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Re: Electronic Flash

Soren Petersen asked about DIY slave flashes and Dave G. offered a solution:

> At 03:48 AM 6/14/99 -0400, Disky wrote:
> > Has anyone experimented with
> >some sort of DIY flash light ?? Because real slave flashlights, are VERY
> >expensive here in Denmark (Europe).
> We can buy them here from Ritz Camera for $20.  How many do you want me to
> send you????

Not so fast Dave, not so fast. Slave flash units, fired remotely, are
certainly the most elegant way of lighting an aquarium to avoid relected
light from bouncing off of the front glass of the tank and ruining the
picture. However, WHICH remote flash unit to use depends upon the camera
that Soren has.

Older (i.e. traditional) SLR cameras had small sockets on the front of the
camera body which would accept a flash "plug". Once the camera shutter was
fired, an electrical signal was sent to both the "hot shoe" mounted on the
top of the camera (where you normally fit the electronic flash) AND to this
secondary flash "plug". You could hook up a remote flash to this plug via a
remote cable and then IT could set off any number of other remote flash
units, provided each one was controlled by an electronic eye. If my memory
serves me correctly, the types of units you are suggesting from Ritz Camera
are similar to this, or they have several types which would allow a setup
like this, for very little money. To light an aquarium you wouldn't need
large, powerful (and expensive) flash units - the cheap ones should do fine.

If the camera used lacks that supplementary flash "plug", then Soren will
have to get an adapter which fits into the "hot shoe" and provides just such
a remote plug so that a cable can be fitted to it to set off the first

The individual flash units could be mounted on swivel clamps that could be
clamped to the top edge of the aquarium - very even, adequate coverage could
be provided a just a few, inexpensive slave units using this setup.

Unfortunately, in a lot of cheaper "modern" cameras, mainly the autofocus
SLR types, the flash unit is built in right above or alongside the lens and
there may be no separate "hot shoe" or auxiliary flash recepticle. With a
camera of this type you have to figure out some way of isolating the flash's
output and reflecting it up and then around and into the tank in order to
aviod the reflected light from ruining the photo - kind of complicated. Or
forego the use of flash altogether.

Some cameras, mainly the more sophisticated models from Nikon, Olympus,
Pentax or Canon, have the ability to monitor and control electronic flash
units from readings taken directly off of the film plane during exposure or
through the lens at that time. These require more expensive flash units,
usually from within the same manufacturer's product line, matched to the
particular camera model. But they work beautifully, if you can afford them.

Soren, I'd suggest that you pick up one of the larger American photo
magazines (Popular Photography comes to mind) - there must be a magazine
store in your city which carries American magazines, we here in Canada can
get a lot of European mags. They have huge numbers of display ads in the
rear half of the magazines and you should find just what you need at prices
(in U.S. $$$) that will be very reasonable. Once you have located the items
needed to work with your particular camera, then Dave can step in and maybe
pick them up for you and send it off to you.

<aside> You Americans are so damned lucky - not only do you get paid in US
Dollars, but the range and selection, not to mention prices which your
consumer society offers you is enough to turn the rest of the world green
with envy...

James Purchase
Where prices, even in cheap Canadian Dollars, are way out of line.