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Non-Native Flashes - A Danger?

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by Justified_Sinner, Apr 19, 2012.

  1. Justified_Sinner

    Justified_Sinner Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 11, 2010
    Scotland, UK
    Dauvit Alexander
    Having just looked at the "Adapted Lenses" thread and seen Red's great Lomo-style photograph of a GF1 with a Holga Colorsplash flash attached, I was wondering how safe this was.
    I seem to remember reading somewhere that non-Panasonic/Olympus flashes (or flashes specifically designed for those cameras) operate at too high a trigger voltage and can fry the whole camera.

    Does anyone know if this is true or not?
  2. RevBob

    RevBob Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Jun 4, 2011
    NorthWestern PA
    Older flashes often have too high a trigger voltage, but most new flashes are safe to use. You can Google trigger voltage and find a list of older flashes that have tested as safe for digital.
  3. shnitz

    shnitz Mu-43 All-Pro

    It's true, but it depends on the flash. It's not like every single flash that isn't Olympus operates at 50,000 volts, but some older flashes have unsafe voltages. For example, some Vivitar 283's can produce voltages higher than 300 volts, while others are less than 10. If you aren't sure, order yourself a DMM on ebay or your favorite tool store online.
  4. red

    red Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 21, 2010
    found this statement:

    "...do not use with digital cameras! The flash has an unsafe sync voltage of around 270v which could easily fry your digital camera"

    Where is the maximal voltage specified for a GF1?

    Until now I triggered the Colorsplash about 20 times - without any damages...
  5. Justified_Sinner

    Justified_Sinner Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 11, 2010
    Scotland, UK
    Dauvit Alexander
    Wow! Glad I asked.
    A search revealed that the trigger voltage for Panasonic is 24 volts.

    A quick call to a friend of mine - an electronics engineer - suggested that this might not be an issue the first time or the 100th time, but "something must give" eventually.

    I did find this, but it seems a bit costly to allow the use of a cheapo Holga flash unit!

  6. Roger

    Roger Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 2, 2011
    Western PA
    I use my old 283 Vivitar flash as a slave. It works great that way, and the slave device is cheap on Ebay.
  7. fin azvandi

    fin azvandi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 12, 2011
    South Bend, IN
    Guy Parsons has a good list of hot-shoe compatible non-native flashes and their features - here
  8. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Safe Syncs

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Problem solved. ;) 
  9. shnitz

    shnitz Mu-43 All-Pro

    It's been brought up. I agree with you, and I'd recommend it myself. Plus, you never know when you'll get into strobe photography, and it gives you a way to get a PC port on every camera with a hotshoe. However:

  10. DizzyV6P

    DizzyV6P Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 13, 2012
    I have a Canon 580 EX I. Can this work w/ the E-M5 or do I need an adaptor?
  11. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 14, 2012
    New Mexico
    Glad I popped into this thread. I'm supposed to shoot a bunch of art work with a small studio strobe setup I've had for ages but seldom use. So I'd forgotten how they trigger. Fortunately a radio trigger can sit on the camera hotshoe: That triggers one head, the other triggers via a slave. Cumbersome, but it works, and presumably won't fry my camera. I've used it before with my digital bodies, and I've used an big old Metz on them too. Now that I'll have to do some research on.
  12. kinlau

    kinlau Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 29, 2012
    Radio triggers are the safest. Even the Safe-Sync will let current thru at high voltage levels. I have an old hammerhead flash that puts out over 400V, and that can jump circuits.
  13. songs2001

    songs2001 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 8, 2011
    Depends, nikons are safe to 250 volts, Some radio triggers (cheap ones) will output more than 6 volts because they have lower QA and just because it works on Nikons doesn't mean it'll work with Canons or Olympuses.
  14. inkista

    inkista Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 13, 2012
    San Diego, CA
    Theoretically, it should work, but in practice it might be something else again. Chances are good that the flash will fire, but e-TTL control or anything other than the sync signal (i.e., HSS, rear-curtain sync, etc.) are unlikely, given that the pin/contact layout is probably quite different. Only the rails = ground and center pin = fire signal are part of the ISO standard for flash hotshoes.

    Sync voltage-wise, though, you're liable to be in the safe range, since most of the modern flashes have sync voltages of 10V or less, and most modern hotshoes can withstand around 250V. (The most notorious exception are the first-gen Canon dSLRS (i.e., anything around the vintage of the 300D or earlier which only had a limit of 6V on the hotshoe, hence all the pages and pages of warnings about sync voltage limits).

    Actually, the real danger is the other way around. A lot of the cheaper radio triggers can only withstand a few volts. Most of them, like the current crop of speedlights, use a low-voltage signals, but, for example, the Yongnuo RF-602s can only withstand about 11V, and will get fried by older flashes that use much higher voltages. Cactus V5s, iirc, can take up to 300V.
  15. totochan24

    totochan24 Mu-43 Regular

    May 8, 2011
    Yeah looks like 24 V is the maximum for Lumix G :

    From UK Lumix Lifestyle website :

    Q: Can I use external Flash triggers with the GF1 hot shoe?
    A: Yes, however you will need to ensure to use a trigger system with a low terminal Voltage (Less than 24V).

    This is for GF1 (my camera) but other G cameras have the same info.

    I'm planning to buy two cheap old pentax af200t flash for macro use, and found out this wonderful website with list of trigger voltages of lots of old flash units from various brands that convince me they're safe:

    Strobe Trigger Voltage - Is your old strobe safe to use on your new camera
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