User Manual

Magic Flash Twin Camera Adapter for Stereo Flash Photography


Quick Start: Plug a male PC cable into each camera from the Magic Flash Adapter, and plug the female PC cable into the flash from the Magic Flash Adapter. Turn on the cameras. Make sure the cameras are configured for PC or hotshoe flash (rather than internal flash). Turn on the external flash unit. Turn on the Magic Flash Adapter switch. Start shooting.

The red LED light on the circuit board blinks every 1.5 seconds to indicate that the Magic Flash Adapter is on and armed. Be sure to turn off the Magic Flash Adapter when not in use to conserve battery power.

With this adapter, the flash pop will appear on both exposures as long as the shutter speed is longer than the shutter sync. Thus if the shutter sync is unknown, a longer shutter speed would be preferred to provide a better opportunity for the flash pop to appear on both exposures.

Theory of Operation: This device simply chooses the second of the two strobe pulses from each camera to trigger the external electronic flash unit. While the concept is simple, the interface between the camera and external flash is difficult for many reasons. For a detailed discussion of the technique, circuits, and rationale, see the stereo flash photography page here.

Connecting to the Cameras: The Magic Flash adapter has three cables. The cables with male PC connectors (center pin, outer shell) attach to the cameras. The cable with the female PC connector attaches to the flash unit.

Many cameras have a built in PC connector. One may have to consult the camera owner's manual to locate and activate the connector. If the cameras do not have a dedicated PC connector, but do have a conventional hot shoe, a hotshoe-to-PC adapter can be used instead (not included with the Magic Flash Adapter). This adapter converts the camera hot shoe center pin to the center of a female PC connector, and the hot shoe housing to the outer shielding shell of the PC connector.

An example hotshoe-to-PC adapter picture is at right, the Kaiser "flash shoe adapter" model 1300 (at http://www.bhphotovideo.com part number KAHSPCA), shown mounted on a camera hot shoe, with a male PC cable plugged in to the female connector on the Kaiser adapter. There are many such adapters, but the concept is the same.

Connecting to the Flash Unit: Some flash units have a built in male PC connector, many include a PC cable, some have a proprietary connector, but almost all have a hot shoe.

If needed, a custom cable can be manufactured to order, with a flash-specific proprietary connector to the flash, and a male PC connector on the other end of the cable for the Magic Flash Adapter. One manufacture of custom flash cables is Paramount Cords (http://www.pccords.com) (not included with the Magic Flash Adapter).

If the flash unit does not have a PC connector or a proprietary connector, one can convert the hot shoe of the flash to a PC connector with an adapter such as the Hama HA6952 at right (at http://www.bhphotovideo.com part number HAPCHSA)(not included with the Magic Flash Adapter).

If the user would prefer to mount the flash on one of the cameras rather than the mounting bar, one could use a hotshoe-to-PC adapter like the Kaiser 1300 above for one camera, and a hotshoe-to-PC/PC-to-hotshoe universal adapter for the other camera like the Hama HA6950 (B&H PhotoVideo part number HAFAU)(not included with the Magic Flash Adapter).

Care and Feeding of the PC Connectors: Flash sync cord connectors initially were apparently quite proprietary. With the intention of bringing some order to the chaos, a couple of German shutter manufactures joined forces, and created what is possibly the poorest connector ever designed. The names of the responsible parties, Prontor and Compur, was shortened to "PC", but the connector is probably the closest approximation to a standard in flash sync cords these days.

In a PC connector with a little wear, the center pin of the male connector can float in the female center receptacle with a poor contact. If operation becomes intermittent, the procedure of choice is to bend the male connector center pin slightly to one side so that contact of the center pin with the side of the receptacle is assured.

Replacing the Battery: The battery is intended to be semi-permanent, and the battery holder is quite secure for this reason. I would be happy to replace the battery for the cost of parts and shipping if needed, but the procedure can be performed without too much trouble.

Cut away the shrink tubing from the area of the battery. The one inch diameter shrink tubing can be purchased from most hobby shops, and is typically used for building battery packs for radio control cars or planes. A hair drier or heat gun will be hot enough to shrink the tubing into place. Alternatively, other methods such as tape can be used to insulate the exposed area of the module and battery, but some method of re-insulating the module must be used to protect from premature battery failure and from electrostatic discharge damage.

The battery is a CR2032 lithium 3 volt cell (or equivalent), and can be purchased at drug stores and photo stores, as well as most grocery stores. The Magic Flash Adapter uses this rather large battery because it is one of the most commonly available coin cells.

With the module in the position at the top of this page, press on the left side of the battery to compress the leaf springs on the right far enough to release the battery from under the left tabs. Insert the new battery in a similar fashion.

Best Regards,
Rob Crockett
Copyright 2010. All Rights Reserved.

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