External speedlight inter-compatibility between brands?


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cphile

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Dec 20, 2003
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#1
Hi all,

Was wondering about the Hotshoe flash connector found on most prosumer digicams.

1. Are digicams restricted to using their own brand of flash units? (eg. Canon spedlight only works on Canon digicam)

2. If inter-compatibility is not restricted, are the speedlight features restricted? (eg. Canon flash on Nikon camera = Nikon specific flash features are disabled? Or only activated via Nikon menu on Nikon digicam?

3. If inter-compatibility is restricted, which other cameras use Universal Hotshoe connectors? (eg. Panasonic FZ-10?)


I need the least amount of legacy devices/connectors as I tend to brand-hop.
 

d7t3

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Oct 3, 2002
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#2
1. Are digicams restricted to using their own brand of flash units? (eg. Canon spedlight only works on Canon digicam)
generally, yes

2. If inter-compatibility is not restricted, are the speedlight features restricted? (eg. Canon flash on Nikon camera = Nikon specific flash features are disabled? Or only activated via Nikon menu on Nikon digicam?
quite possibly; depends on design. you'll notice that the metal contacts on the flash & camera don't quite align
 

chriszzz

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Jan 17, 2003
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#3
cphile said:
Hi all,

Was wondering about the Hotshoe flash connector found on most prosumer digicams.

1. Are digicams restricted to using their own brand of flash units? (eg. Canon spedlight only works on Canon digicam)

2. If inter-compatibility is not restricted, are the speedlight features restricted? (eg. Canon flash on Nikon camera = Nikon specific flash features are disabled? Or only activated via Nikon menu on Nikon digicam?

3. If inter-compatibility is restricted, which other cameras use Universal Hotshoe connectors? (eg. Panasonic FZ-10?)

I'm torn between saving up for a Pansonic FZ-10, Canon 300D or Sony F-828.

I need the least amount of legacy devices/connectors as I tend to brand-hop.
Generally, there are 3 types of flashes :
1. manual flash
2. auto flash with a built-in sensor,
3. dedicated TTL flash.

Most people are only interested in 2 and 3, so I'll not discuss 1.

For 2, these are flashes that can generally be used on most cameras. They are generally made by 3rd party ( eg, Sunpak ), and can be recognized by having a little circular sensor in front of the flash. This sensor senses the light from the flash, and decides when to switch the flash off. In other words, flash exposure is detemined by the flash alone, without any input from the camera. The camera only triggers it, but does not tell it how much light to emit. These flashes are quite cheap ( < $100 ), and are generally compatible with many camera brands since all it needs is the center hotshoe pin to trigger it. Take care not to use one whose triggering voltage is too high ( esp those older models ), or it may fry your camera. These flashes generally do not have any special features. I suppose Universal Hotshoe refers to these types of flashes : just a single triggering pin.

For 3, these are camera marque brands, such as Canon, Nikon, Minolta, etc, and are ONLY compatible with their own brands. These, being dedicated, have plenty of features, such as true TTL metering, strobe, rear curtain sync, wireless master/slave, etc etc and carry a much higher price tag to match. These flashes always have a set of pins at their hotshoe contact which the camera to communicate with the flash using their proprietary protocol. Since protocol and pins layout are different from brand to brand, it's not advisable or safe to use them on a different brand camera, although if you cover the pins and just leave the center pin exposed, it is possible to use it as a dumb flash on another brand camera. But most people don't do this since it's possible to damage your expensive flash.


Lastly, try not to brand hop. It's expensive, and hopeless since every brand has it's own strengths and weaknesses. You can spend every cent you have and never be satisfied with a brand. Better to be realistic and live with the shortcomings of a brand. After all, when you hop, you are simply exchanging one set of shortcomings for another.
 

theITguy

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Sep 19, 2003
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#4
cphile said:
Hi all,

Was wondering about the Hotshoe flash connector found on most prosumer digicams.

1. Are digicams restricted to using their own brand of flash units? (eg. Canon spedlight only works on Canon digicam)

2. If inter-compatibility is not restricted, are the speedlight features restricted? (eg. Canon flash on Nikon camera = Nikon specific flash features are disabled? Or only activated via Nikon menu on Nikon digicam?

3. If inter-compatibility is restricted, which other cameras use Universal Hotshoe connectors? (eg. Panasonic FZ-10?)

I'm torn between saving up for a Pansonic FZ-10, Canon 300D or Sony F-828.

I need the least amount of legacy devices/connectors as I tend to brand-hop.

If you have all the money in the world, just buy anything will do. Those 3 cameras you mentioned are of different market imho. You should know what you need for the camera before you buy the flash. Flash is just a useful accessory for the camera, should not be the deciding factor for choosing a camera. A 300D with good lens can cost you anything from $3K - $10K, so a $600 550EX is nothing.
 

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