SM Flashwaves - Cheap alternative to Pocke Wizard

Started Jan 28, 2008 | Discussions
Kpatel Contributing Member • Posts: 937
Re: SM Flashwaves - Cheap alternative to Pocke Wizard

Gene,

Look for this:

http://www.radiopopper.com/

-- hide signature --

KP

KennyS Contributing Member • Posts: 639
Re: SM Flashwaves - Cheap alternative to Pocke Wizard

Way to.. read.. the thread..

Kpatel wrote:

Gene,

Look for this:

http://www.radiopopper.com/

OP Genes Pentax Senior Member • Posts: 1,080
I saw it ...

Hi KP,

I saw it. Here are the problems with Radio Popper Jr.

1. When I got Flashwaves, it was not available. Well, it's STILL not available. It's still on paper only, which means it's only someone's figment of imagination.

2. It's cost is at least $50, still an imaginary price. It may very well end up costing more. If it's made in the U.S., I highly doubt that it can be made and sold for $50. So, even under the most hopeful circumstances, it may end up costing about $75.

3. It'll probably require more accessories, i.e., cables + hot shoe adapters. Which will probably drive up the cost of using it to at least $100+

4. Even if the cost of using it can be contained to $100, you have to deal with wires, etc. Isn't the whole idea to be wireless?

5. It's only a single channel operation vs. 10 channels.

6. We don't know what it's max sync speed will be.

Anyhow, on paper, it looks good. I hope it becomes a reality soon. 2000 ft range is very tempting, even though I will probably never use it or need it.

For now, the reality as I see it is that Flashwaves is the best option for now. Granted that the max range is only about 50 meters, it still can sync to 1/250s. Best of all, you do not need to buy any more cables, hot shoe adapters, etc. It's all you need. I love the built in hot shoe. Simply brilliant.

As for Radio Popper Jr., let's just hope for the best and see if and when it becomes a reality.

Gene

Kpatel wrote:

Gene,

Look for this:

http://www.radiopopper.com/

digitalmike Senior Member • Posts: 1,781
Re: SM Flashwaves - Cheap alternative to Pocke Wizard

good point.
--
What if the Hokey Pokey really is what it's all about!
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P Hartung
P Hartung Regular Member • Posts: 323
Re: SM Flashwaves - Cheap alternative to Pocke Wizard

Thanks for the review, Gene. Based on your review and the cost advantages over PW's, I ponied up the funds to get a couple FlashWaves ordered today and so I hope to get testing with them next week.

What could be worth investigating for those who are on the fence is whether the FlashWaves will sync at 1/250th consistently when stretched across the distance of say 150 feet or more. You'd expect that kind of consistency from PW's for all the moola they fetch.

Consistent synchronization is important to me, even though we don't require our triggers to span so great a distance very often (field sports occasionally).

If anyone has any curiosities they'd like me to test for, then reply before next Friday and I'll try to fit your request into our regimen. I'll report what I find...

-- hide signature --

Paul

“The worth and excellency of a soul is to be measured by the object of its love”
Henry Scougal

 P Hartung's gear list:P Hartung's gear list
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Robert Lynch Senior Member • Posts: 1,765
Re: SM Flashwaves - Cheap alternative to Pocke Wizard

P Hartung wrote:

What could be worth investigating for those who are on the fence is
whether the FlashWaves will sync at 1/250th consistently when
stretched across the distance of say 150 feet or more.

I have a set and I am happy with them. That being said, I can only sync at 1/200 and the range for consistent reliable operation is 60-75 ft (outside, line-of-sight) but they will work most of the time up to 125 feet.

What is of more interest to me is that I was shooting at an airport. That has been an issue in the past with cheaper units that will start firing randomly in response to ambient signals. This time, I did not have a single unwanted flash the whole evening. The real acid test will be when I take them to a friend's place a few blocks from the Pentagon and within sight of National Airport. My old cheap Chinese imports go nuts firing randomly whenever I am there.

P Hartung
P Hartung Regular Member • Posts: 323
Re: SM Flashwaves - Cheap alternative to Pocke Wizard

Thanks for that input, Robert.

Does the sync speed accuracy get noticeably worse with distance in your experience? Have you noticed misfiring in intervals or at distance thresholds (not speaking of distances near your stated maximum)?

Much appreciated...
--
Paul

“The worth and excellency of a soul is to be measured by the object of its love”
Henry Scougal

 P Hartung's gear list:P Hartung's gear list
Nikon D800 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28-70mm f/2.8 ED-IF Nikon AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8D Tokina AT-X Pro 100mm f/2.8 Macro +2 more
Robert Lynch Senior Member • Posts: 1,765
Re: SM Flashwaves - Cheap alternative to Pocke Wizard

I only tested the maximum sync speed at close range, as at the time I only ever expected to use them at less than 15 feet. However, I realize now that I might need them up to 35-40 feet in the future, so I will test them again soon.

I tested the maximum range simply by holding the transmitter in my hand and repeatedly pushing the test button as I walked up and down the length of a row of small hangers at the airport, so i can't comment on extreme range vs. sync speed issues.

JBP Senior Member • Posts: 1,014
$$ Chinese version

I'll don my flame retardant suit first, then comment.

I think these Flashwaves are just a slightly refined version of the Chinese (Chi-bay) models you can buy for $20.

My reason for saying this is, the transmitter has no external antennae, similar design to the Chi-bay triggers. That's why real world experience is stating less than advertised distance of 150 ft. They may have refined the frequency tuning to eliminate external influences but is it worth $150? PW are buy far a better choice, sure more money too for long distance reliable syncing.

Some owners of the Chi-bay triggers have retrofitted their transmitter with an external antennae to get more reliable and longer distance reception.

It would be interesting to crack the case of the Flashwaves and Chi-bay to compare electronics. But, I'm not convinced the Flashwaves are worth the money until more testing is done.
--
35 to 4 x 5 - NPS Member

 JBP's gear list:JBP's gear list
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OP Genes Pentax Senior Member • Posts: 1,080
Re: SM Flashwaves - Cheap alternative to Pocke Wizard

Hi Robert,

Thanks for the info. I'd be interested in seeing more of your test results. I've not yet had a chance to really test the max range. But within the house, it's been great. But now that the weather is warming up, I should go outside to test it out.

Thanks.
Gene

Robert Lynch wrote:

I only tested the maximum sync speed at close range, as at the time I
only ever expected to use them at less than 15 feet. However, I
realize now that I might need them up to 35-40 feet in the future, so
I will test them again soon.

I tested the maximum range simply by holding the transmitter in my
hand and repeatedly pushing the test button as I walked up and down
the length of a row of small hangers at the airport, so i can't
comment on extreme range vs. sync speed issues.

OP Genes Pentax Senior Member • Posts: 1,080
Re: SM Flashwaves - Cheap alternative to Pocke Wizard

Hi Paul,

If anyone has any curiosities they'd like me to test for, then reply
before next Friday and I'll try to fit your request into our regimen.
I'll report what I find...

Thanks for the offer. I'm pretty much interested in what you are going to test for. What's the max range? Is it really is 50~60 meters as claimed by the manufacturer? Also, at that max range, what's the max sync speed?

Thanks.
Gene

-- hide signature --

Paul

“The worth and excellency of a soul is to be measured by the object
of its love”
Henry Scougal

OP Genes Pentax Senior Member • Posts: 1,080
My experience with the Chinese model ...

I would agree that it would indeed be interesting to open up both of them and compare the electronics.

But based on my personal, first hand experience with the cheap Chinese models that cost $20~40, I can't imagine that one would be derivative of the other or the same stuff just tweaked differently.

The Chinese models were the first radio slaves I ever bought, which I came to regret. Tried two different versions before I got fed up and bought Microsync. Then, came Flashwaves and that's how this post got started.

Anyhow, when I had the Chinese models, the max sync speed I was able to get out of them was 1/125 (sometimes) and mostly at around 1/100s. I was using Pentax *ist DS, K10D and Sigma EF-500DG Super and Pentax AF-540 flashes. Changing the batteries to new batteries in those Chinese models didn't help. I contacted the seller to double check everything to make it work to no avail. The rest is history.

Bottom line: the Chinese model couldn't even perform to anything close to the advertised specs.

As for Microsync, when the battery voltage drops, it doesn't sync very reliably either. At similar low voltage levels, I think Flashwaves may actually be better than Microsync. It certainly isn't worse.

Now, as for Flashwaves, the advertised spec for max sync speed was 1/180s. But I was able to get 1/250s reliably using Canon 40D. And, I was doing it at 3 FPS. Now, if the actual max range for Flashwaves is about 40 meters (compared to advertised max of 50~60 meters), that would be disappointing. But it's still far better than the Chinese version which couldn't even sync within the same apartment. (Note: I wasn't even using brand new batteries with Flashwaves.)

Is PW better? No doubt. Is it better to the tune of $378+ vs $150? For some people, it may be, but for me and many others, I highly doubt it. (What about for 2 receivers for triggering 2 separate flashes? $567 for PW vs. $230.) It's rather like saying "I'm sure the $70,000 Porsche is a better car than Honda Accord." Well, no duh.... Honda Accord, a fine car by any means, costs only about $30k at max. A Porsche would cost about 2.5 times more than that, just as PW costs about 2.5 times more than Flashwaves.

Now, the max range advertised for PW is 1600ft. That's 533+ yards, more than a 1/4 of a mile. I wonder whether anyone has tested that distance to see if it lives up to the max range. If it does, that's awesome. But it may not. Without testing and actual experience, I think it's dangerous and foolish to claim something to be something else or better or worse.

Now, 40 meters is 66% of 60 meters. For PW to perform at 66% of its max advertised range, it has to sync at 355 yards which is almost a 1/4 miles of distance. I'd seriously like to know someone who has actually tested that distance first hand and actually measured the distance (instead of eyeballing it).

Next time, instead of worrying about your flame retardant suit, you should worry about facts and experience. Also, if you are going to compare some products, do some more research and consider the costs.

Saying something like "A Porsche can go at 150 mph but a Honda Accord can't, so Porsche is a better car" is far from an earth shattering observation and hardly helpful. Same thing applies to saying "PW is far better because it can sync at longer distance."

If you happen to get Flashwaves and the Chinese version, please do open them up and compare them. I'd be very interested in seeing how they compare in their design. I've long gotten rid of the useless Chinese version.

Gene

JBP wrote:

I'll don my flame retardant suit first, then comment.

I think these Flashwaves are just a slightly refined version of the
Chinese (Chi-bay) models you can buy for $20.

My reason for saying this is, the transmitter has no external
antennae, similar design to the Chi-bay triggers. That's why real
world experience is stating less than advertised distance of 150 ft.
They may have refined the frequency tuning to eliminate external
influences but is it worth $150? PW are buy far a better choice, sure
more money too for long distance reliable syncing.

Some owners of the Chi-bay triggers have retrofitted their
transmitter with an external antennae to get more reliable and longer
distance reception.

It would be interesting to crack the case of the Flashwaves and
Chi-bay to compare electronics. But, I'm not convinced the Flashwaves
are worth the money until more testing is done.
--
35 to 4 x 5 - NPS Member

P Hartung
P Hartung Regular Member • Posts: 323
Re: SM Flashwaves - Cheap alternative to Pocke Wizard

Hey Gene.

I'm going to do the following tests:
~ line of sight range
~ range with a human barrier
~ max sync at 25, 50, 100, and 150ft distances
~ firing consistency at abover ranges (perhaps 5 shots @ 1/2 sec. intervals)

Surely I'll think of more variables, but the sync consistency is of most importance for my purposes.

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Paul

“The worth and excellency of a soul is to be measured by the object of its love”
Henry Scougal

 P Hartung's gear list:P Hartung's gear list
Nikon D800 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28-70mm f/2.8 ED-IF Nikon AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8D Tokina AT-X Pro 100mm f/2.8 Macro +2 more
OP Genes Pentax Senior Member • Posts: 1,080
More variables ...

Hi Paul,

If you have time, can you do those tests with 2 different sets of batteries, i.e., a new one and a used one?

When I did the sync speed test at home, I used two different voltages and that made some difference in the max sync speed. I wonder if and how much effect it will have on the max ranges.

Thanks.
Gene

P Hartung wrote:

Hey Gene.

I'm going to do the following tests:
~ line of sight range
~ range with a human barrier
~ max sync at 25, 50, 100, and 150ft distances
~ firing consistency at abover ranges (perhaps 5 shots @ 1/2 sec. intervals)

Surely I'll think of more variables, but the sync consistency is of
most importance for my purposes.

alfredky Senior Member • Posts: 1,854
That surprises me.

I am extremely happy with my cheap 16 channel wireless triggers. I use several of them on a daily basis and with my D70 they sych up to 1/800 of a second which can not be said about many name brand triggers. The only time they do not perform is if the batteries in the flash or the camera run down to a cretain point. Perhaps I'm just lucky
--
Alfred

P Hartung
P Hartung Regular Member • Posts: 323
Re: More variables ...

Genes Pentax wrote:

Hi Paul,

If you have time, can you do those tests with 2 different sets of
batteries, i.e., a new one and a used one?

When I did the sync speed test at home, I used two different voltages
and that made some difference in the max sync speed. I wonder if and
how much effect it will have on the max ranges.

Thanks.
Gene

I'm not sure how to do it with consistency, since the transmitter use an A23 battery. The receivers use AAA's so that would be an interesting test.
I'll check it out next week when they arrive...

Paul

 P Hartung's gear list:P Hartung's gear list
Nikon D800 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28-70mm f/2.8 ED-IF Nikon AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8D Tokina AT-X Pro 100mm f/2.8 Macro +2 more
P Hartung
P Hartung Regular Member • Posts: 323
Re: That surprises me.

alfredky wrote:

I am extremely happy with my cheap 16 channel wireless triggers. I
use several of them on a daily basis and with my D70 they sych up to
1/800 of a second which can not be said about many name brand
triggers. The only time they do not perform is if the batteries in
the flash or the camera run down to a cretain point. Perhaps I'm just
lucky
--
Alfred

I'd love cheap, 16 channel wireless that sync's up to 1/800th - or just 1/250th consistently. I've settled on FlashWaves because they seem to be the compromise (10 channels, and Gene's tests shows good sync speeds) for a third the cost of PW's. Plus, the shoe mount is a lovely advantage.
What triggers could you possibly be talking about?

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Paul

“The worth and excellency of a soul is to be measured by the object of its love”
Henry Scougal

 P Hartung's gear list:P Hartung's gear list
Nikon D800 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28-70mm f/2.8 ED-IF Nikon AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8D Tokina AT-X Pro 100mm f/2.8 Macro +2 more
OP Genes Pentax Senior Member • Posts: 1,080
BTW - PW also has issues with distance ...

JBP wrote:

influences but is it worth $150? PW are buy far a better choice, sure
more money too for long distance reliable syncing.

http://flickr.com/groups/strobist/discuss/72157604127806734/

Gene

alfredky Senior Member • Posts: 1,854
I'm talking about....

the RF616 and the RD616, one is the transmitter and the other the receivers, both are cheap Chinese units available on Ebay. I do recommend not to use the internal pc sockoet of the receiver, but use the pc cable instead, the pc connector is suposedly very fragile and of poor quality. Using a audio to pc cable, I have not had any issues at all, matter of fact I just went on ebay to look what the cable is called and ended up ordering two more receivers Never did find what the cables where called. However, I bought the cables here http://www.flashzebra.com/radiocables/index.shtml , very good quality!
--
Alfred

P Hartung
P Hartung Regular Member • Posts: 323
Re: I'm talking about....

alfredky wrote:

the RF616 and the RD616, one is the transmitter and the other the
receivers, both are cheap Chinese units available on Ebay. I do
recommend not to use the internal pc sockoet of the receiver, but use
the pc cable instead, the pc connector is suposedly very fragile and
of poor quality. Using a audio to pc cable, I have not had any issues
at all, matter of fact I just went on ebay to look what the cable is
called and ended up ordering two more receivers Never did find
what the cables where called. However, I bought the cables here
http://www.flashzebra.com/radiocables/index.shtml , very good
quality!
--
Alfred

I could not find anything like you described. There are studio strobe units that are 16 channel models for cheap, but that's not what this thread is about.

I've got two of the cactus cheapos from ebay, modified with five extra inches of antannae wire for better distance, and these can barely sync at 1/160th on a good day - usually 1/125th. Plus, they misfire often and the rear battery cover on the receiver doesn't fit when an American battery is used. The version I have are only four channel units.
If yours is a different unit, please embed a link if you can.
Thanks.

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Paul

“The worth and excellency of a soul is to be measured by the object of its love”
Henry Scougal

 P Hartung's gear list:P Hartung's gear list
Nikon D800 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28-70mm f/2.8 ED-IF Nikon AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8D Tokina AT-X Pro 100mm f/2.8 Macro +2 more
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