Fare Thee Well, Pocket Wizard Plus II(s)!

I’ve been using Pocket Wizard Plus II(s) for a few years now and love them. My brother and I have taken two different paths. I’ve gone with the PW(S) and he went with the Cactus/Cowboy style RF triggers. I’ve used his triggers in conjunction with my PW(s) and they work fine. Though at the end of the day, even given the cost difference, I stuck with the PW(s).

Well, after mulling about it and debating about it with myself at length, I’ve decided to leave the PocketWizard brand. I’ve been using just the pair and have not expanded my setup, despite increasing my flash count mainly because I’ve been relying on optical slaving more than RF triggering. It comes down to having to do with how you change the power settings on the flash with the PW+II(s): manually. If I’m 3′ away from the flash… okay, not that big of a deal. If I’m 20′ away from the flash… SIGH that is a long walk and break in shooting.

My original plan was to do a 1:1 replacement of my PW+II(s) with a set of Radio Popper JRX triggers and replace my LP160 with an SB-80DX. However, due to budget constraints and re-allocations, I’m delaying the SB-80DX and staying with my LP160 for the time being, basically, swapping PW+II(s) for RP-JRX(s). I get some monies out of the deal, which is nice, but not enough to get an SB-80DX. The fact that I sold my PW+II(s) used and had monies left over after getting the JRX kit is kinda telling.

For now, I can use the JRX in straight up manual sync mode. However, at some later point in time, I’ll be swapping out the LP160 for something like the SB-80DX and getting the ability to control the flash power remotely.

Given the cost of the receivers, it is still more expensive than a Cactus/Cowboy trigger, but it’s a middle ground, and when the lighting kit swap is completed, it will be more functional.

As a side note, I could always complete my LP160 Hacking Project and just make them work with the JRX. Now wouldn’t that be nice?

Links:

  • http://wingtangwong.com/ Wing Tang Wong

    So, hooked up the RadioPopper JRX Studio receiver to my LP160 flash. The transmitter attached to the ISO-to-Sony shoe adapter and that slipped onto my A77.

    1) Test firing using the button on the transmitter is kinda hit and miss. 1st will always fire. 2nd will always fire, if not immediately after the first. Rinse repeat.

    2) Test firing using camera shutter works reliably at single shot, 3fps(low), 8fps(hi), and 12fps(high speed) with a few exceptions. The last few shots, as the LP160′s flash capacitor runs out of juice, will have no flash. At 1/8th power, I was able to shoot rapid file at each of those speeds solidly for 10 frames. Nice nice nice.

    3) Sync speed: I get a hair or two of shadow at 1/320th of a second. Clean at 1/250. Granted, beyond 1/250, this isn’t a flash or RF sync system problem, but a shutter design problem. :( A fully electronic shutter would solve this, ala Nikon D70.

    4) Dial lowest = off setting. AWESOME. Got a twitchy finger and don’t want to turn off the transmitter? Set this option and dial down the power to the lowest, flash won’t fire anymore. Brilliant!

    Love love love the Radio Popper JRX more than the Pocket Wizard Plus II(s). The transmitter is also much smaller! CR123 sucks for a battery form factor.. but oh well.

    Now I just need a flash that can make use of the remote power control, and I’m all set!

    Yes, 12fps rapid fire with sync’d flash rocks. However, needed to use AEL to basically fix the shutter and aperture settings. Otherwise, the camera wanted to mess with shutter speeds and ended up going to 1/800′th and getting really weird black banding due to the sliding window. :(

    Also, it is interesting to note that the power level on the flash drops progressively ever so slightly in a rapid succession of shots like that. So exposure will be inaccurate. Nothing is perfect.

    LP160 with Quench pin + radio poppers would be a killer combo. Too bad LumoPro decided against putting in a quench, especially when you consider the MCU in the flash unit is effectively performing quench according to a pre-programmed duration.