Beginner's lighting question

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by atenlaugh, May 29, 2006.

  1. atenlaugh

    atenlaugh Member

    Messages:
    98
    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2005
    Location:
    PA, USA
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Hey all,

    I'm currently looking to get into studio and a little bit of on-location portrait lighting (probably an Alien Bee package), with a Mamiya C330. I have something of a stupid question, but it's making me quite curious.

    I'm under the impression that with a non-electric camera, one still only needs a Sync on your lens or camera...in the words of an Apugger, "...they will all work with virtually any camera capable of manual exposure control - as long as the camera or lens has a sync connection." - lots of things stated such as this, whereas nothing that says "you may need this", in conversation, books, so on...

    However, my internal 'logic sensor' says that that doesn't make sense, that to have a B you need an A. So my question is, with an all-manual camera, what else do I need? And if it is simply magic, how does it work?


    Thanks!
     
  2. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

    Messages:
    4,679
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2004
    Location:
    Italia
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You need a sync cable with the right bits at each end to connect the light to the camera. No idea what Alien includes but I'd be suprised if they don't provide a cable.

    Other then that. You'll want a flash meter.
     
  3. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,985
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2002
    Location:
    Wine country, N. Cal.
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Exactly.



    Michael
     
  4. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    7,075
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Location:
    Basin and Range Province
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Alien Bees units provide a standard 1/8-inch Stereo Plug to PC-connection sync cord with their kits. (Good product for the cost, by the way.)

    You only need too connect to one unit and the other units will slave to that one via photocell sensor. To your eye, and for all intents and purposes, they will fire simultaneously.

    The 1/8 bit is for the light. The PC end fits the socket on your camera. If your camera has only a hot shoe you can get an adapter to connect the cable to the hot shoe.

    Your camera does not supply anything except to trip the contact when the shutter is activated. Manual cameras do this mechanically.
     
  5. atenlaugh

    atenlaugh Member

    Messages:
    98
    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2005
    Location:
    PA, USA
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I know how everything connects, and all of that...and I have all of the necessary equipment and know-how (I've been doing photography for several years, now). It was more of a HOW it works question.

    This partially answers it:
    But what sort of contact is it? It's not eletrical...what impetus does the light 'read' to know when to go off?

    I get the feeling either this question isn't asked very often (and taken at face-value) or is way more obvious than I'm imagining!
     
  6. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,985
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2002
    Location:
    Wine country, N. Cal.
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    It's magic.

    The same as when you put an exposed print in a bunch of chemistry and a picture emerges.

    It's all magic.

    And it's not wise to try to delve into how or why it happens. Just be glad it does.


    By the way. I'm not a very technical person.



    Michael
     
  7. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    7,075
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Location:
    Basin and Range Province
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    It is basically switch,inside the lens or camera body, a connection activated by the tripping of the shutter. It completes the circuit of the sync cord. It is essentially an electrical contact, that is activated mechanically, like when you switch on a light. The electricity (low voltage) comes from the light. When this low voltage circuit is closed, it activates the the high voltage side of the strobe. This all happens very quickly. Somebody with a better engineering background than I could explain the exact particulars, but thats it, pretty much. You can also activate the strobe by touching the end of the sync cord to your tongue, if you are into that sort of thing.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 29, 2006
  8. atenlaugh

    atenlaugh Member

    Messages:
    98
    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2005
    Location:
    PA, USA
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    No, not at all, on either account! I just wanted the basics, to make sure I was doing things correctly. I'm only technical to a quite limited point...so, thanks.

    I'm somewhat humbled by this. That's what I get for being obsessive.
     
  9. climbabout

    climbabout Member

    Messages:
    225
    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2005
    Location:
    Fairfield Co
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Inside the lens on your mamiya is a contact that closes when you fire the shutter completing the electrical circuit from your flash sync cord. The flash sync cord has 2 wires in it that of course connects to your flash unit and camera and firing the shutter effectively connects those 2 wires together momentarily when the shutter opens. Beware there is a lever on your mamiya lens whith the letters b and x - be sure the pointer is on the x. The b setting is for old style flash bulbs and if you have it set on b when using modern electronic flash, the completing of the circuit will not synchronize with with the peak of the electronic flash burst and you will get no, or only a partial exposure. Hope this helps.
    Tim Jones
     
  10. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    16,834
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Be very careful with this suggestion. Many older flashes have a "low voltage" triggering circuit which is not that low voltage! :surprised:

    I have a couple of old Metz 202 flashes that could give you a bit of a surprise if you tried this.

    By the way, an older fully mechanical camera like a Mamiya C330 (which has an electrical synch circuit) can handle high flash trigger voltages easily, but many newer, more "modern" cameras have synch circuits which are both electrical and electronic, and they can be damaged by those high voltages.

    As an example, I use my Metz 202s with my Mamiya C330, but my Mamiya M645 Pro or M645 Super might be damaged by those flashes.

    Also by the way, I don't have my Mamiya C330 with me, but I think the synch switch on the lenses gives you a choice between "X" (for electronic flash) and "M" (for M class flashbulbs).

    Have fun!

    Matt
     
  11. nc5p

    nc5p Member

    Messages:
    394
    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2005
    Location:
    Alameda
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Alien Bees are great lights. I just bought two B800s. I had a Novatron 400M and use it with them. I like the B800s better. I bought three air cushioned light stands and Wescot umbrellas from B&H. Now if I could just keep my wits about me and remember to plug the flash cord into the leaf shutter instead of the camera body when using the LF lens I wouldn't end up with a roll of blank film!

    Doug