Because Scott Hargis's post back in 2007 is so popular and it only mentions Cactus strobe triggers I want talk more triggering multiple strobes.
In the context of shooting real estate there are three practical alternatives for triggering multiple strobes. See this video for a good summary of strobe lighting basics:
- Camera manufacturer's triggering systems (CLS or E-TTL). The downside with this technique is these systems don't work well through walls or around corners, a situation frequently encountered in real estate shooting.
- Radio Triggering with Cactus triggers , Radio poppers or Pocket Wizards. Cactus triggers are inexpensive but fragile and somewhat error prone. Pocket Wizards are reliable but expensive. Radio poppers let you change remote strobe power from the camera and are in the same price range as Pocket Wizards.
- Optical slave triggering. This technique is effective and inexpensive but only usable with some strobes.
To me, Optical slave triggering is the most attractive because it is so simple, reliable and easy to use. I didn't realize how simple and effective it was until I saw Scott Hargis and Thomas Grubba use it in their lighting workshop in Seattle last year. If you use strobes with built-in optical triggers there is no extra triggering gear, no extra batteries to die. Everything you need and nothing you don't! Everything to do the triggering is in the strobe unit. Here is a list of popular strobes that have built-in optical triggers:
- Nikon SB-26 - Available on e-bay, etc. for around $75-$100USD.
- Nikon SB-80dx - Available on e-bay, etc. for around $100-$130USD
- Nikon SB-800- Available retail for around $300 USD
- Vivitar 285HV + Wein "peanut" optical slave- Available retail for about $110. Optical slave is not really built in but adding the optical trigger is so simple it might as well be.
The way the optical triggering setup works is as follows:
- Strobe power levels are set manually... walking around to each strobe.
- Light from an on-camera strobe triggers all remote strobes.
- Strobes can be placed around corners by using a strobe, or two to relaying light around the corner.
For those of you that havn't already discovered Strobist.com, check it out for continuing insight on the subject of using of multiple off-camera strobes.