X-E1 (18mm, f/4.5, 1/25 sec, ISO200)

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….

  1. It’s not TTL!
  2. You might not want the on-camera flash to fire – you may only want light from your main flash.
  3. It’s not always 100% reliable in every situation.
  4. 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.

X-E1 (18mm, f/4.5, 1/25 sec, ISO200)

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!

Comments

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About The Author

Matthew Maddock is a commercial photographer based in the Lake District, UK. Specialising in the hospitality and outdoor sports industry. He is a Fujifilm X-Photographer and Getty Images contributor. His portfolio can be viewed at memaddock.co.uk

31 Responses

  1. david

    Thanks for the article, nice one!
    I am just wondering on your photo here in the blog article the cord sitting on cameras hotshoe, the cable shows to the back. But on Amazon it shows to the lens.
    I prefer it showing in user direction. Would you please let me know which one is correct? Thanks in advance!

    • Matt Maddock

      Nice spot David – my automatic reaction is to put it on that way! I agree with you, it seems like the natural way for it to be. It does actually go the other way around with the cable pointing forwards (they all do) – I had just put it on the X-Pro1 to take some photos and didn’t realise! Sorry about that.

      P.S. The reason it goes forwards is to prevent it from getting in the way of the viewfinder when you put your eye to the camera, especially on a dSLR.

      • david

        Thanks Matt for quick reply!
        I did not mean to unmask you!
        I am just looking for a long time for a cable which does not pointing forward! It just does not fit my needs! What a pitty I was hoping for the cable I am looking for!
        Anyway, thanks for the article!

  2. Gary

    Thanks for this Matt,
    The company you link too, “Pixel” also do a 10 meter Coiled Flash Sync Cable for the Canon which is ideal for easy “One Light Flash” set up in TTL mode and will work with light modifiers such as grids, umbrellas and soft boxes etc.

  3. Derek Clark

    Thanks a lot Matt, I’ve been looking for something that would say for sure that a Canon Cable would work. I had a Nikon cable, but but it just fired at random.

    I’m using the Flashmate iii radio triggers and they’re great, but like you say, the radio triggers are only really good for studio type shooting.

    Thanks again
    Derek.

  4. Ade

    Hi Matt.
    Thanks for posting this info – ordered thru Amazon and received next day. Less than £17 posted!
    Toal bargain and works perfectly.

  5. stiffjohn

    How can i activate the external flash option in the camera menu – on my X-pro1,the item is grayed and can not be changed.

    Many thanks.

    Stiffjohn

    • Matt Maddock

      Make sure the camera isn’t in silent mode.

      Secondly, sometimes the cable connectors don’t quite meet and need a little wiggle! The flash needs to be turned on too to get the option activated on the menu.

      Matt

  6. Andrea

    I followed your advice and bought the cable.
    I am using it with a EF-X20
    I was pesting for the first 20 minutes. I then realised that the flash was on N and not on X.
    The contact issue is a major issue.
    Actually if you lock too strongly you impede the flash to connect
    So the idea is that the flash should be connected and then the user should “search” the G point of the hot shoe until the menu of the flash activates.
    It took me 20 minutes to loose the feeling I had bought the wrong cable. Sorry for the frankness.
    Just a reminder: in your picture you have mounted it the otherway round (the mark “lock” should be on the other side).

    • Matt Maddock

      It seems that some cables work better than others. Remember they are not designed to work with Fuji X-Series cameras, they just do through coincidence. I have one cable that isn’t very good, but the other works perfectly every time.

      I know I put the cable the wrong way around for the photo! :)

  7. Andrea

    I am interested in your suggestions concerning a connection between this cord and a METZ flash. I shuld buy the appropriate METZ SCA connector. With this cord (FC311) I should buy a Canon, right ?
    What’s intriguing is that on the METZ site the Fuji SCA connector is the same than the Nikon one….
    SO if I bought the nikon I could use it directly on the camera but probably NOT off the camera.
    Or at the end it would work anyway ? Thanks for giving it a tought“
    A

    • Matt Maddock

      Hi Andrea

      Neither the Nikon or Canon flashes (or any other flash made for
      Nikon or Canon) will work in TTL mode on the Fujifilm X-Series cameras. The Canon cable works for Fujifilm TTL flashes simply because the electrical connection pins just happen to line up with the Fuji hotshoe!

      The reason some manufacturers list the Nikon flash gear as compatible with Fujifilm is that years ago Fujifilm produced a couple of DSLR cameras (The S2 and S5) which were based on a Nikon DSLR, so all Nikon accessories worked with those cameras.

      The flash technology in the X-Series is entirely proprietary to Fuji and does to use the same system as the S2/S5 cameras. If you want a TTL flash for the X-Series camera your only option is to buy a Fujifilm one – and if you want to use it off-camera, buy a Canon-compatible lead!

      Hope that helps.

  8. Lin

    Thanks for posting this Matt, it’s really helpful – just a couple of questions.

    Have you tried the EF42 flash with the Canon leads – I’m assuming it would again be a similar connection.

    Secondly the only reason I ask about the EF42 is that the EFX20 doesn’t have the ability to bounce flash – do you find this a hindrance with portraits or do you use an attachment to soften the light?

    • Matt Maddock

      Lin

      The EF-42 does work with the Canon lead, yes.

      I do find it a pain sometimes that the EF-X20 doesn’t have a bounce feature, that’s why I initially started to look for an off camera solution. To be honest I very rarely use the EF-X20 on camera, it’s on a lead on the X-Pro1 or set as a slave with the X100.

      Matt

  9. Bernie Ess

    Thanks for the tip, the short Pixel cable seems to work well on the X-E1, however I find it too short and the tension on the cord when stretching my arm out is a bit high. Does someone use the 10m long cable on the Fuji? If yes is it nice to handle?

    Or better: Is anyone aware of a wireless TTL metering solution that works with the X-E1?

    Thank you
    Bernie

    • Matt Maddock

      Bernie

      There is no wireless TTL support at the moment for the Fujifilm X Series gear. Better TTL flash support is something I mentioned to Fuji UK at Focus just this week. Given the amount of interest this article gets I’ll keep pushing Fuji on it and see if we can get somewhere!

      Matt

  10. Peter Adam

    Does anyone know if this Canon TTL Flash wire works with the HS Series camera’s that Fuji produces, I have HS20 and am hoping to get the HS50 if it does work with them, I am using the EF42 Fuji flashgun. If it does not work with these cameras I may have to get the X-S1. Thx guys.

    • Matt Maddock

      Peter – I couldn’t guarantee it, but if the X-S1 works with the EF-42 then the pins on the hotshoe should be the same as the other X-Series cameras and it should work. I will try to find out for you by tracking down an X-S1.

      Matt

      • Peter Adam

        Thx for that, I would really like to know also if the Cord works with the HS20 and or HS50 as the EF42 Flashgun is used by both these camera’s and also the X-S1, so if they all have the same contacts to use the Flashgun…….do you see where I am coming from? Thanks for looking into it for me.

        Peter

  11. Maarten Wauters

    Hello Matt.

    Interesting information as I have bought an X-E1 myselft ;-)

    Is there any reason why a wireless TTL trigger for Canon would not work? The connections on a wireless trigger should be the same as the ones on a flash cord, isn’t it? Or am I missing something?

    • Matt Maddock

      The cable is ‘dumb’ and literally just passes the TTL signal straight from the camera through the wires to the flash. I’m not exactly sure how the wireless TTL systems pass on the signal to the flash. I suspect that they don’t just pass through the TTL signal and they might only work the specific Canon TTL signals and get confused with the Fujifilm TTL signal to the flash.

      I’m going to try giving that a go when I can and will update the post when I’ve done it – the problem being that a good wireless TTL system isn’t all that cheap just to buy to try out!

  12. Fabian

    Hi Matt,

    thanks for the great article!
    So I understand that if you use a flash from another company than Fuji, the whole TTL thing isn’t going to work.
    My question is this: Apart from TTL not working, will the third-party flash still fire? Or won’t it fire at all? It’d be great if you could clear this up for me!

    Cheers

    Fabian

    • Matt Maddock

      That’s right. If you use any flash other than a Fujifilm one, the flash will not work in TTL mode, but yes they will still fire and work, you just have to set the power manually instead.

      Matt

  13. Federico Ciapi

    Dear Matt,
    how do you get consistent results from the flash when using TTL ?
    It seems like flash output varies too much when I shoot. I use an EF-20 so I can’t use manual.
    I’m trying using average metering but still get mixed results.

  14. Paul Sherwood

    Hi Matt
    The off cable camera cable worked a treat – I’d never have thought of that one !
    - inspired, I thought I’d try my Canon ST-E2 transmitter to see if that would work and fire a Canon Speedlite in manual mode – it didn’t ! – has anyone else tried this ??
    Paul