Posts tagged radiopoppers

Yongnuo ST-E2 Review

Canon’s ST-E2 flash commander, if you can call it that, is an ancient piece of equipment if you think about the last ten years of digital camera technology advances. If you compare Nikon’s SU-800, it’s like comparing an analog, mechanical computer with a quad-core machine today. It’s just that ancient!

So why did I get one? Well, I didn’t until I found a chinese copy on ebay. I wouldn’t pay more than US$90 for the real, original ST-E2, but I found this Yongnuo for less than that one eBay. Plus shipping. That sealed the deal. The Yongnuo ST-E2 can also be purchased directly from Yongnuo HK’s ebay store here.

Anyways, it has several advantages to the original. First is that it takes AA batteries. Not the harder to find 2CR5 lithium battery. This means I can use my Maha Imedions with it. Secondly, it can swivel left and right. The original Canon ST-E2 stays fixed, pointing forwards. If you’re not using a radio trigger like RadioPoppers (get them in Malaysia here), how often would you have your flash places in the forward 90-degree arc of your lens? One other advantage Yongnuo claims is that you can control their YN ST-E2 using the camera LCD. Well, that’s because the YN ST-E2 pretends to be a 580EX. However, with the limited functionality on the ST-E2 itself, there’s hardly much benefit to it. I mean if it has the same functionality as the SU-800 from Nikon then perhaps, the LCD control would be beneficial. Finally, the other advantages Yongnuo claims such as increased range, recycling time, etc are just extras to me.

Any disadvantages? Of course. Basically, this is a cheap Chinese copy. Manufacturing tolerances are going to give. Most apparent is positioning the focus assist beams to line up to my 5D Mark II requires a couple of seconds. Once done and the unit it locked down, it’s not a problem. Minor if you ask me for the price I paid for it.

Finally, most importantly to me is I want to use it with my RadioPoppers. The big reason I bought this is so that I can have my 3 580EX IIs doing something else rather than be a commander. Couple that with my 550EX and 430EX II, that gives me five lights to place in my scene. RadioPopper’s instruction to stick the transmitter on the batter cover is for Canon’s original ST-E2 but, for the YN ST-E2, you’ll need to place it a bit forward of the battery compartment. Other than that, it works flawlessly with my RadioPopper PX. Just make sure you gaffer up the transmitter part of the ST-E2 if your flash units are in the same room and can see both the ST-E2 IR and the radio commands from the Poppers…

RadioPoppers shipment

Will be bringing more RadioPoppers into Malaysia this April/May. Anyone interested?

Note: I do not profit from this. Shipping fees are prorated according to order amount. For occasional shipments where they are brought in by friends, you do save on the international shipping but you’ll need to pay the local shipping charges to my friends in Texas.

To get the price of radiopoppers, please see their website over here.

The Ringgit Malaysia to US Dollar current exchange rate as of this posting is roughly RM3.09 to US$1.

10 Couples on 10.10.10

On probably one of the most popular wedding dates of 2010, I was covering a very unique wedding ceremony. Unique not because there were 10 couples on that date but because all of them are already married. The oldest couple had been married 37 years and the youngest couple, just nine.

It, was however, a marriage vow renewal and blessing ceremony. The page boys and girls were the some of the couples’ children and so were the special song performances. It was a touching and special way to declare your continuing commitment to your spouse before family and friends. With many marriages breaking up before even the fifth anniversary, it’s good to see these couples renew their vows.

It was interesting to see the ten couples walk down the aisle — no fathers’ giving away the brides anymore and no veils either. I do admire the effort taken to get all made-up and all the wedding dresses again! Overall, it did look like a large mass wedding! Thoroughly fun and the oldest couple, Robert and Jenny Mah were absolutely fabulous and he was giving her a bend over kiss!

The light the church, I had three 580EX IIs and RadioPoppers. For the group shots, I had a master 580EX and two slave 580EX IIs firing into reflective umbrellas. Again, my RadioPoppers provided wireless ETTL.

RadioPopper PX + Lastolite EzyBox Hotshoe

Lastolite makes plenty of nifty lighting accessories and the EzyBox hotshoe is one of them. I’ve been shooting with softboxes for sometime but they were studio lights requiring AC power. Needless to say, they aren’t easily setup or transported. Plus they need the all-important AC socket. Sometimes, those AC sockets aren’t easily available and I’ve a daisy-chain-able extension cord and sockets. In some cases, you don’t even have AC power so Lastolite’s EzyBox hotshoe comes to the rescue. Some samples here from Louis Pang. It basically allows you to use your flash in a softbox.

RadioPoppers – well, they’re those god-sent help for wireless remote flash triggers with full e-TTL (or i-TTL) capability. Don’t understand? Well, it allows simpletons like me to use the camera’s brain when calculating flash exposure when the flash is not sitting on the camera but hanging from a Justin clamp several meters away. Better yet, several flash units all over the place.

So what’s the problem? I want to use my Canon 580EX II with my RadioPopper PX reciever inside my EzyBox Hotshoe. Here lies the problem. I’ve searched, posted on Facebook and Twitter to no avail. I’ve asked a couple of other people here in Malaysia but still no go. Brick walls are roadblocks but any roadblock is surmountable…

Read further for the solution… Read More

My niece, Julia, OMF, Camerons

Children in some ways are easier to shoot that adults. Of course, there’s a different set of challenges and also not everyone’s the same. Like adults, some are more comfortable in front of the camera. Recently, I was at Camerons and while relaxing and also planning out some big changes ahead as well as a lot of calendar packing events — including a large photo seminar for university students as well as the upcoming Shoot4Charity fund raiser. My niece Julia was there and she’s a gregarious kid and rather happy to be in front of the camera. She proudly exclaims “I’m shooting pictures!”. Best part is she’s able to tell my 5D Mark II, battery grip, 70-200 f2.8 compared to daddy’s 500D and 18-200, “Your camera is much bigger than daddy’s!” Size does matter?

The OMF bungalow has a nice open area for kids to run around. It’s also a good time to think, reflect and plan for the future. Change is definitely on the horizon. Most of the shots were flash assisted with my RadioPoppers, even some of the daylight ones as I wanted more directional lighting.

Julia found the older kids (another group who was also staying in the bungalow with us) playing football (soccer) but they didn’t want her to play plus also they were kicking much harder. The only time we had was later in the evening about dinner time (around 7pm) when the kids went in for their dinner. I kinda of like those shots where I had to drag the shutter down quite a bit. You can see the slow shutter in the shots — I was going down to 1/30 at f/4.5, ISO 1250 in those shots. Some shots had 3 580EX IIs going off to provide enough light but as I didn’t move my lights around, some shots had to make do with a single flash (the others were off position).

RadioPopper troubleshooting

My RadioPopper PX transmitters and receivers so far have been functioning great. Stuff that simply works is always a winner in my book. The only problem is that due to its usage of the 900Mhz ISM Band (902-928Mhz to be precise) it’s not available outside the US. This is generally due to GSM 900 being in used in many countries outside the US. GSM 900 technically spans from 890-921Mhz. RadioPoppers translate the e-TTL (or i-TTL) signal of your flash over radio instead of IR to allow the signals to go beyond line-of-sight such as behind walls, etc.

Anyways, I’ve never had problems using my RadioPoppers in Malaysia or Shanghai so… Most radio devices are also capable of working with the noise and I’ve used my RPs in a filled church hall, 100 feet from master to slave flash clamped above the gallery and they still work with full e-TTL and HSS (High-speed sync).

Realized I had the battery covers swapped – The transceiver is actually the receiver and vice-versa.

A friend had some issues with his RPs lately so I got hold of them and obviously, test them before I get one of my friends going to the US to get them sent in. So here’s how to check if your RPs are working fine.

Hardware Reset
First thing I do is to reset them. You do that by pressing X and then press P a couple of times until you reach the Reset menu. You’ll need to hold down the X till the countdown happens.

Reset, reset, reset!

After that, powering on the unit will display the firmware version. I then configure them to my usually preferences; Hardware mode: Canon, Brightness Level 1 (those darn LEDs drain power), Channel 9, Feedback Mode 2 (F2 – no feedback to allow 8FPS shooting). Don’t ask me why but channel 9 works for me all the time so far. Furthest range I’ve got is from the road to my backyard, approximately 130 feet with the whole house, truck in the driveway between master and slave.

Feedback Mode (F3)
Since I’m trying to figure out what was the problem, I set Feedback to ‘3’ which shows the the signal transmitted from master to slave. This code is displayed on master and slave. Easy to figure out if anything’s messing up or going haywire. This worked fine with numbers matching. So I dug out the rest of my RadioPoppers and then tried both the transmitter and receiver and all units synced up nicely. You will get a number, i.e. 11, 15, etc — it depends on your shoot settings but that number will be displayed on all receivers and transmitters. If it doesn’t match, you might have some issues.

Finally, the test was to test from 1/160 to 1/2500 with one, two and three slave flash units. Camera A is a 5D Mark II with 550EX as master and camera B is a 40D with 580EX as master. Slaves are 430EX IIs and 580EX IIs. Transmitters and receivers on channel 9. After 200+ shots, I got tired so, case closed. The shot below was taken from outside my house window, into the corridor with three flash units in each room. Distance to the last flash, 60 feet, 5D Mark II, f/6.3, 1/160, ISO 400, 105mm. You’ll need to look carefully to see the light from each flash. Anyways, test result shows that all transmitters and receivers work fine.

p.s. sorry about the silly bathroom rug 🙂