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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

PocketWizard advice
Perrone Ford, Photographer
Tallahassee | FL | US | Posted: 11:50 PM on 01.03.14
->> If we have any PW gurus here, I'd like to ask for some advice.

I have a combination of PW products. Flex TT5, MultiMax, and PW3. I want to know what radios you guys would recommend for the following scenarios (and if possible why):

1. Basketball arenas to fire remote cameras on the floor and on the catwalks
2. Basketball arenas to fire remote strobes
3. Football stadium to fire remote cameras on the roof.

Price isn't particularly a big concern as I will buying a couple at a time over the course of the year. I am a Nikon shooter if that mattes.

I have 4 Flex units, 3 PW3's, and 2 MultiMaxes.


Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
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Jim Karczewski, Photographer, Assistant
Hammond | IN | USA | Posted: 2:15 AM on 01.04.14
->> Personally I'd stick with the PW3 and Multimax's. Unless you need TTL and or HSS/Hypersync, then the Flex's are useful, but beyond that, I have 1 TT5 for that reason, HSS/Hypersync. No interest in TTL as I do all my flashing manually.
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Perrone Ford, Photographer
Tallahassee | FL | US | Posted: 2:39 AM on 01.04.14
->> Yea, I don't really use the Flex units. They were the first units I bought when I was interested in Hypersync, but practically all I do now is with the other triggers.

I love the many nice features of the MultiMaxes (the RF sniffer, delays, etc.), but then I also love the simplicity of the PW3's. They just "work".

For the sake of discussion, we can probably limit the choices to those two.
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Tim Cowie, Photographer, Photo Editor
Davidson | NC | USA | Posted: 12:20 PM on 01.05.14
->> I highly suggest MultiMax all the way. Unless you have need for the Flex TT5, perhaps have a couple of those around for TTL work.

I hate the PW3. Their size and simplicity in use are great, but I have had nothing but problems with their range and dealing with interference. I have more misfires with PW3 than any other unit and I have the full range of PW's in my bag.

I only have one of the PW3 left because someone gave it to me, but probably will throw it up on eBay soon.
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Perrone Ford, Photographer
Tallahassee | FL | US | Posted: 6:01 PM on 01.05.14
->> Tim, let me know if you sell it. I could use another. Most of my needs are simple.

I shot both PW3s and Maxes in my home arena yesterday. No issues with either set. I may just move to 5 of each and call it a day.
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Corey Perrine, Photographer
Naples | FL | USA | Posted: 6:18 PM on 01.05.14
->> I've heard positive reviews about Calumet's if you want a simple fraction-of-the-cost alternative. And it comes with the wire.

http://www.calumetphoto.com/product/calumet-pro-series-2.4ghz-4-channel-wir.../
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Shawn Cullen, Assistant
San Diego | CA | | Posted: 10:33 PM on 01.05.14
->> Perrone,
It has been a while since we talked last. I hope all is well.

Just keep in mind that with the Plus III's you are not able to get Custom ID's. You are only able to get them with the Multimax. I know you primarily shoot in your home arena, but just in case you venture away from shooting for the school or in venues where there will be more media coverage, Custom ID's could be useful.

The ability to change the contact time and setting delay's can be very useful, as well as, Speedcycler when you are using strobes.

There is also a pretty nice trick you can use with the multimax and you cannot with the Plus III's if you shoot available light with remotes.
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Jim Karczewski, Photographer, Assistant
Hammond | IN | USA | Posted: 11:24 PM on 01.05.14
->> >There is also a pretty nice trick you can use with the multimax and you cannot with the Plus III's if you shoot available light with remotes.

What trick would that be??
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Perrone Ford, Photographer
Tallahassee | FL | US | Posted: 11:53 PM on 01.05.14
->> Jim, I was thinking the same thing!

Shawn, I was going to email you privately, but glad you chimed in here. To be honest, if I am away from my home arena, chances are I'll just be doing a floor remote and not rigging anything. So the PW3s would likely be ok for that.

I guess I am trying to find if there is a compelling reason to go with the radios that are 2x the price. Especially if I already have a pair that allows me to check RF interference, etc.

I'll reserve judgement until Shawn pipes up with his "neat trick". :)
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Shawn Cullen, Assistant
San Diego | CA | | Posted: 12:14 AM on 01.06.14
->> I don’t think you could call this a compelling reason, but you do save shutter actuations on an available light remote camera.

It’s the ability to shoot with your handheld camera and trigger your remote camera at the same time, or shoot just your handheld camera only without your remote camera firing at all, in the same set up.

Typically you would put a Pocket Wizard in your hot shoe of your handheld camera and it would trigger your remote camera with every frame you shot with your handheld camera, shooting hundreds of useless images while you shoot action away from the basket, the coaches, refs, cheerleaders, and fans.

Using the Multimax, along with a trigger button and pre-release cable, you can have a set up that allows you to shoot the coaches, refs, cheerleaders, and fans you want without triggering your remote camera, or trigger both your handheld and remote when the action is in front of your remote camera. This way only images of actual game action in front of your remote will be on the CF or SD card.

You use both Port #1 and Port #2 on the Multimax to make this work since you need to plug in the trigger button and the pre-release cable. Only the Multimax has the two ports, the Plus III does not.
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Tim Cowie, Photographer, Photo Editor
Davidson | NC | USA | Posted: 12:18 AM on 01.06.14
->> Shawn -

If you ever wrote a book on this stuff, you would have a best seller!
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Perrone Ford, Photographer
Tallahassee | FL | US | Posted: 12:37 AM on 01.06.14
->> Shawn, next time I see you, you'll have to show me this. That could be a VERY neat trick. In that scenario, do both the trigger AND the receiving radios need to be Maxes, or just the trigger?
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Shawn Cullen, Assistant
San Diego | CA | | Posted: 12:55 AM on 01.06.14
->> Great point, just the transmitter needs to be a Multimax, the rest can be Plus III's.
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Perrone Ford, Photographer
Tallahassee | FL | US | Posted: 12:58 AM on 01.06.14
->> Well cool then, I've got 2 Max's so I should be golden for the trick. Hope you are doing well, and I use your name a TON when I talk about rigging. I appreciate all the time you took to show us stuff. I think about you every time I'm on the catwalk or rigging a drop ceiling, or some other crazy thing!

Looking forward to doing another SSA so I can actually ABSORB more and not be so overwhelmed.
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Shawn Cullen, Assistant
San Diego | CA | | Posted: 1:28 AM on 01.06.14
->> I guess it is time to share this with everybody. I’ve been explaining this set up at the SSA events for a while now. So here it goes.

To make this work, you will need a trigger button with a mini-phone connector and a pre-release or motor cable with a mini-phone connector.

First thing is to put a small piece of tape in the hot shoe of the handheld camera. Gaffer’s tape can work, but electrical tape is better. The Multimax Transmitter needs to still slide into the hot shoe, it just cannot make contact with the hot shoe.

Next, take the trigger button and tape it onto the camera body either in horizontal or vertical position, which ever you prefer to shoot that particular event. The trigger button will plug into Port #1, and the “L” needs to show in the screen. You do this by simply pressing the “L” button on the keypad. By doing this, it activates Port #2 for use when the Pocket Wizard unit is set to Transmit.

By activating Port #2, you can now trigger your handheld camera through the Pocket Wizard using the pre-release cable or a motor cord with no pre-release switch. The cable does not need to be set to pre-release.

So, by pressing the trigger button you trigger the transmitter, which will trigger your remote, but it will also trigger your handheld camera because Port #2 is activated with the cable connected to the motor drive port or your handheld camera.

If you simply fire your camera from it’s shutter release, you are only firing your handheld because you have the tape in the hot shoe blocking contact with the transmitter.

This all seems to work better with the USB version of the Multimax’s for some reason, but non USB versions can still work.

This can work for more than just basketball. It works for baseball as well. You can shoot the entire game with out needing to turn on or off the Pocket Wizard for possible plays at the plate. The Pocket Wizard can stay on all the time because there is not contact between the hot shoe and the Transmitter. You simply hit the trigger button to fire both the handheld and the remote only when you have a play at the plate. This set up can work for volleyball, soccer, or any available light remote as well.

Hope this all make sense. Let me know you if do have any questions.
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Perrone Ford, Photographer
Tallahassee | FL | US | Posted: 1:32 AM on 01.06.14
->> VERY helpful! I'll have to give this a go. :)
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Joshua Lindsey, Photographer
Bowling Green | KY | United States | Posted: 3:53 AM on 01.06.14
->> Thank you very much for sharing that Shawn! What an incredibly useful trick!
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Matt Brown, Photographer
Fullerton | CA | USA | Posted: 12:18 PM on 01.06.14
->> That's why Shawn gets paid the big bucks!
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Tim Cowie, Photographer, Photo Editor
Davidson | NC | USA | Posted: 12:20 PM on 01.06.14
->> Since I don't use a monopod a lot for basketball games (on occasion with my 300/2.8), I flip the mount on my 70-200/2.8 and/or my 300/2.8, so that it is on top of the lens. You can go to the hardware store and buy threaded bar and cut to length so that you can thread the PW and connect to your monopod mount on your lens. Use a nut and a lock washer and it will stay firm there all game.

In doing so, it saves having to tape over the hot shoe contact. As well, I find the PW is more likely to get knocked or damaged on top of the camera versus mounted on the lens. The PW lies flat on the mount instead of being straight up in the air, but I have never noticed a reception problem in that position.
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Tim Cowie, Photographer, Photo Editor
Davidson | NC | USA | Posted: 12:24 PM on 01.06.14
->> To add - the nut and lock washer is placed in the middle of the threaded bar and is sandwiched between the PW and the monopod mount.
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Guy Rhodes, Photographer
East Chicago | IN | USA | Posted: 2:21 PM on 01.06.14
->> Shawn:

Now, let's throw strobes in the mix. I'm assuming everything in the system would then have to be Multimax to allow lagging, so everything syncs?
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Shawn Cullen, Assistant
San Diego | CA | | Posted: 5:01 PM on 01.06.14
->> “Now, let's throw strobes in the mix. I'm assuming everything in the system would then have to be Multimax to allow lagging, so everything syncs?”


That only depends on if you want your handheld to sync with the remote camera. If you want the handheld, and the remotes to fire at the same time with the same set of strobes, all of the Receivers need to be Multimax units. However the transmitter does not need to be a Multimax. It can be any of the other units, Plus, Plus II, Plus III, Multimax.

The reason the Transmitter does not need to be a Multimax is that the Transmitter does not have the ability to have a delay only for Port #2. It has a feature to delay Remotes+Port #2, but that does not work for what we need. The Transmitter only needs to send out the signal to trigger all other remote and strobe units, so the Transmitter just needs to be able to transmit what ever channel you want to use for your system.

Just remember that if you do want your handheld to fire with all the remotes and on the same set of strobes, you need to set up your handheld at if it were a remotes camera. It will have a transmitter connected to it, as well as a Receiver unit with a Pre-Release cable.

The only situation that I can think of right now, as I sit here typing this out, that you would need the Transmitter to be a Multimax, is if you were to shoot your handheld using available light and your remotes on strobe. I know this might sound strange at first, but this is a type of system that I set up for John McDonough. He prefers to shoot his handheld available light for use of the motor drive and the ability to make more pictures. With the remotes, keep in mind we were setting up 8 remotes per game, we wanted more depth of field than using the motor drive (could you imagine the number of images for 8 remotes available light on motor drive?). So the way it works is for John to hit the trigger button as the action comes to the basket. His handheld will motordrive and fire about 2 to 3 frames, and the remotes will fire one shot on strobes. The delays used to balance the remote cameras and strobes is such that the strobes will not interfere with his handheld, so no half strobe exposed images on his available handheld.

In this case you could use the same set up I described in the earlier post.

I’m sure all this leads to more questions or even confusion. If so, feel free to ask me any other question you might have.

Sorry for any typos.
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Tim Spyers, Photographer
St Louis | MO | USA | Posted: 9:14 AM on 04.17.14
->> For all the 1DX with Pocket Wizard shooters, I was thinking about how to keep the master PW in the hot shoe of the 1DX but not always trigger the remote. I ended up enabling Custom Shooting mode C1 with all the same shooting parameters (auto update 'on') as my normal mode with one exception, External Flash 'Disabled'. Now with MFN-1 set to cycle custom shooting modes and shooting modes restricted to C1 (no C2 or C3) I now have a simple toggle that allows me to "turn on/off" the master PW and thereby the remote camera. Works in testing, have to try it out in real life later this week. Just thought I'd share.
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Patrick Murphy-Racey, Photographer
Knoxville | TN | USA | Posted: 1:49 PM on 04.26.14
->> http://www.amazon.com/Pixel-Digital-Wireless-Shutter-Fujifilm/dp/B0049H15P4...+remote+for+nikon

Call me crazy but I have found these work better than the PW stuff for firing remotes from across court. Somehow the PW gear (multimax, III's, II's, etc) doesn't like to fire across court very well. I bought a set of these on a whim a few years ago and they work great. Also, the transmitter tapes easily onto a lens without needing a separate remote trigger cord that adds another place to fail in the system. It also gives you a pre-trigger (green light) and when you press all the way (red light) it shoots every time.

I'm learning in the last year that there is much more to life than the brands like Canon and Nikon that we've all been using for years. It's also true with remote gear. The Chinese are cranking out some great stuff and a lot of it works as well or even better than what we are used to and costs a whole lot less...

At $22 for the entire system which includes the 10-pin remote socket cord for your D series Nikon, you can't even buy that cord alone for a PW!!!

Don't believe me? Here is just the cord from PW for $30! :
http://www.amazon.com/PocketWizard-N90N-AC-ND-Nikon-Pre-Trigger-Cable/dp/B0...+wizard+cord+for+nikon
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Preston Mack, Photographer
Orlando | FL | | Posted: 10:21 PM on 04.26.14
->> Wow. Shawn is amazing, Wish he lived here in FL. Thanks for all the detail.
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Robert Hanashiro, Photographer
Los Angeles | CA | | Posted: 12:41 AM on 04.27.14
->> Yes, Shawn Cullen is THE guru in all-things remote!
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Shawn Cullen, Assistant
San Diego | CA | | Posted: 1:04 PM on 04.27.14
->> Mr. Murphy-Racey,

You are a great photographer, and have an incredible amount of knowledge in photography and lighting. However, in this case, you are crazy.

Thanks for giving us another option to think about, but I will be sticking with the Pocket Wizard brand.
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Patrick Murphy-Racey, Photographer
Knoxville | TN | USA | Posted: 9:24 PM on 04.28.14
->> :) I stand by my earlier post. pm-r
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Stanley Leary, Photographer
Roswell | GA | USA | Posted: 7:54 AM on 04.30.14
->> Like Patrick Murphy-Racey I too had trouble with the PW system. I own it and use it a lot, but like Patrick said there are many times the system just doesn't work. So he isn't crazy, he just is telling you in the situations he is shooting the PW system failed for remotes.

I had problem with the PW system working for strobes and went to the Paul Bluff system, which was more consistent than the PW.

I think what needs to be stated here on this forum is the big brand names in the industry are not the best solution every time.

If you are new I recommend always going with the tried and true systems, but those with some experience like Patrick are the ones looking for solutions when those name brands fail.

As far as a complete system that does more than just trigger your flash and/or cameras the PW system is the best thought out system.

However, I would predict that we are quickly going to see other systems soon that unless PW solves some of their signal problems without you having to buy extra gear then they may loose traction, which I think they already have lost.
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Shawn Cullen, Assistant
San Diego | CA | | Posted: 1:59 PM on 04.30.14
->> Mr. Leary,
I don’t believe that Mr. Murphy-Racey took me serious when calling him crazy. I reached out to him recently before this thread started and I was playing off of the beginning of his quote “Call me crazy”. It was meant as friendly banter, and probably should have been kept off the message board. My apologies to Mr. Murphy-Racey

To all,

I can see where in some venues, other wireless radio triggers could very well out perform the Pocket Wizards. Every venue is different with respect to the different amounts and types of frequencies that are present. With the amount of experience I have working with Flash Wizard and Pocket Wizard units, I don’t believe for a second that the issues are anything other than with the amount of RF noise that is present in each venue.

Staples Center has an issue with the LADWP adding a frequency to monitor the power consumption that Staple Center uses. This frequency is supposedly at 360mMHz. The enormous new video scoreboard, and video Banners that circle the arena, even though they are LED, acts as an antenna that puts out this frequency throughout the arena. With this much RF noise so close to the 344MHz to 354MHz, it is causing a lot of interference with both the Pocket Wizards, and especially the Flash Wizards. This same situation has been found in the older arena in Orlando, the US Airways arena in Phoenix, a few college arenas, and is increasingly found in some Major League Ballparks.

To stay on topic with the title of this thread, my advice is to make sure that the Long Range feature is in which every Pocket Wizard device you decide to buy. This is the single most valuable improvement that LPA has made to the Pocket Wizard. Long Range is not going to solve every frequency issue out there, but for the venues I have been to with known RF noise issues, it works, whereas otherwise we would not be able to put a remote camera due to distance and proximity to the Pocket Wizard Transmitter.

With the increase in the number of devices that use the broadband 2.4GHz frequency, there could be future issues with other wireless triggering devices as well. You just have to put in some time to find what will work best for you in the venues you will be working in.

Also, never leave the Pocket Wizard Receiver unit in the hot shoe of the camera. Every digital camera and any lens that has a motor in it, will give off RF noise. While the amount of RF noise is very low in comparison to what TV cameras and the video scoreboards will emit, it can make a difference. Get the receiver units as high as possible, and away from any RF emitting devise and metal structures.

For the photographers that I work for, I just don’t see us using anything other than Pocket Wizards. There are too many valuable features in them, which allows me to do my job better. I know how to use them, and how to get what I need from them.
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Joey Terrill, Photographer
Los Angeles | CA | USA | Posted: 8:34 PM on 04.30.14
->> I own and rely on 9 PocketWizard radios and to be candid, I trust them. I’ve been using them since the original 16-channel model with the rotating channel selector and all of them have been great.

The real test of PocketWizard reliability and function, for me, was a few years back when a client requested 3D images of several portrait subjects. Because the client wasn’t certain which subjects would ultimately be used as 3D images and which would not, all of the subjects were shot in 3D using two DSLR cameras recording exactly the same moment, but aligned to make the 3D anaglyph image if needed.

The PocketWizards made the entire project possible because both cameras had to fire at precisely the same moment AND the strobes all had to be set to fire in sync with both cameras. What that meant was that each camera had to be lagged using the PocketWizards so the timing of each matched precisely. Then, the strobe timing needed to also match the lag of the cameras so that both camera shutters would be open before all of the strobes fired together. If any part of the timing was off, the whole thing wouldn’t work. But it did. This was all done using six individual PocketWizard radios, isolation bars, mafer clamps, and lots of cables. We made thousands of synced captures and the system worked great.

The other critical factor that made all eight separate 3D studio shoots work was Shawn Cullen. Without his genius, expertise, and problem-solving, I would have never undertaken the project in the first place.

There is a picture that Shawn made of the setup showing the cameras and radios about halfway down in this post. The image is clickable if you want to see the details:
http://penumbraproject.com/2014/01/07/vintage-light-is-new-again/
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Thread Title: PocketWizard advice
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