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  1. #1
    Erik Petersson's Avatar
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    Off-brand flashes on Nikon cameras?

    A couple of times I have stumbled upon a statement that Nikons, such as F3, can be destroyed by the use off off-brand flashes, as the voltage of some flashes would be too high for the camera.

    I wonder if anyone could comment on this, and explain what the case is.

    Thank you in ahead.

  2. #2

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    Any camera that uses solid state switching for the flash (all DSLR's, most if not all AF bodies, and perhaps some manual bodies with auto exposure) can and will be destroyed by a flash with a high sync voltage.

    Back in the early days, the camera sync'd the flash with a mechanical contact attached to the shutter. The mechanical contact did not care if the signal voltage coming though the flash was 1 volt or 1,000 volts. As cameras advanced, the switching duties were assigned to a transistor for better accuracy, and more flexibility, such as rear curtain sync, FP sync, advanced TTL modes, etc. The problem is the transistors are not capable of handling more than 5 or 6 volts, or they can get nailed.

    Since for a hundred years cameras and shutters were all mechanical, the flash manufactures often paid little attention to how much power was being fed to the hot shoe or PC terminal. I have heard in some cases, although I cannot confirm, the voltage being up to 600vdc. More realistically, you are likely to encounter flashes with 10-50 volts from time to time. The older Vivitar 283/285's, for example, were fairly high I believe.

    If you're using a flash with unknown hot shoe voltage, it's often advised to use a "safe sync" adapter, or optical slave, or radio trigger. Unfortunately all of the above generally cost more than a more modern flash so it's pretty much a wash.

  3. #3
    Erik Petersson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PeteZ8 View Post
    Any camera that uses solid state switching for the flash (all DSLR's, most if not all AF bodies, and perhaps some manual bodies with auto exposure) can and will be destroyed by a flash with a high sync voltage.

    Back in the early days, the camera sync'd the flash with a mechanical contact attached to the shutter. The mechanical contact did not care if the signal voltage coming though the flash was 1 volt or 1,000 volts. As cameras advanced, the switching duties were assigned to a transistor for better accuracy, and more flexibility, such as rear curtain sync, FP sync, advanced TTL modes, etc. The problem is the transistors are not capable of handling more than 5 or 6 volts, or they can get nailed.

    Since for a hundred years cameras and shutters were all mechanical, the flash manufactures often paid little attention to how much power was being fed to the hot shoe or PC terminal. I have heard in some cases, although I cannot confirm, the voltage being up to 600vdc. More realistically, you are likely to encounter flashes with 10-50 volts from time to time. The older Vivitar 283/285's, for example, were fairly high I believe.

    If you're using a flash with unknown hot shoe voltage, it's often advised to use a "safe sync" adapter, or optical slave, or radio trigger. Unfortunately all of the above generally cost more than a more modern flash so it's pretty much a wash.
    This explains the problem. Thanks!
    /Erik

  4. #4
    Mick Fagan's Avatar
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    I run F3 and FE2 Nikon bodies and use a Metz CT32 with the G15 handle and the correct Metz adaptor.

    With the same adaptors I have used both the Metz CT60 and CT45 in the past, various models of both flashes from a basic one through to full TTL models of flash and what have you.

    The F3 adaptor is called the SCA 341 for the standard Metz CT32 whilst I also have the SCA 344 for the CT45 units. I haven't used a Metz flash on the F3 for about 10 years now, so I'm a bit rusty with them.

    Mick.

  5. #5
    eddym's Avatar
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    Check here to find tests of trigger voltages for lots of flashes:
    http://www.botzilla.com/photo/strobeVolts.html
    Eddy McDonald
    www.fotoartes.com
    Eschew defenestration!

  6. #6
    Erik Petersson's Avatar
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    Thanks Eddy. I think I will restrict the use of my Sunpak B3000 to my Zenit. The chart is excellent, but I managed to pick up a flash that does not show on it (the Sunpak B3000), so I don't want to take a chance. Well, maybe it could be used with my Nikon FM2, which is a manual camera... Hmm
    Last edited by Erik Petersson; 01-03-2010 at 06:16 AM. Click to view previous post history.

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    Going from memory all of my Nikon electronic cameras (F3, F4, Fuji S2 and Kodak SLR/n) have a spec of 250v max sync voltage per Nikon. See http://support.nikontech.com/app/ans...d/116678/sno/3 for info on their digital SLRs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by eddym View Post
    Check here to find tests of trigger voltages for lots of flashes:
    http://www.botzilla.com/photo/strobeVolts.html
    Thanks I had seen that link a long time ago and had no idea where to find it!

  9. #9
    RalphLambrecht's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by epatsellis View Post
    Going from memory all of my Nikon electronic cameras (F3, F4, Fuji S2 and Kodak SLR/n) have a spec of 250v max sync voltage per Nikon. See http://support.nikontech.com/app/ans...d/116678/sno/3 for info on their digital SLRs.
    This must be a typo on their part. They must mean 25V. Hardly any flash has a trigger voltage as high as 250V, but 250V will definitely fry your digital SLR. According to ISO 10330, all cameras must accept trigger voltages of up to 24V. Unfortunately, not all cameras manufacturers stick to that, and flash manufacturers exceed it.
    Regards

    Ralph W. Lambrecht
    www.darkroomagic.comrorrlambrec@ymail.com[/URL]
    www.waybeyondmonochrome.com

  10. #10
    eddym's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Erik Petersson View Post
    Thanks Eddy. I think I will restrict the use of my Sunpak B3000 to my Zenit. The chart is excellent, but I managed to pick up a flash that does not show on it (the Sunpak B3000), so I don't want to take a chance. Well, maybe it could be used with my Nikon FM2, which is a manual camera... Hmm
    I think that somewhere on that same link he explains how to measure the firing voltage of your own flash. It's really easy if you have a voltmeter; just measure across the contacts of the flash as you trigger it. I've tested all of mine, just to be sure.
    Eddy McDonald
    www.fotoartes.com
    Eschew defenestration!

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