Beginners Guide to SFX
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PocketWizard Plus II
pocket-wizard-II
Name: PocketWizard Plus II
Essential Sale 1-10
1 = I almost never use this thing.
10 = You had better own this, like yesterday.
Essential Scale: 8

Radio transmitters that you can put on top of your cameras or flash speedlight or studio strobe every time you shoot a picture they will fire all your lights as well. This is the older model, but I like these a lot better. You can also use these as a remote for your camera with a shutter release cable and another one to actually press and fire your camera. Works from like a quarter of a mile away, which is very cool. A+ for self-portraits.

Technical Details

  • Fast ‘plug-and-play’ set-up times
  • Auto-Sensing Transceiver Technology enables the Plus II to switch back and forth between transmitter and receiver modes
  • Auto-Relay Mode wirelessly triggers remotely located cameras and flashes within a 1600′ range of one another
  • Four 16-bit, digitally-coded channels enable you to simultaneously trigger all of you lights at once, or isolate one group of lights from another
  • Ultra-fast microprocessors enable trigger-response times as short as 1/2000th of a second

Summary

Pocket Wizards can be used in a few different ways- as a remote, with speedlights, and  for firing strobes. They’ve worked much more effectively for me than infrared remotes or cheaper versions and can send signals from up to half a mile away. Not to mention you usually only need 2 of them since strobes will optically slave, meaning you can use as many lights as you want.

Personal Experience

Like you,  I didn’t want to buy PocketWizards when I found out what they do and how much they cost, it seemed as though there should be something that does the same thing for much cheaper. When I was getting into off camera lighting there were not as many options for radio triggers as there are now. I decided to first get cheap triggers that I found on eBay. They suck.

In my opinion any radio trigger that works 4/5 of the time is horrible. There are so many things that can go wrong on a photo shoot, and having radio triggers that don’t work well isn’t something that should make it to the list of things you have to deal with. I was on a serious shoot using my cheap eBay triggers when they completely stopped working. Photo shoot ruined, everyone’s time wasted and I looked like a cheap jackass for not getting good triggers. After that day, I sucked it up and bought PocketWizards and I am so happy that I did.

PocketWizards work every time. You can use them to wirelessly trigger strobes from your camera, you can also use them to remote control a camera for things like taking self portraits. They work with Sekonic brand Light Meters like the L-758DR, allowing you to meter your lights from anywhere.

Reliable Triggers

  • PocketWizards – These are still the most reliable triggers on the market
  • CyberCync - Made by Paul C Buff, they work well.
  • RadioPopper – I have never used them, but have friends who swear they work well.

The Good

  • Reliable – They will work every time. I accidentally dropped one in the lake, let it dry out, and the next day it was working perfectly.
  • One Trigger – There is no separate transmitter and receiver, each unit does both jobs.
  • Versatility – Pocketwizards will work with any light that has a sync port, including many speedlights. Check out our free episode on this here. 
  • Simple – There are only a couple of buttons, no lcd screen, no complex instruction manual to read. Plug it in and hit the button.

The Bad

  • Price – They are not the least expensive triggers, but to me they are worth their price. You do need at least 2 to fire your lights, one for your camera and one for your light. Many strobes have optical slaves meaning they will fire when they see another light fire. If you have 5 lights in a room, most of the time you can get away with just 2 triggers provided that the light you are firing casts light on the other lights.
  • Accessories – Don’t buy accessories from PocketWizard, they are a rip off. Get them from Flash Zebra.

Other Models

Since the release of the PocketWizard Plus II, PocketWizard has come out with many new model including the PocketWizard Flex, The Mini TT1, The AC3 ZoneController, and The PocketWizard Plus III. I have found that the Plus II does everything I need it to without being overly complex, and that I have little use for ETTL.


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