Should I go TTL or Manual w/Lightmeter?

Started May 7, 2013 | Discussions thread
CraigBennett Contributing Member • Posts: 699
Re: Should I go TTL or Manual w/Lightmeter?

andrewsn00 wrote:


I plan on getting a Quantum T5DR setup soon as I like the light output and I'm pondering what wireless triggering to use. I use a D800E.

I currently have a Sekonic light meter w/pocket wizard triggering built in.

I was pondering whether to get two PW Plus III's, and use them to trigger the Quantum, with the light meter to figure out my exposure.

The other option is to go TTL with the Quantum Copilot+wireless trigger.

In the PW version it'll be manual exposure, which I don't know how to do, so it'll be a learning curve but naturally good knowledge for the future. The TTL is obviously more handy but camera specific.

What would y'all suggest?

What are you using it for?  Do you have any Nikon Speedlights now?

I have two Nikon D800e's, one Nikon D90, two SB-910's and one SB-900.  I also have the Sekonic L478DR, PocketWizard FlexTT5, MiniTT1, and AC3 controller.  I use mine for indoor/outdoor photo sessions, weddings and events.

Understand the Sekonic L-478DR will control some strobes perfectly if they support PocketWizard adapters and their ControlTL or as you point out, in simple trigger mode (no control of power) with a compatible receiver or a wired sync cord.  It is a very good lightmeter.

You cannot use your L-478DR to set or measure TTL flash.  It is impossible, so if you want to use your light meter, it needs to be a manual system of some type.

The question with the lightmeter usage boils down to if you want to take advantage of the L-478DR for power control and/or basic trigger.  If  so, than you need to look at a PocketWizard solution with any flash system you settle on.

I used to own a studio with a lot of light gear, which I sold when I relocated and started over recently.  So I took a fresh look at everything on the market before making my equipment choices.

1) I use mine L-478DR to set manual flash power levels with my Nikon Speedlights fitted with PocketWizard FlexTT5's.

2) I  use the D800e with the PocketWizards and the AC3 controller in full TTL mode using Nikon's CLS system and Speedlights, without the L-478DR.

3) I use a couple of low cost 600WS monolights, triggered with the FlexTT5's in simple radio trigger mode.  I trigger these lights with my L-478DR and with my D800e.  (No TTL, full manual)

For higher output than the Speedlights can achieve and have portability with full manual control and power tracking settable via camera using the PocketWizard FlexTT5 (or MiniTT1) with AC3 controller or the Sekonic L-478DR light meter.

I'm getting ready to order the following this week:

$499.95 E640,  $239.95 VM120,  $99.95 MC2-US,  $19.95 8.5HOR,  $14.95 7AB/R, $12.95 PCBBAG,  $14.95 VMBAG

Grand Total  $902.65

With the E640 and the MC2 you have full power control with power tracking that supports the PocketWizard's ContolTL protocol.  So you can set these with your L-478DR and trigger with a simple PocketWizard or use the more capable MiniTT1/FlexTT5/AC3 at the camera.

I fully agree with the other comments on using a flash meter to set your light(s).  It is fast, easy and repeatable.  TTL is alright, but I prefer to maintain full control of my lighting and camera settings.

The two main arguments I have against the Quantum's are:

1) Cost versus power

2) Maintenance cost for repairs over their life.

The flash speed and color WB of the Einstein flash is extremely good.  I have not seen better, even on units costing a whole lot more. (Now the Nikon Speedlights are a different story, the SB-910's are all over the place with regards to color temp.)

I like to buy American made products when available, so both Quantum and Paul C. Buff are there on that one.  And they both have been in business about the same amount of time (Quantum 1978, Buff 1980)

Quantum builds a solid product and they are flexible.  So are Nikon Speedlights, PocketWizards, and Paul C. Buff.

It goes back to what you currently own, what you want to do with it, and how much you want to spend to get there.


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