August 29, 2014, 10:11:21 AM

Author Topic: What could have made this happen? Einstein and Speedlite not playing nice.  (Read 2497 times)

jonathan7007

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All,
Please read this account of a minor odd moment in strobe lighting and tell me if you know what went wrong.

I was photographing interiors and my kit includes both Einsteins and speedlights, Canon and Vivitars. In a small bathroom I planned to shoot from the door and snuck an Einstein head up next to me such that the head pointed straight up at the ceiling over my head. Satin 7.5 inch reflector. Dialed down to something like 100, 200WS, because it was a small bathroom and light in overall color (white ceiling). Attached directly to the 1DsMk3 by its own Buff-supplied PC cord. 17TSE on the body.

This body had been used on other rooms with just Einsteins (multiple heads) all good so far.

I had placed a Canon 580EX in the bathtub to brighten up the shower curtain and the matte-finished tile. It was mounted on a small stand up on top of a Phottix  Odin  receiver into which I had plugged a FlashZebra orange optical slave made for Canon triggering (FlashZebra has different models.) Odin "on" and set for Group A, Channel One. The speedlite was behind the white translucent cloth curtain pointed away from the lens. The Odin was underneath it and the slave stuck out the "back" of the Odin toward the camera position and therefore toward the strong pulse from the Einstein.

What went "wrong"? This: On first curtain setting only the Canon's light showed up in the exposure. Everything fired, though, and apparently at the same time. Tried it about five times.  Get this - I was dragging the shutter to let a ceiling light show in the image, so I wasn't anywhere near 250th. No banding showing on the screen. Change to second curtain and it works fine.

The same combination did it in another room a bit later. Again, second-curtain "fixed" the problem.

Nothing strange about those second-curtain images in post.

Tonight I pulled what may or may not be the same Einstein head and tested the setup. I should have marked the head! Works fine on both first- and second-curtain.  WTF? Presumably the Canon is going off milliseconds after the Einstein, as it's the Canon speedlite on a slave.

OK, anyone, any ideas?

(As an aside: One of the things that bothers me about my 580 and 550 is their lack of a PC connector, because when not at an event I think of them as small manual strobes to be hidden here or there or lighting a corner that just fades due to required placement of the bigger units. Before the purchase of the Einsteins this motley crew of Canon and Vivitar units was my only kit for interiors.  In most cases optical slaves are fine for that kind of work. The Vivitars have a connector, albeit a proprietary one.)

jonathan7007

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neuroanatomist

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No idea, but I believe the Sonia green optical slave is the Canon EX compatible trigger, not orange.   
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BLFPhoto

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I'm curious as to why you're using an optical slave AND an Odin for the Canon.  Which one is firing the flash?  It sure sounds like you're using the Odin given the specifics of group and channel. I'm sure I'm missing something in translation, but give what you wrote, I would simplify the setup to having the Canon on the Odin to fire it and set the Einstein to trigger optically from the Canon's flash.  This is a set shot and you have plenty of time and space to manually control the Einstein's power, especially since you have it right next to your position.

 

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risc32

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yeah, i don't get what the odin is there for.

BTW- i added a PC connector to my 580. There is a little "how to" somewhere on the net. Pretty easy to do. if i remember correctly it was just a couple solder joints , drilling a hole, and perhaps an inch or so of wire. I wish all my flashes were 580s for that reason alone.

neuroanatomist

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BTW- i added a PC connector to my 580. There is a little "how to" somewhere on the net. Pretty easy to do. if i remember correctly it was just a couple solder joints , drilling a hole, and perhaps an inch or so of wire. I wish all my flashes were 580s for that reason alone.

The 580EX II and 600EX-RT both have a PC terminal, straight from the factory.
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risc32

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sorry, i said PC terminal. i meant to say 1/8th inch mini jack.

jonathan7007

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Neuro, looked again at my Zebra and the base is green, innards orange, so "green" is the FlashZebra unit that I have....knew I had to specify.

I understand the usual use of an Odin receiver. I just wanted whatever triggering I had in my kit. I had bought a FlashZebra "Canon Hotshoe" a couple of months ago to provide this function but loaned it to my daughter on the mainland for a wedding she was shooting. As I said, in these assignments I just need triggering as I use the speedlights as small size manual-setting output heads to mix with the Einsteins, so yeah, I could have gone back to the place we stashed all the cases, dug around for the Odin sender unit, loaded it with batteries.... you see what I mean. Everything has to move quickly because there's always more to shoot than fits into anything like a typical work day, so I avoid changing the set up after I get going to one approach. Many of you here will know what I mean.

The Einstein was next to me so I put the (hardwire) PC cord in the side of the body.

risc32, I'd love to know more about jamming a 1/8-inch fitting into a 580 or 550. I have one of each (not EXvII) and have been thinking of getting another 550 to replace one more Vivitar. The 550 puts out almost every bit as much light as the 580EX. ...and they're cheaper. That gives me the Canon IR solution of master/slave to fall back on. If I find the link I will post it back in here.

As I also said, I couldn't reproduce the problem.

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RLPhoto

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The 580EX on the Odin receiever I think might be a problem if its on ETTL. The preflashes might screw with the normal operation of the optical slaves on the other flashes.

It kinda hard to tell what your describing w/o a diagram and simplified details.

jonathan7007

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Good question and detail missing in my write-up. Thanks!

I set that 580EX for manual, dialing it down to barely show. I never use ETTL when placing speedlights in set scenes. So no preflash. Perhaps, since I could not reproduce the problem (although it happened twice ) it is a different unit from my four Einstein heads and isn't reproduced because that's not the head I tested with last night.

I'm attaching the shot, and it was one of the two on which I saw the behavior.


risc32

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i googled it again and i found text, but the photos were gone. so i snapped a few on my own. yes, they are of amazing quality.

risc32

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you have to be fairly accurate with a drill, and solder, but it's not so bad.

jonathan7007

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Hey, thanks for opening up your project to show its guts... Cool mod. It would be a new level of McGyver-type project for me, but the end result is really appealing. Might try it on my 550EX first, as they are easier (cheaper) to replace.  I have to balance this work against the cost of the FlashZebra alternative. (I also have a blunderbuss soldering iron $0.50 from a garage sale so might have to up that toolset a bit <grin>.)

I am still scratching my head on the "why" and that I can't reproduce it.

Thanks, again.

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