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Pocket Wizard | Remote Camera And Flash Triggering Device

Updated on November 13, 2014

A Unique Wireless Remote Triggering System

As a passionate photographer with an eye for the birds and animals, I spend a lot of wonderful moments looking through the lens of my Nikon D90 DSLR camera. But, could I catch these lovely creatures in amazing poses on digital film, and under low light conditions? The answer has to be, not too often.

The ability to get close up to birds is limited to ones ingenuity and guise. I've never photographed from a hide (but will one day, I expect), so I just rely on setting the camera up as close as possible to where I think the birds are going to land, and go from there. I know this is such a hit-and-miss method, but it works occasionally!

What I needed was a way to fire the camera's shutter and the flash from a remote location, having previously set it up on a tripod in a good position. And wow, didn't I find the exact device to do this, it's called a Pocket Wizard.

But the Pocket Wizard will only trigger the remote flash units wirelessly and not a remote camera's shutter - which is what I wanted. However, after a good bit of research, I found the cable I was looking for to connect the camera to the Pocket Wizard, it's a PocketWizard pre-trigger motor drive cord. I'll elaborate on this useful little cable later on!

Follow me down the garden path, and maybe, just maybe, we'll catch something on camera - because this little device is a wireless wizard.

Image from Amazon.com

Created on 25 Mar 2013

Pocket Wizard
Pocket Wizard

PocketWizard

What is it?

In the late 1980s, somewhere in Burlington, Vermont, an architectural photographer needed a device capable of triggering off-camera lighting on his shoots. He approached LPA Design with his problem, and they developed the FlashWizard radio slave, the predecessor to the PocketWizard.

How it works

It requires a transmitter, which is normally connected electrically through the camera's hot shoe to trigger a remote receiver connected by a PC cable to a remote flash unit.

In 2009, PocketWizard rolled out a couple of new triggering devices specially made for Canon cameras, the MiniTT1 Transmitter and the FlexTT5 Transceiver. A year later the bespoke version for Nikon arrived. Taking off-camera flash is made easy with the simple Slide-n-Shoot system, this is a new ControlTL software platform. All one has to do is slide-in, turn-on and shoot using the new E-TTL and i-TTL capable radio slaves.

Pocket Wizard radios are now the world leaders in the manufacture of wireless control and synchronization of cameras, flash lighting and light meters.

PocketWizard Plus III Transceiver

PocketWizard Plus III Transceiver Black
PocketWizard Plus III Transceiver Black

Having had three of these terrific gadgets in my camera bag for a year or more, I've got so use to them being around, and can't imagine being without them.

I'm sure you'll be encouraged to get more creative with your lighting and flash setups. They are so easy to use and operate, and I really can't recommend them highly enough.

THEY ARE THE BEST!

 

How Does It Work?

Setting up procedure

The Plus III is a radio transceiver, which can act as a transmitter or receiver for triggering remote cameras and flashes. At least two PocketWizard radios are required for wireless triggering. It can be connected to virtually any remote flash or camera using the proper cable.

When I first looked into these units, I thought you only needed one Pocket Wizard, so only bought one unit thinking that it only had to be positioned on the flash unit alone and not the camera. But I soon found out that you needed as many Pocket Wizards as you have remote devices - I ended up buying three, so I'm ready to go with either:

1. One on the camera and one on each of my two Nikon Speedlite flashes.

2. One on the camera, one a Speedlite flash and the third handheld to trigger the camera's shutter remotely.

The Plus III is a manual flash trigger, which is compatible with all other PocketWizard radios operating on the same frequency. It can transmit and receive on Standard Channels, but not the ControlTL Channels that are used by some other radios for TTL flash and power control.

Connections

The Pocket Wizard Plus III is connected to your camera via the hot shoe - this will then be your transmitting radio. Connect a Plus III to each of the remote flashes you're using with the appropriate sync cable - these will be the receiving radios.

If you're using a camera that has no hot shoe, or the hot shoe cannot be used, you can connect from the Flash/Camera Port of the transmitting Plus III's directly to the camera's sync terminal.

Find the correct camera cable

Operation

Ensure batteries are properly installed.

To turn on the Plus III, hold down the Power/MODE Button for around two seconds. The Status LED will blink green every couple of seconds, this indicates normal operation. It blinks red in sync with a trigger.

Hold down the Power/MODE Button for around two seconds to turn off your Plus III.

Channels and Zones

The Plus III has to be on the very same channel as other Pocket Wizard radios. The channels can be set using the Plus III's Channel Up/Down Buttons.

Channels 1-16 allow the Plus III to communicate with previous Pocket Wizard versions, such as the Plus II. While using Channels 17-32 gives you more flexibility with your lighting control, as you can select either of Zones A, B, C, and D, meaning you have 4 lighting groups per channel.

Graphics credit: PocketWizard.com

Useful Flash Related Gadgets

PocketWizard Mini TT1 & Flex TT5 for Nikon DSLR Bundle -1 Mini and 2 Flex
PocketWizard Mini TT1 & Flex TT5 for Nikon DSLR Bundle -1 Mini and 2 Flex

I've been using Nikon and a few of their Speedlight flash units with the built-in Master and Remote controls. Once PocketWizard developed the Mini TT1 and Flex TT5 for Nikon, these remotes could be used right out of the box - just install the batteries and go!

My photography seems to have gone to another level, I just love the range of PocketWizards, as there's something for everyone.

 
PocketWizard ST4 Power Receiver for Elinchrom RX Flash Units (Black)
PocketWizard ST4 Power Receiver for Elinchrom RX Flash Units (Black)

Using the PowerST4 Receiver, it's possible to use remote power control of all Elinchrom RX flashes using PocketWizard ControlTL technology. With a MiniTT1 Transmitter or FlexTT5 Transceiver attached to your camera, and a PowerST4 plugged into the Elinchrom RX flash, you are able to adjust the power settings of the flash straight from your camera.

If you add an AC3 ZoneController, you'll have the flexibility to control 3 different lighting zones in 1/3-stop increments with up to a six-stop range. For maximum control of your lighting you can utilize the unique features of PocketWizard, i.e. Optimized Rear Curtain Sync & HyperSync.

 

Typical Pocket Wizard Setup - Operates like a dream!

This is a simplified setup on how to use Pocket Wizards (PW).

The bird to be photographed is circled at the top of the image. On the left of the picture, the Nikon SB-900 flash unit, mounted on a lightweight tripod, is attached to a PW Plus III with the appropriate sync cable (this cable and one other comes with the PW). [see inset below]

On the right of the picture, my Nikon D90 DSLR camera has a PW Plus III mounted onto its hot shoe. [see inset below]

If I was taking the picture from the camera itself, I would only need the PW on the hot shoe without the need to attach any sync cables to the camera. However, in this instance, I'm remotely triggering both the flash and the camera at the same time, so for this to work successfully, a special motor drive cable (MC-DC2 Motor Drive Nikon compatible) had to attached which will actually trigger the camera's shutter.

Should you wish to do this with your own make of camera, check the Pocket Wizard cable finder for the correct cable for your camera.


The Pocket Wizard hangs by the tripod legs and is connected by a sync cable.


The motor drive cable can be seen connecting the camera to the Pocket Wizard.

Images by Rob Hemphill

Find which connector cable you need for your camera and/or flash equipment.

Cable Finder

Sekonic L-358 Flash Master Light Meter
Sekonic L-358 Flash Master Light Meter

If you're a keen photographer, you should have one of these. They will save you so much time in possible post production of images in Photoshop as you'll get the correct metering settings from this unit every time.

 

Photography Lighting Books

Light Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
Light Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting

The detail presented within the chapters of this book relating to the description and use of light are excellent. The author takes a scientific approach in examining different light sources and describes their creative use and influence in the art of photography.

There are numerous color photographs and figure drawings which compliment the text beautifully. We also learn the effect of light on many and varied surfaces. Recommended.

 
Lighting for Digital Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots (Using Flash and Natural Light for Portrait, Still Life, Action, and Product Photography)
Lighting for Digital Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots (Using Flash and Natural Light for Portrait, Still Life, Action, and Product Photography)

There are many books written about photographic lighting, some are better than others, this is one of the former. It provides plenty of useful and practical advice. What makes the book stand out is that it's a real tutorial. It provides a complete learning course, from the foundational concepts of lighting to the detailed step by step instructions and explanations of how each image was achieved.

It is obvious that the author has mastered his subject matter, and he delivers it concisely.

 

Pocket Wizard Features

Pocket Wizard Features
Pocket Wizard Features
Master Lighting Guide for Portrait Photographers
Master Lighting Guide for Portrait Photographers

Christopher Grey, a master of photographic lighting shows his expertise shines through in this his latest book entitled, Master Lighting Guide for Portrait Photographers.

With his diagrams, accompanying photos and detailed explanations, the author has made me very aware to light and different lighting options in ways I hadn't realized before. I now look more carefully at portraits in order to appreciate how the lighting was achieved, and how well placed shadows can emphasize the subject's best qualities.

 
Lighting Photo Workshop
Lighting Photo Workshop

Whether you're a hobby or professional photographer, knowing just how to take advantage of light is the key to creating really great photographs.

This book gives the reader a thorough understanding about lighting and provides practical tips and techniques. There are loads of photos with detailed explanations and lighting setups. Chris Bucher describes in detail how lighting works and how to achieve the best results. He tells us how to use the available light, as well as how to compensate for it if it's not there.

Every style and range of photographer is sure to benefit from this.

 
Pocket Wizard Modes
Pocket Wizard Modes

Pocket Wizard MODES

A variety of modes allows you to tailor the unit to suit your required function:

TxRx: Transmit and Receive - A standard transceiver mode, this is probably the setting you'll use most of the time when you're shooting with off-camera flash.

Tx ONLY: Transmit Only - All receiving functionality is disabled in this mode enabling you to use the Plus III only to transmit. Tx Only is best used when sharing the airspace with other photographers to prevent accidental triggering of the Plus III on your camera.

Rx ONLY: Receive Only - All transmitting functionality is disabled in this mode. Use it when you're in an area where there are multiple photographers and/or flashes operating. This prevents any remote Plus III's from carrying out relay functions when mounted on the hot shoe of another camera.

LR: Long Range - This mode greatly increases the maximum range of a radio within a given shooting environment. By using this mode, it's possible that there may be a slight X-sync speed reduction.

RP: Repeater - Automatically repeats and re-transmits any triggers received on the selected channel. This mode can be used to extend the working distance with flash or remote cameras when one or more Plus III's are placed between the camera or flash and the transmitting radio.

HSR: High-Speed Receive - This mode allows for triggering of remote flashes at higher frames per second (fps), and so minimizing the contact time of the flash/camera port, by up to 14.5 fps, this is remarkable!

Fstoppers Pocket Wizard Review

The Nikon Creative Lighting System

The Nikon Creative Lighting System: Using the SB-600, SB-700, SB-800, SB-900, SB-910, and R1C1 Flashes
The Nikon Creative Lighting System: Using the SB-600, SB-700, SB-800, SB-900, SB-910, and R1C1 Flashes

I am an enthusiastic photographer and have two flash units the SB-600 and SB-900. Half of this book deals specifically with SB flashes, the other half with general flash photography and CLS setup.

The book outlines a flash photography 5-step plan showing usual mistakes and common shooting scenarios (useful for those people new to flash photography). There's also a section on white balance and the use of gels, both of which are very beneficial.

 

Pocket Wizard - Remote Camera Control

Dedicated flash or the camera's own flash?

Do you use a dedicated flash or the camera's own flash?

See results

A few pictures taken by using

Pocket Wizard Plus III's

and

camera trigger

Photo by Rob Hemphill

Photo by Rob Hemphill

Remote Camera Cables on YouTube

I'd Love To Hear Your Comments About Flash and Photography - Especially if you've had experience with Pocket Wizards

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      lionmom100 4 years ago

      This is an interesting device. It might be a little beyond where I am as a photographer, though. Some of the photos are lovely.

    • squidoopets profile image

      Darcie French 4 years ago from Abbotsford, BC

      This looks like a nature photographer's dream come true! Very nice review :D