What’s That For, PocketWizard?

PocketWizard VP, Dave Schmidt gives you an inside look on how to use PocketWizard ControlTL® system’s Manual Power Control with ANY camera.

Are you one of the many photographers who have added a mirrorless camera to your bag?  Would you like to use your PocketWizard MiniTT1® and FlexTT5® with that system?  Well, you can and have complete control of your compatible remote flashes using Manual Power Control.

Photo: © Dave Schmidt

Photo: © Dave Schmidt

Our ControlTL system is well known for its ability to work with Canon and Nikon TTL systems and provide seamless TTL flash photography with one or multiple off camera flashes.   The system will also support the adjustment of manual power levels when you add an AC3 ZoneController to your on-camera ControlTL radio.  Because Manual Power Control works independently from the camera  you can put your ControlTL radio with an AC3 on ANY camera and adjust the manual power of your off camera Canon or Nikon speedlights, Paul C. Buff flashes, or select Elinchrom Rx flashes when they have the appropriate ControlTL receiver (FlexTT5 with AC9, PowerMC2 or PowerST4).

When using Manual Power Control (the “M” setting on your AC3) you are setting the absolute power setting on your flash, from full power to Sony_with_430EXII-36111/64th power with the spin of the dial on the AC3.  You still have full use of the A-B-C zones to independently control three zones of flashes.

Of course you can use as many flashes in each zone as you want, as long as they are all compatible with the ControlTL system.  You can also use flashes that are not ControlTL compatible; you just won’t have the power control capability and will have to set the flash’s power level on the back of the flash itself.

Personally, I’ve been using my Sony NEX-6 for about 70% of the images I take and my Canon 5D Mark II for the rest.  By integrating my Canon 430EX II Speedlites with the Sony I’ve been able to increase the use of the very convenient NEX-6 and leave the hulking 5D Mark II (with grip and 24-70 2.8 lens) behind more often.

Using manual control is far more predictable than TTL so I find I can dial in the results I want just as fast or faster than compensating the TTL output to fool it into the right settings.  This is especially true when working in tricky ambient light situations.

For those of you that pull out the Hasselblad, PhaseOne, Mamiya or any other camera with a hot shoe, this will work for you too.  So stop running to your flashes every time you need to change your power and get the ControlTL system to do the work for you.

Updated 01/17/2014 11:00 am EST

Note:  Since posting this several of you have tried this with your cameras and for the most part it works just fine.  However a few people have reported that they have not been successful.  Here’s a couple things to keep in mind:

-  Make sure you are using the latest version of the firmware in your MiniTT1 or FlexTT5.  This feature is new and is not found in older firmware versions.  For updating instructions, click here.
-  Some brands of cameras have hot shoe pin alignments that are similar to the Canon or Nikon pins.  It is possible that the system is “getting confused” with any signals being sent to the hot shoe.  The solution?  Tape off all pins except the center pin on the hot shoe on the bottom of your MiniTT1 or FlexTT5 radio.
-  Some users may experience lower sync speeds when using this setup. This is normal, and is due to the additional power control communication that is happening from your AC3 ZoneController and transmitter to your remote flashes. If you need to trigger at your camera’s sync limit, you may need to enable the non-power controlling Basic Trigger mode on each of your radios.  This can be done using the PocketWizard Utility.

If you do these two things and still have challenges, please contact us here and let us know which camera you’re using and any other details that might help us troubleshoot it.  We only have a few of these cameras here to test on ourselves.

 

All images, videos, and quotes in this post are used with permission and ©Dave Schmidt, all rights reserved; story is ©PocketWizard. Please respect and support photographers’ rights. Feel free to link to this blog post, but please do not replicate or repost elsewhere without written permission.

 

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33 Responses to “What’s That For, PocketWizard?”

  1. Jared says:

    This is awesome!!! Going to start using my Canon FlexTT5 and AC3 on my Fuji!

    Having trouble purchasing the PowerMC2 lately, though.
    Any suggestions?

  2. Ulysses says:

    Mirrorless cameras are seeing wider adoption by both professionals and enthusiasts, so it was good to see this article.

    I’ve been integrating Olympus mirrorless cameras into my professional workflow. One of my most common setups involves use of the Olympus E-M1, along with a Nikon SB-900, and a PocketWizard set of FlexTT5 and MiniTT1 (both radios are for the Nikon system). I was hoping to be able to achieve remote power adjustment via this setup; however, I’ve been unable to get this to work as you describe above.

    The flash seems to fire at full power no matter what combination of radio settings I’ve tried (and I’ve tried a LOT, but perhaps I’m missing something). Ultimately, I settled on configuring my radios for Basic Trigger mode, but which obviously requires me to manually adjust the power directly on the flash itself. This is far less convenient and less efficient while shooting.

    If you could experiment with an Olympus mirrorless camera, and a set of radios for the Nikon system, to see which combination of settings would help me get the remote power adjustments I’m trying to get, I know it would be appreciated by a broader community of photographers. Thanks again for this article!

    • Ulysses,

      You should contact our tech support team directly at info@pocketwizard.com they are responsible for all testing we do in house and would be glad to speak with you.

      Lanai

      • Ulysses says:

        Thank you, Lanai. I will do so.

        Forgot to mention include that I tried all of the above with an AC3 unit. I’ll mention this to the tech support team, as well.

        • Ulysses I have Nikon SB-900, and a PocketWizard set of FlexTT5 and MiniTT1 with the AC 3 on my XE 2 and works ok .The sb 900 has to be on ttl mode then the AC 3 at manual pres the test on MiniTT1 and is ok
          I hope it helps

          • Uli says:

            Yep, i have the same config. with 4 SB900 in three groups und it works. Also with the X100s up to 1/1000s – great.
            But is there any way to trigger the X-E2 remote with the PW Plus III ?

            Thanks

    • I’m so excited about this, I’m practically tripping over myself. I use the same shooting set up as you, Ulysses. OMD E-M1 and E-M5, SB900s, Nikon TT1 and TT5. I put my lights up in trees and use them to light skiers and mountain bikers so being able to adjust the power levels without touching the flashes is awesome. However, like you, it doesn’t seem to work on Olympus. I have updated the firmware to 3.4, taped off excess contacts on the camera. Tried basic trigger mode and regular mode – with flash set to manual, it pops at whatever power level I have it set at. On TTL mode, the flash doesn’t pop at all. So, no remote manual power control. Eager to hear the solution on this.

      • Whoa!!!! Sweet!
        Yep, just got it to work. I don’t really know what I did differently, maybe I needed to twitch my nose and cross my toes at just the right time. Here’s the set up that worked with OMD E-M1, TT1 and AC3 on camera, TT5 and SB900 remote.
        In the config menus, I set up C1 as follows:
        Channel:
        ControlTL Transmit Ch1
        Tick controlTL Transmit Prioty…
        Standard Transmit Channel 1
        Flash:
        Speedlight “normal i-TTL”
        PowerTracking:
        Full Manual
        SB900 on TTL-FP
        Camera – gaff tape over the two small control pins
        I have tried this many times and it didn’t seem to work. All of a sudden. It works. Still scratching my head.

  3. HeadMag1 says:

    Does anyone make an adapter for the wacky Nikon 1 V2 Multiuse Port so my PocketWizard off camera flash setup can be used?

  4. I am using it 3 monthes ago with my Nikon Sb 900 the PocketWizard MiniTT1and FlexTT5 and AC3 for my Fuji and i am very happy

  5. Kenny says:

    Ulysses,
    I plan on using the exact same setup as you very soon and would love to be able to integrate my PW’s with the Olympus. Would you mind posting the outcome of your tech support case please?
    Regards

  6. jS says:

    I understand that the early model Nikon D70 iTTL won’t work thru
    the PocketWizards.
    It looks like I can use my D70 with the above set up using
    2 TT5s and an AC3 for the manual control of my SB-900

    Is this correct?

    • jS says:

      I also wanted to ask if this will work with the 500th sec
      max sync speed of the Nikon D70.

    • jS says:

      I’ve wanted to purchase PocketWizards for a long time
      but have been waiting until I upgrade my camera.
      If the manual control explained above applies to my
      Nikon D70, I purchase 2 TT5s and an AC3 for it.

  7. Neil says:

    Tried it out and can adjust the power but can’t get anything faster than 1/125th sync on X100S. Is this just the radio lag or anyone had any better results. Canon PW set up with 430EXII’s.

    Thanks

  8. Note: Since posting this several of you have tried this with your cameras and for the most part it works just fine. However a few people have reported that they have not been successful. Here’s a couple things to keep in mind:

    - Make sure you are using the latest version of the firmware in your MiniTT1 or FlexTT5. This feature is new and is not found in older firmware versions.
    - Some brands of cameras have hot shoe pin alignments that are similar to the Canon or Nikon pins. It is possible that the system is “getting confused” with any signals being sent to the hot shoe. The solution? Tape off the hot shoe on the bottom of your MiniTT1 or FlexTT5 radio.
    - Some users may experience lower sync speeds when using this setup. This is normal, and is due to the additional power control communication that is happening from your AC3 ZoneController and transmitter to your remote flashes. If you need to trigger at your camera’s sync limit, you may need to enable the non-power controlling Basic Trigger mode on each of your radios. This can be done using the PocketWizard Utility.

    If you do these two things and still have challenges, please contact us http://www.pocketwizard.com/contact/inquiry/ and let us know which camera you’re using and any other details that might help us troubleshoot it. We only have a few of these cameras here to test on ourselves.

  9. Frank says:

    Has anyone managed to make this work with a Sony NEX 7. Not a standard hotshoe :~(

  10. Stefano G says:

    Lanai, these are the tests I made and the results:
    gear: Sony NEX-6 / Nikon SB-900 / MiniTT1 (Nikon) / FlexTT5 (Nikon) / AC3 Zone controller (Nikon)

    1st test:
    NEX-6 with MiniTT1 in ControlTL mode + AC3 in M mode
    SB-900 in TTL mode with FlexTT5 in ControlTL mode
    result:
    I could not get any shot without the “black curtain” even at 1/125; also, dialing on AC3 did not produce any over/underexposure on flash

    2nd test:
    NEX-6 with MiniTT1 in Basic Triggering mode + AC3 in M mode
    SB-900 in Manual mode with FlexTT5 in Basic Triggering mode
    result:
    I was able to take shots even at 1/200 but dialing on AC3 did not produce any result

    My question is: I thought I was able to get good results on the 1st scenario even using AC3 but maybe I didn’t get your blog post entirely :-(

    Could you please give us some more details on your tests/scenarios/configuration?

    Thanks

    Stefano :-)

    • I would suggest speaking directly with out tech support team as they do the testing for our gear around here. You can contact them directly at info@pocketwizard.com with any questions you may have on your setup or details on any tests they may have ran.

      • Stefano G says:

        Lanai, yesterday I tried again and everything worked as expected :-)

        Maybe the “problem” is that the NEX-6 hotshoe is not exactly the same size as the Nikon one.

        Thus, if you don’t push the TT1 and secure it firmly, sometimes the last two pins of the TT1 shoe slips out of the NEX6 hotshoe and the AC3 it is not powered.

        I was able to take pictures at 1/200 with no problem with the same setup you mentioned in the article (flash in ttl, TT1 and TT5 in ControlTL mode).

        Cheers

  11. bycostello says:

    love my ac3… would like to see more video tutorials on it (if possible?) though….

  12. Gary says:

    In lieu of taping off contacts, can the PW design team add a configuration option to disable all pin contacts from use, save and except the center pin?

    I.E. Hot Shoe center pin only mode

  13. Conny says:

    Hi,
    Has anyone got it to work with Mini, FlexTT5, SB900 and a Fuji X100s ?
    When I try the flash will not “wake up” !

    //Conny

  14. JK says:

    Tried with X-E1 + 35mm f1.4 and nikon SB-800. Clean frame at 1/200 (250 resulted black banding). No need to tape the contact pins either. Only quirk is that SB-800 needed to be on TTL mode which I find counter intuitive given that we are dialing power manually. I thought that you needed to set flash on midpower (that is 1/8 power) and work your way from there (giving 1/128 to 1/1 power in 7 steps). But it did work, thanks very much for the tip!

  15. Barnabas says:

    I wrote about this before I discovered this article. It works very well with my Fuji X100s upto 1/1000. You can read about it here: http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/53001203. I absolutely love this set up.

  16. Tom says:

    Hello All,…

    I follow this post about an month now.
    I also have a x100s and want to work OCF with it.
    This is possible with my nikon SC-29 cable in combo with one of the SB-910′s from my Nikon D700 set.
    Also i have a couple of PW TT5 Flex’s and a AC-3
    I followed the instructions in the article PW wrote lately, (incl. the ‘taping’ of the contacts).
    The SB910 fires promptly at speeds incl. 1/2000,… at 1/4000 flash fires but there is no sync with the Fuji don’t know why this appears,… With the SC-29 cable i can do all the speeds also the 1/4000.

    The second problem is,..when i use the Flex TT5, (2x) one with the sb910 and one on top of the x100s in combination with the AC 3 zone controller,…the last one the (AC3) don’t work at all!
    There is no difference between the shots taken at -3, O and + 3.
    In my opinion you must see exposure differences.

    Anyone?,……

    Max