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Are my old vivitars not powerful enough?

Discussion in 'General flash photography, lighting, and technique' started by LSUDVM, Aug 6, 2009.

  1. Here is my situation. I have resurrected some old vivitar flashes that were previously my father's. The models are a viv 5600, 285, 2x 283 and a 3800. I bought 2 wein hot shoe mounted optical slaves so i can start experimenting with off cam flash. I also have a sb 800. I took the following shots experimenting with off cam flash. The weins HS slaves were mounted on the 5600 and 285. I set my sb800 to su4 and used the popup flash on my d300. It seems to me that even at 1/128th power the sb 800 added a lot of light - more than the 5600 set to A and 285 did at full. It makes wonder if the 5600 and 285 have enough power to be useful with this off cam lighting. I also tried with the 283s and sb 800 - the sb800 makes a big difference. I wonder if i should sell these older flashes and put the funds towards either some of the sb2x series or sb600s. Or am i doing something wrong in my set up? Any tips, guidance or advice is appreviated.

    1) iso 200, just the 5600 and 285
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    2) added in the sb800 at 1/128, iso 200
  2. Growltiger

    Growltiger Administrator Administrator

    Surely you can't use the pop-up flash to trigger non CLS devices. They will fire on the preflash, so you don't get the power.

    Ditto with the SB-800 in SU4 mode, I'm not sure why that is working so well.
  3. WayneF


    Apr 3, 2006
    It is not a matter of power. Assuming your flashes are reasonably near, maybe within 3 or 4 feet, their maximum power should be enough to blow your subject off of the table (or at least scorch it a bit). :smile:

    My wild guess based on no specified information (except there are not multiple shadows present), and it is the most likely mistake made:

    If using your internal flash to trigger optical slaves, it MUST be set to its Manual mode. Meaning, the camera menu offering choice of TTL, Manual, and Commander must be set to MANUAL.

    If otherwise, then the preflash and/or commands are triggering the slaves too early, before the shutter opens, and results will be the same as if they were not present.

    This is true of the SB-800 in SU-4 mode too (it needs a manual flash trigger too), but SU-4 mode is a bit different, and it may be able to flash both times, and therefore give a decent result at lower power.

    If applicable, try it again with triggering flash in MANUAL mode. If still an issue, then comment on rough distance to flashes... a little more detail.

    When you get it going, then experiment with one flash on and triggered at a time, to see the effect of each one.

    Just one notion, but using the manual mode internal flash to trigger the others works, but its lowest power up close still may contribute a bit of unwanted light to a close up picture. You could instead use one PC sync cord between camera and the SB-800 (also in manual mode), and its flash could trigger all the others. I say SB-800, because sometimes it is not safe to directly connect old flashes (possibly with excessively high sync voltage) directly to the camera, but it is always safe to connect the SB-800 directly to the camera.
  4. Thank you Wayne. That was it - i had not set the commander moder to manual on the d300. And youre right the flashes are more than powerful enough now that i have everything running properly.
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