Please help - Nikon CLS or other?

Discussion in 'Studio Equipment and Lighting' started by triangular, Aug 21, 2005.

  1. I have a little experience with artifical or controlled lighting, but my work has generally been outdoors; landscape, nature, travel, event and model shoots with basic flash fill. I've done enough research to be confused, so now I need a lot of help in determining what lighting to buy for my situation.

    I'm putting together a project to shoot models in various parts of Asia, and there are definite possibilities of publication in certain markets.

    My primary concerns are portability and cost. As I'll be travelling between countries (jumping between airplanes, chicken buses, hotel rooms, etc), ideally i need small, lightweight gear I can conspicuously throw into a smallish backpack and set up easily, yet powerful enough for confined spaces. I don't plan for more than 3 lights, but will want basic modifiers such as softboxes, color filters, umbrellas, etc. I need portability and efficiency, with room for creativity.

    Most of my shots will be Nikon digital, but if possible I would like to include either 35mm and/or MF work, and that is my point of confusion. If I were only considering my Nikon digitals, I think my ideal setup would be 1 SB800 and 2 SB600's. From my own research, it would seem to be the perfect answer.

    But would that setup completely exclude working with film cameras? The film cameras would probably be a 35mm Nikon F100 and a MF Mamiya 645 Pro (not the Pro TL). If I were using the higher res D2X I'd probably forget about complicating things with film and just go fully digital with CLS lighting, but I'll be mainly using a D2H and possibly a D70. I might forego any 35mm work anyway, but I'd really like to include a little 645 work for some nice MF portraiture.

    I am really biased towards going with the Nikon CLS as much as possible. As far as I can tell, studio strobes are almost out of the question, not only for cost but also because none of that is truly portable or lightweight. Not to mention the power in Asia is 220V, so I would need to either buy 220 versions or drag a power pack and converter around with it.

    I've thought about QFlashes with Pocket Wizards or something similar. I think that would work with anything, although there are many cons to that approach, such as: 1-I would need to use light meters and test extensively for every shot. 2-It is much heavier and less portable; would probably need additional luggage to carry. And 3-I think any other wireless setup like this would be WAY more expensive. Am I right or do you know of something?

    I've also thought about maybe buying one single studio light for use in Asia, if I could use at least one SB800 or SB600 powered from the Mamiya's Hot Shoe as a 2nd light source. Would this be possible? Or is there any other flash I could use on the Mamiya that would trigger an SB800/600? Or...Would an SB800 fired from the Mamiya (if its possible) still trigger a 2nd SB600 without the i-TTL? If I could use an SB800 on the Mamiya and get an SB600 to wirelessly sync, I think I could at least set the exposures in manual mode. Is there any combination at all of using the SB's with the Mamiya (or the F100)? Similarly, is there any combination at all of using the SB's in conjunction with other wireless flashes?

    I have asked Nikon about this and their answers have been fairly negative, yet ambiguous. I think the people I've spoken to at Nikon just honestly did not know. I know my post is long and some of my questions may sound silly. But I'm sure there are people here with the knowledge I'm looking for and I will appreciate anything you can tell me about it.

    As an aside, I notice a lot of people seem to just buy the SB800's and ignore the 600's. Is this extra expense all about a little power gained? Is it that much of a difference in actual practice?

    Thank you.
     
  2. fks

    fks

    Apr 30, 2005
    sf bay area
    hi christian-

    i've used my sb-800 with a non-nikon camera in manual and AA mode, so you should have no problems firing it with the mamiya. just make sure that the other contacts on the flash aren't touching anything on the mamiya's hot shoe. the sb-800 (not sure about the sb-600) has a built-in SU-4 mode, where the flash will fire if it sees another flash fire. no i-ttl in this mode though. i tried this with my sb-800 and an alien bees as the main strobe with no problems. i-tll makes things a lot easier though, so an all-sb-xxx might be the way to go.

    paul has a thread ]https://www.nikoncafe.com//forums/viewtopic.php?t=8016 with a link to a post regarding small softboxes for use with camera-mounted flash units. i've purchased a pair of these boxes but have yet to use them (still waiting for my stands from ebay). you might want to take a look at it as the premise of the thread is that you can use the sb-800 instead of a studio strobe.

    you shouldn't have any problems using the sb-800 or sb-600 with the f100 in all modes (well, no i-ttl obviously).


    hope this helps.

    ricky


     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  3. Ricky,

    Thanks for your post! I didn't truly understand how the SU-4 was working on the SB800's. I spoke to Nikon again and confirmed that the SB800's (but not SB600) can be remotely triggered to wirelessly sync with any other "compatable" flash. I'm sure there is a frequency at which they will or won't work, but Nikon would only tell me that any other Nikon flash should do it.

    Fortunately, I do have an SB80DX, which I might be able to use on the Mamiya. In that case, I think I would have to purchase all SB800's instead of any SB600's, simply setting them to manual mode and using a light meter for exposures. It's not as slick and will call for experimentation, but at least that way I think I can incorporate the non-Nikon, non-iTTl cameras into the CLS system. I suppose that's the most cost effective scenario.

    The only thing I'm concerned about is voltage differences between the SB80DX and the Mamiya Pro's Hot Shoe. Of course Nikon would not (or could not) offer any information on this. I would hate to damage either the flash or the camera circuitry on the hopeful experiment! I've been unable to find any compatability charts. Does anyone know what the voltage of either the Mamiya Pro (older era) Hot Shoe or Nikon SB series flash units work with?

    Thanks for the great info!
     
  4. fks

    fks

    Apr 30, 2005
    sf bay area
    hi chris-

    glad to have helped a bit :)

    su-4 mode is similar to using any optical trigger; the sb-800 will fire if it sees another flash firing. there's no frequency involved. you can use this mode with any other flash to trigger the sb-800 when the other flash fires. you don't use this mode with i-ttl or d-tll as the pre-flashes will trigger the sb-800.

    i wouldn't worry too much about the trigger voltage of the sb-80dx. digital cameras have more electronics, and the trigger voltages of the flash units are pretty low. to be on the safe side, email both company's tech support department to find out.

    ricky


    Ricky,

    Thanks for your post! I didn't truly understand how the SU-4 was working on the SB800's. I spoke to Nikon again and confirmed that the SB800's (but not SB600) can be remotely triggered to wirelessly sync with any other "compatable" flash. I'm sure there is a frequency at which they will or won't work, but Nikon would only tell me that any other Nikon flash should do it.

    The only thing I'm concerned about is voltage differences between the SB80DX and the Mamiya Pro's Hot Shoe. Of course Nikon would not (or could not) offer any information on this. I would hate to damage either the flash or the camera circuitry on the hopeful experiment! I've been unable to find any compatability charts. Does anyone know what the voltage of either the Mamiya Pro (older era) Hot Shoe or Nikon SB series flash units work with?

    Thanks for the great info![/quote]
     
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