SONY Wireless Flash Solutions ... beyond the norm.
One of the unfortunate side effects of using a SONY HVL “wireless flash” solution is that the remote flash has to see the built-in (pop-up) flash on the camera. If you do not extend the pop-up flash or are using an α900 … you don’t get a flash.
Now, with the recent advent of the HVL-F20AM Compact Flash (April 2009), the α900 now can offer control through its “wireless” option, but again, the remote flash has to “see” the pre-flash from the camera to operate properly. In other words, it is all optically controlled (so they have to see one another) and that can be tricky when positioning your flash or when outdoors.
Question: What is another good solution to this “wireless” issue?
SONY offers a “Sync Terminal Adaptor” for the camera’s hot shoe.
This part offers a “pc-sync” port to cameras that do not have one (α100, α200, α230, α300, α330, α350 & α380) so that you can add generic external flash control to the camera. This is an expensive part, if you consult the SONY Style store for it. An alternative is purchasing a third party “FS1100” (<- Click on this) Hot shoe adapter (The α700 & α900 already have the "pc-sync" port built into them, so there is no need for this part, unless you desire to mount the "standard" PocketWizard PLUS II's foot to the hot shoe. That eliminates the need for the PC1 pc-sync cable, too, although I would still get one for detached operation.)
This is one-tenth (1/10) the cost of the SONY part and, personally, it is the way to go … that is, unless you have nothing better to do with your cash.
Now, wireless flash control can be offered through a number of devices, but my personal favorite is the “PocketWizard PLUS II” which is an “RF” solution and does not need any kind of optical or infrared pre-flash. Yes, it costs a little more, but what you get in return is true flexibility and RELIABILITY, which is the mainstay of most photography. You want flash NOW … not when it decides it wants to work.
You will require two units, one connected to the camera and the other to the flash. The camera connection requires the PC1 Cable (pc-sync) to attach the camera's port to the PocketWizard.
The HVL-series of flashes do not support the “pc-sync” port, which would be necessary for the PocketWizard to be connected to the flash. The solution is another small third-party adapter, the “FS1200” (<- Click on this), which attaches to the flashes’ hot shoe and immediately provides a “pc-sync” port to the flash unit.
HVL-F36AM, FS1200 Adapter, pc-sync cable (PC1) , and PocketWizard PLUS II
Also, the “PocketWizard” can be use to trigger a “studio strobe” without having to drape a pc-sync cord a dozen or so feet away and take the chance of a ‘subject’, grip or even yourself tripping over it and taking down your expensive lamp. The main difference is that you will probably need a MM1 cable, instead of the PC1 cable (used in the above SONY HVL-connection)
So, in effect, you have a wireless link between your camera and the flash (studio or electronic) that is reliable and channelized, so you can set off different units at different times, if you so wish. You would require additional “PocketWizards” for such ideas.