I was recently given a pair of older studio lights complete with softboxes and a basic hot-shoe trigger. I have zero experience with studio lights I admit. I intend to use it with my Canon EOS 550D. The setup works, strobe fires but... can I somehow use auto exposure?

I would be quite happy with a semi-manual approach - take a shot, "somehow" use it as input data and let the camera set the shutter speed, aperture, etc to make it better. Similar to how custom white balance is done on this camera.

Or even better of course have it all automatic (similar to what "TTL" does for external hot-shoe flashes if I'm not mistaken).

Is there any way?

  • \$\begingroup\$ TTL requires more complex communication between the flash and the camera than simply triggering the flash. \$\endgroup\$
    – null
    Jul 16, 2015 at 11:08

1 Answer 1


Sorry, there is no way to make older studio strobes automatic, or even semi-automatic. You must use Manual mode for every photo.

1/200 is the max sync speed on your camera, but when using radio triggers, there is sometimes a very slight delay introduced. To be safe start with with 1/160 f/8 ISO 100. You can then adjust the power of the strobes to get the right exposure or adjust the aperture or ISO as well. Remember that if you move the strobes, the flash to subject distance will have a large effect on the exposure.

There is no need to adjust the shutter speed as the flash duration is much faster than the shutter speed and will freeze any movement. Just don't use a slow shutter speed like 1/30 or 1/60 as this might allow too much ambient light into the scene. 1/125 or 1/160 should work just fine.

For white balance use the "Flash" setting.

With some trial and error, and lots of practice, you will be a master in no time.


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