posts tagged with the keyword ‘flash’



So I got this Vivitar 285 flash last year, and it’s been working great, except for one thing… the little plastic foot is no match for the weight of this thing. Eventually, it broke. Argh… To be expected though.

I found a replacement metal foot on ebay for $6.99, and I watched some YouTube video that explained replacing it. Here’s the thing though… after I watched a damn advertisement, and then a 9 minute video showing how to do the replacement, I decided that I’d help people of the future by presenting the same info in a good old no-nonsense way, with words and pictures!

Broken Foot

So here is our broken foot. Thin, old, cheap plastic. No good! Grab a tiny screwdriver and remove the foot. Don’t lose the screws, they are tiny! (Also, you will need them later!)

Remove Foot

Here is the broken one still attached, next to the new one. On the original unit, there are 4 wires. Two of them (white and green) go to the test button. You don’t need these! You just need the black and red wires. The button on the new one will work just fine with only the black and red attached.

New Foot

The black and red wires are short, so don’t cut them, you need to desolder them. If you don’t have a good soldering iron, and some soldering wick and a solder sucker, find someone who does. (Maybe your local hackerspace?) I did cut the white and green ones, and put a tiny amount of tape over the ends, just to be totally safe.


Solder the black and red wires in place securely. It appears I put the black on in the center. I’m not sure that it matters, but YMMV and I make no guarantees. (See where I put the screws? Right where they belong, because they are so damn small I was afraid of losing them!) Also, don’t put the foot on backwards, as that would be stupid. (Disclaimer: I’m not even sure you can put it on backwards. I just like disclaimers.)

New Foot

With the soldering done, put the foot in place, put the screws in, and put the batteries back in (you did take them out before you started, right!?) and test it!

OK, there’s your short guide to replacing the hotshoe foot for a Vivitar 285 camera flash. Hopefully you read this in less time than it took me to watch that 9 minute long YouTube video.

(And yeah, the fact that this is a post about photography that has terrible photos is not lost on me. Apologies…)


Vivitar 285

I recently got a Vivitar 285 flash.

Yeah, you could say I’m pretty excited about it. :)


Skip Intro

I was asked to create an awesome splash screen for a web site, so I came up with this. What do you think!?

Also, instead of doing it in Flash, I might just make a static image file.

I’m not sure if I should add a “skip intro” link underneath it though, for people who don’t want to see the intro. But I really want people to see the intro… do I leave out the “skip intro” link!?


I picked up a set of Cactus Wireless Flash Triggers from Gadget Infinity many months back, and never got to review them. Now seems like a good time…

The first thing to know is that they are cheap. This is the good part, and the bad part, depending on how you look at it. In the photo studio at work we use Pocket Wizards. They are high quality wireless flash triggers that work properly every time. They’re also about 10 times the cost of the Cactus triggers. If you are a professional photographer who wants close to 100% reliable operation, Pocket Wizards are the choice. (At least, that’s what every review tells me, as well as my limited experience using them.)

Of course for the Strobist on a budget, you’ve got to get started somewhere. I did a lot of reading in the Strobist group on Flickr (and elsewhere) on the Cactus triggers, and finally decided that for under $35 I should find out for myself. I ended up ordering the V2s (version 2) triggers as the v4 (version 4) triggers were not available at the time. (These triggers are also often called “ebay triggers” as you can get cheap, wireless triggers on ebay quite easily, but I did order directly from Gadget Infinity.)

My first tests involved putting in the batteries and pressing the “test” button on the transmitter. I’d press the button maybe 50 times, and it would make the LED on the receiver light up maybe 30 times. Not exactly great. These were all at close range too, so distance was not a factor in these tests. I then connected the receiver to an old Sunpak auto 433 D and took some real photos. Again, the results were good but not great. It would fire most of the time, but on occasion it would go maybe 4 or 5 times in a row without firing. The distance for these tests was maybe 25 feet.

Cactus Wireless Flash Triggers

Cactus Wireless Flash Triggers V2s with a new Panasonic CR2 battery. Inset shows a rubber band to help keep the battery cover in place.

I did a bit more reading of reviews and comments around the web (there’s a great one here, by the way) and one comment I found mentioned that replacing the batteries would help with the reliability. I ended up getting some new batteries from DealExtreme, a 5 pack of Panasonic CR2s for under $7.

A new battery in the receiver made all the difference for me. I’ve been shooting with a Sunpak auto 144 D and a Sunpak auto 433 AF with good results. Again, keep in mind that I’m not a pro doing half-day photo shoots with models, but just a guy who wants to learn more about off-camera lighting techniques on a tight budget. (I’ve tested the triggers with our studio strobes via a sync cable plugged into the receiver, and that works great as well.)

Just for fun I tried the “test” button again to light up the LED on the receiver, and out of 200+ tests, I only saw the LED not light up twice. Much better results than before the new battery was installed.

Keep in mind, these are the V2s models, not the newer V4 models. I’m actually pretty satisfied with the v2′s for now and see no need to upgrade to the V4′s. With everything right in the world, the V4′s should be an improvement on the V2s’ but things are not always right in the world.

If I had to sum up it, I’d say the Cactus Triggers are “good but not great.” They’re definitely a good value, and a great way to get started in off-camera lighting. Heck, even if you do have Pocket Wizards or another well-known name in wireless triggers, these Cactus triggers might make a cheap backup solution in case of an emergency.

(Just a note, I actually have the V2s model, not the V2. I believe the V2s is a newer version of the V2.)


Things I hate about (poorly built) Flash sites: you can’t select the text, you can’t resize the text, my scrollwheel does not work, the controls are too small, I can’t open links in a new tab/window… Basically, I hate losing all the features I am used to my browser having with an HTML site…

Crappy Flash Site I sort of feel like even if it is a crappy HTML site, at least I can still control things like the browser’s scrollbar, or the size of the text, or how links open, and my scrollwheel works! So many (crappy) Flash sites still feel like the author wants complete control over my experience, and they think they know better than everyone else what is good for you. I hate those people. Ok, I don’t really hate them, but I feel like they hate me, or at least they don’t trust me. Argh…..

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