'FlexTT5' Category

Upgrading Firmware at the Speed of We-Need-it-Yesterday

New cameras are exciting, especially when they incorporate new technologies that improve camera performance or the user’s creative capabilities. What’s not so exciting is when you take your new camera out on assignment only to find out it won’t perform as accurately and/or consistently as well as your previous camera model. In all likelihood it’s firmware related – causing communication problems between the new camera and your flash triggering system. The language might be the same, but the new dialect causes confusion.

When the PocketWizard product engineers at LPA Design catch wind of new cameras, they prime the coffee machine and, using the earliest available production cameras from Nikon and Canon, begin testing every facet of the camera to determine how well it works or doesn’t work with PocketWizard products before releasing firmware upgrades. During these test trials the engineering team determines what needs to be tweaked or in some cases, completely re-engineered to better ensure PocketWizard triggering devices perform as expected.

A recent case in point is Nikon’s introduction of their newest DSLR, the D810, which replaces Nikon’s popular D800 and D800E. PocketWizard’s engineering team performed exhaustive tests with the new camera to assess and remedy any compatibility issues with the PocketWizard MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 radio transceivers. Considering the complexity of the upgrade process, it’s pretty impressive when you hear LPA’s engineering team was able to hammer out the bugs and release a reliable firmware upgrade in two weeks’ time.

Nikon's new D810 with a fully-compatible PocketWizard FlexTT5

Nikon’s new D810 with a fully-compatible PocketWizard FlexTT5

 

A conversation with Patrick Clow, LPA Design’s Technical Support Manager, explains the complexity and attention to detail that goes into testing compatibility issues between new camera models and PocketWizard radios before releasing firmware upgrades. Between Canon and Nikon, PocketWizard’s engineering team must establish complete compatibility between PocketWizard’s product line and about 60 cameras and 20 flashes. And this figure doesn’t include Sekonic light meters and the various studio flash systems PocketWizard radio triggers are compatible with.

As Patrick describes the process – “There are lots of factors in testing: each shutter speed, every aperture, image stabilization, lens choices, camera battery levels, flash choices, rear curtain sync, MASTER devices and modes, zones, shooting modes, flash durations, and lots more.  When you start to multiply all of the factors together, you quickly get into the millions of possible combinations – you couldn’t test them all in several lifetimes.”

“For the numbers geeks out there, we use a pairwise system to generate grids of test setups. They are still gargantuan, so we edit those grids based on our experience, knowing what changes we made in the firmware, and targeted (towards) the cameras we want to test. In its simplest form, each camera gets a bare minimum of 10 hours of testing assuming nothing pops up.  If it does, we often end up testing it all over again.  The latest firmware had 15 new cameras in it, several requiring multiple rounds of testing as we reverse engineered unique behaviors.  We also re-tested previously compatible cameras to ensure continued stability.  It was a really big project.”

In many ways, firmware upgrades involve thinking the process through backwards. “Our compatibility and features are built entirely on reverse engineering someone else’s totally custom, non-standardized and evolving communication interface and then applying precision timing to that hard-won knowledge. Microseconds matter to us. We do things differently from virtually everyone else in the industry and that’s why we can pull off technologies like HyperSync®, or controlling the power level of studio flashes like the AlienBees with a Nikon or Canon Speedlight.”

New cameras inevitably come with unknowns and according to Patrick, Nikon’s new D810 didn’t disappoint LPA’s Engineering team. “The latest cameras had some interesting things going on under the hood.  TTL for the D810 and D4S, for example, acts differently than previous Nikons at a specific focus distance so we had to figure out how to work through that anomaly.  We did it, and we even modified our own firmware so that if Nikon changes that behavior with a future camera firmware upgrade, or releases another camera with the same behavior, we should still be good to go.” Canon’s newest DSLRs came with their own set of issues.  “Even within the same generation or family of cameras, (Canon cameras) can have strangely different behaviors.  In the past we’ve spent considerable effort figuring out these behaviors and making special cases to manage them.”

“With this last round of firmware we went beyond that – we retooled a major piece of our system to be more flexible.  It should allow us to roll with the punches much more easily and add new cameras to the ControlTL system  more quickly. PocketWizard firmware update version 3.700 for Nikon includes full compatibility with Nikon’s D810 as well as Nikon’s D610, the D4S, Df, D7100, D5300, D5200, and D3300. PocketWizard firmware update version 6.700 for Canon has also been released, bringing full TTL compatibility to Canon’s EOS 70D, 1D X, 6D, T5i/700D, T5/1200D, T4i/650D, and SL1/100D. With these two new releases, all currently manufactured DSLRs from both Nikon and Canon perform with full TTL capability when using the ControlTL feature on PocketWizard MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 Transceivers.

Canon EOS 7D with PocketWizard Flex TT5

Canon EOS 70D with PocketWizard FlexTT5

 

In closing our conversation, Patrick made a point of mentioning his support team at LPA and the time and dedication they pour into their respective responsibilities.  “Thousands of hours, several drums of coffee, and a few dozen buckets of peanut butter pretzels have gone into this milestone.   “I just want to give a shout out to the engineers and testers that made it happen: Tim, Steve, Mark, Gary, Andrea, Ryan, Sarah, Zack, Ian, Heather, and Seth (and Steve, Chris and Ashley).  We have a great support team with Lorei, Heather, Nick, Hannah, Deb, and all the great folk at MAC Group!  Thank you!”

For more information on how to update PocketWizard products via USB connection and to view current release notes for Nikon firmware update version 3.7 and Canon firmware version 6.7 visit: http://www.pocketwizard.com/support/downloads/

The PocketWizard MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 are now fully compatible with the following recently released Canon and Nikon DSLRs:
Canon – EOS 70D, 1D X*, 6D*, T5i / 700D, T4i* / 650D, T5 / 1200D, SL1 / 100D
Nikon – D810, D610, D4S, Df, D7100, D5300, D5200, and D3300
* Now with TTL compatibility.

For a complete compatibility list, please visit:
http://wiki.pocketwizard.com/index.php?title=Canon_Compatibility
http://wiki.pocketwizard.com/index.php?title=Nikon_Compatibility  

Bookmark and Share

What’s up Pussycat? Özkan Özmen goes on a Portrait Safari

IMG_1918 (1)

Özkan Özmen at work

Özkan Özmen is a portrait photographer based in Frankfurt Germany with a penchant for photographing subjects that can bite your head off. No, we’re not talking about models and celebrities with attitude here. We’re talking lions, tigers, and rhinos. As Dorothy famously said to the tin man… “Oh MY!”

According to Özkan, he’s always been into things that crawl, chirp, growl, and purr, and it wasn’t long after he began taking shooting studio portraits for a living that he decided to put together a compact lighting kit and try his luck outside of the comforts and convenience of his studio. Özkan Ozmen’s personal project ultimately took him on a multi-continent journey in which he’s captured wonderful portraits of the sort of wildlife most of us only see in zoo and safari parks, though seldom as in-your-face.

Özkan understood the logistics – not to mention danger involved in trying to capture tight portraits of wild animals using lights. Still and all, rather than being technically boxed in by the harsh ambient lighting conditions common to shooting in the extreme locales he planned on visiting, his goal was to light his subjects and select-focus at wider lens apertures similar to the way he would when shooting portraits in his studio.

IMG_0083 (4)

(more…)

Bookmark and Share

Steve Lloyd Still Riding High

Two and a half years ago when we first profiled Steve Lloyd, he said, in part, “I like to find cool-looking features in nature, whether it’s a rock, arch, trees or a good view.” Looks like he’s remained true to this statement. Witness this amazing photo the Utah native captured of a biker as he drives over a natural stone arch.

©Steve Lloyd

Lloyd lit this scene with three lights, two up top and one below. The two top lights were triggered at different times. One was fitted with an orange gel and fired at the same time as the single light positioned below, which also had an orange gel. The rider was not in the frame when the first two were fired simultaneously, so he doesn’t get orange light on him. The rider then enters and a white light is fired for him from above.

(more…)

Bookmark and Share

Sephi Bergerson and the Fire Ninja

Sephi Bergerson and a NinjaPhotographer Sephi Bergerson has posted about her efforts to pay homage to Joe McNally’s cover shot of his book The Hot Shoe Diaries

In her post, Bergerson relays her relates her attempts to recreate McNally’s photo and off-camera flash work. Using a Nikon D700, she incorporated a PocketWizard MiniTT1, a FlexTT5, and an AC3 ZoneController.

Bergerson provides full details of her shot in the post itself. See more of her work on her site and her blog.

Bookmark and Share

MAC Group Announces $25 PocketWizard® ControlTL® Promotion for Canon & Nikon Users

Mail-in rebate available in the U.S. only for MiniTT1® and FlexTT5® Wireless Flash Triggering System

FlexTT5 and MiniTT1North White Plains, NY – (March 30, 2012) – MAC Group, a leading manufacturer and distributor of professional photographic equipment, announces today a $25 mail-in rebate for U.S. customers who purchase new PocketWizard MiniTT1 and/or FlexTT5 radios for use with Canon or Nikon DSLR camera systems from April 1, 2012 to May 31, 2012. Via mail-in rebate, purchasers will receive $25 for each unit purchased from an Authorized PocketWizard Dealer in the U.S.

“MAC Group, PocketWizard’s USA distributor, is happy to provide Canon and Nikon shooters in the U.S. with a special opportunity to experience the amazing capabilities of PocketWizard ControlTL radios,” said Phil Bradon, MAC Group’s PocketWizard Marketing Manager. “This limited time $25 rebate is available on every MiniTT1 or FlexTT5 for Canon and Nikon purchased. ControlTL is the perfect complement and a must-have accessory to Canon and Nikon digital SLR systems, providing amazing flash and camera triggering capabilities.”

For more information on this rebate visit the PocketWizard site.

(more…)

Bookmark and Share

Environmental Portraits of the Multi-talented Richard Pardon

At about the age of eleven, Richard Pardon was given a film camera by his grandfather in Dorset, U.K., who also taught him to develop his own film. Turning professional about a year ago, Pardon has realized a lifelong dream. “For me, it’s more than a job or a career. It’s like a lifestyle or a passion,” he says. He credits no two days being the same as making photography a rewarding career.

Drenched

©Richard Pardon

Although his grandfather gave him his start with film, Pardon has learned everything about digital photography by teaching himself. With books and DVDs, a trial-and-error approach has helped him not only develop his technical knowledge, but his own photographic style. He credits his autodidacticism with enabling him to work in different areas of photography, including portraiture, automotive, landscape, and stock work. The road hasn’t been easy, but the work is worth it, he feels.

(more…)

Bookmark and Share

Damien Lovegrove’s Speedlight Kits

Damien Lovegrove has a great post on his blog, ProPhotoNut entitled “Speedlight kit overview and preparation.” He posts two drool-worthy shots of all his PocketWizard gear, which he’s handily labeled to avoid any unnecessary switching.

©Damien Lovegrove at www.prophotonut.com

A shooter of both Nikon and Canon, Lovegrove discusses his use of the AC3, the FlexTT5 and the MiniTT1 in conjunction with flash gear from the two camera manufacturers. He breaks down the kits into their respective compatibilities, and explains why and how he uses each piece of gear.

A really informative post, with lots of tips other shooters will find useful, this one is not unique to the ProPhotoNut blog. Lovegrove also has some examples of his fine photography. Keep up the great work, Damien!

Bookmark and Share

PDN’s Favorite Photo Accessories

PDN's Favorite Photo AccessoriesPhoto District News has just published a list of their ten favorite photo accessories. At the top of the list is the PocketWizard MiniTT1 and FlexTT5. Dan Havlik writes, “these tiny devices are still our go-to radio slaves.” The brief write-up describes what you can do with this triggering combo, and we love his sign-off: “Never leave home without ‘em!”

Bookmark and Share

David Christensen and the Real Moments

Atlanta-based David Christensen had been into photography since he was a teenager, but it was while he worked as chief photographer at a junior college newspaper that he realized this was what he wanted to be. This was further reinforced when he attended a Georgia College Press Association banquet and heard guest speaker Dave LaBelle at the podium. LaBelle was a Pulitzer Prize nominee teaching at Western Kentucky University. This moment was the start of Christensen’s favorite type of photographic image.

HollyPerryW 425

©David Christensen

(more…)

Bookmark and Share

Mike Kelley Baiting with Light

New England native Mike Kelley was into photography in a big way, but one day something fortuitous happened. While at the University of Vermont, Kelley ran into Dave Schmidt, who is an employee of LPA, makers of PocketWizard. Schmidt is also a shooter in his own right, and was photographing for a local ski resort. He also happened to have a prototype of the PocketWizard MiniTT1® on top of his camera. Kelley noticed, and the two began a conversation.

Mk 005

©Mike Kelley

“I just kept bugging him and bugging him and eventually he caved and gave me an internship at PocketWizard,” Kelley recalls, laughing. After graduating from the University of Vermont with a double major in Environmental Studies and Studio Art, Kelley moved to Lake Tahoe to try his hand at professional snowboarding. This didn’t transpire, but proved fortuitous in a different way professionally.

(more…)

Bookmark and Share