Triggers - how many?

September 06, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Triggers- How many?

If you shoot with photographic strobes most photographers will understand that the shutter release signal needs to get to the studio strobe in some manner in order for it to fire. There are several ways you may be able to get this to happen.

  • Synched camera and studio strobe
    • The camera talks to a specific strobe and fires the strobe(s) on command. This can be very convenient, but then again you are limited to that system. If you go to an event that has studio strobes other than what your camera can signal, you may be shooting with natural light inside a darkened room (not good).
  • Wired connection 
    • While it is certainly possible to connect a synch cable from your camera directly to your strobe and this can be very reliable. The problem of course is short cables, tangled cables, and it can be difficult to make this work with more than one strobe.
  • Speedlight -optical triggered
    • If your studio strobes can be optically triggered (most can), pointing a speedlight at the ceiling or a reflector aimed at the studio strobes can work in a pinch. The problem comes into play with a very high or dark ceiling and the optical sensors are hidden with modifiers.
  • Wireless Triggers
    • Clearly the most common and most convenient for most photographers.  Most are very reliable and are available from a variety of vendors.  A transmitter is mounted on the camera, and a receiver is attached to the studio strobe.

A valid question is how many wireless triggers do you actually need? That really depends on how many studio strobes that you own and how you use them.  If you use bare bulb strobes or modifiers such as umbrellas or even softboxes, you may be able to deal with one transmitter and one receiver. An umbrella or even a bare bulb will typically scatter enough light to fire quite a few strobes if the strobes have optical slave functions.

But suppose you have a modifier that has a grid?

The light can get so focused that one strobe may not be able to 'see' light coming from another studio strobe using the optical trigger feature depending how you have arranged your lighting around your subject. In this case, each individual studio strobe must have a wireless trigger and in many cases set to the same channel. Depending on the model of the trigger, this can become VERY expensive often costing hundreds of dollars. So the question you may ask yourself is do you use a very similar lighting setup for each concept. Do you experiment with different lighting setups? How much room to you have to be flexible with your lighting setups?

If you vary your lighting setups, is there a budget minded option?  The answer is yes of course there is a budget option. Vendors such as Neewer supplies the budget minded photographer with trigger sets such as:

that can meet the need of many individuals with a limited budget who many occasionally need many triggers for multiple lights. While these triggers may not be the high end name brand triggers than many are used to carrying in their camera bag, they certainly can come through in a pinch and are typically reliable.  If your typical go to triggers are not quite operating the way you may like, an extra set of triggers may be just what you need!

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