FLASH TRIGGER GUIDE – MANUAL RADIO TRIGGERS

MANUAL RADIO TRIGGERS

 

Trying to choose a flash radio trigger? This is a guide to a number of the tried and true options popular with experienced strobists as they generally offer the most value for money in one way or another. Hopefully this guide can help you find the most suitable option to suits your needs.

See also – TTL & REMOTE MANUAL RADIO TRIGGERS

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All of the manual triggers listed bellow are decent reliable options now, and as many strobists are a frugal lot, generally the best value for money you will find as well. There are a wide range of price, quality, and functions in the triggers listed here though, so there are some recommendations below to help you get started. These triggers are selected from a number of years hands on experience, a lot of beta testing, and the feedback from many experienced strobists of all levels.

Although this list is mainly about simple manual triggers, one important thing to consider now is that radio triggers and remote function are fast being built directly into lights. So for the price of a good trigger you can also get a manual speedlite for example with remote power setting and receiver built in. So even if you’re just after a trigger for your current flash, it may still help to consider what other options may be compatible as well. The list of small flash units with built in radio capability can be seen HERE.

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

Phottix Strato II – are 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. There are certainly decent cheaper options but they tend to have compromises in quality or features in one way or another.

YongNuo RF-603 II – are the current stand out for a minimum budget.
Commlite Comtrig T320
 – are the current stand out with a TTL hotshoe for a minimum budget.
Phottix Ares –  higher quality, long range option, in the low price category.
Ojecoco H-430 / Comtrig G430 – the most features there in the low price category.

PCB Cybersysncs –  ideal if using a flash on camera regularly and need to mount a small transmitter as well.
Radiopopper JrX – for remote manual power setting from the camera.
PocketWizard Plus III – the industry standard top end manual trigger.
PocketWizard Plus X – a lower priced, simplified, but still well specced version of the Plus III above.

Sony – camera & speedlights with the Sony iISO shoe mount – there are now versions of the 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 AresCactus V5PCB CybersyncPhottix Altas II, & PocketWizard Plus III. The YongNuo RF-603 II are also quite suitable for N0n Canon/Nikon Cameras as well now.

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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-603 II PERMALINK

YongNuo RF-603 II

Around – $36 a set (2 Transceivers) OVERVIEW

RF-603 II are the successor to the very popular RF-602 & RF-603 triggers listed below, rectifying earlier issues and making the RF-603 II one of the best bang for buck inexpensive manual triggers available now. Also currently the most suitable transmitter option for the popular YN-560 III manual flash units.

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 manual only though, so a flash can not operate in TTL mode 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 with previous RF-603 triggers, and with the YN-560 III manual flash unit with RF-603 receiver built in. 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

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YongNuo – Website 

 YongNuo RF-602 PERMALINK

YonNuo RF-602

Around – $35 a set (Tx & Rx)

Still available, but superseded by the RF-603 II listed above, 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 listed above. Not compatible with the RF-603 or RF603 II 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

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 YongNuo RF-603 PERMALINK

YongNuo RF-603

Around – $40 a set (2 Transceivers)

Still available, but superseded by the RF-603 II listed above, 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 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.

The RF-603 is 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

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 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

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 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.

 

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 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).

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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

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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).

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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

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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

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Mid Priced Manual Flash Triggers

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

When looking into the mid priced trigger options one important consideration to keep in mind is forward and backward compatibility, so that you can build onto you’re existing kit instead of completely replacing it as new and expanded options arrive. PocketWizard have originally set the standard for compatibility, though many other brands are now seeing the importance of this as a highly valued feature.

 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).

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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.

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 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.

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Website – Canon – Nikon – Sony – Olympus/Panasonic

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 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.

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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

 

Cybersyncs are available from Paul C Buff – PCBEbay 

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High End Manual Flash Triggers

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Higher end Manual flash triggers generally offer higher build quality, longer range, and more advanced features like remote camera firing.

 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.

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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

 

Website – Phottix Store

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 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.

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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

 

Website – Canon – Nikon – Sony

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 Radiopopper JRX PERMALINK

Radiopopper JrX Studio

Around – $170 a set (Tx & Rx) + $20 – $30 for required hotshoe or cord.

Radiopopper JrX are currently the only manual trigger that offer remote control of manual flash power levels from the transmitter unit. This is a brilliant system if you have access to older Nikon TTL flashes like the SB-24, SB-26, SB-28 or even the SB-600, SB-800, and Canon EX flashes. They will also remotely adjust the manual power levels of Paul C Buff Alien Bees monolights. Great range and reliability with fast sync speeds and high trigger voltage.  No hotshoe on the receiver for direct speedlight mounting. Compatible with Radiopopper PX TTL triggers.

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Positives

  • Remote manual power control with many TTL capable speedlights & Alienbees monolights
  • Universaly 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).  Electronic shutters aprox 1/1200th +
  • 200V trigger voltage
  • Compatible with Radiopopper PX transmitter
  • Standard 3.5mm  (1/8″) stereo miniphone (headphone style) sync jack
  • Light Meter use possible
  • Great service from Radiopopper

Negatives

  • No HSS available with speedlights
  • No locking ring on the transmitter
  • No hotshoe on receivers
  • Non standard CR123A batteries
  • No lanyard strap or hole for a strap to hang or mount the receiver
  • Shutter release is not a standard feature (works but requires a cord)
  • No flash wake up feature

 

Radiopopper JrX are the only Manual triggers offering Remote Manual Power Control via the simple quench pin system. This is a brilliant system if you have access to inexpensive older Nikon film camera TTL flashes like the SB-24, SB-26, SB-28 SB-80dx, etc at reasonable prices. They will also work with the SB-600 & SB-800, any of the Canon EX ETTL flashes, and Paul C Buff Alien Bees monolights as well. (They will still fire SB-900 etc and most other lights, just not control their power level remotely).

The JrX are also good solid manual triggers with fast sync speeds and high safe trigger voltage. Unlike some of the TTL triggers available, the power changes are separate to the flash fire signal, so fast sync speeds are possible and there are no pre-flashes at all, which means no issues using light meters either.

The JrX transmitter also use a simple single firing pin on the foot which means they can be used on any camera, or even held off camera to change power levels and take a meter reading with the test fire button.

Older Nikon flashes are becoming in limited supply though and the SB-900 are no longer compatible (SB-800 and SB-600 are compatible). Current Canon EX flashes are compatible as well, it’s just that you’re paying for the extra ETTL and High Speed Sync (HSS) features with those, which may be better exploited with the many inexpensive TTL triggers now becoming available.

The JrX studio receivers also require an extra cord or hotshoe to connect to your flash unit, which is at least $20 from flashzebra.com, and $30 for the Radioppoper “cube” hotshoe.

Backward / Forward Compatibility – The JrX are also compatible with the Radiopopper PX TTL system and can be used with the JrX or PX transmitter to control Alien Bees monolights (but not the later Einstein).

 

Website – Radiopopper USA

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 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.

 

FULL FEATURE DESCRIPTIONS:

10 Standard Channels
With the PlusX’s 10 Standard Channels you can work in your own “zone.” Claim your own channel for exclusive triggering when working with other photographers at crowded events.  Use different channels for different setups or looks and select them simply and intuitively with the turn of a dial. And these 10 channels are compatible with every PocketWizard ever made* set to Standard Channels 1 – 10. (* radios of the same frequency)

Backlit Channel Dial
Setting channels is as easy as turning a dial. The backlit channel dial clearly displays the set channel and because the backlight consumes so little power, it stays on all the time for convenience.

Internal Antenna
The PlusX features a durable, side profile design with an unobtrusive, internal antenna minimizing visual obstruction between you and your subject. By utilizing an internal antenna, there’s no chance to kink or break it when on location. The total height of the transceiver and antenna is less than 4.2 inches, and it weighs only 4 ounces, including batteries.

Easily Connected / Cable Port
On your camera, the PlusX slides into the hot shoe with no cables required.  For your remotes, it features one do-it-all miniphone (3.5mm or 1/8”) sync port. The miniphone connector is much more reliable than a PC connection and every PlusX comes complete with a miniphone-to-miniphone cable, a miniphone-to-phono (1/4″ or 6.3mm) adapter for triggering the majority of modern flashes, and a miniphone to locking PC cable for triggering some remote speedlights or for using your PlusX on-camera when you can’t put it in a hot shoe.  Other miniphone connector cables are available for major brands of lighting equipment in a variety of lengths. Dedicated remote camera triggering cables are also available for popular camera systems.

Auto-Sensing Transceiver 
With our patented Auto-Sensing Transceiver Technology, the PlusX Transceiver is one smart radio. The PlusX will instantly and intelligently switch between transmitter and receiver modes keeping setup as simple as possible. The PlusX may be set to Transmit (Tx) only when needed.

Auto-Relay Mode
Our Auto-Sensing Transceiver Technology lets you trigger a remote camera in sync with remote flashes using only 3 PocketWizard radios: the one in your hands, a PlusX cabled to your remote camera, and the one connected to your remote flash. The PlusX cabled to your remote camera will receive a radio signal and trigger the camera’s motor drive, then switch to transmit mode and trigger your PocketWizard-connected remote flashes on the next channel up, all automatically.  Start the sequence by simply pressing the TEST button of any PocketWizard transmitter in your hands. Remote cameras require motor drive cables. Find the correct cable for your gear using the PocketWizard Cable Finder.

Status Indicator/Battery Life Indicator
The PlusX features a tri-color LED status indicator that serves two functions.  When the PlusX sends or receives a triggering signal, the LED will glow red.  During normal operation, the indicator will blink a single green blink meaning it is operating normally and the battery life is above 50%.  It will blink a double amber blink when the battery is below 50% but above 25% and it will blink three red blinks when the battery life is below 25% and it’s crucial to replace the batteries.

Transmit Only Mode
There are times when you only want your radio to transmit, usually when two or more photographers are sharing a set of lights.  By enabling transmit only mode, you disable the receive and auto-relay functions to make sure all your radio is doing is transmitting.

Range and Reliability
PocketWizard Plus radios are known for their range and reliability.  Although the PlusX costs less than other PocketWizard radios, you still get the range and reliability you’d expect.

Sync Speed
Ultra-fast microprocessors allow for reliable sync speeds of 1/250 for focal plane shutters and 1/500 for leaf shutters.

PocketWizard Compatible

The PlusX is compatible with all PocketWizard transmitters and receivers including PocketWizard-enabled photo gear from Profoto, Dynalite, Norman, Photogenic and Sekonic light meters.  The PocketWizard Wireless System allows for total flexibility with whatever lights or cameras you may be working with.

Made in the USA
Like almost all PocketWizard radios, the PlusX is made in the USA.  We keep production close to ensure the highest quality.

 

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

 

Website – PocketWizard

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 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.

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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 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.

 

 

FULL FEATURE DESCRIPTIONS:

32 Channels
With the PocketWizard Plus III Transceiver’s 32 channels (16 standard plus 16 Quad-Zone Triggering channels), finding an open channel is easy. Photographers working in a busy environment, including wedding halls, sports arenas or busy studios, can dial in a channel as simply as pushing a button.

Quad-Zone Triggering
Selective Quad-Zone Triggering keeps you shooting photos, not running back and forth to your lighting or cameras. Without leaving the camera position, you can wirelessly activate or deactivate your remote flashes or cameras in 4 separately controllable zones: A, B, C, or D. This is ideal when using multiple lighting setups or turning remote cameras on and off as needed. The Plus III Transceiver is also the perfect partner for the MultiMAX® radio, which also features 32 channels and four zones.


Auto-Sensing Transceiver Technology
With our patented Auto-Sensing Transceiver technology, the Plus III Transceiver is one smart radio. When set to TxRx, it will instantly and intelligently switch between transmitter and receiver modes as needed for greater flexibility on the job. The Plus III may be set to transmit (Tx) or receive (Rx) only when needed.

Two-Stage Remote Camera Triggering
The Plus III Transceiver is the perfect solution for remote camera triggering. The unique two-stage TEST button on the Plus III works just like the shutter release button on your camera. Press it halfway and your remote camera wakes up to meter and focus. Press TEST all the way to take your photo. When released, your remote camera will return to sleep mode normally; a real battery saver. Using the right cables, you can have a remote camera follow the camera in your hands – half press your hand-held camera’s shutter release and the remote camera meters/focuses, full press and both cameras trigger away. This feature requires a receiving Plus III, MultiMAX or FlexTT5, and ACC Pre-Trigger cables.

Auto-Relay Mode
Our Auto-Sensing Transceiver technology lets you trigger a remote camera in sync with remote flashes using only 3 PocketWizard radios: the one in your hands, a Plus III cabled to your remote camera, and the one connected to your remote flash. The Plus III cabled to your remote camera will receive a radio signal and trigger the camera’s motor drive, then switch to transmit mode and trigger your PocketWizard-connected remote flashes, all automatically. Start the sequence by simply pressing the TEST button of any PocketWizard Transmitter in your hands. Remote cameras require motor drive cables.

Long Range Capability
Under ideal conditions, The Plus III Transceiver works up to 500 meters (1600 feet). Shooting environments are seldom ideal, so the Plus III incorporates two range extending modes for the challenges of the real world. Use Long Range Mode (LR) to nearly double the effective triggering distance in almost any environment. In very challenging environments or extremely long working ranges, place a Plus III in Repeater Mode (RP) between your transmitter and receiver to repeat the signal and complete the connection. These modes take a little extra time to do their jobs, so maximum X-sync may be reduced when firing remote flashes in LR or RP modes.

High Speed Receive
Normally, the Plus III is capable of triggering lights or cameras at a sustained rate of up to 12 frames per second (FPS), a standard for PocketWizard radios. Set the Plus III to High Speed Receive Mode (HSR) and trigger at rates up to 14.5 FPS, beyond the capability of most of today’s cameras. This mode can also help high FPS triggering compatibility for any flash.

Simple User Interface
The Plus III has an intuitive user interface where all channels, zones and modes can be easily engaged via a soft-touch keypad, and displayed on an easy-to-read backlit 2.5cm (1″) LCD display. When you’re working in dark environments, simply press any key other than TEST to Illuminate the LCD.

Sync Speed
Ultra-fast microprocessors allow for reliable sync speeds of 1/250 for focal plane shutters and 1/500 for leaf shutters.

Easily Connected
On your camera, the Plus III slides into the hot shoe with no cables required. For your remotes, it features one do-it-all sync port. The industry-standard miniphone (3.5mm or 1/8″) connector is much more reliable than a PC connection, so each Plus III comes complete with a miniphone-to-miniphone cable, and a miniphone-to-phono (1/4″ or 6.3mm) adapter for triggering the majority of modern flashes. And it even comes with a miniphone to locking PC cable for triggering some remote speedlights, or for using your Plus III on-camera when you can’t put it in a hot shoe. Other miniphone connector cables are available for major brands of lighting equipment in a variety of lengths. Dedicated remote camera triggering cables are also available for popular camera systems.

Very Compatible
The Plus III is compatible with all PocketWizard transmitters and receivers of the same frequency* including PocketWizard-enabled photo gear from Profoto, Dynalite, Norman, Photogenic and Sekonic light meters. The PocketWizard wireless system allows for total flexibility with whatever lights or cameras you may be working with. (*FCC and CE PocketWizard radios work on different frequencies)

Sleek New Design
The Plus III features a durable, side profile design with an unobtrusive, internal antenna minimizing visual obstruction between you and your subject. By utilizing an internal antenna, there’s no chance to kink or break it when on location. The total height of the transceiver and antenna is less than 5.25 inches, and it weighs only 4 ounces, including batteries.

Common Power
Two AA (IEC:LR6) batteries run the Plus III for about 50 hours. External power can be supplied to the standard Mini-B USB port. The captive battery door won’t get lost.

Up to Date
The Plus III is firmware-upgradable. Simply connect it to a PC or Mac and download and install the latest firmware with the PocketWizard Utility software.

 

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

 

Website – PocketWizard

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Continue On To  – TTL & REMOTE MANUAL RADIO TRIGGERS

14 Comments
  1. mark 3 years ago

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

    No mention of Pixel Kings though?

  2. Leo 2 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 2 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 2 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 2 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 2 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 2 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 1 year 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 9 months ago

    thanks for sharing all the info.

  7. stig 7 months 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 7 months 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 6 months 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 6 months 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.

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