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  1. #1
    Dr Croubie's Avatar
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    Old Cameras with new flashes (or vice-versa)

    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)
    An awful lot of electrons were terribly inconvenienced in the making of this post.

  2. #2
    MattKing's Avatar
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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.
    Matt

    “Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”

    Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2

  3. #3
    munz6869's Avatar
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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!
    Marc Morel
    photographie argentique!
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    http://mrmarcmorel.wordpress.com/

  4. #4
    AgX
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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. #5
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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.
    Ben

  6. #6
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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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. #7
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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. #8
    f/16's Avatar
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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.
    Bill

    Pentax 645, Pentax 6X7MLU, and many Nikons-F2 Photomic F2AS FM2N N2000 N6000 N6006 Nikomat FTN

  9. #9

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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.
    Nikon F5, Nikon F4S, Nikon FA, Nikon FE, Nikon N90, Nikon N80, Nikon N75, Mamiya 645 Pro, Mamiya Press Super 23, Yashica Lynx 14e, Yashica Electro GSN, Yashica 124G, Yashica D

  10. #10

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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.

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