Strobist.com got me pretty darn pumped about the idea of using off-camera flash. I’m primarily a street photographer, but I’ve thrown myself into portrait work full-blast, and so I can’t always rely upon natural light.
The only problem has been my confusion confusion over just how I can get my Canon 430EX II flash to cooperate with my Rebel T1i camera while off camera. It took a couple of days, but I finally figured it out.
The main problem with this particular setup is that neither my camera nor my flash has PC-sync ports that allow one to easily use cables or wireless devices like PocketWizards to make the camera-flash connection. Therefore, I needed to pick up a whole bunch of cables and adapters to make it happen.
To get a PC-sync port on my camera, I purchased the Nikon AS-15, which attaches to the hotshoe and adds the port. Don’t worry that it’s a Nikon product – it will fit right on top of a Canon DSLR camera with no issues, and I’m going to try it with the Panasonic LX5 as well.
Into the AS-15, I plugged in a 15-foot PC to PC female cable , which should give me enough range for my intended purpose (close-up portraits).
I then attached that cable to a PC to hotshoe adapter.
Finally, I stuck the 430EX II flash into the hotshoe adapter, clicked the shutter, and …
Somehow I managed to put the flash in backwards. My T1i actually detected a flash was there, but it wouldn’t fire.
After some screwing around, I turned the flash the opposite way, and presto! My flash was firing, opening up a whole new world of creative possibilities for me. I stuck my flash on a lighting stand, popped on the umbrella, and did some quick self-portraits.
Once I dialed in my exposure, I was blown away by the results. Well, not blown away, but there was a HUGE improvement in the quality of light with the flash off the camera shooting into an umbrella – literally like night and day when compared with traditional on-camera flash.
Remember, there are more than one ways to skin a cat with this kind of stuff – this combination of components is just what worked for me. Note that Canon’s ETTL flash metering doesn’t work with my method.
These are the other items I selected for this first off-camera flash kit:
- Giottos LC210 7’4″ light stand – not too big, but durable and able to carry up to 22 pounds. (not that I’ll ever put 22 pounds worth of stuff on it)
- Adorama 40″ white umbrella with removable black cover – good all purpose umbrella
- Rosco Strobist gel kit with holder for color correction and effects.
This is literally the best $150 I’ve spent on camera gear in my life, and I’m actually starting to fantasize about Elinchrom lights instead of that 135mm L lens.
More samples from my one-light setup: