Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pocketwizard MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 review part 2

I haven't had a chance to try the new Pocketwizard Mini TT1 and Flex TT5 at a wedding yet but I have used them for a couple of Senior Sessions and an Engagement Session. 

I've encountered a couple of problems. 

First, the special "interference" hotshoe that comes with the transmitter doesn't seem to work.  I contacted PW about it and they said they would send me another one.  That was two weeks ago.  I sent them an email last week to ask about it and haven't heard back yet.  I was impressed with how quick they were to respond and promise a replacement but now I'm wondering if I got lost in the shuffle.  Luckily, I don't seem to have a need for it but if I did I would be pretty upset at having sat on these remotes for two weeks without being able to use them.

Second, almost every time that I set up the remote they failed to fire the first time.  Typically, I have to take my flash off of the receiver, put it back on and tighten it down again before I get a clean connection.  I'm going to test this further before I contact Pocketwizard and ask for a replacement.

There's no doubt that these new remotes enabled me to work faster than the old manual remotes.  This picture is a very good example of just how quickly you can setup an off-camera light.  The light coming from camera left is sun light and the light coming from camera right is my flash.  This shot took, at most, two set-up shots before I got it right.  It was the first shot that I took at this location and I was able to do it in a matter of seconds.  Had I been using a manual flash it would have taken me a few tries to dial in the correct amount of flash power.  Now, to be sure, I am definitely riding the flash exposure compensation at +1 or +2 for the shot. but that is still easier than starting from scratch and having to figure out exactly what your off camera flash settings should be.

This shot seems a little overexposed.  I didn't set out to make it that way but after the first shot I decided that I liked it.  I thought it would be appropriate for my couple to be a little bit " light blasted" to match the sun that is clearly visible in the shot.  Still, I think that the TTL was working against me a little bit with this shot.  This is a good example of a shot that required more tinkering on my part despite having the camera do most of the work for me.

This is a shot that I have in my bag all the time.  What I mean to say is that I can set the shot up with manual flash in about 10 seconds.  Still, I was impressed with the ability of the off camera flash to set the exposure right almost immediately.

I shot a NACE event at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa last week and used it as an opportunity to try out some new things with the new remotes.  For this shot I put my off-camera flash in the back of the room and used a narrow focal length so that the light would hit the speaker and not the crowd.  I then moved down the left side so that I could frame him with a 45° light.  It worked fairly well, maybe a little hot for my taste.  Where the problem popped up was when the next speaker stepped up and she was wearing all black.  Naturally the TTL in the camera adjusted for the darkness and increased the flash power, resulting in an overexposed picture.  At first I thought this was a major drawback to using these remotes but then I realized it's no different than when I'm shooting with my flash on my camera.  I simply have to anticipate these situations and make the proper adjustments.  The great thing about these remotes is it enables me to make the adjustments in the camera and have it change the power of the flash that is on the other side of the room.

As I continue to work with these remotes and become more comfortable with them I'm starting to believe that my days of using manual flash are coming to an end.  Although I consider myself to be a good photographer when it comes to manual flash, I think that I'm even better when it comes to bounce flash using TTL.  Basically, when using these remotes, my off camera flash becomes a TTL flash.  So, if I can just adjust my thinking so that I think of the off-camera flash the same way I would think of the flash on my camera I should be able to work very quickly and efficiently.

Are they worth the money?  The verdict is still out as I have yet to do anything with them that I couldn't do with the old manual remotes.  But then, I know how to use manual off-camera light.  If I was just starting out I can see where these remotes would save me time since I wouldn't have to learn how to light manually.  I'm not sure that's a good thing as a working knowledge of light can be very helpful as a photographer, even if these new remotes no longer require it.

Booray Perry is a Tampa Bay Wedding Photographer.  You can see his work at www.boorayperry.com.