TTL Flash Trigger Systems for Nikon...

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So I've been doing a fair amount of research in to wireless TTL triggers for Nikon speed lights lately. A lot of us have several Nikon speed lights and are experienced or at least familiar with CLS. If you're serious about off-camera TTL flash you may eventually find yourself struggling to find the "right" set of RF triggers.

Here are my personal rankings of "the best to worst" choices for TTL RF triggers (for Nikon shooters). Obviously CLS works great, but IR is a huge pain in the ***. We all know that! As far as I know these are the only triggers that use TTL AND allow you to adjust Nikon flash output remotely.

1) Phottix Odin. Maybe a tad pricey but honestly for the quality and reliability they're a steal at HALF what PW cost! They work every single time and they do exactly what they're supposed to. They're easy to operate and they're backward compatible with other (non-TTL) Phottix triggers such as the Strato and Strato II.

2) Pocketwizard Flex TTL. The industry standard (for now) but way, way, WAY too much money. These are built well and they're reliable but they don't need to be as expensive as they are. Also you have to add another product (AC3 Zone Controller) to be able to adjust flash output from the camera. Even with the AC3, flash output control is limited.

3) Pixel King Pro. Awesome value. Almost as relaible as Odin and quite a bit less money! These have some cool features like TTL pass-through, transceiver design, and superior build quality. But they've been proven to be incompatible with some third party flashes in unusual ways. Also Pixel King has very limited product support in the US and they're primarily sold through eBay and Amazon which means in most cases shipped directly from China. Product manual is said to be translated poorly too.

4) Aokatec AK-TTL. Yep you've never heard of them but they're exactly like Radiopoppers for way less money. Kind of a cool little system and worth a look if you're in to "IR to RF" (http://www.aokatec.com/AK-TTL.html).

5) Radiopopper PX. A great system but I'm not all the way sold on the reliability of IR to RF CLS photography. And these are also too much money considering the Aokatecs are cheaper and essentially do the same thing.

6) Yongnuo YN-622n. Yes they're the cheapest ones available but you get what you pay for. Sorry but I can't put my trust in a system that's been as "buggy" as these! I think the YN-622n "TX" sweetens the deal on these a little but it doesn't sound like they're quite ready for the rigors of day to day professional use such as for a wedding photographer.

Anyway, this is all just one guy's opinion based on what's out there right now. I love Yongnuo products. I own several YN flashes of and lots of YN manual triggers (RF-602 and RF-603). When I first started shopping for a TTL trigger set the first ones I looked at were YN-622n's but ultimately I've just seen and read too many threads about the unreliable nature of these triggers. I really hope Yongnuo gets this all worked out because their other triggers and flashes are wonderful.
 
Joined
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Glad to help! There certainly are a lot more choices out there now than there used to be and it can be confusing trying to weigh the advantages of each system. I'm just happy to see Pocketwizard and Radiopopper getting some competition.
 
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Definitely sticky-worthy.
What about HSS systems, can they all handle faster-then-sync speeds?
Yes. All the flash trigger systems listed have HSS capability when used with HSS compatable flashes.

The Radiopoppers and Aokatecs simply use Nikon's own CLS system which of course supports HSS. They just convert the IR signal to RF and back IR again for enhanced range and reliability.

The Phottix Odin, Pixel King Pro, and YN-622n are all RF triggers, and all support HSS (with compatable flashes). They work independently from Nikon's CLS.
 
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Timely review as I'm currently thinking about buying a couple of triggers. Besides triggering off camera flash, I want to trigger remote cameras as well. Any thoughts on the triggers you mentioned for firing cameras? I shoot a lot of bicycle racing & want to fire two cameras simultaneously from different locations. One concern I have is if the triggers can keep up with the highest frame rate of the cameras (no flash).
 
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Timely review as I'm currently thinking about buying a couple of triggers. Besides triggering off camera flash, I want to trigger remote cameras as well. Any thoughts on the triggers you mentioned for firing cameras? I shoot a lot of bicycle racing & want to fire two cameras simultaneously from different locations. One concern I have is if the triggers can keep up with the highest frame rate of the cameras (no flash).
I'm not sure about that. I know for sure the Phottix Odins cannot trigger the shutter. And I'm certain that the Radiopopper and Aokatec systems can't either. Not sure about Pixel King, PW Flex or YN-622n. I did find this "work-around" video recently though that addresses this same concern:
The video demonstrates how you could use the Phottix Odin system WITH some cheaper Yongnuo manual triggers to remotely fire your camera AND flashes simultaneously.
 
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Timely review as I'm currently thinking about buying a couple of triggers. Besides triggering off camera flash, I want to trigger remote cameras as well. Any thoughts on the triggers you mentioned for firing cameras? I shoot a lot of bicycle racing & want to fire two cameras simultaneously from different locations. One concern I have is if the triggers can keep up with the highest frame rate of the cameras (no flash).
Yes it can - see here: http://www.pixelhk.com/Proshow.aspx?id=325
 
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From reading the PW website, the Flex can trigger cameras & flashes. I think I read somewhere that if your two camera bodies have different frame rate abilities, i.e. D4 & D800, then I think the fastest triggering will be the lower of the two cameras. Not sure how this works & if it makes a difference which camera is the primary
 
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Great write up Scott... I am keeping the Odin system in my forefront sights in looking to replace my Cybersyncs with a CLS/TTL system. My main question is: How easy are they to learn, and how quick are they to make adjustments on the fly?
 
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Great write up Scott... I am keeping the Odin system in my forefront sights in looking to replace my Cybersyncs with a CLS/TTL system. My main question is: How easy are they to learn, and how quick are they to make adjustments on the fly?
The Odins are incredibly easy to learn and use. In fact most experienced photographers could easily just pop batteries in and go to work with them. That's how intuitive they are. They're set up almost exactly like a Nikon SU-800.

I'm pretty sure between the three top choices I listed (PW Flex, Pixel King Pro and Phottix Odin) the PW would be the "quickest" to make adjustments on the fly with. That's because the AC3 Zone Controller uses little analog dials that you simply turn one direction or the other to increase or decrease flash output. That being said they're somewhat limited because you can't see the actual +/- EV value or manual flash power setting on any display. PW is a great system and they're made in the USA but I see no reason to spend double what you would for the Phottix Odin (which in and of themselves are a little spendy) when in reality the Odins perform as good or better and offer more features.

Adjusting outputs on the fly with the Odins is simply a matter of pressing the "select" button and then pressing the +/- buttons to adjust the group selected (very fast and simple). I believe it's a little more complicated with the Pixel King Pros, as you first have to press a group button which are on the side of the unit, then press a series of buttons on the display to change output levels.
 
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Worth looking at!

I was just looking on B&H's website and right now (thru the end of this month I believe) there are some nice instant rebates offered on Radiopopper triggers.

In researching the discounted prices of the PX transmitters and receivers, a set of one transmitter and two receivers would basically be the same price as a similar set of Phottix Odins right now. Could be worth looking at if someone is in the market for a set of triggers!
 
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I have the YN-622Ns and The YN-622-TX as well. I have shot a lot with them, both using the TX and with using a SU-800 on top of a 622N. I have not had "bugginess" - they have been quite reliable for me, and the TX works flawlessly with them. I sold my SU-800 and CLS is now just a backup to the YN system for me.

I am a fan of the Odin also, its a great setup also.
 
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I have the YN-622Ns and The YN-622-TX as well. I have shot a lot with them, both using the TX and with using a SU-800 on top of a 622N. I have not had "bugginess" - they have been quite reliable for me, and the TX works flawlessly with them. I sold my SU-800 and CLS is now just a backup to the YN system for me.

I am a fan of the Odin also, its a great setup also.
That's awesome. I'm glad to hear you've had such success with the YN-622n. Perhaps it's a sign that Yongnuo has gotten it together with this product. I've seen and heard about a lot of people who have experienced significant inconsistencies with the YN-622n. A lot of reports involved drastically different TTL flash exposures between Nikon's CLS system and the YN-622n. I read a lot of reviews where people stated the YN triggers were underexposing by as much as 3 stops. Also it sounds like they're pretty reliable when used with an SU-800. Perhaps the YN-622n TX unit helped too!
 
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I don't recommend using the YN-622Ns without either the TX or a SU-800 as the controller. Using the buttons on a bare one is just too hard to get it right. I had trouble with them until I put the SU-800 on it and tried it. That made all the difference. I've been using the triggers as long as anyone, as I ordered them the night they came available. I ordered the TX the day it came available as well, and as soon as I used it, I knew that I wouldn't use the SU-800 anymore.
 

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