Slaves for Digital Cameras

Techniques and equipment.

Moderator: Moderators

Slaves for Digital Cameras

Postby speleophysics » Mar 1, 2006 10:17 pm

I am thinking about purchasing some flashes and slaves for use with my digital camera. I know that normal slaves will not work with my camera (Pentax Optio WP) because of the pre-flash. I was just curious as to people's experience with the slaves currently on the market that will work with digitals. How reliable are they? How sensitive? Any recommendations? I have looked at a number of options including Firefly 3, Digi-Slave, and Vivitar SL-2. Any comments on these specifically?

Thanks.
Matt Covington

website:
http://www.cavedeep.com/
User avatar
speleophysics
Infrequent Poster
 
Posts: 8
Joined: Sep 7, 2005 4:28 pm
Location: Postojna, Slovenia
Name: Matt Covington
NSS #: 45648
Primary Grotto Affiliation: MOLES
  

Postby Realms » Mar 1, 2006 11:51 pm

not sure if you can cut off the preflash but are you able to turn the flash off all together? If so, one option would be to use a hand held flash to set off the slaved strobes. I think i remember seeing that you could leave the shutter open for a few seconds. Just make sure that you cover the trigger flash with developed yet unexposed film. Do you like your Optio WP? I am considering picking up one and was wondering about them. I highly recommend the fireflys. Very good slaves and very user friendly. I have rewired mine so they work with multiple flashes and or bulbs pretty much in any combination. (more than one flash per slave)

Realms
never stop imagining what could someday come to pass...
User avatar
Realms
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 273
Joined: Sep 19, 2005 8:11 pm
Location: Huntsville,Alabama
  

Postby speleophysics » Mar 2, 2006 12:46 am

I haven't been able to figure out any way to cut out the pre-flash. As most things on the camera are automatic I don't think it's possible. Also - to me the biggest downside of the camera as far as caving - it isn't possible to manually adjust the shutter speed. I have tried to take pictures by turning off the on-camera flash and manually firing the external flashes, but haven't been successful.

Aside from the lack of manual features, I have been very happy with my optio. It has survived well on a number of caving trips, including a trip to the bottom of J2 at -1100m (the new deep cave in the Cheve area), and three very wet pulldown trips in TAG during convention last year. Though it is waterproof, I still haul it in an otter box mainly to protect it from shock. Plus, in my experience with caving, very few things are really waterproof. It's nice to not have to worry about spray from waterfalls and the like though. In fact I've used water to wash off the lense while caving.

It is very small and light...a good camera to bring along when you don't want to bother with hauling photo gear. That said, it also has a pretty small aperture so it doesn't take in much light. This makes it even more desireable to have external flashes that will work with it.

You can get an idea of how it does with both caving and surface pictures by looking at some of the photos on my website. Anything marked 2005 or later was taken with the optio.

http://thecave.stanford.edu/mdcovin/play/photos/

Matt
Matt Covington

website:
http://www.cavedeep.com/
User avatar
speleophysics
Infrequent Poster
 
Posts: 8
Joined: Sep 7, 2005 4:28 pm
Location: Postojna, Slovenia
Name: Matt Covington
NSS #: 45648
Primary Grotto Affiliation: MOLES
  

Postby mcfarnell » Mar 14, 2006 9:21 pm

I used the digi-slave 3000 with my Canon A80, and had great success. Sometimes it wouldn't sense the flash and wouldn't go off, but for the most part it worked great. It worked best if it was fairly close to the camera and off to one side. You can see pictures I took with it here (anything after 04/2005) http://www.farnellfamily.com/pictures/Spelunking

The flash is described here: http://www.srelectronics.com/dlx3000.html It will work with cameras that have pre-flash and with cameras that don't.

Since then, my A80 broke, and I now have an A610. I tried using the digi-slave with the A610 one time so far, and I couldn't get it to work at all. I'm not sure why, and I really didn't have time to mess with it. I'm guessing I might be able to get it to work if I play with it more (I sure hope so!).

Anyway, hope this helps. Let me know if you have questions.
User avatar
mcfarnell
Infrequent Poster
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Oct 20, 2005 12:01 am
Location: Near Mt. St. Helens
  

Postby Realms » Mar 14, 2006 11:41 pm

hey man i just looked up the specs onthe optio wp

shutter speed 1/2000 - 4 sec
flash can be turned off

there ya go man. purchase a secondary trigger flash to trip the slave (firefly ;-) )and set your shutter speed to 4 sec. You can do a lot in 4 sec.

Good Luck!
never stop imagining what could someday come to pass...
User avatar
Realms
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 273
Joined: Sep 19, 2005 8:11 pm
Location: Huntsville,Alabama
  

Postby hewhocaves » Mar 14, 2006 11:57 pm

i have a nikon coolpix 995 that i use for cave photos. I have two Quantaray MS-1 Wireless Slaves, I got them for about 19.99 each and use 2 AAA batteries apiece. They're not the most versitle flashes around, but they are tiny, rugged and good for filling in dark areas. And the removable stands they come with are excellent for the uneven cave floors!

John
The NSS and WNS: Cooperation, not confrontation.
User avatar
hewhocaves
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 715
Joined: Sep 5, 2005 9:43 pm
Location: Morgantown WV
Name: John Tudek
NSS #: 36021
Primary Grotto Affiliation: MonGrotto
  

Postby mcfarnell » Mar 15, 2006 12:11 am

Yes, I've used the MS-1 slaves as well and they do work great to help light up caves. They aren't quite powerful enough for larger areas though unless you have several, but they work great in the smaller areas.
User avatar
mcfarnell
Infrequent Poster
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Oct 20, 2005 12:01 am
Location: Near Mt. St. Helens
  

Postby speleophysics » Mar 15, 2006 12:24 am

Unfortunately, you can't manually set the shutter speed - it's automatic only. You can turn off the flash and it will stay open for a while if it's fairly dark. I've found that it is possible to fire a flash maually in the time available, but if there is some light then it is hit and miss.

I also thought that the max was 2 sec. Maybe I'm remembering this incorrectly, or maybe the newer ones have a longer possible shutter time.

Since we last spoke I have actually tried both the Firefly III and the Wein Digital Ultra slaves. They both work with the preflash on the Optio WP. The Wein seems not to be as sensitive though. Given that the flash on the WP is pretty small and weak, I suspect you could use one bright flash with a digital slave that was close to the camera to set off other flashes that were connected to standard slaves. These slaves wouldn't have to be too far away to miss the on-camera flash.

Realms wrote:hey man i just looked up the specs onthe optio wp

shutter speed 1/2000 - 4 sec
flash can be turned off

there ya go man. purchase a secondary trigger flash to trip the slave (firefly ;-) )and set your shutter speed to 4 sec. You can do a lot in 4 sec.

Good Luck!
Matt Covington

website:
http://www.cavedeep.com/
User avatar
speleophysics
Infrequent Poster
 
Posts: 8
Joined: Sep 7, 2005 4:28 pm
Location: Postojna, Slovenia
Name: Matt Covington
NSS #: 45648
Primary Grotto Affiliation: MOLES
  

Postby Realms » Mar 15, 2006 8:29 am

good deal. sounds like you are working through it. As for the light, when i go to shoot a pic, there is usally absolutly no light what so ever untill the flash goes off. I signal for all lights off. This helps with the numerous problems that crop up from them.
never stop imagining what could someday come to pass...
User avatar
Realms
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 273
Joined: Sep 19, 2005 8:11 pm
Location: Huntsville,Alabama
  

Wein Digital Ultra

Postby icave » Mar 15, 2006 11:11 am

I've tried the Wein Digital Ultra and it worked better after I first got it than it does now. It looks very well sealed, and I have treated it very nicely. It seems to work great when I test fire at home, but in a cave, it's a whole different story. :doh: In my opinion, the Wein Digital Ultra is not a good slave trigger for cave photos.

I'm about to buy a new camera without a pre-flash and just use my fireflys.
Signature, I don't need no stinkin signature!
User avatar
icave
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 214
Joined: Sep 7, 2005 8:50 am
Location: Fountain Hill, PA
Name: Mike Spencer
NSS #: 48165
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Greater Allentown Grotto
  

Slaves for cave photography

Postby pj » May 15, 2006 3:41 am

I just discovered the existence of CaveChat. Looks good, but just one more thing to take up my time. Won't tell my wife about it.......

As the purveyor of Firefly Slaves one would assume I have a certain bias towards them. I do in the sense that they work the best of all the slaves I've tried over the years or I wouldn't be selling them. I also have several Wein slaves I've worked with since the early 90's and do occasionally use them when I'm short on the Fireflies. The Weins work well but tend to be somewhat temperamental, false-firing when touched or tapped lightly or if they are damp. They won't fire a flashbulb as a general rule. Fireflies will do that for you. I was also a bit dismayed by the choice of connectors: PC or prong on the Ultra-SSL version, neither of which are particularly good for cave photography. The version with a hotshoe doesn't have as much sensitivity as the Ultra-SSL slaves.

The Firefly 3 for digital cameras is now available through me in the US. It is more expensive than the FF 2 but has considerably more electronic components and complexity. It is, however, less than the Wein digi-slave by cost comparison. Contact me at pjcaver@gwi.net for more info about purchasing. This is not the place for me to advertise it...

Now, that leads to a basic problem with using digi-firing slaves. The digi-slave is making up for a basic problem in certain digital cameras, which is the ability to turn off the double or triple preflash. If your camera is doing the preflash, it is using through the lens metering (TTL) and is setting the aperture based only on the on- camera's flash. It won't pick up the added external flashes' output, causing it to likely be overexposed. That's one problem.

The second problem involves using multiple flashes distributed in a large area. If the on-camera flash is the trigger and the nearest digi-slaved flash is set off by it, how about the other slaved flashes that are farther away or around corners? Do they respond to the (usually) weak on-camera flash or to the digi-slaved flash nearest the camera? If it's the on-camera flash will all its preflashes, you would have to use all digi-slaves throughout the entire array of external flashes. If it's the digi-slaved flash, then you would have to use regular slaves for the second third, etc slaved flashes. If it were a perfect, consistent world, one could determine what works best and go with it, but we all know how incredibly finicky cave photography is in the very best of circumstances. As such, using digi-slaves is not really the best option for cave photography purposes unless you plan on using only one external flash. Ye Gods, I've just shot myself in the foot!!!! javascript:emoticon(':exactly:')

I say all this just to point out that a fully manual camera with the ability to turn off all the pre-flash gibberish is really the best way to go. The workaround of using a digi-slave is a patch at best and one that can lead to frustration and accusations that the slaves are faulty or not working as they should. Use digi-slaves with caution if you have to use them at all. For my money, I'd get the fully operable camera instead.

pjcaver
pj
Infrequent Poster
 
Posts: 18
Joined: May 15, 2006 3:02 am
  

Re: Slaves for cave photography

Postby Dave Bunnell » May 15, 2006 11:17 am

pj wrote: Use digi-slaves with caution if you have to use them at all. For my money, I'd get the fully operable camera instead.

pjcaver


Peter,

That's a good point you make about trying to use multiple digital slaves, i.e., will the further ones be triggered by the pre-flashes from the camera or the output of the other flashes...although both ought to be simultaneous. I should think that use of the digital models that allow one to set the slave manually to go on either the first, second, or third flash it sees would allow one to adapt them to any situation.

It's easy to tell people they should have a manual camera but the problem is that these waterproof models are so darn convenient for the caving environment that people are going to see them as the optimal camera for caving. However, NONE of them currently offered gives manual control over shutter or aperture, to my knowledge. Some of them at least give you manual focus and white balance. So a good digital slave in combination with one of these would be a great setup for wet caving.

Dave
NSS News Editor
Dave Bunnell
Prolific Poster
 
Posts: 164
Joined: Sep 6, 2005 10:19 pm
Location: Angels Camp, California
  

Re: Slaves for cave photography

Postby Squirrel Girl » May 15, 2006 11:24 am

pj wrote:I just discovered the existence of CaveChat. Looks good, but just one more thing to take up my time.
Hi Peter! Welcome to Cavechat! :woohoo:

Glad you're here. It'll be great to hear your input on caves, caving, and cave photography. Don't forget to post a few of your beautiful pictures. We get far fewer photos posted than what would be nice!

Welcome!
Barbara Anne am Ende

"Weird people are my people."
User avatar
Squirrel Girl
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 3163
Joined: Sep 5, 2005 5:34 am
Location: Albuquerque, NM
NSS #: 15789
  

Postby pj » May 15, 2006 11:34 am

Dave: Alas, the problem is that in the real world of cave photography, sensitivity of the remote slaves can change on a whim. Sometimes the on-camera flash will trigger only the close-by slave, sometimes all of them. Yes, you can change the settings of the individual slaves but it seems like a technical nightmare.

I was talking with John Woods about this same issue and we think the best workaround may be to cover the on-camera flash with a hood of some sort and place a digi-slave in the same bag. It will trigger the close-by flash which should trigger all the other ones on the first flash simultaneously. Then again, if you can't adjust the shutter speed or aperture, it seems like a moot point.

I'll still stick with my fully manual camera.

Peter
pj
Infrequent Poster
 
Posts: 18
Joined: May 15, 2006 3:02 am
  

Postby bsignorelli » May 15, 2006 5:09 pm

Hey Peter!

I'll have you know that I took my first roll of slide film in a cave recently (using a FF I bought from you) and it worked out great though I forgot to have my slides scanned :(
Bryan Signorelli
Little Rock Grotto
54238
bsignorelli
Prolific Poster
 
Posts: 101
Joined: Oct 4, 2005 10:52 pm
Location: Arkanistan
  

Next

Return to Photography and Videography Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users