How to Sync a Camera Slave Flash

A camera slave flash provides a more powerful flash when triggered by the built in flash in a camera. This flash adds the additional lighting needed in low light situations. It is especially useful when taking portraits, and as a boost to the built in flash which allows for longer range shots.

The following are steps to syncing a camera slave flash. The only tools needed are a digital SLR camera and the slave flash you choose after following the steps.

Step 1: Choose Your Flash

Depending on your digital camera, you would need a slave flash that will mount to your camera or an external flash. Most of these camera slave flashes come with a bracket and a hot shoe on the other end. The bracket is then screwed into the tripod mount found at the bottom of a camera. The flash is then mounted onto the hot shoe. No cable is required.

An external camera slave flash is useful if you do not have a hot shoe on your digital camera to mount an additional flash. Next, determine what additional features you would like to have included. Options can include zoom capability, 360 degree swivel, vertical bounce angle and variable power settings.

Step 2: Automatic Synchronization

Your flash will synchronize properly with your digital camera as long as it has been specifically designed for use with digital cameras. A flash that has not been designed for this purpose will be triggered prematurely because digital cameras will emit a series of flashes before the main flash is triggered.

Flashes that are directly mounted to a digital camera operate without a cable which allows the camera to move freely. Due to this mounting, the flash is activated by optical triggering that syncs it to the master flash.

With an external slave flash, it is synched by a sensor that is built in, that senses the firing of the master flash which tells the external flash to fire.

Once your flash is ready to fire, take a few test shots to make sure the slave flash operates properly. If the external slave flash does not fire, manual synchronization may be needed.

Step 3: Manual Synchronization

Another method of synchronization for an external slave flash involves adjusting the exposure settings on your digital camera. First, set the exposure mode on your camera to manual and take photos of the slave flash. With each picture, use slower shutter speeds until you make a shot where the slave flash fires.

Step 4: Know Your Limitations

A limitation of a camera slave flash is that it is a sensitive instrument. If you are in a setting where multiple cameras are being used, their flashes can trigger your slave flash. In this situation, you may want to simply adjust the settings of your digital camera to accommodate low light and use your master flash.

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