How does $20.39 delivered sound?
When, with the help of that merry boulevardier, Bert the Border Terrier, I wrote about my happy times with studio flash I grumbled about the cost of a wireless connector between camera and power pack. This obsoletes one cord, making for one less thing to trip over, but I couldn’t find anything reasonably priced, so I put the idea out of my mind. Canon makes a unit called the ST-E2, for some $210, which will trigger their Canon flash units only, and that price is for the transmitter only! And that’s an optical transmitter, meaning your receiving flash gun has to be in line of sight of the transmitter. No way, José. B&H also lists many units from other makers. My only interest is in radio transmitters, which do not require line of sight, and the cheapest receiver-transmitter I can find on their site is some $125 and that requires mains power. Ugh! Lose a cord, gain a cord. Too much money, too little gain.
The other night, thinking about that strobe piece, and preparing mentally for the annual Christmas family snap which requires strobes as often as not, I was reminded of a conversation with a nerdy friend. You know, the one who thinks nothing of dismantling his computer to convert it to a faster chip or ripping apart his motorcycle in the quest for two more horsepower. This fellow had bought an el cheapo radio receiver-transmitter from eFraud, excuse me, eBay, and was singing its praises to the high heavens.
Now, truth be told, he was visiting from Crime Central, a.k.a. Baltimore, and the libations were flowing freely, so I dismissed this as so many ramblings of a too active brain. But that strobe piece caused something of a flashback to that discussion so I checked eCheat, sorry, eBay, to see what was out there, dialing in the words “flash remote”. Well, seemingly hundreds of choices presented themselves so I went for the cheapest, smallest, battery powered radio unit, going for the startling sum of $4.95. OK, OK, plus $14.99 postage. So $20.39 all in, counting 41 cents to the serial larcenists and pant droppers in Sacramento, CA for sales tax. My unit of choice goes under the splendid name of “New Wireless Remote Radio Slave Strobe Flash Trigger AA”. No prizes for originality, but five days later my good friend Greg Littell, who doubles as the mail man, dropped off a small package which must have cost the vendor all of $1.99 to mail. Hey, whatever, I was only in for $20.39 all told.
And here it is.
You get the receiver, with a 1/4″ mono plug, which plugs into your strobe’s power pack, a mini-jack adapter, a transmitter-to-camera cable if you have no hot shoe, and the transmitter. The whole things weighs – well, about $1.99 in postage.
The instructions are written in Chinglish. “Trigger flash lamp in long distance and in all around way without barrier”. Let Dr. Pindelski, your Sino-studies expert, translate. “Radio remote strobe transmitter and receiver, not requiring line-of-sight”. They also say you need a 12 volt 23A battery for the transmitter, the bit that goes on the camera, and two “Size No. 7″ batteries for the receiver, the part that is plugged into the strobe’s power supply. That’s “AA” to you. I popped the small Phillips screw in the transmitter, and the 23A battery was already there.
By contrast, the receiver was sans AAs, excuse me, No. 7s, so I dropped in a couple rechargeables.
Now, there’s a bit of a snag. My Novatron power pack, being Texan, has little in the way of effete connectors. When Texans decide you need to connect a camera to their power pack, they make the connector a household ‘H’ plug, which is designed to transmit some 15 amps of power. So, off to Radio Shack for a pair (they wouldn’t sell me one) of their 274-340 1/4″ coaxial jacks and to Home Depot for a household H plug. Solder the two together, glue the bodies for a nice look and this is what you have at an additional cost of some $7. The Dr. Pindelski 1/4″ Mono Plug To H Socket Adapter. Available from me at $99.95 + $30 shipping, should you need one. Order early as I expect to be inundated with Christmas and Hannukah orders.
Time to test this little rig. We don’t need the 1/4″-to-mini-jack adapter, so that goes in the cardboard box in the corner of the garage which the black beetles call home, together with the coax cable, as my Canon 5D has a hot shoe. This is how it looks on the 5D:
Let me stress, my 5D can sustain 250 volts, so I’m safe. You should conduct your own test before use if you are unsure.
Finally, here is the receiver plugged into the Novatron power pack, the same one those good Texans use to fry the miscreants on Death Row.
So does it work?
As reliable as the Texas Electric Chair. I measured the range at an astonishing 75 feet on my 5D. At 76 feet it fails to trigger the flash.
Not bad for some $28 all told, huh? And one less cable to trip over.