How I Killed The Canon 6D, Two Studio Strobes And Transmitter In One Evening

ShadowHow I Killed Canon 6D

I have been doing photography for many years already, but I have never had as crazy a day as I did recently when four of my devices all stopped working mid-project!

So what happened?

Having done most of my photography in my home studio, I never used be honest, I did not know how cool it was, but on this particular occasion I was inspired by a really amazing course. So much so in fact, that I immediately got to work on a course setup and was in a bit of a hurry. I wanted to get the best results I could achieve fast.

I knew that I had all the gear that I needed - reflective surface, speedlights, studio strobes and light modifiers - to get course shot done. So I placed Canon 6D and started to build the setup.

Fail Number 1 (pc sync cord)

This is a 3 light setup so I started with the first one and placed it behind the background. A grid was used with this light as well to make the spot in the center.

As I have 6 speedlights and 2 Godox DE400 studio strobes, I decided to place the DE400 behind the background to get more power and close the aperture for a deeper DOF.

Ice Tea Photo Diagram

For flash synchronization I had 3 options: wireless trigger Godox X1C, Yongnuo RF-602 and pc sync cord attached to same X1C and the strobe.

And I went with the wired option because it does not require batteries for the receiver.

Double Fail

I took an empty glass to get right angles of the light modifiers and spot light.

And one thought came to mind...

If I connected the 6D to the monitor or TV, I could get a live view picture so that I can see while moving the strobes with the modelling lights and check how it affects the image to know where to place the strobes.

What I thought was a good idea at the time turned out to be a bad idea.

I took a long mini HDMI to HDMI cord that I have tested with my TV. But there is no TV in my studio room, there are only 2 monitors connected to the PC.

So I decided to use one of them. It would help me to see a live view, as well as analyse the results on a large monitor that I can see from any place in the room, unlike the camera's LCD screen.

As I connected the cord, both the camera and the monitor were already turned on. Double fail! 

Always switch off devices that you are going to connect!

So I plugged in the mini HDMI on the Canon 6D and went to my monitor to find an HDMI port.

And could not find one...

"But wait" I thought "this looks like the HDMI port, lets try it out"


There was a loud explosion sound that seemingly came from the strobe. I checked the strobe visually - both modeling and flash lamps where in place. I ran over to the 6D - it did not switch on.


Ice Tea (Result)

This is what I get same evening

First of all I found out that the port that I tried to connect HDMI cord to was actually a Display Port; not an HDMI.

Initially I thought that the main board was broken and that there was probably a fuse burnt out. However, I later discovered that there is no fuse in the 6D and main board need to be replaced anyway.

Luckily I was inspired enough to pick up my back up option - an old, $100 worth Canon 450D, and continued my work. But as soon as I replaced the 6D with the 450D I found that the Godox DE400 Strobe and X1C transmitter where broken too. The transmitter worked just fine, only it did not have hot shoe connection and the strobe could be switched on, but some indicators were off.

This was second hit to my increasingly bad mood...

"But ok - I have 6 speedlights, lets move on"

Fail Number 3

I replaced the studio strobe with another one and wanted to try out tethering.

Remember, I told you that I had connected the Strobe and Camera with a PC sync cord? I did not change this.

So I connected the USB cord to the camera and the Computer and opened Capture One Pro.

And BOOOM!!! Again.

Isn't it too much for one evening? A third hit?

And yes - bye bye to the second strobe. For this time, it would not turn on anymore.

So what happened? -Did some sort of higher voltage come from the computer through the camera and went to the Strobe via the PC sync cord?

I wasn't sure...

So, I replaced strobe with a speedlight and continued to work. And to my surprise the results where pretty darn good:

Samyang 14mm F2.8
Samyang 14mm F2.8
Samsung Gear Fit 2

Lessons Learned

First of all I should be more careful when I am inspired, but in a bit of a hurry to get a job done. Now I know that the camera and strobes are actually sensitive devices and it is better not to connect them via wire.

Old and cheap DSLRs can produce extremely good results with ISO 100. Lights and skill are way more important that a camera or sensor.

If your camera has Live View then it can probably be switched on during a tethering session as well and you will be able to check how the lights are falling on your subject.

Gear should not stop you from getting the desired results. If you can find a work around - use it.

I am lucky to have an official Canon service not too far from my office and they are going to replace the main board for 220 Eur.

A transmitter is cheap enough to buy another.

Still need to find master to check out strobes.

It is better to have equivalent equipment as a backup. For the studio, the 450D worked just fine, but it is pretty weak on high ISO settings.



About the Author

Alexander JemeljanovSiebel Consultant / System Analyst with more than 8 years experience. Main hobbies include - photography, videography, and microstocking with more than 6 years experience. I also enjoy sports activities, blogging, and trying new things.View all posts by Alexander Jemeljanov →

  1. So basically, I think the issue is with the grounding of the studio. I don’t know the exact circumstances, so this is something like a guess.

    When the camera is connected via pc cable to the strobe, it creates a circuit between the camera and the strobe. That circuit lets voltage to pass through between them, in order for the strobe to be triggered. The strobe is connected to the wall socket, which has bad grounding (or zeroing as it is called in my country, basically the zero wire from the socket is the ground wire as well). When the camera is connected to the PC or PC monitor, which is also connected to the wall socket (with bad grounding), it completes the circuit, which shouldn’t occur when there is good grounding, and causes wall socket voltage to flow freely between the strobe, camera, PC/PC monitor. The problem is that there is now voltage in places where it shouldn’t be, therefore stuff shorts out and burns.

    The problem with this is I’m not sure if there is a workaround for the problem. Except going wireless.

    • I was not thinking this way, actually your grounding theory describes why same thing happened for both situations with Display Post on monitor and USB port on Computer. I will try to find a way to test how good grounding I have

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