Nikon CLS Tutorial Video

The headline pretty much says it. This three-minute video shows you the basics on quick-and-dirty wireless TTL operation with a Nikon SB-800 and a pop-up flash CLS-enabled camera.

This guy uses a D200, but there are several other Nikons that work in a very similar way.

And remember, you can use CLS to merely trigger the strobe in the manual mode, if you want to do your own driving.

I'm just saying.


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Anonymous unplug said...

Good place to ask as any I guess :)

I use a D70 and a Sigma ED-500 DG Super in manual slave mode using CLS like the guy in the video. Problem is the flash doesn't 'sync' if I fire it above 1/8 output power. 1/64, 1/32, 1/16 and 1/8 are ok, if I go above it doesn't contribute to the exposure (but fires normally). Hints anyone?

I read somewhere that I should get a new firmware for the Sigma but thought I'd ask first...

Strobist: Great site, thanks for your tutorials!

June 30, 2007 3:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love my CLS. I'm using the D200 and a SB 600. It works great. It has it's limitations, but I don't need to shoot around corners or light something 1500 feet away. I would like to, but don't need that feature........yet.

June 30, 2007 5:03 PM  
Anonymous Travis said...

Can someone direct me to a website that explains how to use Nikon CLS to fire my SB-600 in *manual* mode? Or, if it is really easy, can someone explain it quickly? :) I am not asking how to use commander mode in general, got that figured out. Just how to use my D80 to remotely fire my flash in manual mode as mentioned toward the end of this blog entry...Thank you! -- Travis

June 30, 2007 5:50 PM  
Anonymous Rob S. in Vegas said...

To Travis:

Put the SB-600 in remote like in the video. Go to Commander Mode in the camera menu and set the mode to "M". Now set the flash to fire 1/1, 1/2, 1/4, ect. under "Comp".

Hope that was clear.

June 30, 2007 7:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Travis. You just need to put your SB600 into CLS mode - just as you would for CLS TTL operation.

Then, as shown in the video, you put the camera into Commander mode and set the built-in flash and the SB600 to M mode by scrolling through the options in the menu. You can set the output for both flashes through the camera menu.

June 30, 2007 8:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When you go into the Commander menu in the D80, you'll see a field called "Mode" that can be set to "---" which means don't fire, "TTL" that will then let you set EV compensation, and "M" that will let you set your power. That's the way it is on my D200, anyway.

June 30, 2007 8:29 PM  
Blogger Adam said...

@unplug: The Sigma is NA-iTTL according to Sigma. In practice this means Not Actually iTTL. Expect continuing hassles with the Sigmas, particularly in wireless configs.

You'd be better off getting the less powerful but far more reliable SB-600 and selling sombody the Sigma.

Sigma makes some excellent products. Their flashes, particularly in Nikon and Pentax versions, are not any of those excellent products.

June 30, 2007 10:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

can you do a similar thing (TTL) with Canon 20D or 30D and the Canon Speedlite 550 or 580EX ???

July 01, 2007 3:11 AM  
Blogger venkman said...

Nice tutorial!

question: I own a D40 and SB600, as far as I know there is no possibility in this configuration to fire the flash remotely like shown in the video or is there?

Is it possible to buy a cable to put the speedlight at a different position than the camera itself? I have not yet found something like that ;)

thanks ;)

July 01, 2007 4:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

there's so many holes in this guy's 'lesson'. he barely knows anything beyond his camera and doesn't even explain why he's choosing the menu features that he is.

i suppose he's not being paid for it and he just did because he's trying to help but there's so many people out there that are just not qualified to 'lead the blind' and in the end it will make it a lot more confusing to someone trying to learn.

we all know the basics and so we can sort of understand what he's trying to get at but someone completely new at this could possibly be discouraged at how 'complicated' this all is.

without further explanation as to what happens in alternate conditions (not just TTL and macro mode with a shoot through umbrella) the viewer is only seeing what the 'teacher' is doing and what works best for him, which doesn't necessarily mean it will be beneficial to the 'student'.

July 02, 2007 1:04 PM  
Blogger David said...

I almost did not post the above comment, as I usually decline comments that are both anonymous and decidely negative.

I obviously thought the original video had value, or I would not have posted it.

My takeaway from this video is that it shows you (a) how quickly and easily you can set up your CLS for a wireless flash connection, and (b) that it can work very well in a wireless TTL mode.

If anything, it has prompted me to experiment more with my own gear that is CLS compatible.

If there are other more comprehensive YT vids on CLS and/or eTTL, I'd love to know about them, too.

But I think this is an excellent, easy-to-understand quickstart CLS video, and I am grateful to the author for making it.


July 02, 2007 2:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

can you do a similar thing (TTL) with Canon 20D or 30D and the Canon Speedlite 550 or 580EX ???

Yes. You'll need either a 550, 580, or ste2 to trigger the strobe.

July 02, 2007 2:26 PM  
Anonymous unplug said...

@adam: I know the Sigma doesn't work well in TTL mode. That's why I use it in manual, having the maximal 1/8th power problem there...

Hmm. Will try some Sigma forum. Thanks anyways.

July 02, 2007 3:51 PM  
Blogger Ilkka said...

venkman, there's at least the Nikon SC-28 and SC-29, both essentially the same except the 29 has an AF assist light. Either one should fit the bill. I'm seriously considering trying to build a cord like this, if I could only find hot shoes and fittings to cannibalize.

Ooh, to be able to afford even the SB-600...

July 03, 2007 1:33 AM  
Blogger zane said...

can you do a similar thing (TTL) with Canon 350D and the Canon Speedlite 430EX ?

July 03, 2007 5:12 AM  
Anonymous MagickMichael said...

I had problems with my D100 and the SB600s I had. I bought the D200 and still had problems with the SB600s. I bought the SU4s per Nikon Tech Support. That got them to fire... about a second AFTER the shutter.

Finally I jsut sold the 600s and bought 2 more SB800s (total 3 now) and I haven't looked back. The system performs flawlessly everytime and my exposures are spot on.

There is a DVD from Nikon (and probably on ebay too) that shows all possibilities of the CLS. it works with most DSLRs made after the D70 (not sure about the D80 or the D40). Videos like this one are just good teasers. There is no replacement for reading the manual; in fact I even carry it it my bag right next to my spaghetti box snoot.

I have used CLS for about a year now and I can say that it is my prefered way to light any shot.


July 05, 2007 10:59 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

As the author of the video, I wanted to briefly respond to the anonymous negative comment above.

This video was never intended to be a comprehensive tutorial on how to use CLS or off camera lighting in general, but rather to highlight a feature many people who own Nikon CLS-capable cameras don't know they have, as well as to show the simplicity of using such a setup in a situation. If there were some way to condense using CLS or off camera lighting in general into a 5 minute video so that everyone could walk away an expert, I would certainly quit my day job and make such a video - though I'm certain David would have already done so.

As such, I didn't feel the need to explain why I chose to use the TTL setup, or why I set the camera's on-board flash to "--", or why I positioned the strobe on the left side of the frame and above - I simply didn't feel these were in the scope of the video. Rather, I simply wanted to show another way this particular set of equipment could be used to accomplish the same sorts of things the "real" professionals do here on Strobist.

I don't claim to be an expert, and I frequent Strobist in order learn. I never expected this video would end up here, and was frankly shocked that it did - if I'd known it would end up here I would no doubt have put a bit more thought, effort and energy into it. As it is, however, my only hope is, that as David said, people might take a second look at their CLS gear and experiment with it a bit, instead of being intimidated by the concept of off-camera lighting, or feeling like they need to spend $400 on PocketWizards before they can get acceptable results.

Despite all that, thank you for your comment. Perhaps if I get a chance I'll try to make a tutorial that is slightly more comprehensive that addresses some of your concerns.

July 05, 2007 12:20 PM  
Blogger zac|thomas said...

I'm pretty stoked about the video. I just needed a push to use equipment I already had (D200, SB800, lightstands, etc) I was diggin' trough the manual that comes with the SB800 and was getting frustrated and then I came across this video - nice 'n easy. I did go right into manual mode and screw around but now I'm stoked to try something new at a wedding tomorrow. Sometimes inspiration is just as good as instruction.
Hey - he had the bible in it, how much more instruction do you want!

July 19, 2008 3:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a tip. I have a D90 with an SB-600 that I like to use off-camera (and I can't afford PWs). I set the D90's Func button to access the first item in my menu (which is picture controls). In my menu, the options under picture controls are the flash options (Manual, and Commander Mode), so when I want to switch into commander mode, I just press Func, then left arrow, down and OK - it takes like half a second, and I dont have to even look at the screen to switch into CLS.

May 16, 2009 11:21 PM  

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