Pocket Wizards... Help! I'm clueless!

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by artsiimages, Sep 6, 2009.

  1. artsiimages

    artsiimages TPF Noob!

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    Hey! I really want to experiment with off camera lighting for an upcoming wedding. I have some cactus triggers, but they suck, so I'd really like to buy some pocket wizards. However, I am clueless about what to buy and how to work them!

    I have two cameras (40d and 50d) and two flashes (430ex and 580exII). My husband and I each shoot with a separate camera and flash.

    I'll be honest, I really don't know the difference between a receiver and a transmitter, so I need a lot of help. I would like for us each to set up a flash on a tripod during the reception, so that we would NOT have a flash directly mounted to the camera. What would I need to buy in order to do that? Two receivers and two transmitters?

    Also, what if I wanted to sync one camera to set off both flashes at the same time. Would that be possible? How about if I wanted to sync both cameras to set off both flashes whenever either camera was fired. Would that be possible too?

    I know I have a lot of questions! I am very clueless on this topic so any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
     
  2. Jaszek

    Jaszek No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    PW's dont use transmitters and receivers. They use transceivers.
     
  3. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Sounds like the Cactus trigger/receivers suck because you don't know how to use them effectively. I've been using them for over a year now (1000's of flashes) with no problems.

    You're getting ready to spend 10x more money to wind up right where you are now.

    Of course, if you have money to burn, go for it.
     
  4. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    I was wondering? Which model Cactus triggers/receivers did you buy? V2, V2s, or V4?

    The tranmitter is the one that mounts to the camera, the receiver is the one that the speedlight mounts to. A radio signal is transmitted by the transmitter on the camera which is detected by the receiver under the speedlight. The batteries in the receiver, transmitter, and speedlight have to be good.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2009
  5. artsiimages

    artsiimages TPF Noob!

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    I'm not sure what kind of cactus trigger I have, but I would love to be able to get it work so that I would not have to spend all the money on the pocket wizards. The problem I was having was the flash would just go crazy! It would randomly start flashing over and over a whole bunch of times until I turned the flash off! I don't know what caused that!
     
  6. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Look at your triggers. They have a label that says what model they are, as well as other information.
     
  7. Kcc

    Kcc TPF Noob!

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    Transmitter, giving out single to the receiver to trigger the flash(es).
    Receiver, (the other way around) receiving single from the transmitter.

    You usually need one transmitter if you own one camera, and receiver is needed for whatever flash you have that you would want to trigger. If you have 2 camera, you can have two Transmitter and two Receiver (you have 2 flashes). Which if you are getting PW, guess it will cost at least $800-$1000 US?

    To answer one of your question "one camera to set off both flashes at the same time" and "How about if I wanted to sync both cameras to set off both flashes", yes, you could. All you have to do, both camera transmitter with the same channel as both of your receiver channel. (note: careful of the heat from your flash gun if you are shooting with 2 camera triggering both flash at the same time. It does gets really hot and might kills the flash if over uses)

    Question asking is the right way to goes, all you need to know before you ask is to ask a question we won't ask what the question is trying to ask. :p

    I might left some important info, so I will leave that to someone else that pops in.

    Edit: reguarding your Cactus flash trigger and receiver, you could wait a few for JerryPH to pop in, he's the expert on this thing. I got alot of info from Jerry about wireless trigger and flashes. I just ordered the new version of the Cactus V4 2 days ago and it's still on the shippment! Excited!

    Kcc
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2009
  8. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Jerry has a couple of easy modifications on his blog that can be done to the Cactus V2/V2s that enhance their range (300+ ft) and battery life.
     
  9. Phranquey

    Phranquey TPF Noob!

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    The cactus mod does work, but I've had occasional non-fires, which is the last thing you want happening at a wedding. If you want a cheaper alternative to the Pocket Wizards, I have been using a Cybersync for about six months now without a single non or mis-fire.
     
  10. RONDAL

    RONDAL TPF Noob!

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    cybersyncs's FTW!

    400'+ of range that i have tested, not a single misfire ever.

    can't really go wrong with them when its a fraction of the price of PW's
     
  11. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Some of the Cactus triggers have issues with Canon flash models. I have some and they work differently on my old 'off-brand' flashes than they do with my Canon unit. Mine were never reliable enough to be used at a paid wedding gig. Some people have better luck with them though.

    Pocket wizards area great, but quite expensive. THIS is the standard PW unit that most people use. Any unit can be either a transmitter or a receiver...hence: transceiver. You would need one on each camera and one on each flash...so that is getting pretty expensive.
    It should also be noted that PW has a new set of units that are made to work with Canon's built-in flash control system. Meaning that you can use E-TTL flash metering, just as if the flash is on the camera. I don't think they have all the bugs worked out just yet though.

    I went with Cyber Sync flash triggers. They work very well but cost less than the PW units. The PW have a higher top end range, but I've never had to trigger lights at 1600' away ;).

    Using PW or Cyber Syncs, you will need to attach the receiver to the flash with a cord because they don't have a hot shoe like the Cactus ones. This is fine on the 580EX flash but the 430EX doesn't have a sync port, so you would need something like THIS.

    Now, once you have all your gear in place, you can have it set up so that either camera can trigger both light. This can be nice because both shooters have access to the lights. However, I've tried working like this and it's a PITA because you still have to take turns because it takes a second or two for the flashes to recycle. So, if you are both trying to shoot the same event (bouquet toss etc), only one shooter will actually get the flashes. It can work, if you both are aware and taking turns though. It can get tricky if you are both shooting different things and not aware of each other.
    I've found that it works much better if you have each shooter with their own remote flash. Actually, I really like to shoot with a remote flash plus an on-camera flash.
     
  12. FidelCastrovich

    FidelCastrovich TPF Noob!

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    Go to Strobist
    Everything you need to learn is on there.

    And if you end up looking for something between the cheapo Cacti and the PWs, check out Elinchrom Skyports.
    That's what i use for my portraits.

    The PWs are too expensive, too bulky, and i don't need all that range.
    The Skyports are just as reliable, not as robust, have a great range for my needs, can be setup to use in groups, and are tiny, compared to the PWs.

    Day to day i walk around with one Cactus V2 set, just to have the option, but they never ever come out of the pouch if it's a planned shoot that needs to be on the money.

    Good luck.
     

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