Thursday, May 27, 2010

All you need to know about sync cords but were afraid to ask

  • They are WAYYYY overpriced
  • There are basically 5 types of connectors:
i)        Household- two flat prongs, looks like a US household plug, hence the name….
ii)       ¼ inch- standard size for audio, amplifiers, mic, guitar etc.
iii)     3.5 mm- standard headphone jack size
iv)     2.5 mm- standard “smaller” headphone size, many phones use these
v)      PC sync- circular outside ring and prong in the center, used only in photography
Some brands make their own proprietary ones (hachoovivtar!) and they are jerks

  • All of these connectors can be bought (for DIY and modification) at your local radio shack for a buck or two except the PC sync (I will not rant about the need to “end” the reign of the PC Sync, like some people)
  • They are WAYYYY overpriced
  • All that happens to fire your strobe is a connection is made between the two wires inside the cord. Your hotshoe works the same way, a connection is made between the metal at the center of the foot and the metal on the side, where you slide it into the shoe (the rest of those connectors are for TTL). You can fire your strobe with a paper clip, try it!
  • 90% of the time, the polarity (which cord touches which part of the camera or strobe, meaning positive or negative) doesn’t matter. The only time I have found it matters is when you are using an optical slave. My optical slave needs to have the correct polarity; I guess it draws a drop of juice from the device itself.
  • They are WAYYYY overpriced
What this means for you:

                You can modify repair, and make your own cords, even using an old set of headphones. You can create custom connectors and not buy them. For example, my poverty wizards have a ¼ inch output, and included a ¼” to 3.5 mm adapter. I went to radio shack, bought a ¼” plug receiver thingee (2 for $1.99), and spliced it to an old pc sync cable and poof! I now have remotes that I can plug into the PC sync port on my Nikon SB units.
Where is this all leading too? Stay tuned…

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