I had already purchased optical remote flash triggers for my Vivitar flashes a few weeks back. The optical triggers work by detecting the output of another flash (or strobe if you are so inclined to call it that) and then triggering the attached flash when light is detected.
In practice the optical triggers were quite simply sh*t. As in they almost never worked, either triggering the flash totally randomly or not at all. Fun for about two seconds then utterly enraging, especially when you spend ages setting up a shot, wait for the flashes to cycle up to full power, and have one flash fire for no apparent reason. So you have to wait 10 more seconds for a recycle – only for the other flash to fire on it’s own.
To summarise, these optical triggers were only any use in a studio environment and even then not really much use at all.
Ebay to the rescue, hopes I.
The industry standard for triggering off camera flashes are called Pocket Wizards. They however cost an eye-watering pant wetting amount of cash that I am simply too cheap to pay, so I bought three Chinese radio triggers for about 1/10th the price of one pocket wizard. The stylish packaging doesn’t inspire confidence – particularly when the only bit of English text says “Suitable for advanced camerist”.
How bad can they be?
The answer is not nearly as bad as the optical triggers, but still not that great. With only two flashes involved they work very well. Factor in a third flash and the reliability seems to fall off with all three firing only about one in five tries. I can play with the settings to try to improve this, as I think it’s a timing issue. Hopefully it will get better. They are still a world apart from the optical ones so I’m not unhappy.
I’ll use these in anger as soon as possible then see what they are like out in the real world. I may smash them all up if they don’t work. Another dent in the bank balance in the name of bad photographs. Onwards, ever onwards!