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Anyone miss Flash AF-Assist light on Z cameras?

km6xz km6xz

Is from: St Petersburg, RU
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km6xz Silver Member Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, including Portraits and Urban Photography Nikonian since 22nd Jan 2009
Tue 19-Jan-21 01:34 PM
I was disappointed when first getting the Z6 over 2 years ago that Z bodies do not trigger the flash patterned assist light. It seems that no mirrorless do and asking why, everyone replied it can't work because of some filter ahead of the sensor.
I thought that was not very likely so set up experiments that should manually trigger the SB900 assist light to allow the Z6 to focus well in a fully darkened room. Adding a filter in front of the SB900 to filter out the visible light and it still worked so the sensor surely is sensitive to IR.

I forgot about it and just went on shooing in low light and the easily blocked small green LED assist light in the body that was not effective.

A week ago I got back into the problem and read the serial data stream of the shoe contact that communicates with flash and identified a pattern missing from the Z6 that was present on all my DSLRs so assumed that pulse frame was the command to turn on the light. I set up a breadboarded microprocessor to reproduce the data stream that has 3 bits present in the D850 in that frame and missing in the Z6. It fired the SB900 assist light!
So I am trying to design a small breakout contact to fit under the flash in the shoe. That is not easy because of how the shoe having so little vertical play.
While I think of a way to do that without surgery on each of my 6 speed lights I came up with a little hack. I taped a photodetector over the body green assist light that is blocked by all my lenses with hoods, and had a Darlington transistor switch to fire a larger red or green LED with a lens over it(bright LEDs can be found mounted in a small metal collar that has a concentrating lens built in) and a couple of AA Li-On batteries in a small plastic box taped to the side of the flash and every time the body assist light turns on, a brighter in the clear focused green or red LED lights up. I tried both and the RED was less distracting so settled on Red and then just found an IR LED and that works also but not as great a distance. The advantage of the IR is it is seen as only a dull red luminance and not a light that anyone would notice.

I will continue experimenting with the simple external one while I figure out how to get the modified shoe data stream into the flash without getting into the flash body.
One thing for sure, the Z6 will focus in AF-S into dimmer light than any of my DSLRs so having any assist light is not as important as when using a DSLR.
St Petersburg Russia

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

St Petersburg Russia

Visit my Nikonians gallery.