Pocket Wizard Mini TT1 & Flex TT5 ~ research info

May 25, 2009 | Flash, Location, News | 29 comments

A lot of noise on the US forums about the mechanical strength and the RF range of these units has led me to publish a few of the links and info here for you to check out should you wish to do so. When I get my UK frequency units I’ll be carrying out my own tests and working out how to get the most out of them. There tend to be a lot of comments from people trying to put the PW system down, even going so far as testing their own units to destruction.

One of the worlds best places for flash advice and ideas is the Strobist blog in the US. Their full review of the US frequency PW’s is here.

The Rob Galbraith blog is also a place I respect for it’s reviews. His analysis and findings are here.
Interestingly, at the bottom of his post you can see a chart of the Speedlights, radio frequency zone and RF range. It shows significantly more range for the EU units over the US versions when used with the Canon 580 and 580 mk2 Speedlights. This looks promising.

There were some lengthy, deadly dull videos posted on You Tube by Tricoast Photography. They are very informative, exhaustive and independent tests (without any consideration of art) on the US frequency Pocket Wizard TTL systems and have shown the following results:  When shooting with the Canon 430 EX2 Spedlight mounted directly to the flexTT5 on a lighting stand expect 30m of camera to flash range with a Pocket Wizard MiniTT1 transmitter on a Canon dSLR. This is a usable but not amazing range; When shooting with a 580 or 580 EX2 Speedlight mounted directly to the flexTT5 on a lighting stand expect about 10m of camera to flash range with a Pocket Wizard MiniTT1 transmitter on a Canon dSLR. This is minimal and not a great distance at all. It’s okay for most of my personal shooting but I’d expect more from an RF system.

I’ve not had a chance to test a UK frequency set of Pocket Wizard TTL units and it is worth mentioning that radio frequencies are critical with performance and interference issues. As the UK frequency band of these units is likely to be around 865Mhz I understand it is way higher than the PW US frequencies and far nearer the Radio Popper operating frequencies. Radio Poppers at 900 Mhz work well with the Canon 580 Speedlights although they are not available in the UK as they interfere with our GPS phone network. Furthermore, no announcement has been made on the Radio Popper website to say that UK units are going to be available. :( There’s speculation of an imminent announcement but that has been the case for well over a year now.

I’ve decided to place my order for UK test stock of these units and thoroughly use them before releasing them. I need to know that the UK spec kit does the job it was designed to do. I’ll keep you posted.

If you have any further links to info or you would like to comment on the findings please do so here.

If you found this helpful, you may also like Canon PW TTL update and Nikon questions answered

29 Comments

  1. john shaw

    Damien,

    Many thanks for the info. Lets hope its soon we are way behind the USA !

    You didn’t mention if you will do a deal on say 3 units as mentioned in my blog sbove?

    Regards

    John

    Reply
  2. Randy

    I picked up a set of the CE units today from Teds in Melbourne, AUS.
    Initial tests were good up to 35-40 meters (105-120ft) with a 580exII directly mounted to the TT5 on a light stand using a 5d mark II. At roughly 40m i started getting a few misfires. I couldn’t test any further distance due to space.
    I really need to go to a park, but for my needs, 35 meters is enough.
    So early signs are that the CE 433 has better range when used with 580exII than the US versions.
    Is anyone else finding the same thing with the non US versions?

    Reply
  3. damien

    Hi John,

    Hi John, your information is not quite correct. I’ve just been in touch with Johnsons and although they have the first batch in their distribution depot no UK retailers have received any stock. There are two final things that Johnsons need to do before releasing the units. One is to print and place a bit of paper in each and every box and the other was not divulged to me. The bit of paper is likely to be a compliance certificate.

    I have been assured that my stock will be dispatched along with the other retailers at the same time.

    I hope this helps.

    Damien.

    Reply
  4. John Shaw

    Hi Damien,

    I was told by James Ashley at Johnsons they are/have been released… Although I must admit cant find them online yet. Will you be doing a deal e.g. I need 2 FlexTT5 and one MiniTT1 to fire 2 off camera flashes ?

    Im looking forward to your test results I just hope they have got it right….

    Regards John

    Reply
  5. damien

    Hi Clarence,

    I’ve only tested the Beta units. But as I’m not in Australia I don’t have access to the ‘real’ units yet. I’ll Twitter the moment I get them and I’ll blog my test results. These should be within an hour of each other. If the issues I had with the Beta units have been resolved we will be offering them for sale the same day.

    What are the Australians saying about their units?

    Damien.

    Reply
  6. Clarence

    Damien, have you had a chance to test range weith the CE units? They have been released to distributors already, I know because Australian distributors are already selling them.

    Reply
  7. damien

    Hi John,

    I have extensively tested beta CE units. There were still bugs with the beta units that I’m hoping have been fixed like not working above f/14 on my 24-70mm lens for instance. I’m sure all the issues could have been fixed.

    I don’t know where you heard that they will be released to UK retailers this week. The team at PIS/JPD don’t have a date yet and they are the sole UK importer. It’s now Friday and I’ve not been told to expect to receive my first shipment that is placed on back order.

    It is true that PW have been making the UK units for about 2 weeks now but I don’t know how many they make an hour or when they feel they have enough stock to launch.

    I wish I could confirm your ‘this week’ rumour.

    Damien.

    Reply
  8. john shaw

    Has anyone tersted the new pocket wizard FlexTT5 and Mini
    TT1 yet??

    They are released this week to Uk retailers !

    Reply
  9. john shaw

    Hi Damien,

    I understand the unit are being released this week in the Uk. I expect you have tested them – any news ?

    Also are they now better than originally reviewed in the USA?

    Regards John [JSPhotography]

    Reply
  10. damien

    Hi Will,

    I’ve been helping PW with their product research and development for some time and my test units have gone back to HQ now. There are plenty of goings on behind the scenes to ensure a super spec product is launched soon. All I can say is please be patient. I will evaluate the imminent production units to check they are fit for purpose and I’ll report my findings prior to releasing them for sale. I’d rather PW take a few extra weeks to ensure the units are up to scratch than release them as an unfinished project.

    I’m sorry I can’t elaborate further with a firm date. I really don’t know what is happening behind the scenes.

    Kindest regards,

    Damien.

    Reply
  11. Will Pateman

    Hi Damien,
    i follow your site on a weekly basis and i am keen to find out if you have any more news on the pocket wizards

    Reply
  12. damien

    Hi Pete and Rich,

    There seems to be a hold up at the moment. Several suggestions have been made on various forums as to the reason for the delay. I’m less concerned about the ship date than I am about the units working exactly as they should. If it takes PW a couple of months to nail the issues that have plagued the US versions I’ll be happy to wait. I’m sorry not to have been able to help further.

    Damien.

    Reply
  13. Pete

    Any news on when these will be available?
    Cheers

    Reply
  14. Rich Scorer

    Any news on when the new PW’s are going to be in?

    Reply
  15. Phil

    Hi, Damien,

    I have received an email (below) from the radiopopper guys. Thought you may be interested in what they have t say regarding an EU version of their product.

    `Presently we only offer our products in the United States . However, we are working diligently to bring the RadioPopper PX to other markets. As we meet regulatory requirements of individual countries and establish export schedules, we will post updates on our website (www.RadioPopper.com). We do have an EU specific unit set for release July 2009.

    Please be aware that the radio frequency used for US models is the same frequency band Europe uses for it’s GSM cellular phones. Anyone using these in Europe can expect shortened range, misfires and other odd behavior due to the constant background interference from the phones.

    Thanks for your interest in RadioPopper and we look forward to serving you in the near future.

    Regards,

    Rachael Hoffman

    Reply
  16. damien

    Hi Dave and Martin, I’ve temporarily pulled the pre order facility until I’ve had a chance to check that the UK versions work as expected. I really don’t want to be dealing with hundreds of returns and the admin that will cause. The more I read, the more promising the system looks but all will be revealed in a little while.

    Thanks for your patience.

    Damien.

    Reply
  17. damien

    There is another page of info on the range of the 580 and a shield solution of sorts here

    Reply
  18. Dave Packer

    Hi Damien how do i pre order a set off you. cant see the link on the pocket wizard page?

    Reply
  19. damien

    Hi Dave,

    If the FlexTT5 and the Mini TT1 do a good job and give us a suitable advantage over IR TTL then we will be selling the new PW units. I have secured a distribution agreement with the UK supplier. Although we are not prepared to supply kit that is not up to the job so some speedy evaluation is needed by me. I’m expecting the system to work well – lets see. The website page is here

    Reply
  20. Martin Mason

    Ditto, assuming you have tested them and are happy!….
    Can I order some from you!?

    Martin

    Reply
  21. Dave Packer

    Hi Damien so are you planning on selling the new pocketwizards through your website?

    Dave

    Reply
  22. Rich Scorer

    I too am really excited by this new system, After having my STE 2 fail due to sunlight at a wedding this weekend, I cannot wait for radio reliability.

    Additionally Rob Galbraith article about the brightness using the new PW’s looks clever. (1 stop more light on a 5D mark 2 with the same equipment –that’s working smarter!) see- http://www.robgalbraith.com/bins/content_page.asp?cid=7-9991-10030

    It is a shame that The STE-2 won’t control the C channel ratio. However the C channel is for setup on canons ETTL system for a background light only I cannot see this being that much of a loss.

    As for the 430EX2 I think that the increase in distance for use with the new PW’s is going to make them more popular due to the comparative cost against the 580EX2. (I would love to see a new thread by Damien on there usage and results.)

    Reply
  23. damien

    Hi Simon. I too have a pair of Plus 2 Pocket Wizards. I’ve been through many other systems and the PW’s are the most reliable by far.

    I think it is a bit much to expect to put a 580 Speedlight on this little unit and shoot vertical pictures. I’d keep the Mini TT1 as a replacement for the ST-E2 rather than treat it as a hot shoe spacer.

    I think it was probably a mistake by PW to put the sync socket on the top of the MiniTT1. The ratios A-B-C option in the Canon system could easily have been built in. However, the hot shoe is there and I’m sure the lighter ST-E2 could sit on the top of the MiniTT1 unit without any problems and this will give the ratio options needed.

    Maybe there will be a carbon fibre version in due course :) although I expect we’ll then see the cameras own hot shoes coming off next.

    I’ll be trialing a micro stand clamp to use the FlexTT5 with the Canon OC-E3 cord and the Lovegrove flash bracket. I’ve just bought a 430EX2 flash to use as a backlight with the above set up and I love it. If it works as well as I hope I will be recommending this set up. The trigger range should be fantastic and the picture making opportunities will probably speak for themselves.

    These are exciting times and I for one will be looking to see what extra opportunities these units bring to our photography rather than seeing how I can make them fail.

    Reply
  24. damien

    Hi Dave, I was last told the release date would be at the end of May and as you know that is only five days away. I’ll be chasing the UK importers on Friday if they are still not in stock. Sorry to be vague.

    Reply
  25. Simon Godfrey

    Hi Damien,

    We use their standard units & are very pleased with them – but the build quality is not really great for a pro piece of kit – very plasticky. From what I have read these new units share this flaw & it becomes more of an issue because rather than just holding a relatively light piece of kit, you can place a flash on top of the new units – hence adding additional stress on the not substantial foot plate. Be interested to see your view on this.

    Thanks,

    Simon

    Reply
  26. Kevin

    I’m looking forward to reading the results of your testing. As you say, the frequency is critical so it will be interesting to see how they perform.

    Reply
  27. Dave Packer

    Hi Damien hope your well

    Any release dates yet for the new PW ?

    Cheers

    Dave

    Reply

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