Monday, March 21, 2016

The Absolute Worst Workaround Ever : Make the 580EX Work With a Peanut Slave

How I triggered my 580EX speedlight with a pocket wizard and peanut slave that is incompatible with it by Chris Gardiner www.cgardiner.ca
These 600EX-RT flashes work their bags off for me. 

I have some Canon Speedlights. They're great, I actually love the new 600EX-RT because of the built in radio transceivers which saves me two AA batteries per flash which would be used in a pocket wizard. Before I had those, long before they were even on Canon's drawing boards, I was using the 580EX-II. I have one of those. Unfortunately the systems aren't totally compatible, at least not in the way I want them to be, but I did find a way to make it work - what is essentially the absolute worst, most redundant workaround ever.  Read on if you have a mixed bag of gear like I do.



Ok, the background first.

The 580EX II is a great workhorse of a flash, it used to be the Canon 'flagship' model. It can trigger and be triggered with infrared which is cool - look ma - no wires! But Infrared triggering requires line of sight usually.

The 600EX RTs is the new flagship. Its as powerful as the 580 but with a killer new feature - radio wireless - its like every flash has the pocket wizard built in, and not just the regular old pocket wizards - I can control each individual flash from the master unit - *drool*.  Radio wireless kicks ass because it isn't bound by line of sight, and no pre-flashes are required in order to tell the other 'slave units' what power to be at.

What happens when you want to use the 580 with a kit of 600s?  A whole lot of wasted time..

So eventually, it dawned on me - I'll just get whats called a 'peanut slave' and use it to trigger the 580 simultaneously with the 600EX-RT.  Peanut slaves cost about $20-30. Thats cool. For that price - it's well worth it if it re-integrates the functionality of a sixth speedlight I owned already.

So I bought the peanut slave. Oops. Didn't read the reviews on BH, so this one, like basically every single other damned peanut slave used a voltage that the 580 hates. It hates it. It will trigger once, but then the flash freezes up, and I have to power off and back on again. I can't conduct a shoot like that.  But I want to use 6 speed lights!  I want to shoot like Joe McNally! haha. How else can I do this?

Well here is where the insane mega redundancy comes in.

So the peanut slave mucks with the 580. Okay. Can't plug the peanut into the 580. I also won't shoot on optical triggering, because then I might as well have saved at least $100 per flash and just bought all 580s instead of the 600s.  

The Solution ; take the $20 peanut, plug it into a $180 pocket wizard, and turn the optical slave unit into an optically triggered radio slave. Haha, sound redundant yet? 

So now I have a 580EX plugged into a pocket wizard, which is triggered by the other pocket wizard which is triggered by the peanut. 

Right now you're probably thinking I'm some masochist who's making life unnecessarily hard on myself.  But it's the only way, and now, my 580EX works seamlessly in tune with the rest of my 600RTs. The pocket wizards were just kicking around collecting dust anyways. 

I know there are a lot of people, as I read in the reviews on B&H Photo after I bought my peanut, that wanted their optical slave to trigger the 580EX-II Speedlight, but ran into the voltage problems. 

This will work for you if; 

You shoot on Manual Flash Control - because there are no pre-fires to ruin the optical slave triggering 
and, You have pocket wizards already.

The only trick is you need is to keep the master pocket wizard somewhere in sight of a regularly triggered 600EX-RT Flash. 

And that is the story of how I avoid returning a product to the store when it doesn't work quite right.  Call me crazy, but if I am stupid enough to make a bad purchase - I'll make myself pay for the mistake with an overly complicated 'fix' rather than going through the hassle of returning it. hahaha. 

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