I’ve had many questions from Nikon users waiting for the new Pocket Wizard TT1 and TT5 units and here is my response to the most common one. Should I buy an SU-800 or wait for the new Pocket Wizard TTL units to come out?
If you don’t have an SU-800 and are wondering weather to buy one or not ahead of the PW launch then here is my advice: D300 and D700 users, use your pop up flash for the ‘big pictures’ where you can take a few frames if you get blinks. If you are covering action at weddings use an SC29 off camera flash cord in conjunction with the Sto-Fen type diffuser that came with the SB-900. The SC29 has an inbuilt focus aid that is powered by the contacts in front of the foot of the SB-800 or SB-900 flash guns. If you are using a D3, D3x or D3s then use a spare SU-800/ SB-900 as a master, buy an SU-800 or use the SC29 as mentioned above.
The Nikon Pocket Wizards are likely to be without a focus aid (similar in design to the Canon units) so it is very likely that you will want to use an SU-800 on top of the Mini TT1 both to allow full control of the flashes and to give you the focus aid beams. I’m fully expecting to be using my SU-800 with the new Nikon Pocket Wizards right from the start when they come out.
Don’t expect to use an SB-800 as a non firing master on the Mini TT1 because the weight of a flash on the Mini will mean the experiment ends in tears. Yes, they show that set up in the advertising but trust me, it’s too heavy for the construction materials and the design of the Mini TT1. Yes you can use it as a firing or non firing master if you keep the camera horizontal but just don’t try using it that way for vertical pictures. You have been warned.
So to sum up, you probably won’t regret spending £229 on a light weight and fully featured SU-800. You can buy one here for that bargain price.
My findings to date with the Canon Pocket Wizard system.
I’ve had a few issues with my units, mostly due to my lack of understanding of the settings when setting up my configurations in the PW utility software. My other problem was a broken foot on one of my TT5 units that was caused by a stand blowing over. That cost me £60 to replace (ouch) and took a week to be fixed by the UK importers.
The configurations you can set in the software and upload to your units via the USB lead supplied can and should be different if you want to get the most from your Mini TT1 and Flex TT5 units.
The receiver in the TT5 can be either the TTL channel or the normal Pocket Wizard channel but not both in the same configuration. So I have set configuration 1 on all my Flexs to be the TTL receiver and operate in the TTL system mode and I have set my configuration 2 to be the classic Pocket Wizard receiver and act like a Plus 2 unit. I have chosen channel 4 as the control channel for my classic non TTL set up and I have set my PW cards in my Bowens studio lights to the same channel. Now I have a pair of Plus 2 units and three Flex units that can trigger remote flashes of any make and remote cameras, all controlled from my Mini TT1. In order to do this I set the units to configuration 2 and all is ready to go. If I want one of my Flexs to fire using TTL, I switch it to configuration 1 and hey presto it all works, when triggered by my Mini TT1.
Before I had finally nailed the settings in the software and written them to my units I had odd trigger timing issues that were a bit of a mystery. So to sum up for now, I blame the software set up instructions for not being written in way that is easy to understand and I blame my lack of ability to understand and apply the best settings for my system of shooting.
I expect that in time with each update of the firmware and software more of the set up gremlins will be eliminated. I also expect that all the PW development team are working flat out to bring the Nikon system to market before revisiting the Canon unit firmware and rightly so.
It’s easy to be the best on the market when you are the only ones on the market.
I will try and source a batch load of the replacement feet directly from Pocket Wizard for Mini and Flex units and make them available for self swap to my Pocket Wizard customers. I’ll keep you posted.