Aaron Brethorst

Round peg in a square hole, rabid generalist.

Strobing Myself Up

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I’ve been gazing wistfully at the beautiful pictures that a solid photographer can take with an off-camera flash, transmitters, and…oh yeah, talent. Talent tends to be helpful, too.

Anyway, the amount of equipment you could need, and the terribly conflicting information about the quality, reliability, and technique surrounding such equipment is somewhat overwhelming for a rank beginner such as yours truly. Here’s an example: the Vivitar 285 strobe may or may not use a voltage that is unsafe for the Canon 40D body. Every single forum post you read offers up conflicting information on the topic. 

So, I say to myself “let’s just not risk my shiny new SLR and instead trigger the fucker (i.e. the flash) remotely.” Of course, this presents its own set of problems. How do you want to remotely trigger the flash? Via optical or radio means? Optical is pretty reliable, but it requires a flash mounted on my camera, which defeats the whole purpose of off-camera flash in my mind. Radio seems ideal, but the reasonably priced radio transmitters appear to fail 20% of the time (not acceptable) or cost $200 apiece (oh, and you need at least two of them).

The ideal situation would be to use the Radiopopper Jr., which is RF-based and should be relatively cheap while offering rock-solid stability…But it doesn’t exist yet. Of course not! That would be too damned easy.

So, I’m left with a set of nigh-on-untenable options: Lay out at least $600, potentially fry my camera, or get something that fails every five shots. Talk about major suck. 

Anyway, given the amount of pain this all takes, why (you might ask) would I still want to do all this. Please consider the following picture to be exhibit A for why off-camera lighting is awesome despite all of the associated suck.