Professional boudoir photographers with have their sessions either in studios or on location and will have lighting and modifier technologies and tools in place to properly light our boudoir sets.
Boudoir sets may be indoors or out. They may use natural light, studio strobes, or small portable battery operated strobes called Speedlites (Speedlights is what Nikon calls them).
This particular boudoir photography set was shot on location in a luxury home in Greater Phoenix. The challenge was getting my large powerful and versatile studio strobe units to play well with my smaller sized portable speedlite strobe units. As seen on the image at right where a speedlite has been used to give the illusion of lamp lighting, small speedlites, in addition to portability, can be used in a number of uniquely creative ways to amp up a boudoir portrait.
In my case, I currently use radio controlled smart controllers and studio strobes made by Paul C. Buff and Speedlites made by Canon, as well as third party knock off speedlite flash units made by Yongnuo.
- Yongnuo YN600EX-RT Speedlite Flash
- Yongnuo YN-E3-RT Wireless Remote Flash Controller
- Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite Flash
- Canon ST-E3-RT Speedlite Transmitter / Controller
What I wished to do is to be able to remotely control the power output of both my studio strobes and speedlites simultaneously, in a radio control mode.
The problem trying to control both studio strobes and speedlites
There is a hot shoe mount on the camera where the strobe triggers mount. There is only one mount, and I wished to control two different technologies via the one mount.
While this is an easy fix in software, the software is not available to the casual user. There was no easy apparent solution.
The folks at Canon Professional Services were very helpful, though confirmed, both the 600EX-RT and the ST-E3-RT were incapable of working together when not mounted onto a smart camera, like the Canon 5D Mark III camera which is my main body.
Solution to controlling both Canon Speedlites and Smart Studio Stobes
Yongnuo’s YN-E3-RT smart controller will in fact control the output of Canon 600EX-RT speedlites even when not mounted on the smart Canon body.
One need only mount ones current studio flash controller unit onto the camera hot shoe mount, and use a radio receiver unit, which is then plugged into a Hot Shoe Flash Mount with something like a PC Sync Adapter port and attach the YN-E3-RT onto that mount.
I use Paul C. Buff Cyber Commanders, Cyber Sync Receivers and Transmitters.
My Gear Set up
- Paul C. Buff Cyber Sync Transmitter mounted on the camera
- Paul C. Buff Cyber Commander, to control the Buff unit power outputs
- Paul C. Buff Cyber Sync Receiver attached to the Yongnuo YN-E3-RT via a Pocketwizard HSFM3 Flash Sync Cable with Hot Shoe Mount
- Canon 600EX-RT and YN600EX-RT Speedlites
The YN-E3-RT can control the Canon 600EX-RTspeedlites when the group settings are used in a Manual Power mode.
Studio flash units are generally used in manual power setting modes, so this is quite acceptable and the best for controlling the exact light required.
Between a Yongnuo YN-E3-RT and a Paul C. Buff Cyber Sync Receiver and the cables, you can invest about $200 to the the job done.
That is until Canon makes their 600EX-RT’s functionality capable of this function, or allows their ST-E3-RT Controller the capability.
Bonus – Use this system on Sony bodies to fire and control Canon Flashes !!
Now I can control Canon 600EX-RT flash units using my Sony A7ii camera body.
This can work two ways.
- The YN-E3-RT can be mounted directly on the Sony A7ii body and used to manually control the power output of the 600EX-RT Speedlites
- The YN-E3-RT can be mounted off the A7ii and triggered by the Buff Transceiver / Receiver modules as above, with or without studio flash also
The ability to use Canon Strobes on Sony bodies is a huge advantage to boosting the capability of the Sony system, with only a modest investment in additional lighting accouterments for those with a large stash of Canon gear who are also shooting Sony mirrorless camera bodies.
While I haven’t tested this specifically, am interested to know by comments any tests confirming this mode works with other makes of DSLR. For example, the YN-E3-RT aught to work with the 600EX-RT Canon Flashes on most any DSLR camera bodies, like Fuji, Nikon, Panasonic, Pentax, etc.
We are talking about controlling remotely the power output and flash triggering of both studio strobes and/or speedlites, simultaneously or separately.
This can only be done in manual power settings.
Most professional photographers usually shoot in Manual mode, both for exposure, and for flash settings, in order to insure full creative control. So, this is a small bit to give up in many professional scenarios.
This setup will not work for ETTL modes, where the speedlites work smartly with the camera to control exposure. No big deal for me, as I wasn’t interested in that in any case.
The YN600EX-RT speedlites do not seem to be able to be similarly controlled… Only the Canon Flashes work, not the Yongnua’s… go figure..
Also, I had tried using a PC Sync Cord attached to a Promaster Standard Hot Shoe with a PC Sync Adapter port before switching to the Pocketwizard HSFM3.
The Promaster Hot Shoe worked a few times before it literally broke in gentle use… and I mean for less than 10 use occasions over a little more than a week or two of easy in studio use. Use the Pocketwizard, it’s well worth the reduction in embarrassment with clients, and of course, always have backup plans.
While the YN-E3-RT Transmitter will control the 600EX-RT’s… in order to adjust the power setting, one must first press and trigger the flash units via the transmitter’s flash test button, that is the button with the lightning bolt next to it. Otherwise, the power does not adjust.