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I have currently a Nikon D850 along with a SB-700 flash, whose main purpose is to shoot cosplays in events. I'm happy that using it on the hotshoe would get better photos than without it, but still I'm not satisfied. So I'd like to experiment to having it off-camera.

Now, I've read variuos ways to trigger the flash off-camera, and I still am at a loss about which one should I use. I want to preserve the HSS and, if possible, the TTL capabilities of the SB-700. Also I've read that the D850 has a commander mode but (as my limited knowledge in this topic goes) it seems that I would need another flash for that.

So I'm thinking to buy a pair of radio trigger/receiver, specifically the Godox xPro-N (or X2T-N) and a X1R-N, but would it be the best solution? Or buying a second flash for master/commander would be better? Is there any advantage of one of them vs the other? Or better yet, is there a built-in way to trigger the flash remotely from the D850?

  • With regard to light balancing, are your shots 100% flash or do you use the flash as fill and light mostly or some ambient? – Hueco Feb 22 at 17:03
  • @Hueco the flash is only fill, since the people usually pose outside the building – Roberto Maldonado Feb 22 at 17:13
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    Gotcha. I was trying to determine if HSS would be a necessity - if you're using flash for fill, then yea, it probably is. But, you could go the other direction and use ambient as fill and flash as main, in which case HSS isn't as much a need. strobist.blogspot.com/2006/03/… – Hueco Feb 22 at 19:33
  • @Hueco sounds interesting. I still want HSS, but I'd like to experiment using flash as main too. Thanks :) – Roberto Maldonado Feb 23 at 10:58
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I have currently a Nikon D850 along with a SB-700 flash, whose main purpose is to shoot cosplays in events. I'm happy that using it on the hotshoe would get better photos than without it, but still I'm not satisfied. So I'd like to experiment to having it off-camera.

Now, I've read [various] ways to trigger the flash off-camera, and I still am at a loss about which one should I use. I want to preserve the HSS and, if possible, the TTL capabilities of the SB-700.

Then, the three options are:

  • i-TTL cable
  • Nikon's optical CLS/AWL system
  • i-TTL radio triggers

Methods like S1/S2 "dumb" optical slaving, PC/3.5mm/2.5mm sync cables, or manual radio triggers do not do TTL and HSS.

A TTL cable is basically an extension cable for the hotshoe/flash foot connection. All four of the signals on the Nikon hotshoe are communicated to the flash. But the majority of these cables are created for flash bracket use, and may be limited in length. They're a good solution if you want to hold the flash in your left hand, or on a monopod, but not necessarily for a studio-style setup.

Nikon's CLS/AWL system is built into their speedlights, and into the pop-up flash of many of their prosumer camera bodies, which often makes it convenient. But the D850 does not have a pop-up flash, so as you figured out, you'd need another SB-700 or SU-800 or other CLS optical commander unit on the hotshoe to control an off-camera speedlight. And optical has the disadvantages of requiring line of sight and having reduced reliability/range in brighter ambient situations (e.g., outside in bright daylight). Line of sight means you can't hide your light behind solid objects—the sensor on the side of the SB-700 has to "see" the master signal on your camera's hotshoe. And placing lights behind you can be problematic unless you can swivel the unit on the hotshoe. Which is why we like radio.

Radio triggering is usually the most robust and reliable system for off-camera flash triggering, so that's why it's preferred, and why an SB-5000 costs a bomb. 3rd party solutions (e.g., Yongnuo YN-622N, Godox X1R-N) though can be quite a bit cheaper.

Which solution you want to use is up to you and how you envision using the flash. When I'm roaming the halls of Comic-Con, I used to use an 8" softbox and a TTL cable, but I now use the 8" softbox with radio triggers, simply because it's more convenient now that my Godox TT685 eliminates carrying a separate radio receiver (and batteries for the receiver), and works in TTL/HSS with both my Panasonic GX7 and Fuji X100T. I will carry a TTL cable as backup, though, in case there's radio interference.

See also:

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  • Thank you for your answer. It's all I need to make my decision. Now I wanted to ask a simple question tangentially related to the main question: Is there a reason that made you decide to use a softbox instead of an umbrella? – Roberto Maldonado Feb 23 at 11:01
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    @RobertoMaldonado, because you can't get an 8" umbrella. :D an umbrella is typically 36"-42" across. Hard to juggle with a light in one hand. As I said, I was walking the halls of Comic-Con on my lonesome. An umbrella setup that lets you walk around would look more like this. But see also Soft boxes vs umbrellas, pros and cons. – inkista Feb 24 at 4:41
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I just did the same, using my SB700 (and D850)with the Godox X pro N and the X 1 receivers. It worked great practicing in the house, either on Manual or TTL (on the flashes), but when I tried to set up a quick shot today, the flashes won't flash when on remote mode. I did not remember changing anything after intially finding that the set up was very simple to do. However if I change the setting on the SB700s to master, the trigger on the camera works fine to make them flash. I hope I'm not in over my head, it does not see that difficult to adjust, but not sure what changed to cause the flashes not to be triggered in remote mode. **so the short answer is the Godox system costs me about $150 and worked slick, however if you get into trouble you can switch to master mode to make them flash with the trigger on the camera hot shoe...no wires...no mess.

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