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Understanding Flash Triggers and Receivers

Understanding Flash Triggers and Receivers

As a photographer, you are probably familiar with the pitfalls of Flash photography. The on-camera flash may not be enough to illuminate your subject making an off-camera flash necessary.

Using an off-camera flash requires a Trigger and receiver. The trigger lets the flash know when to fire while the receiver responds to the trigger. It’s kind of like a walkie talkie system.

This article will explain more about flash triggers and receivers, so you understand how they work.

How Do the Camera, Trigger, and Flash Communicate?

The camera communicates with the flash via infrared signals, which are sent optically, or via radio signals, which are audio-based. A more complicated hybrid method may also be used, but we’ll leave that for another article.

Infrared is a good method as it’s inexpensive and effective. But the camera and flash will have to see each other for it to work. So, if there is weird lighting, the process may not carry out correctly.

Radio-based devices are preferable because they don’t require a line of sight and are, therefore, more reliable. But they are also expensive and complicated to use.

What are Flash Triggers?

Flash triggers are the devices cameras use to talk to the flash. The trigger is connected to the camera via a little bracket that sits on the top of the camera called a hot shoe. When you hit the shutter, the camera sends out a little electronic pulse that activates the trigger.

There are two basic types of triggers, manual and dummy triggers. They control what channel the signal is sent on. If you want to make other changes, you will need to do so on the camera itself.

Smarter triggers may allow you to control the functions of the flash directly from the camera. For example, they may be able to change the flash from manual to TT or change the zoom.

What are Flash Receivers?

Flash receivers attach to your flash and act on the signal from the trigger. Some require an external trigger to operate. But some manufacturers make flashes with receivers built-in.

Using Your Trigger and Receiver

To test out your trigger and receiver, put the trigger on the camera. Then hook your receiver up to the flash. If they use batteries, make sure the batteries are fresh. They may also connect via a cable.

Check your instruction manual to ensure the devices are properly connected. Set them both and turn them on before turning on your camera and flash.

Turn on your flash and camera and choose the channel you want to operate on. Set the trigger and receiver to the same channel. Ensure your receiver can receive radio signals and that it’s in manual mode.

Now all you need to do is take a picture. If the flash fires, you’ve done everything correctly. If it doesn’t, you can troubleshoot by making sure the trigger is mounted correctly, that your receiver is connected correctly and that the flash mode is enabled on your camera.

Now that you know how to use your trigger and receiver, you are ready to take some well-lit shots. How will you be using your flash to get the best photos possible?

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Understanding Flash Triggers and Receivers


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