I’ve been trying to figure out for a while now how to get my flash off-camera on my X-Series cameras yet still retain TTL function. I’ve asked around everywhere but either nobody knows, or nobody seems to agree how to get it done, including Fuji themselves! I spoke to a Fujifilm tech guy at Photokina and he admitted that he didn’t know how to do it. Fuji don’t produce a TTL flash cable themselves (why not Fuji?!) and there are no 3rd party solutions either for the Fujifilm X-Series cameras.
I have a radio flash sync system, which is fine when I’m taking photos in a studio type situation where TTL metering doesn’t matter, but I wanted something to get the flash off the camera when I was out and about, an easy TTL solution that meant I didn’t have to try too hard for quick snaps. Sometimes by the time you’ve got the flash power right the moment has gone. I’ve been using the EFX-20 flash with the X100 off-camera by activating the on-camera flash and firing the EFX-20 flash as a slave (the EF-20 doesn’t have a slave mode). This works well in many situations but has a few disadvantages….
- It’s not TTL!
- You might not want the on-camera flash to fire – you may only want light from your main flash.
- It’s not always 100% reliable in every situation.
- It doesn’t work on the X-Pro1 as it doesn’t have an on-board flash!
I’ve been doing a lot of work improving my flash techniques recently (a long post will be coming up about that soon) and really wanted this sorted out so I decided to take matters into my own hands! I tried out a supposedly universal cable in-store that said it worked with Nikon, Canon and Fujifilm, but it didn’t work at all. I wondered if one of the cables from another main manufacturer would work on the X-Series cameras. The two candidates being Nikon and Canon of course. Given the historic connection Fuji had with Nikon producing the S2 and S5 DSLRs I thought that a Nikon lead would be the obvious choice, but having had a look at the two, the connection pin placements on the Canon cables seemed to match better with the pins on the Fuji hot-shoe.
With the genuine Canon cables around £50 I just couldn’t justify buying one on the off-chance that it worked, but after a search around I found a 3rd party Canon compatible cable by Pixel on Amazon at £16.99 – at that price it was worth a shot! This is the cable I bought - Pixel FC311/s Compact TTL Sync Cord for Canon
I’m please to say that the cable works perfectly! It was a bit of a fiddle to get it onto the X100, but a little shove and it slides on fully. No such problems with either the X-E1 or X-Pro1, though on the X-E1 I did have to seat the cable a couple of times before it started working – perhaps the pins aren’t 100% exactly in the same position as the Canon ones, but it does seem to work fine once you get the lead locked and tightened onto the camera. TTL metering works fine with all three cameras and it fired both the EF-20 and EFX-20 flashes.
The Pixel cable appears well made and has a long coiled cord which allows you to easily hold the camera and flash at arms length if you want to. The master end has a lock pin that holds the cable onto the camera firmly once you screw it down and the slave hot-shoe has a standard tripod mount screw on the base meaning you could attach your flash to a tripod or light stand if you wanted. If you have a genuine Canon TTL cable around I would assume that will work with the Fuji system too and you’ll save yourself some money on buying a new cable for your Fuji system.
Just one final thing – if you’re going to do this make sure you activate the external flash option in your camera menu – by default it’s turned off in the Fuji system!
I hope some of you find this useful and an encouragement to start playing with off-camera flash on your Fuji X-Series camera. Now I know the Canon cable works, my next test might involve a Canon-based TTL wireless remote… keep an eye out for the results of that!