Wired, Infrared or Radio? | Transcription
This video is all about understanding the different technologies and frankly which is the best technology for OCF, for off camera flash, OCAF. I love that word, OCAF. Just want to say OCAF all day long. Let’s start from the top. We’re going to start with the most simple way of getting your flash off the camera. The most simple way is just to take it off, duh. Oh wait but now I can’t fire. I’m just kidding, I’m kind of kidding, I’m kind of not. Let me set the camera down for one second so I don’t drop it. That would be a very bad part of this tutorial. This is the Vello TTL cable. Now you might remember this, you might remember such cables from Lighting 101. This was in Lighting 101, we used this actually to get the flash onto a bracket just above the camera for stylistic purposes basically.
What we can do is basically attach this little flash to the hot shoe on this side of that Vello cable. Then on this side, we’re going to attach this directly to our hot shoe and guess what? This is now off camera flash and look at this. Look at this, I got to show you this. See my Phottix Mitros? I still have the little plastic on there look. Why? I’m Asian, yes Persian is Asian, that’s a whole other topic. I am Asian and growing up, my family, we would leave all the plastic on our sofas. Also my dad was trying to wrap my remote controls for the TV and so forth. Yes, I have a habit of leaving the plastic on. Don’t kill me for it. Actually I will take this off, watch this. There, joking can you get that? I want to put it back on, I feel like this is naked now without it.
Just kidding, oh but I really want to protect it so getting back to the point here. This is now off camera flash right? We can now basically move the flash away from the camera, we can put it on different positions and so forth. The pros to this system is that it’s simple. I mean all we had to do is get this little cable, a Vello cable like this. This is the one that we recommend because it’s inexpensive and it works fantastic. The quality is like really nice too. This guy’s 20 bucks, you can grab it from B&H. Very inexpensive way of getting your flash off the camera. Also the cable gives you basically full TTL control which means that we still have TTL capability from the camera. If we still need to use things like high speed sync or rear curtain sync or all those kind of things, we still have that full control with this flash.
This is a very cheap way to get started practicing some of these techniques. If all you’ve got is 20 bucks, go out, get this and just start practicing these techniques in your home or in your studio and so forth. What are the obvious downsides of this system? The most obvious one, if you guys are paying attention, is that there’s a giant cable now attaching these 2. Hopefully you guys see that okay? If we’re trying to move this anywhere beyond 5, 10 feet from the camera itself, we’re going to have issues. We can’t really move it into certain positions. We can move it to camera left and to camera right fairly easily but getting this behind the subject, without getting this cable in the way, would require a very, very long cable. This just becomes cumbersome to shoot with.
That’s probably the most large or the most large con, that sounds weird. That’s probably the biggest con. The other thing is that we can only control one off camera flash. There’s not really a splitter cable that would allow you to control multiple off-camera flashes in this way. Yes, this is a great way to start practicing off camera flash techniques and it’s one that builds directly into Lighting 101. If you watch Lighting 101, you bought this cable already, well you’re already ready to start practicing some of these basic off camera flash techniques. It’s going to be limited and that limit is going to basically present itself fairly quickly to you. By the way when you are doing this, I recommend getting a long cable or if you get a coiled cable, like this, just make sure that when you’re placing this on a stand, if someone’s not holding this, you need to make sure that stand is secured.
As soon as you start pulling, it’s going to create tension and you can easily knock over your stands. Let’s ditch this guy, let’s ditch the cable. I don’t want to ditch it because I still like that cable. I find it very, very functional. Very, very handy. I like the Vello cable. Let’s put the flash back on the camera. Our next means or the next technology that we have to control an off camera flash is infrared flash. Now you might already know about this technique or you might know about this technology because it’s commonly referred to as master and slave mode. Basically, what the camera is doing is, or what the flash is doing, is for flashes that are full feature flashes, meaning this Phottix Mitros Plus is a full featured flash. It has this little infrared portion built in. A Canon 580EX, which we have other there, is a full featured flash. A Nikon SB-910 or SB-900, whatever you have, is a full featured flash.
All of these flashes have infrared systems built in. Now some of their more basic models, like the Canon 430EX, also has an infrared slave built in. Which means that if you have a 580EX on your camera, you can control other 580’s as well as 430’s as well as whatever other Canon model that offers slave control. Same thing. The only thing here is that it’s worth noting that Phottix infrared can only control Phottix infrared flashes. Nikon infrared can only control Nikon infrared compatible flashes and same thing with Canon. They are brand specific. Just because you have a Phottix that does infrared, doesn’t mean you can control a Nikon that does infrared. The great thing about it is that most of you are already going to have 1 or 2 or 3 flash units already. You’re probably going to have that master-slave system automatically.
This gives you a system that you can start using right away that’s going to be wireless. Where you can start using 1, 2, 3 off camera flashes just out of the box. That being said, why is that we’re not teaching you to use this technology on your shoots? The main reason is the cons. The pros is that it comes built into most full feature flashes and that you can control multiple off-camera flashes. Those are the primary cons, sorry those are the primary pros. The primary cons of this are very, very cons. They’re super cons okay? One of them is you’re limited by line of sight so LOS. Line of sight simply means that if anything steps in between this master and the slave. If you have a hand that you put right here, it prevents that signal from being transmitted. If a person is standing in between, it prevents the signal from being transmitted.If you have a light modifier in between, it prevents the signal from being transmitted. It is a line of sight system down to the tee. That means you can’t really use it in situations where you have lots of light modifiers or if you’re placing a flash behind the subject. They can’t communicate with each other. That’s a very, very big issue. The other thing, in addition to that, is that the range is extremely limited. Inside of a studio, let’s say inside of a 10 x 10 or 20 x 20 working space, hey your infrared is going to work pretty well so long as you aren’t having line of sight issues. Beyond that infrared has an issue. Beyond 20 feet, you’re going to have very major consistency issues in terms of firing. The range is extremely limited.
If you have a light modifier in between, it prevents the signal from being transmitted. It is a line of sight system down to the tee. That means you can’t really use it in situations where you have lots of light modifiers or if you’re placing a flash behind the subject. They can’t communicate with each other. That’s a very, very big issue. The other thing, in addition to that, is that the range is extremely limited. Inside of a studio, let’s say inside of a 10 x 10 or 20 x 20 working space, hey your infrared is going to work pretty well so long as you aren’t having line of sight issues. Beyond that infrared has an issue. Beyond 20 feet, you’re going to have very major consistency issues in terms of firing. The range is extremely limited.
Also there is an operational learning curve. It’s not like a simple … With this one right over here, we just pop that directly onto our … We just put the cable on and we’re ready to go basically. With this one, there’s still an operational learning curve in every one of these systems. Whether it’s Phottix or Canon or Nikon, it’s going to have its own master-slave system that you need to learn on how to control these flashes. Again if you already have this, the main pro of this system is that it’s already built into flashes that you probably already own. Which means that, once again, you can start using these techniques that we’re teaching in this course right away without buying any extra gear. You’re going to run into those limitations very quickly and that’s why we’re going to be presenting number 3.
Option number 3 and the one that we prefer, the one that we teach throughout this entire course, is radio flash control. There are a couple different ways of doing this or couple of different ways of controlling flashes via radios. We’re going to talk about that in just a second. Let’s talk about the pros first. Radio means that you’re no longer limited by line of sight. You guys have a radio in your car right? Can you guys see the radio station? No, I can’t see the radio station but I still hear the awesome Justin Bieber music that plays through my radio. Yes, I’m a fan of the Bieber, not really. We can’t see radios but it doesn’t mean that they don’t work without line of sight. Radios works and they do not require line of sight.
Also the range is far, far greater. Once again, you can be miles way from the radio station but you’re still receiving a radio signal. Likewise with flash, your transmission range is now hundreds of feet if not thousands. Like the PocketWizard can go up to 1500 feet so that is a very large distance that you can broadcast across. You can even use PocketWizards to extend that distance by just using them as little extenders in between ranges and so forth. We’re not limited by range anymore. In addition, we have some full feature radios that actually allow for full feature flash control. Like TTL, high-speed sync, rear curtain sync and that kind of stuff. That option is there as well. Others, like this PocketWizard Plus 3 system, are designed for manual flash use which means that you’re going to be controlling the flashes manually.
What are the cons of basically using a radio system? Number one is that it can require more gear. What I mean by that is … Let me show you something. Let me show you something. That’s a little Jim Carrey reference. See that LumaPro right there on the stand or this Bolt right here on the stand? Those are manual flashes okay? Now they come built in with little ports and all we need is a Pocket Wizard like this. Then we need a little cable. Now let me just grab this little cable. Actually, I have this guy, this is not a flash I’d recommend. It’s one of the … It’s the last on our honorable mention list which is no longer honorable. It’s honorable because of its past, I’ll talk about that a little bit. Anyway it’s going to require more gear.
The whole point of that is that now, in addition to your flash unit, you now require a cable as well as the PocketWizard. There is a little bit more cumbersome stuff to deal with. You require more gear than just the flash unit itself. Also these radios can get expensive. For example, if I want to control 2 of these off camera flashes, when it’s shaking I can … This is the best billfold in the world. If I want to control 2 of these Vivitars, I would need 2 PocketWizards that are hooked up this way and also one on my camera that can transmit the signal. Now I need 3 PocketWizards, you need one on every single flash and also from the transmission point which would be your camera. That can get expensive. This guy is 150 bucks so if I need 3 of them that’s 450 bucks in addition to my flashes that I have to buy as well.
That can get a little bit expensive but we have another option here. Let me show you this. Certain flashes, for example, the Phottix Mitros Plus, have built in radio systems. That’s why the Mitros Plus is our go to flash in this entire course. It’s the one flash … If you’re going to look for a full feature flash, this is the one that we recommend for Canon, Nikon systems. They have both versions. It’s an absolutely fantastic full feature flash and it’s 400 bucks. For 400 bucks, you’re getting the whole kit and caboodle. There’s also the Canon EX or the Canon 600EX-RT. That’s another flash that has a built in radio system but it’s 500 bucks. It was 600 bucks until these guys came out and then Canon lowered the price. They’re a little bit more costly but we get rid of all the cables.
Now this has a built in radio. This can act as a transmitter, it can also act as a receiver. As long as I have a flash on my camera, I can actually transmit and receive these signals. I don’t need extra cables. If I have 2 Phottixs off camera, I can control all of those just from this one. I could also use that Phottix Odin right there and we’re going to show you all these in complete detail later on but that’s just a transmitter. I can just put the transmitter on my camera if I want to have 2 flashes off camera and control it that way as well. This is the built-in radio system. As you can see, well compare these 2. If I put this onto a stand, and we’ll show you guys pictures of those, but if I put these both onto stands right? Which system is going to be more simple?
I mean with this system, all I have to do just put a flash on the stand and I can control it from my camera. I’m good, there’s no cables. With this system, with a manual flash system, I require more gear. In addition to the flash, you need your cable plus your PocketWizard. Sometimes the cables that it comes with will fit your flash, sometimes, like this Vivitar, you need a separate flash cable. Let’s go onto the next thing, operational learning curve. With radios there is a little bit of an operational learning curve but it’s not really anymore complicated than an infrared flash system. We’re going to be teaching you that entire system here. We’re going to teach you how to use radios, how to troubleshoot them and everything. It’s really not as bad as they seem.
Some require manual control flashes. We talked about that with these and then there’s also some troubleshooting that can be required. I don’t want you guys to get worried about that component. This is the whole reason why we didn’t include this stuff in Lighting 101. Lighting 101, we wanted you to focus on just manipulating and shaping light. Here we’re going to still focus on manipulating and shaping light, but we have all this additional gear that we need to learn and incorporate into that process now. That’s why we’ve separated them and that’s why we have this course. We’re going to approach it in a very systematic, easy and fun way to learn. Hopefully this makes sense in terms of the different technologies when it comes to controlling off camera flash.
If you’re wondering which is the best one, well don’t wonder. It is by far a radio. Radio transmission is the best technology for controlling flash because of range, because of line of sight and all those things that come with those limitations in these other technology formats.