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Thread: D7000 as flash commander, using non-Nikon flash

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    brucehughw's Avatar
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    D7000 as flash commander, using non-Nikon flash

    Hi,

    A photographer friend lent me an old flash, one that is triggered by shorting a 1/8" phono plug. I'd like to use my D7000 with this flash, but all I see in the literature are instructions for using a D7000 with Nikon's flashes. Does anyone know how to connect a D7000 to such a flash? The old flash allows me to manually adjust the flash intensity, so I'm not worried about using the camera to control exposure, merely to fire the flash.

    Thanks, Bruce

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    re: D7000 as flash commander, using non-Nikon flash

    Hi Bruce,

    Does the flash have a hot shoe?
    If so, you can simply attach it to the D7000, but be aware that the camera won't 'know' you have a flash attached*, so you cannot rely on metering a scene.

    If it doesn't have a Hot Shoe (I'm currently using one that doesn't), then you probably need a Nikon AS-15 (since your D7000 may not have the necessary socket - my D7100 doesn't), which is a small device that mounts in the hot shoe and has a 'PC/X' socket on the front that probably suits the cable on the flash gun.

    The same goes for shooting though*, you'll need to shoot in Manual only; set shutter speed to 1/200s (or less), choose an aperture and ISO, take a shot and review the histogram and adjust aperture and/or ISO and/or flash power to achieve a correctly exposed shot. Have a play, you'll get used to what affects exposure, whether direct or bouncing off the ceiling.

    I recently shot these by this method - I'm quite pleased with them - but I'm going to buy a more modern, semi-automatic, flash - capable of remote (cable free) use 'off camera'. I'll be posting a thread here on my selection criteria for this soon.

    Good luck, Dave

    PS - you probably won't be able to use the camera in 'Commander mode', that requires a flash with compatible electronics (Nikon or some third party) and you have not said which flash make/model you have - please advise.
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 25th March 2016 at 03:29 PM.

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    Re: D7000 as flash commander, using non-Nikon flash

    You should look into triggering voltages on the model you have as some older flashguns can damage modern cameras.

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    brucehughw's Avatar
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    Re: D7000 as flash commander, using non-Nikon flash

    Hi, Dave.

    Thanks very much. What plugs into the AS-15? As I wrote, a standard 1/8" (3.5 mm) phono plug is what I have coming out of the flash (flash also has a corresponding 3.5 mm phono jack), so I'd need to connect that plug to the AS-15. This cable seems like what I'd need, since it could plug into the flash's 3.5 mm phono jack. As for the flash, it's an Alienbees B1600 640WS. Note, I'm hoping to use this flash to freeze motion of an object hitting water. Not sure if this is the right unit for that.

    Thanks for your help.

    Bruce

    PS Wonderful baby photos you posted.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    Hi Bruce,

    Does the flash have a hot shoe?
    If so, you can simply attach it to the D7000, but be aware that the camera won't 'know' you have a flash attached*, so you cannot rely on metering a scene.

    If it doesn't have a Hot Shoe (I'm currently using one that doesn't), then you probably need a Nikon AS-15 (since your D7000 may not have the necessary socket - my D7100 doesn't), which is a small device that mounts in the hot shoe and has a 'PC/X' socket on the front that probably suits the cable on the flash gun.

    The same goes for shooting though*, you'll need to shoot in Manual only; set shutter speed to 1/200s (or less), choose an aperture and ISO, take a shot and review the histogram and adjust aperture and/or ISO and/or flash power to achieve a correctly exposed shot. Have a play, you'll get used to what affects exposure, whether direct or bouncing off the ceiling.

    I recently shot these by this method - I'm quite pleased with them - but I'm going to buy a more modern, semi-automatic, flash - capable of remote (cable free) use 'off camera'. I'll be posting a thread here on my selection criteria for this soon.

    Good luck, Dave

    PS - you probably won't be able to use the camera in 'Commander mode', that requires a flash with compatible electronics (Nikon or some third party) and you have not said which flash make/model you have - please advise.

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    Black Pearl's Avatar
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    Re: D7000 as flash commander, using non-Nikon flash

    It might have been handy to mention the type of flash in question at the start :roll eyes:

    That isn't an old flash - it is a current, reasonably high power, high speed, to be honest high spec studio flash that is mains driven, takes standard studio sync cords, can also be triggered via its built in 'magic eye' or more typically is triggered via a wireless transmitter/receiver.

    You can use your in-built flash to fire this unit though it will need to be line-of-sight and ambient levels will need to be moderate for it to be consistent.
    You could purchase a sync cord and the adapter mentions by Dave.
    You could purchase a wireless trigger kit for it.

    Do you have any light modifiers for it or do you have just the bare glass?

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    Re: D7000 as flash commander, using non-Nikon flash

    Yes, I should have mentioned the flash model. I didn't realize this was a modern flash. My neighbor/friend is a pro and gave me the impression that this was an old unit. I wasn't aware of the accessory that Dave mentioned, so that's quite helpful. Once I get some results, I'll post some photos.

    I don't think I want to trigger the flash using my camera's flash because the reflections caused by my camera's flash will ruin the image. Thus, I'd prefer to keep my camera's flash "tucked in" and just use the external flash set off to the side -- or maybe even above -- of the main subject in the image.

    Also, I do not have any light modifiers.

    Thanks, Bruce

    Quote Originally Posted by Black Pearl View Post
    It might have been handy to mention the type of flash in question at the start :roll eyes:

    That isn't an old flash - it is a current, reasonably high power, high speed, to be honest high spec studio flash that is mains driven, takes standard studio sync cords, can also be triggered via its built in 'magic eye' or more typically is triggered via a wireless transmitter/receiver.

    You can use your in-built flash to fire this unit though it will need to be line-of-sight and ambient levels will need to be moderate for it to be consistent.
    You could purchase a sync cord and the adapter mentions by Dave.
    You could purchase a wireless trigger kit for it.

    Do you have any light modifiers for it or do you have just the bare glass?

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    Re: D7000 as flash commander, using non-Nikon flash

    Quote Originally Posted by brucehughw View Post
    I don't think I want to trigger the flash using my camera's flash because the reflections caused by my camera's flash will ruin the image.
    This inexpensive item, which is mounted on the hot shoe though it's not connected to the electronics, will completely solve that issue. It blocks everything produced by the built-in flash except the infrared signal that triggers the external flash. I use it on the same camera model you're using.
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 25th March 2016 at 09:41 PM.

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: D7000 as flash commander, using non-Nikon flash

    Bruce - I have the Paul C Buff Einstein 640 lights, so they are a bit different than the Alien Bees flashes. There are three ways to trigger the lights.

    1. Direct cable connection - the synch cord is connected the light and the camera. I don't think your camera has a synch cable connection, so you can buy a hot shoe attachment that lets you connect the cable to the camera. Synch cords are my least favorite connection method as you have a lovely tripping hazard.

    2. Optical synch - Mike has already described this. I don't use this method either as I find this method unreliable when using light modifiers that can interfere with the light hitting the flashes sensor.

    3. Radio triggers - radio receiver on the flash and transmitter on the camera. I use this all the time as this is extremely reliable and as I shoot multiple flash, I can adjust the flash output from my camera. Relatively expensive compared to other methods. Unless your friend has a set to lend you, it's not going to be worth your while to go this way.

    Synch speed - studio lights is often slower than the synch speed listed in your camera manual. This is for Speedlights that have a much shorter flash time than studio lights. If you want to be safe, 1/160th is likely to work for you.

    Studio flash - the shortest duration is at full power. The 1600 has a fairly slow flash (t.5 = 1/1600th at full power and t.5 = 1/600th at 1/32 power; t.1 = 1/900th at full power and 1/300th at 1/32 power). Nicely said not super for freezing motion and you'll have to test at full power to see how well it works.

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    Re: D7000 as flash commander, using non-Nikon flash

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyDiver View Post
    2. Optical synch - Mike has already described this. I don't use this method either as I find this method unreliable when using light modifiers that can interfere with the light hitting the flashes sensor.
    I'm really surprised I haven't experienced this issue despite that I've often put the flash unit in positions where the line of sight is clearly blocked, sometimes blocked several times. My only guess is that my makeshift studio is so small that the infrared beam is being bounced around the place so much that it gets to the sensor. I guess that's the case because I can point my television's remote control in the opposite direction of the television and it still controls everything just fine. Similarly, the operating instructions for my digital projector explain to point its remote control toward the projection screen, not the projector.
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 25th March 2016 at 11:26 PM.

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    Re: D7000 as flash commander, using non-Nikon flash

    Hi Bruce,

    I confess that a large studio flash wasn't what I had in mind, although I should have guessed.

    Over this side of the pond "phono plug" means RCA connector, which made me not think of (what I'd call) the "3.5mm jack plug", which I know is used for studio flash.

    I was shooting with a Metz 45 CL4 Digital, so my thoughts of a non-hot shoe flash were directed that way - and I thought you might just be mis-describing the connector.

    Quote Originally Posted by brucehughw View Post
    Thanks very much. What plugs into the AS-15? As I wrote, a standard 1/8" (3.5 mm) phono plug is what I have coming out of the flash (flash also has a corresponding 3.5 mm phono jack), so I'd need to connect that plug to the AS-15. This cable seems like what I'd need, since it could plug into the flash's 3.5 mm phono jack.
    Yes, that cable looks like it would do the trick, but as Mike and Manfred have said; connected to a static studio flash, that would be an awful trip and 'pull over' hazard

    I will be going the hot shoe mounted RF trigger route myself soon - I'll have to, since next camera on my wish list is a Nikon D500 which doesn't have a built-in flash to use as an optical trigger (even if I wanted to).

    Quote Originally Posted by brucehughw View Post
    PS Wonderful baby photos you posted.
    Thanks Bruce.

    Cheers, Dave

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: D7000 as flash commander, using non-Nikon flash

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    I'm really surprised I haven't experienced this issue despite that I've often put the flash unit in positions where the line of sight is clearly blocked, sometimes blocked several times. My only guess is that my makeshift studio is so small that the infrared beam is being bounced around the place so much that it gets to the sensor. I guess that's the case because I can point my television's remote control in the opposite direction of the television and it still controls everything just fine. Similarly, the operating instructions for my digital projector explain to point its remote control to the projection screen, not the projector.
    Mike - the optical sensor on my mono lights is on the top of the heads and near the back. A decent sized soft box (depending on the light placement)vcan do a pretty good job ensuring that there is no line of sight to the sensor. Radio triggers avoid this issue.

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    Re: D7000 as flash commander, using non-Nikon flash

    Ahhhhhh. My only soft box positions the entire flash unit outside the soft box. I didn't realize that's not the case with all modifiers.

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: D7000 as flash commander, using non-Nikon flash

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    Ahhhhhh. My only soft box positions the entire flash unit outside the soft box. I didn't realize that's not the case with all modifiers.
    The entire moonlight is indeed outside the soft box, but a 30" x 60" rectangular soft box or a 47" octagon blocks a lot of light. In many of my setups very little light will hit the sensor.

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    Re: D7000 as flash commander, using non-Nikon flash

    Got it! Thanks for the explanation. Very helpful.

    My soft box is considerably smaller than the dimensions you're mentioning. Your large soft box would take up nearly half of my makeshift studio.

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    Re: D7000 as flash commander, using non-Nikon flash

    Manfred,

    Thanks for the education re triggering the lights. Since my setup will be pretty small (not much larger than tabletop), I don't think the cable will pose much of a hazard. I'm concerned, however, about the slow flash. I'm new to the flash world. Are there faster flashes that one can use for freezing motion (there must be). How do these differ from the Alien Bees flashes? Is the latter more for studio work? Are the faster flashes a lot more expensive ? I play around with electronics, and was thinking of building a little rig with some higher power LEDs ("high" as in 1 W) and hopefully these can provide a fast flash.

    Thanks again, Bruce

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyDiver View Post
    Bruce - I have the Paul C Buff Einstein 640 lights, so they are a bit different than the Alien Bees flashes. There are three ways to trigger the lights.

    1. Direct cable connection - the synch cord is connected the light and the camera. I don't think your camera has a synch cable connection, so you can buy a hot shoe attachment that lets you connect the cable to the camera. Synch cords are my least favorite connection method as you have a lovely tripping hazard.

    2. Optical synch - Mike has already described this. I don't use this method either as I find this method unreliable when using light modifiers that can interfere with the light hitting the flashes sensor.

    3. Radio triggers - radio receiver on the flash and transmitter on the camera. I use this all the time as this is extremely reliable and as I shoot multiple flash, I can adjust the flash output from my camera. Relatively expensive compared to other methods. Unless your friend has a set to lend you, it's not going to be worth your while to go this way.

    Synch speed - studio lights is often slower than the synch speed listed in your camera manual. This is for Speedlights that have a much shorter flash time than studio lights. If you want to be safe, 1/160th is likely to work for you.

    Studio flash - the shortest duration is at full power. The 1600 has a fairly slow flash (t.5 = 1/1600th at full power and t.5 = 1/600th at 1/32 power; t.1 = 1/900th at full power and 1/300th at 1/32 power). Nicely said not super for freezing motion and you'll have to test at full power to see how well it works.

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: D7000 as flash commander, using non-Nikon flash

    Quote Originally Posted by brucehughw View Post
    Manfred,

    Thanks for the education re triggering the lights. Since my setup will be pretty small (not much larger than tabletop), I don't think the cable will pose much of a hazard. I'm concerned, however, about the slow flash. I'm new to the flash world. Are there faster flashes that one can use for freezing motion (there must be). How do these differ from the Alien Bees flashes? Is the latter more for studio work? Are the faster flashes a lot more expensive ? I play around with electronics, and was thinking of building a little rig with some higher power LEDs ("high" as in 1 W) and hopefully these can provide a fast flash.

    Thanks again, Bruce
    Bruce - small flash a.k.a. Speedlights are much more suitable for what you are trying to do. With these flashes, lower exposure means faster flash speeds. Nikon's top of the line SB-910 specs show 1/880 sec at full power and this drops to 1/38500 sec at the lowest power setting. These speeds are going to be much more suitable for freezing action than the Alien Bees lights.

    The larger flashes are not the direction I would recommend going. With tabletop soothing you don't want to light up the whole town.

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    Re: D7000 as flash commander, using non-Nikon flash

    Quote Originally Posted by Black Pearl View Post
    You should look into triggering voltages on the model you have as some older flashguns can damage modern cameras.
    Definitely a sound piece of advice.
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 26th March 2016 at 11:00 AM. Reason: Added comment

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    Re: D7000 as flash commander, using non-Nikon flash

    Thanks very much, Manfred. I'll look into the speedlights.

    Bruce

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyDiver View Post
    Bruce - small flash a.k.a. Speedlights are much more suitable for what you are trying to do. With these flashes, lower exposure means faster flash speeds. Nikon's top of the line SB-910 specs show 1/880 sec at full power and this drops to 1/38500 sec at the lowest power setting. These speeds are going to be much more suitable for freezing action than the Alien Bees lights.

    The larger flashes are not the direction I would recommend going. With tabletop soothing you don't want to light up the whole town.

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    Re: D7000 as flash commander, using non-Nikon flash

    Hi, again.

    Before purchasing an SB 700, I downloaded the manual and looked for a PC sync jack with the flash. Unlike the studio flash I borrowed, the SB 700 does not appear to have such a jack, which suggests to me that out of the box I cannot fire it manually. One of the uses I have in mind with the flash is to freeze motion as described in this article. I'll do so by detecting a falling object and fire the flash about 20 ms later. Because 20 ms is much too brief to open the shutter and have the shutter fire the flash, I'll need to have the shutter open (in a dark room, of course) drop the object, detect the dropped object, and have circuitry fire the flash. I can do this with the "studio flash" I borrowed because it accepts the 3.5 mm phono plug (not RCA ) as a controlling input. It seems the SB 700 doesn't have this capability out of the box. I did, however, find this adapter, which seems like it will add manual firing to the SB 700. Does this seem correct -- that this adapter will let me fire the flash in the same way I fire the studio flash?

    Thanks much, Bruce

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: D7000 as flash commander, using non-Nikon flash

    That adapter looks about right to me Bruce.

    I suspect the flash duration of the Alien Bee would lead to 'subject smear' in some of the images shown in the article, a smaller (and hence faster) gun is a better solution.

    However, I have to ask why you need to go to the expense of the Nikon SB700 for this use alone?
    Given that you'll be triggering it and manually setting the flash power/duration.
    Unless you're going to use some of the 'Nikon automatics' for other areas of photography, that is.

    If widening the field of choice, a few things to consider are:
    You may not need much power, but if you get a very cheap low power gun, it may need to be fired at (or near) full power, which will give too long a flash, I think you'd be better off with a powerful model, so you can dial it back (manually) to fire at a low setting, giving a short duration flash. This is probably why Manfred suggested the SB910.

    You might also want to consider one with a "Repeat", or "Strobo" function, allowing (for trick shots), more than one flash burst in the same capture frame to give a succession of images (e.g. of a moving small object against a dark background)
    If you read the instructions, look for one that allows settings of a number of flashes and a repeat frequency (in Hz).

    I'm researching these areas myself now, although I did do something like this back in my film days, I have no recent or digital experience.

    Hopefully others might chip in if they've tried this kinda shooting.

    Cheers, Dave

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