Radio flash triggers

By Martin Joergensen | June 16, 2008 2:56 PM | Permalink | Comments ( 0) | TrackBacks ( 0)

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Today I acquired a set of Doerr radio controllers for my D200 and two SB-800's.

I have been using Nikon's excellent built-in wireless flash control system, which Nikon calls CLS (Creative Lighting System), and that system works beyond what you can imagine. It not only controls flash synchronization and exposure, but also enables you to control many flashes, dose each of them individually or in groups and offers many other neat features. And it gives you almost guaranteed perfect exposures - even with complex flash setups.

So why don't I just use the CLS-system? Because it doesn't always work. When it works it's a blessing, but distance, flash orientation and bright ambient light can make it fail, and when that happens, one or both of my flashes may not fire, and results become unpredictable.

I use my flashes a lot outdoors and often in bright sunshine. That confuses the wireless control quite a bit. Bright light seems to overrule the light from the built-in flash, which I want to use as the commander. I can't get the remote flashes to fire unless I use one of the SB-800's as the commander or keep them both very close to the camera when using the pop-up flash as the commander.


How about indoors or in darkness then? Well, the CLS-system works a lot better then, but the problem seems to be the same when the distance between camera and flashes increases. When I want to light up a large room I often place the flashes 10-20 meters away from the camera and if I'm not careful in placing them in a line of visibility from the camera and turned with the sensor in the right direction, they don't fire - even in a dark room. They do work most of the time, but the few times they don't... man, it's annoying!


So radio was the way to go. My wet dream was a Pocket Wizard heaven, of course. Multimax, Plus, Plus II with triple overdrive and party effect (just kidding). They seem hard to beat, but in my neck of the woods, equipping myself with a set of three of the newer tranceivers would set me back as much as the price of three SB-800's. I'm not quite willing to pay that.

Next in line are the new RadioPoppers, which seem to do all that the Pocket Wizards do - and then some. But getting a set would mean all kinds of frog leaping, because they are not yet approved for use in Europe, and in short demand on top of that. They do seem very attractive though, and I have been following their development closely and will probably acquire a set once they are available.

There are other nice triggers like the Quantums or Elinchrom SkyPorts. There are a whole batch that goes under the name eBay-triggers, which are much like the ones I bought.

But I went local and fairly cheap, and had a local dealer tailor me a set of Doerr triggers. They are much like many of the triggers you find under names such as Cactus and other brands on eBay and many orther places. Nothing fancy, but they seem to work.

So I'm now ready to go wireless.

In a couple of days I will meet with a bunch of other strobe-happy photographers and shoot off-camera flash. I will record an "On Location" podcast from the event and report on the outcome here.

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