Q&A: which flash trigger system for your Leica?
This morning I received this email:
I was reading your review on the Leica SL and I am buying one very soon and your review is really helpful but want to ask you one question.
What is the flash setup you where using, what I mean the flash and the wireless trigger that work best with the Leica SL. I am looking for radio trigger setup.
First of all, for my documentary photography I never use flash and I never have (yes, maybe ten years ago in the Canon 1D times). In fact, one of the reasons I switched to the Leica M system was that these cameras can be hand held at slow shutter speeds a bit easier than DSLR cameras.
But there’s more than just documentary wedding photography. I also do portraits. Mostly corporate headshots and very often I have to shoot in one place on monday and make a comparable shot the other day. If you’re dependent on daylight, it’s impossible to reproduce the exact same look, whereas with flash I can do thousands of shots with the exact same look.
In these situations I work with an off-camera flash. I’ve done lots of assignments with a very simple set-up: one Canon Speedlight flash, one reflector and a white wall as a background. I used an umbrella as a modifier and the reflector in the classic clamshell set-up. There are a number of ways to trigger the flash: the easiest and cheapest way is to use a Pixel FC-311 off-camera cable. This is 100% foolproof, but you’re limited with regards the distance between your camera and your flash. An alternative is to use radio triggers. For both the M and the SL I’ve used the Pocket Wizzard Plus X tranceivers. They’re relatively cheap and they work with all cameras. There’s no (E)TTL, but for off camera flash, you’ll need manual settings anyway.
If I have more time, or the clients wants a specific quality, I bring my complete mobile studio, consisting of two Broncolor Siros 800L lamps, a reflector, a big softbox and a Lastolite foldable white and black background. This is much more expensite kit (5000 plus Euros) but the quality (and consistency) of the light is much, much better. The Siros kit comes with a flash cable, but for the M this won’t work, since it doesn’t have a flash port. With this kit, I use the Broncolor RFS2.1 transmitter, which is terrific. I can set my flash output on the transmitter for both flash heads. It always works and it’s very small.