Off camera flash fun

Tomato 2

I’ve been doing a macro photography course for the last 4 weeks at Bracknell and Wokingham College. It’s great fun but the problem with doing a course like this is that it is then very tempting to rush out and buy a whole lot of kit to try and replicate the set-ups in the college studio. Not having the cash for a load of new kit I thought that I’d try and get some off camera lighting going using the stuff I already had.

  • A Canon 40D
  • A 430 EX Speedlight Flash
  • 1 decent tripod
  • 1 rubbish tripod
  • A distinct lack of clue where lighting is concerned

The Strobist website is full of really useful information for the clueless newbie to seasoned photographer, and from there and asking on the Strobist Flickr group I ascertained that my Flash could be used off camera but that for the most basic setup I would need:

  • A hot shoe adapter for the Flash as the 430 EX does not have a PC Sync port
  • A long PC Sync extension cable

There are more expensive ways of doing this, but we are going for cheap and cheerful here. I’m writing this up because once I knew what I needed, actually finding the right bits wasn’t straightforward. I made one incorrect purchase before finding the right thing (although that actually turned out well in the end).

The hot shoe adapter was a Hama Hot Shoe Adapter Cable, this has a very short cable on the end with a male connector on it. To get my Flash a decent distance away from the camera I picked up an Extension cable with a male connector on one end and female on the other. Which plugs into the female PC Sync port on the 40d – I believe other Canon cameras such as the 20d, 30d etc. have the same port. The Digital Rebel range don’t – I’ll come back to that in a minute.

From this point on it was all pretty straightforward. The 430EX came with a little stand that fitted onto the Flash with the hot shoe adapter attached, I screwed this onto the cheap tripod and secured it with a bit of tape. plugged the extended cable into the camera and I’m good to go. You can see a couple of my first shots with this setup here, also a photo of my dining room with all this set up. I’m pretty pleased with the results for a first attempt.

I mentioned that my incorrect purchase turned out well. Drew has a Canon 400d which doesn’t have a PC Sync connector. The item I had bought by mistake was a hot shoe adapter – not for the Flash – but for a camera to give it a PC Sync port. This meant that Drew could also get in on the off-camera flash action and you can see his first photo with the setup here.


Mike November 25, 2008 Reply

Hi Rachel, just wanted to say thanks for your information, i also have a 40d and a 430ex, i was thinking about going wireless but your option will save well over a hundred pounds leaving me some spare cash towards some other accesory or two 🙂

Donna-Michelle June 16, 2010 Reply

Cant believe i have come across you site and this info, as i have just bought a similar setup second hand. Unbelievable, Many thanks what a great help !!

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