Q&A: China Answers!

Upon reading the post earlier this week asking for a male-male hot-shoe-to-mini coiled sync cord, reader Shirley Lu, of Guangzhou, China noted in the comments:

If this cable is 10 meters, maybe it will have a delay on signal transfer. And other point is the cost of a 10-meter cable is much higher than a set wireless triggers.

Great question (er, comment), Shirley. I am so glad you posted it. And especially so, considering a quick look at your screen name shows you work at Pixel Enterprises, a Chinese lighting gear manufacturer. (Welcome!) My answers are below.

First, here's the post we're talking about, in case you are late to the party. Second, I edited Shirley's english (which is much better than my Chinese) for clarity.

And third, just in case her comment screen name seems reversed, remember that different cultures use family and given names in different orders.

So, Shirley, to your questions.

First, a wire is almost always going to be faster than a radio remote when you are trying to get your maximum sync speed. This is because of tiny, microsecond-range delays inherent to the processing that takes place inside of a radio remote.

I have tested many remotes and found that a sync wire is reliably fastest when using high, non-FP sync. (We're talking standard dumb- and TTL remotes that do not insert themselves into the timing sequence of of a TTL pre-flash as does, for example, the PocketWizard ControlTL platform. That's a different thing altogether.)

With a wire as a remote syncing device, the only two considerations are the flash's t.1 speed and the shutter speed in the case of a leaf or electronically timed shutter. (As is the case in an X100s and a Nikon D70s respectively for example.)

Second, why even go with a wire when a remote is potentially cheaper?

LOTS of reasons here.

Sync cords, assuming they are well-built, just work. They are not battery dependent, and assuming proper connections, they do not become obsolete. They also are much less* susceptible to RF interference.

(*I say, "much less," because if I say they are immune, someone will pop up in the comments and say an electromagnetic pulse weapon could mess up my sync cord. Sigh.)

In any case, the above are all potential weaknesses of remote triggers, and one reason why I suggest that people start with a wire. This also leaves you with a good and generic backup when you progress to a remote.

Since I posted on Monday, several good suggestions percolated up through the various channels. One was that a solid, heavy-duty straight wire might be better than a coiled wire since the latter is heavy and springy and can tip a lightweight light stand.

Another suggested, wisely, to use a 90-degree plug at the flash end for reduced strain. A couple of people pointed out that Flash Zebra sells a version of this cord that is straight, but shorter. Awesome.

Others chimed in (many of you, actually) pointing to PocketWizard's just-announced mini-to-hot-shoe cord. Not the same thing. That's male mini to female hot shot. It connects a PW to a flash that does not have a PC or mini jack.

Shirley, thanks again for chiming in.

And the consensus of the ad hoc International Strobist Focus Group is for a cord that is a) straight, b) heavy duty, c) longer — say 25 feet, d) has good quality connecters — with 90-degree mini-plug — and e) good strain relief at each end.

Thank you for your consideration.


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Blogger Charles Gallo said...

There IS actually a delay in a 10m cable, but it is so small as to be unnoticeable. The electromagnetic wave travels down the wire at a fraction of the speed of light called the Velocity Factor (in the case of say an eithernet cable, 0.7. Basically there is a few nanosecond delay. Close enough to 'nevermind', but it is about 30% slower than a light beam would be over the same distance, but man would the circuits have to be FAST on the light trigger to make up the difference

August 29, 2013 8:22 AM  
Blogger Jan Fredrik Leversund said...

Well, does it really have to be a single item? I've got a $5 hot-shoe-to-PC adapters from fleaBay, and from what I can tell, all they (the manufacturers) would need to do is to start producing these with a female mini-jack instead of the horrible PC socket. Then everybody could just buy whatever cable configuration they needed. There are thousands of those available on fleaBay.

August 29, 2013 8:29 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

David, just read your latest posts and thought you may find this interesting, regarding the strain relief at the end of the cord. It is a silicon putty that you can shape any way you like. I haven't tried it myself but you may find it useful.

The product is called Sugru.

Best regards, Tasso.

August 29, 2013 10:29 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

For the strain issues this product may be of interest to you.

Best regards,

August 29, 2013 10:30 AM  
Blogger Kevin B. said...

Fantastic! PW announces the mini-to-hot-shoe cord a week AFTER I sell my SB600.

August 29, 2013 10:52 AM  
Blogger Jay Strevey said...

Good morning David,

I've got to head to the optometrist for new glasses.
Any chance you could offer advice on how photographers with compromised vision are negotiationg the would of bifocal and progressive lenses?



August 29, 2013 12:36 PM  
Blogger Paul S said...

Although advertised as TTL cords for Canon, these cables do actually work with almost any camera flash combination... Some limitations apply with some flashguns, but in most cases you will be able to fire a flashgun without any issues... As recommended by Zach Arias...


August 29, 2013 4:37 PM  
Blogger Jason Roeder said...

David, here is an idea: get Fujifilm to add a 1/8" miniphone sync jack to the X-Pro2. They can place it right alongside the PC jack.

Also, ask them to up the sync speed to at least 1/250, (or add the D70s/D40 electronic shutter trick)

Also, ask them to work with Pocketwizard and develop Fuji versions of the ControlTL platform.

Also, ask them to work with Sigma and make a X-mount version of the 18-35mm f/1.8

Thanks in advance.

August 29, 2013 8:36 PM  
Blogger Ian said...

Shirley said 'And other point is the cost of a 10-meter cable is much higher than a set wireless triggers.'

If that's the case, why are wireless triggers so expensive? PW - looking at you especially here.

Other than that, excellent post, proves again that not everything has to be high tech and wireless. I use cables indoors or if i think I'll not be moving around much. Held together with gaffer tape. A friend introduced me to Sugu a couple of weeks ago and I'll be experimenting with it this weekend.

August 30, 2013 2:02 AM  
Blogger Ian said...

Shirley said 'And other point is the cost of a 10-meter cable is much higher than a set wireless triggers.'

In that case, why are wireless triggers so expensive?

August 30, 2013 2:04 AM  
Blogger Lu Shirley said...

yes,you are totally right,cable is much more stable than wire transfer in any occasion,the wire easy to get disturbed if have many equipment use same radio frequency.Your suggestion is good,and we have one kind of straight ttl cable which i think could designed to that kind you said.http://www.pixelhk.com/Proshow.aspx?id=155 at first,we designed it with 10m,but fail,if cut to 25inch,maybe its ok..we could consider it...and sorry for my poor English .

August 30, 2013 6:12 AM  
Blogger Lu Shirley said...

and David?What do you think is a fair price for a very well manufactured cable?

August 30, 2013 6:30 AM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

Hey Shirley-

Well, the 10m TTL hot-shot to hot-shoe OCF cords are going for $28, and this should be less expensive to manufacture than they are...

August 30, 2013 11:25 AM  
Blogger bobusn said...

Great discussion. Thanks.

On the subject of strain relief, did someone already mention the utility of the hinged plug on the Sennheiser Momentum?


August 30, 2013 3:55 PM  
Blogger Barnacle said...

i bought a 30ft coiled ttl cord from yongnuo for 20us off ebay with free shipping to belize!
it seems very well built with one problem. the female hotshow has a 1/4 thread on the botton and i am having trouble finding a clean way to mount it to my lastolite ezbox?

August 30, 2013 4:16 PM  
Blogger rpccube said...

Hotshoe adapters with mini phone jack are available from Flash Zebra and straight not coiled mini phone to mini phone in many lengths are available on ebay and Raido Shack. If one must use cable this is the most useful and will not pull equipment down until (inevitably) someone trips over it. The strongest reason to use wireless triggers. How often do we need high sync speed anyway?

August 31, 2013 11:59 AM  
Blogger Jim Danvers said...

The reference to an EMP weapon was hilarious... !! :)

Somewhat OT and directed to Barnacle - Belize? You haven't happened to see Walter White (Heisenberg) hanging around have you?

( sorry -- Breaking Bad fans will get it... :) )

August 31, 2013 2:18 PM  
Blogger Lu Shirley said...

Sorry for late..just need some days on survey the market..and other important question,if guys think our quality can meet with most photographer need if we produce this cord?

And about the question from Ian,why the the cost of ttl cable is high than wireless trigger,here the wireless trigger just refer the the universal type trigger witnno TTL or HSS,it's very complex to say as the cost inculd so much factors..just not depend its wireless or wired..

September 05, 2013 2:13 AM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

Hey Shirley-

As to your quality standards, there is only one real determinant.

It is a cord. Professionals will rely on the cord to trip their flashes. It is a simple piece of gear, and it only needs to do one thing. But it should be of sufficient quality to do that thing reliably over years of heavy use.

When we buy a product from a company like Pixel, we trust that you build it well enough to work for a long time. And the way you let us know how well you build it is to have a factory warranty for a useful amount of time.

I would suggest you build it well and include a 2-year factory warranty to back up your quality. That way, if it is poorly built the risk is yours rather than ours.


September 05, 2013 12:21 PM  
Blogger Allen McInnis said...


If this comes to market, I will take 3 and you will be my hero!

How about a house hold version for my Dyna Lites??!!

Shirley, so few companies are brave enough to post comments, your presence is appreciated!! And never apologize for your English. You are trying hard to speak in our mother tongue and we appreciate your effort.

September 05, 2013 8:07 PM  
Blogger Shedluv said...

Have you looked at the Pixel Componor? Hotshoe to hotshoe with standard Ethernet cable in between. Depending on how long of cable you buy,could be anywhere from a short to very long cable. Ethernet cables are widely available anywhere, and relatively cheap online. Will do TTL (if you're more of a McNally than a Hobby)

September 07, 2013 12:20 AM  
Blogger Lu Shirley said...

Hey,David,will you attend PDN PhotoPlus International Conference in Oct 24 - 26?We will be there,we could like to make appointment with you to discuss the details of the model?

September 13, 2013 6:20 AM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

Hi Shirley-

I do not know for sure if I will be at PPE, so I could not make any promises. But if I do end up there I will make sure to visit Pixel's booth so we can chat.

September 13, 2013 11:15 AM  
Blogger Lu Shirley said...

Hi,David,Recently We did a market survey on this product and found that not much customers do need this products,Do you have some suggestions on market of this model?

September 17, 2013 5:54 AM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

Shirley- If your market study is showing insufficient demand, then it does not make sense for you to make them. Also, there is another competitor in the Flash Zebra cord.

September 17, 2013 4:50 PM  

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