PW Flex/Mini vs Radiopopper

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May 11, 2008
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745
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I was at the local shop Saturday with every intention of buying a PW Flex, Mini, and AC3 to get my collection started when the salesman (super nice guy) suggested radiopoppers. I would like to have the ability to use the cls system with my sb's (plan to add a 900 and maybe some more 600's) and also use them on the Alienbee's (currently two 400's with plans to add more at some point). He says the radiopoppers will do all of this just like the pw's will at almost half the cost. I have looked at the radiopopper website and it appears that the jr's are what he was talking about. The PX system looks to be about the same price as the PW's. I suppose my question is twofold. Is the only difference between the PX and Jr system the ability to use high speed sync? Secondly, while high speed sync is really cool, how often do you really need it?
 
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Mar 31, 2010
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RadioPopper Jr's do not support TTL/eTTL or high speed sync. That requires the RadioPopper PX units.

How often you may use high speed sync is the question. If you need a high shutter speed, for example in bright sunlight, it can be very useful.

There is also a fundamental difference in the way the two systems work, although the end result is the same. Pocket Wizards are RF only, whereas RadioPoppers are a hybrid of IR and RF. Both systems can do something the other can't so it comes down to just what it is you want/need to do.

I have and use both extensively but have used Pocket Wizards far longer. They are the gold standard so to speak. They are also more reliable in my opinion. However, that is not to say RadioPoppers are unreliable.

One advantage RadioPoppers have over Pocket Wizards, and the reason I use them occasionally, is the fact you can trigger multiple remote Speedlights using only one RadioPopper receiver. However, that requires extra hardware not manufactured by RadioPopper. That may sound like too much hassle and expense, but to do that with Pocket Wizards would require a separate receiver such as the new Flex TT5 for each Speedlight; something that would be ungainly and impractical, not to mention even more costly.

If this is your first investment in a remote triggering system you can't go wrong with Pocket Wizards in my opinion. Almost everything that can be triggered remotely (via RF) often has support for them built in.
 
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Joined
May 11, 2008
Messages
745
Location
North Carolina
Thanks for the info. I had been thinking that the pw's was the way to go. I like the idea of being able to trigger multiple flashes with one unit, but I thought that I would eventually have one trigger per flash anyway, so that takes care of that.
 
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Joined
May 8, 2005
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I am trying hard to like the PWs. I have invested in a MiniTT1, 2 Flex 5's, an AC3 and an MC2 receiver. However, the RP's have been more reliable and consistent in real world use. I am persevering with the PW's because I am also heavily invested in Plus II's and they will play nice together. My Canon friends still seem to be having more problems with their PW's. High Speed Synch is useful occasionally, but I find the power loss to be a deal breaker unless I am ganging several Speedlights together. For heavy duty use in bright sun, I turn to an Einstein 640, which with the new PW MC2 receiver is a very nice combo indeed.
 
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They will suddenly start underexposing dramatically for no obvious reason - it may be a sync issue because they continue to fire the remotes, but they do not appear in the image. Switching the camera off and on again clears the problem. Occasionally, they overexpose by several stops. I will get a couple of frames like that, then they are OK again. Very strange.
 
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They will suddenly start underexposing dramatically for no obvious reason - it may be a sync issue because they continue to fire the remotes, but they do not appear in the image. Switching the camera off and on again clears the problem. Occasionally, they overexpose by several stops. I will get a couple of frames like that, then they are OK again. Very strange.

This is in manual...manual camera and flash settings? Or are you using TTL?
 
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TTL on the flash; AP or manual on the camera.

Based on this the camera is making decisions (not the PocketWizards) on the exposure (at least in AP mode). So putting focus point on something black would cause possible over exposure as the camera is saying that the scene is really dark so it will add more flash. Have you tried using the PW with everything on manual (TTL on the flash so Pocketwizards will work), but manual everything on camera? I've just starting using the Flex5 units, but haven't had any problems yet. I've been using the SU-800 with them so I can control the remote power of the flashes. This works very well.
 
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It's more than that Randy. This is more than just the typical inconsistency of TTL flash photography. When it over-exposes it does so grossly (I'm guessing 5 stops or so) and the equally gross under-exposure is a sync issue as the remote flashes do not appear in the image even though I can see that they fire. Are you using a TT1 on camera or a Flex?

I will say that I get most problems when I have a Master flash on camera rather than with the SU800. When I shoot like that, I want the Master to provide some on-axis fill. At a wedding reception last month I had many problems getting the Master to contribute to the exposure even though the remote light was working fine. Subsequently, I had a hard time reproducing the problem at home. Go figure . . .

There is also a problem with high speed sync in that if you switch the camera on when a SS>1/250 is selected, the PWs will not sync with the remote flash. If you drop your SS below 1/250, shoot a couple of regular sync shots, and then take it back up to >1/250 it will work. I reported that bug to PW and they were able to reproduce it in their labs.
 
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Dec 17, 2007
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I just got the AC3 today, and to my surprise, I couldn't get the speedlights to manually fire full power over 1/250sec. I had to switch to the beta firmware to get the speedlights to dump full power over 1/250+. Now the PWs are behaving the way I expect. My impression is that the new PWs are bit finicky. So far, I have been enjoying being freed from the line of sight limitation of the CLS system and already have had some unique shots, I would have not got without the PWs.

I get the feeling the radiopoppers would be more reliable, but I would miss the light package of the mini/ac3 and especially miss the hypersync feature which is in my opinion, fantastic! I'm planning on adding a Paul Buff Einstein 640 and mini lithium battery powersupply with the MC2 control module, and so, again the radiopoppers would not be as versatile with connectivity.
 
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Afrikaner

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I have also experienced the under exposure problem with the CLS system without using PW. Just the cls on its own and towards a group of people wearing lots of different color. The remote flashes were going of. Never tried swiching the camera on and off. I just cranked up the exposure compensation and it worked. This was with a D3s 24-70 2x SB 800 and SB 900 as master.
 
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Feb 10, 2009
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St. Paul, MN
I went to the Flash Bus last weekend, and Joe McNally said he will not use the Pocket Wizards yet as the TTL is not reliable enough yet.
 
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Nov 26, 2007
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Austin
I'm not a fan of PW's way of beta testing at the cost of the end user's expense. They need to do A LOT more R&D before they release a product. You'd think they'd learn from their past mistakes....ie, the Canon debacle. RadioPoppers work. Period. Have never let me down...and I put them through quite a bit. If getting the shot is important to you, which I hope it is, you might want to consider something that is proven and works.
 
Joined
Dec 17, 2007
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I'm not a fan of PW's way of beta testing at the cost of the end user's expense. They need to do A LOT more R&D before they release a product. You'd think they'd learn from their past mistakes....ie, the Canon debacle. RadioPoppers work. Period. Have never let me down...and I put them through quite a bit. If getting the shot is important to you, which I hope it is, you might want to consider something that is proven and works.

Who ever dreams of being a beta tester? I agree with you. I have to say the hypersync feature alone is worth it for me with outdoor sports shots though. I hope they settle done the bugs quickly. The good thing is that PW are cooking up more and more features in the firmware which is pretty cool. Because these things are so techie, I have a feeling their product life span might be limited t a few years as technology marches on...
 
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