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DPChallenge Forums >> Hardware and Software >> Pocket wizard questions
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05/21/2009 04:47:44 AM · #1
So I'm in the market for wireless triggering for flashes and have been reading up on the new Pocket Wizard thingies. Looks like for Canon you need the mini-TT1 as the commander on the camera, and the Flex-TT5 as receivers on your flash units. Though I get the impression you could also use the Flex-TT5 on the camera as a transmitter as well.

Do any of you have this gear? If so, where did you purchase it? (Not in stock for the TT5 units at B&H at the moment.) Is this overkill for someone who only plans (at the moment) to use triggered remote flashes in limited instances? Would the Canon flash trigger thingie (ST-E2) work just as well with the flash I have (430EX) and is there a related receiver required or will it trigger the flash without that? (Looks to me like it'll trigger without it but I'm not entirely sure.) Will the ST-E2 trigger two 430EX's?

(New to flash, apologize for the newbie questions.)
05/21/2009 06:29:59 AM · #2
I use the PW Plus II models. They do exactly what you want in the simplest possible way. I think you can pick them up fairly cheaply now. Do you need remote TTL? Not sure - here is a review of the new system. You could buy a camera top Mini TT1 unit and then use it with standard Plus II units.
05/21/2009 07:25:25 AM · #3
Keep in mind that the new PW's (the ones that enable TTL) all suffer from heavy radio interference from Canon flashes (especially the 430EX, from what I've read, but also the 580EX and 580EXII. Apparently the 430EXII isn't so bad). This can be so heavy that you only get dozens of feet of transmission. There are a few reviews that test actual functionality in light of this.

Message edited by author 2009-05-21 07:26:15.
05/21/2009 11:55:54 AM · #4
So the new Canon PWs will work with Canon cameras but not so well with Canon flashes. I think that's what I'm seeing. Wonder if they'd work with Vivitars, for instance?

And Andrew, from what I could see with the PW Plus IIs, they work as both transmitters and receivers, and you need one for the camera, and one for each flash. And they connect via a cable to the flash unit, yes? (I think the design of the new ones - hotshoe connection - is nice, but not if they don't work well with Canon flashes, since at the moment that's what I have one of.)

I'm still thinking the ST-E2 would do what I need for the moment, but figure the Pocket Wizards are a better investment for the long run should I decide to do more with flash. I am concerned that the ST-E2 seems to want a direct line of sight with the flash, which wouldn't work very well if you wanted to use two flashes on either side of the camera. More reading to do...
05/21/2009 02:54:18 PM · #5
Bump?

Now reading up on cactus triggers. Seems they have an iffy reliability and somewhat flimsy build, but the price is nice. I'm getting this stuff because I'm shooting a wedding (ha!) in a month. For free.
05/21/2009 03:08:48 PM · #6
I have about 10 Cactus triggers and receivers and I hate them with a passion. They are not reliable at all. Since I got some PW's I never looked back.
05/21/2009 03:10:09 PM · #7
Originally posted by Melethia:

Bump?

Now reading up on cactus triggers. Seems they have an iffy reliability and somewhat flimsy build, but the price is nice. I'm getting this stuff because I'm shooting a wedding (ha!) in a month. For free.


I use cactus triggers and while they are kind of unreliable, the price is right. I hook them up using sync chords on my alien bees and sometimes I have to fiddle with the sync chords to make sure that they go off. The fun part about having a light not go off every once in a while is that you get really interesting lighting effects that you didn't necessarily think of. :-D All in all I like them, they are cheap and easy.
05/21/2009 03:13:53 PM · #8
Originally posted by Melethia:

Bump?

Now reading up on cactus triggers. Seems they have an iffy reliability and somewhat flimsy build, but the price is nice. I'm getting this stuff because I'm shooting a wedding (ha!) in a month. For free.


For a wedding I would suggest renting the PW's. Don't chance it.
05/21/2009 03:14:46 PM · #9
Im also using the PW Plus II's but you may also want to look at the Alien Bee remotes as well, Ive heard nothing but good about them as well.
05/21/2009 03:18:56 PM · #10
Yes, with PW Plus IIs there is one on the camera hot shoe and one each on the flash units. I think the new 580EX II has a miniphone jack which works with the cable that comes with PW PIIs - the mark I 580EX does not have a miniphone jack therefore requires a cable from Paramount. I think that is the one I have linked to. You might pick it up cheaply on eBay. Bit irritating that the cord costs so much. Spatula above is correct about the issue with the new PWs and the radio interference from the Canon flash units.... I use the PW+IIs with the Canon 580EX and also some older Nikon flash units such as the SB28 (which has a miniphone jack). They really do the job well. I use them in auditoriums as well as for shooting still life subjects...
05/21/2009 03:21:34 PM · #11
Originally posted by lovethelight:

The fun part about having a light not go off every once in a while is that you get really interesting lighting effects that you didn't necessarily think of. :-D All in all I like them, they are cheap and easy.


Cactus should mention that as an undocumented feature. :P
05/21/2009 03:24:27 PM · #12
Thanks for the input, folks. Now I'm also considering a cable, since it would be a whole lot easier to figure out. :-)
05/21/2009 03:29:01 PM · #13
Deb,

In my experience those triggers work pretty well. I've used them with a couple of weddings and many other shoots. Just be sure to test out the connection first like what Claire said. Also, if you start to receive radio interference (i.e. the flashes start to flicker) then just change the channel setting.
05/21/2009 03:39:50 PM · #14
Thanks, Richard - sent you a PM. And I'm actually hoping I can do a lot without flash. I'm just not very versed in the whole flash business (though I really should learn!)
05/21/2009 11:17:32 PM · #15
There's also Radiopoppers... equivalent to what the PW's you were looking at initially do but don't suffer the same problems.
05/21/2009 11:32:42 PM · #16
I think the major benefit with the new pocketwizards is that they are compatible with Canon's eTTL... don't quote me, but I remember hearing that... could be useful since you don't have a lot of experience with manual flash.
05/22/2009 12:28:03 AM · #17
Originally posted by shalrath:

I think the major benefit with the new pocketwizards is that they are compatible with Canon's eTTL... don't quote me, but I remember hearing that... could be useful since you don't have a lot of experience with manual flash.

Compatibility mileage may vary heavily, but yes, that is what separates new from old for PW's.
05/22/2009 01:36:02 AM · #18
I have a 5D M2, and I used to have a 580EX flash, which I sold. But now I want to get back into flashy business, so I need advice for a setup.

I think I will get one PW transmitter and two transceivers (the new type that just came out). I am in an area where the EU frequencies are used, so having a non-FCC/US model, I might not have those problems mentioned above - anyone knows about that?

I was thinking of getting one 580 and one 430, but as I am getting these remotes AND I am starting on a clean sheet, I am open for other options. Maybe I can even get something else than Canon? I want the full TTL capability and the ease of use with the PWs. But maybe I need only two 430EX IIs instead of one 580 and one 430. I will mainly do models, and out of studio (events or outdoors action).

I would appreciate some suggestions to what flashes to get, thank you.
05/22/2009 03:19:07 AM · #19
I use the Alien Bees Cybersyncs regularly, never a mis-fire, and way cheaper than PWs. No TTL, but no biggie. I got them to trigger my SB800 and 600 strobes--even though the nikons have a built in wireless (light) commander mode, it is not as reliable, especially outdoors. The cyber syncs are GREAT.

cybersync

if your strobes do not have the sync cord connector (like the SB600) then This Adapter works great.

05/22/2009 12:07:33 PM · #20
Chromey, I couldn't tell from the site (since I think they'd like me to buy their lights), but would those work with hot-shoe type flashes?

Despite the cost, I'm leaning toward the horribly expensive PW thingies. I trust Richard when he tells me the Cactus thingies work for him, but I've read too many "these things suck!" reviews on 'em. I think it depends on if you get a good one or not.

Also, what is the difference between the 430EX and the 430EX II, other than I can get one and not the other at B&H?
05/22/2009 12:10:11 PM · #21
EX-II has weather sealing, metal hotshoe, faster recycle time, 180 deg swivel, 1/3 stop increments in manual mode, 1st and 2nd curtain sync, and a quick locking mechanism instead of the screw thread

the II is the new one, the other one is out of production but you might find old stock someplace. The quick locking mechanism is great!
05/22/2009 12:38:46 PM · #22
Thanks, Prof. If I do get another one, it'll probably be the II version. Can't see a reason to get the 5xx series if I'm going with separate trigger/receivers.

And yes, I'm familiar with what you tell peeps who are shooting weddings with no experience. Believe me, I TRIED to tell these guys they really wanted to hire someone to do this that knew what they were doing! But they wouldn't listen. So I'm going to give it my best shot!
05/22/2009 03:09:07 PM · #23
Originally posted by Melethia:

Chromey, I couldn't tell from the site (since I think they'd like me to buy their lights), but would those work with hot-shoe type flashes?

Despite the cost, I'm leaning toward the horribly expensive PW thingies. I trust Richard when he tells me the Cactus thingies work for him, but I've read too many "these things suck!" reviews on 'em. I think it depends on if you get a good one or not.

Also, what is the difference between the 430EX and the 430EX II, other than I can get one and not the other at B&H?


I bought the cactus before those cybersyncs came out otherwise I probably would have considered getting those instead. Btw the sb800 that chromey mentioned is a speedlite.
05/22/2009 03:13:45 PM · #24
Originally posted by Melethia:

Chromey, I couldn't tell from the site (since I think they'd like me to buy their lights), but would those work with hot-shoe type flashes?

Despite the cost, I'm leaning toward the horribly expensive PW thingies. I trust Richard when he tells me the Cactus thingies work for him, but I've read too many "these things suck!" reviews on 'em. I think it depends on if you get a good one or not.

Also, what is the difference between the 430EX and the 430EX II, other than I can get one and not the other at B&H?


Hi!

Yup, they make the "CSRB" which is a Battery receiver unit. The others are ac powered and work well with the AB lights directly. You "could" use them with hotshoe strobes, but you wouldn't want to (longish ac extension cords :)! I have two CSRB units, and they work well with my Nikon SB800 and SB600 hot shoe strobes. The 800 has the sync chord connector already, so the CSRB worked right outta the box. The 600 has no connector, but that hot shoe adapter I linked pops on, cable from the CSRB connects there, and voila! You could just put an optical slave puppy on that second one, but if you are around other photographers, their flashes will fire yours. I have one CST and two CSRBs and they work great, and a decent distances. Your strobes will be fully manual, though. So if you want ttl options, the 'spensive PWs are probably well worth the money (if they work with the Canon strobes) If the noise issue is present, and you have to switch to some other strobe, I think you'd lose ttl options anyway... But I can't speak with any experience of the Canons or PWs--just parroting what I have heard/read. I do have a lot of experience with the Cybersyncs, and with Paul Buff products in general. And their customer service is Stellar.

The cactus ones may be okay, but I hear so many reports of misfires that I wouldn't want the frustration, and the double cost of probably upgrading to something better later.

I am using mine in fairly controlled conditions, so full manual is working for me on the strobes. If I was in a situation where I need to grab shots on the fly, etc, I think having the ttl option would be nice to have. I have an out, since the nikon commander system built into the camera and strobes would allow me to fall back to that.

But, having that system already, it misfires sometimes, and is not reliable outdoors--so already owning a wireless system that was unreliable caused me to get something I could trust. So being sure that the newer version of the PWs resolved the Canon Strobe Noise Problem is probably worthwhile. Trying them out at a local shop, if possible, might be well worth the time and effort. As long as that works, the PW would be a great system to have, with much more flexibility and control. Also, some lightmeters have a PW compatible transmitter, so you can fire the strobes right from the meter. That would be sweet sometimes!

Probably, if you get the cybersyncs you'll be happy, and if you get the PWs you'll be thrilled, and you'll walk with a bit more swagger :-)

Cheers!

Message edited by author 2009-05-22 15:17:06.
05/22/2009 03:35:11 PM · #25
I have an ST-E2 I'm no longer using. If you're interested, email me russell@lansfordphotography.com
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