How to Sync Strobes to a Camera

Now that you have your strobes, you must be thinking about the best way to sync them with your camera. Your answer is here. Jay P Morgan from The Slanted Lens demonstrates three ways to sync your camera with your strobes:

1. Using a Sync Cable

The most reliable and the simplest way of syncing your strobe with your camera is using a sync cable. A sync cable usually comes with your strobe, or you can pick one up from your favorite photography store. Whatever the source, a sync cable is extremely reliable; however, you’re limited by its length.

using a sync cable

You also have the major issue of loose cables lying around on the floor and people tripping on them. Additionally, a sync cable will only fire one strobe. So, unless you have a way to connect more than one sync cable to your camera (which is likely) you can only fire one strobe.

2. Using the Built-In Electronic Slave

Most strobes come with an electronic slave mode. It makes the strobe look for a pulse of light. That pulse of light could be the flash from another strobe or the built-in flash on your camera. As soon as the pulse of light is detected, the strobe fires.

syncing with a speedlight

There is one problem, though, and that is directly related to using an on-camera flash. If you bring an on-camera flash into the equation for triggering the strobes set to slave mode, be very careful with the power settings. The power settings should be in manual and in the lowest feasible output. If the power settings are too high, the extra light will impact the overall exposure in the scene.

Another problem with this arrangement is that it is likely not going to work if the source of pulse is too far away. Additionally, if you are shooting under the sun, the pulse may not be detected by the slave at all.

3. Using Radio Slaves or Triggers

The third method to trigger your strobe is to use some sort of a radio slave or radio trigger.

Using radio slaves

There are many varieties on the market. Radio slaves are the best option when it comes to overcoming the distance problem, the multiple strobe setup, and the outdoor scenarios that were discussed above. The only problem with them is the price. These are way more expensive than a sync cable or an optical slave.

Which of these methods do you prefer, and why?

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