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06-08-2015, 02:38 PM   #1
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off camera flash on 645z

Hi Guys

A "back flash" photo is all the rage in the wedding world. This sort of shot I took recently which was triggered by a Canon st-e3 transmitter with a single canon flash on a lightstand behind them and a small video light in front of them for a touch of front lighting.



I'd like to do this on the 645z as well. As far as I can see my options are ;

1) Buy 2 x Pentax flash units.

2) Buy a impact powersync transmitter / receiver and use my existing canon flashes.

Impact PowerSync16 DC Radio Slave System PS-16-DCK B&H Photo

3) Buy a Cactus V6 - similar to #2

Cactus Wireless Flash Transceiver V6 | CACTUS

Any suggestions on what would be the best way forward?

Using my existing canon 600ex-rt's would be ideal if possible - I have enough gear as it is

Interested in anyones experience in doing this or similar.

cheers

Gav

06-08-2015, 03:22 PM   #2
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what are the cons against buying triggers and using your existing flashes? It seems like the easiest route for off-camera flash...
06-08-2015, 03:30 PM   #3
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Get a few Cactus V6s. You can fire your Canon flashes from a Pentax body, the V6 is brand agnostic, but it will still give you manual power control.
06-09-2015, 05:07 AM   #4
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I have used several triggers: Elinchrom, Phottix Odin (these with Sony cameras), and now Cactus with the Z. Elinchroms were always fussy--although in fairness Sony flash is a signal weakness of the system, the Phottix worked well, but won't work with Pentax. I used the Cactus 6's a lot this spring exclusively with the Z, and they worked pretty well, but...didn't seem as reliable as the Phottix Odin stuff I used last year with my A7R. I do like that they are transceivers, so identical units, and that they sit flat on top of the camera. And you can profile flashes (but not all, grrr...not my old 540, for instance), and indeed use other flash brands.

Now, I had going a 3 flash setup in the field, in the dark, 2 of the new Cactus flashes, and one Pentax 540 FGZ. The most reliable flash was the Pentax, and it also had the longest battery life, and seemed to recycle faster. Sometimes one of the flashes wouldn't pop---not sure if it was a recycle issue or the battery life issue (using eneloops) or partly a fumbling around in complete darkness and racing against the coming dawn user error problem. These shoots are a challenge for me.

So, my jury is still out on absolute reliability. I just picked up a 540FGZII to see about the high speed synch possibility with the Z using that flash. Of course it has the video light you mention. One thing the Cactus 6 triggers have you may have noticed is TTL pass-through capability. What I want to see is if I can use them with the 540FGZII in HSS mode, somehow getting the FGZ540II off camera using the Pentax flash adapters and the 9 foot cable. As I understand it normally the 540FGZII would have to be on camera for the HSS to work with the Z, so I'm hoping I can trick it by hard cabling it (Thanks Pentax for a 9 foot cord!!!). For the work I'm doing with these flashes I set the flashes up on stands and then move around with the camera independently of the strobes, getting my subject from different angles but with the same light.

What I can say very positively about the Cactus 6 triggers is that their adjustment capabilities are really good---being able to adjust everything from the transmitter unit. However, that is a bit fussier than it seems just reading the manual or descriptions---better than having to adjust at each strobe, but you'd need a lot of practice for an event. One strobe is no problem, though, nor is adjusting all the strobes at once equally.

I'm going to the Galapagos and Ecuador in 2 days and taking the 2 Pentax flashes with me with the Cactus 6 triggers. We'll see how things go.

In summary: the Cactus 6 seems a good option for the Z, but is also the only game in town, really. Thankfully they aren't expensive, and I also got a great deal of a Cactus flash and a trigger for about $150 IIRC.

06-09-2015, 01:52 PM   #5
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texandrews, thanks so much for all the info
06-09-2015, 06:25 PM   #6
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Quick question, so I've shot my Elinchrom's with the Elinchrom trigger as well as my Nikon Flashes with the Cactus V6 - does anyone know why one minute they're firing fine and the next they're not firing at all. Is there a specific setting or order that everything needs to be turned on?

I've had this happen to me a few times during some shoots which doesn't make me too confident using the 645z wireless set up for a few upcoming weddings.

Any insight would be immensely appreciated.
06-09-2015, 07:39 PM   #7
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The Cactus V6s have a sleep mode that is turned on by default. You can set it for 15 minutes, 60 minutes, or off. My guess if they stopped working for you mid-shoot is that they went to sleep. Another common issue is they may get nudged off the hotshoe, not far enough to fall off, just far enough not to fire. Unfortunately for Pentax shooters, the locking pin in the V6 foot is in the Nikon position.
06-09-2015, 08:12 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by maxfield_photo Quote
The Cactus V6s have a sleep mode that is turned on by default. You can set it for 15 minutes, 60 minutes, or off. My guess if they stopped working for you mid-shoot is that they went to sleep. Another common issue is they may get nudged off the hotshoe, not far enough to fall off, just far enough not to fire. Unfortunately for Pentax shooters, the locking pin in the V6 foot is in the Nikon position.
Yes, seating them is trickier than it ought to be. That has to be double checked. The sleep issue is interesting, but I don't think that was my problem----I was shooting faster than that.

QuoteOriginally posted by r2studios Quote
Quick question, so I've shot my Elinchrom's with the Elinchrom trigger as well as my Nikon Flashes with the Cactus V6 - does anyone know why one minute they're firing fine and the next they're not firing at all. Is there a specific setting or order that everything needs to be turned on?

I've had this happen to me a few times during some shoots which doesn't make me too confident using the 645z wireless set up for a few upcoming weddings.

Any insight would be immensely appreciated.
It's hard to catch your exact meaning---do you mean you've had the same issue with both the Elinchrom's and the Cactus triggers? Anyway, for me I could never figure out what the problem was. Thank god for digital, because re-do's are easy and cheap, and you can see what happened or didn't happen immediately, and in my case thank god that my project allows for accidents, happy or otherwise.

06-10-2015, 04:51 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by texandrews Quote
Yes, seating them is trickier than it ought to be. That has to be double checked. The sleep issue is interesting, but I don't think that was my problem----I was shooting faster than that.

It's hard to catch your exact meaning---do you mean you've had the same issue with both the Elinchrom's and the Cactus triggers? Anyway, for me I could never figure out what the problem was. Thank god for digital, because re-do's are easy and cheap, and you can see what happened or didn't happen immediately, and in my case thank god that my project allows for accidents, happy or otherwise.
Tex, yes. Midway through a couple of shoots, my Elinchrom Quadra's stopped firing in Manual mode requiring the camera to be turned off and then requiring the setting dial to be set to Aperture Priority.

The same had happened about a month earlier on another shoot with the Cactus's and my Nikon SB-800's, requiring a shutdown/reporting of everything. I will look into the Cactus's sleep mode. Thanks for the tip!

In both instances I could fire the lights/speed lights via the test button but not by pressing the shutter.
06-10-2015, 05:13 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by r2studios Quote
In both instances I could fire the lights/speed lights via the test button but not by pressing the shutter.
Hey, now! That's exactly right! The same thing for me with the Z and the Cactuses. So, now I'll try your trick of powering of and on. Thanks for that tip!
07-25-2015, 09:01 AM   #11
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I will reach out to Pentax & Elinchrom customer support on Monday in hopes of figuring out a solution. In the meantime, if anyone has any tips, feel free to share.

Last weekend I decided to roll the dice and shoot an entire wedding with the Z (with a 5D 2nd shooter of course) and some Elinchrom Quadra's with their wireless trigger shooting on Manual. The church portion worked flawlessly! Once outside for group photos, triggering. strobes in Manual stopped working completely and then it progressed from working only on Aperture Priority Mode to not firing the strobes at all.

Luckily, I had a Nikon D4 backup that did not miss a beat and I was up and triggering our strobes in no time.

I wonder what is causing the trigger and the strobes signal to degrade to the point that they stop communicating? Does anyone have any insight or tips? All of my tricks, re-seating the trigger, shutting down the camera, doing a battery pull, shutting down everything including strobes and re-powering everything in sequence, changing shooting modes, etc...nothing worked in this instance.

If anyone has any ideas, please holler!
07-25-2015, 02:57 PM   #12
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Just a thought, what kind of batteries are you using? I know the Cactus V5s were very particular about the type of batteries I put in them. Half the time I couldn't get them to run on rechargeables, but good old fashioned alkalines always seemed to work. I know the V6s, particularly in Tx, mode gobble up way more power than you might expect. I can charge up a set of duracell AAs right before a shoot, and by the end of the shoot the V6s are already flashing red, indicating low batteries. I know it seems a stretch, but maybe try a different type of battery.
07-27-2015, 06:44 AM   #13
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Maxfield, thanks for the response! The issue is more with the Elinchrom Quadra trigger and strobes. I didn't try the Cactus's in this instance.
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