Another reason we got these triggers is because they are light and fast. The version we use is the PocketWizard plusII and is the most basic transceiver (it can trigger or be triggered) PocketWizard produces. You can maintain 12 fps, you can daisy chain them together up to 1,7km distance and single units will reach about 500m by themselves.
The triggers are fast. Many cheaper brands and knockoffs have a slight triggering delay, which means you cannot use them at the camera’s maximum sync speed – the slight delay means you start to record the end of the shutter as it starts to close. So if your x-sync is 1/160th you will only be able to work at 1/125th or less.
Lastly, because it’s more or less a professional standard (or about as close as you will be able to get) many rental services across the world also stock them, so if you have a very complex triggering setup you need more triggers for, you should be able to rent them instead of needing to buy extra just for a single shoot.
The plusII models are also transceivers, so they can be used to trigger lights from your camera, trigger a second camera from your camera, let the lights trigger your camera, or have a third unit trigger both lights and camera. All this can be done on the fly. The units will sense if they are sending a trigger command or receiving a trigger command and respond with less than a 10ms delay.
Our uses are pretty basic:
This is the 90% use for me. Camera has a unit that triggers one or more studio lights. It removes the need for another cable that can get stuck on things and be tripped over. It makes us mobile
Location + Strobist
Here it becomes a bit more interesting. Often you will find me connecting my PocketWizards to my Canon 580exII flash units with a pc sync cord and use them as mini mobile studio flash units (small 40cm or 60cm soft boxes or umbrella units) easy to transport and setup in a hurry.
But they are also perfect to hide the flashes in small areas, like a cupboard or behind a couch.
If needed I will sometimes gel my 580’s with a standard CTO (orange) gel to recreate sunset light and clamp them outside a window or on a balcony. Cables would be impossible to use as well as the built in wireless function of the Canon flash units which functions on iR (infra red) technology that needs line of sight to work. Perfect solution. Gel the 580 unit CTB (Blue) to recreate moonlight window shots!
Another use for the units is to strap them to the flash units (like my 580ex’s) and give them to assistants to reflect from gold reflectors.
If you need that sunset glow, but weather is not quite playing along, simply let the assistant hold both a reflector and the units strapped together and become your “voice activated light stand” (to quote Chase Jarvis) the gold reflector gives you good sunset colour and makes the light just soft enough to be flattering. Why not fire the flash directly with a CTO Gel? Because the light would be very harsh on the model, with very sharp shadows. If there were real sunset light, it would be reflecting of everything from the low angle of sun, making it appear quite a bit softer. The reflector setup just makes that look closer to the real thing.
Remote camera trigger
Shooting from outside a moving vehicle with your camera mounted on something like the manfrotto 241 suction cup mounts. You can actually trigger the camera with a simple remote trigger, but it becomes infinitely more complex if you also need to light the inside of the car, for instance.
Some events photographers use them to take control of multiple “voice activated” assistants. Photographers shooting The American NBA for instance has a few extra assistants with cameras around the court, and cameras mounted at the edges of the court. The assistants follow the action and focusses the cameras, but the main photographer triggers all the cameras simultaneously. That means they have multiple angles and views of the same shot to sell to magazines.
The same solution occurs at rugby and soccer games… A main photographer located at the wrong place of the field can now trigger assistant cameras closer to the action.
At athletics meets, (Olympics, etc) photographers will often be limited in their movements, so they will setup remote cameras at the start and finish lines of a sprint, for instance, on wide angle trying to capture the start and ending of the race from more dynamic angles, while shooting the race itself with longer lenses from the front.
If you really want to, you can get really creative with the uses, strapping or clamping a camera outside an airplane or helicopter, the edges of a boat, the mast of a windsurfer… The options are endless!
The flip side it that you can do the most creative lighting when you can trigger tens of small flash units all over an area to light up a background or building on a location… The options are endless!
Off course, there will always be other, and may times cheaper, ways to do the same. But when the setups become elaborate and costly, and getting the money shot is essential, then I want the trigger to work flawlessly each time, every time.
- 4 channels
- 12 fps
- Auto sensing, auto switching transceiver,
- 1600 ft range
- 1/250th sync speed
- About the same as the PlusII except:
- 32 channels
- Digital controllers
- Rear curtain sync possible
- Flash sync confirmation
- Upgradable firmware
- TTL Control
- High speed sync possible with compatible flash units
- Manual power control
- Same as the FlexTT5 except transmitter only
by Sean Nel
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