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cheap remotes ( CAUTION )
Old 08-15-2006, 01:36 AM   #1 (permalink)
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I recently bought a cheap remote to use on my Canon20D to fire mt Alien bees. The difference between the sync cord and the remote is HUGE. With the sync cord I can shoot 125 at f8 with the lights usually around 1/4 to 1/2 power. With the cheap remote I had to blast the lights at full power and shoot at about 1/30 at f 16 to get a decent exposure. The remote was only about 6 ft from the camera, very weird, but true. Aside from getting a Pocket Wizzard, am I doing something wrong? This happen to anyone else?
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Re: cheap remotes ( CAUTION )
Old 08-15-2006, 03:17 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Well first of all the shutter speed has no effect where your bees are concerned, as long as you are under the maximum sync speed. If you are going from f8 to f16 you need to double the amount of light output to get the same exposure. So Your bees would have to go from 1/4 power to 1/2 power, not to full power. Are you sure your shooting at the same ISO? The distance the remote trigger is away from the camera will have no impact on exposure as long as it receives the signal the camera sends.
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Re: cheap remotes ( CAUTION )
Old 08-15-2006, 07:28 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Shutter speed has no effect on the length of the flash, but may matter when using a remote. The maximum sync speed of the camera is a measure of how fast the camera can trigger the flash. With an on camera flash, this can be a very high speed. When a radio remote is used, an additional delay may be introduced which can reduce the maximum sync speed. Even Pocket Wizards use a relay to trigger the flash and it can take several milliseconds. 1/160 of a second is 6.3 milliseconds. If the relay lag is 4 milliseconds, then the length of time that the strobe has to fire is 2.3 milliseconds. This assumes that the camera triggers the remote at the beginning of the shutter opening time. If there is a lag in the time that the shutter opens and the time that the camera triggers the strobe. it can be worse. It sounds like there is a long delay with the remote. Firing strobes at high power may increase the intensity of the flash or the duration of the flash or both. If only part of the flash is occuring while the shutter is open, increasing the intensity will offset the shorter duration. With film cameras, sync errors usually result in part of the image being black. This is because the closing shutter masks off part of the image. With digital cameras, there may be no mechanical shutter at all, just an electric pulse to energize the sensor. My old Canon Pro-90 has no mechanical shutter and provides a clicking sound in software. My DSLRs don't have mechanical shutters. The sound that I hear when I press the shutter release is the mirror moving out of the way of the image sensor.
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Last edited by wgiles; 08-15-2006 at 07:47 AM..
 
Re: cheap remotes ( CAUTION )
Old 08-15-2006, 08:17 AM   #4 (permalink)
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wgiles hit upon your most likely culprit, which is sync delay.Shutter speed has no effect on your meter reading when using strobes in a darkened environment. From an exposure standpoint, f/8 @ 1/4 power is equivalent to f/16 at full power. In general, when using studio strobes it is a good rule of thumb to use a shutter speed that is at least one full step below your camera's maximum sync speed. In the case of your 20D (max sync speed of 1/250th.) that would be 1/125th. of a second.

You didn't describe what was happening when you used a shutter speed of 1/125th. but there are three possible outcomes:

1) Everything looked fine
2) Only part of the frame was exposed correctly. The remainder was black.
3) The exposure fell off noticably from top to bottom or bottom to top (depending on which way your shutter travels). That is, uneven exposure from top to bottom or bottom to top.

Since you posted, I'm assuming you didn't encounter case #1. If you experienced case #2, then there is too much delay in the triggering chain. The strobes aren't receiving the signal to fire until after your second shutter curtain has started moving. Selecting a slower shutter speed will solve your problem. If you experienced case #3 then the strobes are taking longer to discharge their energy than your shutter is staying open. Your shutter is closing before your strobes have a chance to release all of their photons. The result is that there's a graduated area of underexposure as the second shutter curtain travels across the sensor plane, depriving the sensor of light. Selecting a slower shutter speed will also solve this problem. So will reducing the power of your strobes, so that they need less time to discharge their stored energy.

If there was any documentation that came with your remotes, see if it says anything about sync delay or recommends a maximum shutter speed. I'd be suprised if you needed a shutter speed slower than 1/60th.

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Re: cheap remotes ( CAUTION )
Old 08-15-2006, 08:30 AM   #5 (permalink)
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You've got some good advice here. All the previous posts properly address the issues you may be experiencing, so I won't repeat the advice. I too use those cheap eBay remote triggers to fire my Alien Bees. My Nikon D100 has NEVER had any issues with them ... except for one situation where I was shooting two hot models in my hottub. As soon as the whirlpool started bubbling, my Bees started flashing like a cheap disco!
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Re: cheap remotes ( CAUTION )
Old 08-15-2006, 09:16 AM   #6 (permalink)
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When I shoot in the studio, with my Pocket Wizards, I usually shoot at 1/125 second shutter speed. There is no need for a faster shutter speed, since all of the light is comiing from the strobes. I use an Olympus E1 and a Canon10D and have never had any sync problems at this shutter speed.

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Re: cheap remotes ( CAUTION )
Old 08-15-2006, 11:02 AM   #7 (permalink)
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that's bizarre and makes no sense to me. i use the cheap, radio remotes--and have done so for a few years--and haven't ever seen any effect in terms of aperture or shutter speed limitations. the same limitations (in terms of aperture/shutter) apply regardless of how i'm triggering my strobes... and i've done so with radio xmitters, infrared, optical slaves, and synch cords.
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Re: cheap remotes ( CAUTION )
Old 08-15-2006, 01:05 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Bizarre is right.
Chip hit it on the head..

[ 2) Only part of the frame was exposed correctly. The remainder was black

If you experienced case #2, then there is too much delay in the triggering chain. The strobes aren't receiving the signal to fire until after your second shutter curtain has started moving. Selecting a slower shutter speed will solve your problem.]

Wish i could read the instructions that came with the remote, but unfortunatly I can't read Chinese
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Re: cheap remotes ( CAUTION )
Old 08-15-2006, 06:44 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I use the el-cheapo's too. Normally no problem. A couple of weeks back, I found that the sync speeds of camera and strobe were out, hadn't happened yet. I found the batteries in the slave were weak. Changed those, and back to the races...!
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Re: cheap remotes ( CAUTION )
Old 03-06-2007, 05:19 PM   #10 (permalink)
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my first post yay
I have found, and this may only be me, but with the ebay remotes I got, I had to make sure that
1) the Cr-2 batteries were totally fresh or I would get random half frames at anything quicker than 1/60 (with fresh batteries I can sync to 1/250 on D200 and nearly 1/1000 on D70, electronic shutter or something *shrugs*)

2) this may not affect you but on Nikon cameras i had to make sure my popup flash was set to manual, not ttl or commander mode (i know I'm not actually using the flash, and I am talking about using the radio triggers, but again this still caused a sync issue till I did it, it may not matter to you on canon)


cheers

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