Chinese manufacturer Commlite have released the inexpensive new Comtrig T320 radio triggers, and they are looking very much like the first good alternative to the original RF-602 radio triggers at a comparably low price tag, (around $35 as set).
Its taken a number of years, but we finally have an all round improved alternative to the base level RF-602 radio triggers. If you may not be familiar with the original Yongnuo RF-602 please click bellow for more detail –MORE DETAIL - Click to Expand
The original 2.4GHz YongNuo RF-602 were released a number of years ago now, and they were the first really good reliable and inexpensive radio trigger option, a huge leap ahead of the previous 433Mhz “ebay triggers” in range and reliability.
The RF-602 have their short comings though, and even though there would have to be a hundred similarly priced (or cheaper) versions made since, its very hard to come across one that actually resolves all the basic issues. Higher priced alternatives like the Phottix Strato II certainly have, but at the very low RF-602 price range its hard to find a basic improved alternative.
The main RF-602 issues –
- Low sync speed – often falling 1/3rd of a stop behind the cameras x-sync speed
- Low 12volt safe trigger voltage (not safe for many studio lights and even some older speedlights)
- On/Off switch on the receiver not accessible with a flash in place
- No Locking ring on the transmitter
- No On/Off switch on the transmitter
- CR3 battery in transmitter instead of standard AA or AAA.
- Non Standard cord plug/socket on receivers
- Fiddly channel dip switches
- Now also – no longer a sync port in the transmitter
The later RF-603 has even lower sync speeds, and still didn’t fix the basic fundamental problems like the receiver on/off switch position, and lack of locking ring on the transmitter.
Low sync speed is also still often the remaining drawback on many other inexpensive options. And many of the cheap triggers have quirks with different combinations of gear, it really takes a lot of users to discover all these issues, and that simply doesn’t happen unless the trigger has a good reason to be fairly popular.
Comtrig T320 refinements over the RF-602 –
- Very fast Sync Speed over 1/250th (around 1/1200th + with electronic shutters)
- 300v safe trigger voltage
- Locking Ring & locking Pin on the Transmitter & Receiver
- Good simple accessible Power & Channel switches
- Pass Through Hotshoe on Transmitter allows on camera flash with full TTL functions
- Simple On Off switches on the Transmitter
- Standard 2.5mm miniphone plug sync ports
- Standard AAA batteries all-round
- Sync port in the transmitter
The new Comtrig T320 have a very fast sync speeds, while addressing all the basic shortcomings of the original RF-602, as well as adding some additional features. And all at a comparably low price.
The T320 are Commlites third 2.4GHz trigger, and a slightly scaled back version of the previous G430 (also known as the Ojecoco H-430) show left below.
The T320 are really only missing the grouping function though, and almost half the G430 price tag. Commlite have combined the Canon and Nikon versions together in the one T320 unit, which no doubt helped reduce that cost.
The T320 also adds some improvements in build quality and a few innovations. I have listed the G430 previously as an option having the most features for the price. And many users have found those to be reliable, so that provides some confidence in the T320 which are built on similar base.
The G430 offered a lot of features for the price, the trade off though to some degree was build quality. The T320 have improved on that and the case and buttons now feel more firm and solid, where the G430 feel a little hollow and plasticy. The T320 are still built to a price, but they are very reasonable. If you’re after something more nicely refined (at a higher price off-course) its worth looking at the Phottix Strato II.
These may sound trivial, but the 3 main things that have previously annoyed me about the G430 are –
- The battery door is so tight you really have to snap it open and closed HARD.
- The locking ring is a bit sharp and harsh on your fingers, and the diameter could be larger.
- The Tx Test fire button is so sensitive you get random fires just touching near it.
The T320 have fixed the battery door, and the test fire button is not as sensitive, so that just leaves the locking ring which is unchanged. At this price its really splitting hairs to be complaining about anything like this, but subconsciously I do want to pick up the Strato II, or even RF-602, instead simply because I know they are going to quickly slip on and off the camera hotshoe more effortlessly.
Note – the Commlite T320, G430 and H550 are all compatible (as well as the Ojecoco H-430 and H-550).
- ‘Function-mode’ auto-sensing system design
- Universal for Canon and Nikon cameras
- Waking up Speedlight (Compatible with Nikon SB-600)
- 7 channels 2.4G global radio frequency
- TTL pass-through
- Sync-speed high up to 1/320s, 120m working distance
- Wireless and wired camera remote control
- Wirelessly trigger Speedlight, Studio and Outdoor flash
- Compatible with other ComTrig series flash triggers（H550, G430）
Auto Sensing Mode
Another new feature and innovation of the T320 is the “Function Mode Auto Sensing”. The G430 shown left below has a manual selection for shutter release, or flash trigger. The receiver has a similar multiple position switch. While the T320 shown right below simply has a 2 position on/off switch, the mode is automatically detected by the trigger and switched accordingly.
This is the sort of thing (given the choice) I would tend to avoid just in case it could causes some other issues. But so far I don’t see any problem, and being able to quickly flick the power switch on and off just by feel without even looking, is one of those simple things that really is a great convenience.
The switch and buttons have a nice solid feel about them too.
TTL Pass Through
TTL pass through is always a handy feature, and really quite a bonus at this price point. This allows a flash to be mounted on top of the transmitter (mounted on the camera hotshoe) and be used in full TTL, while the off-camera flashes (mounted on receivers) are also fired in manual. This also allows a TTL shoe cord, or an ST-E2 or similar to be mounted on top just as a focus assist light, which you can’t do with non TTL pass though shoe like the RF-603 and Cactus V5 etc. Another handy thing is you can also place your old receiver on top and make use of your old triggers in combination with the T320.
TTL pass through are generally best for occasional or light use though, click below for more thoughts on those –MORE DETAIL - Click to Expand
TTL Pass Though Hotshoes are a very welcome feature, but they can also put a lot of stress and wear and tear on a transmitter unit that would otherwise have lasted a long time without any issues. Its a tough ask for any trigger to withstand the extra stress of a heavy flash on camera, any movement between the camera, trigger, and flash, can quickly compound if you’re constantly tilting and swivelling the flash head. This eventually results in reliability issues with the TTL pins not contacting properly and even reliability issues in the trigger itself, and that’s if something doesn’t completely break first.
The T320 pass through shoe is reasonably solid without too much movement, but if you’re even considering seriously using a flash on camera regularly I would look straight to the better built Phottix Strato II as they have a much more solid tight fitting connection. But even the Strato will only tolerate so much abuse, the same goes with PocketWizard TT1/5 etc.
The option otherwise is a flash mounted on an on-camera flash bracket (attached via a TTL off-camera shoe cord to the transmitter) which also puts very little stress on the transmitter unit. So a flash on-camera/bracket can still be used safely for longer term wedding and event style use if needed.
For occasional on camera use though, the T320 pass through can be really handy to have available. Even if its just for some occasional low light focus assist light use.
7 Channels – (& Mild Group Function)
The T320 have a fast simple channel selection, you simply scroll through the LED lights until they match on Tx and Rx. There is no group function on the T320, but they have made channel selection easy so that you can quickly change from one channel to the next on the transmitter unit. So you could have a number of lights (or sets of lights) set up on different channels on the receivers, switching from one group of lights to another on the transmitter unit as needed.
I call this a mild group function because there is no “ALL” channels option which allows you to turn all groups of receivers on at once. Triggers like the new Phottix Ares and Cacuts V5 allow this as a pseudo group mode, which helps if you want to meter lights separately and then turn them all on for the final shot for example. The G430 have a proper group selection, and the Strato II even better allowing you to switch any group on or off at the push of a button on the Tx.
This is where the original RF-602 and many cheaper triggers are not very good, and the later/current version RF-603 are even slower. This mainly just means you will likely start seeing shutter curtain in the image if you use the cameras maximum x-sync speed (1/250th etc). So often you have to stay at 1/200th or less (on a 1/250th x-sync camera) to be sure of a clean frame without shutter curtain. It may not happen straight away but the sync speed does eventually tend to drop like this.
The T320 and G430 in comparison are very FAST. This shows where Commlite really have some technical ability.
These results are with a Canon 40D which a 1.6x crop camera with 1/250th x-sync. The black band at the bottom of the frame is the shutter curtain starting to show in the image. The RF-602 also shows a clean frame at 1/250th here in ideal conditions, but there is no buffer left so that will drop to 1/200th as sync speeds inevitably fall a little.
This extra shutter speed can allow you to even push past x-sync to 1/400th or even 1/500th if the subject is not in the area of the shutter curtain. That can be a big help if you’re trying to get a sharper freeze in motion in bright ambient light, or when underexposing against the sun. If using an Einstein strobe for example, that extra stop in shutter speed (at 1/500th) is like owning a second Einstein strobe in power against the sun.
The other thing is with cameras with an electronic shutter (like the Nikon D40, D70, or Canon G12 etc), you can expect much better results as well. The RF-602/3 would be around 1/600th to 1/800th maximum, while the T320 would often reach 1/1200th plus.
Waking up Speedlightes –
Like the original RF-602, the T320 also allows the trigger to wake up TTL style flashes which have a sleep mode, (including the Nikon SB-600, which has issues with some earlier triggers). On half press of the camera shutter the flash is woken, ready to fire on the full press. This saves battery power as the flash is not constantly topping up the capacitor while standing by. Also some older flash units can not disable the sleep mode, so this feature may make those more usable.
This works for Canon and Nikon compatible flashes, though I’m not sure yet if a Canon camera will wake a Nikon speedlight for example (that is actually quite likely though).
Universal for Canon and Nikon cameras –
This is likely both a feature and a cost cutting method, as it means Commlite only need to produce the same one trigger unit for all applications. The advantage is that you have TTL pass through and flash wake up for both Canon and Nikon Cameras with the same triggers. I’m not aware if this has actually been done before with a radio trigger, its not uncommon for third party TTL shoe cords etc though. I’ve only tested with Canon so far but it doesn’t appear to cause any issues.
The one small possible drawback here is that the TTL contact pins on the transmitter foot are much finer now. I don’t know if this could cause issues over time, they still don’t appear overly delicate but I would be a little more careful pushing the Tx onto the camera hotshoe, and possibly even careful how the unit is stored by making sure there is some padding around the foot. With a Tx unit effectively $15, replacing a damaged one is not a big issue anyway.
Just out of interest, shown here is how Phottix approached the same concept with their universal Canon/Nikon Duo TTL cord. The pins are braced much thicker in the direction they will be pulled on and off the camera hotshoe. Also note the large size of the Phottix locking ring, with no sharp edges. Again it may sound trivial but its the detail that makes a real practical difference sometimes, and this is why I do like the Phottix build quality.
The T320 should still work ok with cameras other than Canon and Nikon, its just the flash wake up feature, and TTL pass through hotshoe that would be lost. If they are only to be used for non Canon and Nikon cameras it may be better to look towards more universal single firing Pin triggers like the Phottix Ares or Atlas II, Cactus V5, PCB cypersync, and Pocketwizard Plus III. Please see the Manual Radio Trigger Guide.
Speedlights and Studio Lights
The T320 have good hotshoes on the receivers which means you can go completely cordless with most speedlights. That’s a great convenience even the top end PocketWizard Plus III do not provide. This is particularly helpful with flash units like the Nikon Sb-600/700 and Canon 430exII which do not have a sync port to connect to directly via a sync cord. Those would require an extra hotshoe adapter and cord otherwise.
Studio light are also supported, and a sync cord with standard 1/8″ and 1/4″ adapter plug is provided to connect those to the T320 sync port.
The safe trigger voltage is 300 volts so even most older studio lights should be safe. This was a problem with RF-602/3 which only have 12 volt safe trigger voltage.
Sockets – Switches
Sockets are standard 2.5mm audio style jacks. This is much better than traditional PC sync sockets, but the larger standard 3.5mm audio style sockets (found on most headphones etc) would have been better as they are more common still.
The Tx shown left has a Camera and ECP port –
- Camera – is for a wired camera shutter release
- ECP – is a unique trap shooting function which can be connected to a standard sensor, triggered by motion or sound etc.
The Rx shown right has Camera and Flash Port –
- Camera – triggers the cameras shutter remotely
- Flash – is for any flash or studio strobe connected via sync cord.
The switches are very simple and feel quite solid –
The Battery door is much better than the previous G430 which was simply too hard to snap open and closed, there are no issue there now with the T320. The springs however still want to pop the batteries out if the door is not on. This highlights how the design standards are not quite as refined as they could be, but its not really an issue.
Batteries are all standard AAA, which I don’t mind as they are smaller, lighter, and cheaper than AA. Rechargeable should work ok but I prefer to use good Alkalines with radio triggers, as the voltage is much higher to start with and radio triggers are often sensitive to this voltage.
The T320 have a wired and wireless remote shutter release function. Though they do require a second set of Tx and Rx if you would like to trigger camera shutter and remote flashes at the same time. One set would need to be set to a different channel than the other.
Commlite do also have H550 transceivers available though which work as both transmitter and receiver in one unit. So one H550 used as the transmitter on camera can then be used in combination with T320 Tx and Rx as shown below.
This is one advantage the YongNuo RF-603 also have being transceivers. The H-550 is around $30 for one unit though, so for a similar price you could achieve a similar result with a second set of T320 and have a back up Tx and Rx instead of just one unit.
Shutter release cords are also available separately as shown in the chart bellow –
The T320 are definitely made to a price, though they are still quite reasonable. I am not by any means suggesting they are an ideal solution, but they are the best we have found so far at this price, and overall a much better option than the RF-602 (the only better option so far at a comparable price), and a world ahead of the old 433MHz ebay triggers.
Given the choice, in a minimum priced option like this, I would personally have opted for less features like the pass through hotshoe and shutter release etc, and a higher build quality instead. But the T320 are what they are and its very hard to complain at the price. If you’re looking for something more refined the Phottix Strato II offer one of the best mid priced options currently available.
Range and Reliability
I haven’t done side by side testing, but the range as with most 2.4GHz triggers is easily 100 metres plus, which is a seriously long way. Having said that though, if long range, like shooting at sports fields for example, is a priority, the recent Phottix Ares may be good option with more serious range capability and still at a fairly low price.
I’ve not experienced any misfires with the T320, long term reliability remains to be seen off course As with the G430 its obvious just from the sync speeds these have some solid electronics inside them though.
Compatibility – Camera / Flashes
The T320 are both Canon and Nikon compatible, but this is mainly for the flash wake up feature and TTL pass through hotshoe.
They should also work ok with cameras other than Canon and Nikon, its just the flash wake up feature, and TTL pass through hotshoe that would be lost. If they are only to be used for non Canon and Nikon cameras though, it may actually be better to look towards more universal single firing Pin triggers like the Phottix Ares, Atlas II, Cactus V5, PCB Cypersync, or Pocketwizard Plus III. Please see the Manual Radio Trigger Guide for more detail.
Most speedlites and studio strobes with a trigger voltage of 300v or less can be used.
The T320 will no doubt be quite popular so user reports should uncover an quirks with various gear fairly quickly.
Compatibility – Backward / Forward
The T320 are compatible with Commlites current G430 and H-550, (as well as the Ojecoco H-430 and H-550, which are otherwise the same units other than branding )
This shows Commlite are conscious of the importance of backward and forward compatibility. We don’t know what Commlite have in their near future, but Ojecoco have a smart-phone app style controlled trigger coming which could possibly be an interesting addition to the current units.
Whats Included –
- T320 Transmitter & Receiver unit
- Instruction Manual
- 2,5mm to 3.5mm flash sync cable – & 3.5mm to 6.35mm conveter adapter
- Shutter release cord for your camera model may be supplied (check with seller)
- Radio frequency: 2.4GHZ
- Signal type: Frequency Shift Keying (FSK)
- Antenna: Built-in PCB Antenna
- Control Distance: 120m (subject to environmental limitations)
- Channels: 7
- Normal triggering sync-speed: 1/320 second
- Battery Type: 2 x AAA (2.4V~3.2V)
- Standby time:
- Transmitter T320-TX: 1000 days
- Receiver T320-RX: 200 hours
- Camera shutter port, Studio flash (RX)/ECP (TX) ports: Ø2.5mm
- Safe Port Voltage: 3.3V to camera (T320-TX), 300V from flash (T320-RX)
- Minimum latency: 400µs
- Body Dimensions: 84*42*38mm (L*W*H)
- Net Weight (without batteries or cables): T320-TX: 51g, T320-RX: 49g
- Working Temperature: -15°C~65°C
- Storage Temperature: -30°C~85°C
Its taken quite a few years, but we well and truly have an improved alternative to the base level RF-602. The 602 (and 603) can safely go into permanent retirement now. Its a bit of a sad day on some ways, because the RF-602 really had one of the nicest compact receiver designs, still not matched by any alternatives today. The main shortcomings could easily have been fixed if YN just had the awareness or will to do it.
The T320 are here now though and they have filled the gap. Again I am not by any means suggesting this is the ultimate choice, there are a lot of good options definitely worth paying the extra money for. But for those working on a minimum budget, its quite remarkable really what you get for the money now compared to the “ebay triggers” of just a few years ago, there are plenty of cowboys still selling those when there is an inexpensive option like the T320 which are worlds ahead in function, range and reliability.
Price and Availability
Price is around $30 – $35 a set or TX and Rx
A local seller on Amazon is always a good option and the T320 should be listed there shortly.
ThePhotGadget.com are a reputable HK store which currently have the T320 listed for $29.99
The Commlite Comtrig G430 are also listed on Amazon.
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