Anybody that has worked with me or have seen our behind the scenes videos will know that I am a big fan of the basic Pocketwizard remote triggers, if for no other reason that they work, every time.
Well, Pocketwizard has now updated their “bottom of the line” PlusII triggers to a new version, the Pocketwizard PlusIII and they have basically improved the triggers in every way possible, except maybe battery life, which means I have to recharge the batteries every few weeks instead of every few months.
So what has changed?
They started by firming up the plastic from which the units are made. This might be just an effect of making the units slightly more compact though, but it feels very solid in the hand. In an effort to make the units more compact, they also moved the aerial into the body, so now you just have a small solid stubby protrusion and not the longer soft aerial anymore. To counteract possible digital noise interference from older flash units, they have also added a tripod mount so that you can move the PlusIII away from the camera with a stab bar, or any similar mount solution.
My one and only gripe with the PlusIII is that for some reason they decided to side mount the unit. Putting the screen on the side of the unit, instead of the back, didn’t seem like a bad idea, until I mounted it on a tripod in portrait orientation, which means the screen point down to the ground (if mounted with your shutter button on the vertical grip in the natural position) PocketWizard claims its a more natural way of adjusting the settings… But I don’t see it… Honestly.
Ok, rant over. The PlussIII has been improved more than a bit.
It now features 32 channels instead of four (still backwards compatible with the older plussII Model) the first 16 is straight triggers, with the channel 1-4 corresponding to PlusII trigger channels. Channels 17-32 are multi zone channels (a,b,c & d)
This is an awesome feature that worked on the much more expensive MultiMax triggers. Essentially, it allows you to switch on combinations of lights in zones, and trigger only the sets you want. So you can set zone A as backlight left, zone B as hair light right, Zone C as main light left and zone D as fill light Right. Now you can trigger these lights all together, or just switch off one of them (or all of them, without walking over to the light), either to check exposures, or just take an alternative lighted shot.
Super handy feature!
Other features? Same transceiver (TxRx) option where the trigger decides if its a transmitter or receiver by itself. Rx or Tx modes exclusively, so you decide the state of a trigger as a Receiver only or Transmitter only.
The trigger can still be used in repeater mode (RP) like the previous version PlusII’s to gain long range triggering. New feature is the (LR)mode. This is a Long Range mode and pretty much doubles the range of the standard unit, at the cost of a slowdown in framerate and reduction in battery life.
Last new feature is the (HSR) mode. High Speed Receive mode allows the triggers to communicate with each other at speeds of up to 14.5 fps – for all you 1Dx owners out there!
The extras with the unit is also improved. In the box, you will find:
Coiled miniphone to miniphone (3.5mm) trigger cable
Coiled miniphone to PC sync
Miniphone adapter (3.5mm to 6.3mm)
Nice touch: a quick guide in the form a sticker that fits inside the battery compartment!
So… How well do they work in practice?
Sadly… Just as well as the previous version, which means they are reliable and trigger each time every time. The units now also have a nice “half press” trigger button and LCD indicator for it, so you can see on the transmitter or receiver units that a signal is traveling, without actually triggering the lights. And off course, you can “half-press” to focus when triggering a camera as well.
Not much more to say. My previous PlusII triggers worked without ever failing me, So does the PlusIII’s – They can just do more! They work, they work without issues or hassles. One less thing to think about. All PocketWizard did was to make them more functional. Added and simplified some features that we used “manually” before. Added extra cables and options (less things to buy) improved quality and performance without pushing the price…
Do you need to upgrade?
If you are shooting with anything else? Yes.
If you have PlusII’s? Well, it depends if you need the new features and more channels.
If you are still triggering with a cable? ABSOLUTELY!!!Article and Photographs by Sean Nel – Shoots Imaging