I am just starting to use my SB800 and SB900 as remote flashes. I tried to use the built in flash of my D300 as a commander, in an outside setting (sunny). I had the remote flashes in front of the camera (off to the side), no more than 6 feet from the camera. The flashes wouldn't fire. When testing indoors, there was no problem with triggering the flashes. What is the triggering range of the built in flash as a commander. Do I have to place the remote flashes to the right or left of the camera to trigger them? Thanks for any help.
When shooting outdoors make sure the IR sensor (little round red glass eye on the side of your speedlight) is facing the camera, you may need to face the body of the flash in the opposite direction and turn the flash head 180 degrees to get the eye facing the right way. When inside this isn't normally a problem because the flash from the camera bounces off the walls and hits the IR sensor. Also bright sunlight can cause issues for the IR system, but at around 6' it should be fine. The IR has a range of about 30' in ideal conditions but try to keep the flashes as close to the camera as possible.
Christian has provided excellent advise that will allow you to maximize the wireless range of the system regardless of the ambient conditions. That said in bright sunlight IR wireless signal range is limited by the ambient light level since the IR light is overpowered by the sun. This is one of the situations where the RF signals used by the Radio Poppers and Pocket Wizard Control TL systems are much more reliable and provide several orders of magnitude longer range. Good Luck and Enjoy your Nikons!
The problem using the built in flash is that it only faces forward and, outdoors, will be hit and miss to communicate with the remote.
When I have used CLS in sunny conditions I have placed a SB800 as master on the camera pointing at the remote unit. Also, to improve signal reception, a small piece of card bent to shade the little IR window from the sun can be fixed to the remote with tape or presstik.
Of course the remote should be rotated to face the IR window at the master flash.
Regards, Clive Liddell Pietermaritzburg South Africa
Use either the SB800 or SB900 on-camera and place the diffuser dome on it. This will spread the emitted light to both sides, possibly enough to fire the remote unit(s) reliably. Yes, this shorts you one remote, and may cost you a little in total power reaching the subject from the on-camera unit. You were looking for a reason to acquire another CLS compatible speedlight anyway, weren't you?
As others have pointed out, make sure the small IR window on the remote unit(s) face the camera.
HBB in Phoenix, Arizona Nikonian Team Member
Photography is a journey with no conceivable destination.
>I am just starting to use my SB800 and SB900 as remote >flashes. I tried to use the built in flash of my D300 as a >commander, in an outside setting (sunny). I had the remote >flashes in front of the camera (off to the side), no more than >6 feet from the camera. The flashes wouldn't fire. When >testing indoors, there was no problem with triggering the >flashes. What is the triggering range of the built in flash >as a commander. Do I have to place the remote flashes to the >right or left of the camera to trigger them? Thanks for any >help.
My experience shows that it is very difficult outdoors, in bright light, to get more than about 15 feet range with a camera commander. At night you can get 50 feet or so, but the camera commander it was designed for primarilly low ambient indoor studio work, and it works very well in that role.
Thu 01-Nov-12 07:39 AM | edited Thu 01-Nov-12 07:45 AM by prophotoman
About two years ago, while I was visiting relatives in the Philippines, I wanted to take some mid to late dusk shots of the 260+ year old church that my wife and I were married in. I ended up using my D700 built in speedlight as the commander... with my wife holding an SB-900 on the left side of the front of the church and my brother in law holding another SB-900 on the rigt side. They were both about 30 feet or so away from me I took the shot with no problems, both speedlights went off properly and the entire front of the church was illuminated evenly. The only remote operation I have ever used is the CLS system built into my camera. Going back to the Philippines again soon. I will be bringing 2 SB900's and one SB910. MOST of the time I will still use my camera as the commander except PERHAPS in bright daylight.