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Remote flash help please

Discussion in 'General flash photography, lighting, and technique' started by kaige, May 15, 2007.

  1. I would like to use a SB 27 as a remote flash with my d70s.
    Problem is that the more I read, the more confused I get.
    Will the d70s fire the sb 27 on its own?
    If not, do I need something like the SU-4?
    Are su-4's even available? Are there modern equivalents?
    I am looking for easy and cheap way to connect these pieces
    of gear in order to try my hand at shooting with flash.
    Any comments that help to lift the fog will be greatly appreciated.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 15, 2007
  2. WayneF


    Apr 3, 2006

    Do you specifically need remote trigger?
    Do you need TTL flash metering mode?
    Can you deal with manual flash mode?

    The D70 should fire the shoe-mounted SB-27 in manual flash mode, but only the current new flash models will work in iTTL mode with the D70 (for example SB-800, SB-600, SB-400).

    I dont know if Nikon SU-4 are still available anywhere or not, but B&H still has them listed (out of stock)


    The SU-4 unit is just a remote slave trigger with hot shoe, and there are other third party equivalents, see

    The newer SB-800 flash has same remote optical trigger mode built into it, called SU-4 mode.
  3. Thank you gentlemen. Some dim shapes in the fog and some more fog
    rolling in.
    Gordon: the sb-27 was an auto-focus speedlight introduced in 1995 by nikon and I believe it was intended as a mid-price unit.
    I think (but am not sure) the su-4 could be attached to a remote unit such as the sb-27 (or 28,26,25,24,23) and would be fired by the camera's
    built-in flash. I suppose this is where the "su-4 mode" in the modern
    flashes comes from.
    I do have the manual for the sb-27 but at the crucial monent it refers
    me to the su-4 manual which I do not have.

    I would like the camera to fire a remote flash. I guess what I am trying to
    do is make the sb-27 behave like a remote sb 600 or 800. This means
    connecting the 1995 technology to the dSLR technolgy. If I understand
    correctly, a su-4 or one the third party equivalents will do the job.
    Is this correct?
  4. WayneF


    Apr 3, 2006
    Yes and no. You can make it work remotely as probably described in the SB-27 manual (but not in TTL mode), with third pary slave trigger too, but you cannot make it work with the Nikon CLS system described in the D70 manual.

    There are two ways to do "wireless" remote flash with the D70.

    One way is the Nikon CLS system described in the D70 manual, but which only works with new flash models designed for it, SB-800, SB-600, SB-400, SB-R200. The D70 internal flash menu is set to Commander mode and these external flashes are set to their Remote mode. By a system of preflashes, the camera meters a test preflash from the remote flashes and then fires them for the shutter exposure. The older flash cannot do this.

    But you can put the D70 internal flash into its Manual mode and it will fire any older flash that is equipped with an optical slave trigger. You just need an optical slave trigger, such as the Nikon SU-4, but there are several others. It should have a hot-shoe to hold the SB-27, and then it will fire the SB-27 when it sees another flash, such as the D70 flash in manual mode. (or of course, you could add the Nikon AS-15 hot shoe PC cord connector and use a PC cord to the flash, if the flash unit has a PC connector. This is Manual mode too).

    Note: If you attempt to use D70 internal flash in its iTTL mode or Commander mode, then it will NOT work with the older flash, because the preflash will trigger the external remote flash trigger before the shutter opens, and you get nothing. The D70 must be in Manual flash mode.

    The external flash must be in either Manual mode or its own Auto mode. Auto uses the sensor in the flash unit to attempt to meter the subject and flash. Manual means you meter it yourself, like with a handheld flash meter.
  5. Thanks for the input. Having the SB800/600's I thought the SU-4 was just a setting. You learn something new every day.
  6. Gordon, the 800 has an su4 setting. There are also su4 adapters (slaves) for flashes that dont have the su4 mode. I THINK!
  7. Thanks Roy, I understand. I guess that is why the SU-4 setting is on the SB800/600 as it is a hold over from earlier days.
  8. WayneF


    Apr 3, 2006
    Yeah, the SU-4 had sort of a special slave meaning, in that it would not only fire at the trigger, but also would follow the triggering light and would terminate itself early when the trigger quit. I never understood why its own light didnt blind itself, wondering how it could track the triggering light during the flash. You can of course also use the PC cord in SU-4 mode.

    But the idea was for early film TTL mode. In film TTL mode, there is no preflash, and the film body camera meter reads the actual light reflected from the film during the actual exposure. So, when the camera got enough light, it terminated its own triggering flash, which terminated the remote SU-4 flash, hence, remote TTL. So, the literature may speak of SU-4 remote TTL, but it means for film bodies.

    But SU-4 still works fine as a trigger today in manual mode. The SB-800 says it only tracks the trigger in A mode, and not in M mode, but both are optically triggered in SU-4 mode.

    Digital is sooooo much better than film. Certainly everything that happens before the shutter and after the shutter qualifies, and all the rest is easy to argue for.

    Two really big exceptions: preflash and DSLR sensor cleaning.
    Which are The Pits!
  9. MurphyD


    Jan 17, 2007
    South Texas
    Wein makes a hot shoe slave trigger designed to ignore the preflashes. I use it on my older SB28 in conjunction with D200 in Commander mode and SB800 as a remote. The SB28 is set on manual. I take a picture and adjust.
    It is pretty much line of sight but does react to bounced flash. I have used it behind chairs and around corners as long as enough of the bounce hits it. It needs really hot batteries in the sb28 and becomes less reliable as the batteries go down.
    About $40 from Pictureline.com. B&H sells for about $70
    This is not a fabulous setup, but inexpensive and very effective until I decide how much $$ I want to drop on lighting.
  10. Wayne, thank you very much for the information and guidance. I now have
    a starting point for some trial and error work. Did not want to drop the
    big coin on new gear until I was sure I was going use it enough to justify
    the expense. All new gear has to be needed more than wanted.

    This will all be much easier now that I have a wee idea of what to look
    for. Off to do some searching and more reading. David's method sounds
    like what I had in mind.

    Thanks one and all.
  11. WayneF


    Apr 3, 2006
    Impressive if it works with Commander mode.

    I have a Morris DS-1 optical trigger (for an old SB-24) designed for digital flash cameras. It has a switch between digital mode (where it ignores preflash) and what it calls film mode (where it works like any regular optical trigger).

    It's digital setting works OK with the D70 in iTTL mode, but it does not work in Commander mode. Commander mode issues considerable more and longer preflash activity that this one does not handle.
  12. MurphyD


    Jan 17, 2007
    South Texas
    Wein shoe in practice

    Hi all
    Here are a couple of pic showing the Wein trigger that ignores preflash.
    The first is the D200 set to Commander, on-camera flash set to "--", SB800 (to the left;aimed straight up) in remote TTL mode, and the SB28 sitting on the mantle to the right. The SB28 is in manual at 1/8 power.
    For illustrative purposes, I put the SB800 a good long distance away to create more shadows.
    The second is a pic of the SB28 w/ diffuser attached to the Wein trigger.
    Note The shadows behind the violin are softened by the second light source.
    Note: No PP so catch the color change above and below the mantle. The ceiling is dark wood.
    Caution: This trigger requires good strong batteries to function. The SB800 also stops triggering when the batteries are low but is better than the Wein.
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
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