Running coaxial PC cable between PC sync ports is a common way of synchronizing flash with the shutter curtain of a camera. However more and more cameras and flashes come without PC sync port. The PC sync port now appears to be a legacy thing left for only the high end cameras. D200 and D300 have it but D40, D60, D80, and D90 do not.
The PC sync port can be very useful for some special cases. For example, this Nikon shooter wanted to use an iTTL flash on camera while still being able to fire his radio slaves.
This can certainly be done. I have talked about it in my earlier post titled Mixing Flash Modes. What he need is a hot shoe adapter that has all the required electrical connections to pass through the signals while adding a PC sync port. If you don’t need to maintain iTTL functionality, this device should work. Otherwise you need something just a few wires more sophisticated. The following is what I found for a little over $12 from eBay.
This particular model (TF-322) is made by PIXEL ENTERPRISE LIMITED for Nikon cameras and flashes. There are different models for other camera brands but the TTL compatibility is not provided for all brands.
The device is small and light but it very well made. On the top is a Nikon compatible socket with all 4 contacts and the locking hole for securing the flash. The bottom shoe is made of metal with plastic insert where the contact pins are. The pins are spring-loaded to ensure good contacts to your camera’s accessory shoe. It features a thumb wheel lock that also drives a lock pin down when fastened.
The PC sync port is on the front side of the hot shoe converter. Any other location would interfere with the operation of the camera. The PC sync port has screw lock but it works ok with male PC sync plug that doesn’t have screw lock. The connect can be a little loose.
It works as expected. I am able to fire my SB-600 in TTL mode while triggering my remote flash via a pair of transmitter/receiver (more about it here). It also works fine with a 15ft straight PC sync cord connection.
With it mounted on the camera, the flash is raised about 1 inch. This may help to prevent red eye problems.
If you don’t need to have it on camera, you can leave it on flash to add a PC sync port if the flash doesn’t have one built-in. The image below shows how it looks with the Pixel Hot Shoe Converter mounted on a Nikon SB-600. The other way to do it is to open it up and drill a hole on the side for a PC sync port.
Keywords: DIY, Do-it-yourself, Flash photography, Hot Shoe, Hot Shoe Converter, Hotshoe, Nikon, PC Sync Port, Pixel, TTL