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I've read from many sources that film flashguns won't work with newer digital cameras due to voltage differences and timing differences (and trying may in fact damage my camera), however I have heard of people getting around this by using inexpensive remote flash triggers.

I have a couple of old film flashes lying around and I wanted to experiment with some off-camera flash - I've found this wireless remote but I wasn't sure if it would work with my older flash gun.

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What camera and flash do you have? It may be the case that they are compatible. – Rowland Shaw Dec 29 '10 at 12:40
The Camera is a Canon EOS 500D, and the flash is a Yashica CS-250AF – Justin Dec 29 '10 at 13:54
I have been using an old Miranda 930TCD with cowboy studio radio triggers with great success. The site lists an output trigger voltage of 6.5 (I think?) volts. but as it is not on the camera hot shoe there is IMHO no danger. At best it could fry the triggers, but hey, they were dirt cheap. AND it has not fried one yet, I have been using for 7 months. – user24587 Dec 9 '13 at 1:42

Make sure to look for the flash on the Botzilla list of strobe voltage, which has been around for a long time and is very well known (within the specific circle of peopel who care about such things. Or you can measure the voltage yourself. If that's no good, the same site has the info you want on slave triggers.

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This article will answer most of your questions:

It also lists sync voltage limits for most cameras, brand by brand. To summarize from that article:

  • Canon (350D and later models): 250V (Chuck Westfall)
  • Nikon 250V (it's in the manual)
  • Olympus 24V?
  • Panasonic 15V?
  • Pentax 25V
  • Sony 24V?

The questions marks come in where more than one number is given, and the lowest one is taken to be on the safe side.

Then, measure your flash's sync voltage. You can look it up, but some models, like the Vivitar 283 and 285 can vary widely over the course of production. Some vintage 283s go up to 350V, some are in the <10V range.

I also wouldn't take the advice that any wireless trigger will work like a Wein Safe Sync. Some might. But wireless triggers, like camera hothsoes, also have a sync voltage limit. The Cactus V5 and Yongnuo RF-603II, for example, have a 300V limit. The Yongnou RF-602 and RF-603, otoh, have a 12V limit (hence the RF-603II).

You will also want to pay attention to polarity as well as the voltage.

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