The syn­chro­niz­er for the cam­era is an inte­gral part of stu­dio shoot­ing, with­out it, pulsed light will not be able to work at the right time. But it will come in handy even out­side the pho­to room — for exam­ple, if you want to get inter­est­ing light from an on-cam­era flash, place pulsed light around a loca­tion, or shoot a report and don’t want to hit the light “on the fore­head”. The syn­chro­niz­er gives the light sources a sig­nal that you press the cam­era but­ton and they need to fire.

We talk about the types of syn­chro­niz­ers and how to con­nect a cam­era and a flash with each oth­er using this device.


What are the synchronizers for the camera

Sync cords

The old­est type of syn­chro­niz­ers. It is a cable, one of the ends of which is put on the hot shoe of the cam­era (the con­nec­tor on the top of the cam­era), and the oth­er is attached to one or more flash­es (depend­ing on the mod­el of the sync cord).

There are mod­els of sync cords in which the con­nec­tion to the cam­era occurs through a sync con­tact — a spe­cial con­nec­tor that is usu­al­ly locat­ed some­where on the side of the cam­era. In this case, you can con­trol the flash not only in TTL mode (flash pow­er is cal­cu­lat­ed auto­mat­i­cal­ly using the expo­sure meter in the cam­era), but also in man­u­al mode (you can set the flash pow­er your­self). But keep in mind that not all cam­eras have such a con­nec­tor.

There are con­nec­tors for sync cords even on old Sovi­et cam­eras / pixabay.com

It turns out that there will always be a wire between the cam­era and the flash, con­nect­ing them and trans­mit­ting a sig­nal to the light­ing device that you pressed the shut­ter but­ton. The length of the cord deter­mines how far the flash can be car­ried. Sync cords are suit­able for both on-cam­era flash­es and stu­dio equip­ment.

Advan­tages of sync cords:

+ Bat­ter­ies are not required for pow­er sup­ply;
+ the sig­nal is trans­mit­ted through the cable, which increas­es the reli­a­bil­i­ty of syn­chro­niza­tion;
+ ease of set­up. Just con­nect the cord to the flash and con­nect the cable to the cam­era;
+ price. For exam­ple, a five-meter Fal­con Eyes SC6350 sync cable will cost less than 500 rubles.

Cons of sync cords:

— the flash and the cam­era are phys­i­cal­ly con­nect­ed, which lim­its the range of the cord length;
— how many flash­es can be con­nect­ed to the cam­era depends on the num­ber of con­nec­tors on the cord;
— an addi­tion­al cable that will inter­fere and con­stant­ly remind you of your­self.

Infrared synchronizers

They are also called IR syn­chro­niz­ers, IR trans­mit­ters. These are wire­less trig­gers that, when the cam­era shut­ter is released, send an infrared sig­nal to the flash­es that they need to fire. To do this, the flash must have a light trap. As a rule, even old­er flash mod­els sup­port IR sync. With the help of such a device, you can make any num­ber of flash­es work.

The infrared syn­chro­niz­er is mount­ed on the hot shoe of the cam­era. In order for a spe­cif­ic flash to receive a sig­nal from a spe­cif­ic syn­chro­niz­er (you nev­er know if you are a reporter who works in tan­dem with anoth­er pho­tog­ra­ph­er), you need to set it to light trap mode.

The bud­get Fal­con Eyes TR‑1 IR Sync is bat­tery oper­at­ed and easy to use. It has only two but­tons: on / off and a test to check the oper­a­tion of the light / Illus­tra­tion by the author

The radius of the IR syn­chro­niz­er is about ten meters. This is more than if you shoot through a sync cable, but many times less than a radio syn­chro­niz­er is capa­ble of deliv­er­ing.

Advan­tages of infrared syn­chro­niz­ers:

+ remote work from the cam­era with­out extra wires;
+ “ignites” any num­ber of flash­es;
+ syn­chro­nizes flash­es of any mod­els, regard­less of man­u­fac­tur­er.

Cons of infrared syn­chro­niz­ers:

— sig­nal trans­mis­sion in line of sight, the range is lim­it­ed by the light sig­nal that the syn­chro­niz­er gives;
— the light sig­nal that the syn­chro­niz­er gives can­not be blocked, flash­es must “see” it in order to “catch” it;
— bright sun­light can inter­rupt the light sig­nal of the IR syn­chro­niz­er, and the flash­es will not see it;
— bud­get mod­els are rather flim­sy in design, made of plas­tic and resem­ble frag­ile and cheap Chi­nese toys.

Anoth­er non-obvi­ous minus — the IR syn­chro­niz­er can col­or the scene in a red­dish light / Illus­tra­tion by the author

Radio synchronizers

The most mod­ern way to syn­chro­nize. Radio syn­chro­niz­ers con­sist of two parts: a sig­nal trans­mit­ter or trans­mit­ter that is attached to the cam­era, and a receiv­er or receiv­er that is mount­ed on the flash. This is equal­ly true for both on-cam­era and stu­dio flash­es. The only dif­fer­ence is that some­times stu­dio flash­es need an addi­tion­al wire to attach the receiv­er to.

More mod­ern flash mod­els may have a receiv­er built in by default. This is con­ve­nient if the flash and syn­chro­niz­er are from the same man­u­fac­tur­er. For exam­ple, a Pro­fo­to radio trig­ger may not work with Hensel, and so on. How­ev­er, man­u­fac­tur­ers are grad­u­al­ly solv­ing this prob­lem by releas­ing uni­ver­sal syn­chro­niz­ers.

In order for the flash to read the radio syn­chro­niz­er com­mands, one chan­nel must be set on both devices so that they are “on the same wave­length”. Depend­ing on the mod­el of the syn­chro­niz­er and the flash of the chan­nels, there may be four, six and even eight chan­nels. For exam­ple, the Yongn­uo RF-603 II C1 syn­chro­niz­er has 16 chan­nels, and the range is up to 100 meters.

The Yongn­uo RF-603 II syn­chro­niz­er is suit­able for both on-cam­era flash­es and stu­dio light­ing / google.com

Advan­tages of radio syn­chro­niz­ers:

+ works regard­less of the envi­ron­ment, bright sun­light;
+ range is high­er than sync cords and IR syn­chro­niz­ers;
+ some mod­els allow you to remote­ly con­trol the flash out­put.

Cons of radio syn­chro­niz­ers:

— pow­ered by bat­ter­ies or bat­ter­ies, the charge of which must be mon­i­tored, take addi­tion­al pow­er sources;
— can be trig­gered by oth­er devices oper­at­ing at a sim­i­lar fre­quen­cy. For exam­ple, from a car alarm.

How to set synchronizers to work with flash

— If you use a sync cable, then no set­tings are need­ed — just con­nect the flash and the cam­era.
— To con­nect an IR syn­chro­niz­er and an exter­nal flash, you need to put the lat­ter in S1 light trap mode (read our guide on set­ting up an on-cam­era flash) so that it catch­es the sig­nal sup­plied by the syn­chro­niz­er.
— In order for the radio syn­chro­niz­er to con­trol light­ing devices, you need to put the receiv­er and trans­mit­ter on the same fre­quen­cy (chan­nel). Chan­nel num­bers can be either in the form of levers on old­er and bud­get syn­chro­niz­er mod­els, or hid­den in the set­tings on the syn­chro­niz­er screen. For exam­ple, Godox XPro‑C E‑TTL II.