Old Cameras with new flashes (or vice-versa)

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by Dr Croubie, Jul 22, 2013.

  1. Dr Croubie

    Dr Croubie Member

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    Hi all,
    Sorry if this as been discussed before, I'm sure it would have been but I can't find it when searching.

    Anyway, I'm just getting into buying myself a lighting kit, and I'm exploring all the various options.
    So far all I've got is a 430EX, and have only ever used it on (and sometimes off) my 7D. If I stick with the digital and/or my EOS 3, then I can just buy a bucketload of Canon or compatible Speedlites, and be done with it.

    But obviously I'm thinking about not just sticking with digital, or I wouldn't be here asking. I'd very much like to try using my other film cameras with flash, so i'd need a way to sync them all together. Whatever the lighting kit ends up being (be it flash, monolight, whatever), I'll be using the PC-Sync socket out of the camera into whatever transmitter to the lights.

    Now, I've always read things like "connecting older cameras to newer flashes can blow them up", and the occasional "new cameras with old flashes too". (Although whatever lighting setup I get will be less than 5 years old, so it's old-camera-new-flash that I'm worried about)
    - Is there any truth to either of these?
    - Is it hotshoe only? (this I can understand, with the old-school exploding single-use bulbs)
    - PC-Cord only?
    - Is there a definitive date to define 'old' and 'new'?
    - Is there anything that can be done to mitigate any incompatibilities? (Like a signal isolator? I'm an Electronic Engineer by day so have no problems building anything needed)

    FYI, I could be using any of the following:
    'Old' designs:
    Asahi Pentax Spotmatic
    Pentacon Six
    Kiev 60
    Kiev 88cm

    'New' designs:
    EOS 3
    Mamiya 645AF
    CV Bessa

    Does anyone have any specific experience with any of these cameras that do/don't work with 'new' flash equipment? For 35mm I don't mind sticking to the EOS3, but in MF I'd prefer to use the 88cm for the square-format and WLF (or P6/K60), the Mamiya 645AF doesn't excite me much even though it's newer.
    (ps, no need to point out the slow sync-speeds of MF, I'm already aware and I'll work around it)
     
  2. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    "Old camera connected to new flash" shouldn't be a problem, provided that you have the appropriate connector.

    In some cases you need to be careful with the additional connection points on hot shoes and hot shoe connections.

    You will, of course, only get to benefit from the additional functions offered by "dedicated" flashes if your camera communicates with them appropriately.

    There can be problems with the "new camera with old flash" scenario, if the electronics on the flash present too high a trigger voltage for the switching circuit on the camera. Most new cameras synch flashes electronically, while older cameras have mechanical synch circuitry that handles higher trigger voltages.

    This site includes a survey of synch trigger voltage tests: http://www.botzilla.com/photo/strobeVolts.html

    EDIT: Wein used to make "Safe Synch" connectors to help isolate the high voltages. Paramount Cords offer custom varieties.
     
  3. munz6869

    munz6869 Subscriber

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    What Matt said, plus make sure your old camera has 'x-sync'... I know my 1950's Rolleiflex has a switch for M&X flash sync, and that is because old flashbulbs have a slower 'warm up' time before they reach full burn... If your old camera only has 'M' sync, it may miss the output of your modern electronic flash altogether...

    Marc!
     
  4. AgX

    AgX Member

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    In case of doubt with an old camera: lookt through the lens when firing the electronic flashlight. It will show whether the shutter and light are synchronized.
     
  5. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    Some modern flash guns are only usable with that particular manufacturers specific camera models, their dedication is such that they only operate with that manufacturers TTL flash system and even read the film speed in use of the cameras electronics and there is no way of setting the I.S.O. on the actual flash.
     
  6. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

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    At least with the Canon 4/5xx EX Speedlites, they can be put in manual mode and fired via PC cord, and you'd have to meter the main flash, adjust power output, and then adjust the power on slaved flashes (It's been a while since I last played with my pair of 580EX flashes so I don't remember all the slave options - not sure if they are electronic/IR only or if they have an optical trigger). So at least in theory, your Canon setup could be used with your non-Canon, non-TTL, non-electronic cameras. That said, although the Speedlites are very compact, they are not cheap, and either eat AA batteries like they're going out of style or require expensive external batteries to power them. What is your interest in subjects to light with these flash units? You might very well be better off getting some dedicated monolights with AC (studio use) or battery power packs (use on location).
     
  7. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    'Old' cameras used mechanical switches for flash sync circuit completion to fire the flash. These had no problems of voltage sensitivity, unlike the early EOS and other electronic sync circuitry cameras of the late 80's thru early 2000's. If the flash itself has a PC type sync cable capability (not merely hot foot connection) the 'old' camera will properly trigger the flash unit. Hotshoe-to-PC adapter units would work fine for flashes not capable of direct cord connection, as only the central large contact and the edge contacts are used for flash trigger.

    As for newer flash units not getting ISO or FL information signal from the camera via PC cord, the flash will merely output at full power all the time (unless you have set the flash for Manual fractional power), and the FL setting will remain at a fixed FL, so be sure to manually set the FL setting to something suitable to cover the FL used on your camera.
     
  8. f/16

    f/16 Subscriber

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    You can get a device called "Safe Sync" to protect newer cameras from high trigger voltages of some older flashes. Here's a link to the one I have. http://www.adorama.com/FPHSS.html

    The safe sync also keeps additional contacts of dedicated cameras and flashes of different brands from contacting each other. Only the center contact connects. However, you cannot get TTL flash unless the camera and flash are dedicated to each other.
     
  9. SafetyBob

    SafetyBob Member

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    Wein Safe Synch, might as well get one, maybe two. I use mine on anything and everything, why take the chance?

    Bob E.
     
  10. Born2Late

    Born2Late Subscriber

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    You can also build a trigger voltage reducing for a few dollars. It reduces the trigger voltage seen by the camera to 5V so old flashes can be used on newer cameras. The biggest problem that I ran into was that was no room inside my flash for the components.
     
  11. analoguey

    analoguey Member

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    Curious, Would the safe synch be something to use for, say a Vivitar being triggered with a Yongnuo RF 602 trigger? (or something similar?) Or is it only for hotshoe-to-old flash?
     
  12. John_Nikon_F

    John_Nikon_F Subscriber

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    Ideally, I'd look for the Canon EX series flash unit that also has a non-TTL flash sensor on it. Which means that you may want to hunt down a 580EX or 580EX Mark II flash. Use that with a hot shoe adapter on whatever old camera you have. That way, you don't have to tape the bottom of the flash foot to prevent shortcircuiting to the cold shoe on a Spottie or whatever other old camera you're using.

    Use your 430EX as a slave unit or as a compact unit for when you're only taking the Canon bodies with you. Or, as trade fodder for the 580.

    -J
     
  13. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    I use a Wein Safe Sync with Vivitar 283. It has both hotshoe and PC cord socket.

    Actually, then, I aim the Vivitar 283 at a generic slave which is connected to my much older Flashmaster AA. By improvising this optical connection, I make things much safer at the camera than they were with just the Safe Sync alone...
     
  14. analoguey

    analoguey Member

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    So are using the Vivitar as master or slave? I am confused by what you mean when you say
     
  15. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    If anyone wants to try it, this is about as simple as it can get. Either build it into the flash or in a small box.

    FLASH.jpg


    Steve.
     
  16. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    The Flashmaster AA is the old school studio light powerpack that provides the lighting for the pictures.

    Everything else is just linkage.

    The camera is electrically isolated from the electrically hot Flashmaster because the linkage is optical:

    Camera --- Wein Safe-Sync --- 40v Vivitar { optical } Slave sensor --- 120v Flashmaster

    I did this setup because the Safe-Sync wasn't doing a good job handling the Flashmaster directly.
     
  17. beegee675

    beegee675 Member

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    Just use the older flashes with newer cameras as optical slaves triggered by the built-in onboard flash.
     
  18. analoguey

    analoguey Member

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    Ah I see! that sounds like a neat setup!
    This would be a studio-only setup, right?

    Also, Nikon lists its cameras as okay till about 250v, so I am presuming I wouldnt need a safe-sync then?
     
  19. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    new flsh equipment on older cameras Xsynch is unlikely to be a problem, but older flashes may have too high of a trigger voltage to be safe for new cameras. you can measure the trigger voltage( google for instructions).the safe option is to use wireless triggers.they work welland do not cost much.