Buff has been my primary lighting supplier for a while now. Generally, I have been quite pleased with the Buff strobe’s performance and ease of use and most especially their excellent customer service. For triggers, I had not gone the route of Pocket Wizards which many pros and studios use. Instead, I used the Yongnuo CTR-301P with two receiver set up. The Yongnuo’s, being so much cheaper, seemed worth a try.
While the 301P’s work great with fresh batteries, as the batteries get weaker, there’s no low battery indicator. With weak batteries the units start misfiring sporadically. While the batteries work for hours and hours and days of use, there is no way to tell if batteries in the trigger, the slave or both are the issue, or if and they will start to go…
301P battery changes are time-consuming, require unusual batteries (a 23A for Transmitter and CR2’s for receivers), plus you need a small jeweler’s screw driver.
I was also having an issue with a shortage of remote slave trigger receivers.
Having only two slave trigger receiver units and more than two lights, the additional lights would be set to Infra Red Trigger Mode (IR). These slave strobe units set to IR trigger mode could not be relied on to fire consistently, especially when the master flash units were set to lower flash power settings. At these lower power settings, there just wasn’t enough flash spill to always trigger the IR slaved flashes. I needed a better way to trigger the slaves.
Another major issue was flash sync speeds. While the Nikon D90 I shoot is rated to sync up to 1/200 of a second, this speed would create a noticeable shutter drag issue in the form of a soft black line on the side of the frame.
Shame on Nikon, the shutter control dial is dangerously close to where my thumb holds the camera. On more than one occasion, a slip of the thumb has shifted the shutter settings, from where I typically have to shoot at 1/160 of a second, up to 1/200 or even 1/250, thus ruining strings of shots. Still, I love Nikon, and am considering the merits of the Nikon D7000 DX sensor body, with its rated flash sync up to 1/250 of a second.
Having shot quite a bit, and having missed several shots in these ways, I decided to make some changes and started investigating.
After considered several options, including more 301P slaves, newer Yongnuo 602RF’s, and of course the Pocket Wizard, I decided on the Cyber Commander and CyberSync Remote Slave system by Paul C. Buff.
Deciding factors included:
- Buff’s 60 day money back guarantee, which makes trying things safe. Ordered four wired CyberSyncs, knowing I can return if not all are useful.
- Cyber Commander is less pricy than the Pocket Wizard (whose primary advantages seemed its ease of use and installed base of slaves at rental and shared studios)
- Might have tried the Yongnuo 602RF’s. There are unconfirmed hints the 602RF’s might sync faster and Yongnuo seems to have largely addressed the odd battery and replacement issues. Course you buy these, then you own them; and, I just been down the Yongnuo road.
- Cyber Commander CyberSync system is rated to flash sync up to 1/2500 of a second when paired with compatible cameras systems (High Speed Sync mode and TTL flash modes are not supported)
- The clincher was Cyber Commander’s ability to control individual Buff light unit’s outputs remotely.
That’s right, the Cyber Commander, when using any Buff light, of which I have several, can adjust the output from the command unit without touching the light.
Adjusting lights can be quite a gymnastic act and requires a bit of back and forth with most lighting systems. This feature was to me a huge factor in the decision.
Please comment so we may discuss and learn from your thoughts, experiences, opinions and questions on flash triggers.