US based PocketWizard have release the PlusX, a new $99 entry level radio transceiver described as their simplest radio ever. The Plus X is a slightly pared back version of the current $149 Plus III, fully manual transceiver unit, first released in 2012.
The Plus X is not just the simplest, but also the lowest priced PocketWizard trigger to date. A rapidly evolving market has clearly prompted the lower priced addition, but I’m impressed with the way PocketWizard have approached this. Unlike your average entry level camera body for example, they haven’t left out that one or two really important features that constantly frustrate and remind you it was a mistake to be on a budget. The Plus X have all the important features from the Plus III that you need, and the same long range, reliability, and overall rugged design as the Plus III.
- Auto sensing Transceiver technology – Trigger flash and remote camera shutter
- Large backlit channel dial with 10 Channels
- Compatible with all current PocketWizard triggers and Sekonic light meters
- Universally compatible with most current flash and camera systems
- Rugged build with built in antenna
- Long Range – up to 500 metres or 1600 feet
- Standard AA batteries
- 300V safe trigger voltage – safe for older studio lights and speedlights
- Fast sync speeds
And PocketWizard really have made this simple, the auto sensing technology knows when the unit is meant to be a transmitter, receiver, flash or shutter trigger, so there’s no need to set any switches.
There is also only one 3.5mm jack for connecting cords so you can’t connect that incorrectly either, input or output the Plus X already knows what your attempting to use it for.
Triggering remote flash and shutter release is also just a matter of switching a second receiver up one channel. This means that you can use 3 units instead of 4 to trigger both camera shutter and a remote flash. See the video below for a clear explanation of this –
So the Plus X can be used as both a remote flash trigger for studio flash and speedlights, as well as a hand held remote shutter release so that you can fire the camera without being right next to it. Basic sync cords are included to connect to flash units, though shutter release cords need to be purchased separately.
The Plus X is a manual only trigger for flash units, meaning it does not provide any TTL functions or remote manual power setting etc. Being a simple manual trigger, with a single pin hotshoe foot connections, means that is compatible with most any camera and flash systems. High 300V safe trigger voltage is safe for most older studio flash and speedlights.
Most significantly the Plus X is compatible with all PocketWizard transmitters and receivers including PocketWizard-enabled photo gear from Profoto, Dynalite, Norman, Photogenic and Sekonic light meters.
No Hotshoe –
So far this is all well and good, but as the Plus X are aimed at the entry level, many people starting out, and increasing numbers of professorial photographers, are using speedlights more often. The high end speedlights and many third party units often have a sync socket provided to connect via a cord to the Plus X, but the common entry level Canon 430EX II and Nikon SB-700 flash units do not have a sync socket. This means you would need a hotshoe cord which connects to the base of the flash foot instead. That’s another $30 or so each for a good reliable one, and extra gear to connect and carry (and possibly go wrong).
Apart from price, this is one of the main areas alternatives like the popular Phottix Strato II may still hold quite an advantage, connecting speedlights directly means no cords, and you can even mount an ETTL flash on top of the transmitter on camera. All sync cords are still included with the Strato II, as well as shutter release cords. And speaking of price the Strato II are still around half that of the Plus X. Other popular (even some lower priced) options are listed here.
As mentioned with the release of the Plus III last year (which was also a reduction in base price), this Plus X release will again push the price of (still very solid) second hand Plus II units down to a new low. So even if the Plus X is still not quite the low price option you were after for those few extra units that only get used occasionally, second hand Plus II’s can now fill that roll, providing a lower priced solution again. Otherwise this is one of the most common reasons I hear people are tempted to switch to cheaper alternatives. So the Plus II will certainly help out there, which I’m sure PocketWizard are very conscious of, as well as with enticing new people into the system.
So while not revolutionary in itself, the Plus X is looking to be a very good option and quite a considerable development, as well as a major bonus for current PocketWizard owners and others looking to enter the radio market. The simple Plus X may well be PocketWizards most popular radio ever.