DIY ‘smart’ trigger lets you mix TTL flashes with studio strobes

Build your own TTL-friendly studio! A $20 DIY receiver will synchronize studio flashes with any speedlight master/slave system.

DIY Smart Trigger by J.L. Williams

How do you use manual studio flashes and TTL speedlights at the same time? You might want to take advantage of the advanced control offered by your camera’s proprietary flash system (e.g. Nikon AWL or Olympus RC) while also using a more powerful mains-powered head.

The ‘dumb’ optical slaves built into non-dedicated flashes (even in ‘S2’ mode) are usually not clever enough to handle advanced wireless signals and will fire too early to appear in your photograph.

Loyal reader J. L. Williams has created his own ‘smart’ wireless flash trigger. The module, plugged into an ordinary studio flash, will learn the pre-flash sequence from your TTL speedlights and trigger only on the final, main flash, so everything stays in sync.

DIY Smart Trigger by J.L. Williams

Williams demonstrates the project in the following video. There are also online instructions to make your own trigger, which should cost only $20 in parts.

David Selby
David is a keen photographer and has been editor of Lighting Rumours since 2010. When not writing about lighting, he works as a data scientist at the University of Manchester, UK.