Saturday, November 1, 2008

Sonia Optical Trigger Problems

I've got a bunch of random things to post today, so stay tuned.

First up, an update to my Sonia Optical Trigger Review.

After plenty of time in the garage studio, I'm realizing my Sonia trigger doesn't seem to be syncing like I think it should. It works with direct, hard flash or large, very bright sources (like bounced from a pure white background), but it has trouble with diffused or small sources over distances of 4+ feet. This is quite a surprise to me since no one else has reported these problems, and I wonder if my peanut slave is faulty.

The problems were highlighted when I was trying to sync from my on-camera DIY ring flash (Sunpak 383) to a Chinese optical trigger (with eBay radio trigger on top) to a radio-triggered shoot-through umbrella to the Sonia trigger on an SB-20 as a background light. I know this sounds a little Rube Goldbergian but in theory it should work well. In practice, the ring flash triggers the radio trigger and the umbrella well, but the Sonia slave doesn't trigger. It DOES trigger if I manually fire the umbrella or if my ring flash is closer to the receiver (3 feet instead of 5 or 6). It is almost like multiple sources are causing the Sonia to not trigger.

Either way, I'm spending too much time messing with optical sync and not enough time shooting, so I'm definitely going to do something to address it. I'll post more when I learn more.

Update: After a little more experimentation, the problem is definitely from the multi-level triggering scheme I was using. I switched the the radio transmitter on the camera (instead of relaying it through the other optical trigger) and suddenly I was getting perfect triggering. So, somehow relaying the signal made things fail. I've got an idea of why (I suspect the slight delay from the optical trigger caused the Sonia trigger to lose edge detection) but for now I just need to avoid that situation and use the radio triggers to trip the flashes that feed the optical triggers. In other words, maybe my Sonia trigger isn't defective after all...

1 comment:

BiolArtist said...

I have had very intermittent success with the Sonias while shooting concert photos. At some events, they've worked fine but at others they only go off about 10% of the time. I was shooting a concert for New Year's Eve and it worked great while I was testing before the performance, then started failing after the house lights went dark. (However, it kept firing when a pro's flash went off.)

I have a Canon A650IS which lacks a hotshoe, so I'm trying to use the camera's flash to trigger a Canon 199A, a Vivitar 265, or a Nikon SB30.

If you're still at Stanford, I'm in Silicon Valley and maybe we could talk shop.