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DPChallenge Forums >> Hardware and Software >> off-camera flash triggers -- please teach me!
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03/16/2012 01:41:33 PM · #1
Ok -- ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' goinskiing's thread about using a 580 as an optical slave has given me the kick in the pants that I finally needed to ask my questions. I hope someone can please help. I started looking on the web for info, but I'd much rather get the information from people here. I trust you guys much more!

1. To get more flexibility, e.g., to be able to have my flashes behind my camera if I want, I assume that I should skip optical and infrared triggers and go with radio triggers?

2. People seem to use pocket wizards, but they seem incredibly expensive. Is this the best option? Is there a cheaper option?

3. When I started looking awhile ago, I found something that claims that I could use it to trigger flashes, but that I could also use it to trigger the camera. I have an infrared camera remote that's worthless unless I'm pointing at the front of the camera. A radio trigger that works for both the camera and the flashes (I don't need it all at the same time, though it would be cool) is a great idea.

4. What do I need with these things? When I look up pocket wizards, it's really not clear what pieces are needed.

Any information would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks. :)
03/16/2012 01:45:41 PM · #2
i have cheap cowboy studio triggers that I paid $20 bucks for and have never failed me. i just wanted something to get my flash off camera and it works great.

i also dont have eTTL either, i control the output manually.
03/16/2012 01:53:20 PM · #3
I love my PW. I have a TT1 and three TT5's. My last double exposure image my wife was sitting down stairs and I'd yell down to her to fire the flashes. Great for out door use. Kind of pricey.
03/16/2012 01:54:45 PM · #4
I do use PWs and they are expensive, but incredibly reliable and flexible. I've heard a lot about the cowboy triggers but have no experience with them. There are also RadioPoppers, which again, I have no experience with. Here's a comparison of both.
03/16/2012 01:54:49 PM · #5
Originally posted by mike_311:

i have cheap cowboy studio triggers that I paid $20 bucks for and have never failed me. i just wanted something to get my flash off camera and it works great.

i also dont have eTTL either, i control the output manually.


This is the way I'm going to go here in the next little while. The only thing I'm unsure about is if the receivers are able to mount on standard flash mounts for umbrellas/booms. Otherwise I see no reason not to go the cowboy studio route.
03/16/2012 01:57:45 PM · #6
cant answer that as i dont have any stands/umbrellas, but they screw onto my old cheap tripod!
03/16/2012 01:57:46 PM · #7
Originally posted by tanguera:

I do use PWs and they are expensive, but incredibly reliable and flexible. I've heard a lot about the cowboy triggers but have no experience with them. There are also RadioPoppers, which again, I have no experience with. Here's a comparison of both.


Ooops, can't get the link to work, Johanna.
03/16/2012 01:59:19 PM · #8
Originally posted by vawendy:

Originally posted by tanguera:

I do use PWs and they are expensive, but incredibly reliable and flexible. I've heard a lot about the cowboy triggers but have no experience with them. There are also RadioPoppers, which again, I have no experience with. Here's a comparison of both.


Ooops, can't get the link to work, Johanna.


becuase "www." doesn't exist.
03/16/2012 02:01:36 PM · #9
where do you get the cowboy ones from? doesn't look like B&H carries them.

For the pocket wizard user, if I have the mini tt1 is that for the camera, the flash, both? If I have two flashes and the camera, do I need three of these $200 things?
03/16/2012 02:04:08 PM · #10
Originally posted by vawendy:

where do you get the cowboy ones from? doesn't look like B&H carries them.

For the pocket wizard user, if I have the mini tt1 is that for the camera, the flash, both? If I have two flashes and the camera, do I need three of these $200 things?


Amazon...$20 set...
03/16/2012 02:08:30 PM · #11
The TT1 as a transmitter and the TT5's as the receiver

Originally posted by vawendy:

where do you get the cowboy ones from? doesn't look like B&H carries them.

For the pocket wizard user, if I have the mini tt1 is that for the camera, the flash, both? If I have two flashes and the camera, do I need three of these $200 things?
03/16/2012 02:09:43 PM · #12
I've also been very happy with the Cowboy Studio triggers, I got them from Amazon.com.

They have a hotshoe connector on the bottom so you can mount them to your standard umbrella hotshoe bracket. They also have a tripod screw on the bottom if you want to mount them to a tripod that also works.

They don't do anything fancy like the PW's can. There is no staggered or delayed flash (not sure if PW's do this or not). It's also manual only, no TTL. But I haven't found much desire for these advanced features anyway.
03/16/2012 02:10:06 PM · #13
I'm feeling quite stupid about this -- so bear with me.

I found the cowboy receiver on amazon. Is this just the receiver and I need the transmittor, or is it a set of receiver and transmittor? And do I just buy another one of the same thing for another flash? Or do you just buy a second receiver?

Same question with the pocket wizards.
03/16/2012 02:11:08 PM · #14
Originally posted by vawendy:

I'm feeling quite stupid about this -- so bear with me.

I found the cowboy receiver on amazon. Is this just the receiver and I need the transmittor, or is it a set of receiver and transmittor? And do I just buy another one of the same thing for another flash? Or do you just buy a second receiver?

Same question with the pocket wizards.


The transmitter sits on your camera's hotshoe. Then you need one receiver for each flash you want to trigger.
03/16/2012 02:12:28 PM · #15
Originally posted by vawendy:

I'm feeling quite stupid about this -- so bear with me.

I found the cowboy receiver on amazon. Is this just the receiver and I need the transmittor, or is it a set of receiver and transmittor? And do I just buy another one of the same thing for another flash? Or do you just buy a second receiver?

Same question with the pocket wizards.


that's the transmitter and one receiver.
03/16/2012 02:13:38 PM · #16
Originally posted by ace flyman:

The TT1 as a transmitter and the TT5's as the receiver

Originally posted by vawendy:

where do you get the cowboy ones from? doesn't look like B&H carries them.

For the pocket wizard user, if I have the mini tt1 is that for the camera, the flash, both? If I have two flashes and the camera, do I need three of these $200 things?


Seriously?? The transmitter is $200 and each receiver is $229? I know it gives me ttl, but doesn't it make more sense just doing it manually and using the cowboy stuff? I'm not being sarcastic -- I'm just curious what I'm missing. Why would you want the pocket wizards -- it seems like a huge number of people use them, but I could be a sweet lens for the price I'd pay for one transmitter and 3 receivers....
03/16/2012 02:16:06 PM · #17
I also highly recommend Nikon SB-26 flashes if you are going to get a set of dumb slaves. They are powerful, have articulated heads, zoom, and go all they way down to 1/64th power.

They don't make them anymore, but you can find them used for a decent price.

They also have a nice optical slave that will ignore a pre-flash if you don't have your radio triggers handy.
03/16/2012 02:16:52 PM · #18
Originally posted by mike_311:

Originally posted by vawendy:

I'm feeling quite stupid about this -- so bear with me.

I found the cowboy receiver on amazon. Is this just the receiver and I need the transmittor, or is it a set of receiver and transmittor? And do I just buy another one of the same thing for another flash? Or do you just buy a second receiver?

Same question with the pocket wizards.


that's the transmitter and one receiver.


Got it.
03/16/2012 02:19:05 PM · #19
Originally posted by vawendy:

Originally posted by ace flyman:

The TT1 as a transmitter and the TT5's as the receiver

Originally posted by vawendy:

where do you get the cowboy ones from? doesn't look like B&H carries them.

For the pocket wizard user, if I have the mini tt1 is that for the camera, the flash, both? If I have two flashes and the camera, do I need three of these $200 things?


Seriously?? The transmitter is $200 and each receiver is $229? I know it gives me ttl, but doesn't it make more sense just doing it manually and using the cowboy stuff? I'm not being sarcastic -- I'm just curious what I'm missing. Why would you want the pocket wizards -- it seems like a huge number of people use them, but I could be a sweet lens for the price I'd pay for one transmitter and 3 receivers....


The PW's are the top of the top. Build quality is amazing and they can trigger flashing two states away (slight exaggeration). The Cowboy Studio ones feel like toys, and probably don't work past a 200 feet, and don't have TTL. But they are also dirt cheap, so I can deal with that :)

I also agree that I usually would rather set up the strobe powers manually when I have more then one strobe than rely on TTL to work consistently.

Message edited by author 2012-03-16 14:20:01.
03/16/2012 02:21:28 PM · #20
Lol...I said there pricey...I don't know anything about the other types out there. I've never had the PW miss fire once in the several years owning them. There compact and easy to take with you. I didn't buy them new. You can save up to 20% buying them slightly used over at FM. The flexibility of the long range is great.
03/16/2012 02:21:29 PM · #21
Originally posted by bhuge:

Originally posted by vawendy:

Originally posted by ace flyman:

The TT1 as a transmitter and the TT5's as the receiver

Originally posted by vawendy:

where do you get the cowboy ones from? doesn't look like B&H carries them.

For the pocket wizard user, if I have the mini tt1 is that for the camera, the flash, both? If I have two flashes and the camera, do I need three of these $200 things?


Seriously?? The transmitter is $200 and each receiver is $229? I know it gives me ttl, but doesn't it make more sense just doing it manually and using the cowboy stuff? I'm not being sarcastic -- I'm just curious what I'm missing. Why would you want the pocket wizards -- it seems like a huge number of people use them, but I could be a sweet lens for the price I'd pay for one transmitter and 3 receivers....


The PW's are the top of the top. Build quality is amazing and they can trigger flashing two states away (slight exaggeration). The Cowboy Studio ones feel like toys, and probably don't work past a 200 feet, and don't have TTL. But they are also dirt cheap, so I can deal with that :)

I also agree that I usually would rather set up the strobe powers manually when I have more then one strobe than rely on TTL to work consistently.


I'm still learning flash, so I don't use TTL. So it sounds like a lot of sense to experiment with the cowboys. :)
03/16/2012 02:22:13 PM · #22
Can the pocket wizards trigger the camera itself?

Can the cowboys trigger the camera itself?
03/16/2012 02:22:55 PM · #23
Originally posted by vawendy:



Can the cowboys trigger the camera itself?


i dont think so.
03/16/2012 02:23:27 PM · #24
Hit strobist.com for more info then you could need but let me try a somewhat summary...

- Your 7D can control an eTTL flash like the 580. No wires, full control, everything you need but you pay in the fact you need eTTL flashes AND there are sometime issues because they communicate with light [the 5D3 and new 6-something-something speedlite adds radio to this mix but I cannot speak to that and guess your not looking to spend 10 grand on it :-)], so they need to see each other and around corners and bright light that can be compromised. It's far better then people think, so it's an option. I guess the other downside is Canons menu & what not is not exactly obvious with groups and stuff.

- You could also stick an optical slave under the off camera flashes and use an on camera flash in manual to fire them (the popup on the 7D will NOT work because it's eTTL and there are preflashes that will trigger the optical slaves). There are a couple of optical slaves that advertise they can ignore the preflash... not sure how well they work but an option.

- There are a stack of triggers that are dumb manual fire now triggers [do not call them that when asked by TSA :-/] - cowboys, cybersyncs, older pocketwizards, skyports and some others and a million or so cheap ones. Flash power needs to be set manually but they are a popular option.

- There are a few radio triggers that start playing with the flash - later pocket wizards (although they do more), studio radio poppers and others. They are cheating because the off camera flash is still manual BUT they are able to stop it part way thru.... so it gives you control over the power because they squelch the output.

- There are the full on eTTL wirless - new pocket wizards and full radio poppers that intercept the eTTL - xmit over radio and decode the other end... You need all eTTL flashs for this path but gives you all the features plus radio.

I prob left out a lot of stuff but hopefully didn't lie too badly anywhere.
03/16/2012 02:23:39 PM · #25
Originally posted by vawendy:

Can the pocket wizards trigger the camera itself?

Can the cowboys trigger the camera itself?


I don't know about the PW's, but the cowboy triggers can not trigger the camera. There is a test button on the transmitter, that will trigger the slaves manually, but that is it.
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