Tech Tip: Quad Zone Triggering

One of the key features of the PocketWizard Plus® III is “Quad-Zone Triggering.” This feature traces its roots back to the MultiMAX® where it has proven itself to be a game changer for many professional photographers. With the feature now found in the more affordable Plus III, more photographers have this capability within their reach. So what does it do?

Quad-Zone Triggering allows photographers to assign lights or cameras to one of four zones; A-B-C or D and then they can turn a zone on or off with the simple push of a button on the transmitting radio. This could be used to turn a single light on or off, or a group of lights on or off (you can have as many lights or cameras per zone as you want). It can also be used to turn a remote camera, or group of cameras, on or off. We’ll take a look at each scenario.

Building your Lighting
You’re in a studio situation taking portraits. You’re using five different lights; one is the key, one is a fill, two are for the background, and one is for highlights. You want to be able to see the impact of each light and make sure you have the proper power setting. Without Quad-Zone Triggering, this would be a very challenging task unless you had a group of assistants to turn the various lights on and off. With Quad-Zone Triggering you simply select the light you want to turn on/off from the transmitting radio and take a shot. Each light or group of lights (in this case the two background lights) is assigned a zone, either A-B-C or D. Turning on one zone at a time allows you to see just the light from that zone making it far easier to make adjustments.

Multiple Lighting Setup
You’re shooting a wedding reception and you want to offer a variety of images and a few different looks to the couple. Prior to the reception you’ve set-up several lights around the room with Plus III’s as the receiver and assigned a zone to each light and/or a zone to groups of lights. Using Quad-Zone Triggering, you can turn the light(s) from each zone on or off at-will right from your camera to change the lighting on the fly and create different images from the same scene.

Remote Cameras
You’re shooting a soccer game (football to our global friends) and you want to position a remote camera behind the goals. You set a remote camera up behind each goal with a Plus III as the receiver and then connect the radios to the camera with a remote-trigger cable. The receiving radios are set to A and B on the Plus III. When the action moves in front of one of the goals, just select the appropriate zone on the transmitting Plus III on the camera you’re holding and keep shooting. Now both cameras will be firing. You can also trigger your remote cameras with a handheld Plus III. This same concept can be applied to any sport.

Turn zones on and off with A, B, C and D zone buttons.

Turn zones on and off with A, B, C and D zone buttons.

Remote cameras can be used in many situations, including weddings. For example, you want to set-up a couple remote cameras around the ceremony to get additional angles. You can use as many cameras as you want so you could have one set to get close-ups of the couple using a zoom lens from the back of the room or the balcony, another camera with a wide angle lens up close to get another perspective and a third with a wide angle getting the whole room into view all in addition to the camera you’re holding. Set each remote camera to a different zone and fire as needed.

Quad-Zone Triggering is put to work in this video by wedding photographer Melody Hood. As Melody points out, this is a form of zone control although it is a little different than what our AC3 ZoneController allows you do to.

PocketWizard comment
In the above video, our friend Melody Hood talks about the PocketWizard “zone controller” in describing the Plus III. PocketWizard actually makes the AC3 ZoneController for the ControlTL System, which might be confused for this, but we know what she means!

Quad-Zone Triggering is a great tool to allow you do get more done when you have limited assistance or second shooters and in today’s world that is something you can take to the bank.

Notes:

  • A MultiMAX and Plus III use the same zones and can be used seamlessly together.
  • A FlexTT5 set to “Standard Channel Receive” can also be used as a receiver with either A-B-C zone selected on the radio.
  • More info on the Plus III can be found on our site and wiki.
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3 Responses to “Tech Tip: Quad Zone Triggering”

  1. Alan Holben says:

    Will any of the zones fire a Plus2?

    • Ron Egatz says:

      Hi, Alan. The Plus II is a simpler model and doesn’t support zones.

      • alan Holben says:

        Thanks for the response Ron. Let me rephrase the question a little bit. I know that the Plus3 will fire a Plus2 as long as the channel is the same. However, if I set a zone in the Plus3 does that disable the ability of the Plus2 to fire? Or does it fire regardless because it doesn’t respect the zone? I trying to figure out what combinations will work, as I’ve got a couple of Plus3s and several older Plus2s. I’m often lighting a large gym with a light at each end and one in the middle. Most times the lighting would be good with the center light and either end light, depending on where the action is. If I could set the the middle light to trigger regardless and then use zones to control which end light fires, it would be nice. Maybe it just can’t be done with a combination of 2’s and 3’s. Assuming that I had all 3’s and I set the near light to zone A and the far light to zone B, what would I set the middle light’s Plus3 zone to so that it triggers each time? Just leave it at the default of no zone selected? I don’t really want to go slave mode for the middle light but I could if nothing else would work in this situation.