Monday, June 1, 2009

Hot Shoe Slave

No, this post has nothing to do with footwear...

I have an old Vivitar 3600 flash that I'd forgotten about. I used to use it on my film SLR back in the day... Of course when I got my digital SLR, I thought I would just slap it on the hot shoe and I'd be golden.

Not So Fast....
Apparently, the voltage for TTL flashes have changed over the years. I know this to be true for Nikon, but it wouldn't surprise me if it were true for Canon, Olympus, and other brands as well. So what now? Shell out 300 bucks for a shiny new SB600? Oh wait a minute, I'm cheap!

Hot Shoe Salvation!
There is a company called Wein that makes a hot shoe slave. I got mine from Keeble and Shuchat in Palo Alto for about 60 USD. It was actually cheaper than Amazon, and I got to take it home and play with it that same day.

What this device did for me was pretty neat: It turned that functionally-useless 15-year-old Vivitar 3600 into a slave flash. It uses the available flash pulse from my camera's built in (pop-up) flash and triggers the slave. Most digital cameras have several pre-flash pulses to meter the light before they pop off the real deal with the shutter open. The Wein HSD ignores these pulses, firing only when the shutter is open. The coolest thing about this gadget is that it uses no external power.

Why did that exposure come out way to bright? Unfortunately I have to run the slave flash in manual mode

I only use this one indoors. I've read complaints about using it outdoors and that makes sense to me; That light sensor on the HSD might not be able to notice that your wimpy pop-up flash went off when it's looking at the sun.

So for about 1/5th the cost of a new flash, I was able to re-purpose my old one. What's in your old camera bag?
as there is no provision for the flash and the camera to negotiate the exposure (unlike E-TTL or CLS flashes) For me, I have two choices: Full Blast, and -4. Full bast is really REALLY bright and it takes a long time for those poor little batteries to recharge the unit for the next shot. I run mine at -4 most of the time. There are occasions when even -4 is too bright. For those days, I use a neutral density (gray) filter (gel) that brings the flash down about 2 more stops.

1 comment:

Justin Lai said...

FUNNIEST TITLE EVER! Great post and great blog!