Channels and groups in flash photography are basically means of categorization of multiple camera flashes or Speedlights in order to make the workflow smooth. While doing a photo shoot at a wedding or an event, have you witnessed that the same flash gets triggered when you and your co-photographer click photos using different flash triggers? Did you know that using a speedlight/flash trigger you can control the flash intensity, mode and flash exposure compensation? Be it a Canon, Nikon, Youngnuo or a Godox flash. this happens with all the flashlight makes.
Flash channel and group is the answer to all your questions to the ones shared above. In this article, you would read about how and when you can use the groups and channels in order to control multiple flashlights.
What are Channels in Flash Photography and how to use them?
Channels in a camera flash system is a feature which enables the flashlight and the flash trigger to communicate with each other in a particular manner. Now assume the flashlight as a television set and the flash trigger as a remote control. If you notice, the remote control of your television set would work all the other sets of the same make. But it would not work with the television sets which are of different make because of some technical modifications.
Now assume a situation that you and your friend Rahul are doing a wedding photo shoot, equipped with individual flash triggers and three flashlights each.
Situation: Yours and Rahul’s trigger is set on channel 1, and all six flashes are also on channel 1
Now if you either you or Rahul click photos, all the six flashlights would trigger at the same time. In order to make sure that only your three flash triggers when you click a photo and the similar when Rahul clicks a photo, you have to change the channel.
By setting channel 1 on your three flashlights and the flash trigger and channel 2 on Rahul’s flashlights and trigger, you can find a solution to this problem. So now when you click a photo only your three flashlights would trigger, Rahul’s three flashlights would only trigger when he clicks a photo. This change happened because you both are now shooting on different channels.
So in a situation when there are two or more photographers, make sure each photographer has set a different channel on the flashlights and the flash trigger. This will ensure that their flash trigger will communicate only with their flashlights on the chosen channel.
What are Groups in Flash Photography and how to use them?
Continuing the example stated above, now let’s talk about how flashlights can be controlled remotely using the trigger.
If you are using three flashlights, you might want them to be controlled remotely with the help of the flash trigger, instead of manually adjusting the setting of each flash. This is possible only if you select a unique group for each flashlight.
Now suppose you select Group A, Group B and Group C on each of the three flashlights. With the help of the trigger, you can now individually adjust the flash mode, exposure and flash exposure compensation of each flashlight. So if you want the Group A flash to be on TTL mode, the Group B flash to be on manual mode and Group C flash to be on TTL mode but with -2 FEC, you can do that from the trigger itself.
Selecting dedicated groups on each flashlight is very helpful when you have placed the flashlight in different spots and want to adjust the setting quickly. Instead of manually adjusting the exposure or the mode, you can use your trigger to remotely adjust these settings with the help of the group selection.