The Professional Photographer’s Introduction to Wireless Flash for Amateurs

Like many photographers, I worked for a time as an assistant in a studio, where one of my most important tasks was to follow behind (or in front of, or beside) the photographer and make sure they didn’t trip over their PC cable, thereby unplugging the lights while simultaneously falling unceremoniously on their face.

A remnant of the same era where telephone operators manually plugged cables into long rows of connectors to complete a call, the PC connector is a long cord that attaches between the camera and a flash or strobe setup. The PC has always been a problematic solution. On one side is usually found a connector that’s the same as a 3.5mm headphone mini-connector, while on the other side is a coaxial cable comprised of an inner cable wrapped in a thin circular metal housing. The circular coaxial end of the cable plugs into a camera’s PC port, and the 3.5mm cable plugs into a lighting pack. Multiple packs could be strung together by a series of cables, and photographers needing a lot of space between themselves and their packs would often combine multiple extenders and drag the cables behind them.

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