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Thread: Confused over flashes and CLS

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    Default Confused over flashes and CLS

    I'm thinking of getting a SB-700 to do some off camera shoots but I'm not sure if it will sync with my D3100. I've heard of CLS on the web after a few days of research but I also realised the on-camera flash on my D3100 does not support being a Commander or Master. What does that mean? Can I still take my SB-700 off camera, synced to the camera and act as a remote/slave flash even with my camera not having this Commander option?

    Also must the on-camera flash fire for the off-camera flash to fire? I've heard of IR and radio sync systems but if I'm not wrong Nikon's CLS is just purely light detection. Meaning I need to have 1 flash firing to set the other flashes off first?

    Well if I need not a Master flash and a slave flash to get both of them to fire at the same time(ie if the answer to my first question above is Yes), can I just use my on-camera flash(which is not Commander enabled) and get a purely slaved SB-600(cheaper) to do the off-camera flash work?

    Sorry for the lump of questions and if the phrasing is messy. Also didn't really thoroughly check the forum if someone asked this before so sorry for the repeat(didn't find any flash/strobe guide in this forum too...).

  2. #2

    Default Re: Confused over flashes and CLS

    Not to sure about the D3100.


    But if you're using triggers you won't be needing the on cam flash. ( there are triggers with ttl & they cost abit more than normal triggers)

    & yes you can use an optical slave to trigger the off cam flash with your on cam one.

    also read Strobist: Lighting 101 if you haven't & do the assignments.

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    Default Re: Confused over flashes and CLS

    So if you use triggers(whether wireless or wired; TTL or normal) you can fire the off-camera flash without using your on camera flash since you are using wires/radio waves to transmit the signal. But if you use SU-4(optical slave) mode, you need an external light for it to fire since you are using light to transmit the signal?

    Ok thanks I somewhat got it. And yeap I read through the whole thing already, really great resource! I'll probably do the assignments once I buy a flash. Thanks!

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by megain
    So if you use triggers(whether wireless or wired; TTL or normal) you can fire the off-camera flash without using your on camera flash since you are using wires/radio waves to transmit the signal. But if you use SU-4(optical slave) mode, you need an external light for it to fire since you are using light to transmit the signal?

    Ok thanks I somewhat got it. And yeap I read through the whole thing already, really great resource! I'll probably do the assignments once I buy a flash. Thanks!
    yes. also i recommend watching zack arias one light. if u can get your hands on it.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Confused over flashes and CLS

    well that I haven't heard of. looks interesting, I'll keep that in mind. thanks again for suggesting! =)

  6. #6

    Default Re: Confused over flashes and CLS

    Quote Originally Posted by megain View Post
    well that I haven't heard of. looks interesting, I'll keep that in mind. thanks again for suggesting! =)


    It is.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Confused over flashes and CLS

    Quote Originally Posted by megain View Post
    I'm thinking of getting a SB-700 to do some off camera shoots but I'm not sure if it will sync with my D3100. I've heard of CLS on the web after a few days of research but I also realised the on-camera flash on my D3100 does not support being a Commander or Master. What does that mean? Can I still take my SB-700 off camera, synced to the camera and act as a remote/slave flash even with my camera not having this Commander option?

    Also must the on-camera flash fire for the off-camera flash to fire? I've heard of IR and radio sync systems but if I'm not wrong Nikon's CLS is just purely light detection. Meaning I need to have 1 flash firing to set the other flashes off first?

    Well if I need not a Master flash and a slave flash to get both of them to fire at the same time(ie if the answer to my first question above is Yes), can I just use my on-camera flash(which is not Commander enabled) and get a purely slaved SB-600(cheaper) to do the off-camera flash work?

    Sorry for the lump of questions and if the phrasing is messy. Also didn't really thoroughly check the forum if someone asked this before so sorry for the repeat(didn't find any flash/strobe guide in this forum too...).
    If you are using CLS (which uses IR btw), and intend to use the pop up flash on your camera to fire off other flashes, you need to have a camera body capable of being a commander. If the camera does not have commander mode built it, there is no way you can set groups or adjust ratios. The only way to make this work for your D3100, is to get another D700/D900/D910/D800 or SU-800 mounted on top of your camera. Then you will use the mounted flash as a "Master" aka Commander. You will set groups and adjust ratios in the interface of the flash/SU-800 itself. CLS is in TTL mode, so you know. So the system will still work out the exposure needed and adjust the power of the flashes.

    If you are using SU-4 mode, it is just a dumb optical trigger on the SB-700/SB-800/SB-900/SB-910. It will just fire when it sees a flash firing off, and there will be NO TTL. It will fire off at the power you set in Manual mode.

    If you are using standard triggers, like PT-04 (and variants), Pixel soldier, Phottix Strato I and II (non-ttl), Godox Remix3n1, Pocketwizards Plus/Plus II/ Plus III, Phottix Atlas I/II, these are non-ttl triggers and just a simple fire signal will be sent. No auto-adjustment of flash power will be happening according to the metering system.

    If you are using TTL-enable triggers like Pixel Knight, Pixel King, you will be able fire off remote flashes in TTL mode. Problem is, you cannot set ratios to different groups for multiple slave flashes.

    If you are using Radiopoppers, what it does is convert your CLS infra-red signals into RF signals at the master end, and RF signals back to infra-red at the slave flash end, so that you can still use the commander menus built in your camera. But if you use it on your D3100, you still need that main Master flash or SU800 mounted on the hotshoe of your camera.

    If you are using Phottix Odin or Pocketwizards FlexTT5/MiniTT1/AC-3 systems, you will be able to fire remote TTL flashes and set ratios to different groups.

    Hope this helps. Some of the newer triggers I probably missed, but it should not be hard to do some read-up to find out how they operate.
    Last edited by daredevil123; 1st January 2013 at 04:48 PM.

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    Default Re: Confused over flashes and CLS

    thanks! Wow that's very elaborated + examples. =O

    Ya the SU-4 is just an optical slave but I guess it's the best you can do with 1 flash and a entry-level body. I don't want to spend anything unnecessary like the SU-800 or TTL triggers because I plan to upgrade to a Commander-mode-available D7000 in future to make use of the CLS and am running on a budget. But the option to convert IR signalling to RF signals is interesting. Why would anyone want to do that?

    Also one other question. If I'm using SU-4 mode with a speedlight + shoot-thru umbrella, can the speedlight still receive the optical signal or I can only use umbrella reflectors?

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    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: Confused over flashes and CLS

    in short,

    D3100 does not have CLS function
    if you want to use your D3100 for Nikon CLS, you need at least a SB800/SB900/SB910 to mount on your camera as commanding flash, and get additional flash like SB600/SB700 or better as remote flash.


    there is one cheapest alternative, get YongNuo manual flash, it only cost about $110 a piece, set your camera built-in flash in manual mode, at a low enough power still able to trigger the off camera yongnuo flash, and stay indoor.
    btw, no ttl, all manual power mode.
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  10. #10

    Default Re: Confused over flashes and CLS

    Quote Originally Posted by catchlights View Post
    there is one cheapest alternative, get YongNuo manual flash, it only cost about $110 a piece, set your camera built-in flash in manual mode, at a low enough power still able to trigger the off camera yongnuo flash, and stay indoor.
    btw, no ttl, all manual power mode.
    I did exactly this before I bought some inexpensive triggers (1 trigger + 2 receiver $50 - PM me if you would like to know more).
    宁愿遇见丢失幼崽的母熊,也不愿碰上做蠢事的愚人

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    Default Re: Confused over flashes and CLS

    @Shizuma Interesting... but why did you have to buy triggers? Is it because the sensor not sensitive enough/didn't fire when you did? What was your experience with the YongNuo?

    @catchlights I've hardly heard of YongNuo. Is it a good brand? Yeah I will be interested if there's a cheaper set up, but what are the disadvantages of choosing YongNuo over the SB-700? I mean I'm alright if off-camera I'll have to manually do it(isn't that what most ppl do?) but on-camera I think TTL will be convenient(but not must).

  12. #12

    Default Re: Confused over flashes and CLS

    Quote Originally Posted by megain View Post
    @Shizuma Interesting... but why did you have to buy triggers? Is it because the sensor not sensitive enough/didn't fire when you did? What was your experience with the YongNuo?

    @catchlights I've hardly heard of YongNuo. Is it a good brand? Yeah I will be interested if there's a cheaper set up, but what are the disadvantages of choosing YongNuo over the SB-700? I mean I'm alright if off-camera I'll have to manually do it(isn't that what most ppl do?) but on-camera I think TTL will be convenient(but not must).
    err . trigger is like the little remote control to tell the receivers (which are attached at the hotshoe of flashes), that the shutter is opening and that the flash units better start firing off.

    so it is flash remote control la. Yongnuo is reasonably good so far. very good value although if you like auto metering auto flash power stuff it is not so easy. the cheapest flash are in two digit range and quite reliable . . . but pure manual power flash.

    the two flashes i have are idiot proof with no fancy LCD screen. only LED indicators of power and mode

    some of my very newbie shot using Yongnuo , dual flash and hand held flash with some help from my friend

    from Welcome to SingaporeWeddingFlorist.com - ROM, Solemnizations, and Weddings,

    seniors, please don't flame my technique. if you think its bad, you are probably right!
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  13. #13
    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: Confused over flashes and CLS

    Quote Originally Posted by megain View Post
    @Shizuma Interesting... but why did you have to buy triggers? Is it because the sensor not sensitive enough/didn't fire when you did? What was your experience with the YongNuo?

    @catchlights I've hardly heard of YongNuo. Is it a good brand? Yeah I will be interested if there's a cheaper set up, but what are the disadvantages of choosing YongNuo over the SB-700? I mean I'm alright if off-camera I'll have to manually do it(isn't that what most ppl do?) but on-camera I think TTL will be convenient(but not must).
    Ok, I'm referring to the YN 560 II,
    I don't see any disadvantages of using YongNuo over the SB-700, perhaps the name sound a little ....... errr .... not so pro. but who cares?

    anyway, the recycle is very fast, more powerful, very simple, easy to use, and it is very economy in term of cost / power ratio, I can get a few YN 560 II for the price of one SB700.

    moreover, TTL is nice to have, but I prefer to use manual mode, it is more consistent and reliable for off camera multi flash set up.


    YN 560 II is just like the cheap and trusty Vivitar 283 of the good old days, but even cheaper and come with a built in slave, zoom head, built in wide angle diffuser and audio.
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  14. #14

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    manual is the way to go.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Confused over flashes and CLS

    Quote Originally Posted by catchlights View Post
    Ok, I'm referring to the YN 560 II,
    I don't see any disadvantages of using YongNuo over the SB-700, perhaps the name sound a little ....... errr .... not so pro. but who cares?

    anyway, the recycle is very fast, more powerful, very simple, easy to use, and it is very economy in term of cost / power ratio, I can get a few YN 560 II for the price of one SB700.

    moreover, TTL is nice to have, but I prefer to use manual mode, it is more consistent and reliable for off camera multi flash set up.


    YN 560 II is just like the cheap and trusty Vivitar 283 of the good old days, but even cheaper and come with a built in slave, zoom head, built in wide angle diffuser and audio.
    @Shizuma: Yup. The YN560 II is retailing at $110 at artworkfoto, you can get it 10-20 bucks cheaper from some of the Mass Sales sellers. I agree to what catchlights said about the flash. It's kind of an "imitation" of the Canon 580EXII speedlight, just that you don't have TTL and the power steps are all in full stops instead of 1/3 stop control.

    If you worry about not having High Speed Sync, you can always gang-flash buy buying a few more. It's still be cheaper than buying anything like SB-700 to SB-910. I currently own 3 - allows me for a 3 point light set up (indoors), or a one or two point set up out doors if I use gang flash to overpower the sun due to X-sync restriction. But well, that's just $330 and I'm looking forward to add another into my inventory. That's just $440, still cheaper than the SB-700

  16. #16

    Default Re: Confused over flashes and CLS

    wth is gang flash.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Confused over flashes and CLS

    but dont Chinese products have a reputation for being unreliable/no quality check?

  18. #18

    Default Re: Confused over flashes and CLS

    I do a lot of strobing (almost weekly) and currently I use a mix of Nikon and Yong Nuo flashes, along with a mix of Phottix Odin and Stratos triggers.

    Going with cheap manual flashes and normal radio triggers is a very cost effective option and should work well for most people.

    However I really do enjoy certain benefits of going with a Nikon flash + full featured triggers like the Odin. Being able to change settings without having to move from my shooting spot is a huge time and energy saver when setting up. HSS is also situationally useful when you want to shoot wide open. Ability to trigger modelling lights is extremely useful at night. And Nikon flashes are simply tougher - my SB-900 has taken countless falls and is still going strong, whereas both my Yong Nuo flashes zooms are starting to fall apart after a few falls.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Confused over flashes and CLS

    Quote Originally Posted by CorneliusK View Post
    I do a lot of strobing (almost weekly) and currently I use a mix of Nikon and Yong Nuo flashes, along with a mix of Phottix Odin and Stratos triggers.

    Going with cheap manual flashes and normal radio triggers is a very cost effective option and should work well for most people.

    However I really do enjoy certain benefits of going with a Nikon flash + full featured triggers like the Odin. Being able to change settings without having to move from my shooting spot is a huge time and energy saver when setting up. HSS is also situationally useful when you want to shoot wide open. Ability to trigger modelling lights is extremely useful at night. And Nikon flashes are simply tougher - my SB-900 has taken countless falls and is still going strong, whereas both my Yong Nuo flashes zooms are starting to fall apart after a few falls.
    you pay for what you get. hehe

    my canon flashes also taken alot of damage. still going strong, I think if i had gotten mic ones by now my replacement fees can buy 1 canon flash.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Confused over flashes and CLS

    Quote Originally Posted by eleveninth View Post
    wth is gang flash.
    Gang lighting is using more than 1 speedlight for a light source point. For example, 2 or 3 speedlights mounted on a reflective parabola via a 2 or 3 way flash bracket.

    Quote Originally Posted by CorneliusK View Post
    I do a lot of strobing (almost weekly) and currently I use a mix of Nikon and Yong Nuo flashes, along with a mix of Phottix Odin and Stratos triggers.

    Going with cheap manual flashes and normal radio triggers is a very cost effective option and should work well for most people.

    However I really do enjoy certain benefits of going with a Nikon flash + full featured triggers like the Odin. Being able to change settings without having to move from my shooting spot is a huge time and energy saver when setting up. HSS is also situationally useful when you want to shoot wide open. Ability to trigger modelling lights is extremely useful at night. And Nikon flashes are simply tougher - my SB-900 has taken countless falls and is still going strong, whereas both my Yong Nuo flashes zooms are starting to fall apart after a few falls.
    I'm in no doubt about the convenience about full featured lighting system. I came from the Canon's latest RT system and the amount of control and convenience is truly revolutionary compared to full manual set ups. But owning a decent well featured set up is not going to be cheap though. Say 3 of the SB-700 to SB-910 range will easily cost you about $1k plus minus. The Odin kit set is another $400 and buying 2 more receiver for for your 2nd and 3rd speedlight is another $150 each.

    Depending on what you shoot - if you don't have to place your flash on tricky or high locations, maybe forgoing some features and change the settings manually may make economic sense. But if one has the money to spare, go for it.

    BTW the new YN560II is pretty well built. Mine has taken heavy rain and some sea water splashes and it's still going strong They have not taken direct crashes though, but they crashed a few times together with my parabola.
    Last edited by avsquare; 2nd January 2013 at 03:56 PM.

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