While photographers can mix-and-match mechanical components like lenses with relatively little worry---provided the tools can physically fit together---swapping electronic components can be a bit riskier. Because voltage ratings are not standardized among flashes and camera bodies, a savvy photographer must verify that his equipment will work together properly before connecting everything. For this reason, it is typically easiest to buy like-named electric accessories. However, photographers who switch camera body brands might find themselves with old equipment that they would still like to use. If this is the case, it is still possible to use a Canon flash on a Nikon body.
Things You'll Need
- Electric tape
Verify that your flash's strobe trigger voltage matches your camera's. A strobe voltage that is greater than the voltage for which your camera's hot shoe is rated could damage your camera. Consult the manuals for each product or, if they cannot be located, check online to find the information.
Tape the four auxiliary contacts on the bottom of the flash (the part that connects to the hot shoe) with electric tape. These contacts have no corresponding contact on the Nikon hot shoe and would not function even if uncovered; covering the contacts helps to protect them from being damaged or short-circuiting the flash or camera. Make sure you leave the center positive contact uncovered, since this is the connection point your Nikon camera will use to trigger the Canon flash.
Switch the flash to manual mode. The Nikon camera will not be able to utilize the Canon flash's E-TTL (Evaluative-Through The Lens) flash exposure system and will not operate in an automatic mode.
Slide the Canon flash into the Nikon camera's hot shoe as you would normally attach the flash to a Canon body. The locking pin can usually not be screwed into place, but the flash should still connect snugly with the hot shoe.
Use the flash as you normally would, remembering to manually edit settings if you need to. The Nikon will use its on-body auto-focus assist lamp and will not use the lamp of the Canon flash.
Tips & Warnings
- You can also use a radio trigger on your Nikon body to remotely trigger your Canon flash. This eliminates your need to tape the auxiliary contacts and avoids any electrical problems. Make sure you buy a radio trigger that can operate with both Canon and Nikon technology.
- Always verify the voltages of your flash and body even if you are pretty sure they will work together. While newer models of Canon flashes and Nikon bodies should not cause any problems, an electrical issue can damage or destroy both the flash and camera. If you are unsure, take both into your camera shop to ask about their compatibility.
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