Slaves for Digital Cameras

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Re: Slaves for cave photography

Postby Steven Johnson » May 30, 2006 11:42 am

Dave Bunnell wrote: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.


Yeah, this kinda sucks. I was actually thinking of replacing my Nikon 3200 with an Optio W10 until I read this thread (since one reason for wanting to replace it is the damn double-flash that can't be disabled).

I don't have aspirations to take awesome photos, but I want some ability to get photos that actually turn out, which is (apparently) hard with the current small-and-light digicams... I guess they are being optimized for the (rather larger) wet-outdoors market :-)

It would sure be nice if something like the Optio W10 or Stylus 720SW would add just enough manual controls to enable better low-light performance.
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New to underground photography

Postby headrickj415 » Feb 7, 2007 12:41 pm

Hello everyone. I'm preparing to repel into the depths of karst photography. and would love to hear any tips or techniques that you all might have. I am a Nikonian with a D70s and SB-800 flash. One of my first questions is relating to the three copies of photography books in the NSS bookstore. Dose anyone own these, and which one seems more informative? Another intrest that I have is long exposures and painting with flash lighting, and flashlights. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Never stop exploring!
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Postby Bobatnathrop » Feb 7, 2007 6:17 pm

Headrick,
I have On Caves and Cameras and I really love it. Some of the stuff in it is alittle outdates but it has everything you would ever want to know and some stuff that you didnt ever know about.
It also has a few sections that cover long exposures and painting.
This books is a must for anyone that wants to get into cave photography.
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Postby NZcaver » Feb 7, 2007 6:48 pm

I have an excellent non-NSS publication called On Three. It's in electronic (CD) format, and is an interactive guide to digital cave photography. It's by John Woods, and is available through Peter Jones (who is also the US supplier of Firefly flash slaves).

As far as regular books go, I would think On Caves and Cameras would be a good choice.
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Postby NZcaver » Feb 7, 2007 7:40 pm

I have a flash slave question for the cave photographers out there.

I use an Olympus C-5050 Zoom with a trigger flash on the hot shoe. I have strip of film as an IR filter on the trigger flash. My flashguns are Sunpak 383s triggered by a couple of the kitset-type Firefly slaves like this.

My question is - other than changing my whole slave system to something like a radio trigger, is there any way I can make the slaves ignore all flashes from other cameras? Perhaps some form of IR or other means of light filtering on both the trigger flash and slaves?

I'm guessing the answer is no - but I figure there's no harm in asking.
Last edited by NZcaver on Feb 7, 2007 7:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: New to underground photography

Postby fuzzy-hair-man » Feb 7, 2007 7:42 pm

headrickj415 wrote:Another intrest that I have is long exposures and painting with flash lighting, and flashlights. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Never stop exploring!


I haven't done a lot of these (they take time) but they are a fun way of taking cave photos IMO and they are also great for back lighting shawls (bacon) or lighting a room where your flash might not reach.

A strong headlamp is a must like a Stenlight or an Apex. I've had more success with lighting using headlamps rather than flashes, but as I say I haven't done much of this stuff.
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Cave Photo Books and radio slaves

Postby pj » Feb 7, 2007 8:11 pm

NZCaver and Headrickj415 bring up a couple of issues. Head's question about cave photo books and the responses I read didn't mention anything about Chris Howes superb book, Images Below. It will probably always be the bible of cave photography and I highly recommend it as well as OCC and the CD by John Woods. Don't overlook it as a first choice in cave photography information.

As for proprietary triggering of slaves, I have not found anything other than radio slaves that work very well. I was teaching a cave photo workshop in Carlsbad Caverns last summer on my way out to Convention in Washington and had bought a used Quantum radio slave with only one trigger and one receiver. The first day of the course I tried to do a multi-flash photo of The Temple of the Sun using FF slaves only. It was a true disaster. There were flashes from the thousands of tourists that came through that day that constantly triggered the FFs and thus ruined any chances of getting the shot. If I had used the radio slave, it would only have worked with one flash and the rest of them would have all false triggered. Time to buy more receivers. What I actually used the Quantum radio slave for was to take a shot of the entrance with several strobes set up inside. Since there was so much infrared light from the sun inside the entrance alcove, I knew that the flash from my camera wouldn't trigger the FF slaves. I was right. Fortunately the radio slave's signal did trigger the strobes and the shot was a success.

The Quantum slave is but one version. There are others, but the Quantum seemed the most powerful for the money. I suppose you could try the really cheapy ones on E-Bay, but I don't think they have much range, like maybe 25 feet if that.

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Postby NZcaver » Feb 7, 2007 8:41 pm

Thanks for the great info, Peter! :kewl:

Your situation with the tourists is almost exactly what I was thinking of - although last time for me, it was actually my fellow cavers with their own cameras who were to blame!

I figured that a radio trigger is probably the only option available in this situation. I checked out the Quantum units, but at over $300 for a trigger/slave combo this idea might have to wait for a while - unless something pops up on eBay...
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Postby Bobatnathrop » Feb 8, 2007 1:54 pm

Other than yelling at the tourists to stop takeing pictures, which has never worked out very well for me.
Every time I am in a tourist cave with alot of people it has allways worked for me to have the person that is holding the FireFly to just cover the sensor window thingy with their finger. Then wait for the tour guide to start talking, or just wait for a gap in the tourist's pictures, then have everyone uncover the slaves and take the picture really fast.
It sometimes doesnt work, but other than useing radio slaves or getting on a private trip it is about the only thing you can do.
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Postby jlangevin » Apr 16, 2007 11:22 am

Matt,

I use Fireflies with Sunpak 383s. We've used them with my girlfriend's Optio 43WR by setting the strobes at a lower setting that allows them to fire twice in succession with the double flash. This also allows the camera to meter accurately, avoiding the problem that Dave mentioned.

John
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Postby jlangevin » Apr 16, 2007 11:25 am

Oops - that was actually Peter's comment about metering.
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Postby Steven Johnson » Apr 16, 2007 12:09 pm

jlangevin wrote:Matt,

I use Fireflies with Sunpak 383s. We've used them with my girlfriend's Optio 43WR by setting the strobes at a lower setting that allows them to fire twice in succession with the double flash. This also allows the camera to meter accurately, avoiding the problem that Dave mentioned.

John


I actually just got a FF3 with Sunpak 383 that I haven't yet had a chance to use in-cave, only a little experimenting in my basement... I'd love to hear more about this technique since it applies to my camera too (I use an Optio W10 that has a non-avoidable double-flash)
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Postby jlangevin » Apr 16, 2007 1:45 pm

Steven,

I don't recall how low we had to set the strobes so they would double flash but that doesn't take much experimenting. Just set up in your basement and play with the power adjustment. It will depend on the battery condition; I think that with fresh batteries it might work even on 1/2 power. I'm curious to hear what kind of results you get if you use the FF3 to prevent the Sunpaks from double flashing.

John
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Postby Steven Johnson » Apr 16, 2007 9:51 pm

jlangevin wrote:Steven,

I don't recall how low we had to set the strobes so they would double flash but that doesn't take much experimenting. Just set up in your basement and play with the power adjustment. It will depend on the battery condition; I think that with fresh batteries it might work even on 1/2 power. I'm curious to hear what kind of results you get if you use the FF3 to prevent the Sunpaks from double flashing.

John


Well, I haven't figured out how to get the 383 to double-flash, but then I am a complete novice to external flashes. (Is it a setting on the 383 or the FF3 you are referring to?)

Anyway, using the standard FF3 setup (trigger the slave on the second flash) and with the Optio set to ISO 100 with flash enabled but redeye off, it's definitely working nicely, in terms of getting a shot with superior lighting. Now I just need to try it in a cave environment...
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Postby jlangevin » Apr 17, 2007 7:53 am

Steven,

Your strobes have an incremental power adjustment. It's a sliding switch that's labeled full, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8 - something like that. With it at a lower setting the capacitor should retain enough power to fire the strobe twice in quick succession.

John
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