Having just gone to Mike's course in Atlanta, you would think I could figure out how to set the D800E so that it does not fire the camera's flash, but will trigger a slave. I read and re read Tom Hogan's book on it, still can't figure out what settings will accomplish this. Expert advice needed.
You have to use the built-in flash to trigger a slave unless you attach a wireless trigger device. You first have to set the built-in flash to "commander" mode using custom menu setting e3 and set the mode to "--". Using this setting the flash will fire a series of pre-flashes to communicate with the slave(s).The camera setup is explained in the manual on pg 303. You will also have to set your slave flash to work in commander mode, refer to your specific flashes manual for this information. I went through this the other day and setting up the camera took much less time than figuring out how to configure my SB600. Dave Jolley
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The main benefit I've found of upgrading from an SB-800 to an SB-900 (aka purchasing in addition to) was the dedicated switch to choose modes for the flash. On the SB-900 it's a no-brainer to get the various modes. Love that flash.
Darrell's book, 'Mastering the D800' has a very well written section on using commander mode on the D800. I always used one of my flashes as the commander, either mounted on the hot shoe, or with a sync cord.
Alex, I bought a SB910, and I cannot believe how much easier it is to use over the SB800. They (the SB800's) have all been demoted to slaves!
If you are capturing the trigger flash, which occurs while the shutter is open, you will need to use the SG-3IR or an IR filter over the pop-up flash to block the visible light. You could also use the SU-800 which provides IR only control.
The Nikon AWS system uses IR, Infra Red, light to communicate and control the remote units. The pre-flashes trigger each group individually for computing the exposure before the camera's shutter is opened. There is a trigger flash after the camera shutter is opened, synchronizing all the flashes to fire while the shutter is open. See "New CLS Preflash Sequence Images" for a lengthy and sometimes technical discussion bout how the AWS system works, flash sequences, timing, and coding.