FLASH TRIGGER GUIDE – MANUAL RADIO TRIGGERS

MANUAL RADIO TRIGGERS

 

This is a guide to a number of the popular flash trigger options, generally offering the most value for money in one way or another.

The list below is of manual flash triggers, which simply fire the flash off camera (without any remote control of the actual flash functions).

Flash triggers are constantly evolving though, and inexpensive options providing TTL and Remote Manual Power Control are also very popular.

The increasing trend is also to Lights with Radio Triggers Built In, which can provide added convenience again.

So flash triggers have been developing into larger “systems”, and the manual triggers below are often now seen as a complements to the larger systems.

Simple manual triggers can often still hold an advantage in range and reliability though.

 

Pleas see also – 

TTL & REMOTE MANUAL RADIO TRIGGERS

PORTABLE FLASHES WITH BUILT IN RADIO TRIGGERS

 

RECOMMENDATIONS - Click to Expand

 

Flash triggers have come a long way in the last few years, and all of the manual triggers listed bellow are very decent reliable options now.

There are a wide range of price, quality, and functions available though, so these are some recommendations below to help you get started.

Although this list is mainly about simple manual triggers, one important thing to consider now is that radio triggers and remote functions are fast being built directly into lights. So one of the most important features to consider may be which larger systems and radio enabled flash units the triggers will compatible with.

 

Note – Links below open this same page again in a new window, though at the selected trigger.

 

Phottix Strato II – after a number of years now the Strato II are still currently our top choice for a well refined and finished, mid priced, all round general manual trigger. Great for speedlight mounting as well as studio lights. They are also part of the excellent and expanding Phottix flash ecosystem.

YongNuo RF-603 II, & RF-605 – Apart from not having a TTL pass through hotshoe (manual only) the RF-603 II and RF-605 are a clear stand out for a minimum budget option. They are solid triggers on their own, though YongNuo also have an excellent inexpensive remote manual flash system to expand into with the YN-560 III and YN-560 IV flashes and YN560-TX transmitter unit.

The larger compatible radio flash system makes the RF-603 II and RF-605 hard to go past at the inexpensive end, though as stand alone triggers out on their own –

Commlite Comtrig T320 – are a stand out with a TTL pass through hotshoe for a minimum budget.
Phottix Ares –  offer a higher quality, and long range option, in the low price category.
FlashQ – are ideal for small mirrorless cameras.

 

PCB Cybersysncs –  are ideal if using a flash on camera regularly and need to mount a small transmitter as well.

PocketWizard Plus III – are the industry standard with commercial photographers, and studio hire gear etc.
PocketWizard Plus X – an entry level simplified version of (and compatible with) the Plus III above .

 

Sony – cameras & speedlights with the older Minolta iISO shoe mount – Phottix Strato IIPixel RookSoldier & Opas.

Olympus/Panasonic – camera & speedlights – the Pixel Rooks and Soldiers offer a dedicated option.

Pentax – many of the Canon/Nikon versions will still work but that safe option is often universal single firing pin triggers like the Phottix Ares, FlashQCactus V5PCB CybersyncPhottix Altas II, & PocketWizard Plus III.

The YongNuo RF-603 II and RF-605 are also quite suitable for Non Canon/Nikon Cameras as well now.

Red Line

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INEXPENSIVE MANUAL FLASH TRIGGERS

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The 2.4GHz YongNuo RF-602 were the first really reliable inexpensive radio trigger option, and a big leap ahead of the previous “ebay triggers” available before them. So this guide is basically starting from the RF-602, and may refer to them at times . Although I wouldn’t recommend them, there are cheaper options available if you are really keen to take a punt, basically in 2 categories –

1- 433MHz triggers – The later versions of these cheap “eBay triggers” were half decent, but still a big step behind the RF-602, with a quarter of the range and questionable build quality. They may seem to work ok for a while, but there’s a good chance they will start to get flaky on you eventually. The more triggers you use, the higher the chance of problems, and by that time the more money wasted. So I find them hard to justify when there are much better options available now for just a little more money. If I had to name a couple of the better ones, they would be the CTR301p and Cactus V4Cowboy Studios are probably the most popular, but don’t say I didn’t warn you, all those glowing reviews don’t follow up where a lot of them ended up.

2- Cheaper 2.4GHz triggers – For a short time it was safe to say any 2.4GHz trigger was pretty decent, but the Chinese manufacturers soon realised with the success of the RF-602 that 2.4Ghz triggers were now in high demand. So they now make some heaps of really cheap and nasty 2.4GHz versions as well. If you’re still keen to go cheaper it is possible, but its not the easy path. You won’t find much help on-line with any issues like you can quite easily with the popular well used options.

Which one of the inexpensive options to choose then?  RF-603 II below are now the standout for a minimum priced option. The Comtrig T320 are likewise an option if you need a TTL pass through hotshoe on the camera. RF-603 II are also now compatible with a new Manual YongNuo YN-560 III flash unit with built in receiver which may be an advantage.

The Phottix Ares are a higher quality option, with long range but generally less features. And the Ojecoco H-430 / Comtrig G430 offer the most features in the low price category, though at lower build quality.

If you’re not on such a tight budget though its well worth heading straight to the mid priced category, and the Phottix Strato II for a more refined and well finished option. The inexpensive options listed here are all decent and in the most part reliable triggers now though.

 YongNuo RF-602 PERMALINK

YonNuo RF-602

Around – $30 a set (Tx & Rx)

Still available, though superseded by the RF-603 II listed below, which resolve most of the shortcomings of the RF-602. NOT compatible with the RF-603/II.

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The RF-620 were the first really good reliable inexpensive radio trigger option, a leap ahead of the previous “ebay triggers”. Still Available, but now superseded by the RF-603 II and RF-605 listed bellow. Not compatible with the RF-603, RF603 II, or RF-605 though.

RF-602 were reliable, compact size, 100m+ range, and good hotshoes, but low 12 volt safe trigger voltage is not suitable for some older speedlights with a high trigger voltage, and sync speed may not be as fast as your cameras x-sync.

The RF-602 do have their shortcomings though –

Negatives

  • Low sync speed – 1/3rd stop behind x-sync . With electronic shutters aprox 1/800th
  • Low 12volt trigger voltage
  • No Locking ring on the transmitter
  • CR3 battery in transmitter instead of standard AA or AAA.
  • No On/Off switch on the transmitter
  • On/Off switch on the receiver not accessible with a flash in place
  • Non Standard cord plug/socket on receivers

Strong Points

  • Price
  • 2.4GHz
  • Very reliable, 100m + range
  • Compact design
  • Good build quality
  • Hotshoe for cordless speedlight mounting
  • Wake up feature for speedlights
  • Shutter release function

 

Low 12 volt trigger voltage can be a problem if you use older speedlights or even some studio strobes, but with most recent speedlights that is not an issue. You can check trigger voltage of older flash units here.

Lack of locking rings, receiver switch position, proprietary plugs, and CR3 transmitter battery are all not ideal, but generally not a serious inconvenience either.

The RF-602 have Canon and Nikon specific versions, but that is mainly for the wake up feature and shutter release. You can generally still fire other flashes and camera brands (not directly via the Sony hotshoe though).

The RF-602, F-603 and RF- 603 II are now compatible with the new Manual YN-560 III flash unit with built in receiver.

 

Website -YongNuo 

 YongNuo RF-603 PERMALINK

YongNuo RF-603

Around – $30 a set (2 Transceivers)

Still available, though superseded by the RF-603 II listed below, which resolve most of the shortcomings of the RF-603. Compatible with the RF-603 II.

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RF-603 are still available, but now superseded by the RF-603 II listed below, which resolve most of the shortcomings of the RF-603, and are a much better alternative now. RF-603 are still compatible with the RF-603 II.

The RF-603 are the later version of the RF-602 above. They are now transceivers, meaning the transmitter and receiver units are all exactly the same and can work as either transmitter or receivers.

The problem is YongNuo took a few steps forward, as well as backward, with the RF-603. And they didn’t fix the most obvious issues like a lack of locking ring on the transmitter, and the inaccessible receiver On/Off switch was not moved.

Other issues are an even lower sync speed than the RF-602, a test fire button that will only work when the unit is attached to a camera making light meter use difficult, and no threaded mounting hole on the receiver so clamping coldshoes or similar are required to mount them.

The RF-603 now have a Pass Though Hotshoe on the transmitter for mounting a flash on camera at the same time as the transmitter. This is only manual though, not TTL, and you can’t really mount a flash or it will fall off due to the lack of locking ring on the trigger!

Negatives

  • Lower sync speed than RF-602 – 1/3rd stop behind x-sync . Electronic shutters aprox 1/600th
  • Still Low 12volt trigger voltage
  • Still No Locking ring on the transmitter (a serious issue now if you mount a flash on camera)
  • Still inaccessible On/Off switch on the receiver
  • Test fire button only works with trigger mounted on camera hotshoe
  • No threaded mounting hole for receiver mounting
  • Pass though hotshoe is useless for flash mounting without a locking ring
  • PC sync socket instead of proprietary one on the RF-602 (should have been a standard 3.5mm headphone)
  • No transmitter sync connection to a camera PC sync port.
  • Compatibility issues with non Canon/Nikon cameras

Improvements

  • All Standard AAA batteries used
  • Standard 2.5mm sub-mini plug for shutter release
  • Standard PC sync socket and cord instead of proprietary one used on the RF-602 (arguable improvement)
  • Transceivers mean you have back up transmitter units, instead of one dedicated transmitter
  • Transceivers mean you can use one transmitter as a remote shutter release as well as triggering remote flashes at the same time. With non-transceivers like the RF-602 you will need a second transmitter.

 

The RF-603 have Canon and Nikon specific versions, and sometimes have compatibility issues with non Canon/Nikon cameras.

You will need to select the version with the correct shutter release cable for your camera model.

The RF-602, F-603 and RF- 603 II are now compatible with the new Manual YN-560 III flash unit with built in receiver.

RF-603 are still available, but now superseded by the RF-603 II listed above, which resolve most of the shortcomings of the RF-603 and are a much better alternative now. RF-603 are still compatible with the RF-603 II.

 

Website – YongNuo 

 YongNuo RF-603 II PERMALINK

YongNuo RF-603 II

Around – $35 a set (2 Transceivers) OVERVIEW

RF-603 II are the successor to the very popular RF-602 & RF-603 triggers listed above, rectifying earlier issues and making the RF-603 II one of the best bang for buck inexpensive manual triggers available now.

RF-603 II are transceivers, so the transmitter and receiver units are exactly the same. They have fast sync speeds, high 300v safe trigger voltage compatible with most lights, shutter release, standard AAA batteries, locking rings, flash wake up, 100m+ range, & good reliability.

A popular feature of the RF-603 II is the ability to fire both flash and remote camera shutter with just one unit attached to the camera, instead of 2 like other non transceiver units require. Transmitter, receivers, and shutter release units are all the same, which simplifies things and provides back up units of each.

Pass Through Hotshoe is still MANUAL ONLY though, so a flash can not operate in TTL mode when mounted on the camera hotshoe.

Canon and Nikon versions are available, but this mainly relates to the flash wake up feature. Otherwise the RF-603 II will now work on most cameras having a standard hotshoe (Sony hotshoes may be able to use an adapter).

Compatible Transmitters - YN560 IV flash, YN560-TX, RF-602, RF-603, RF-603 II transmitters.

Compatible Receivers – YN-560 III and YN560 IV manual flash (with RF-603 receiver built in), as well as RF-602, RF-603, RF-603 II, RF-605.

Available in Canon & Nikon versions.

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The RF-603 II are the follow up to the original and very popular inexpensive RF-603 flash triggers. And the MK II finally rectify many of the basic shortcomings of the original RF603 and RF-602 triggers.

The original RF-602 (released back in mid 2009) were the first really good reliable inexpensive manual flash triggers. Though the RF-602 and later RF-603 always had some very obvious shortcomings too. The RF-603 II finally rectify most of those issues, providing a very capable and convenient trigger now for the low price point.

One of the main advantages of the RF-603 II is the ability to fire both flash and remote camera shutter with just one unit attached to the camera, instead of 2 like other non transceiver units require. Being transceivers means transmitter, receivers, and shutter release units are all the same, which simplifies things and provides back up units of each.

A TTL pass through hotshoe is likely the one feature still missing in the RF-603 II, which can be had in some other similarly priced triggers if needed. The RF-603 II pass through hotshoe is manual only.

If you’re after a transmitter unit for the popular YN-560 III manual flash (which has an RF-603 receiver built in), the RF-603 II will definitely be the best option for now, at least until the dedicated YN-560 transmitter does eventually arrive. Compatibility with a radio enabled flash like the YN-560 III is also another advantage of the RF-603 II over some other options.

 

Strong Points -

  • Fast Sync Speed over 1/250th (likely around 1/1200th + with electronic shutters)
  • Compatible with Non Canon/Nikon and single firing pin cameras
  • Pass Through Hotshoe on Transmitter allows on camera flash (manual only though)
  • Wireless shutter release as well as flash triggering with just one unit attached to the camera
  • Speedlight wake up feature
  • Locking Ring & locking Pin
  • Accessible Power switch
  • Standard 2.5mm sub-mini plug shutter port
  • Standard AAA batteries
  • Test Fire Button works off the camera hotshoe (for taking light meter readings etc)
  • 300v safe trigger voltage
  • Transceivers means there are back up transmitter, receivers, and shutter release units.
  • Compatible with previous RF-603
  • Compatible with YN-560 III flash unit with RF-603 receiver built in
Negatives – 
  • PC sync port instead of a more reliable 3.5mm mini-phone jack
  • Pass Through Hotshoe is Manual only no TTL
  • Locking rings a little hard on fingers

 

Sync Speed –

Low sync speed was always one of the main shortcomings of the original RF-602, and even worse with the RF-603. Now that this is improved with the RF-603 II, it simply means you should be able to get a clean frame without any shutter (or black band) showing in the frame at your cameras maximum sync speed (1/250th etc). Though the Canon 5D series sometimes have to drop to 1/160th even with a sync cord which has virtually no delay at all.

Locking Rings –

The original RF-603 has no locking rings on the foot. This was a major oversight now that a flash could be mounted on top of the transmitter on the camera. They would both simply fall off the camera hotshoe! The RF-603 II now has locking ring and locking pin.

Power and TX / TRX Switch -

RF-603 II are transceivers, meaning they are the same unit for transmitter and receiver, and can switch automatically between transmitting and receiving mode. This ability caused a number of extra issues in the original RF-603 though, like not being able to fire on non Canon/Nikon cameras, or fire the test fire button off the camera hotshoe.

So to help resolve these issues YongNuo have added a switch to the new FR-603 II allowing you to set them as either TX or TRX. TX being set to transmitter mode only, and TRX as self switching. TX mode is used when the transmitter is held in hand for taking light meter readings with the test fire button, or when used as transmitter only on the camera. If using combined flash and shutter release TRX mode would be used. Receivers would always need to be set to TRX.

RF-603 II Side

Shutter Release -

One of the big advantages of the RF-603 (due to transceiver design) has always been the combined camera shutter release ability. You can fire the camera with an RF-603 used as a wireless remote shutter release, as well as fire remote flashes at the same time, with just the one radio trigger attached to the camera. Where most non transceivers require 2 separate triggers attached to the camera to do this. So the RF-603 offer a neater solution connected to the camera, and one trigger unit less cost.

This also means you have backup transmitter, receiver, and shutter release units, as they are all the same unit and interchangeable.

Compatible with Non Canon / Nikon and Single Firing Pin Cameras -

With the rise of alternate brand mirrorless cameras its becoming increasingly important for radio triggers to be as universal, and compatible, as possible with non Canon/Nikon and single firing pin cameras.

The original RF-603 would not fire at all unless attached to a Canon or Nikon camera with full TTL contacts on the hotshoe. The RF-603 II will now work on most cameras provided they have a standard (non Sony) style hotshoe (Sony hotshoes may be able to use an adapter). The flash wake up feature will not work on non Canon/Nikon cameras though.

 

Specifications -

  • Type: FSK 2.4GHz wireless remote control system
  • Transmission distance: 100cm
  • Channels: 16 channels
  • Shutter release: half-press, full-press
  • Shutter interface: 2.5mm socket
  • Studio flash light interface: standard PC socket
  • Max Sync Speed: 1/320 second
  • Battery: AAA x 2(3V)

 

Versions -

The RF-603 II come in separate Canon and Nikon versions, though this is mainly for the flash wake up feature. Apart from that flash wake up the Canon and Nikon version can work together.

There are Canon C1 and C3, as well as Nikon N1 and N3 versions available. The difference between the Canon C1 and C3 is just the shutter release cord compatible with different Canon cameras. That is the same with the Nikon N1 and N3 etc versions.

The RF-603 II are also backward compatible with the original RF-603 (but not the RF-602).

C1 version:

— Canon 1100D / 1000D / 700D / 650D / 600D / 550D / 500D / 450D / 400D / 350D / 300D / 60D
— Pentax K20D / K200D / K10D / K100D,
— Samsung GX-20 / GX-10

C3 Version:

— Canon 1D / 1DS, EOS 5D Mark II / 5D / 50D / 40D / 30D / 20D / 10D

N1 Version:

— D800 / D700 / D300 / D2X / D2H / D200 / D1H / D1X / D3X / D3
— N90s / F5 / F6 / F100
— Fuji Film: S5 Pro / S3 Pro
— Kodak: DSC-14N

N3 Version:

— Nikon D90 D600 D7100 D7000 D5100 D5000 D3100 D3000

Radio triggers are fast being built into lights now, and with their own small ecosystem of compatible lights and triggers. Currently the YN-560 III manual flash is the main option with an RF-603 compatible receiver built in. There will be a dedicated YN-560 transmitter coming at some stage though, the RF-603 can then still be used as additional receivers to fire other flashes as well.

The RF-603 system is not directly compatible with YongNuo’s other popular YN-622, or now Canon compatible RT systems. So this can make choosing a simple radio trigger as much about considering a complete system now.

Although basic manual triggers like the RF-602 and 603 have been the least problematic, YongNuo products are built to a price and have a history of quality control issues at times. They offer a lot of bang for buck, but if you’re after something higher quality the mid priced triggers may be a more suitable option.

 

RF-603 II – Overview

YongNuo – Website 

 RF-605_a200 PERMALINK

YongNuo RF-605

Around – $40 a set (2 Transceivers) OVERVIEW

RF-605 are the latest update to the very popular RF-603 II triggers listed above. Now adding a group function, providing 6 groups corresponding with those provided by the YN560-TX and YN560 IV flash units.

A new LCD screen, and a number of added buttons provide fast group and mode selections. The RF605 also provide the option of RF-602 and RF-603 communication modes.

RF-605 are again transceivers (transmitter and receiver units the same). They have fast sync speeds, 300v safe trigger voltage, shutter release function, standard AAA batteries, locking rings, flash wake up, 100m+ range & good reliability.

Pass Through Hotshoe is still MANUAL ONLY though, so a flash can not operate in TTL mode when mounted on the camera hotshoe.

Canon and Nikon versions are available, but this mainly relates to the flash wake up feature. Otherwise the RF-605 will work on most cameras having a standard hotshoe (Sony hotshoes may be able to use an adapter).

Compatible Transmitters - YN560-TX, and YN560 IV flash units which provide a group function, as well as with previous RF-602, RF-603, RF-603 II transmitters (without group function).

Compatible Receivers – YN-560 III and YN560 IV manual flash (with RF-603 receiver built in), as well as previous RF-602, RF-603, RF-603 II.

Available in Canon & Nikon versions.

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RF-605 are the latest update to the very popular RF-603 II triggers listed above. Now adding a group function, providing 6 groups corresponding with those provided by the YN560-TX and YN560 IV flash units.

A new LCD screen, and a number of added buttons provide fast group and mode selections. The RF605 also provide the option of RF-602 and RF-603 communication modes.

 

Versions -

The RF605 come in separate Canon RF605C, and Nikon RF605N versions.

Canon and Nikon versions are required for the flash wake up feature though. Apart from that the Canon and Nikon versions can work together.

They will also work on Non Canon / Nikon, or any camera with a standard hotshoe (apart from the flash wake up feature).

The Canon RF605C are available with LS-2.5, C1 or C3 shutter release cords, and Nikon N1 or N3 cords.

 

C1 version:

— Canon 70D / 60D / 700D / 650D / 600D / 550D / 500D / 450D / 400D / 350D / 300D / 1200D/ 1100D / 1000D /
— Pentax K20D / K200D / K10D / K100D,
— Samsung GX-20 / GX-10

C3 Version:

— Canon 1D / 1DS / 5D / 6D/ 7D / 50D / 40D / 30D / 20D / 10D

N1 Version:

— D810 / D800 / D700 / D300 / D2X / D2H / D200 / D1H / D1X / D3X / D3
— N90s / F5 / F6 / F100
— Fuji Film: S5 Pro / S3 Pro
— Kodak: DSC-14N

N3 Version:

— Nikon D90 / D600 / D7100 / D7000 / D5100 / D5000 / D3100 / D3000

 

RF-605 – Overview

YongNuo – Website 

 Commlite Comtrig T320 PERMALINK

Commlite Comtrig T320

Around – $30 a set (Tx & Rx)

Comtrig T320 are the current stand out minimum priced option if you require a TTL pass through hotshoe on the transmitter (which the RF-603 II do not provide). The T320 pass through hotshoe is even universal for both Canon and Nikon cameras. Very fast sync speeds, high 300v safe trigger voltage compatible with most lights, shutter release, standard sockets, standard AAA batteries, locking rings, flash wake up, simple channel selection, 100m+ range & good reliability. Compatible with Comtrig G430, G550, & Ojecoco H-430, H-550. Available in Canon & Nikon versions (but still suitable for most cameras).

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Strong Points -

  • Very fast Sync Speed over 1/250th (around 1/1200th + with electronic shutters)
  • 300v safe trigger voltage
  • Universal for Canon and Nikon cameras
  • Pass Through Hotshoe on Transmitter allows on camera flash with full TTL functions
  • Locking Ring & locking Pin on the Transmitter & Receiver
  • Good simple and accessible Power & Channel switches
  • On Off switch on the Transmitter
  • Standard 2.5mm sub-mini plug sync ports
  • Standard AAA batteries all-round
  • Sync port in the transmitter
  • ‘Function-mode’ auto-sensing system design
  • Speedlight wake up feature (Compatible with Nikon SB-600)
  • Wireless and wired shutter release
  • Compatible with Comtrig series flash triggers(H550, G430)
Negatives – 
  • Built quality is made to a price (but still quite reasonable)
  • Locking rings a little hard on fingers, and could be larger
  • No full group function
  • 3.5mm sync ports would be better still than 2.5mm
  • Generally not as refined as the Strato II (which come at a higher price)
See the full Commtrig T320 Review HERE

Website – Commlite 

 FlashQ PERMALINK

FlashQ

Around – $40 a set (Tx & Rx) – OVERVIEW

FlashQ are the smallest 2.4GHz flash triggers available. Originally a crowd-funded project FlashQ are designed primarily for small mirrorless cameras. Though they will function just as well on any camera with a standard ISO hotshoe. Powered by Lithium-ion CR2302 coin cell batteries which last up to 6 months in standby time, making the FlashQ very low maintenance and always ready to go. Ideal to keep in your camera bag, taking up very little space or weight. Range is limited to around 10 meters, though this is generally still plenty. Auto Channel selection when up to 8 units are paired together. Hotshoe and PC sync cord are provided with the receivers.

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Strong Points -

  • Very small, lightweight, and low maintenance3
  • Universal for all cameras with a standard ISO hotshoe
  • Low Maintenance CR2032 Lithium-ion batteries (up to 6 months standby time)
  • 160 channels auto selected when pairing units
  • 300v safe trigger voltage (receiver)
  • Hotshoe and Sync cord provided with receivers

 

Negatives – 
  • Range (around 10 meters) is limited (but still quite reasonable)N
  • Receiver does not work with Sony flashes with Multi Interface Shoe (HVL-F60M, HVL-F43M etc)
  • Receiver is not recommended for the old high-voltage flashes
  • No Locking rings on transmitter (holds in the camera hotshoe fine though)

 

Technical Specifications -

  • Size: 25 x 25 x 15 mm
  • 2.4GHz low-power digital radio
  • 160 radio channels
  • 20M operating range
  • No TTL, up to 1/250 sync speed*
  • Max. 900us X-sync latency (by FlashQ system)
  • Tolerate Max. 300V port sync voltage (on FlashQ receiver)
  • 3V voltage present on male hot shoe centre pin (on FlashQ transmitter)
  • PC Sync cable (via Func. port) for studio strobes
  • More than 100K fires for a battery life
  • 6 months battery standby time
  • LED indication: Green – operating; Red – triggering; Blue – pairing

 

Overview – HERE

Website – FlashQ 

 Cactus V5 PERMALINK

Cactus V5

Around – $60 a set (2 Transceivers)

The Cactus V5 are also transceivers, and they have fast sync speeds, standard 3.5mm miniphone sync plugs, locking rings, and high (300 volt) trigger voltage so they are safe with older flash units as well. Hotshoes are more basic without speedlite wake up feature so they are a little more universal for use with most cameras, and often favoured for attaching flash units and monolights via sync cord like a PocketWizard plus II/III. Compatible with Cactus LV5.

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Cactus were one of the major players to put their brand on the early V1 & V2 “eBay triggers”. Those were pretty ordinary, but Cactus (or Gadget Infinity) are great to deal with and although you won’t find them on eBay the Cactus brand has remained very popular. The V5 are their first 2.4GHz trigger.

The V5 are again transceivers, which means their transmitter and receiver are exactly the same unit, and they have some fairly solid electronics inside which offer much better sync speeds than the RF-602/3. They also have a 3oov flash trigger voltage which can handle most older flashes as well. Range is similar around 100m+. They also have a manual only pass through hotshoe on the transmitter for occasional manual flash on camera use. But being manual only that is of no use to mount a Canon ST-E2 or similar for a focus assist light. Being transceivers provides back up transmitter units if needed.

Due to being transceivers though Cactus have tried an unconventional case design with the V5 which made them over-sized for what they usually need to be, and the elaborate battery draw can have minor issues. These were revised and improved over the originals but some people still report minor issues. Cactus deserve credit here for their own unique style and design though.

The hotshoes have also been revised but some people still report minor issues with flash feet being too tight or the shoes coming loose on the trigger. That combined with a centre stud mounting point that can foul on some umbrella swivels, has seen the V5 often favoured for attaching flash units and monolights via sync cord like a PocketWizard plus II/III.  The standard 3.5mm headphone style sync port used is definitely a positive.

The V5 do not have a speedlite wake up feature like the RF-602/3 and many other trigges now, or a TTL pass through hotshoe for the transmitter. But this can also be an advantage as the V5 do not require brand specific models, so they can be a little more universal for use with a number of different cameras, or using brands like Pentax which can in some cases clash with the Canon/Nikon brand specific triggers. This is due to the V5 having a single firing pin on the foot which can not clash with TTL pins on the shoe of non corresponding brand cameras. Most other triggers will also act like this though when connected by a basic PC sync cord to the camera or flash.

Another unusual feature of the V5 is the channel selection switch, which is actually a dial on the side of the unit. It can be used as a type of grouping function, firing one channel/group, or all 5. The dial can be accidently knocked changing the channel though.

Strong Points

  • 2.4GHz
  • Very reliable, 100m + range
  • Fast sync speed – full x-sync (1/250th etc) . Electronic shutters aprox 1/1000th +
  • 300V trigger voltage
  • All Standard AAA batteries
  • Standard 3.5mm  (1/8″) miniphone (headphone style) sync jacks
  • Locking rings on transmitter and receiver
  • Shutter release function
  • Channel dial can be used as a pseudo group control, fire one group or all 5
  • Easily accessible switches
  • Transceivers mean you have back up transmitter units instead of one dedicated transmitter
  • Single firing pin means they can sometimes be more universal over a wider range of camera brands.

Negatives

  • They don’t like to fire in extreme cold or heat (don’t take them snowboarding)
  • Battery draw and hotshoes can have minor issues
  • Threaded mounting hole in the base is in an awkward position for mounting
  • No flash wake up function like the RF-602/3 etc, or TTL pass through hotshoe on the transmitter.
  • Size is much larger than most similar triggers that use the same small AAA batteries
  • They are Transceivers but still require a second transmitter to fire camera shutter and flashes as the same time

 

The V5 have some good fast electronics inside, though others now have extra speedlite mounting features avaialabe like flash wake up and pass through hotshoes, and a more compact size.

 

Cactus – Website 

 Pixel Soldier PERMALINK

Pixel Soldier

Around – $60 a set (Tx & Rx)

Pixel Soldiers are like an upgraded version of the orignal RF-602, but with much fastest sync speeds, and 3 groups so you can switch flashes on and off from the camera, standard plugs and locking rings. They are also the main inexpensive option with a Sony version available. Medium 60 volt trigger voltage. Not compatible with any other Pixel triggers. Available in Canon Nikon Sony & Olympus/Panasonic versions (but still suitable for most cameras).

Amazon, UKEbayB&H Photo

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Pixel Soldiers have very good fast sync speeds. Build quality is generally fairly light duty, though comparable to the YonNuo and Cactus above.

The Soldier is also a little older now in design, closer to the original RF-602 concept. Its not Pixels latest trigger but the others fit more into the mid range price category. Pixel also have a cheaper “Pawn” version without the group function, but those have had some mixed reports.

Sony – The soldier is also the only one in this inexpensive group that will attach directly to Sony camera and flashes. The Sony version is also compatible with the Canon and Nikon version, which helps a lot of if you use Sony and other cameras and flashes.

Olympus/Panasonic – Soldiers are also the main inexpensive option with a version dedicated for Olympus/Panasonic Users.

Note – One thing to be very careful with the Soldier is replacing the transmitter battery. It’s a button cell clipped in fairly tight, but the cage can come away from the main circuit board if you’re not careful, and that will be the end of its life. This may only affect some that have a weak solder joint to begin with. The CR2025 button cell battery is fairly common, inexpensive and lasts a long time.

Strong Points

  • 2.4GHz
  • Very reliable, 100m + range
  • Very fast sync speed – over full x-sync (1/320th) . Electronic shutters aprox 1/1200th +
  • A proper 3 group option
  • Sony version available
  • Shutter release function
  • Easily accessible switches

Negatives

  • Button cell battery can have delicate mounting to circuit board
  • Button cell battery is not standard AAA like the receiver (but its common and lasts a long time)
  • Locking rings are ridiculously small so it can be annoying to attach to the camera
  • Receiver battery door can be very tight – you just have to force it
  • No PC sync port on the transmitter at all

 

A complete comparison between the original YongNuo RF-602 and Pixel Soldiers can be seen here.

Website – Canon – Nikon – Sony – Olympus/Panasonic

Also known as the Vello Freewave Fusion – AmazonB&H Photo, & similar but without groups Hahnel Combi TF – AmazonB&H PhotoAdorama.

 Ojecoco H-430 PERMALINK

Ojecoco H-430 / Commlite  Comtrig G430

Around – $50 a set (Tx & Rx)

Developed in collaboration with UK retailer Cotswold Photo, the 430 are built to retain a low price while addressing most shortcomings of the original YongNuo RF-602, as well as adding desirable features like a TTL pass through hotshoe on the transmitter, group selection, standard plug sockets, locking rings, and high 300 volt safe trigger voltage. Compatible with H-550 & Commlite T320. Available in Canon & Nikon versions (but still suitable for most cameras).

Amazon, UKEbay, Ebay UK

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Developed in collaboration with long time UK based small flash user Cotswold Photo, and Chinese companies Ojecoco and Commlite, the 430 are built to retain a low price while addressing most shortcomings of the original YongNuo RF-602. Also adding desirable features like a TTL pass through hotshoe on the transmitter, group selection, standard plugs, locking rings, and high 300 volt safe trigger voltage. The H-430 are unashamedly built to a price, though the build quality is still quite reasonable.

Ojecoco are a relatively new company and their first product the H-550 trigger stood out as pretty unique and innovative, an inexpensive trigger with a manual high speed sync (hypersync) timing dial. The H-430 are more conventional but a completely new and from my experience much improved design (but still compatible with the original H-550).

TTL Pass Through Hotshoe on the transmitter is likely the most significant extra feature over the basic refinements. This allows a flash to be mounted on top of the transmitter unit on the camera, and be used in full TTL (or manual) while the off-camera flashes are also fired in manual. But it also allows an ST-E2 or similar device to be mounted just as a focus assist light, which you can’t do with non TTL pass though shoes like the RF-603 and Cactus V5 etc.

The H-430 pass through shoe is reasonably solid without too much movement, but if your even considering seriously using a flash on camera regularly I would look straight for the Phottix Strato II as they have set the standard for a solid tight fitting connection. But for occasional on camera flash use the H-430 pass through can be really handy to have available. Even if its just for occasional low light focus assist light use, or mounting an ST-E2 or off camera shoe cord which puts little stress on the transmitter unit.

Sync Speed is another area where the original RF-602 have never been the greatest, 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 to be sure of a clean frame without shutter curtain. The H-430 in comparison are FAST and the will easily retain X-sync or a 1/3rd stop higher (1/320th on a 1/250th x-sync camera). And much better results with cameras with electronic shutters like the Nikon D40, D70 and Canon G12 etc.

 

Refinements (over the RF-602) -

  • Locking Ring & locking Pin on the Transmitter & Receiver (fairly good ones)
  • Good simple accessible Power, Channel & Group switches
  • Pass Through Hotshoe on Transmitter allows on camera flash with full TTL functions
  • 3 Groups with great simple On Off switches on the Transmitter
  • High Sync speed over 1/250th (around 1/1200th + with electronic shutters)
  • 300v trigger voltage
  • Standard 2.5mm sub-mini plug sync ports
  • Standard AAA batteries all-round

Other Features -

  • Wireless (& wired) shutter release functions
  • Flash wake-up function
  • Hotshoe and PC cord flash triggering
  • 2.4 GHz Frequency
  • 100+ meter range
  • Compatible with H-550 triggers allowing shutter and flash release with one Transmitter unit.

 

A more detailed review HERE

Website – Commlite 

  PERMALINK

Phottix Ares

Around $55 a set (Tx & Rx)

The Phottix Ares are the new base model manual trigger from Phottix. Phottix have opted for a simple but high quality and long range option, wth a few unique features as well. The transmitter can pivot down for low profile, or upright for easy adjustments. Channel selection also act as a fast pseudo group mode to turn one or all lights on and off quickly. Ares have long 200m range, standard AA batteries, standard 3.5mm sync port, locking rings, fast sync speed, and high 300v trigger voltage.  The Ares are single firing pin only so they are universal for all cameras. No shutter release, and not compatible with any other Phottix triggers.

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See the full Phottix Ares Overview HERE

Ares Features -

  • 200 Metre Range
  • Standard AA Batteries
  • Standard 3.5mm  (1/8″) miniphone (headphone style) Rx Sync Port
  • Universal for most cameras – due to simple Single Firing Pin
  • Fast – “Fire All” & pseudo channel/grouping function
  • 8 Channels
  • Fast Sync Speed – 1/250th +
  • Low Profile Folding Transmitter
  • Large Solid Locking Rings
  • 1/4″ 20 threaded mounting hole in Rx foot
  • Sync Cords Supplied
  • Quality Build and Range at a minimum price

 

Ares Limitations -

  • No shutter release or remote camera triggering option
  • No flash wake up feature
  • No Tx Sync Port (a hotshoe with cord would resolve this if needed though).
  • Not compatible with other Phottix Triggers

Phottix – Website  

Red Line

PERMALINK

MID PRICED MANUAL FLASH TRIGGERS

ABOUT - Click to Expand

 

The Mid priced manual flash trigger options below generally offer higher build quality and longer term reliability .

 Phottix Strato II PERMALINK

Phottix Strato II

Around – $100 a set (Tx & Rx)

The Phottix Strato II are currently our top choice well refined all round manual radio trigger. They have addressed all the shortcoming of the original RF-602 while adding some great extra features like a pass through hotshoe on the transmitter, as well as great 4 group selection buttons. A high 300v trigger voltage so safe with older flash units too. They come with all the shutter and sync cords you could need, and good quality ones. Compatible with previous Phottix Strato triggers, as well as later Atlas II, and Odin TTL Triggers and Mitros+ radio flash. Available in Canon, Nikon & Sony versions (but still suitable for most cameras).

Amazon, UKEbayAdoramaPhottix Store  

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The Phottix Strato II are currently our top choice all round Manual radio trigger. They are high quality and address all the shortcoming of the original RF-602 while adding some great extra features like a pass through hotshoe on the transmitter, as well as great group selection buttons.

Compatibility – The Strato II are also backward and forward compatible with the original Strato, and now the Odin TTL trigger.

Go Cordless – One of the best features of the Strato II is that they have great quality hotshoes on the receivers, which means you can go completely cordless with most speedlights. That’s a great convenience that many of the higher priced options below, and even the new PocketWizard Plus III still do not offer. So if you’re using speedlights a lot and still looking for something of a high quality the Strato II may offer quite an advantage.

TTL Pass Through Hotshoe – The Strato II have a full TTL pass through hotshoe, meaning a flash can be mounted on top of the transmitter on the camera, and still use all of its TTL functions. Remote slaves are still only fired in manual though as these are manual triggers. The TTL pass though shoe allows a focus assist light (like a Canon ST-e2) to be used on camera, which can be a big advantage too. For serious long term on-camera use though I would still recommend attaching the flash directly on the camera hotshoe and using a Pc sync cord to the transmitter.

Groups – The Strato II have 4 groups so that you can turn lights (or groups of lights) on and off from the camera. And a great fast one touch button selection on the transmitter.

Sony – The Strato II also offer a Sony version that will attach directly to Sony camera and flashes. The Sony version is also compatible with the Canon and Nikon versions, which helps a lot of if you use Sony and other cameras and flashes.

Refinements (over the RF-602)

  • Locking Ring & locking Pin on the Transmitter (good ones)
  • Locking Ring on the Receivers
  • Good simple accessible Power switches
  • Good simple accessible Channel switches
  • Good simple accessible Group switches
  • Standard 3.5mm  (1/8″) miniphone (headphone style) sync jacks
  • Standard AAA batteries all-round
  • High Sync speed over 1/250th  (around 1/1200th + with electronic shutters)
  • 300v trigger voltage
  • Solid fitting hotshoes and feet.
  • Good simple battery doors without issues

More Features

  • 4 Groups with great simple On Off switches on the Transmitter
  • Pass Through Hotshoe on Transmitter allows on camera flash with full TTL functions
  • Wireless (& wired) shutter release functions
  • Flash wake-up function
  • Hotshoe and PC cord flash triggering
  • 2.4 GHz Frequency
  • 150 meter range
  • Operating temperature: -15 to +65C
  • Comes with all the cords you could need

Negatives

  • As the Strato II are not transceivers a second transmitter unit is required to fire a remote camera shutter and slave flashes as the same time.
  • Also the Strato II are not transceivers, so you can not use a spare receiver as a back up transmitter. Though its common to have a second transmitter for shutter release use anyway, so that can be used as a back up flash transmitter if needed.

 

The Strato II are well designed, compact, reliable, great range and great to use. Standard plugs, cords, batteries, and easy access to all buttons locking rings etc. So for an all round manual trigger the Strato II offer a good quality option that ticks all the boxes which others tend to miss in one way or another.

Phottix – Website 

 Pixel Rook PERMALINK

Pixel Rook

Around – $80 a set (Tx & Rx)

The Pixel Rook are similar to the Strato II above, but fall slightly short in a number of areas like lower safe trigger voltage (60v vs 300v), less refined group selection,  pass through hotshoe not as neat/solid fitting, slightly lower sync speed, and smaller locking rings. The advantage is a slightly lower price, though for Olympus & Panasonic users the Rooks are the main trigger option available with a full TTL pass through hotshoe on the transmitter. Not compatible with any other Pixel Triggers. Available in Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus/Panasonic versions.

Amazon, UK, Ebay, B&H Photo

 

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Pixel Website – Canon – Nikon – Sony – Olympus/Panasonic

 Paul C Buff Cybersync PERMALINK

Paul C Buff Cybersync

Around – $130 a set (Tx & Rx)

Cybersyncs may be small but they still pack a punch. Very reliable, fast syncs speeds, long range, and high 300v safe trigger voltage. Single firing pin is universal for use with most cameras. No locking ring on the transmitter, but that’s not generally a problem here. And no shotshoe for wireless speedlight mounting on the receiver. Ideal for wedding /event photographers who need a flash mounted on the camera hotshoe as well as a small lightweight transmitter velcroed to the side for firing remote flashes, or if using the compatible Paul C Buff range of triggers for their monolights etc.

PCB, Ebay

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Cybersyncs may be small, but don’t be fooled as they have longer range and higher sync speeds than many larger units. They are very reliable, and have high 300v safe trigger voltage for use with most lights.

Range is generally a good distance ahead of the aproximate 100m of most regular 2.4GHz triggers, and the Cybersyncs even have a repeater mode which can double the range (with a small reduction in sync speed).

Normally I would be all over triggers for not having a locking ring on the transmitter, using button cell batteries, and no hotshoes on the receivers (or even a lanyard loop to hang them). But the Cybersync design has found a very useful purpose for firing remote slaves while still using a flash mounted on the camera hotshoe, as many wedding and event photographers often need to do. This is still much more reliable for long term use than a pass through hotshoe like many triggers now offer. The compact size of the transmitter with a tiny lightweight button cell battery makes it about the most ideal option available for simply velcroing to the side of an on-camera flash unit, and connecting to the camera via a PC sync cord. Off course the transmitter can be used directly in the camera hotshoe as well.

Compatibility – Another main advantage of the Cybersync is that they are compatible with PCB’s complete range of radio triggers, and Cyber Commander unit used for controlling the popular AlienBees, White Lightning, and Einstein monolights.

 

Positives

  • Exceptional service from PCB
  • 2.4GHz
  • Great range and reliability
  • Fast sync speed – full x-sync (1/250th etc).  Electronic shutters aprox 1/1200th +
  • 10 frames per second capability
  • 300V trigger voltage
  • Small light transmitter ideal for Velcro mounting with on camera flash use
  • Standard miniphone sync sockets
  • Shutter release (can work but requires a cord)
  • Repeater mode – doubles range at the expense of some sync speed
  • Button cell battery has a very long life

Negatives

  • No hotshoes on receivers for cordless speedlight mounting
  • No lanyard strap or hole for one
  • No locking ring on transmitter (only a small issue, and a positive if your Velcro mounting instead)
  • No flash wake up feature

 

Paul C Buff – Website 

Red Line

PERMALINK

HIGH END MANUAL FLASH TRIGGERS

ABOUT - Click to Expand

 

Higher end Manual flash triggers generally offer longer range and higher build quality.

 Radiopopper Nano PERMALINK

Radiopopper Nano

Around – $140 a set (Tx & Rx) OVERVIEW

Radiopopper Nano are a super simple transmitter and receiver set featuring high build quality and long range of up to 500 meters. USA based Radiopopper have basically provided an alternative to the also USA based PocketWizard Plus X listed further below. The Nano’s advantages (other than lower price) are the hotshoe on the receiver for direct speedlight mounting without any cords needed, and a compact, lightweight, and low profile transmitter unit on the camera hotshoe. The Nano offer great range and reliability with fast sync speeds. Less standard CR123A lithium-ion batteries are used. Compatible with Radiopopper, Jr2, JrX, and PX TTL triggers.

AmazonUKB&H PhotoAdorama, Ebay

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Positives

  • Universal compatible with most cameras
  • 3 groups with simple control dial on the Tx
  • Great range and reliability – 100 – 500m
  • Fast sync speed – full x-sync (1/250th etc).
  • Compatible with Radiopopper Jr2, JrX, and PX TTL triggers
  • Standard 3.5mm  (1/8″) miniphone sync port
  • Light Meter use possible

Negatives

  • Non standard CR123A batteries (Can be a positive for low maintenance)
  • No shutter release function
  • No flash wake up feature

 

Compatibility – The Nano are also compatible with Radiopopper Jr2, JrX, and PX TTL triggers

 

Radiopopper USA – Website 

 Pixel Opas PERMALINK

Pixel Opas

Around – $150 a set (2 Transceivers)

The Pixel Opas are a bit of a mixture, a lot of features for the price, but not quite as refined as the comparable alternatives. Similar to the Atlas II above the Opas are long range transceivers but with an added group function. Unlike the Atlas and PocketWizard Plus II/III they are a little more speedlight oriented with flash wake up function, meaning they require Canon, Nikon & Sony specific versions. Trigger voltage is only 60 volts, so not suitable for some monolights or older speedlights. The Opas are the only Pixel trigger currently compatible with any other Pixel trigger (the Pixel King TTL trigger) so they may appeal to current King owners expanding their options.

Amazon, UKEbay

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Strong Points -

  • Long range up to 400M
  • Fast Sync Speed up to 1/250th (around 1/1000th + with electronic shutters)
  • Hotshoe for Speedlight mounting
  • Self Switching Transmitter and Receiver mode
  • Group Function
  • Wired and Wireless Shutter Release
  • Standard AA batteries
  • Worldwide FCC and CE certification
  • Sync Cords supplied
  • Transceivers provides possible back up transmitter units.
  • Compatible with Pixel King Triggers

Negatives – 

  • Safe trigger voltage only 60V (not safe for some monolights and older speedlights)
  • Large (fairly solid) antenna
  • High profile on camera
  • Small locking rings
  • Build not quite as refined as comparable alternatives

 

Pixel Website – Canon – Nikon – Sony  

 Phottix Atlas II PERMALINK

Phottix Altas II

Around – $150 a set (2 Transceivers)

The Atlas II are solid long range transceivers capable of firing flashes or camera shutters from 350 to 500 metres or more away. Similar to (but not compatible with) the original PocketWizard Plus II, they are often used by sports shooters requiring long range, remote camera use, or just solid all round general flash triggering. Single firing pin like the PocketWizard Plus II/III make them universal for compatibility with most cameras and flashes. High 300 volt safe trigger voltage is compatible with most monolights and older speedlights. Apart from lower price they have the advantage over the PoketWizard Plus III of a hotshoe on the side for direct mounting of speedlights. Also compatible with Phottix Strato/II and Odin TTL triggers, which is ideal for current Phottix owners expanding their options.

Amazon, UKEbayAdoramaPhottix Store

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Strong Points -

  • Long range 350 – 500M
  • Fast Sync Speed over 1/250th (around 1/1200th + with electronic shutters)
  • 300v safe trigger voltage
  • Universal for most cameras and flashes
  • Hotshoe for Speedlight mounting
  • 2 x Standard 3.5mm  (1/8″) miniphone (headphone style) sync jacks in each unit
  • Transmitter and Receiver mode
  • Wired and Wireless Shutter Release
  • Standard AA batteries all-round
  • Locking Ring & Locking Pin on the Transmitter & Receiver
  • Good simple and accessible Power & Channel switches
  • Good quality Sync cables and adapter included
  • Nice pouch included
  • Worldwide FCC and CE certification
  • Compatible with Phottix Strato, Strato II, and Odin Triggers

Negatives – 

  • No Group function
  • Transceiver design, but simultaneous shutter and flash triggering still requires an extra Atlas II unit
  • High profile on camera

 

Phottix – Website 

 PocketWizard Plus X PERMALINK

PocketWizard Plus X

Around – $198 a set (2 Transceivers)

PocketWizard are the photographic industry standard. The Plus X are a simplified, and lower priced, entry level version of the current Plus III below, which are solid manual triggers with very long range, high sync speed, and frames per second. The Plus X offer the main features required though, and retain all the speed, range, and reliability of the Plus III. They have 10 channels, but no zones (groups). Being self switching transceivers they are very simple, and will fire both flash and remote camera shutter with just 3 units, not 4 like some other triggers. PocketWizards can be hired in most studios when needed, and they have receivers built into studio lights from Profoto, Dynalite, Norman, and Photogenic. As well as compatibility with Sekonic light meters. Available in separate FCC and CE frequency versions for the USA and Europe. Compatible with all PocketWizard enabled triggers and devices.

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Positives

  • Great range and reliability, 100 – 500m
  • Fast sync speed – full x-sync (1/250th etc).  Electronic shutters aprox 1/1200th +
  • Simple self switching transceiver technology
  • 10 Channels
  • Up to 14.5 frames per second
  • Remote shutter triggering
  • Fire remote shutter and remote flash with the one transmitter on camera (3 units total)
  • Sekonic light meter triggering
  • 300V safe trigger voltage
  • Standard AA batteries
  • Standard 3.5mm  (1/8″) stereo miniphone (headphone style) sync jack
  • Universally compatible with most current flash and camera systems
  • Transceivers provides possible back up transmitter units.
  • Great service from PocketWizard (LPA)

Negatives

  • No hotshoes for cordless speedlight mounting
  • Frequency is not standard worldwide
  • High profile on camera
  • Plastic Foot

 

PocketWizard are the photographic industry standard and they have worked hard to maintain that position. The Plus III and previous Plus II are solid manual triggers with very long range, high sync speed, and frames per second. The Plus X are a new simplified and lower priced entry level version of the current Plus III. Dubbed the simplest PocketWizards ever, but also the lowest priced, and therefore most affordable so far.

The Plus X offer all the main basic features commonly needed though, the main extras lacking from the Plus III are zones (or groups) which just allow you turn certain lights on and off from the camera. And no repeater mode which allows even further range.

The Plus X are are manual only triggers, not TTL, or any type of remote manual power level control. They have 10 channels, but no zones (or groups).

Importantly the Plus X still retains the remote camera shutter release feature so that camera shutter and flashes can be fired remotely and in sync from a hand held transmitter unit. And this is by using just 3 Plus X units, not 4 like some other triggers which require a separate pair for the shutter release. Apart from convenience, that’s one less unit to pay for when weighing up the costs with other systems.

The Plus X do not provide any hotshoes though, so you can not go completely cordless with speedlights like many of the current (particularly entry level) alternatives. Hotshoes have been left to their Control TL, E/ITTL triggers.

 

 

PocketWizards can be hired in most studios when needed, and PocketWizard have receivers built into studio lights from Profoto, Dynalite, Norman and Photogenic, as well as compatibility with Sekonic light meters.

Compatibility – PocketWizard have set the standard in compatibility through their entire range from the very beginning, as well as compatibility with PocketWizard enabled lights and Sekonic light meters as mentioned above. They use separate frequencies in Europe (433MHz) and the USA (344MHz), so units from the opposite region will not be compatible.

The Plus X are well suited for sporting events etc, where long range, fast, high performance, flash, and remote camera shutter triggering, may be required. Also when industry standard compatibility is required, hiring studio, or equipment with PocketWizard compatibility.

The previous Plus II versions second hand, are now a slightly more affordable entry into the PocketWizard System again.

 

Frequency: FCC/IC: 344.04 MHz
CE: 433.62 MHz
Channels: 10 channels
Reverse compatible with all PocketWizard radios using Standard channels using same frequency.
Zones: Single zone
Antenna: Precision tuned internal coil
Channel Setting: Backlit rotating dial
Range: Up to 500 meters (1600 feet)
(Actual range is dependent on multiple factors including equipment, mode, environment, positioning, orientation and interference)
Sync Speed: Up to 1/250 for focal plane shutters
Up to 1/500 for leaf shutters
Triggering Speed: Up to 14.5 frames per second (FPS)
Contact Time: 62 milliseconds in normal operation
Status Indicator: LED: Green, Amber, Red status indications
Solid Red:  Triggering signal sending or receiving
Single Green Blink: Status OK, > 50% battery life
Double Amber Blink:  Battery life < 50% but > 25%
Triple Red Blink:  Battery life < 25%, change batteries
Transmit Output Power: Less than 1 milliwatt (0.001 watt)
Power: Two (2), AA (LR6), 1.5v alkaline recommended
NiMH, NiCAD, NiZn, Lithium acceptable (these chemistries may not report battery life accurately)
DO NOT USE 3.6V Li-Ion AA cells!
Battery Life: Up to 100 hours (with alkaline batteries)
Max Port Sync Voltage: 300 Volts (Camera/Flash Port)
Mac Current Handling: 1.0 A peak, 0.2 A (1/5 Amp or 200 milliamp) continuous current limited
Voltage Present: 3 volts, safe for use with all digital and film cameras
USB: None
Housing: High impact plastic with captive battery door
Weight:
3.9 ounces (110 grams) with batteries installed
Dimensions: Height: 4.2 inches (10.7 cm)
Width: 2.1 inches (5.3 cm)
Depth: 1.2 inches (3.0 cm)
Operating Temperature: Above 5° F (-15° C) and below 120° F (50° C).
Storage Temperature: Above -22° F (-30° C) and below 185° F (85° C) (without battery)
Input/Output: 3.5mm (1/8″) stereo miniphone jack, hot shoe
Mounting: Hot shoe, lanyard/D-Ring loop, 1/4-20 threaded insert
In the Box: Quick Guide
Stereo 3.mm (1/8″) miniphone to miniphone cable
Mono 3.5mm miniphone to locking PC cable
Stereo 3.5mm miniphone to 6.3mm (1/4″) adapter
Lanyard
RoHS Compliant: Yes
Optional Accessories: Isolation bar, trigger buttons, camera motor drive cables, PC cables and adapters, flash sync cables and protective case

 

PocketWizard – Website  

 PocketWizard Plus III PERMALINK

PocketWizard Plus III

Around – $300 a set (2 Transceivers)

PocketWizard are the photographic industry standard, and the previous Plus II model has been around for many years unchanged. The Plus III (& Plus II) are solid manual triggers with very long range, high sync speed, and frames per second. The Plus III offer a group function, and repeater mode for even further range. PocketWizards can be hired in most studios when needed, and they have receivers built into studio lights from Profoto, Dynalite, Norman, and Photogenic. As well as compatibility with Sekonic light meters. Available in separate FCC and CE frequency versions for the USA and Europe. Compatible with all PocketWizard enabled triggers and devices.

Amazon, UKEbayB&H PhotoAdorama  

MORE DETAIL - Click to Expand

 

Positives

  • Great range and reliability, 100 – 500m
  • Fast sync speed – full x-sync (1/250th etc).  Electronic shutters aprox 1/1200th +
  • 4 groups , 32 Channels
  • Up to 14.5 frames per second
  • Long Range and Repeater modes extend range beyond double
  • Remote shutter triggering
  • Fire remote shutter and remote flashes with the one transmitter
  • Sekonic light meter triggering
  • 300V safe trigger voltage
  • Standard 3.5mm  (1/8″) stereo miniphone (headphone style) sync jack
  • USB port for firmware updates
  • Transceivers provides possible back up transmitter units.
  • Universally compatible with most current flash and camera systems
  • Great service from PocketWizard (LPA)

Negatives

  • No hotshoes for cordless speedlight mounting
  • Frequency is not standard worldwide
  • High profile on camera
  • Plastic Foot

 

PocketWizard are the photographic industry standard and they have worked hard to maintain that position. The Plus III and previous Plus II are solid manual triggers with very long range, high sync speed, and frames per second. You can hire PocketWizards in most studios when needed, and PocketWizard have receivers built into studio lights from Profoto, Dynalite, Norman and Photogenic, as well as compatibility with Sekonic light meters.

The Plus III are are manual only triggers, not TTL, or any type of remote manual power level control. They do have 4 zones (or groups), which means you can turn lights (or groups of lights) on and off, from the camera.

Compatibility – PocketWizard have set the standard in compatibility through their entire range from the very beginning, as well as compatibility with PocketWizard enabled lights and Sekonic light meters as mentioned above. They use separate frequencies in Europe (433MHz) and the USA (344MHz), so units from the opposite region will not be compatible.

The Plus III do not provide any hotshoes though so you can’t go completely cordless with speedlights like many of the current alternatives. Hotshoes have been left to their Control TL, E/ITTL triggers.

The Plus III are well suited for sporting events etc, where long range, fast, high performance, flash, and remote camera shutter triggering, may be required. Also when industry standard compatibility is required, hiring studio, or equipment with PocketWizard compatibility.

The previous Plus II versions, second hand, are now a slightly more affordable entry into the PocketWizard System.

The PocketWizard Multi Max (Update – now discontinued) are an even more advance version of the plus III which can do extra functions again like keeping a remote camera from going to sleep. Please see the PocketWizard website for full details there as they can get quite involved.

 

Frequency: FCC/IC model: 340.00 – 354.00 MHz
CE model: 433.42 – 434.42 MHz
Channels: 32 channels
1-16 Standard Channels
17 – 32 selective Quad-Zone Triggering channels
Reverse compatible with all PocketWizard radios using Standard or Quad Zone Triggering channels
Zones: A – B – C – D
Compatible with other PocketWizard radios with Quad-Zone Triggering channels
Antenna: Precision tuned internal coil
Display: Backlit 2.5cm (1.0″) liquid crystal display (LCD)
Range: Up to 500 meters (1600 feet)
(actual range is dependent on multiple factors including equipment, mode, environment, positioning, orientation and interference)
Sync Speed: Up to 1/250 for focal plane shutters
Up to 1/500 for leaf shutters
Triggering Speed: Up to 14.5 frames per second (FPS)
Contact Time: 62 milliseconds in normal operation
2 milliseconds in High Speed Receive (HSR) Mode
Status Indicator: LED: Green, Amber, Red status indications
Transmit Output Power: Less than 1 milliwatt (0.001 watt)
Power: Two (2) AA (IEC:LR6) alkaline recommended
NiMH, NiCAD, NiZn, Lithium acceptable (these chemistries may not report battery life accurately)
USB (optional AC adapter PW-AC-USB available)
Battery Life: Up to 50 hours (with alkaline batteries)
Max Port Sync Voltage: 300 Volts (Camera/Flash Port)
Mac Current Handling: 1.0 A peak, 0.2 A (1/5 Amp or 200 milliamp) continuous current limited
Voltage Present: 3 volts, safe for use with all digital and film cameras
USB: USB 2.0 Mini-B Connector
Housing: High impact plastic with captive battery door
Weight:
120 grams (4 ounces) with batteries installed
Dimensions: Height: 13.3cm (5.25″
Width: 5.1cm (2.00″)
Depth: 3.2cm (1.25″)
Operating Temperature: Above -15 degrees C (5 degrees F) and below 50 decrees C (120 degrees F)
Storage Temperature: Above -30 degrees C (-22 degrees F) and below 85 degrees C (185 degrees F) (without batteries)
Input/Output: 3.5mm (1/8″) stereo miniphone jack, hot shoe
Mounting: Hot shoe, lanyard/D-Ring loop, 1/4-20 threaded insert
In the Box: Quick Guide
Stereo 3.mm (1/8″) miniphone to miniphone cable
Mono 3.5mm miniphone to locking PC cable
Stereo 3.5mm miniphone to 6.3mm (1/4″) adapter
Lanyard
Operation reference sticker
RoHS Compliant: Yes
Optional Accessories: Isolation bar, trigger buttons, camera motor drive cables, PC cables and adapters, flash sync cables and protective case

 

PocketWizard – Website 

Continue On To  – TTL & REMOTE MANUAL RADIO TRIGGERS

 

18 Comments
  1. mark 3 years ago

    Great review and round-up, very useful :-)

    No mention of Pixel Kings though?

  2. Leo 3 years ago

    Thanks for the comparison.

    Two of the listed problems with Cactus V5s no longer apply. The very early 1st batch which was only available direct from GI did have some issues with the battery drawer in extreme temperatures, but these were fixed from the 2nd batch on. The hotshoes were also strengthened to fix a problem affecting some SB600 users so the wobbly shoe problem no longer exists.

    Resellers like us only ever received the improved version and GI are happy to replace mark I units free of charge.

    As far as the pluses are concerned :

    Multi channel mode fires all channels 1 through 5, not just 4 channels

    While Cactus claims 100m, we’ve tested them here in Collingwood which is a very busy inner city environment and they worked at 275m despite all the RF gadgets around here. I’m confident that they will work at this distance pretty much anywhere outdoors.

    • Yunjae 3 years ago

      Thank you for sharing your ooiinpn. The Strato II Multi seems to be a very good starting point for beginners.But my question is about compatibility. Does it work with Metz 58 AF-2 flash ? (on Nikon D90) There is any specification on Phottix’s website.Thanks for you answer. Cheers

      • Author
        Flash Havoc 3 years ago

        Hi Yunjae,

        The Strato II are great, there are many professionals using them now too. The Metz should be fine, I haven’t heard of any compatibility issues with those. These are manual triggers with a high safe trigger voltage so most speedlights will be fine, the only ones I know that have problems so far are the YongNuo TTL flashes when they are used on the pass through hotshoe, but they are also fine if used on the receivers. You can double check with Phottix if you like to make sure.

  3. Aaron 3 years ago

    I want to use the pop-up CLS commander to control some flashes, and an RF trigger to control some others – at the same time. This is on a D7000 – no sync port, just a hotshoe.

    Any suggestions? Are there triggers small enough to fit the hotshoe with the pop-up deployed?

    • Author
      Flash Havoc 3 years ago

      Hi Aaron,

      Unfortunately its usually not possible to use both, some cameras even disable the hotshoe as soon as the pop up flash is opened.

      Keep an eye out for the YN-622N for Nikon coming soon though, you can stack a manual trigger on top of those to fire extra flashes in manual with most inexpensive manual triggers.

  4. Author
    Flash Havoc 3 years ago

    December 17, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    David Hartman says:

    “For serious long term on-camera use though I would recommend attaching the flash directly on the camera hotshoe and using a Pc sync cord to the transmitter.” From Strato II review above.

    Another option is to mount the transmitter on the hot shoe of the camera and the speedlight on a press/wedding flip bracket. With just a coil TTL cord mounted on the TTL pass through there will be little or no stress on the transmitter. I despise PC cord and will do what I can to avoid using them. For attaching two speedlights to one receiver I’m using a short Nikon SC-17 TTL cord and a pair of Nikon AS-E900(s).

    I wish Phottix had used a 90 degree, 2.5mm phone plug on the 10 point Nikon shutter cord. I piggy back the receiver on the transmitter when using a transmitter for shutter release. The strait 2.5mm plug touches my head at times. A 90 would cure this.

    A simple trick I’ve found is to use a second transmitter for both shutter release and light readings. I set the lights to channel 1 and the shutter release to channel 4. It’s very easy to slide the channel switch to channel 1 to meter then channel 4 to shoot.

    Thank you so much for the great reviews!

    Dave Hartman A.K.A. Mr. Speedlight on Flickr

    ————————————————————————————————————————————

    Flash Havoc says:

    Hi Dave,

    Thanks for the detailed response. I agree the TTL cord is a better option for the pass through if you don’t mind using a bracket.

    I just checked and the shutter release cords for Canon version Strato II and they are not 90 degree either.

    FlashZebra.com would likely have some 90 degree cords at a reasonable price, but if you have any dramas I could likely dig one up here.

    That’s a great tip on the channels, thanks again!

  5. Markg 2 years ago

    Hi

    I just purchased RF-602/C kit from a local supplier here in Australia and noticed the RF 600tx now has an on/off slide switch on the front of the unit next to the status led.

    The instruction sheet has not been updated although if you look carefully you can see it on the box image. No more inadvertent flat batteries.

    Thanks for the great info.

    Mark.

  6. karl bratby 1 year ago

    thanks for sharing all the info.

  7. stig 1 year ago

    I have a Nikon D3 and just bought a D3s and my yongnuo 622n do not work with the D3s. can you recommend a slave (any MFR) that has an af assist beam? it helps me in critical times when im shooting under low light with the d3. it doesnt matter if its more or less expensive. I just want to know my options.

    • Author
      Flash Havoc 1 year ago

      Hi stig,

      I wasn’t aware of the YN-622N incompatibility with the D3s. Though there are very few other radio triggers available now which have a built in AF assist light. The original Pixel Kings may be the only option other than the YN-622N.

      Otherwise flash units like the Phottix Mitros+ have the AF light, as well as radio transmitter built in for the Odin TTL and remote manual radio receivers. A full size flash is obviously not as compact as a small transmitter unit though.

  8. Ann 1 year ago

    I was surprised to read this because I have D3S cameras and they work perfectly with the YN- 622 N and the YN- 622 N TX units.

    I use them with Nikon SB-900 Speedlights and with Bowens studio strobes and have had no problems at all.

    Which flash-heads are you using? There have been numerous problems reported with SB-800s and not only with YN triggers but many other makes as well.

  9. Ann 1 year ago

    Just a couple of thoughts:

    The AF Assist beam ONLY works under very dim lighting conditions ( probably not much brighter than 4 EV);

    And AF Assist only works on a D3S if you have the AF Mode switch (on the front of the camera body) set to ”AF S”.

    Then turn AF Assist on in the 622 N TX and try again.

    It certainly works for me.

  10. badphoto 8 months ago

    Hi elv

    Can you review these: http://lightpixlabs.com/collections/all

    The advantage is that they are really small. Paired up with an old small thyristor flash and would have a light and compact off camera automatic flash.

  11. Peter A 8 months ago

    When you add the mini-FlashQ review (I like mini!) adding & updating other mini triggers would be nice. I felt let down when I didn’t see Nano/Jr2 reviews. Not that it would help my purchase decision now as I already bought. But I often learn use details that I may have missed in the manual or other reviews. :-)

    • Peter A 8 months ago

      I should have listened to the dude reviewing the Jr2’s on B&H’s website. Not ready for primetime… I thought they would have it sorted out in the months since the review, but NO-o-o-o !!! Jr2’s only work as dumb trigger! Probably needs the same firmware upgrade as he needed. How dumb! Just like the triggers! I sent them an email. I hope I don’t need to pay for shipping and wait till next year to get them back (due to the holiday).

      • Peter A 8 months ago

        Per the comment above… Nevermind! The MitrosN works fine changing power remotely — when it isn’t in Master Mode. Duh!

        The SB-26 shows signs of bad contacts, intermttant weirdness, but I’ve gotten it to work (with help from a call from RP). The SB-26 doesn’t get recognized for *remote* mode on the Jr2 rcvr. Sometimes taking it off and putting it back on will do it. But it seems even if it is stuck in *local* that firing a test flash somehow allows the *remote* mode to connect. But the *remote* mode icon remains blinking which it doesn’t for the MitrosN. So it’s a can-get-it-to-work-eventually kind of thing. I may just use it with the JrX receiver as that worked fine. Didn’t test it but expect it’ll work with the Jr2 transmitter. Good enough for me for now.

        I’m also getting set up for long term use of the Nanos. I used rechargeable RCR123a batts with the JrX and they worked fine… as in they didn’t burn out from over voltage. I couldn’t find the batts I had, but I did find a Tenergy RCR123a green 750mAh with only a 3.6Vtop end (2000 recharge!). About the same V as the other I had. I avoided the 900mAh black batts because they peak at 4.2 volts.

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