A great feature of the LX3, and one which certainly differentiates it from a ‘normal’ compact camera, is the provision of a flash ‘hotshoe’. This connection is the portal to truly exciting and dramatic lighting effects, the likes of which have often been reserved for DSLRs …to the extent that so little of its use is ever discussed as being the norm on a compact camera.

This is where it changes. I’m not going into huge technical detail on this occasion, rather just piquing your interest with an image made in this way. I mounted a radio flash trigger on the LX3’s hotshoe, connected the receiver to the base of one of my Nikon SB-800s, and that was the complete rig. Exit SB-800 stage left a couple of feet, some careful positioning, and one slightly used (!) Omega Seamaster captured with its reflection on glass, with a black card beneath it – that simple.

Bear in mind a couple of points in such a set-up :

1/ There’s no TTL metering …it’s Manual mode on the camera, and some trial-and-error – but it doesn’t take long to get the look you’re after

2/ This is a brilliant, highly portable, reliable, high-quality set-up that can be used for on-location shoots – portraits etc –  just as well as indoors for say product/macro photography.

When the light isn’t as you’d like, either in darkness when you need some (!), or in bright sunlight where some fill-flash would make all the difference … or when you really want to tap your creativity, in exciting, unknown territory –  the off-camera flash added to your LX3 will transform your photography.

Once you have a single flash off-camera, things can get even more interesting with slaved multiple strobes …and this doesn’t have to be that expensive. A little research will detail lists of models that can be ‘slaved’ in such a way, and includes several older Nikon models, Metz, Sigma, etc – they’re out there if you hunt for them.

As usual, there’s a selection of LX3 off-camera flash images at http://nickbland.zenfolio.com, and for the technical side of things – with also a huge amount of help in getting started, and evolving your use of ‘strobes’ – check out David Hobby’s site at http://www.strobist.com

Of course, many would say that the absolute master of this style of lighting is the infamous Joe McNally, hero of many a challenging shoot for National Geographic, Time, Sports Illustrated and countless other titles … check out http://www.joemcnally.com for some stunning images, and tips on technique.

I’d suggest essential reading material as both of Joe’s books on the subject : The Moment It Clicks, and The Hotshoe Diaries. Both are highly informative, full of absolute gems, and delivered with Joe’s trademark humour that will have you laughing aloud  ! He also features on a Nikon ‘Speedlight’ DVD, and of course there’s plenty of content on Joe & many other ‘strobists’ at http://www.youtube.com

  1. Dave says:


    I’m interested to know what type of hotshoe connection (Canon, Nikon etc…) your Radio Flash Trigger has. I just tried the radio trigger that I have (for Nikon) and can’t get it to work with my LX3. The pins aren’t an exact match, but since yours works with your SB-800, well…


    • Nick Bland says:

      Hi Dave,
      I’ve had success with just a regular Cactus radio trigger, and there are others I’ve since seen, supplied by Calumet, Falcon Eyes etc, as well as the pro Pocket Wizards of course (..with ‘pro’ pricing) …worth the investment if you’re going to use off-cam flash on a very regular basis.

      You’ll be able to pick up a low-priced rig for around £30-40 – good luck !


  2. Dave says:


    Thanks. I recently received some RF-602 transmitters from ebay. They were bought for my Nikon DSLRs and I had to specify Nikon Canon or whatever when I ordered them. What I’d like to know is what brand of camera your Cactus triggers were designed for. Do you use them on a DSLR? If so, what brand DSLR is it?

    Mine don’t want to work with the LX3 but they’re cheap enough so that I might want to buy another set just for that camera. If I do, I want to have a good idea which model I should buy since they would be tough to return (Hong Kong).

    “Moph” in a “DP Review” thread mentions Canon and Olympus hotshoe contacts as compatible with the LX3. So maybe that’s my answer.

    Thanks again!

    Seattle, WA

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