Phottix have released their much anticipated entry into the ETTL and remote manual trigger market with the Odin TTL trigger.
Phottix have previously delivered one of the best Manual trigger options available for speedlights in the Strato II triggers, so expectations where high with the TTL Odin and they have certainly delivered again.
UPDATE - The Phottix Odin TTL triggers are now also compatible with the Phottix Mitros + flash unit, which have Odin radio transceiver unit built directly into the flash !
Quote Phottix -”Photographers can wirelessly trigger TTL flashes, retaining full TTL functions, as well as remotely control power and flash zoom settings. Shooting with off-camera TTL flash has been made incredibly easy. Say goodbye to manual mode, proprietary flash-based triggering, or setting values on your camera LCD – reliable wireless radio-based TTL triggering and remote power control is here.”
If you’re new to radio triggers or the Phottix Odin there is a great overview video here by Michael Zelbel - www.uqast.com/photography/odin
GREAT FEATURES -
- UPDATE - Compatible with Phottix Mitros + with built in Odin transceiver.
- Full control through the one simple Odin transmitter interface, this is really the standout feature of the Odins.
- Most importantly they work flawlessly with plenty of range and no misfires or radio interference issues.
- Manual and ETTL can be used and combined together at the same time, in 3 different groups.
- Compatible with most Canon EX flash units 420ex, 550ex, 430ex, 430exII, 580ex, 580exII. (& some Nissin flashes)
- Compatible with all Canon ETTL II camera bodies from the 20D onwards, no special flash control menus required.
- Up to 6 stops of FEC Flash Exposure Compensation in TTL (that is in combination with the cameras FEC)
- Backward compatible with the Phottix Strato II and Strato. (Strato/II Transmitter will NOT fire the Odin Receivers though)
- HSS (high speed sync, up to 1/8000th), Second Curtain Sync, and FEL (Flash exposure lock) works.
- Remote Control of the Flash Zoom Head, in Manual or Auto (auto follows the lense zoom length).
- Over Drive Sync – high sync speeds with studio lights, with adjustable timing.
- Firmware updates via built-in USB ports.
- 1/3rd stop manual power adjustment, even for 550ex, 430ex & 420ex flashes which usually do not support this.
- No AF (auto focus) Assist Light. (Now possible with Mitros + flash as Tx, or bracket and ST-E2 mounted above camera)
- TTL compatibility currently only with Canon, Phottix and some Nissin flash units. Not YongNuo or Sigma etc.
In More Depth -
It’s no secret I’ve been a big fan of the Phottix Strato II manual radio triggers, so I’ve been keen to find out what the new Odin TTL triggers are like. I watched the video and read some reviews but the one thing that still didn’t strike me until I actually had the Odin in my hands is just how incredibly simple they actually are!
This is a powerful system with the ability to combine mixed ETTL and remote manual groups at the same time, but Phottix have made this all seem very simple smooth to operate. And they really are very simple to use, the Odin are the plug and play simple PocketWizard Control TL would have liked to be.
When the Odin first arrived I didn’t have a chance to read the manual (provided on CD), so I had a quick play with the transmitter unit on its own. That’s when I realised you really don’t even need an instruction manual to learn how to operate these, its so obvious and intuitive by the time you get to the manual there’s really not that much left to learn (and the manual is very short and to the point anyway which I like). No need to set up configurations through software on your computer like PocketWizards, and adjust for different camera models etc. Just slot them straight on to any ETTL II camera and you’re away.
NOTE - One simple thing that does catch people out quite often, is simply knowing that the flash units must be set to TTL for the Odin to work (even if just using manual power levels).
The main reason the Odin are so easy to use it that everything is controlled by the one simple transmitter unit (TCU), which has the great Nikon style interface with all groups displayed on the LCD at once.
And the buttons are virtually all dedicated to just one purpose, so it may look a little complex at first, but it’s really exactly the opposite and very simple and intuitive. No digging through layers of menus either.
Your thumb naturally finds the centre SEL button, and that is all that’s needed to scroll through the 3 groups, pressing the + & – to adjust them and MODE to change from ETTL to Manual, or Off. That’s all there is too it.
The Image below shows an example of -
Left – mixed ETTL and manual
Centre – all manual
Right – traditional Canon style ratios
In ETTL settings there are + or – 3 stops of exposure compensation, but that is also added to the exposure compensation set directly on the camera. So you actually have up to 5 or 6 stops of adjustment either way, which is huge!
Set the individual groups exposure compensation on the transmitter and adjust them all up and down globally via the cameras exposure compensation.
Manual setting is by 1/3rd stops from 1/128 to 1/1.
NOTE – Since the release of the Nikon, and subsequent Canon version 1.5 Odins, the screen display has changed slightly to incorporate the 1/3rd stop manual settings -
The receivers are also very easy to set, simply adjust the channel and group switch as required. The On/Off switch is also easy to access.
At this point I should probably carry on about switches, standard plug sockets, neat solid hotshoes, great locking rings, battery doors that work, and all that boring stuff that should just be right anyway. But I don’t really have to because Phottix have already gotten these basic design elements right from a long while back (while many other companies are still just starting to catch up).
How well do they Work? -
Really well! I haven’t had a hint of misfire or miscommunication. The TTL exposures are exactly as they should be and the combination of manual and TTL flashes working together is seamless.
The communication is very smooth, you would hardly know it was happening. As others have mentioned the Odin feel like they are part of the Canon system.
HSS and Second Curtain Sync work just as if the flash was on camera. The HSS makes wide apertures and nice Bokeh fast and simple, no messing around taking ND filters on and off while on the go.
Remote flash zoom allows you to set each group from the TCU, to either follow the lense like on camera, or set to manual zoom. (Note – you do loose remote control when the flash head is tilted upwards).
Flash exposure lock FEL works, which I find great with off camera TTL.
Remote manual power setting really saves a lot of time setting up and tweaking. If you’re thinking you only shoot manual so you don’t really need TTL triggers, once you give this a try you might be surprised. It’s hard to go back.
Backward Compatibility -
This is a really important feature. The Odin’s TCU is compatible with both the Phottix Strato II and the original Strato manual radio receivers. (Note - Strato/II Tx will not fire Odin Rx)
This makes the Odin system even greater value because you can trigger your manual monolights or speedlights as well, and very reliably with $50 Strato II receivers instead of needing another full TTL receiver.
This also shows Phottix have commitment to forward and backward compatibility. Which is an important feature to look out for in a trigger system, unless you want to be constantly clearing out your current system every time something new comes along. Instead of possibly building on what you already have.
The Strato II are a really nice manual trigger as well, and all the channels and groups correspond with the Odin TCU. Its great to have a set of these on hand anyway for use as a remote shutter release. They use standard AAA batteries which makes them light and compact, another reason I’d often rather carry a few of these as extra triggers than larger PocketWizards etc -
UPDATE – 22 Aug 2012 – The Odin are now also compatible with the newly released Phottix Atlas II long range manual triggers (transceivers).
Range & Reliability -
The Odin work on the 2.4GHz system so they don’t suffer from the unfortunate RF noise issues and reduced range some PocketWizard Control TL users have had to deal with, particularly with the Canon 580exII.
In basic trials the maximum range is clearly a long way, up to the specs 100m region in straight line of sight. Well beyond practical use in TTL anyway. Through a number of walls etc they have no issues so far.
Update – The Odin have been one of the most reliable TTL triggers available. Its not uncommon to need a quick reset with many TTL triggers as they have slight hiccups with miscumuniction etc at times, but the Odin’s rarely have any issues like this.
Compatibility – Flashes & Cameras -
The great thing about the Odin’s self contained TCU is you don’t need the latest camera body with flash control menus or MK II flashes to get full functionality.
All ETTL II camera bodies from the 20D onwards are supported, and Canon EX flash units from the 550ex onward – 420ex, 550ex, 430ex, 430exII, 580ex, 580exII, 600EX-RT
Now also Phottix’s own very good (and well priced) Mitros Flash units. UPDATE – and Mitros + with built in Odin transceiver.
Nissin Di866 II & Di622 II also compatible with Canon Odin.
NOT Compatible -
YongNuo ETTL flashes (some reports of the YN-565ex working with the Nikon Odins).
Sigma EF-500 DG Super, Sigma EF-500 ST, Sigma EF-610 DG Super
Nissin Di622 MKI, Nissin Di866 MKI
Note – Most flashes can be fired by the Odin as a basic manual flash, the compatibility listed here is for the complete TTL and remote manual power setting functions etc.
This is another area I really like the simplicity of the Odin. Because they use traditional separate Tx and Rx there is no TTL contact foot on the receiver like the PocketWizard TT5. So mounting is very simple via the strong threaded mounting hole. On the PocketWizard the hole is offset from the flash foot and mounting in various modifiers can often be a challenge.
The best way to mount the receivers securely is by the threaded mounting hole. So if mounting to an umbrella swivel its best to use the type which have a brass stud in the top, which screws to the receiver. Clamping the plastic feet into coldshoes can easily lead to broken receiver feet otherwise.
Light Meter Use -
Update - Light meter use was originally limited with the Odin, even in remote manual use. But as of August 2013 firmware updates have changed the function of the Odin test fire button to allow for light meter use as follows -
Pressing the Test button on the transmitter will cause the flashes in A, B and C groups to fire simultaneously. Group(s) turned off will not fire. When the flashes in A, B and C groups are set to Manual (M) mode, pressing the Test button on the transmitter will cause the flashes to fire an initial low-power pre-flash. The flashes will fire simultaneously at their set manual power levels 2.5s later. This feature allows for light meters to be used correctly.
So many Sekonic light meters can be set to measure the brightest flash after the initial pre-flash. If a lightmeter doesn’t have that feature you could simply block the sensor for the pre-flash and allow it to see the main flash for a reading.
The two previous issues where -
- The Odin TCU Test fire button only used a small flash pulse to indicate the flash units will fire, and not a correct power level corresponding to the power the flash is set to. So a light meter previously could not be used with the Odin Test fire button.
- The Odin puts out a small pre flash even in remote manual use. So even using the camera shutter (taking an image) could still be an issue if the light meter does not ignore pre-flashes.
Over Drive Sync -
With firmware updates from August 2013 the Phottix Odin TTL triggers for Canon and Nikon have a great feature called Over Drive Sync, or ODS. ODS is a fast and simple (but also very precise) timing adjustment, allowing you to tune in the best results possible when using higher sync speeds with studio lights. Adjustments are made quickly and easily directly on the Odin transmitter interface.
ODS relies on flash units with long flash durations, and also what is known as an early Pre-Sync firing signal. The early Pre-Sync signal fires the flash before the camera shutter has started to open, and the long tail of light (or long duration) acts like a constant light source, lighting the full image while the shutters are passing over. Most TTL triggers now provide this Pre-Sync firing signal, but the timing is fixed, and results can then be much more limited without any adjustment possible.
Accessing the new ODS timing adjustment is just a simple matter of holding down the “MODE” and “+” buttons at the same time for 2 seconds. The ODS screen will display with a default setting of 0.0. There are 50 graduations from 0.0 to 5.0. Each 0.1 is one millisecond. So adjustment range is simply from zero to 50 milliseconds.
Then its just a matter of connecting a studio light to an Odin receiver via the supplied sync cord, setting the Odin TCU to HSS, and the camera to a shutter speed over X-sync (1/1000th etc) and taking a test shot. The timing can then be adjusted to move the brightest section of light into the frame as it suits best.
Full manual speedlites can also be mounted directly on the Odin receiver hotshoe, but full power is needed with speedlites. Power loss is similar to FP HSS, so larger monolights which have more power available are generally of more use here.
Results will vary with lights and cameras used. Lights with a long flash duration are needed, and cameras with a small sensor and fast shutter give the best results. There is a more detailed explanation of Over Drive Sync here.
USB Ports – Firmware Updates -
Both Transmitter and Receivers have built in USB ports so that they can be updated with future firmware. This is important because it allows them to stay compatible with future camera and flash units. Upgraded features may also be available in the future. Firmware updates will be available on the blog http://journal.phottix.com
And all Phottix firmware and downloads here - http://www.phottix.com/en/medias
Firmware updates load smoothly with no issues. It takes just a few minutes for each unit.
There is no AF assist light on the Odin Transmitter.
You can however put an ST-E2 on an Odin receiver and have that fire the AF assist light. Mounted above camera on a small flash bracket you have AF assist and Odin TCU on camera.
That may sound less than ideal but at least there is an option. Its no easier to work around this with the PocketWizard AC3 either unfortunately, or the new Canon ST-E3 for that matter.
UPDATE - AF assist is now possible with Mitros + flash used as the Odin transmitter on camera.
Flash on Camera
[UPDATE - The Phottix Odin TTL triggers are now compatible with the Phottix Mitros + flash unit, which have Odin radio transceiver unit built directly into the flash. So flash mounted securely and directly on camera is now possible using a Mitros + flash as the Odin transmitter unit. This is a much more solid and reliable solution than any of the triggers offering a pass through hotshoe to mount a flash on top.]
This may be going a little beyond the Odins main intended purpose at this stage, but I have tried a flash mounted above the camera on a bracket and Odin receiver, and that functions just like the flash was mounted on camera. The AF assist light and zoom also work just as if the flash was on camera.
The flash zoom can be set to auto for the flash above camera so that it follows the lense, and the other off camera flashes set to a separate manual zoom setting.
The AF assist light needs to stay above the lens to be functional, so a bracket that keeps the flash upright in both landscape and portrait would be the ideal. You can get some inexpensive ones of those now, as well as very professional ones.
What’s Included -
The great thing about Phottix is that they supply all the cords you could need, and good quality ones.
- Phottix Odin TCU Transmitter
- Phottix Odin Receiver
- 4x AA Batteries
- 3.5mm to PC Sync Cable
- 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable
- 6.3mm adapter
- USB Cable
- Instructions CD
- Frequency: 2.4 GHz
- Distance: 100m+
- Channels: 4 channels
- Groups: 3 groups – A, B, C
- Batteries: 2 x AA batteries (TCU and Receiver), 5V DC on receiver (external power port)
- Max sync speed: 1/8000 sec*
- Output: Hot shoe, 3.5 mm port (receiver)
- Input: USB port (transmitter and receiver)
- Attachment: 1/4 tripod lug, cold shoe (Receiver)
- Input voltage:2.4-3.2V
- Flash port voltage handling: 6V (transmitter) ≤300V(receiver)
- Body dimensions: 94(L) x 66(W) x 35(H) mm, (transmitter), 90(L) x 45(W) x 40(H) mm (receiver)
- Weight: 105g (transmitter), 66g (receiver) – without batteries
- Operating temperature: -15—65 C
- Storage temperature: -30—85 C
Some good discussions -
The Odin are fantastic triggers, Phottix have made a powerful system very simple and intuitive. Once you’ve experience how convenient they are its hard to go back. No more running back and forth, climbing lightstands, and digging in softboxes to change power settings again.
Simplicity is the Odins strength, provided they fit within your needs the Odins come very highly recommended.
Update – Over a number years now the Odins have still proven to be one of the most simple, reliable, and hassle free TTL systems available at any price!
19 SEP 2013 – The Phottix Odin TTL triggers are now compatible with the Phottix Mitros + flash unit, which have Odin radio transceiver unit built directly into the flash.
18 DEC 2012 – NIKON firmware update V1.02 - on-camera AF light is optional, recognize FX cameras, and ISO-AUTO” can be displayed on the flash screen
22 Aug 2012 - Odin are now also Compatible with the newly released Phottix Atlas II long range manual triggers (transceivers).
21 Aug 2012 - CANON firmware update V1.20 – 1/3rd stop manual power adjustments for Canon Odin. Full compatibility with the 5D MKIII.
Price and Availability -
Prices range from around $320 for the Tx & Rx set.
See also the Phottix Mitros + flash unit, with Odin radio transceiver unit built-in.
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