|Images have been very quick setups to show the portability of the system.|
Using PW plus IIs to trigger Canon 580exII's hasn't failed me with the exception of pushing past their limits, which is expected. Attached to Canon 5D II I have a X-sync speed of 1/200th for covering the complete frame with the flash. This can be hard in full sunlight where higher shutter speeds are needed. The range of the Plus IIs hasn't really been an issue but why not more...
First up E-TTL wasn't a must only the high shutter speed, I like to control my light not figure out what has gone wrong and waste time. Anyways back to it looking at other options I've heard the PW Multimax can sync up to higher speeds around 1/500th or so, the newest of the Pw team, the flex TT5 and mini TT1 which I will explain later, last of all the RadioPoppers which means changing triggering system. Last of all I don't plan to go backwards with the Canon ST-E2, too limiting for my needs but great to start on.
Option one the PW Multimax didn't really interest me for triggering feeling the need for more than 1/500th or so. Some have asked why I don't have them already, pure response I haven't felt the need for them on shoots that would pay them back three times over. Here's an interesting clip where they would have more use than the regular basic trigger system, check him Layne Murdoch.
RadioPoppers, I've heard some cool things with possible high shutter speeds and similar things I'm after but meant changing systems which in New Zealand I hadn't heard much about them compared to the common PW. I've heard some rave reviews on them and recently a well known NZ photographer Chris Mclennan headed over to Radio poppers but I'm still keen to keep trying out the newest PW before.
Ever since the first reviews and thoughts upon the newest PW flex TT5 and mini TT1 came out I haven't look back at them till now. They were heavily unreliable and many problems were occurring so didn't bother. Over time I've read blogs and found the name appearing more frequently so took some further interest into the tech. Since well known photographers were sponsored by them there must be something going the right way about the TT5/TT1, I don't think PW would be paying a high amount of money to the photographers to false advertise in hope of regaining some respect for the latest system. I felt the need to test the system with some luck after reading the results and updates of firmware. Being based in Queenstown with over 40 full-time photographers in the community I haven't yet seen one of them using something other than the Plus II/Multimax, that's if they bother with wireless flash. So the only option would be going to the city to have trial. That was a big NO, yeah the shop was kind enough to let me test them to see if they worked.... hmm but funny thing was that firmware had to be updated for the system to actually work... great. I wasn't so interested anymore.
Over time and with some thought into the tech and how the shutter works I figured there must be a way to trigger the flash the slightest split second earlier or the camera slightly delayed to trigger at the perfect spot where the flash duration would cover the distance of the frame revealed. As many ways I could explain it the easiest way would be to check out these links:
So I questioned a good mate Phil at Pocketwizard. I thought with the technology available on the flex/TT5 to trigger the Plus II with some sort delay or similar applied to achieve higher shutter speeds.(BTW I was never interested in the Mini/TT1 much. I figured if the tt5 had an antenna on it, it must make a difference so didn't bother with the Mini). To my surprise he replied back saying it is possible with limitations. For this to happen you need a long flash duration to continue while the open shutter is covered. Some people may cringe at the sound of long flash duration thinking of a blurred image instead of a crisp image. This is fixed since your aiming at syncing at a high shutter removing blur. To have a long duration flash on speedlites they need to be on full power. First thing I didn't like at the sound of this, slow recharge speed, the amount of batteries used and not adjusting the power level. Yes the recharge and battery problem can be fixed by battery pack for the flash but then that more gear to worry about with cables tangled with the plus II's cords. About adjusting the power level, you could change the zoom or attach a diffuser changing the power output. On the positive side I could achieve a frame unbarred to 1/1250th then appearing at 1/1600-1800th just slightly. This is on the 5dII where the x-sync speed is limiting.
If you wanted to achieve this you simply plug your TT5 to the computer, under PW utility click the 'sync timing' tab, click 'high speed sync (FP flash sync) disable mode' and last of all adjust the offset to estimates where the barring not longer appears from the top or bottom. This will take a bit of time (and batteries) nailing the perfect offset after a bit of trial and error. Try big steps then smaller once you have found where the limits are that the bar appears from the bottom or top. My best offset was the maximum of -2500 but being a slow shutter and large sensor this wasn't out of surprise. Plus all cameras will vary with their offsets mostly the crop sensors where larger shutters speeds or a decreased power level can be achieved?
Heres some of what Phil had to say
You need to set an offset somewhere around -2000 to get a trigger signal early enough.So after testing this out it wasn't as great as I thought.
The down side is that you are actually passing the shutter slit through the full power flash burst. The camera sensor is only seeing a small part of the whole output. So the flash may be putting out full power but the sensor is only seeing about 1/8 or less of it. The HyperSync thing seems really big time but it is a juggle and trade off to get the fastest useable speed for the camera, lens and flash you have. You have to determine buy testing what that will be.
Plan B, the whole TT5 system.
After some discussion with the great team at Photowarehouse NZ in Auckland I was able to test them out. I ordered 3x TT5s and one AC3 controller. I haven't researched how the system really works so when I received them I popped a TT5 on the 5d II then AC3 on top, TT5 to bottom of 580exII and another set again. I was away laughing. Well in fact I wasn't laughing but confused, I didn't know why it was over-exposed but to find the AC3 controller dialled up. I must have fiddled with it before changing the power quite high ha. Other than that it was perfect. The important factor it syncs all the way to 1/8000th although the power starts to fall around 1/1600th, ETTL, no cables but best learnt factor of all is the wireless control of the power level. The AC3 controller which is just over $100Nz is cheap and works a treat (without batteries!!), you have 3 groups A,B and C which individually be turned off, manual, ETTL and a dial of their own. The dial ranging from -3 to +3 which is self explanatory on the ETTL and manual is from 1/64 to 1/1 going up in thirds, same as the flash.
|Canon 5dII with PW TT5 + 580EX II/TT5 on full, shot at 1/1600th f/4 ISO 125. Flash on the end of monopod in left hand.|
ETTL has worked fine.. the only thing I have to pick up is the reliability, its only happened 4 times out of 200 shots. The Camera seemed to think it was restricted to the cameras x-sync speed of 1/200th, this was simply fixed but flicking the tt5 off then on again. This could be a setting on the TT5 or simple firmware error since I'm still to learn the full functions. I don't mind the odd misfire where it simplicity and ease of use to the table. It saves me time changing the flash outputs and allows me to have more range in full sunlight so I'm quite happy with them. This maybe a different story if your sitting up the mountain where a skier is hitting the jump and you have one chance alone. Its yet to prove I 100% trust the reliability of the system but I'm happy as it is.
Things I'm not sure about are the plastic footing, waterproofing and the buttons. The plastic footing isn't really a worry but knowing its metal is a better thought. Waterproofing.. yeah right I wish, but thats something to plan into the next design. I don't like having the USB port on the front, yeah it's quick and easy to access but when you have the antenna up its prone to drips of water. It would be nice having a rubber plug like the 580's on the side that fold out preventing leakage. Here's a link to watch out in case, they do 3 covers for PW. Those don't fit what I'm after but are the closest:
I tend to use a plastic bag and tape when rain comes along which does the trick. For the buttons I've heard they a weak design and people have broken them. This gives me more reason to be careful with them not to trash them.
.. then a little minor detail for those who care. Since your speedlite flash will be greatly reduced at f/14 and lower you won't be able to achieve a perfect sun star. Large strobes are really the only way to get this.
I haven't looked much into the use of TT5's with Elinchrom strobes or large studio strobes alike. I didn't research about using TT5s with them or which is the correct way to. I just plugged them in like plus IIs hoping a miracle would happen showing the simplicity to pass from speedlites to the larger strobes. Sadly it was quite unreliable and didn't sync very high at all. After a quick read on Dan Carr's site about them more equip would be needed.
Early I discussed the use of TT5 triggering Plus IIs with limitations. If someone has used a cheap, portable strobe with slow flash duration in this combo I'd be interested to hear about it. If you could sync at 1/1600th with a 300-600w flash surely it would be similar to 1100W flash @ 1/400th on Plus IIs for example? This could mean a lighter pack for similar result but lighter.. if it has a good build etc
|Canon 5d II TT5 + 2x 580exII/TT5 @ full, 1/200th, f/5.6, ISO 200. Flashes laying in the grass and 1 tripod.|
Stay tuned for more updates along the way. Enjoy Stefan Haworth