Thursday, August 20, 2009

Radio Trigger Sony Flashes !

Finally, I had found out how to trigger the all Sony flashes with radio signal !

I always wanted to find the way to trigger my Sony flashes with radio signal. Although all Sony flashes (except the "pop-up" HVL F20AM) are WL ready, but there are limitations to the existing build in WL system. With the non-standard hot-shoe on camera and on Sony flashes, it is impossible for any 3rd party radio trigger to work with A-mount system. Although there are hot shoe adaptors for flash and camera availble in the market, but having a much lower trigger voltage (as low as 1.5v) for the flashes made the 3rd party radio trigger couldn't work at all.

Not until one China manufacturer decides to make a Sony radio flash trigger system! Unfortunately, this product is meant for non-Sony flashes; it comes with a Sony mount transmitter, but with one or many ISO mount flash trigger(s). Hence, an hotshoe adaptor is needed for my flash to mount onto the trigger.

Introducing, the YongNuo CTR-301P Radio Trigger
for Sony (iISO mount on trigger)

I am thrilled, and bought a pair of it. But no luck for me b'cause the trigger couldn't trigger any of my Sony flashes (either the F36, F42 or F58). Even though I tried to PC sync'd it, still I have no luck. After consulting my friend, and my other best friend call Google, I finally found out that the receiver for this YongNuo CTR-301P required to be modded in order to work with Sony flashes. The theory behind is because of low trigger voltage of the Sony flashes, we need to by-pass the diode of the circuit of the trigger bla bla bla which I'm not quite understand.

Ok, how to mod ? I do not need soldering, what I need is a short cable and a small screw driver.

This is how the receiver looks like when open up. The cover is the part where the hotshoe is, and the cable connecting the hot-shoe to the circuit board can be easily dismantle because it's on "plug and play" type. "Un-plug" the cable for ease of working of course. The battery was removed from the board while modding the receiver.

What needed to do is to connect the negative battery terminal to the base plate of the flash hot-shoe.

A small length (about 1 inch) of cable will do. Trim out the both end part for about 1 cm length or so to expose the wire inside.

Unscrew the bottom plate of the hot-shoe. The plate will be loosen up. This is where the cable to be slotted in like the photo below:

Once the cable is slotted, put back the screws and tighten them. At the other end of the cable will be slotted onto the plat of the negative terminal of the battery. Upon closely examine the battery compartment, I found out that the cable is actually can be slotted onto the gap between the terminal plate and the battery holder. Once the battery is installed, the battery actually help to secure the cable on the plate itself !

The mod is done. Connect the red-black cable, close the cover, tighten up the screws, put in the battery, and I am ready to radio'd my flash !

I was happily mount my F42 on the trigger and test fired ! Nothing happened.
I mount my F58 on the trigger and test fired, it fired !
Tested on F42 again, the F42 seems doesn't want to fire. It doesn't like the trigger, I think....

Again, after some googling, finally I got my answer: the F42 needs to be sync with the camera body first before it can be radio trigger'd. The reason why need to do this is beyond my understanding. Hence, mounting my F42 onto the camera, half press the shutter button, take out the F42 without turning it off, mount it to the receiver, and walla, my flash fired under radio signal !

So, does this set-up syn with my camera at the highest syn speed ? Well, it syn at 1/250s !

At 1/200s.
(Exif intact.)

At 1/250s !
(Exif intact.)

Faster than that, I capture a curtain closing half way on my pictures. LOL

So, a question is raised : since our Sony cameras and flashes (except F20) are WL ready, why do I need to radio trigger'd ?

Simple : with radio signal, I do not need the line of sight for the off-camera flash to work.

However, there are some other pros about this radio-trigger, such as:
1) The flash can turn off the HSS mode !
2) The flash GN no longer depends on shutter speed. (Under HSS mode, GN of the flash reduce like hell.)
3) The delay between the signal fired till the flash fired reduce tremendously ! (There is a delay on Sony on-board WL system).
4) Flash can trigger at long distance. (Sony WL only at 6m or so.)
5) Flash can trigger under hot-sunny day. (Sony WL may not fired under sunny day).

Of course, I couldn't do high shutter speed shooting with this radio trigger. Under Sony's on-board WL system, the flash could even syn at 1/12,000s ! But the GN at that speed is super low. When on-earth I would use that speed under WL ??

And for sure I couldn't do TTL under radio trigger flash. Well, off camera shooting is all about manual setting, no ?

Anyway, the trigger fit very nice onto my camera because of its Sony mount. We no longer need another adaptor to mount the standard ISO hot-shoe trigger back then. It look nicer, and I like it very much ! :D

By the way, I found this Sony iISO mount Optical Trigger in the camera shop ! Couple with my radio trigger, it completes the whole radio trigger off camera system. I just need a radio trigger'd Sony flash as a "starter" to trigger the other optical slave'd Sony flashes ! Cool, right ? :)

Total cost on these set up (radio + 2 opticals) is about RM 220, a lot cheaper than a PW !! LOL

Can't wait to put this system into field test !

Update !
My flash merely fell from the trigger. No thanks to the SC-6 adaptor. How to prevent it? Read here.


albert said...

Unfortunately, using a faster shutter speed without HSS will result in the second curtain getting in the way... would be okay if you had a fixed spot that needs to be lit by a stripe of light LOL.

Also, the 6 meter range is only for the F58 when its sensor is contaminated by sunlight... if the F58 sensor is shaded it can go much further distances in Sunny F16 sunlight. Will take a proof of concept picture soon!

Templar Tan said...

Well, F58 could not be a commander if it isn't on A900/A850/A700. And the pop-up commander is kinda weak though.

HSS does not work on radio. I tried at 1/320s with HSS on and even 1/500s with HSS on, there is a curtain on across my picture.

albert said...

It's not that the pop-up commander is weak; it's that the flash window is weak, or is being overpowered by the sun. The F56 sensor is a lot weaker than the F58 which can catch triggering light at sharper angles and greater distances. The F58 also benefits from having a little shade so the sun doesn't hide your pop-up signal.

One sunny day, I shall have proof of concept!

Templar Tan said...

Well, sunny or not is not under radio signal concern anymore. ;)

killabee said...

wahh nice. i also have tried on phottix. its work.hehe.

Templar Tan said...

Yeah, I knew phottix works. But I don't like the size. Besides, phottix's trigger doesn't has sony mount. ;)

atiyeh said...

hi, my trigger's red light doesnt work, i mean it used to work when i pressed the button, but now it wont, do u think thats why that i cant get to make it work? what do u suggest me do? change the battery? i just got it! would appreciate the help.

Templar Tan said...

Hi atiyeh!

The red light indicate that your trigger is transmitting signal. If it doesn't light, that mean no signal is send out, hence the whole set up won't work.

I suggest you change the battery.

However, it happened to me too that the red light didn't light when I pressed the button. I unscrew the trigger, and found out the battery terminals were loose. I bend the terminals a bit (becareful not to break the terminals) so they could contact the battery tightly and it works finally.

Hope this help.

Timo Schwach said...

Hi Templar Tan. Thank you very much for that guidance. Now my Sony Flashes and also my Minolta Flashes (which I had problems too to trigger) work perfectly.

Cheers, Timo

Gil said...

Thanks. I was pretty upset that my Minolta 5400HS wasn't firing, but now all is right as rain.

Adrian said...

Hi Mr. Tan. How long is the range of the CTR-301P based from your usage? Thanks.

novakrogic said...

Hi Templar,
I hope you don't mind the quick question:
is you CTR-301P system working properly now?
I've got two 5400HS flashes (Minolta) and one 56AM (Sony).
I got the CTR-301P (one transmitter and three receivers).
I've attached flashes on sc6 adapter and then on receiver.
So, first I couldn't trigger the flashes at all from camera (receivers are seeing it when I press test button, but not shutter on camera).
Then I saw a post on how it is not grounded properly.
So i push it downwards and now it is firing my two 5400HSs but not 56am (I assume this is mod issue and I will work on that).
But even with 5400HS there is a horrific lag - there is 1/25s lag (any faster and flesh is too late, shutter is down)
1/25 and slower i can get the picture.
Do you think that is the 5400HS problem ( i believe many people have it working with pocket wizard and similar) or transmitter contact (that doesn't make sense?).
I had my a900 working beautifully with combination of nikon and canon flashes and pocket wizards, so i hope i will make this work.
Thanks in advance!

Templar Tan said...


Hi Adrian !
Please refer to my other post in this blog here:

It works fine for about 20 meters. Longer than that, I have not try it out.


Hi Novakrogic !
My CTR-301P's battery has drained out although I haven't use it for a month or so. My mistake of not turning the receiver to off position.

I have 2 F42s and 1 F58. I faced the same problem lag problem as yours. I had done my mod, and I could only shoot at 1/30s. I was frustrated for quite a long time. I've checked with my friend who has same system as mine (A700 + F58), but he could do it at 1/250s sync (with mod-ed CTR-301P), we couldn't figure out what had happened to me until I accidentally found out why, and I'll tell you how:

I was shooting a product or so in my room, with F58 on camera as trigger, and F42s as my off camera flash. I wasn't able to trigger my flashes, and my camera registered no flash attached on it. It's impossible as my flash was flashing. I press down the flash and the camera detected the flash present. If I loosen out my hand pressure, my flash was not detected. This was caused by contact oxidation problem.

To solve it, I use keys (yes, any keys) to scratch the flash hotshoe contact. And tell you what,the scratch solved my F58 contact AND CTR-301P problem in one stone ! :D

You may try to scratch your A900's hotshoe contact. I have a friend who could trigger both his 5400HS and F56 at 1/250s without a problem.

Hope this help.

novak said...

I actually used the butterfly paperclip - works beautifully.
In the meantime I received another transmitter and works like a charm!

Mr. Crinks said...

Ah! I just received the CTR-301P system and discovered it won't work with my Sony HVL f56.. This might be why!
Do you see any reason why the method you describe shouldn't work for the 56?

Mr. Crinks said... an update to my last post, I can confirm that it does work with the HVL f56!

Thanks for posting this information, I now have the beginnings of a 'Strobist' set-up!

Syafik said...

Nicee!. Abang Tan. I am thinking to looking for one. Can you suggest me, a good shop to buy these thing, The Yong Nuo Wireless?

Templar Tan said...

Abang syafik !

I think kedai kedai besar fotografi ada jual. I bought mine from Minimuffin from alphanatics. You can check with him.

me.parkdude said...

Dear Templar,
I've done the mode as suggested, it was perfectly blended with my sunpack & sb600... but not with my F56. Scratch the connectors, pressed the flash, attach to body and wireless etc as u did, still none.

but when i attached F56 + yongnuo hotshoe + sony to non-sony hotshoe + body A700 = perfectly fired! meant, no problem with the connection.

pls advise.

Templar Tan said...

Dear me.parkdude,

Unfortunately, I don't have a F56 with me to test out this modded CTR 301P.

To see if the transmitter is sending out signal or not, try to test fire the flash without attaching the transmitter onto your camera. There is a testing button on the transmitter. Press the button, to test if your set is working or not.

Flash not firing can be due to low power of your transmitter and/or receiver. Most of the time, the oxidation of connectors on the camera's hotshoe would cause the transmitter not working perfectly. Try to scratch the connector of your camera hotshoe with keys or paperclip (as has done by novak).

me.parkdude said...

Dear Templar,
I've tried the set with and without flash, with sunpack & sb as well. all fine but F56.

I shall try again, scratching the connectors. will update u tonite.
Thank you for your prompt reply/advise.

parkdude said...

Dear Templar,
i've done your as suggested, with key, small knife an even a piece of sandpaper... but still to no avail.

it is funny as it works perfectly with others brands (SB, nissin & sunpack) and even with my sony F20.

Stef. said...

Thank you so much for putting this tip up! I managed to follow your instructions step by step and it did work!!!
Many. many thanks!!!