Saturday, September 29, 2012

RF-603 Triggering Modes


Most of the time, my RF-603 will be used in the simple manner shown above: transceiver in the hotshoe of my 7D and wirelessly triggering a remote flash or two. However, the RF-603 can be used as a shutter trigger or even combined shutter and flash trigger.

RF-603 (G1X)

In the previous post, I noted that the button on the RF-603 transceiver activates only the shutter release (side connection using 2.5mm plug) and not the hotshoe functions. As shown above, the RF-603 can be used as a simple wired shutter release. Press the shutter button and the camera fires but remote flashes will not be triggered.

RF-603 (G1X)

The configuration shown above will trigger both camera and remote flashes.  Place a transceiver in the hotshoe of the camera and connect its shutter release to the camera. Add a second transceiver to trigger the hotshoe transceiver. Now a press of the button on the second transceiver triggers the shutter release on the first transceiver (the one mounted on the camera hotshoe) and the camera fires. When the camera fires, the hotshoe mounted transceiver transmits a signal to any RF-603 that are listening and those flashes will fire. To operate in this mode, three transmitters are needed: one on the camera hotshoe, a second transmitter to be the shutter trigger and a third transmitter mounted on the flash.


Actually, the “third” transmitter (the one mounted on the flash as shown above) can be used to trigger the transmitter mounted on the camera hotshoe so really only two transmitters are needed. In other words, set up a RF-603 on the camera hotshoe and wired to the camera release connection plus a second RF-603 mounted on the flash hotshoe as shown below. When the button on the flash mounted RF-603 is pressed, the camera will fire and activate the RF-603 on the camera hotshoe which will trigger the flash mounted RF-603 to fire the flash having the transceiver that began the cycle.

RF-603 (G1X)

All this is simpler than the words necessary to describe it.  Just remember that the button activates the 2.5mm connection and the hotshoe activates remote hotshoes.

Monday, September 17, 2012

G15: How ‘bout that!


As rumored and becoming obvious over the past few days, Canon announced its PowerShot G15 enthusiast’s camera today – a replacement for the G12 but skipping the G13 and G14 product names for various reasons of their own.

The Canon website now includes product pages for the G15. Dpreview has a preview of the G15.

My own guess, was that the G12 marked the end of that product line but that descendants of the G1X would continue it. I'm wrong once again (although more nearly correct a year ago).

Instead of the G12 being the end of a product line, I now suspect that the G1X will be a one-off model line because Canon's enthusiast compact product line seems to be getting crowded. Perhaps Canon is floating trial balloons to see which way the market winds are blowing.

I also suspect that the G15 probably was spec'd and designed very quickly in response to the moderate reception given the G1X. With the exception of a faster lens, the G15 appears to be a modest update to the G12. Since I still have my G12 and have added the G1X, I don’t feel particularly inclined to purchase a G15.

More later as I read and learn about the G15.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Yongnuo RF-603

RF-603The Yongnuo RF-603 is a wireless system for triggering flash and/or camera shutter using the FSK 2.4 GHz channel. Control distances up to 100 meters are claimed. Transmitter and receiver are identical and are called transceivers. The transceivers are powered by two standard AAA batteries; 45 hours of standby are claimed. Sixteen channels are available to provide isolation from other RF-603 that might be nearby.


The RF-603 is offered as the RF-603C for Canon cameras and RF-603N for Nikon cameras. I’ve not seen the Nikon version but apparently there are slight electronic differences in addition to differences in the hot shoe and cable connections. The Canon version uses a 2.5mm socket for connection to the camera and a standard PC socket for connection to studio flashes. On the camera end, the connecting cable varies according to the camera connection. Cameras such as Canon’s 1D, 5D, 7D, 20D use the “C3” cable whereas the 60D, 450D, 1000D and similar use the “C1” cable. My G12 and G1X also use the “C1” cable.


The RF-603C came well packed and worked right out of the box. I must admit that, at first, I thought the triggers were defective because I immediately mounted a flash to the hotshoe of a transceiver and tried to trigger it by pressing the button on the other transceiver. The RF-603 doesn’t work that way. It turns out that pressing the transceiver button does not activate the hotshoe on another transceiver. The button activates the shutter release connection – not the hotshoe connection on the receiving transceiver. As a flash trigger, the RF-603 can be tested by mounting the flash to the hotshoe of one transceiver, placing the other transceiver on the camera hotshoe and firing off a shot.

Channel selection is done by setting the switch that is beneath the batteries.  I immediately changed the channel from the factory setting.  Each transceiver must be set to the same channel.


Here’s a funny about the RF-603 package: The box has dual labels in English and Chinese (I assume). The User Manual is also in English and Chinese. Inside the box was a small package of desiccant label “DO NOT EAT” – but only in English!

Prior to getting the RF-603, my preferred remote trigger was the RF-602 although I first learned about remote flash triggers by using the Cactus V2. The Cactus V2 had an iffy performance that seemed mostly related to connections and wiring. After getting the RF-602, I stopped using the V2.

So far, I’ve not seen much difference in the performance of the RF-603 as compared to the RF-602 when used as a simple flash trigger. I had hoped (in vain!) that my G1X fitted with the RF-603 might not exhibit “screen blanking” as it did with the RF-602. However, this is obviously more of a problem (or undocumented feature) with recent PowerShots than it is related to the specifics of the flash accessory.  The RF-603C worked fine with my 7D.


Compatibility-wise, the RF-603C seems to trigger every flash I have access to – even the Nikon SB-28 and SB-24. Remember though, that all the RF-603 does is to signal “Fire” to the flash. The flash power must be set manually on the flash. It appears that the RF-603 cannot be triggered by the RF-602 and vice versa.


There are two main gripes about the RF-603:  First, the OFF/ON switch is virtually inaccessible after the flash is mounted to the trigger hotshoe.    This means that the trigger must be turned ON before mounting it to the flash.  Second, the trigger just slides into the camera hotshoe – there is no lock.  Although this friction only mounting is actually relatively secure, it does not fill me with confidence so I’ll be applying a bit of gaffer tape.

The RF-603 is very versatile and can be used in a variety of triggering modes but I’ll save those details for a separate post.

Friday, September 7, 2012

G1X: Battery Options


Canon’s G1X uses an NB-10L rechargeable lithium-ion battery rated at 7.4 volts DC and having a capacity of 920 mAh. The NB-10L is also used in Canon’s SX40 HS camera and probably many others. Canon rates its battery for approximately 250 still shots with the display screen turned on or 700 with the display screen off; this rating assumes “normal” operation which includes zooming. The battery is reported to be rated for 300 charging cycles. Of course, Canon’s instruction book for the G1X says “Use only the recommended battery.”.

In contrast to the NB-10L as used in the G1X, the NB-7L as used in the G12 is rated for 370 shots with the display turned on or 1000 shots with the display off. The NB-7L is also a 7.4 volt battery but with a capacity of 1050 mAh. The NB-7L is slightly larger than the NB-10L.

G1X CameraMany G1X users interpret “recommended battery” to mean the NB-10L type of battery and not necessarily the Canon brand. Canon’s NB-10L is much more expensive than non-Canon batteries. Typically Canon’s NB-10L is around $40 and as high as $60 whereas generic NB-10L range from $10 to $20 and really cheap ones are less than $10.

So – what’s a photographer to do?

Coming from a time when batteries were not as reliable and had a lower capacity, my personal and recommended practice is: one in the camera, one in the pocket and one in the charger. Being even more conservative, I’m likely to have an additional battery or two around. At the same time, all my extra batteries are the generic variety.

My personal G1X is usually powered by the official Canon battery. Along with my G1X, I purchased a “Power2000” NB-10L which, as I recall, was about $20 at the time. The Power2000 NB-10L is rated for 1200 mAh. Later I went even cheaper with two “Photive” NB-10L batteries costing $20 – including a charger useable with either AC or adaptable to an automobile DC socket (cigarette lighter). Come to think of it, I’ve not tested the DC socket charger.  Hmm, better test it someday (Update:  Seems to work!). Like the Power2000, the Photive NB-10L are labeled as having 1200 mAh capacity.

I believe/suspect that there are few rules for determining battery capacity or, more likely, that the temptation to use an exaggerated capacity is very strong. In my very limited testing and experience, it seems that the OEM and non-OEM batteries have about the same capacity. That is, don’t be misled by the mAh capacity label. My practice is to use a “Sharpie” pen to mark batteries as received. Of course, the received date is not the same as the manufactured date but is somewhat indicative of the age of the battery. It seems to me that generic batteries have a slightly shorter lifetime than do OEM batteries.

Following are some sources for NB-10L batteries. (This blog is not linked to any commercial sites or agreements.)

  • B&H has a Pearstone NB-10L for $20. It is highly rated in the B&H system of ratings.
  • Adorama has their private labeled NB-10L for $10.
  • Sterlingtek has a good reputation and is a source used by many photographers. Sterlingtek has been my first choice for non-OEM batteries for many years. Strangely, Sterlingtek does not carry the NB-10L on their website but even more strangely, Amazon carries an NB-10L ($15) supplied by Sterlingtek that is highly rated. I don’t understand this at all.
  • Amazon has some very cheap NB-10L batteries. Some are as low as $4 and others are packaged with chargers and other accessories. Wow, the Power2000 is about $4 and has a good rating – makes me feel like getting another one!

Various Internet discussion forums have positive comments about NB-10L batteries supplied by GT Max NB-10L, Sterlingtek (through Amazon), B&H, Ex-Pro and Opteka. It is easy to get the idea that the marketer (not the same thing as manufacturer) does not matter. The difference is probably the specifications and tolerance requirements of the marketer. One begins to suspect that there are very few manufacturers and that many of these batteries are actually made by the same manufacturer.

I’ve followed this philosophy and practice for some time. Here’s a post about a clone battery failing in my G9 and two posts about batteries used in my 7D.

My recommendation?  Buy a cheap generic battery for backup; in fact, buy several.