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Thread: Cheapest setup for off camera flash using 3 lights

  1. #1

    Default Cheapest setup for off camera flash using 3 lights

    What's the cheapest but reliable way of triggering 3 lights? Let say I'm using a Canon camera.

    Could I use the radio trigger ?

    Or I had no choice but to use the expensive route, PocketWizard?

    If it is that mean I have to get a transmitter and 3 receiver thus 4 pocketwizard unit in total?


    Do I have to use all canon flash or I could mix with Nikon flash?

    Any advantages mixing with Nikon flash?

    Or it's the same as using a cheapo Nissin etc flash unit?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Cheapest setup for off camera flash using 3 lights

    Triggers, you can use the good 'ol PT-04tm aka Cactus radio trigger which cost about $45 per set but receiver is only about $25 each. I have however moved to Elinchrom Skyports. Not as expensive as PW Transceivers or the Flex/MiniTTIL but reliable still.

    As for the strobe, the cheapest would be to get good 'ol Vivtar flashguns - you get light of course with perhaps the least bells and whistles. Next would be third party flashguns but am not sure if it has sync ports like the 580EXII or SB900. The most expensive but reliable would of course to get the 580EXII since you're using Canon. With the PW Flex/MiniTTL, you can use E-TTL mode via radio trigger, the rest just trigger your flash. However, if you're not looking into flashguns, monolights which give you at least 3 times the power of any flashguns, like the Jinbei Delicacy 180W/S is something you should consider. The kit is only going for less than $500 and you get 3x 180W/S strobes. I had these but have moved to Elinchrom D-Lite4 Kit which consists of 2x 400w/s strobes.

    Flashguns, according to the internet, gives a max output of about 55-60w/s. Not sure how true is that but from experience, flashguns are just no where as strong the cheap Jinbei Delicacy. That said, like many others, I've used Canon flashguns for outdoor lighting without much compromise and still doing so until I get myself a decent batt operated strobe. The use of battery pack is recommended though, flash recycling time can just dissolve momentum during shoot, "eh wait ah, my flash recycling.... ok here we go..."

    If you have loads of cash, look at the most robust flashgun, Quantum Qflash system - not the Trio but QFlash - www.qtm.com. Why loads of cash? Cuz one Turbo QFlash (About 200w/s) with Turbo battery pack will set you back about SGD2000.
    Last edited by rendition; 29th September 2009 at 09:35 AM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member blueskye168's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cheapest setup for off camera flash using 3 lights

    Quote Originally Posted by hokkaido88 View Post
    What's the cheapest but reliable way of triggering 3 lights? Let say I'm using a Canon camera.

    Could I use the radio trigger ? Yes, PT-04tmV2, mainly for my son, and me at times cos so used to Elinchrom liao...(from Phottix at SGD$50 included 1-Transmitter+2-Recievers, fyi the price should be $60 now cos heard so...)

    Or I had no choice but to use the expensive route, PocketWizard?

    If it is that mean I have to get a transmitter and 3 receiver thus 4 pocketwizard unit in total?


    Do I have to use all canon flash or I could mix with Nikon flash? As for me, we use one 580 with 1-reciever and the others are Nissin Di466 which don't require any reciever at all

    Any advantages mixing with Nikon flash?

    Or it's the same as using a cheapo Nissin etc flash unit?
    Frankly speaking, at 1st before I purchase this Nissin flash I was sobut after seeingthe so acceptable-results that
    it can produced...!!
    liao lor!!!
    Last edited by blueskye168; 29th September 2009 at 10:35 AM.
    Anything that can take pictures...happy already lor...(..but...Hasselblad_H5D-50 as my Workhorse)

  4. #4

    Default Re: Cheapest setup for off camera flash using 3 lights

    yup, you can use radio triggers there are alot of cheap radio triggers out there, but the reliablity varies with models.. you don't need to use all Canon flashes with radio triggers since mainly you'll be working in manual mode.. one main advantage is the built-in optical slaves on (some) Nikon flashes, so you don't need additional equipment to trigger them..

  5. #5

    Default Re: Cheapest setup for off camera flash using 3 lights

    rendition, that mean only Nikon flash has optical trigger?

    If I mix canon flash with other third party flash would I have white balance problem due to different color temperature of other flashes?

    Is it overkill if I get a SB800/SB900 for it's GN and optical trigger features? Would it be better to get a cheapest third party flash + radio receiver?

    If let say I combine the external flash as a hair light/background light and Elinchrom DLite4 as the main light, would the external flash introduce color balance problem?

    Looks like the power of the flash is small even with the ligtweight 200Ws studio strobe. Then am I right to say the flash most of the time unable to overpower the ambient light(even if it does I'd need to set it to near max power which in turn drain the battery rapidly).
    I guess with the place like wedding reception in hotel with string tungsten light, overpowering it with 1 or 2 external flash is not quite possible( unless >ISO100 and near max power is used)?

    Your Elinchrom skyport is mainly use for your Dlite and not with the external flash is it?

    blueskye168, would the Nissin is durable as the canon flash?

    I hope to get some value for money flash that would produce consistent flash and it's durable.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Cheapest setup for off camera flash using 3 lights

    rendition, that mean only Nikon flash has optical trigger?
    Not exactly optical trigger but if you're using their DSLR bodies, they have integrated wireless flash commander which you can use to fire Nikon speedlites. Kinda like the Canon ST-E2 but built in, which by the way is now available in the new Canon 7D too. Unlike radio triggers, these are transmitted via IR with E-TTL capability but with limitation of distance and need for line-of-sight.

    Is it overkill if I get a SB800/SB900 for it's GN and optical trigger features? Would it be better to get a cheapest third party flash + radio receiver?
    Depends, they're priced so high for a reason. That said, again third party is of course a cheaper way to go. Personally, I'd never go for 3rd party with compatibility being one of the potential issue, sooner or later.

    If let say I combine the external flash as a hair light/background light and Elinchrom DLite4 as the main light, would the external flash introduce color balance problem?
    Might. Vast? Maybe not but differs from eye-to-eye. To the untrained, maybe not. I've never done this before though but I have mixed monolights before.

    Your Elinchrom skyport is mainly use for your Dlite and not with the external flash is it?
    It has sync port which allows me to use it with any monolights and the 580EXII which has PC sync port.
    Last edited by rendition; 30th September 2009 at 12:37 AM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member blueskye168's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cheapest setup for off camera flash using 3 lights

    Quote Originally Posted by hokkaido88 View Post
    rendition, that mean only Nikon flash has optical trigger?

    If I mix canon flash with other third party flash would I have white balance problem due to different color temperature of other flashes?

    Is it overkill if I get a SB800/SB900 for it's GN and optical trigger features? Would it be better to get a cheapest third party flash + radio receiver?

    If let say I combine the external flash as a hair light/background light and Elinchrom DLite4 as the main light, would the external flash introduce color balance problem?

    Looks like the power of the flash is small even with the ligtweight 200Ws studio strobe. Then am I right to say the flash most of the time unable to overpower the ambient light(even if it does I'd need to set it to near max power which in turn drain the battery rapidly).
    I guess with the place like wedding reception in hotel with string tungsten light, overpowering it with 1 or 2 external flash is not quite possible( unless >ISO100 and near max power is used)?

    Your Elinchrom skyport is mainly use for your Dlite and not with the external flash is it?

    blueskye168, would the Nissin is durable as the canon flash?

    I hope to get some value for money flash that would produce consistent flash and it's durable.
    I bought my Nissin for about 2-months+(so is it qualified to comment on durabilities...heehee...) but all I can say is so far my set not even once "missed-fire" yet and hopefully it'll never ever...(Do note that I'm a person who won'tside any brands/shops, meaning=if it's good it's good, point covering for them as I do not even get to gain any special-discount, so what for manz, right agree...???)
    Anything that can take pictures...happy already lor...(..but...Hasselblad_H5D-50 as my Workhorse)

  8. #8

    Default Re: Cheapest setup for off camera flash using 3 lights

    <rendition> /send So corourful.
    Last edited by rendition; 30th September 2009 at 11:03 AM.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Cheapest setup for off camera flash using 3 lights

    Have shot with only speedlites in studio before, they do tend to have a very slightly shift of colour temperature from shot to shot, something like in the region of 10K.. hardly noticable and easily corrected in post if you're particular about it..

    Abt Nikon flashes, some models have optical slaves built in, to say they can be triggered by any pulse of light not just the specific i-TTL signals from a master flash..

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