Radio Popper vs Pocket Wizard

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by LarissaPhotography, Jan 20, 2010.

  1. LarissaPhotography

    LarissaPhotography TPF Noob!

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    We're going to be purchasing one of these for off camera flash. I hadn't heard of Radio Popper until I went to convention. Have any of you guys used both? We're looking for decent range, reliability, and High Speed Sync. Suggestions?
     
  2. My experience with Pocket Wizards has been phenomenal. I use the Canon TT5 / MiniTT1 combo. I usually shoot manually, but was recently turned on to E-TTL. Can't say I use it a lot, but it's nice to know it's an option. I have had no problems with radio interference.

    I bought the PWs after reading a lot of different sites. PW is apparently the industry standard, and after years of buying trial/error gear I simply head for the best and most widely used. This argues strongly for them retaining a certain resale value, as does the fact that their firmware is upgradable.
     
  3. Big Mike

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

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    I have used PW (the standard ones) but not RP. I have followed some other photographers who have used them, so I do have an opinion, for what it's worth.

    Since you want HSS, I take it that you are looking at the new Pocket wizards, the MiniTT1 and the FlexTT5. (the older Plus II units won't give you E-TTL or HSS etc).
    They do appear to work fairly well, except that there is an issue with the radio interference caused by a flash unit. I think it reduced the range of the units, but they should still work plenty well in normal ranges. I believe they even put out a special 'sock' that goes over the flash to shield the RF waves.

    In practical terms, I think the difference between the PW TT units and the Radio Popper PX units, is that you need to have a Master unit on the camera when using the RP. In other words, the RP just piggy backs on the existing master to slave connection. But with the PW TT units, you can use the transmitter as the only on-camera unit, but you can add a flash to it, if you want.

    I'm not sure if I'm saying that clearly enough.
    For example, you can get what you want, without PW or RP. Canon & Nikon (I forget which you use) both have their own wireless system for controlling off camera flash units. Each system requires both a master and a slave. Some Nikon bodies can use their built-in flash as a master, while only one Canon body can do that (7D). So the most common scenario is to have a 'master' flash on-camera and a slaved flash off camera. (Canon also has the ST-E2, a master unit with no flash). Either system will give you remote control of several flashes with E-TTL, HSS etc.

    So why do people use PW and RP then? Well, the problem is that both systems use light pulses (or IR on the ST-E2) for communication. This type of communication isn't all that reliable when you don't have line-of site, especially outdoors...and bright sunlight can really hamper it.
    Radio waves are a much better communication, which is what the PW and RP use. The RP is something that you add to a system, you still need to have the master and slave units in place. The PW, on the other hand, can replace the master unit on the camera. (That's my understanding of it anyway).

    Still, many photographers still use and love the more simple PW Plus II system. There is no E-TTL, there is no HSS...there is just a simple but reliable radio connection that tells the flash to fire. I believe the RP Jr. does this also...as well as Elinchrom Sky Ports and Paul Buff Cyber Syncs (which is what I use).
     
  4. On that note... a a pro that teaches me flash photography wanted to try out my new PWs. We took them outside into the bright sun - not to test the radio connectivity, we knew that wasn't going to be affected - but to shoot wide open in a ton of light. On the Venice Boardwalk, in the sun, ISO 400 at f/1.2 at 1/2000th of a sec... no problem... frame after frame of HSS. Both manually and via E-TTL... again, not something I use a lot, but confirmation that your needs are met by this system. I don't know the other system, so I can't comment on that.
     
  5. NateWagner

    NateWagner TPF Noob!

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  6. inTempus

    inTempus TPF Noob!

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    The one thing that I find most annoying with the PW's is that to change the exposure compensation of a remote flash, you have to disconnect the PW, make the change, then reconnect the PW. With the RP you don't have to go through this added step.

    Also, the PW TT5's have been plagued with raidio interference issues since launch. They claim to have fixed this issue but I read mixed reports still.
     
  7. DScience

    DScience No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    So the new PW's will allow syncs faster than 1/200th (stock sync speed) while the PW II's will not?
     
  8. inTempus

    inTempus TPF Noob!

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    From their website:

     
  9. Big Mike

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

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    It's a feature of the flash. Canon calls it HSS (high speed sync), Nikon calls it Auto FP (or something like that). It basically causes the flash to pulse rapidly, rather than firing only once.
    This is because of the way that a focal plane shutter works. At speeds higher than the max sync speed, the shutter is never full open because one curtain follows the other across the frame.

    So as long as the flash has this ability, it should be able to be use it remotely when being controlled by a master unit. So you could do this within the Nikon system (no PW needed) but you are still limited by the non-radio communication.

    The new PW can act as a master for a Canon flash, but they are still working on the Nikon version (supposed to be out soon).

    The PW Plus II, only tells the flash to fire so you can't use features like TTL metering and HSS (Auto FP).
     
  10. LarissaPhotography

    LarissaPhotography TPF Noob!

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    It would be nice to test both of the systems out before buying, but I doubt any local camera shops are going to carry the Radio Popper brand.
     
  11. Big Mike

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

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    You might want to look up Mike Fulton of Tri-Coast Photography. He's an avid user of off-camera TTL flash and use both PR and PW. He's knows the creator of the RP.

    I think he actually teaches a class or puts on seminars about the use of these things. They have done a lot of testing and they certainly use them.

    You might be able to dig up some info on his site or blog...or you might even be able to contact him directly, he's a nice guy.
     
  12. Mike Fulton

    Mike Fulton TPF Noob!

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    Hey everyone! Its been over a year since I have been on this forum and even then I am not here much.

    The Orig. Poster emailed me wondering on the difference on the two products, if I can help out any way please let me know.

    BEFORE I even say a word after a long 36 hour comparison we personally did to decide which company to be sponsored by and purchase over $10,000 USD of our own money for our business we choose RadioPopper Units and are now sponsored by them. With that said I know everyone shoots different and for our style RP Units were clearly the best choice since we 95% TTL and have been for over 10 years now. Today we have 18 PX units and 30 JrX units in our business (would have been nice if I would have known about the sponsorship before hand huh) :)

    If you do not shoot a lot of TTL then the new PW Units will work well for you since there is not near as much communication going back and forth between the two units in manual mode.

    Some of the reasons why we choose RP over PW units:

    1) PW are not even out for Nikon, and while we mainly shoot Canon we use both. While PW stated over a year ago that a Nikon version would be out by March 2009 it has not come true yet.

    2) Longer range and clearer radio signal. The RP wave length has no interference here in North America, so when I need it I know it will work in whatever mode I want to use it in (ie: iTTL, eTTL, manual or a mixture of both at the same time)

    3) No added items needed to make it work effectively in any mode (ie The PW Sock) We travel all over the world so the less I need to pack the less I need to remember to bring the better off I will be in the long run

    4) More control - the RP lets me have COMPLETE control over EVER function my flash can do - which is not the case with PW (though they are coming along in getting more features to work)

    5) Able to change 16 channels on an LCD screen with the RP while the PW only have 2 on the unit the others must be plugged into a computer to change the channels and with the Radio Interference this was a BIG issue with us at wedding receptions.

    Advantage which the PW has over RP is that you don't need another Master flash/wireless transmitter/pop up flash to control your wireless units, but being a wedding photographer I have more than one flash AND it is faster to adjust and change my flash comp using an external over using my body so this was not a reason for our style of shooting but could be for yours.
    HyperSync - for studio only really since I use HSS outside this is not really needed and inside I use modeling lights and shoot at f/1.2 so again not a great feature for our style, but again could be for yours and something to consider if it is a possible factor.

    All in all with the added units of the RadioPopper JrX units and the control aspects they give you with strobes (controlling Paul Buff Products wireless) and mixing both TTL and Manual metering together there simply is not another system out there which has more versatile control than the RadioPopper Family.

    While the PocketWizard maybe the the Industry Standard they are not by far the most advanced wireless system out there. Just being a radio trigger will not "make it" anymore and when you compared both units side by side without all the fansy packaging and 30 year old name behind it and just look at the products RP allows you more control, on a more secure radiowave, with complete flash features for both Canon and Nikon.


    Again this is a Ford/Chevy subject there will ALWAYS be people on both sides and I respect them all, for us after years of using PW and truly feeling they would kick the crap out of RP I was VERY surprised how poorly the new system works. If you are not a TTL person like us you wont notice much difference beside the new more slick design but if you use the product to the fullest you simply will notice how RP works better than PW.

    Hope it helps and please ask away, I am not looking to get into a fight or anything so please study both products for yourself, make the right choice for your style and YOUR business and be happy when you do. On this subject or any other one, you should never rely solely on what others say, if you do sooner or later you will end up getting burned.

    Hope the information helps
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2010

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