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Hokuto
03-17-2007, 12:34 AM
This is a quick hands-on review of the YHPT-6045 radio flash trigger; these or similar devices are sold by a number of different ebay vendors working out of Hong Kong; I got mine from a place called "Link Delight."

http://i9.ebayimg.com/02/i/07/01/fa/51_1_bo.JPG


What they are, what they do
As the name implies, a wireless flash trigger is a device used to synchronize or trigger a flash unit thatís not attached to your camera by the hot shoe, and without using a long PC cable. Olympus does provide a couple of hot-shoe PC cables (FL-CB02, FL-CB05) that allow Olympus flash units to be used off camera, but in exchange for the ability to use TTL mode, youíre limited to the short length of the cable. Not to mention that theyíre quite expensive. On the other hand, TTL mode isnít very meaningful to me when doing a fixed setup with multiple flashes, since I use manual flash settings and a flash meter when necessary to balance the flash ratio, and TTL would merely confuse things..

As ďStrobistĒ ( http://strobist.blogspot.com/) notes, the professional way to go about this is to use the Pocket Wizard ô; but a pair of them costs nearly $400, a sum far too much for me at this experimental stage of shooting menu settings for some friendsí little pub. If these shots come out well and it were to turn into some kind of regular gig (we have lots of artists in the town who need product shots), I might later shell out for the PW, and if your professional income depends on it, thatís the obvious way to go.

In addition to the YHPT-604, a YHPT-601 model is also available. The difference is the number of channels provided, and in the net ads you have to look carefully to tell the difference. One is equipped with a single channel, while the other has four. The single-channel model is cheaper by a couple of dollars, but I got the four-channel model. Link-Delight sells these flash triggers via numerous auctions on e-bay, with prices in various currencies. If one of the auctions has ended just pick another one. I donít recall why I picked the auction I did (it was available?), but mine was priced in Australian dollars, $29.99 plus $13.00 shipping to Japan.

http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c197/Peregrinor/technical/P3095307w1.jpg
The package arrived about a week after payment; a small padded envelope that contained the product box. The box was a bit mashed from transit, but the items inside appeared undamaged. Inside the box was the receiver (left), transmitter (right), a PC connection cord to allow connecting an additional flash (or flash without a hotshoe), and a CR2 battery for the receiver (not shown in the photo here). The transmitterís battery was already installed when it arrived. I assume this is because the two sides of the transmitter case are held together by a tiny screw that requires a #1 Phillips eyeglass screwdriver to remove. (Donít be caught in the field without a screwdriver.) Notably missing was any kind of instructions.

http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c197/Peregrinor/technical/P3095313w1.jpg

The transmitter battery was a Chinese-made Vinnic Alkaline L1028 23A (12v), apparently only rarely found in the West, mostly in such devices as auto burglar alarms, key locks, and garage-door openers. Searching the Web I discovered that an equivalent is available in the Panasonic LR-V08, so Iím relieved that it wonít be hard to find replacement batteries..


http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c197/Peregrinor/technical/P3085245w1.jpg
As I noted, the receiver uses a standard CR2 Lithium battery, which was included separately. To load that battery, you pry open the compartment lid on the back of the receiver. Also inside the receiver case, visible in the photograph, are the two tiny DIP toggles to set the channel on the receiver side. Corresponding DIP switches are located on the underside of the transmitter; the two switches allow the channel to be changed in four possible combinations.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c197/Peregrinor/technical/P3085247w1.jpg

As visible from these photos, the innards of these things are completely exposed when the covers are off, and virtually no insulation is placed between parts, so one must be very careful not to poke around and touch something with a screwdriver that might cause a short. Also note the bolt head for the aluminum mounting bracket on the right side of the receiver; itís very close to some electrical circuits, so one must be cautious when it is loosened, since it could conceivably touch metal circuit parts. Obviously the casing provides no water resistance. Enough said.

The transmitter has a plastic hotfoot that fits into the cameraís hotshoe and contacts the latterís center electrode. This gives the unit a simple FLASH/NO FLASH operation, so as I said earlier, youíre limited to manual or thyristor (AUTO) modes with whatever flash you use. On the top of the transmitter is a test button and LED indicator. When the test button is pressed or the shutter is activated, the test LED lights. If the hotshoe connection to the camera is bad the LED wonít light when you activate the camera shutter; this allows one to confirm proper hotshoe connection. In fact, the central electrode pin on the transmitter isnít very long, and when I first mounted it on my E-300, it didnít fire. Taking it off and putting it back on solved the problem, so connections should be checked well. A thumb ring is also provided to tighten the foot to the hotshoe, but one review I read on another site recommended against tightening it, since doing so could cause the short electrode to be lifted sufficiently away from the hotshoe to break contact. I donít know if that applies to all these devices, but the foot seems pretty secure without any tightening of the thumb ring anyway.

On the front of the receiver is a tiny ON/OFF switch, which obviously should be left in the OFF position when not in use. People with big hands and fingers may actually need to use the tip of a small stick or toothpick to move the switch since it is quite tiny. My hunch (Iíll be glad if Iím wrong) is that these things eat up batteries pretty fast when ON, and may have some leakage current when off, so I am planning to remove the battery whenever Iím not doing flash work.

Above the receiverís ON/OFF switch is another test indicator LED that flashes when the transmitterís test button is pressed or the cameraís shutter successfully closes the circuit. Again, this provides a test function for the receiverís hot shoe, since if the flash doesnít fire when the receiverís test LED lights, it may point to a poor connection between the flash and the receiverís hotshoe.

The receiver is provided with an aluminum L-bracket that can be adjusted to various angles; it is provided on the bottom with a metal foot that fits into a standard accessory shoe, and the foot is also drilled and tapped for a standard 1/4Ē tripod bolt. I wouldnít mount a very heavy flash in anything but a vertical or near-vertical position, however, since the plastic bodyís connection to the L-bracket doesnít seem that sturdy.

Using the Radio Trigger. Operation is simple: mount the transmitter on the cameraís hotshoe. Then mount your flash onto the receiverís hotshoe and attach the receiver to a light stand or tripod. Turn on the switch. Set the flash for manual (or AUTO for thyristor mode), and youíre ready to start shooting. If the flash fails to fire, check your hotshoe connections first. Have extra batteries ready as well. Someone asked about interference so I tried using my carís wireless door opener, my cell phone, and my cordless house phone in the vicinity of the setup and wasnít able to cause false flashes on the channel I had the units set for, although I didnít check all four possible channels.

As I mentioned elsewhere, in addition to the FL-50 on the radio trigger, I have an old Panasonic PE-381SG flash that I trigger via an optical slave. Yesterday in practice the dual setup worked flawlessly. I successfully synched the shutter of the E-300 up to 1/250s. At 1/320 I began to see shutter-curtain shadow on the bottom of the frame, but the flash continued to trigger normally..

I havenít done any distance testing of the trigger, but I found it worked when I walked from my study to the far corner of my living room, a distance of about 15 meters, which is probably farther than Iíll ever want to use it.
For more distance, you might consider doing this antenna modification (http://www.flickr.com/groups/strobist/discuss/72157594463784267/); another set of instructions for this modification can be found HERE (http://www.instructables.com/id/ESSZSXRVP3EYSYUOLA). These links provide quite a bit of useful information for the electrical DIYer.

RESULTS I have no large softboxes (I really need some), so I put my Gary Fong Lightsphere on the FL-50 and a homemade "lightsphere" on the Panasonic flash. Here's what the setup looked like on my dining table:

http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c197/Peregrinor/technical/P3105336w1.jpg

And some initial testing results:
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c197/Peregrinor/technical/P3105346aw1.jpg

http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c197/Peregrinor/technical/P3105472w1.jpg
(The shots here were all done with the E-300 + ZD 50mm f2.0 macro)

Conclusion: Worth the relatively small price I paid. Long-term reliability not assured, and the item should be considered a use-and-discard item, since repairs will probably be more expensive than buying a new one. At this point I'm a happy camper.

PS: I wrote this mini-review before finding another REVIEW ( http://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthread.php?t=243987&highlight=review) on another forum site. Although that reviewer was using a Canon camera, he added some testing data using several different flash units, information that may be of use. Overall, however, his conclusions and results were closely similar to mine.

Later edit: After writing this review, I had the opportunity of doing a food shoot (http://www.fourthirdsphoto.com/vbb/showthread.php?p=80133#post80133) for some friends, and I took the radio trigger to their restaurant. What I discovered there is that the trigger reacted quite sensitively to some kind of signals in the air (perhaps their wireless LAN ?) and caused regular and frequent false flashes, far more frequently than I experienced here at home. It didn't destroy the shoot, but it does cause your flash batteries to wind down faster, obviously. As I also noted there, I didn't think at the time to switch to another channel and see if it experienced the same frequency of false flashes.

Sajko
07-23-2007, 01:49 PM
Hi, I got one on eBay last week. 2 trans and 2 receivers. problem is, i have to almost JAM it onto the hotshoe of my e500. i need to turn the tightening knob as much off as possible. then getting it off is also a pain. tried it on other various hotshoes that i have on cables and other gear, same problem on all except one. any ideas. eBay buddy never heard of this problem. for the price, it seems to work ok. debating whether i should break off the knobs or get out a file and file them down a bit. i though of dismantling the transmitter, ie pulling out the little board to see what is underneath ie maybe a way to lengthen the stem?? thanks.

Hokuto
07-27-2007, 07:45 PM
Hi, I got one on eBay last week. 2 trans and 2 receivers. problem is, i have to almost JAM it onto the hotshoe of my e500. i need to turn the tightening knob as much off as possible. then getting it off is also a pain. tried it on other various hotshoes that i have on cables and other gear, same problem on all except one. any ideas. eBay buddy never heard of this problem. for the price, it seems to work ok. debating whether i should break off the knobs or get out a file and file them down a bit. i though of dismantling the transmitter, ie pulling out the little board to see what is underneath ie maybe a way to lengthen the stem?? thanks.

The foot is plastic, so I'd just try filing it down a bit. I've heard of others doing that, too, Mine were also tight, but I've managed to get them on/off without filing.