Wireless device for my flash unit...What should I get?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by NJMAN, Aug 15, 2007.

  1. NJMAN

    NJMAN TPF Noob!

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    I am looking to buy a wireless device for my flash unit. Is the pocket wizard the tool of choice and will it give me more flexibility and options for use with equipment such as studio strobes that I might get in the future?

    If anyone can show me example photos of how the pocket wizard is used in operation, that would be great.

    Also, what is the wireless version of the Canon Off Camera Shoe Cord seen in this photo:
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/12972-REG/Canon_2391A001_Off_Camera_Shoe_Cord.html
     
  2. Big Mike

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

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    Pocket Wizards are the tool of choice...probably because of their reliability. I don't know that they will give you more options (more than what?)...but they would certainly work with studio strobes, given that you have the right connection.

    If you haven't read 'The Strobist', I suggest you do, it's a great site and the 'Lighting 101' should tell you a lot about how to use off camera flash.

    The wireless 'version' is built into the flash units. The 580 is a master or a slave, the 430 is a slave only and the ST-E2 is a master only (no flash). When using the Canon built-in wireless (IR) system, you have full control and E-TTL metering, just like you would if you had a flash on the camera or attached with the TTL cord.

    In theory, the Canon system seems like it would be far superior because of the metering. However, a lot of people that I have heard from, don't like the IR system and prefer the radio system and manual control of the pocket wizards. Apearantly, the IR system isn't very good outdoors and even worse when in bright sun light.

    A rather cheap alternative would be the E-bay radio slave triggers. I have one, it was $40 including shipping. It does work to trigger either my flash or my studio strobes but it does have it's problems. It's not 100% reliable and sometimes it causes my 430 flash to fire twice. It's fun to play around with but if I was going to be making money with it, I'd go for the Pocket Wizards.

    Also, I believe there is a pocket wizard product (not sure if it's the same as the flash trigger) that can be used to remotely trigger the camera as well. That's what photographers use to fire cameras that they place inside a hockey net for NHL games etc.
     
  3. NJMAN

    NJMAN TPF Noob!

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    Thanks Mike.

    So, what you are saying is that the shoe mount cord (wired) is mainly used for reliability versus using the IR system which can be sporatic, especially outdoors?

    When I say "will it give me more options", I mean, I dont have studio strobes yet, just the 580EX speedlite. So, I want to make sure I can fire off a more professional lighting setup with a pocket wizard when I decide to add on to my equipment list.
     
  4. Big Mike

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

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    The shoe mount cord is mainly used when you have the flash on a bracket or maybe in your hand. It's only two feet long. I think there may be a longer one (or you can lengthen it) but you might as well use wireless rather than a long cord. The cords are known to be somewhat fragile (the foot under the flash) but they are usually pretty reliable.

    It's not really one or the other because to use the IR system, you would have to have two units (Master/Slave). The cord is just to get your flash off the hot shoe. You could use the cord (flash on a bracket) and still use the wireless system to control another flash etc.

    Triggering a flash is pretty basic...the Pocket Wizard unit receives the signal and it has an output connection. To trigger a hot shoe flash, you would need the hot shoe connection or posibly a plug, if your flash has a socket. A studio light will have a trigger socket of some kind, so you just need the proper cable to connect the P.W. to the light.

    Most modern studio lights have built in optical slave triggers. So when you trigger one light, any others will also fire. You can do this with an on camera flash (watch out for pre-flash though) but it's better to use the remote (P.W.) on one of the them. This is good because then you don't need to buy 4 different Pocket Wizards.

    Also, (I'm not sure about this)....I think you can use a combination of Pocket Wizard and Canon IR to fire multiple flashes. You would use the PW to fire a 580 and use that as a master to fire a slave 580 or 430.
     
  5. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Yes so basic that I hardly find the $400 price tag justified. On ebay you can pickup wireless triggers for $50. They do the same thing, don't have quite the same insanely long range, you can't set them up as repeaters, and they have a minor quirk that if you bring two receiver units within about 10-15cm of each other they trigger each other. Beyond that they have the benefit of being tiny in comparison to pocketwizards.

    The use of all of these is the same, dump the master on the camera shoe, the slaves on the flash hotshoes or PC sync terminals, set the channels and fire away.

    I wouldn't say the shoe mount cord is reliable. Infact one of the biggest reasons the strobist blogger went to pocketwizards other than convenience was that he'd go through several sync cords a year because they develop intermittent faults.
     
  6. JIP

    JIP No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I agree with Mike The Strobist really gives a great deal of information and examples of what can be done with off-camera strobes. While he (the Strobist) does suggest using Pocket Wizards he also uses fairly inexpensive flashes and does alot of do-it-yourself stuff. I would heartily recommend it for anyone who wants do do off-camera and multiple strobe images.
     
  7. NJMAN

    NJMAN TPF Noob!

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    I would love to do more off camera flash/strobe work for studio portraits. The problem I am facing is finding the time to learn all the ins and outs of exposing properly for strobes, and practicing things like light ratios. I want to make sure that I spend my money wisely and invest in the right things, so that when I study the principles, I can make the most of my time and equipment.

    It seems to me that the pocket wizard will give me the most flexibility. And since I have a 580EX to work with, I could probably get a 430 as a second light source. Then, there are the little extras that add the finishing touches to the portrait, like the hair light, back light, and whatever else I need to be mindful of. I havent really paid much attention to those details yet, but I know I will need to if I ever want to excel.
     
  8. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    If you want quick and easy, get a calculator and knot a piece of cord.

    So long as the ambient light is a couple of stops under your flash sync/f-stop setting the only thing that will change your exposure appreciably is the flash to subject distance. If you have the cord knotted at the distances that the f-stop changes on your flash it's just a matter of counting the knots between the subject and your flash.

    mike

    or better yet, buy a flash meter. ;)
     
  9. JIP

    JIP No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    If you read the Strobist http://strobist.blogspot.com/ you will find out you do not really need the Canon flashes but the 580 is a good start.
     
  10. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Infact you'll read other than the 580 no other canon flash is really of any use at all. Honestly the 400 series can't even be set to manual :mad:
     
  11. Big Mike

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

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    My 430EX can be set to manual just fine.
     
  12. drflet

    drflet TPF Noob!

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    The 430ex is a fine flash that's easily set to manual. It's great for use in a wireless setup - it just lacks some of the power of the 580s
     

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