PocketWizard Beta Testing Team
With anticipation for the new Nikon-compatible PocketWizard MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 system at maximum, it was imperative the system be as dialed in as possible at launch. To get us there we developed the most extensive beta program in LPA history. Starting in June of 2010, MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 for Nikon beta product began shipping to pre-selected Nikon beta testers throughout the United States. Prior to the selection process, a survey was sent to potential beta testers to determine the camera and flash equipment they owned as well as their shooting styles. Testers included longtime PocketWizard shooters, well known Nikon photographers, Nikon shooters from our various affiliates, and even some Nikon employees. Each beta tester received one MiniTT1 and two FlexTT5 (and a spiffy Nikon Beta Tester T-shirt).
Over the past seven months, beta product was provided to over 100 Nikon shooters. All feedback was sent directly to the PocketWizard beta lab where it was read by PocketWizard’s Technical Support department and Engineering department. Changes were made based on the feedback and firmware revisions were tested internally and then released to the beta testers. There were more than ten releases to the beta crew and probably 50 versions internally. Once Technical Support and Engineering determined the firmware was fully compatible with the list of Nikon camera’s and flashes, the MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 product was released to the International market as release version 2.050 and then later released into the US market as version 2.100. In the end, the Nikon beta process resulted in firmware proven stable for both markets.
Photographer Ian Coble was a beta tester, and had the following to say about his experience.
“It’s been fun being able to get my hands on the new technology and see what it’s capable of. I’ve been anticipating and hoping these transmitters and receivers would drop for a while now, ever since the Canon versions were released. When I got the call from PocketWizard to test the new units, I was stoked. Most all of my photography utilizing strobes is action sports-based and the ability to synch above 1/250th of a second has been a dream for years. WIth the new units, I’m now able to synch my strobes up to (if not higher) than 1/1600th of a second.* Being able to synch at that fast of a shutter speed has drastically helped my ability to freeze action without having to worry about the motion blur in the non key lit areas or in the background when panning. It’s also a huge help when trying to under-expose the sky at mid-day as you’re no longer capped with 1/250th as your fastest shutter speed. All in all, it’s made my job of shooting action with strobes much, much easier.”
Hawaiian wedding photographer Eric Mansperger worked with the beta units, and sends these thoughts:
“The MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 for Nikon have changed the way we shoot. They have made us more efficient and have allowed us to do things we only dreamed about doing using just Nikon’s CLS system. PocketWizard has managed to make a unit that actually works seamlessly with Nikon’s amazing CLS system while taking away the headaches of the optically triggered system. Faster shooting, no missed shots from optical obstructions, increased reliability, and seamless integration make these units a wedding photographers dream.”
Photographer Michael O’Neill, known for his fine art photographs of Long Island, had this to say about his beta testing experience:
“Collaborating with the gang at PocketWizard in beta testing the Nikon-compatible units was a great experience. This company is truly interested in putting the best possible product out on the market. They eagerly responded to every bit of feedback given to them and promptly addressed very single issue that was encountered in the testing process. They went so far as to provide personal cell phone contact information, making themselves available for support any time of the day…weekends included…so that I could address, immediately, any issues I may have encountered during the beta testing period. This company, and their PocketWizard product, are awesome!”
Photographer Ian Hylands was also a beta tester. Here are his thoughts on using the beta units:
“I’m not normally a TTL shooter, so a lot of the normal benefits of the new PocketWizard MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 for Nikon are mostly wasted on me, however I’m still really stoked to have them. They have a few features that will probably change the way I think about shooting a lot of things. I’ll start with the iTTL features. I don’t use them that often, but when I do, they’re incredibly useful. It’s just like using Nikon CLS, only better—supercharged almost. I’m not really an authority on TTL flash, but the fact I can use CLS over large distances on a bright sunny day is great, and some features work noticeably better. I was at a talk by a noted Nikon TTL flash guru a while ago, and while demonstrating the benefits of the CLS system he demonstrated how he could turn the power on a hair light up or down without having to actually touch the flash. Great stuff, except that while aiming the snooted flash at the back of the models head he was firing the flash to line it up properly. I immediately thought of the modeling light feature on the Nikon flashes, and wondered why he wasn’t using it. A bunch of playing around with it lead me to bonus feature #1 of the Flex and Mini: the modeling light feature on your Nikon flashes is greatly improved over normal CLS. It’s a lot brighter with the PocketWizards, and it lasts longer. I assume this is part of the same fine tuning that makes the High Speed FP sync feature of the Nikon system work a lot more efficiently with the Mini and Flex. It’s a great feature for certain things with normal CLS, however I’ve found it fairly limiting due to the much-reduced light output, and the inability to use it over a great distance. With the PocketWizards, that has all changed. The system is a lot more efficient, which equates to significantly higher light output and faster recycle times, not to mention the vastly increased range and reliability of it. I just purchased two more FlexTT5 receivers so I can use the FP Sync feature with up to 4 SB900’s for a whole lot of light output.
“The main benefit for me has been the High Speed FP Sync and Hypersync features. I primarily shoot action sports and I’ve been using a kludged together system of MultiMAX’s with delays to achieve a hypersync type effect for a few years now, but it’s a bit awkward to shoot with. The new MiniTT1 for Nikon allows me to shoot reliably and easily up to 1/1000 with my Nikon flashes, and I’ve had decent results up to 1/1600. Using the MiniTT1in conjunction with my MultiMAX units I can also take advantage of their speed cycling feature and easily shoot flash lit sequences at 1/1000 of a second. I like that.”
*Results with HyperSync may vary.
It’s great to hear such positive feedback on the beta units. Now that production models are making their way to distributors, we’re looking forward to hearing and seeing more results from our users. Detailed information for new Nikon-compatible models can be found here for the MiniTT1 and here for the FlexTT5.