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  1. #1

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    Is high trigger voltage a problem with a PC cord?

    Hi everyone,

    I've recently discovered that I have an old Vivitar 283 flash. Apparently it has an *incredibly* high trigger voltage, which will cause some newer electronic cameras (like the Canon EOS SLRs) to suffer damage---some people say it may even cause problems with older partially-electronic cameras if used over time.

    Is this only an issue when the flash is used in the shoe, or does it apply for triggering via a PC cord also? (And secondarily, is there anything to the concerns about older cameras? I certainly don't want to blow up my father-in-law's AE-1, which is both my main 35mm film camera and a family heirloom.)

    Thanks

    -NT
    Nathan Tenny
    San Diego, CA, USA

    The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
    -The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_

  2. #2
    MattKing's Avatar
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    Nathan:

    The PC cord will deliver the same high trigger voltage as the hot shoe.

    The high voltage 283s and the AE-1s were contemporaries, so I wouldn't worry about the AE-1. Although I have heard that even the older mechanical synch circuits can suffer arcing and other problems over time if used with higher voltage units.

    Here is a link to a useful site:

    http://www.botzilla.com/photo/strobeVolts.html

    As you will note, there are a lot of different versions of the 283.
    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

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    Thanks. Mine is probably 1970s vintage---I inherited it along with either the AE-1 or a Spotmatic SP500. I'm going to assume that it has a huge trigger voltage and avoid using it with anything remotely vulnerable...

    -NT
    Nathan Tenny
    San Diego, CA, USA

    The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
    -The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_

  4. #4
    Wade D's Avatar
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    I used a 283 on my X-700 for 24 years with no damage. The camera finally locked up but not because of the flash. A capacitor problem with the X series did it in after all those years. I won't use it on my newer 8000i though. The 283 is now used only on my Yachica D.

  5. #5
    Bill Burk's Avatar
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    There are voltage-reducing units available. I picked up a wein unit that is like a hot-shoe pass-through and has a PC nose.

    I use it with my 283 and 285 and Flashmaster for insurance with all my cameras. I figure that arcs will eventually degrade any mechanical electrical connection over time. It's not like I have the option for warranty repairs on any of them.

  6. #6
    benjiboy's Avatar
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    As Bill writes the answer is the Wein Safe Sync http://www.weinproducts.com/safesyncs.htm to use with modern Canon EOS SLR s and studio flash, because it steps down trigger voltages to below six volts, and won't fry the cameras electronics.
    Ben

  7. #7

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    See #13 here http://www.paramountcords.com/faq.asp
    and check out there purpose made cords.
    Just a happy customer.
    "There are a great many things I am in doubt about at the moment, and I should consider myself favoured if you would kindly enlighten me. Signed, Doubtful, off to Canada." (BJP 1914).

    Regards
    Bill

  8. #8
    benjiboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cowanw View Post
    See #13 here http://www.paramountcords.com/faq.asp
    and check out there purpose made cords.
    Just a happy customer.
    The voltage reduction cord on this site has a 30mm jack plug on it meant to connect to studio strobes, and would be useless to connect a flash gun to a modern Canon SLR that has no sync. socket.
    P.S the Vivitar 283 is safe to use with the Canon AE1 it's from the same era as Matt writes, and the trigger voltage won't be an issue with it , but I wouldn't risk it with a T90 or EOS camera.
    Last edited by benjiboy; 09-15-2010 at 11:11 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    Ben

  9. #9
    brucemuir's Avatar
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    get a multi meter from Radio Shack.
    They are useful.
    It's impossible to guess the voltage based on era/date or where they were manufactured.

    I have a bag full of 283s and they can be anywhere from around 8v up to excess of 500v or so I've heard.
    Most of mine are 8-9volts and although the made in china versions are supposed to be in the lower range there seems to be definitive way to judge without a meter.

  10. #10

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    One caution:

    If you get a multi-meter, be sure it's a digital kind. Analog kind usually have relatively low input internal resistence. It will act as load and show you lower voltage than the equipment actually generates. Typical digital ones do have high enough impedance that this will not happen. Case in point, I have a Metz flash. With my old analog meter, it shows 2 volts. With a scope (which has even higher impedance) it shows 8 volts. Granted, mine is safe either way, you don't want this to happen if the real voltage was much higher. It takes very little current to damage solid state circuits.
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

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