Pocket Wizards dont fir consistently

Started Feb 14, 2013 | Discussions
kaholt
Regular MemberPosts: 113
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Pocket Wizards dont fir consistently
Feb 14, 2013

I have two PW FlexTTL5s, 1 miniTT1 and a Plus III. I am using them with a Nikon D800 and 2 SB910s. I also have a Sekonic meter with built in PW compatible radio.

I have found that despite the advanced capabilities of the ControlTL capable devices, I prefer just to use everything in basic trigger mode. That way my light meter can trigger the speedlights to get a proper exposure reading in the studio. Futhermore, I just like the work flow better since it matches the times I have access to real studio strobes which I also intent to buy at some point.

Given all this, I made a mistake buying what I did. I should have opted for all Plus IIIs. Nevertheless, I'm now stuck with what I have and would like to make it work. And it should. PW claim to fully support basic trigger mode in all devices.

The problem is it isnt reliable. Everthing will work fine for half a dozen pops, and then all of a sudden it stops. I have to turn all the PWs off and back on, including sometimes it seems the camera and flash to get the system working again. Then it works for a bit until maybe I pause briefly. Then it wont resume and I have to go throut the whole piwer cycle ritual again. I've tried setting the sleep timer on the SB910s to five minutes but that didnt help. I dont have to pause nearly that long for the system to act up.

I think I might have localized the problem to the miniTT1, because last night I had the Plus III connected to one of the steobes and even it quit firing and a brief good run.

Anyone have an idea? I'm thinking these Pocket Wizards are far more frustration than using CLS, which I find to generally be pretty good indoors. The only problem is no way to fire CLS with a Sekonic meter. If I could do that I would sell all my Pocket Wizards even though I'm sure I would take a huge loss. Its just too embarrassing to have to fiddle with them so much in the middle of a shoot.

Keith

Nikon D800
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xuser
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Re: Pocket Wizards dont fir consistently
In reply to kaholt, Feb 14, 2013

Interesting. I am experiencing exactly the same thing but with a D600. I thought this was related to the D600 not being supported with the current firmware.

I contacted support and provided them with a flow. In my case it seems (not 100% reproducible), that it stops triggering after measuring with the Sekonic. This is the email sent to support:

-- hide signature --

>Hi,I contacted support last Friday and it was confirmed that the MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 are not fully compatible with Nikon D600 and that a new firmware is on its way.
>I'd like to mention that I have tried the PW on trigger only mode with the Sekonic L-478DR and found the following:
>Setup:- 3 SB-800 on 3 FlexTT5- MiniTT1 on D600
>All equipment turned on this order: flash - TT5 - Mini - D600
>Trigger flashes via L-478DR to measure exposure.Adjust power on flashes via Sekonic if necessary.Take picture from D600. Flashes are not triggeredTurn off MiniTT1 and D600 and then turn them on again.Take picture. Now flashes are triggered all the time.
>This behavior is 100% reproducible. Each time I measure exposure with the Sekonic, the Mini/TT5's do not trigger the flashes, forcing me to turn off and then on the Mini and camera.
>I am reporting this bug in case your team is not aware of this issue and maybe it can be addressed on the new firmware.
>Best regards,

-----------------------

At the moment of contacting support I thought it was 100% reproducible. Now I am not able to reproduce it on purpose, but stills failing.

In my case I only need to turn off the MiniTT1 and the camera.

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Andrea Crema
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Re: Pocket Wizards dont fir consistently
In reply to xuser, Feb 16, 2013

Hmmmm, was ready to pull the trigger and buy this setup myself.

I thought Pocket Wizard has a good name in the industry for reliability. They should do considering what they cost.

Would be interested to see how this issue is resolved. Have you updated the firmware?

.

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xuser
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Re: Pocket Wizards dont fir consistently
In reply to Andrea Crema, Feb 16, 2013

I have. I am using 3.15 on MinitTT1 and FlexTT5. Still, this version does not support D600.

I can wait for the update, but it worries me that kaholt is reporting similar issue with D800, which is supposed to be fully supported.

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kaholt
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Re: Pocket Wizards dont fire consistently
In reply to xuser, Feb 16, 2013

I am also running the latest version of the firmware on all devices.

When I have used the older generation PWs on regular studio strobes they always "just worked".  I think these ControlTL devices are a work in progress.  Still they seem to always get glowing reviews.  I wonder if the reviewers ever tried using them in just basic trigger mode.  You would think that aspect of them would be the most reliable though.  Its not the new fancy modes that are giving me fits.

Keith

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Nikonparrothead
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Re: Pocket Wizards dont fire consistently
In reply to kaholt, Feb 17, 2013

You're correct that they're a work in progress. The easiest testament to this is that Joe McNally -- Mr. TTL if he can with his speedlghts himself -- worked as a beta tester but doesn't yet carry them in his kit bag (he opts for PWIIs and PWIIIs). His rationale (or who he said in November, when I was in the audience at a seminar in Tampa) is that they still have reliability issues.

I own the Control TL system, love it for my Quadra -- lets me shoot via hypersync as fast as I want. I also use them with my SBs. But I also have Skyports for the bulk of my Quadra work (and to control the power when I use the Control TLs) and a PWII and PWIII for times when I'm shooting along with friends who use PWs.

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MadManAce
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Re: Pocket Wizards dont fire consistently
In reply to Nikonparrothead, Feb 19, 2013

I use the MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 on D800 and as long as the MinitTT1 has a fresh battery is works well in TTL and trigger only modes.   If I had known this before I would have bought FlexTT5s only.  These work shoot after shot with constantly switching batteries.  For the MiniTT1 I keep a handful of button batteries because on long shoots, they WILL NEED replacing and once I even had to replace it twice. Yeah it is that bad; as soon as I start getting misfires, I know it is time to change batteries.  It really sucks.

I shoot with Nikon CLS speedlights and Einstein strobes’, so having the ControlTL system makes for the perfect solution.  If am only using the Einsteins, I use the TT5 (with AC3) and MC2’s with brilliant reliability.

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xuser
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Re: Pocket Wizards dont fir consistently
In reply to xuser, Feb 20, 2013

I am starting to believe, at least in my case, that the issue is related to the MiniTT1 going into sleep mode and not being waked up by half-pressing the shutter button. Maybe related to the D600.

Yesterday I shoot for 15 minutes continuously without any misfire. I'll keep testing to see if I can reproduce the issue 100%.

TTL seems to work fine on the D600, but maximum supported sync-speed is 160. At 200 I start getting black banding.

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kaholt
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Re: Pocket Wizards dont fir consistently
In reply to xuser, Feb 20, 2013

xuser wrote:

I am starting to believe, at least in my case, that the issue is related to the MiniTT1 going into sleep mode and not being waked up by half-pressing the shutter button. Maybe related to the D600.

Yesterday I shoot for 15 minutes continuously without any misfire. I'll keep testing to see if I can reproduce the issue 100%.

TTL seems to work fine on the D600, but maximum supported sync-speed is 160. At 200 I start getting black banding.

I think this matches what I'm seeing now with more experimentation..  I seem to be able to get things working again by just cycling power on the MiniTT1 and the camera without having to cycle power on FlexTT5 and the strobes.  Once I get a misfire though, it will never fire again until I go through this reset procedure.  It does seem the miniTT1 goes to sleep after a brief pause in shooting and then never wakes up no matter what.

When I get back home I'm going to try using one of my two FlexTT5 s on the camera instead of the miniTT1 and see if that works more consistently.  Perhaps the solution is to just ditch the mini.

I have also seen the mini eats batteries pretty fast, but I dont think that explains this particular problem.  At this point though I can't rule out anything.

Keith

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PenguinPhotoCo
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my experience
In reply to kaholt, Feb 20, 2013

PW plus units work 100% of the time..ok, 99% - sometimes the antenna may line up with something and not fire. move it and it works fine. I rarely use ch 1 as I've issues with random flash going off on it, so I just use 2 as a rule.
The flex....crap. Well, not totally true - well built, but not reliable. I use canon (580s which have a 'known issue' regarding limited range) and outside as fill flash they seem to work 95% of the time just fine.
Inside less reliable and in M mode at say, a dark wedding reception forget it. 20% reliable.
I only use it now for HS seniors on location- I can work slow and if they won't work I can make do otherwise.
I tried using them on sports leagues shoots - I lke the eTTL capability - but postioning them is tricky. I've had them work on my left but not on my right. work for 10 kids then go nuts (same thing at wedding receptions).
Great idea, fine for a hobbyist. Not ready for prime time.

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kaholt
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Re: Pocket Wizards dont fire consistently
In reply to kaholt, Mar 2, 2013

I substituted a FlexTT5 as the on camera trigger replacing the miniTT1 and I seem to be having a much better experience.  I still have not been able to isolate a specific, repeatable sequence of events that causes the miniTT1 to suddenly stop working.  All I know is that it works and then suddenly it doesn't, and won't until its' power cycled.  However, all these problems go away when using the FlexTT5 instead.  If these results continue I think I will buy another Flex and retire the miniTT1 to the junk box.

Keith

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Jacques Cornell
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Sold my Flex/Mini for 3 sets of Phottix Stratos
In reply to kaholt, Mar 3, 2013

I shoot Canon 1-series, and my biz partner shoots Nikon D700/D800, and we both wrestled with those little buggers for a long time before we gave up in exasperation and replaced them with Phottix Stratos. The Stratos pass through TTL to the on-camera flash, but not to the remote flash. I always use my remote flashes in manual mode, so I don't miss wireless TTL. The Stratos just work. Always. They take regular AAA batteries. They're claimed to reach 300', and I've never bumped into a range limit in the large ballrooms and conference halls where I often work, up to at least 100'. And, at $100 per set, I paid less for three transmitters and three receivers than I did for one Mini and one Flex. Good riddance. My partner recently made the switch, and every time he comes back from a gig, he tells me what a relief it is to have something he knows is going to work.

My experience with the regular PWs was always good. It's the Flex & Mini in particular that seem problematic.

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Zalafoto USA
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batteries
In reply to kaholt, Mar 6, 2013

The only time I had missed shots when I first got PW Plus IIs and I used rechargeable AAs in them. Than, I found info on the forum and I believe it was stated in the manual, too not to use them. So, I'm not sure if that is your case or not, but using plain AA batteries solved my problem.

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