against walls to reach the flash.
    The trick is to turn the base of the flash around by 180 degrees (or whatever amount necessary) so that the little window would face the camera to receive the commander signal. Rotate the flash head so that it continues to face your subject as before. Indoors, this maneuver is typically unnecessary.
  4. Shun, you should give all of us your phone number so we can put it on speed dial. You seem to have a wealth of information many of us might have known at one time, but have clearly forgotten, or never quite understood. Might save us in situations like above.
  5. Get some cheap radio triggers. Much (much much) more reliable than CLS.
  6. Joe! You mean CLS isn't very useful? I never use but I thought so after watching Jo McNally video about it.
  7. Radio triggers work more reliable outside and on longer distances and they dont need direct eyecontact with the camera
  8. @Bebu Lamar
    Don't lose your trust in CLS
    Dumb cheap radio triggers are just that, dumb. Yes, they will trigger tour flash, but that's about it. No TTL of course, so you have to set your flash in either Manual of in A mode.
    If you shoot with the flash in Manual and after a trial shot, want/need to change the power settings, you will have to go to the flash, change the settings on the flash (maybe even having to lower it in the process if you have it on a lightstand), take a new shot to see if the correction is correct, and if not make that walk again and again. And obviously you'll have to do so with each unit separately if you use multiple units. Cumbersome, time consuming and not really the best procedure if you have impatient clients/subjects in front of the camera who will have to wait till you found the correct set up.
    If you shoot in A mode, you select a f and ISO number on the flashes (which you both also set on your lens), after which the flashes based on the onboard metering cell (which is not connected to the electronics of your camera) make a hopefully correct combined exposure.
    Problem is that the metering for each flash is not made from the same angle as the camera, or the other flashes. So things the camera would or would not include in its calculation for the correct expocure (white or dark background, spill light from other light sources, including main and additional flash) do play a role in the independently made exposure by each flash. Consequently you will still have the same issues as when shooting in Manual mode, i.e. you make an initial set up, and after your testshot, still have to walk up to the flashes to change the various settings, make a new trial shot, and repeat the cumbersome and time consuming procedure again till you have the correct exposure and light ratios.
    CLS allows you make your set up, but contrary to the above procedures change the power settings from where you stand ie. behind the camera (and meter from that position as well, not to forget). On top of that you can shoot your flashes TTL, and move your flashes around to some degree (within the line of sight). So you set up your lighting, make a trial shot, adjust the ratio's between e.g.main light and effect light from where you're standing (no running around, lowering and raising flash units) and much faster find the setting you want.
    Yes, CLS admittedly has a disadvantage. Since it uses infrared, line of sight is very important. In a confined space where the signal can bounce from a wall or ceiling that's less of an issue, but it make it much less usable outside and in bright sunshine.
    That's where the 'not so cheap' radio triggers come in, like PocketWizard TT1/TT5, Phottix Odins, and Radiopopper. Yes there are other one's to on the market, and cheaper, but these three have a solid reputation for reliability which IMO should be the main consideration when buying a piece of equipment.
    Sure, the above triggers may at some times not be as (near) 100% foolproof as dumb radio triggers. But that's the price you pay for convenience. After all, AF still isn't 100% reliable despite the period that has passed since the introduction of the F501/N2020 in 1986, just like TTL lightmetering isn't despite the days of the Nikon F Photomic from 1962.
    If you look at how Joe MacNally works, you see that where he in the past used the infrared signal outside (be it, in order to get the transmitter closer to the flash despite the camera position, with extended remote flash cords,) he now also uses a.o. PW TT5's for outside work but often enough still relies on shooting CLS with the infrared signal (Had the pleasure of attending a demonstration and lecture of him, a real gentleman, very down to earth and not at all secretive about the way he shoots)
    Personally I use TT5's when shooting remote flash units in TTL mode (got them before the cheaper Phottix Odins were available, otherwise maye have gone for those). Of course I can also use them in 'dumb' mode. e.g. for triggering my studioflashes.
    I for example had to shoot a runway show (part of a competition for young designers) some time ago. The venue was long with a very high ceiling so no bounce flash possible. Nor was there any serious lighting on the catwalk itself, only a few lights immediately in front of the jury table at the end of the catwalk. So flash (which I normally try to go without) was inevitable, while due to the moving subject shooting with the flash in manual mode was no option either.
    Unfortunately nowadays has become quite standard that prior to a show there's a lot of shuffling between photographers for the best positions, even if you're the officially assigned one. So showing at the very last moment for a good spot, let alone moving around to the flash units to possibly make changes after finding your spot, is quite impossible before and during the show and therefor being able to do so from where I was standing is a life saver.
    I tackled the problem by prior to the show mounting two SB800's (with additional batterypack) and TT5's on lightstands at an angle of a 30 to 40 degrees left and right of me, and a TT5 with a AC3 on my camera. Took my shooting position, took a few trial shots, made some corrections on the power settings of the flashes with the AC3, tinkered a bit with the flash exposure on the camera, and happily shot away in TTL metering mode.
    This is how it worked out
  9. Bebu, if, like Joe McNally, I got paid by Nikon to promote CLS, then I too might be a bit more enthusiastic about it.
    I'm not even sure why he needs it when he has a couple of assistants to run around and change the flash power and angle for him!
    I also note that Canon have changed to a radio remote system on their top-end speedlite. Albeit incredibly expensive for a hotshoe popper. Whole studio kits are available for less.
  10. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I wonder why a simple question about a flash set up evolves into a debate about CLS.
    Speaking of Joe McNally, I went to his one-day seminar locally in San Jose (California) a few months ago. He is simply a master of electronic flashes. The venue was the San Jose Conversion Center and we were in a large hall with a couple hundred students. CLS works great in an indoor setting. He had his assistant holding a CLS slave flash maybe 300 feet away, moving farther and farther from the commander, and it continued to work well until the assistant reached the end of the hall, maybe well over 100 meters away. McNally was using several D4S bodies without the pop-up flash, so his commander was the SU-800.
    However, CLS' infrared technology has a lot of limitations outdoors, as the OP found out. There are some tricks to work around such issues as I mentioned earlier, but the range is never going to be as good as it is indoors, especially in a large hall without a lot of objects to block the infrared signal.
  11. I agree with you on this one Joe! In fact before watching the video I knew nothing about CLS. After watching Joe's video I decided it's a waste of money. So Joe actually made me not to consider CLS. The reason simply in over 2 hrs of video and he went thru countless scenario. None of which he could get correct exposure in the first trial. If you can't get correct exposure in the first trial then Manual/flashmeter/chimping is much better approach. But any way Shun seems not to like us discussing about the CLS thingy here.
  12. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Again, I have the unfair advantage of taking a one-day class from Joe McNally a few months ago. The objective of the class is not to watch him use CLS. Rather, it is learning how he uses various light modifiers under various situations, e.g., a diffuser. Placing the diffuser closer to the subject or closer to the light source, moving the angle of the flash ... are going to affect the outcome. Getting the "correct exposure" is not that difficult. For the rest, even McNally does a lot of trial and error, with the help of instant feedback from digital.
    But this thread is about why the OP wasn't unable to get the flash on the right side to go off in an outdoor setting, not about how to light your subjects and the merit of CLS, which is generally considered as a strength of the Nikon system.
  13. easiest way to fix it imho is to buy some remote flash trigger,

Share This Page