PocketWizard, or US based LPA Design, have released a major free update to its ControlTL firmware for the MiniTT1®, FlexTT5®, PowerMC2 and PowerST4 radios, and minor updates for the Plus® III and MultiMAX® radios.
The new firmware includes complete compatibility for the Nikon D600 and D3200 cameras, though only manual power control compatibility so far for the Canon EOS 6D, EOS-1D X and EOS Rebel T4i cameras. ETTL compatibility is obviously still proving difficult with the new Canon Models.
The new firmware also includes a major update to PocketWizards HyperSync feature, improving performance and fixing bugs in previous version.
HyperSync® is PocketWizard’s method of achieving sync speeds higher than the cameras X-sync shutter speed (1/250th etc), with monolights, which don’t have the FP HSS feature available like many small speedlites have. And unfortunately as PocketWizard say themselves, its the “least known or understood concept in flash photography, despite it being four years since it was first introduced”.
Which is really a shame, because its a powerful tool a lot more people could be making use of. And its really not that complicated, in fact PocketWizard have made it incredibly simple now if using lights directly compatible with the ControlTL system.
If you’re likely about to zone out at this point though with the thought of technical detail, please scroll straight down to the next image to see the results you could be getting at shutter speeds up to 1/8000th, basically without doing anything at all but using the PocketWizards connected to the Elinchrom light, and selecting that combination of gear in the PocketWizard Utility menu.
Even the slightly more advanced area of adjusting your own timing settings for best results with other monolights, should have been a reasonably straight forward concept. But this unfortunately this is where the PocketWizard Hypersync system has previously not given the complete results you would expect, and therefore helped to create a huge amount of mystery and misunderstanding around the whole Hypersync concept.
I have used another (unreleased) simple timing adjustment, and that quite simply takes all the mystery out of what is going on, you simply adjust the light into the frame as best you can. If PocketWizard had started with a quick and simple adjustment like this I doubt there would have been half the mystery around how this functions.
So the first point below appears to be addressing the manual adjustment issue, the Hypesync previously did not have the full range of adjustment sometimes to move the light into the frame as well as needed. So this may be a significant improvement when using some other lights not directly supported (ie without PocketWizard dedicated receivers available) in the Control TL system.
The second point is building on PocketWizards automated system for PocketWizard supported lights, simply giving quick access to the option of either more light in the frame, or less light, but with no shutter showing in the frame.
HyperSync timings extended –
The manual HyperSync control, used for HyperSync with Standard Channel receivers like the Plus or MultiMAX, now allows for settings down to -4500 (previously the limit was -1600). This allows for improved HyperSync operation for many users.
Not all cameras can use the full range of this setting. Some cameras, like the Canon 60D, will show no change from -1500 through -4500. This is a limitation of the camera. Other cameras, like the 5D Mark III, will be able to get useful results with settings beyond -1600 that were not previously attainable.”
As mentioned above, I think this extended range may be going some way to addressing the elusive question, of why PocketWizard’s Hypersync in the past has not always been able to achieve results as you would expect from standard pre-sync timing, or what is often know as the long burn tail “hack”. The “hack” is the method of achieving Hypersync like results, using the standard pre-sync signal, but without any timing adjustment to fine tune the results. Most other TTL capable radio triggers allow this basic pre-sync function as well.
So this new extended timing range could be quite a significant improvement for many people using monolights which are not directly supported with PocketWizard dedicated receivers in the Control TL system.
Improved HyperSync optimizations for the FlexTT5 as receiver –
There is a new control in the PocketWizard Utility for a receiving FlexTT5 called “Optimize HyperSync For.” There are 2 settings: “Reduced Clipping” and “Highest Energy.” They optimize HyperSync timings for the connected flash for a specific photographic result. Connected flashes can include AlienBees, White Lightning or Zeus flashes attached via the AC9 AlienBees Adapter, flashes connected to the P2 port of a FlexTT5, or a Speedlite
in the hotshoe (though Speedlites are often not the best choice for HyperSync flashes due to their short flash durations – if you must use a Speedlite, it will get the best HyperSync performance at full power).
“Reduced Clipping” optimizes for an elimination or reduction of hard black clipping at the bottom of the frame. This causes a smoother gradient of light across the frame at the expense of some flash output power.
“Highest Energy” optimizes for getting as much flash energy in the frame as possible. This makes for less of a gradient in the frame at shutter speeds just above X-sync, but may come at the expense of some clipping at faster shutter speeds.
This is simply providing quick access to preset options of either – more light in the frame “High Energy”, or less light, but with no shutter showing in the frame “Reduced Clipping”.
These results are using a Canon 5D II, (the 5D series being one of the hardest cameras to get good results with) and an Elinchrom Ranger RX with an S-head. (Full details at the end of the Canon TT1 / TT5 Release notes here)
As seen above, sacrificing a small amount of the frame can achieve quite even results all the way up to 1/8000th with this combination. And this is completely automated, you can choose any shutter speed and the PocketWizard’s have been pre set to to give the best result.
So this is a very useful system, with the ability to freeze action in bright ambient light, or allow wider apertures for narrow depth of field portraits. You loose some power, but it can come out ahead of using an ND filter on the camera lens instead, for achieving the narrow depth of field. An ND filter does not help with freezing action though, and this is why PocketWizard concentrate on that unique ability in the HyperSync descriptions.
PocketWizard HyperSync is not the only way to do this, but with the right combination of gear, the automated option as shown above is one of the most convenient ways to achieve the best results automatically. Most other TTL triggers like the Phottix Odin, and even inexpensive YN-622 or Pixel King will do this to some degree. They have no timing adjustment though so you simply have to accept the result you get, which can be far more limited than what the PocketWizard HyperSync now allows.
For USA customers, until the end of July 2013 you can get a free AC3 Zone controller, with the purchase of a TT1 and TT5 (or two TT5’s).