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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Overclock Your Speedlight for More Power

Editor's Note: This post was originally published on April 1st, 2008. Hint, hint.
__________


This last weekend I got an email from M.I.T. opto-electrical engineering grad student Justin Phun, who apparently likes to tinker with commercial electronics devices for a hobby. He said he had figured out how to get into the "diagnostic mode" of the processor that controls his speedlight.

"So what," I thought.

Then he told me what he could do with his flash from the diagnostic mode. Normally this would be the point where I tell you to make the jump to read more. But before that, this:

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER:
What Justin is talking about in the rest of this post will almost certainly be outside of the warranty parameters on almost any electronic flash -- even if the manufacturer's lawyers did not have the foresight to include the actual wording. And as such, I bear absolutely no respsonsibility for whatever happens to your flash if you overclock it too far.


Now, for the good stuff, hit the jump...
___________


FWIW, the word "overclock" normally is used to describe the process of speeding up a computer processor. But since there isn't really a word (as far as I can tell) to describe what Justin has figured out how to do, I am open to better suggestions in the comments. But for now, I'll use overclock for simplicity's sake.

What we are talking about is making your speedlight more powerful. Way more powerful.


Background

I try to avoid the technical stuff on this site, mostly to avoid the inevitable "can you explain this to me again" emails from reader Patrick Smith. But this thing needs a little lead-in, so bear with me.


This is the main printed circuit board from inside a Nikon SB-800. And no, I did not tear mine apart for you just to get this picture. Sometimes it helps to have friends at Nikon. (Thanks, Bill!)

The chip with the circle around it is the main processor -- the NEC 40-108. As it happens, it is used in most of the strobes built by the Big Two, Nikon and Canon. The SB-800 and SB-600 is controlled by that chip, as is every Canon flash since the 430EZ.

I am not too familiar with the earlier Canon models, but I know the SB-800 and SB-600's work fine. As do the Canon 540s, 550s and 580s. (We got it to work on all of those models in Charlotte.)

Normally, these flashes all put out about 60 watt-seconds of power, give or take. But if you own one of the above flashes, you can make it go a lot higher than that.


Turbocharging Your Flash

What Justin has found is that, by a special button sequence, you can enter the flash's diagnostic mode. These special modes are normally used by technicians to test units internally while diagnosing or repairing them.

Makes sense. I had heard of that kind of thing before with computers, and actually use the diagnostic mode to better aim my XM Satellite Radio home antenna.

But if you turn on most any speedlight in it's diagnostic mode, let it charge up, turn it off, and then turn it on again, it will charge up again. And not just once, either:

For each time you re-charge the flash, you add 60 watt-seconds of power to the next time you fire it.

Apparently, the diagnostic mode fools the charging circuitry into thinking the flash has discharged. Justin thinks it has something to do with testing the charging electronics on the testing bench. Whatever.

Short answer is, you get more power.

Two charge cycles = 120 watt-seconds.
Four charge cycles = 240ws.
Eight charge cycles = 480ws -- We are talking AlienBees territory here.



So, What's the Catch?

There always a catch. In fact, this time there are two catches.

First of all, the button sequence is a bear to get timed right. Fortunately, once you get it once, you do not have to repeat it for subsequent charges on the same pop. Just turn it off and on again for each additional 60 ws.

The second catch is more important. Way more, actually...

FINAL WARNING: Don't go nuts with it. The higher you charge up your flash, the more you will stress both the flash tube and the capacitor.


We got to 300ws (five charge cycles) easily, without seeming to stress the flash at all. In fact, 300ws is the power level in the self-inflicted "test pop" John Folsom used to potentially blind illuminate himself in the photo at the top of the post.

(Exposure info: ISO 200, 1/500th of a sec, at f/32 (with the flash set at 300 watt-seconds.)

I even did several 600ws pops with no problems. And you can probably guess what happened next...


Sadly, this is what happens on a fifteen-charge-cycle pop.

Equivalent watt-seconds: Nine hundred.

I know. I'm stupid. But I couldn't help myself.

It made a loud pop, we smelled a LOT of ozone, there was a chorus of, wince-faced "oooohs" and the flash head came out looking like the pic at left. (Click it for a closer, sadder look.)

So consider that fair warning. 120 ws? Fine. 240ws? No prob. 600ws? I'd do that sparingly.

900 ws? No.

No, no, no, no, no.

And no matter what you crank your strobe up to, it is all on you. Do this at your own risk. Although, the double cycle stuff was completely harmless, FWIW.

So, I'd say 120ws is pretty darn safe. We got that much on the SB-800, the SB-600, a 540 and a 580EX (Mk II) over and over.



Finally: The Button Sequence

Okay, follow me here. Because it is harder to get than it looks in print.


But it is easy to repeat, once you get the hang of it. Shown at left is Southern Short Course student John Folsom (the first one of us to get it) as he showed the sequence to some other students.

It took me 15 minutes of trying to get it right, then I could do it almost every time. In the end, everyone in our group was able to do it:

1. The power button or switch is all you will need to use.

2. Charge the flash up and then turn it off without firing it.

3. Wait exactly one minute, then turn it back on by holding the button down for exactly five seconds. On flashes with physical switches, just switch it on.

4. Whatever you normally see in your info screen, it should be the same -- but with the word DIAG overlaid.

5. Once you get to DIAG, the rest is easy: Turn it off, then back on, for each 60ws of power you want to add.


Again, some levels: 120ws for the chickenhearted. 300ws for the playas. 600ws is pushing it.

And 900ws gets you a fried green tomato.


If You Dare to Try It, Tell Us Your Results

Whatcha gonna do with your new 300ws, pocket-sized flash? Overpower the sun? Get more aperture on your studio shots? Blind the cat? (No, not that...)

Sound off in the comments. If you exercise restraint (as opposed to me) this thing is just awesome. Just keep it to 300ws or so.

And be patient on the button sequence -- it's all about the timing. But don't get discouraged. Once we got it, repeating it was piece of cake.

I will be traveling back to Maryland today, so please be patient on the comment moderation.



POST APRIL FOOL'S DAY UPDATE: It is not like we didn't give clues -- Phonetically, the story subject and first three commenters were: Just in fun, Jokingly, April, and All in jest. And the model number of the special chip was the NEC 4 01 08.

If you believed, it was because you *wanted* to believe. Just sayin'.


__________

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236 Comments:

Anonymous Joe Kingley said...

Wow, sounds great. But I have tried it several times, without success. Is there a secret to it, or is it just about the times?

Joe

April 01, 2008 12:14 AM  
Anonymous Allen Guest said...

NOOOOOOOO!

This sucks! All I have are Vivitar 285's. No love for the old-skool manual flashes?

April 01, 2008 12:17 AM  
Anonymous April said...

Woo HOOOO!!!! I'm in!

Yay!

April 01, 2008 12:18 AM  
Anonymous Joe Kingley said...

I got it too! I just did one at 360 wattseconds. Suh-WHEET!

April 01, 2008 12:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't get it on a 580 EZ. Any tips?

April 01, 2008 12:20 AM  
Anonymous Joe Kingley said...

I have an SB800. I am doing it every time now. Easy when you get the hang of it.

JK

April 01, 2008 12:21 AM  
Anonymous Andrew said...

Just wondering how you got it working with the Canon 550EX as they have a physical switch as far as I can see.

Thanks

Andrew

April 01, 2008 12:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Andrew-

You can do it with the physical switch if you get the 60 seconds just right. My 550 did it.

April 01, 2008 12:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so to undo diagnostic mode, is it the same process? You told us how to get in, but not how to get out!!

April 01, 2008 12:49 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

The next obvious question is how can we change the capicitor or flash tube to something that can handle this type of turbocharging?

Also, does your TTL work accurately in this mode? And since I've yet to do this, do you get your model all ready and pop one flash only to have to go through the 60 sequence again? If so this could slow down a shoot considerably.

April 01, 2008 12:49 AM  
Anonymous Dave said...

900ws = bad, 1200 watt seconds = fire and third degree burns . Ask me how I know :-(

April 01, 2008 12:50 AM  
Anonymous Joe Kingley said...

@Anonymous-

Firing the flash sets it back to normal.

JK

April 01, 2008 12:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David
Truly a brilliant post, because as you point out, truly understanding it is all a matter of understanding the timing.

Cheers

Bruce

April 01, 2008 12:55 AM  
Anonymous fgfathome said...

This is great. I've done it many times now. I guess the timing is everything. I don't know if I'll be able to do it tomorrow though...

April 01, 2008 1:03 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

My 580ex has a mechanical power switch, so the 5 sec. hold doesn't make much sense. How does that part of the sequence differ?

Oh, and will it work on an SB-28?

April 01, 2008 1:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Woohoo, now I can take my holiday photos all night long ;)

April 01, 2008 1:09 AM  
Anonymous OlyGuy said...

I got this working on my Olympus FL-50 after several tries. After trying many times and always waiting 60secs, I decided to try just 50secs and it worked! It may be that the newer design does not require such a long wait, besides time is money and you don't wna the technicians waiting a whole minute doing nothing.
There seems to be some universal button sequence in those things, probably due to similar cpu construction.
I have cranked it up to 600ws (I have another to replace this with) but the head heats more than I am comfy with so I will probably stay at lower outputs.

April 01, 2008 1:14 AM  
Blogger Rog said...

This is great! I got it first time (beginners luck), but haven't been able to do it again since. Must keep practising...

April 01, 2008 1:16 AM  
Blogger Stef said...

Hmm.. A lot of power here that could be dangerous in the wrong hands. So the way I see it, once you have charged the cap up with however many w/s there is no way of discharging it besides actually firing it off? I sure hope none of my enemies read this & get hold of my flashes somehow.. Anyway I'm off to have some fun with mine!

April 01, 2008 1:17 AM  
Anonymous OlyGuy said...

April fools by the way - this is a pretty good joke :)

(Don't publish this... of course)

April 01, 2008 1:17 AM  
Blogger Danie said...

Mmm. Having just spent a wad fixing up my old Sunpak G4500, I think it might be fun.

Other than that I use 300W, 750W and 800 W studio flashes, and the PROFOTO PRO7IIb battery operated packs, so the actual power I'm used to, but what would happen if you could get those into diagnostic mode? :o Then again, at the price of flash tubes...mmm.

http://danienel.blogspot.com

April 01, 2008 1:31 AM  
Blogger rodbot said...

a word of caution. I may be completely wrong here.
but has anyone checked the color spectra of the new higher power settings.
normally when you push higher voltage levels, you also add more UV out the flash.
does anyone have an ability to measure the amount of light that is off the visual spectrum?

April 01, 2008 1:32 AM  
Blogger Nick Davis said...

David, I just tried it with my lone SB-800 at 1200 W/S and it didn't melt the flash! Apparently the electromagnetic frequency of the color temperature at 900 W/S reacts with the flash capacitor circuitry...

Anyway, I'll post the pictures I took of the Easter Bunny using this setup (off camera, of course)

Oh wait, what's the date again :-)

Nick Davis, Cycle 61 Photography

April 01, 2008 1:36 AM  
Blogger Dennis said...

My 540 has a slide switch not a push button. any ideas? Thanks ,Dennis

April 01, 2008 1:38 AM  
Anonymous Johnny Malkavian said...

I think it works only once a year on the first of April...

April 01, 2008 1:42 AM  
Blogger andyfangandy said...

Geez... happy april fools... I can't believe I fell for this.

April 01, 2008 1:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Be quiet... Don't let Canon and Nikon know we know it... Or maybe it is too late.. or .. Whatever..

April 01, 2008 1:47 AM  
Blogger Luke said...

An interesting date to post something like this.

April 01, 2008 1:47 AM  
Blogger Stephan Ahonen said...

Hahahaha, I know this comment isn't gonna get posted lest it spoil the uninitiated... But that was a bloody brilliant April Fools joke. So what *really* made that one flash's tube burn out?

April 01, 2008 1:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

april fools?

April 01, 2008 1:55 AM  
Blogger Stephan Ahonen said...

I tried this with high speed sync on my 580EXIIs and it worked flawlessly! You can get back those F-stops that you lose with the high-speed sync! I got it down to 1/8000 at f/8. I can't wait to see what this looks like during the day!

Oh, a side note... Radiopoppers just started pre-ordering, but they don't ship until late April, unless you enter coupon code "Strobist824" when you order. That will bump you up to the top of the preorder queue and ship your Radiopoppers immediately!

April 01, 2008 1:59 AM  
Anonymous Primo Aprile said...

First try using a sweep second hand on one of my antique analog watches. I've done five pops on one of my SB-800s now at 900WS without any damage. But it meters about half a stop less than my 750WS monoblock. I'm wondering a) if I'm not getting the full power from each reload and b) if this thing isn't designed to go this high so things fail in different ways.

Also, it seems that it really only works in manual model. TTL seems to take nearly all the power in the cap.

April 01, 2008 2:22 AM  
Blogger Will Hore-Lacy said...

Also interested in how to get out of the diagnostic mode, someone said just fire the flash. Is that it? This would mean doing the 1min wait every time you want to use it I guess.

April 01, 2008 2:29 AM  
Blogger mtreinik said...

Whoaa, finally I got the DIAG mode with an SB-600. The turbo charged flash power is awesome.

But it doesn't stop there. Did you play with the settings in the DIAG mode? You can access the factory settings of the flash by pressing up or down and change them by pressing MODE.

Pressing four times up and then MODE enables the SU-4 optical slave mode on an SB-600!

April 01, 2008 2:31 AM  
Anonymous dave said...

oh man, for unbelievable amounts of light, connect 2 SB800s together via PC sync cord, rev them up to 900 watt seconds, you get one killer pop to light anything you could possibly imagine, all for the price of 2 SB800s

April 01, 2008 2:40 AM  
Blogger J. Beckley said...

Before I try this...and I'm not worried because I've had my flashes longer than warranty date. My questions are will it still work with a PW? Will it still work in TTL? Will it still work in high sync speed mode? And will the lower settings adjust too?

April 01, 2008 2:45 AM  
Blogger Darin Clisby said...

Haven't tried it yet but I'm skeptical. What's the date today again?

April 01, 2008 2:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't help but feel the date of this post is relevant... April the 1st? :-D

I'll have a go anyway when I get home later... I'm a sucker!

- Matt

April 01, 2008 2:56 AM  
Anonymous Timmermann said...

Thanks for this nice tip - it worked quite well. Even with two or more flashes :)

April 01, 2008 2:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

April got it on the 1st try. She's no fool...

April 01, 2008 3:10 AM  
Blogger Azi said...

Just when you thought you knew everything about a flash!- I'm truly impressed by justin's ingenuity and the strobist article.

:) I would like to propose the term 'sixty-fouring' your flash- in honor of Ansel Adam's similar group and to convey that you could even shoot at f/64 with the output of your flash (if your lens allowed it!)

As for those you blew their flash trying this out- you obviously sixty-nined it !

Azi
artzy.smugmug.com

April 01, 2008 3:13 AM  
Anonymous Ryan said...

This...is no good...time to play.

April 01, 2008 3:27 AM  
Blogger echomrg said...

ok, now you got me *seriously* drooling about this!!! really, the mere ability to hack one of those things is bart-simpson-sugar-high exciting!!!

anything else that can be done in diagnostic mode?

M

April 01, 2008 3:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What if I charge it up to 900WS or more, but chicken out without discharging the flash? How can I discharge it without blowing it up?

April 01, 2008 3:48 AM  
Blogger Spook said...

Am I really the only one thinking that it's a funny date to be posting this?

April 01, 2008 4:05 AM  
Anonymous Julia said...

I'm selling my AlienBees now before they sell for nothing once this secret gets out!

April 01, 2008 4:05 AM  
Anonymous Fox said...

Will I be able to cook fish with it?

April 01, 2008 4:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

quoting stef
"Hmm.. A lot of power here that could be dangerous in the wrong hands. So the way I see it, once you have charged the cap up with however many w/s there is no way of discharging it besides actually firing it off? I sure hope none of my enemies read this & get hold of my flashes somehow.. Anyway I'm off to have some fun with mine!"

If you want to let the thing discharge without firing the strobe, the best way is to pull out the batteries, and the flash sit for a couple hours and hope the capacitor discharges itself. I couldn't say how long that will actually take, but unfortunately the Cap has to be discharged somehow, whether through flashing, or just via slow electron discharge.

April 01, 2008 4:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Watt-seconds"? WATT-SECONDS? Don't you mean JOULES?

April 01, 2008 4:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi David. I put a post up on your flikr group about The Naked Artist. I will let you into a secret, look at the date.

It is lit off camera so is not spam. hope you dont mind

David Berman
Sitbonzo

April 01, 2008 4:21 AM  
Anonymous Curtis Walker said...

The basic premise of this hack is pretty easy to understand, so I took it to the next level: Voltage.

What you're doing is allowing the capacitors to overcharge, which is a simple matter of electron flow bypassing internal safety circuits, and it's a good trick. The problem is that you're only running at 6v (or 7.5 if you've got the spare battery doodad for the SB800).

By hooking this up to a 12v car battery, it not only doubles the power, but it halves the recycle time and provides a higher quality electron to the capacitors. This is a trick I learned from my years as a car stereo guy. Without getting into the inverse square law, I'll simply say "more is better."

Getting the juice to the flash is a bit of a trick, but not impossible with a bit of ingenuity, solder and coat hangers. Pics to follow.

April 01, 2008 4:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about checking the date? April 01

April 01, 2008 4:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hahaha comment moderation keeps april fools jokes alive! Good one!

April 01, 2008 4:53 AM  
Anonymous Secundo Aprile said...

One more thing to keep in mind: you have to make sure that the time and date of your flash's internal clock is correct.

My 580EX didn't engage diagnostic mode, until I had reset the clock to my date and time zone.

Now it works just fine (didn't go above 300WS, though).

April 01, 2008 5:02 AM  
Blogger D2 said...

Why am I worried that this was posted on April 1st...?

April 01, 2008 5:11 AM  
Anonymous Paul said...

I think we're being rick roll'd...

April 01, 2008 5:13 AM  
Blogger SeanMcC said...

As I look at the date on this post, I think to myself, should I bother? Nah....

April 01, 2008 5:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't tried it yet keep thinking its an April Fools day joke

April 01, 2008 5:15 AM  
Blogger Andy said...

Hmmmm, April 1st post about 'supercharged' flashes?!

Or am I just a typically cynical Brit?

Nice one David!

April 01, 2008 5:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Today is APRIL FOOLS DAY. Welcome!

April 01, 2008 5:35 AM  
Anonymous Aidan said...

So what else can you do in diagnostic mode?

April 01, 2008 5:38 AM  
Blogger Andy T said...

One word - Brilliant!

April 01, 2008 5:49 AM  
Anonymous Greg said...

Hahaha this must be an April fool....very good! I fell for it.
It'd be great if it worked though.
No joy with my 580EX's
GH

April 01, 2008 6:07 AM  
Blogger Tomas said...

Brilliant, on so many levels!

April 01, 2008 6:11 AM  
Anonymous Lianna said...

I just can't help myself looking at the date of this post.

April 01, 2008 6:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good one!

April 01, 2008 6:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Works also up to 600 Ws with my two SB-24 and the new SB-400 (120 Ws). The latter not having a display to show "DIAG" will flash its Ready-light in a special sequence when DIAG-mode is entered.

As it is already 12.16 PM here in Europe I could test this feature for more than 12 hours now and can only say: WOW and thanks Strobist!

Al

April 01, 2008 6:17 AM  
Anonymous christian garrido said...

this is a breakthru for people who have who flashes or the cruelest April Fools Joke on photo enthusiasts around the world.

April 01, 2008 6:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

did it work with 430ex too?

April 01, 2008 6:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any ideas on what the duration is on these high watt second pops?

April 01, 2008 6:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

April 1st, right? ;-)

April 01, 2008 7:06 AM  
Anonymous DeekyEvans said...

I have a question - what does turbo-charging do to recycle times and battery life?

April 01, 2008 7:14 AM  
Anonymous cornish bob said...

I think 900ws is a bit risky, this was probably intended for the Engineers to test the magic smoke inside the flash, or to force the owner to buy a new flash, are they on commission?

After spending an hour trying to get this to work, I realised the problem was that the clock I was using was British Summer Time which is now an hour ahead of GMT, soon as I used a standard GMT watch I can get the sequence right every time. 300ws is brilliant, but the cat sure doesn't like it!!

April 01, 2008 7:15 AM  
Anonymous Eric41 said...

Warning! I just fried my SB-800 at 720 watts! Holy crap man! Melted plastic and all (and a pretty nasty burn on my hand to boot).

Be careful people. Seriously, don't go over 600 watts. You're playing with your flash's life (and maybe your own) if you do!

April 01, 2008 7:16 AM  
Blogger Colin Tobin said...

APRIL FOOLS!

I should win a prize for this realization.

April 01, 2008 7:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have 3 580 EX II. I can easily switch to diagnostic mode now with 2 of them, but the 3rd one is harder, doesn't always work with it.

Took me quite some tries to get so far, though.

April 01, 2008 7:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All I can ask for is ... please remove this post from the web! Seriously! THIS is not good for the avearge user nor for Nikon/Canon!

April 01, 2008 7:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

APRIL FOOL'S DAY!!!!!!!!! HARRR HARRRR

April 01, 2008 7:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anybody out there noticed that it's April 01 ;-)

April 01, 2008 7:54 AM  
Blogger Scott Piner said...

Better known as "Hey ya'll...watch this."

You mentioned entering codes and the first thing I thought of was: up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A.

April 01, 2008 7:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anyone noticed its april 1st today?

April 01, 2008 8:04 AM  
Anonymous Jorn said...

Haven't tried this yet, but looking at the date (April 1st), I'm not sure if I would.

A good one though.

April 01, 2008 8:08 AM  
Anonymous rick a said...

You can do this with a Vivitar 285 too if you have the AC adapter, leave the power on, but unplug it for exactly 60 seconds. You can tell when it is in diagnostic mode because the little green light up higher will blink.

It works with the newer HV's anyway, but I suspect the older ones wouldn't work, as they don't have more modern chipsets.

April 01, 2008 8:12 AM  
Anonymous Simon Chaloux said...

cant get it to work on a 580ex.
i've tried it in every mode, with a stop watch, several times...

any tips ?

thanks

Simon

April 01, 2008 8:26 AM  
Anonymous Brandon said...

lol...Nice one ;)

April 01, 2008 8:30 AM  
Blogger JS said...

If you want to really have a party, clock it up to 1200 - then throw it into a bottle of diet Coke and Mentos. Instant WMD.

April 01, 2008 8:31 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

April 01, 2008 8:35 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

hmmmmm
Just in Fun
April 1

no connection here.
I'm so in it after work!

April 01, 2008 8:45 AM  
Blogger Andrew Smith said...

Great tip! And you delivered it on the perfect day as I've been doing photos in a hospital. I cranked the flash up to 1200ws and I was able to do my own x-rays. Yay! (Add on a high-voltage pack and I reckon I could do small-scale demolition work...)

April 01, 2008 9:02 AM  
Blogger fake said...

The obvious thing to do here is to program an Arduino (or other microcontroller) to do the accurate timing.

If I had a Speedlight, I'd program up my Arduino and post the code on the web for everyone.

April 01, 2008 9:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you very much ;) You made my day.

April 01, 2008 9:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haven't had a chance to try this... and perhaps I'm a bit cynical, but this strikes me as an April Fools joke.

April 01, 2008 9:20 AM  
Anonymous schmee said...

april fools right? ha ha david.

April 01, 2008 9:23 AM  
Anonymous Dirk S. said...

Oh my goodness. I just fired 1.21 GIGA Ws!!!!

Great tip!

Greetings from 1955,
Dirk

April 01, 2008 9:25 AM  
Blogger carlos said...

For those with a physical switches (slide switches or any other kind of switch that you can't 'hold down' for a specified amount of time) look at the bottom of step 3: "On flashes with physical switches, just switch it on."

I'm amazed at the fact that despite the warnings more than one of you went to 900ws and one even higher. You guys must have more money than brains to be willing to risk frying your flash just because you can, and for the guy who went over 900ws..... does the term "Darwin Award" mean anything to you?

April 01, 2008 9:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is hell on my batteries. I'm going through them in 1/5 of the shots and it's taking me 10 times as long to take those shots... but still, nice trick!

April 01, 2008 9:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like it's April fools day to me!

April 01, 2008 9:36 AM  
Blogger Patrick Smith said...

All I can say is HAHAHAHHAHA. That's ridiculous.

But can you explain it again? Ha/

April 01, 2008 9:38 AM  
Blogger WWMDC said...

I have two SB800s and am aiming for three more, whew! the money.

Based on this quote,

"Normally, these flashes all put out about 60 watt-seconds of power, give or take. But if you own one of the above flashes, you can make it go a lot higher than that"

it seems that the SB600 delivers the same w/s per flash as the 800. Is this true? Am I wasting precious cash holding out for the SB800? or should I look for 600s or others instead? I know this is leaning slightly off topic and i will post it in the Flickr thread also but this thread is where I found the above quote.

Thanks for your comments,

WWMDC

April 01, 2008 9:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the chip name is 040-108 and not as mentioned

April 01, 2008 9:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At first I thought this was an aprils fool post but reading the comments it seems that this does actually work...

April 01, 2008 9:47 AM  
Anonymous Frescolito said...

Have all you guys really been successful in doing this? Or is this a horrible April Fool's prank? I tried it on my 580EX II, but I gave up after a few tries. I'd rather not risk potentially turning my flash into a $400 paperweight =(

April 01, 2008 9:50 AM  
Anonymous Terry said...

How about "PUMPING UP YOUR SPEEDLIGHT'S POWER" for the title?

April 01, 2008 9:56 AM  
Blogger Leonard said...

It took me 4 tries, but I GOT it!

April 01, 2008 9:57 AM  
Anonymous Frescolito said...

LOL nice great prank! I probably should've paid closer attention to the names in the posts and the links at the bottom of the page.

April 01, 2008 10:00 AM  
Anonymous alek said...

I tried multiple times on my Canon 580EX and didn't see any "Diag" pop up on the screen ... and yes, I was using a sweep second clock to move the slider *exactly* at 60 seconds - anybody have success with their 580EX?

BTW, would be curious what this does for High Speed Sync which is where I typically need more power.

April 01, 2008 10:03 AM  
Anonymous Uno Aprillio said...

I guess dripping, melting plastic means something went terribly wrong?......

April 01, 2008 10:15 AM  
Blogger EssPea Photography said...

I can't get this working... maybe if I try again TOMMORROW it will work, or you will have posted a more in depth guide.

April 01, 2008 10:15 AM  
Blogger Jared said...

I won't believe this until I see some comments posted tomorrow.

April 01, 2008 10:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to dismiss the usefulness of "overclocking," but I'd really like to learn what diagnostics can be executed by users "at home" after crossing the rainbow into classified mode.

Seriously, can I check or re-calibrate my flash without sending it to Nikon? Or is other diagnostic equipment required. Inquiring cheapskates want to know....

---Andy

April 01, 2008 10:20 AM  
Blogger -keith mca said...

I just fried one of our SB-600s at work trying to get the DIAG to shut off. I think I must have charged it 20-25 times. Turns out you just have to discharge the flash and re-do the combination...

April 01, 2008 10:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FWIW, it works on a Sigma EF-500 DG Super flash as well -- but only in manual mode. Took 3 tries, but finally got DIAG. Timing has to be perfect (and it has a sliding power switch like the Canon 540).
Fun but possibly deadly :)

April 01, 2008 10:34 AM  
Anonymous Tom said...

There is no way that this is not an April fools ;-)

April 01, 2008 10:34 AM  
Blogger Columbus Mix Xchange said...

I couldn't get it to work on my 430 Speedlite. Unless it just doesn't say DIAG, but it didn't appear to be any brighter. I tried it three times with a stopwatch.

April 01, 2008 10:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It works! The 430EX DIAG mode opens up new commands not in the normal menu also, but they don't seem to affect anything much. What is HSS+/-?

April 01, 2008 10:48 AM  
Anonymous Alin said...

This sounds like April's Fool to me.. but it is that good, that I actually gonna try it later today :))

April 01, 2008 10:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a 550EX, tried it several tmes, no luck.
Patrick

April 01, 2008 10:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh sir, you little $£!^!

I was SO close to trying this out, until I twigged the date, and then the name of your "source!"

It sure sounded a LOT easier than the method I used to get approx 30-40% more power out of my 580EX2, but more importantly, gave me high speed sync without a Flash to Camera communications channel. That one involved building a small box which fits in my pocket, connected to the hotshoe of the flash by a off-camera-ETTL cable. Basically this box emulates a camera and puts the flash into High Speed Sync mode when you push a button. I figured instead of the flash communicating with the camera over the enhanced communications link, you could simply attach (or as it turns out, build) a EOS “simulator”. It basically consists of the flash controller board from an old EOS 300D that I dropped in a river last winter. You can set this board in “HSS mode” by grounding one of the pins. Grounding one of the other pins actually fires the flash. You don’t need camera-to-flash comms as you're not actually metering (you’re operating in full manual mode), just “tricking” the flash into thinking that it’s actually attached to a camera.

The “fire” command can still be sent by a pocketwizard, skyport, or PC sync cable.

As it turns out, in order to achieve consistency, there is a controller in the flash (similar in concept to the old “auto-thyrister” types) which cuts the flashes power once it has delivered the right amount of energy. As a capacitors power decays exponentially, this “limiter” is configured to quench the flash when the cap has discharged by approx 70%. There is actually another 30% or so of reserve power which can be wrung out of the capacitors

Now with the flash in normal mode, there is no way around this (without reprogramming the quenching routine), but in HSS mode (I think some people call this FP mode) the flash tries to fit the release of energy to the shutter duration – in order to ensure that the frame is illuminated throughout the period of curtain travel.

So lets say the shutter speed is 1/1000sec. The flash fires for a duration of 1/1000sec – actually it fires a total of 8 times within that 1/1000sec. What most people don’t know, it that it fires ANOTHER four times AFTER the shutter has closed – ie AFTER that 1/1000sec has passed. THIS IS ONE REASON THAT HSS GIVES REDUCED POWER OUTPUT. What I discovered was that Canon must have realised that HSS mode reduces the overall power, and as such they removed that “cutoff” limiter mentioned above. In HSS mode the capacitors are drained completely (or at least to within about 5% of their limit).

Of course all of this doesn’t matter unless you can squeeze the other four flashes into the time when the shutter is open. As it turns out, you can. One of the pins on the flash controller board controls the aperture selection, one appears to be for the ISO, and a third is for the shutter speed. When either of these pins is grounded the controller loads the appropriate parameter (Aperture shutter or ISO) into the controllers memory. I’ve done this using a DIP switch although on the full camera this information would be taken from the cameras main memory on the processor board. This means I can control the length of time taken for the twelve pulses at a low level. I have mine set so the twelve-flash-sequence currently takes around 1/900 sec. The flash THINKS my shutter speed is approx 1/1200sec

This means that not only do I get practically the FULL energy stored in the capacitors (instead of the normal 70%) but it also discharges in a total of 1/900sec, meaning I get approx 50% MORE power with a super fast sync speed – and because the flash isn’t ACTUALLY gettting this information from the camera like it THINKS it is, you can set your camera to any shutter speed slower than 1/900, and still get the same effect.

I think going for anything MORE than a 50% increase would be unreasistic and would involve adding an external bank of capacitors. Not impossible, by any means, though!


Best regards,
Guy Carnegie (Bluphoto7)
AL Monitoring Consultant

Email strobistguy@bluphoto.co.uk

April 01, 2008 11:01 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

Folks are going to need to be careful not to overtax the liquid tungsten elements in the flash units. Overstimulation by use of the dignostic mode may trigger the need for a new flux capacitor, and we all know how hard those are to get.

April 01, 2008 11:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After about 15 minutes of trying, I finally figured out what is going on. I got it! It is all a matter of timing. I don't think I'll be able to do it again tomorrow...

April 01, 2008 11:15 AM  
Anonymous Allen Murabayashi said...

I am currently working with the SEC in investigating some potential collusion between strobe manufacturers to elevate the pricing of higher end (e.g. profoto) equipment. It's clear by this post and similar posts I've seen on the Internet that the pocket flashes are more than capable of outputting significant w/s -- an almost textbook case of price fixing not dissimilar from the diamond issue. Thanks for illuminating this subject to your readers.

April 01, 2008 11:19 AM  
Blogger Andy M said...

buwahahahah!
April FD is in full motion!

April 01, 2008 11:26 AM  
Anonymous Bretzelman said...

Sounds too cool to be true. Hope it isn't a joke of 1st of april (in Europe, we do joke on the 1st of april, I don't know if you also have this tradition in the US).

In case it's a joke, it's really well done.

I cannot verify it as I have a 580EX and I don't know how to test the hack with a sliding switch.

April 01, 2008 11:32 AM  
Blogger Walter said...

Nice April Fools.

April 01, 2008 11:38 AM  
Blogger GeoWulf said...

Since the cat is out of the bag, I figured I should interject my findings. I discovered that when in diagnostic mode, you can pull out the 'wode-flash adapter' panel in and out 3 times, it unlocks a snoot feature from the casing around the flash and allows you to extend these layers of plastic out about 9 inches. It's really cool.

April 01, 2008 11:43 AM  
Blogger Kamen said...

Every piece of electronics has a large safety margin built in. This is both for YOUR safety as well as the equipments'. Electrical Engineers don't build those in just so that they can sell you more studio flashes, trust me!

If you overcharge your flash, you risk not just melting it, but also burning yourself and even an electrical shock. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE tinkering with equipment, but know your limits. You can't easily tell where that capacitor will send its charge if it happens to breach some piece of isolation. It might just melt something in your flash (best-case scenario and also the most probably one), or it can ground it through you.

Oh, wait: not that I wrote this, I saw that Dave already found this out the hard way.

There is also another thing to consider: Even if none of those dreadful things happens, your flash is calibrated to give out colour of certain temperature. If you overcharge it, the only way for it give up that much energy is to heat up the flash tube more. Higher temperature implies "bluer" colour and your white balance will be off. You will also end up with more light in the ultra-violet, where it doesn't help you. Also, I seriously doubt double charging the flash yields double the power, as capacitors tends to discharge faster at higher voltages.

April 01, 2008 11:43 AM  
Blogger Dave Prelosky said...

David,

So we have access to Trash the Flash via the diagnostic mode. What else can we get at?

April 01, 2008 11:46 AM  
Anonymous Colin M. Lenton said...

David,
Great "timely" post... this reminds me of how I hacked my Mark II to run Linux and a ported version of Safari so that I can check my gmail using my camera (hooked via USB to an EVDO Verizon card) . It works great while I'm without my laptop or blackberry and I can even use the Photoshop web version now in the field. Thanks.

Hahahahaha...

April 01, 2008 11:48 AM  
Anonymous A. Fool said...

I tired three times unsuccessfully before checking the date on the calendar and calling it a night.

April 01, 2008 11:55 AM  
Blogger Kamen said...

A word of warning:

Electrical Engineers don't put those safety margins just so that they can sell you more powerful flashes, trust me. In order to produce a 5500K colour, the flash tube DOES heat up to 5500K! THAT IS ENOUGH TO MELT MOST METALS!

When you supercharge your flash, keep the following things in mind:

1) Overcharging your capacitor puts a huge strain on any isolation you have within your flash. You can't easily tell where it just won't be enough of it and you can't easily predict where all this charge would go. It can melt your flash, it can burn you, OR it can ground itself THROUGH YOU! And, yes, it can start a fire.

2) Your white balance will be off. Colour is directly related to temperature (black body radion if anyone cares). In order for a small tube to dissipate the huge charge that you have in your capacitor, it will heat up more. Way more. The colour from the flash will look more "blue" and you will have more of it being dissipated in the ultraviolet, where it won't help you.

3) I serously doubt that double-charging the flash builds up twice the voltage as capacitors cannot store charge at the same rate if they are already charged to a degree. The same goes for Triple and Quadruple-charging the flash. At the end of the day you might just be destroying your flash without really getting much more power out of it.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE tweaking things, but, please, know your limits. Sometimes what you do is just plain dangerous. Dave above probably agrees with me.

April 01, 2008 11:55 AM  
Blogger Kamen said...

A word of warning:

Electrical Engineers don't put those safety margins just so that they can sell you more powerful flashes, trust me. In order to produce a 5500K colour, the flash tube DOES heat up to 5500K! THAT IS ENOUGH TO MELT MOST METALS!

When you supercharge your flash, keep the following things in mind:

1) Overcharging your capacitor puts a huge strain on any isolation you have within your flash. You can't easily tell where it just won't be enough of it and you can't easily predict where all this charge would go. It can melt your flash, it can burn you, OR it can ground itself THROUGH YOU! And, yes, it can start a fire.

2) Your white balance will be off. Colour is directly related to temperature (black body radion if anyone cares). In order for a small tube to dissipate the huge charge that you have in your capacitor, it will heat up more. Way more. The colour from the flash will look more "blue" and you will have more of it being dissipated in the ultraviolet, where it won't help you.

3) I serously doubt that double-charging the flash builds up twice the voltage as capacitors cannot store charge at the same rate if they are already charged to a degree. The same goes for Triple and Quadruple-charging the flash. At the end of the day you might just be destroying your flash without really getting much more power out of it.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE tweaking things, but, please, know your limits. Sometimes what you do is just plain dangerous. Dave above probably agrees with me.

April 01, 2008 11:55 AM  
Blogger Kamen said...

A word of warning:

Electrical Engineers don't put those safety margins just so that they can sell you more powerful flashes, trust me. In order to produce a 5500K colour, the flash tube DOES heat up to 5500K! THAT IS ENOUGH TO MELT MOST METALS!

When you supercharge your flash, keep the following things in mind:

1) Overcharging your capacitor puts a huge strain on any isolation you have within your flash. You can't easily tell where it just won't be enough of it and you can't easily predict where all this charge would go. It can melt your flash, it can burn you, OR it can ground itself THROUGH YOU! And, yes, it can start a fire.

2) Your white balance will be off. Colour is directly related to temperature (black body radion if anyone cares). In order for a small tube to dissipate the huge charge that you have in your capacitor, it will heat up more. Way more. The colour from the flash will look more "blue" and you will have more of it being dissipated in the ultraviolet, where it won't help you.

3) I serously doubt that double-charging the flash builds up twice the voltage as capacitors cannot store charge at the same rate if they are already charged to a degree. The same goes for Triple and Quadruple-charging the flash. At the end of the day you might just be destroying your flash without really getting much more power out of it.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE tweaking things, but, please, know your limits. Sometimes what you do is just plain dangerous. Dave above probably agrees with me.

April 01, 2008 11:57 AM  
Blogger Johnjr said...

I would think that over clocking the flash would have no effect on ETTL usage. It seems to me that ETTL would be calibrated for the flash at normal charge levels and would instruct the flash to fire at a specific level no matter how much charge is built up.

I *think* I said that right - did it make sense to anyone else?

April 01, 2008 12:01 PM  
Anonymous Brock said...

For those with the 580ex, you do need to get the 60 sec. cycle precise. It's a touch thing, like the intricate interplay between a bass player and drummer.

Anyway, once you get it down, it becomes second nature.

I've been routinely clicking off 900ws flashes on my 580ex with no problem. But I've modified the sequence a bit. I got one of those little "spritz" water bottles, like the kind a hair stylist would use.

Immediately before I pop a 900ws flash, I give the flash a good spritz; it's a misting really. Nothing my 580ex hasn't had done to it while out shooting during an early morning fog.

Works great!

April 01, 2008 12:07 PM  
Blogger Ron said...

I doubt you are getting 100% more power with each cycle, and there is no way you could get 900WS out of that thing, the parts are just not there to do it nor are the sized to handle such power.

Look at the size of the flash tube alone and compare it to an AB400, do you really think it can take the same power as the tube used in the AB?

Play if you wish but I suspect all you are doing is damaging a $315 flash unit.

April 01, 2008 12:08 PM  
Blogger Duncan said...

Justin Phun eh. What day is it again?

April 01, 2008 12:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just tried this on my 580EX and it works great! In fact, I zoomed the head all the way out to 105 and put a better beamer on it, cranked it up to 1200ws and was able to ignite my background paper on fire with just one pop at one foot away! So how many foot candles is this putting out at this setting?

April 01, 2008 12:12 PM  
Anonymous Rafal Krolik said...

Wow, it does melt >-[ . Glad I have a spare because last time I burned out my flash, it took almost two months for it to get back from Nikon. Good tip though, I just wish I didn't push it, dang.

April 01, 2008 12:14 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Could this be an APRIL FOOLS joke? I didn't see any other posts asking.

April 01, 2008 12:15 PM  
Anonymous camroncamera said...

Love reading about ways to hack my gear... But as one reader mentioned "Fire," I think it would be prudent to give fair warning that - if not used smartly - this could not only destroy a speedlite, but could potentially be much more destructive if placed too near flammable substances. I'm thinking snoots, light modifiers, fabric, curtains, etc. Keep in mind that DIY "fun foam" black snoots will *smoke* if placed too near the flashbulb face at (regular) full power.

April 01, 2008 12:22 PM  
Blogger Aaron Linsdau said...

Funny, it seems like the diagnostic mode allows you to override the charge cut off feedback signal or just to ignore it. Does anyone know how big the capacitor is in the SB-800?

It's likely that the charger circuit through the flyback transformer is being programmed to push beyond the normal cutoff voltage. Very cool to charge up to a much higher voltage, not so happy for your main capacitor and $300 flash. I'd really like to tear one of mine apart and charge it up to see what the capacitor gets to, but once I break the thing, I'm out an SB-800.

There is typically headroom built into these things, but only so much. We had this happen last week when we blew up a storage cap accidentally. A really loud pop and lots of smoke. No one was hurt but it was impressive.

Patrick - To change to a bigger tube/capacitor, you have to buy a bigger flash. :)

April 01, 2008 12:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey David, is this some kind of shady deal you've made with the Nikon/Canon repair facilities? : )

Is business a little slow for them right now?

April 01, 2008 12:26 PM  
Blogger Randy said...

*sigh* I hate the first day in april

April 01, 2008 12:30 PM  
Anonymous Mike H. said...

Does it work on any date of the year?

April 01, 2008 12:32 PM  
Blogger Pierroz said...

Wonderful FISH OF APRIL...

April 01, 2008 12:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow...i just made 1200WS on an old Nikon SB 26!!!
A bit of smoke and much smell, but it worked!
The times for diag mode are a little harder to match, but it works fine!

Thank you for the tip!

April 01, 2008 12:42 PM  
Blogger Raj said...

Remember, with great power comes great responsibility!

April 01, 2008 12:50 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

Is anyone aware of a source for "flux capacitors?" I've heard that replacing the standard capacitors with high-output flux capacitors, in conjunction with plutonium-ion batteries and this "diagnostic" mode power boost, can increase your speedlight power by 12x--without damaging the flash tube. AMAZING.

April 01, 2008 12:50 PM  
Anonymous Ken Vogt said...

Messed around with the sb-25s and I found that you have to go all the way to the standby on the switch and then put it back into the on position after the minute. Also, I could only get it to go with fully charged batteries. Instead of DIAG, the screen flashes TEST though. Woohoo! Anyone know how many ws the sb-25 could take?I did it at 240ws and it seemed fine, but I'm hesitant to push it any further.

April 01, 2008 12:55 PM  
Anonymous ron said...

nice april fool's joke... even got collaborators!

April 01, 2008 1:01 PM  
Anonymous Hexfire Photography said...

I tried this once, but i'm always afraid its going to blow up or catch on fire somehow lol :)

April 01, 2008 1:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great technique to light large outdoor open spaces.

Unfortunately, when I tried this technique with multiple off camera 580EXs, the pilots approaching the nearby international airport reported that someone was attempting to blind them!

Now I'm hiding out from Homeland Security!

So much power in one set of hands can be very dangerous. I fear the government will classify this technique and jail anyone using it!

April 01, 2008 1:10 PM  
Anonymous Adam said...

That... Is... AWESOME.

April 01, 2008 1:14 PM  
Blogger Bob K said...

anyone get this to work on a Canon 580EX??? I tried in manual, master-slave, stop watch, sweep second hand....

grrrrr....

and my 550EX is messed up, won't turn off, so THAT won't do it.....

Bob- the frustrated strobe-melter....

(my blog: www.keenevision.com.keene/lovesongs/lovesongs.html

April 01, 2008 1:23 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

Man, I really could have used something like this _yesterday_. I see that Dave had posted the image of his trashed SB-800 a couple days ago...too bad he had to wait until _today_ to tell us how to do this!

Suggestion for the name of this button sequence: the Speedlight Power Optical Overcharge Formula...

April 01, 2008 1:24 PM  
Anonymous simon_cornils said...

remember, with great power comes great responsibility! ^^

April 01, 2008 1:29 PM  
Blogger fotofib.de said...

So, what happens when the strobe is going in standby, and you awake it, does this enlarge the power too? And a single flash resets the strobe to normal mode?? What about testing the light, you have to redo the procedure after every flash-fire? Thats not very practical shooting with radio-triggers and walk around after every shot!
Greetings
Philipp

April 01, 2008 1:33 PM  
Anonymous scott said...

The color spectrum shift will be a factor, especially above 400w/s.

But the Rosco/Lee filter sample packs have the UV and the IR filters, so you can just correct back to normal easily.
And since you're only filtering the invisible parts of the spectrum, it won't affect the exposure at all.

April 01, 2008 1:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Be really careful here.

The capacitor has a finite ability to hold energy. As you dump more energy into it, you're increasing the voltage on the capacitor, as well as increasing the amount of charge held in it.

The Capacitor is only designed to take so much. If you try to charge it beyond limit, at some point, you may cause the capcitor to fail. If you do that, all that energy that you wanted to go through the flash tube will instead go into making the capacitor explode. It might explode with enough force to throw hot things out and actually cause injury.

The analogy is like overpumping one of those compressed air BB guns. In fact, I'd suggest the term "overpumping" instead of "overclocking" to describe the technique.

It's all fun and games until the air tank (capacitor) can't take it anymore and decides to explode.

April 01, 2008 1:46 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

This is a lot easier than the way I was doing it. The alternate method is:

up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, [start]

;)

Joe

April 01, 2008 1:46 PM  
Blogger Shawn said...

Ha ha, Justin Phun - "Just in Fun"
On April Folls Day? Has to be an exact minute, come on people.

Dave just April Fooled everyone.

- Shawn T.

April 01, 2008 1:49 PM  
Blogger spy said...

Wow, this is working really great on my SB-25.....i keep having trouble activating it every time though....this is going to revolutionize speedlight photography

April 01, 2008 1:50 PM  
Blogger Bob K said...

I had come to believe, nay, TRULY believe in the Gospel-of-The-Strobist....

I tried to get this working for about 1.5 hours... then I looked at the calendar... never believed you would commit HERESY in the name of St. Fools-Day!!
GRAAAAGHHGHG! (mumbles something about killing all first born in Baltimore area...)

April 01, 2008 1:53 PM  
Blogger Shawn said...

Sounds Like April Fools to me.

Justin Phun = Just in Fun

Today is april 1st

April 01, 2008 1:54 PM  
Blogger matt said...

I'm having a lot of trouble getting this neat trick to work on an SB-800...
I'm curious to know, after the flash has been off for 1 minute, and you begin to hold the power button, should the unit turn on right away, or should it turn on after holding the button for 5 seconds?
(i.e. the screen turns on immediately after the button is depressed and 5 seconds later DIAG is displayed, OR the screen turns on only after releasing the power button after 5 seconds?)
Also I'm assuming the whole process takes 1 minute and 5 seconds. Did I miss understand and it really takes 1 minute total? (55 seconds without touching the button and 5 seconds holding the ON button?) Any help is appreciated.
Thanks

April 01, 2008 1:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It worked on my 580 no problem, though it took me like 20 tries to get to diagnostic mode.

April 01, 2008 1:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's time to ruin the fun, APRILS FOOOL!!

April 01, 2008 2:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone sounds like an April Fool :)

April 01, 2008 2:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This has got to be an April fools joke.

April 01, 2008 2:16 PM  
Anonymous Al Ebnereza said...

I smell something burning. It's not my flash.

April 01, 2008 2:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You also need to make sure the date and time is properly set on your camera... the date absolutely must be 04/01/2008!!!

April 01, 2008 2:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I could only get it to work on 1 of my SB800's, maybe if I try again tomorrow I can get both to work.

April 01, 2008 2:57 PM  
Blogger Mark Ye said...

Is this for REAL? or a April Fools joke?!

April 01, 2008 3:28 PM  
Blogger paparazzo1 said...

Beginning to think this is an April fools joke.

April 01, 2008 3:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

april the 1st!!!
joke joke joke joke joke!!!

April 01, 2008 3:40 PM  
Blogger chrisgraphics said...

I'm really curious how the comments to the article "Overclock your flash - 2 months later" will sound. I see dead flashes.

April 01, 2008 3:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am rolling on the floor right now!

April 01, 2008 3:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am rolling on the floor right now!

April 01, 2008 3:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This sounds like one mighty April's fool prank...

April 01, 2008 3:52 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

I am rolling on the floor!

April 01, 2008 3:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, is 120 watt-seconds actually twice as powerful as 60 watt-seconds, etc?

April 01, 2008 4:00 PM  
Anonymous Jason Perry said...

Wow! I got it to work FINALLY. The fourth time I tried it it didn't fire and just shot a 14" flame out of the front. Sat my Chihuahua on fire... Poor guy will never be the same.

April 01, 2008 4:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No luck with my 580EX II.

Off for 60 seconds.

On for 5 seconds.

And then what?

April 01, 2008 4:21 PM  
Anonymous John said...

Boy, you were right about not overclocking it too much, I got my SB-600 up to 1200ws and blew out my thermal capacitor, and since I have no idea how to replace it, guess I will have to buy a new one. Cool experiment though.

April 01, 2008 4:29 PM  
Blogger TriFilmer said...

OK, how many of you notice it IS April Fool's Day...

How many folks around the world are messing with their flashes this very minute?

April 01, 2008 4:33 PM  
Anonymous Fabiano said...

funny that you posted this in the FIRST DAY OF APRIL...

April 01, 2008 4:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1 of April anyone?

April 01, 2008 4:51 PM  
Blogger Terence said...

Hey, in related note, have you guys heard about that Nikon and Canon merger?

http://www.flickrholic.org/?p=232

:-)

-=- Terence

April 01, 2008 4:57 PM  
Blogger Karsten Rump said...

April 1st ;-)

April 01, 2008 4:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

april fools

April 01, 2008 4:58 PM  
Anonymous Goran Novi Sad said...

Wow, David, this is great!!!!!! It worked first time (a Canon 580EX II and 3 540EZs gave me 600Ws each)!!!!!! I was ecstatic the whole day yesterday, blinding people, animals, and pretty much everything in the Universe in my way. Unfortunately it completely stopped working the very next day (today), no matter what I do (tried, like, 1000 times today). I am absolutely unable to repeat the great results from yesterday, 1st of April (and I have an atomic clock-stopwatch with electric shock if I miss the 60sec mark by more than +/- 0.05sec). Do these flash thingies have a diagnostic timer, counter, or something similar? Can it be switched off or fooled without using my time machine? Looking forward to your reply.

April 01, 2008 5:08 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

"They taught him how to kill... but they didn't teach him how to stop."

Rated R for strong language and violent content...

April 01, 2008 5:10 PM  
Anonymous MKoc said...

april fool's joke?

April 01, 2008 5:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did we forget to tell people how to get it out of DIAG mode?

I've not got it yet but am wondering if each subsequent try needs a discharge and 60 sec timing from the point it recharges or can it just be turned off for at any time it's charged fully?

April 01, 2008 5:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tell Mr Fun...er.. I mean Phun, Thanks.

Happy 1st,
Ziv

April 01, 2008 5:18 PM  
Blogger mikeboy said...

Great mod, however, how would I discharge the strobe if I by mistake charged over my limit without firing the flash and risk burning the damned thing?

April 01, 2008 5:56 PM  
Blogger Taco said...

Sounds like the best april fool's joke I've heard today!

Congratulations from Holland :-)

TvdW

April 01, 2008 6:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It took about 4 times for me.

I tried the 600 w/s setting, and dialed in exposure compensation of +1. Ended up blowing out my 580 II. Oops.

Going to send it in to Canon under warranty, and see what happens.

April 01, 2008 6:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is this for real - or "La Poisson Avril"?

and if so, is this only good for the initial flash or subsequent ones too?

April 01, 2008 6:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can also trigger the the power up sequence with the following: Move flash head - up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, 'mode', 'zoom'

April 01, 2008 6:16 PM  

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