3 Ways to Sync Your Strobes to Your Camera


Today on The Slanted Lens we are looking at 3 different ways to sync strobes with your camera, so check out which way works best for you!

Syncing Strobes

There are many different ways to sync strobes to your camera. Today I am looking at the three simplest and most practical ways to sync strobes.

1: Use a Sync Cable

The easiest and most effective way to sync strobes is to use the sync cable that comes with the strobes. The cable plugs into the camera on one end and the strobe on the other. While this is the easiest option, it does come with some disadvantages. First, it limits the distance you can have between the strobe and the camera to the length of the cable. Second, you then have a cable lying on the ground just asking someone to trip on it. You can also only fire one strobe at a time using this method. So while this is probably the simplest and easiest setup, I wouldn’t recommend it.

2: Use the Slaves that Come With Your Strobes

The second, and infinitely better, option would be to use the electronic slaves that are usually mounted to every strobe. All you need to do to set it up is turn the dial to the slave function while keeping the sync cable from one of the strobes connected to the camera. These electronic slaves work by collecting light and responding to a flash trigger. So when the first strobe flashes, the slaves pick up on the flash and then trigger a flash in the strobe units they are connected to.

The first strobe, however, is still connected to the camera with that sync, which still leaves a possible tripping hazard. You can fix this by adding a strobe to the top of your camera. The camera mounted strobe is going to be used to initiate the flashing of the other strobes. Remember that the goal here is to have the other strobes in the room act as your lighting. The camera strobe is only designed to trigger the others.

The pro of using this method of syncing is that you can move your camera as far away from your set as you want. The cons, however, are that the camera strobe will affect the lighting in the room, and that you can’t use this technique in a bright setting, such as outdoors in sunlight. These are great inside, but they don’t work well outside.

3: Use Radio Slaves

I personally like to use radio slaves to sync up my camera to strobes. Radio slaves have been growing in popularity for quite some time, and I find them incredibly convenient. The upside of using these radio slaves is that they resolve just about every problem the other two techniques produce. The downside, however, is that these are substantially more expensive than the two previous options.

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I personally feel they are worth the coast, as you can use them literally anywhere. You can use them outside, you can use them at long distances, etc. All you have to do is mount the radio slave onto your camera and it will serve as your master that will trigger all the other radio slaves. If you are working with a Dynalite strobe, then the PocketWizard is already built into the strobe. If however, you are using a different brand you are going to need to purchase a B unit.

Creating a Strobe Syncing Emergency Kit

The most important things to have in your emergency kit are (1) a mini jack to strobe sync, (2) an Edison to strobe sync, and (3) a quarter to strobe sync.

If you are using radio slaves, which are what I use most of the time, you are going to need a mini to mini sync cable that will then connect to an adapter that goes up to a quarter. I tend to use stereo cables, but you can also run these on mono.

So remember, the method you choose to sync your strobes depends entirely on how you want to use them!

Keep those cameras rollin’ and keep on clickin’!

-Jay P.

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