Posts Tagged ‘MiniTT1’

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  

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Making Smaller Voices Heard in an Ever Noisier World

There comes a time when we read or see something that makes us want to quit our day job, pack our bags, and go do something that actually makes a difference in this world. Few get past their morning coffee before they’re once again off to the office, dreams put on hold. And then there are those who, damn the naysayers and snickers, actually follow through and make the world, in some small measure, a better place to live in. Mark van Luyk, a Creative Director by trade, and his wife, Judith Madigan, an optometrist by trade, did just that. And they’ve succeeded.

BrandOutLoud-5

Judith and Mark stepped out of the corporate world in 2006 and after a year of travel and soul searching, established ‘BrandOutLoud’, which in Judith’s words ” specializes in tailor-made branding and communications for non-profits worldwide.” If you’ve ever browsed through brochures and websites designed and illustrated by and for non-governmental and other non-profit organizations, you know the design and graphics can often be sophomoric, and at times depressing to look at. Mark and Judith were determined to change all of that.

© Mark van Luyk - BrandOutLoud

As a Creative Director, Mark understands the importance of branding – “It’s all about knowing who you are and what you stand for”. He’s also quite aware of the role of powerful imagery when it comes to successful communication. “Showing stereotype (aid) images of tragedy, warfare, or disease evokes helping from the point of view of pity. Besides, the world has seen enough of the sad looking malnourished African child with the flies in the eyes” Mark adds.

© Mark van Luyk - BrandOutLoud

Mark’s approach is to present local aid organizations from remote locations around the world as real people, with dreams of their own being turned into realities. And no matter how humble or simple the endeavor may be, there is a strong sense of pride and dignity in the faces of the people he has photographed along the way.

 

As a result of Mark and Judith’s efforts, small local aid organizations now have the ability to sustain themselves by attracting new supporters and expanding their network of partners, becoming more and more independent. They are able to show their story and get their message across using the newly well-designed communication tools.

So far Mark and Judith have met with much success. Rather than chasing leads, organizations are now seeking them out for their expertise in not only ‘branding’ aid organizations, but for their unique ability to design and supply the elements of entire campaigns, and they do it quite well.

© Mark van Luyk - BrandOutLoud

Due to the remoteness of many of the locations the van Luyks travel to, they must travel light. For this reason Mark narrowed his choices of gear down to his Canon cameras (EOS 5D Mark II and Mark III), a set of fast prime lenses, and four Canon 580EX II Speedlites which he uses grouped together or individually depending on the circumstances – with or without a softbox or umbrella (In addition to stills, Mark also shoots HDSLR video for client and promotional needs). To synchronize his cameras and lights, Mark relies on PocketWizard MiniTT1 Transmitters, PocketWizard FlexTT5 Transceivers, and PocketWizard AC3 ZoneControllers, which he cannot praise enough.

© Mark van Luyk - BrandOutLoud

“I work in the field and I have to think about everything going on around me, and we often have to set up and work quickly.  My PocketWizard system allows me to set my lights the way I want them knowing the images will come out dead-on. “I’d rather get it right when I press the shutter release. Sitting at a computer doing Photoshop is not my idea of a fun time.”

 

Mark relishes the fact he can control the entire creative process from soup to nuts. “Knowing upfront how the image will appear at the end makes it easy for me to capture and compose all of the elements together. I can pre-visualize the picture and how it will appear in print or the web before I fire the shutter. That’s a huge advantage.”

 

The resulting images are strikingly simple, and though ‘advertorial’ in style, don’t come off too slick or condescending to either the subject(s) or viewer(s). Mark van Luyk and Judith Madigan are quite clear on the fact their subjects are real people, with real hopes, dreams, and realities, and they deserve the same level of dignity an respect as the more privileged amongst us.

 © Mark van Luyk - BrandOutLoud

To learn more about BrandOutLoud visit http://www.brandoutloud.org/videos/1/

All images, videos, and quotes in this post are used with permission and © Mark van Luyk / BrandOutLoud, 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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Seth Hancock Spends 10-Minutes with a Stranger

Seth-Hancock-Self-PortraitWhen photographer Seth Hancock and his wife decided to move from Los Angeles to New York they agreed she would pack up their belongings (and the dog) and take the express route cross country so she could get their new digs in order while he followed up on a personal photography project he had been thinking about for the prior three years. Specifically, Seth had a hankering to take a cross-country jaunt photographing random strangers along the way. Sure it’s been done before, but Seth’s project had a set of parameters that made it rather unique.

The ’10 Minutes With a Stranger’ project was a 47-day trip (original estimate 15 days… tops), in which Hancock encountered over 150 strangers, engaged them in conversation for 10 minutes while figuring out how to make an equally engaging portrait of his newest friend. Lastly – and this is where he connects the dots between himself, his subject, and the viewer, he had each of them write something personal about themselves in a journal he carried for that very purpose.

The ground rules for the journal entry were that the entries had to be truthful, honest, no longer than a single page, written in first-person, and be specifically about themselves. ‘Fortune Cookie’ or ‘Yearbook’ responses, as well as ‘innocuous, blasé, wistful, or disingenuous’ responses would not be accepted. The results of Seth’s efforts and execution of ’10 Minutes with a Stranger’ are remarkable to say the least.

Kevin, Mechanic, Deluth, Mn

Kevin, Mechanic, Duluth, MN

 

In preparation for the trip Seth packed two cases of Elinchrom Rangers, stands, umbrellas and cables for lighting his subjects. It didn’t take more than his first day out to realize there was no way he could make an honest connection with his subjects, gain their trust, and make a worthwhile portrait if he also had to deal with the distractions of setting up a hit-and-run portrait studio.

Christina, USAF, Bristow Va

Christina, USAF, Bristow, VA

 

Jim, Cider Maker, Minneapolis, MN

 

Rather than waste precious time futzing with studio lights, he mounted a  MiniTT1 Transmitter onto his Nikon D3s, FlexTT5 Transceivers onto his SB-800 Speedlights with Lumiquest Big Bounce diffusers, and he was good-to-go.

Though he earlier tried syncing his camera and flash using a TTL sync cord, he found the length of the cord greatly impeded his ability to get the shots he saw in his mind’s eye. The only way he could get it right was to go wireless. ‘I couldn’t have done it without my PocketWizard wireless triggering system. They literally unchained me.”

Joey Z, Carpenter, Buffalo NY

Joey Z, Carpenter, Buffalo, NY

 

Arlene, Freelance Writer, Minot ND

Arlene, Freelance Writer, Minot, ND

 

One aspect of going wireless that appealed to Seth’s framing and composition was the ability to quickly change the position of the Speedlight while handholding it off to the side or from above. Other times he would stand the Speedlight on a table or ledge, using the flat bottom surface of the FlexTT5 Transceiver as a table stand for the Speedlight. And in a few shots, his subject is actually holding the Speedlight in their hand, which is about as cooperative as a stranger can get when you’re taking their portrait.

Andrea the Giant, Pro Wrestler, Salt Lake City UT

Andrea the Giant, Pro Wrestler, Salt Lake City, UT

 

Something Seth had no control over was when and where he would encounter his next subject, which meant he was often shooting under contrasty midday sunlight. Here, too, his PocketWizard radios made his day by enabling him to shoot at wider, portrait-appropriate apertures and correspondingly faster shutter speeds under the brightest of lighting conditions using the HSS/Auto-FP Sync function of his PocketWizard/Speedlight portrait lighting system.

Seth makes a point of noting his PocketWizard triggering system transmits iTTL information, which is critical when shooting in such narrow time parameters.  While there were several occasions when he synced with his Speedlight in Manual Mode, there were equally as many occasions when he needed to be able to pump anywhere up to three stops of additional light onto their faces in order to make the person stand out from the background without having to compromise other visual elements in the picture.

For Seth Hancock, PocketWizard radio triggers are so much more than a Speedlight accessory, they are creative tools unto themselves.

To see more of Seth Hancock’s work visit the following links:

Portfolio – http://sethhancock.com

Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/thesethhancock

Facebook for 10 Minutes with a Stranger – http://www.facebook.com/10minuteswithastranger

Seth Hancock’s Facebook Page – http://www.facebook.com/thesethhancock

All images, videos, and quotes in this post are used with permission and © Seth Hancock, 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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Walter Van Dusen Gets Ready for Hannah’s Big Day

Screen Shot 2014-01-06 at 10.58.47 PMThe contact page of Walter van Dusen’s website features a picture of his daughter with a caption that reads “Every wedding that I photograph is preparing for my daughter Hannah’s wedding. That’s how important your wedding is to me”. And he means it. Some photographers approach weddings as cookie-cutter catalog work. New England-based Walter van Dusen approaches weddings with a passion.

With 20 years as a correction officer under his belt, Walter has the steely nerves required to deal with the heightened emotions and meltdowns that often go hand-in-hand with wedding days. Careful to avoid repetitive grip and grin-ish wedding photography, van Dusen makes a conscious effort to spend up-front time in order to get to know the soon-to-be-married couple, and sometimes their families and significant others in their lives.

Screen Shot 2014-01-06 at 10.58.52 PM (more…)

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Making Waves, 3 January 2014

making_waves_logo
Making Waves is a weekly round-up of current posts featuring PocketWizard products.

Chip Kalback is a photographer based out of Denver, Colorado who shoots commercial and editorial photography with a focus on environmental portraits and lifestyle sports.  Chip used HyperSync to capture the new standard of performance vehicles, electric cars.  Chip brought along his FlexTT5 as a transmitter and had his lights setup with Plus III radios so he could capture the cover photo and all the images for the feature story in Popular Science magazine.   Chip’s setup for each shot is described in his own words.

“For the cover shot and opening spread I was using a FlexTT5 (Canon) with a Plus III hooked up to an AlienBees B800. Using HyperSync I was able to stop the cars at 1/2000, f/6.3 and ISO 640. My camera setup was a Canon 5D III and a Zeiss Distagon T* 35mm f/2 ZE. 

For the portrait shot of the driver I was using a FlexTT5, with one AlienBees B800 and a gridded beauty dish, and 2 AlienBees B400’s both with tight grids, all three flashes synced with Plus III’s. Those were shot at 1/100, f/8 at ISO 320 with a Zeiss Planar T* 50mm f/1.4 ZE.

For the shots in the garage I was using an AlienBees B800 and 2 AlienBees B400’s, all with tight grids on them being synced with Plus III’s, in conjunction with the ambient light coming in from both sides of the garage. Those were mostly shot using my Zeiss Distagon T* 35mm f/2 ZE while again using my FlexTT5.”

Photo: © Chip Kalback

Photo: © Chip Kalback

(more…)

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Dom Romney on the Road

We’ve looked at the exciting work of Dom Romney previously. It seems like his love of American cars remains undaunted. Here’s some very cool behind-the-scenes photos which accompany Dom’s story of how he got the final shot, in his own words.

©Dom Romney

©Dom Romney

This technique is fairly unusual. What you do is mount the camera to the car, roll the car along the road, and then—when it’s moving—trigger the camera with a long exposure to give the concept of moving with speed.

To create the illusion of speed is difficult. When I shoot, it’s normally just me and a driver. I have to push the car, so I use the PocketWizard to fire the camera while I’m busy pushing. Below is the unedited picture showing the rig, and also me pushing, to give a better idea of how its done.

(more…)

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Making Waves, 4 October 2013

making_waves_logoMaking Waves is a weekly round-up of current posts featuring PocketWizard products.

 

Brazilian photographer Pablo Vaz has recently been featured on Portal Photos. To freeze a variety of fast-action sports, Pablo relies on his PocketWizard MiniTT1® and FlexTT5® radio triggers.

Stay tuned for a feature story on Pablo and his work to appear on the PocketWizard blog. Until then, learn more about him at his blog500px, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

pablo

©Pablo Vaz

(more…)

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PocketWizard Fall Rebates (U.S. Only)

MAC Group, the U.S. distributor for PocketWizard Photo Products, announces a Fall Rebate Program. From now until November 30, 2013 you can receive money back on all your favorite transmitters and transceivers.

Get $15 off your purchase of a Plus®X or Plus® III.

save15

Get $25 off your purchase of a MiniTT1® or FlexTT5®.

save25

How it Works
Purchase one or more of the items above from your local PocketWizard dealer in the United States. Save the receipt and send it along with the filled out rebate form, which can be found via this page, and the original silver product label(s) from product packaging to this address:

PocketWizard Fall Rebate
Dept # MG13-9454
P.O. Box 472
Scottsdale, AZ 85252-0472

You can receive money off each radio purchased. There is no limit!

If you’re wondering which PocketWizard radio unit is best for you you can read more about them here:

Offer available in the U.S. only.

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Bobbi Lane on Leaving the Nest

Photographer Bobbi Lane has shared with us many of her secrets for creating gorgeous portrait photography in two Webinars. Here, in her own words, she goes into detail about the most recent session she gave for PocketWizard viewers. 

©Bobbi Lane
©Bobbi Lane

The idea for my portrait of the young woman with the nest and egg and feathers came out of a dream. I am a committed believer in exercising creativity and going through several processes to help develop ideas. One of the first steps in that process is brainstorming with other creative people, then writing down words to trigger ideas, and then letting it rest a bit and coming back to revisit the ideas in a few days. My associate Matt Burdick and I were sitting around one day talking about “what’s cool.” We tossed around a lot of concepts and then I arrived at “feathers.” I’ve been a birder all my life, even worked one summer at a bird observatory/banding station in Manomet, Massachusetts. I find and collect feathers wherever I go. To me, feathers are really cool.

(more…)

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Making Waves, 6 September 2013

making_waves_logoMaking Waves is a weekly round-up of current posts featuring PocketWizard products.

Justin Van Leeuwen of JVL Photography in Ottawa, Ontario has a great blog post up about his third year shooting the Cole family. This year’s shoot took place at their summer cottage. Electronic technology and water typically are not to be mixed, but that didn’t stop Van Leeuwen from doing his best to capture each of eight family members, plus their dog, while balancing a large octa on a floating raft.

Van Leeuwen utilized a MiniTT1, FlexTT5 and HyperSync® speeds to make this deceptively fun shot that definitely presented challenges to execute. He’s a Westcott-endorsed Pro and lens reviewer for canonrumors.com. We hope to explore more of his work in-depth in the future.

©Justin Van Leeuwen

©Justin Van Leeuwen

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