PHOTO TOPICS

Reviews of photography techniques, equipment, software, instructional materials, and any other "topics" that are related to photography.   

Entries in Radio Popper (1)

Wednesday
Feb092011

Pocket Wizard FlexTT5 for Nikon Review

I just received three Pocket Wizard FlexTT5s for Nikon.  I have been waiting two years for this technology ever since Pocket Wizard announced their offerings for Canon. Photographers who use Canon's E-TTL remote flash system or Nikon's i-TTL CLS flash system know the limitations of having to have your flashes in line of sight and within close proximity. Even when I would be inside within close proximity, I would have to make sure that the sensor on the remote flash was pointed back at my camera.  With my style of shooting I quite often move the lights all around my subject and having to re-align my flash to be sure it was pointing towards the camera was a real pain.

I tried the Radio Poppers but they were just too fragile for my purposes.  The RadioPopper PX transmitter box that was attached to the camera flash was held on by Velcro with a flimsy antenna sticking up in the air.   I move around a lot and quite often carry two cameras.  The Radio Popper transmitter kept getting bumped and would move or fall off the flash.  They also were very unreliable unless the batteries were very fresh.  I could barely get one photo shoot out of a set of batteries.  

I bought three Pocket Wizard TT5s vs getting a one Pocket Wizard TT1 and two TT5s because I didn't see much advantage other than size and $20 of getting the TT1.  The TT5 takes AA batteries vs a CR2450 for the TT1.  I don't know about you, but I have a lot of AA batteries laying around but not any CR2450s.  And, of course, the TT5 can act as a receiver and transmitter where the TT1 is just a transmitter.

They seem well built and I REALLY like the standard 1/4"-20 thread. I didn't even know that it had it until I received them.  I like to simplify my setups as much as I can.  The fewer parts that I have to put together when I get to a photo shoot the better.  I can mount the FlexTT5 right onto my light stand with the Manfrotto Swivel Umbrella Adapter.

One of the features of the FlexTT5 is the ability to tweak the flash sync speed beyond the 1/250 second  (they call it HyperSync). I have a Nikon D3S, D3,and a D7000.  I was able to sync all three cameras up to 1/400 using a Nikon SB800 as the remote flash before I went into Nikon's High Speed Sync.  I can sync up to 1/4000 of a second with my Alien Bee AB1600 but the light is so inconsistent over the sensor that you would never use it.  I couldn't get a clean, consistent flash with my AB1600 any faster than 1/320, 1/400 was usable but there was some shading going on.   My TT5 Sync delay on -200 when I am shooting with the AB1600. 

Testing them around my home (inside and outside) they seemed to work flawlessly except for one thing, when I used my Nikon D3S with a lens that had VR on I got flaky results. Sometimes the flash would work only if VR was off and sometimes only when VR was on.  It happened with both my Nikon 70-200 VR and my Nikon 105 Micro VR.  It didn't happen with my D3 or D7000.  I called the company and they said that VR can cause some problems and they hope to have it fixed in a future release of the software. 

You have to remember to take a few test shots to allow the TT5s to sync up, but once they do that they seemed to work fine.  I used the TT5 on the camera with and without a flash (SB900) attached.  Without the flash I put my camera in Manual mode and used the camera's exposure compensation to adjust the output of the flash.  With the SB900 attached, I was able to control the remote flashes from the SB900 controls just as I normally would without the TT5.  The remote flashes stay in TTL mode (not remote mode) and the switch on the Pocket Wizard TT5 allows you to designate which flash is in Group A, B, or C.

I hooked up my Pocket Wizard Plus IIs to one of my flashes and they went off when I fired my TT5. Of course, you can't control the flash output, but you can trigger a flash just like you have always done with PocketWizard Plus IIs. 

I hope to use these transceivers this weekend on a photo shoot.  We all know situations where things work great in your studio and you take them on location and nothing works.  I hope that won't happen here.

Here are my settings for my three TT5s.

                   Config 1                      Config 2

TT5/D3         Sync -240                   Sync -200 (used when I trigger Alien Bee AB1600)

                   HSS enabled 1/500      HSS - disabled

TT5/D3S       Sync -170                   Sync -170 (HSS Disabled)

                   HSS enabled 1/500      HSS - disabled

TT5/D7000    Sync -110                   Sync -200 (used when I trigger Alien Bee AB1600)

                   HSS enabled 1/500      HSS - disabled

 

MORE TO COME.......