Speedlight tip

When you are using a speedlight (such as a Nikon SB-800, say, or a Canon 430EX) and firing it in manual mode by using a Pocketwizard, there is one problem I see a lot.

Namely: after a few minutes, the speedlight turns off. It times out, “goes to sleep”, and the flash stops responding until you wake it up again. Grrr!

The solution: use a custom function on the flash to disable the timeout. When you have successfully done this, on a Nikon, you will see the timeout words followed by “—“. On a Canon, you will at least see an indication that a custom function has been activated, by the “C.Fn” symbol on the back of the flash:

See, bottom left of the display. (It’s usually custom function 1: check your manual).

Yes, I know – the interfaces used to operate your flash are terrible. Press this button, go right, hold down that button, sing incantations while dancing around an oak tree, then enter the square root of pi: not for the fainthearted. But worth learning!


4 thoughts on “Speedlight tip

  1. Thanks Michael, that’s a useful one, and quick to set up once you know the incantation 😉
    I was at the Evergreen Brickworks for Doors Open Toronto and since photography was this year’s theme they were quite accommodating of tripod users and people climbing into odd spaces to position off camera flash, mostly photographers who have taken your course, I’d presume. I had my flash off camera and in manual firing it multiple times during a long exposure of the inside of a kiln. Quite a fun experience but I was having issues with my flash going to sleep; not next time.

  2. Some RF remote flash triggers (like my cheap Yongnuo) know how to “wake-up” your flash during AF pre-trigger, this is cool.

    In fact, it was the main issue i had with my previous “very cheap” RF remote.
    But in case of a “all-Canon” master/slave setup, your no-timeout trick is very useful !

    Thank you

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