N8 Strobism

First things first, let me illustrate what I’ve been up with a photo, taken on my Nokia N8 (all pics in this post click-thru for high res):

Bottle Rose and Green

Shot on a cameraphone. Awesome.

Strobist fans will be interested to know the lighting setup:¬†Snooted Di466 1/8th power camera top left. Gelled and gobo’d Yn-460 (stuck nearly full power) below camera right, ND8 filter on camera, ebay radio triggers.

Here’s s setup photo:

Setup Shot

What’s going on here then? It’s a bit of a hack I’ve been working on to trigger off camera flash guns wirelessly, with the Nokia N8. Yes, strobes, not continuous lighting.

Why would you want to do that? Because you can take some great pictures with off camera flash. But why would you want do that with a phone? Why not? To see if I can! If that’s not enough reason for you, you’re reading the wrong blog!

How’s it done?

Well the simple version is that it’s an optical trigger mounted on the N8 which takes the (blocked) signal from the flash, and triggers whatever’s mounted in a hotshoe (yes, my phone has a hotshoe :-) ) or via PC sync jack. Connected to this is a radio trigger that then fires the flashgun remotely. As there’s no aperture control on the N8, I used an ND8 filter to gain some control over exposure. Typically I’d also set it to low ISO also, to get a bit more range.

I want the techy details!

Ok, you asked for it. The optical trigger is a SYK-5, chosen as it requires no power, has an option to ignore pre-flashes, and adjustable delay. Delay set to minimum works best for the N8 and then set the N8 flash to red-eye reduction. This then allows you to choose if the remotes will flash for the pre flash to allow the N8 to meter, or just the exposure, using its pre-flash toggle switch. It’s also necessary to make sure the N8’s flash only hits the trigger, and not the scene I’m photographing as it will likely overexpose with all that light and a fixed f2.8. So I mount the SYK-5 and my radio trigger to some plasticard like so:

It's not pretty, but it works!

Very early proof of concept build, can you tell? ;-)

The triggers I use for my flashguns are just cheap eBay radio triggers. Letting the main flashes fire for metering is usually fine – they’ll be on low power for the most part, and have about 1s to recharge on red-eye mode. Of course the phone metering for a higher light level doesn’t affect how the flash appears (fixed aperture remember) but it does allow it to choose a short shutter and low ISO (and in some cases the N8 can use its internal ND filter).

If you’re trying to kill ambient and just have flash light, you’ll need to use an ND filter too (no aperture control). The following two photos illustrate the effect:

No ND Filter

Same photo with ND8

SO. Not only is the N8 the best camera phone in the world, it’s now the only one with a hot shoe and off camera flash! ;-)
I’ll add more pics I take with this setup here, as and when I remember/get round to it!


2 Responses to “N8 Strobism”

  1. […] full run-through on how to achieve these great N8 strobism shots is detailed as well as some step-by-step photos to […]

  2. Did you try CameraPro for the N8 and dial down the exposure compensation to get a faster shutter speed in order to kill ambient? Shouldn’t be any sync issues without an electronic shutter but I haven’t really played enough with the N8. Also, would what about gelling the Nissin with the ND since it’d be a shame to cover up that Tessar!

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