Monday, August 17, 2009

RadioPopper JrX Will Make You Fat and Happy [Full Review]


Do you shoot with flashes on manual? Do you burn needless calories walking over to your AlienBees, Nikon or Canon flashes merely to adjust power settings?

Fear not my lean friends. Soon, you too will be soft and rotund from a complete lack of exercise -- just like the portly people in Wall-E, the publicity photo for which I am both transforming and parodying above.

Now, onto the wireless goodness ...
__________



I have spent the weekend testing and shooting with the newest wireless trigger to come out of the Phoenix Skunkworks. The oft-delayed, er, much-anticipated RadioPopper JrX system.

Reader's Digest version: They are excellent remotes that offer significant range over 16 channels and have thus far been 100% reliable for me under normal shooting conditions. They also allow remote power level changes with White Lightning/AlienBees and/or legacy Nikon and Canon TTL flashes.

The remote power setting feature works simply and brilliantly. Three physical knobs, functioning just like volume controls, for each of three groups on any of the 16 channels.

These triggers make a strong, value-oriented case for any photographer looking to move into a quality set of remotes. And according to the website, RadioPopper expects availability within Europe and Australia shortly after the North American debut.


So, How Much?

The folks at RadioPopper originally wanted to make a bare-bones, reliable trigger at a rock-bottom price. But over the course of the design phase they decided to expand the feature set while working to keep the triggers accessible to budget-minded photographers.

In the end, they ended up with a very capable remote that still comes in at significantly less than than the gold standard PocketWizard transceivers. Transmitters will be $69.95, with the two flavors of receivers clocking in at $69.95 and $89.95, respectively.

The "Basic" model receiver ($69.95) is a "dumb" remote -- simply a substitute for a sync cord. Albeit a very long sync cord, as I find them to be very reliable out to distances of at least 100 yards. The "Studio" model receiver adds the remote power plus remote modeling light level control on WL/AB strobes and will go for $89.95.

Kits are priced at $119.95 and $139.95, respectively. You can upgrade a Basic to a Studio after the fact for $39.95.

Interestingly, there is no physical difference in the two receivers -- firmware alone differentiates the two. Props to RP for allowing us the choice. There clearly was more margin in the "Studio" receivers. But talking to RP Head Cheese Kevin King, he said the thinking was to let the more expensive models carry the freight to some extent and allow entry level photogs a solid Basic system for less money if they so chose.


I Know What You are Thinking

And the answer is, yes, it is technically possible to hack a Basic into a Studio. So, you DEFCON® types can go ahead and give it your best shot. They said if you can hack it, they might even want to hire you.

So in addition to untold riches (well, an extra $20) there might even be gainful employment on the line.


At the Firing Range

Right out of the blocks I took them out for a range test. The were solid at 100 yards, which is sufficient for all but the most extreme circumstances.


Above is three, separate WL's on ten-foot stands firing at 100 yards. The antennae appeared to be pretty omnidirectional, too, as this distance held up even when I was not aiming at the strobes.

In this wide open environment, they held up beyond a hundred yards (I even got a pop or two at 500 yards) but they were not rock-solid reliable beyond the length of the football field.

Radio is a fickle lady, and your mileage will certainly vary. In fact, given the particular physical environment and radio noise environment, you can expect significant differences in performance levels in any brand of radio remotes.

For the record, I think the PocketWizard Plus II's still are the standard bearers, but you can get a full set of JrX's for the price of one PW transceiver. Let your range needs and your wallet be your guide.


In the Studio

I shot indoors with them this weekend, too, using WLs to photograph Dasha, seen at left.

This is where the ironically named "Studio" receivers come into their own. I say ironically, because I would think the biggest advantage to being able to control power at a distance would be for location shooters who light over large areas.

But I successfully avoided burning any unnecessary calories in my makeshift home studio, too. (It is a work in progress at this point, more on that soon.)

In this environment, the JrX's really come into their own. First of all -- knobs. Not dials, not menus, but KNOBS. Thank you, thank you, thank you. The three knobs control flash groups A, B and C, with "A" being closest to your camera's eyepiece.

They are fast, intuitive and you can even disable them so you do not accidently change your flash levels after you get them set. Just dial them up or down. No f/stop calibrations, as that would be impossible given the large number of flashes they can work with. But it is easy to do it by feel -- and you can set the modeling lights to track as well. (Although, to be clear, I am really not a modeling light tracking kinda guy. I just need enough light for old eyes to focus in a dark studio.)

As a bonus menu option, you can even configure the dials to be able to turn off various flashes at the bottom setting on the dial. Nice touch.


I loved working this way -- with the combo of the digital back and the remote volume controls, zeroing in a three-light shot like the one at left was a breeze.

I started with the key, and used that to base my exposure. Then I dialed up the ring (coulda done that without the remote, obviously, but still...) And having volume control on the background light was especially nice. I would not have started out this dark back there, but in the end I took it down to almost nothing.

(Lighting particulars, for both photos: Gridded beauty dish key, high right. ABR800 with a small Moon Unit soft box as a ring fill, and a tiny bit of light on the grey background from the BG light.


Not Just for the Big Guns, Either

So, here's why you'll want the "Studio" models. That volume control works with many, many legacy speedlights via ingenius use of the "quench pin." This is something the open source trigger guys are doing, too, and RP has wired it through use of a stereo 1/8" jack for the sync port.

Adapters for Nikon and Canon are coming shortly. They have not announced pricing, so I will not scoop them here. But I was pleasantly surprised when they told me the planned amount, given that they will be multi-pinned hot shoe-to-1/8 jack cords.

No word on whether they can control an LP 120 yet, but I would guess not. The technique uses the quench pin in a TTL environment, so I would not hold out hope. But old Nikon flashes like SB-24s, '25's, 26's are said to work, along with '600's and '800's. Nikon switched into a new system with the '900's, so they are out.

Canon has a similarly long list of compatible volume control flashes. Check with the RP website for the latest info on that as it becomes available.


Nice Power Touches

Battery life is said to be at approximately 40 hours of usage, whether triggering or in standby. But the transmitters, at least, will turn themselves off after an hour of non-use.

And all units have a built-in battery meter using flashing patterns on the power light. This is especially important, given the choice of a CR123A battery for power.


Regrets, I Have a Few...

Let me preface this but saying they are great little remotes, and will be standard kit for me when shooting with WLs and ABs. I am a lazy somebody and these remotes have my name written all over them.

But no gear is perfect, and the JrX's are no exception. So, herewith, a pissy little list of nit picks.


1. The CR123A battery. It is three volts, so they could have gone AA or even AAA. I would have taken on some additional size to stay with my AA standard for flashes, but I understand that was a design choice.

CR123A's are not as widely available as AA's, so I would suggest going online for great pricing. www.CR123Batteries.com (see update, below) has alkaline CR123A's for under a buck, but they also have well-regarded NiMH CR123A's and chargers for very reasonable, too. And yes, I stocked up before I told you guys about it.

[UPDATE: Ni-MH's work fine, and Amazon has a much better deal on them than the above store.

While we are on the subject, the remotes do ship with batts and a good selection of sync cords (props for that). But they do not ship with the standard 1/8-to-PC cord needed for straight, dumb manual Nikon SB operation. Hopefully, RP will source that cord. Or maybe hook up with Lon at Flash Zebra or something.


2. DIP switches. Argh. I know, I know -- they had a lot of configurations to accommodate. But fat-fingered nail biters like myself will need to carry a ball point pen. There is a lot to remember, until you get acquainted with them, too. I will prolly work up a PDF cheat sheet and shrink it down to fit one of the blank areas on the units. Labels, gentlemen, labels. This should be an unnecessary hack.


3. Speaking of needed hacks: There are no strap lugs on the receivers. This means that a lot of receivers will be hanging by the sync cords or the (supplied) phone cords that interface with the WL/ABs. I am prolly gonna go the velcro route here. Which might be a good thing, as it will allow me to orient the antenna the way I want (perpendicular) rather than letting gravity set the angle.


4. Lastly, an easy fix I would like to see in a future firmware upgrade: Make the standard "on" indicator on the LED to be a slow flashing, like PW does. That is easier to confirm in bright daylight, which is especially important when you want to make sure they are off for packing. I had to cup my hands around them to be sure.
__________


But, like I said, these are small gripes. These are great little triggers.

Kudos to RP for re-setting the bar for quality and features in a small, modestly priced remote. With the JrX's, RadioPopper has established itself as a major player in the photo gear industry.


More info at RadioPopper.


__________

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101 Comments:

Anonymous Paul Benjamin said...

Definitely sound good, I'm definitely more interested given the remote power control method you outline as I work with a variety of lights.

Shame they aren't allowed to/choose not to offer camera triggering too.

Probably going to wait to see what the new nikon PWs smell like before considering any purchases though (I have a lot invested in their system, and most are too beat up to sell)...

August 17, 2009 1:29 AM  
Blogger Verent said...

Have you done any tests using the Jrx transmitter to control Px receiver canon or nikon flashes in manual mode?

August 17, 2009 1:46 AM  
Blogger Faisal Al-Duwaisan said...

Greetings,

Thank you for the article, "Nikon switched into a new system with the '900's, so they are out." Does that means they wont work under SB-900?!

August 17, 2009 1:49 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

Wow... I cannot wait.. I have been putting off PW's for awhile, but my ebay trigz have been driving me nuts lately!

Glad I waited just a bit longer!

August 17, 2009 1:53 AM  
Blogger George K said...

Another reputable source for the CR123 batteries is from http://www.surefire.com/Batteries
Their flashlights are pretty awesome too.

August 17, 2009 1:58 AM  
Anonymous danno~ said...

the guys at radiopopper are a great set of people, everyone involved.

glad to hear you put the jrx through their paces and that you dig them!

rocksteady,
danno~

August 17, 2009 1:58 AM  
Blogger Bob Joziasse said...

Very informational! I'm definitely interested in the lower priced reliable solutions. I'm now using the Cactus V4 triggers, but sometimes mobile phones interfere (I guess). Have you tested the interference with these poppers?

Cheers, Bob

August 17, 2009 2:10 AM  
Blogger Bob Joziasse said...

Great review! Very informative. I'm very interested in lower prices reliable solutions and these seem to fit that description. Have you tested the interference levels? I'm experiencing some interference with my Cactus V4 triggers/receivers with mobile phones (I guess). I would like to know if these RP's are save in a crowded place of example. Though you could always change the channel, but as you've noted with the finger thing, we'll have that as a last resort ;).

Cheers, Bob

August 17, 2009 2:13 AM  
Anonymous Nabityphotos said...

So this may be the answer to my dilemma: Canon shooter with Nikon SB-2n flashes. If I can remotely adjust the power levels of the Nikon flashes...what a lifesaver...especially for those units high up on a lightstand or clamped to an overhead pipe.

- Ron

August 17, 2009 2:20 AM  
OpenID restaurantouring said...

Given the RF noise on some Canon speedlites, wouldn't this be a better option than PWs for Canon users?

Not sure if this is related, but I had a devil of a time trying to get my PW's to work with my 580EX II while doing SBC2ASSIGN3.... and I'm still using the plus II's!

I tried running some tests -- indoors, I tested the line-of-sight range up to 35 feet before I ran out of space. Worked like a charm. But as soon as I stuck the transmitter behind the couch or around the wall, the PW's failed almost completely, unless I had the antennae pointed in the general direction of the PW receiver. Outdoor reliability for me was about 10-15 feet under normal shooting conditions (i.e. not shooting [pictures of] my foot, considering i'd need to aim my camera down to get the antennae to point towards the receiving PW).

If anyone can direct me somewhere for more answers, please let me know. Otherwise, I'll be ordering up a mess of these RPx's and JrX's come Thursday and selling my PW+II's ASAP-est.

August 17, 2009 2:21 AM  
Blogger Alaska Massey said...

Can you take advantage of high speed sync with AB lights or any others for that case? I don't know if you were using the same setup as shown here, but it looks as though that is what they are advertising.

Thanks for the info,

Erik

August 17, 2009 3:46 AM  
Blogger J.W. Ramp said...

They're still limited to 1/250th sync speeds (or whatever your DSLR supports) though, right?

They're looking like a very good option for my AB's right now - been borrowing PW's for way too long...

August 17, 2009 3:48 AM  
Blogger Gareth Iwan Jones said...

Any news on HSS David? Nobody seems to have mentioned it since RP's blog a while back.

August 17, 2009 4:18 AM  
Blogger DietmarB said...

I think there is some misunderstanding with the nikon flash system here. Nikon changed the system to complete digital with iTTL, so if the system uses the analogue quench signal on Nikons TTL shoe it won't work with anly iTTL only flash. Since SB-900 is iTTL only this system won't work with it, as it won't do with Nissin 466, 622 and 866 or Tumax models, but it will work with SB-600/800 and Metz 58AF/48AF as well as Metz SCA Nikon adapors SCA343, 3401 and 3402 since they all support analogue quenching.

August 17, 2009 4:30 AM  
Blogger Gary said...

Question DH,How do the units connect to the hotshoe of your camera,Are they the same as Skyports or do they have a locking mechanism like the PW's??

August 17, 2009 4:52 AM  
Blogger Gary said...

Question DH,How do the units connect to the hotshoe of your camera,Are they the same as Skyports or do they have a locking mechanism like the PW's??

August 17, 2009 4:53 AM  
Anonymous Mark Olwick said...

Just Nikon & Canon? What about us Sony shooters?

August 17, 2009 5:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With the remote power level control using the quench pin would this in theory allow manual control of power level of flash units like the Nikon sb-400 and sb-22? Or perhaps some of the Canon flash units which don't have manual power control.... Just a thought.

August 17, 2009 5:57 AM  
Blogger seenew said...

Been waiting so long for these to come out (was supposed to get a pair for my birthday back in February!) and I'm so excited to finally get my hands on these!

David: How would you describe the build quality?

August 17, 2009 6:07 AM  
Blogger Chrisbnp said...

Things that make you go hummm.

Since the radio popper is using a quench pin to control flash duration I don't see why you couldn't modify a Vivitar 283 (or in theory any thyristor flash) to be controlled by it.

Unless I haven't thought it through enough, it should be as simple as a circuit that shorts the thyristor pins when the quench signal goes high.

August 17, 2009 6:32 AM  
Anonymous TallPaul said...

David, did you get a chance yet to test them with rechargeable CR123's?

Just asking as due to slightly lower voltage not all kit (like my Minolta film camera) will place nice with the NiMH versions - would be good if you can confirm if it works (before your readership clears out the recommended online store as well!)

August 17, 2009 7:17 AM  
Blogger stephen said...

Now there's a solid Strobist use for those third-party TTL flashes. Vivitar, Sunpak, and others make flashes that work with the Canon and Nikon TTL systems for a fraction of the price (like the Vivitar DF340Z for $65 at B&H). Maybe a new starving student recommendation is in order?

August 17, 2009 7:55 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

Thanks for the review--these look very interesting. When you say, "No word on whether they can control an LP 120 yet, but I would guess not." You are referring to the power level control, correct? They can definitely trigger the LP 120?

Also, have the folks at Radiopopper specifically stated that you can use rechargeable 123 cells? Coming from a flashlight enthusiast community whom use an abundance of CR123 cells, I would personally stick to CR123 primaries (non-rechargeable) for the sake of reliability (USA made as well). There have been some incidents of lesser made brands venting-with-flame.

For those interested, a member of CPF did a performance test a while back of a bunch of CR123 which can be found here: http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/showthread.php?t=67078.

The CPF community tends to recommend SureFire 123 cells (as George K mentioned above) and BatteryStation 123 cells (http://www.batterystation.com).

-Robert

August 17, 2009 9:16 AM  
Blogger Ken said...

So how are they going to ship these to Europe?
The 900MHz band is banned over there for triggers like this...

August 17, 2009 9:18 AM  
Anonymous jonathan Adams said...

Is the only way to fire off the transmitter is via the hotshoe...or does it have a sync port...

The hypersync or whatever you want to call it was a thing they were pushing...can you shoot with WL beyond the regular camera sync speed? and what is the results?

August 17, 2009 9:31 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

So what's the deal for non-Canikon shooters? I assume so long as we're using Canon or Nikon strobes it shouldn't matter what camera brand is triggering them?

August 17, 2009 10:47 AM  
Anonymous Ethan said...

How do these compare with the new Control TL's from PW? If money was not an issue, what would the choice be? I want to make the right decision now instead of change my mind at a later date and make an additional purchase.

August 17, 2009 10:50 AM  
Anonymous Ziv said...

David, what was your experience with sync speeds on these puppies?

August 17, 2009 11:07 AM  
Anonymous vicina.info said...

Based on the information posted on http://radiopopper.com/blog/, the JrX seems only to work with selected hotshoe flashes.

August 17, 2009 12:06 PM  
Blogger Jake said...

Thanks for the review.. Very useful.

If you're going to do any follow up, I would also love to hear if these do high speed sync for studio strobes, like the RadioPopper guys suggested they would (but didn't confirm when they announced the release).

And, I would love to know how they compare to the Pocket Wizards in terms of interference for the Canon speedlites (I know that the PW/Canon combo has had some issues.)

Thanks, j

August 17, 2009 12:29 PM  
Blogger scubajunkie said...

About those knobs... how far do they turn? Is there a hard stop at 90 degrees? 180? 270? or do they just spin forever? Are there any markings on the knobs to provide a visual indication as to how far you've turned?

Since strobe duration is generally in milliseconds and different strobes have different durations at full, half and so on and these work with any analog strobe, is it safe to assume that these knobs are just a basic timing control?

August 17, 2009 12:42 PM  
Anonymous Alan Lapp said...

Hello David, thanks for the review. NiMH batteries are a blessing and curse - since they're rechargeable, they are excellent for reducing waste, but there is some logistical overhead involved in their use. My experience is with AA batteries, but the CR123 will have similar characteristics.

The key thing worth mentioning about NiMH batteries is that they discharge slowly over time. Also, NiMH batteries can be damaged by trickle-charging.

Basically, using NiMH batteries requires some planning to arrive at your shoot with a compliment of fully-charged batteries. For a PW shooter with 3 strobes, that would mean 20 AA batteries! That requires a whole gang of chargers and the foresight to use them.

Despite my best efforts at being organized, I found myself on several shoots w/o adequately charged NiMH batteries. I always carry alkaline spares since they can be relied upon to keep a charge in storage.

My advice would be to buy all your NiMH cells at the same time (i.e. same amp capacity, and all cells in relatively equal condition) and use a conditioning charger that will report damaged cells. A single bad cell will cause a 'normal' charger to shut off prematurely, leaving the rest of the cells under-charged. You need to be able to weed out the faulty cells, and they do go bad periodically.

August 17, 2009 12:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe the movie is UP not Wall-E but good review anyways.

August 17, 2009 12:51 PM  
Blogger heyheyjk said...

Well, crap ... I just bought a full set of Alien Bees triggers - which are great - at about the same price as these new RP's and will have to still walk back and forth to adjust my flashes. Grrr ... that's technology for you!

August 17, 2009 1:44 PM  
Blogger Ericson Calderon said...

So, you can control the power level to a canon strobe (580 ex II) from the dummy trigger!? Do you have to mount the trigger to a master flash or can you mount it straight onto your hot shoe?

Ericson

August 17, 2009 1:47 PM  
Blogger David said...

I am shooting today, but will get to Q's within the next coupla days (within my ability.)

Anon@12:51 said:

"I believe the movie is UP not Wall-E but good review anyways."

Actually, the still is from Wall-E, not "Up." But good comment anyway.



@Alan-

You need to get some better NiMH's, my friend. Look for slow-discharge models such as Eneloops or the equivalent.

August 17, 2009 2:17 PM  
Anonymous Mark Bohrer said...

David:
Where can I buy these pups outside of the RadioPopper site after August 20? Midwest Photo Exchange, B&H, Adorama and Amazon don't list RadioPopper products at all.

Also, to Chrisbnp, thyristor shutoff depends on the device type. It's easy to turn a four-layer p-n-p-n device on, but a true three-pin SCR AKA thyristor requires specific design for gate-controlled turn-off. Simply shorting the gate to the cathode won't stop the anode-cathode current flow.

The actual switching device is probably a more extic device like a four-terminal SCS (silicon-controlled switch). This guy has a pair of gates which can be biased for easy turn-on AND easy turn-off.

So a simple shorting of a 283's thyristor gate pin won't do it.

A strobe's dedicated quench pin connects to circuitry designed to shut of the switching device. For a strobe without a quench pin, you'd need to analyze its shutoff circuit to reverse-engineer a single-pin control.

Mark Bohrer, MSEE
www.activelightphotography.com
Any Location. Any Activity. Your Story.

August 17, 2009 2:30 PM  
Anonymous Mark Bohrer said...

David:
Where can I buy these pups outside of the RadioPopper site after August 20? Midwest Photo Exchange, B&H, Adorama and Amazon don't list RadioPopper products at all.

Also, to Chrisbnp, thyristor shutoff depends on the device type. It's easy to turn a four-layer p-n-p-n device on, but a true three-pin SCR AKA thyristor requires specific design for gate-controlled turn-off. Simply shorting the gate to the cathode won't stop the anode-cathode current flow.

The actual switching device is probably a more exotic device like a four-terminal SCS (silicon-controlled switch). This guy has a pair of gates which can be biased for easy turn-on AND easy turn-off.

So a simple shorting of a 283's thyristor gate pin won't do it.

A strobe's dedicated quench pin connects to circuitry designed to shut off the switching device. For a strobe without a quench pin, you'd need to analyze its shutoff circuit to reverse-engineer a single-pin control.

Mark Bohrer, MSEE
www.activelightphotography.com
Any Location. Any Activity. Your Story.

August 17, 2009 2:38 PM  
Blogger Sorgius Studios said...

Something I didn't realize right away was that with the JrX's, you lose the ETTL power of the PX's. Just wanted to point that out for anyone like me who didn't pick up on it.

-Aaron

August 17, 2009 2:53 PM  
Blogger Ericson Calderon said...

Do you need the PX system trigger to adjust power or does the JRx trigger have this option?

Ericson

August 17, 2009 3:16 PM  
Anonymous Steve Korn said...

Might be time to off-load my PW's thanks for the review.

August 17, 2009 3:57 PM  
Blogger Freddy said...

That's awesome, that they are finally coming out, but David, don't say many more neat picky things about it, cause they'll might hold them back for another "3 weeks" and then we'll have to wait another 8 months.
My ebay triggers are driving me bonkers.
I'm extremely exited, can't wait any longer.

August 17, 2009 5:50 PM  
Anonymous pete said...

@ George K: +1

Surefire flashlights are the best of the best and amazing for light painting--just watch that f-stop and shutter speed w/ 120 lumens!

DH- Your shots of Dasha are amazing. Slack-jawed, I am. She's beautiful. But what I loved even more? --the shots on the f-ball field for distance tests of the RP's! You're great, man. Can't say enough. Just keep doing what you do!

August 17, 2009 6:56 PM  
Blogger Chrisbnp said...

Quoting Mark Bohrer-
(Also, to Chrisbnp, thyristor shutoff depends on the device type. It's easy to turn a four-layer p-n-p-n device on, but a true three-pin SCR AKA thyristor requires specific design for gate-controlled turn-off. Simply shorting the gate to the cathode won't stop the anode-cathode current flow.

So a simple shorting of a 283's thyristor gate pin won't do it.)

I appreciate your response. If you could help me toward a fuller understanding it might help the Strobist community. I'm confident that I didn't correctly characterise my thought process.

First a bit of background. The standard modification to convert a 283 to manual control is to either replace the CDS sensor with a Variable resistor with a value of 0 to 250k ohms or a switched bank of resistors with 150 ohms representing 1/8 of full flash and 250k ohms representing full flash (intermediate resistances are distributed in a somewhat logarithmic fashion). I think my statement breaks down when I said that you would short the thyristor when, in fact, you would short the cds sensor connection which controls the scr.

Given that the circuit, in it's automatic mode, is normally controlled by reducing resistance below a certain threshold over a given period of time, wouldn't dropping the resistance to near zero turn off the circuit and fire the quench circuit? If that is true then wouldn't it hold true for most any flash that uses a CDS sensor for control? Ok, it's not an elegant solution but it would be one that you could implement without even opening the case to the 283.

Chris

August 17, 2009 7:32 PM  
Blogger rae2 said...

Once again we Pentaxians are shuttered out of the loop.

August 17, 2009 7:57 PM  
Blogger Benjamin said...

This is the post that I have been waiting for along with many others I'm sure. Can you confirm rechargeable NiMH CR123A's? The only rcr123a's I have found are lithiums. Most lithium rcr123's really suck and the the thought of having to buy primaries kind of sucks. Also anyone that has had good luck with lithium rcr123a's, please post brand of batts and charger used. thanks

August 17, 2009 11:03 PM  
Anonymous Dan Depew said...

Dave! Please tell us you tried the high sync speed advertised here: http://radiopopper.com/blog/2009/02/14/high-speed-sync-w-bees-and-others/

August 17, 2009 11:09 PM  
Blogger Scott Blackman said...

Oy! Like heyheyjk I just weeks ago bought a CyberSync transmitter and 3 receivers. Am I just being naive to ask whether or not the JrX transmitter could possibly trigger the Cybersync CSRB's? At least if they did I wouldn't have to totally switch gears. I could get a JrX transmitter and receiver (I really could use an extra receiver) and continue moving in the RadioPopper camp as needed.

August 17, 2009 11:49 PM  
Anonymous Josh said...

thanks for the great and detailed review David. I noticed you skipped the SB-28. will they also be compatible, and you were just being brief?

August 18, 2009 12:50 AM  
Anonymous Joe Ancona said...

I use these Li ion batteries in my Nikon SB-R200 flashes and my SU-800...they work great in both, I bought two sets, since I have 3 SB-R200s and the SU-800. Having 4 of these batteries charged up for a big shoot with my SU-800/SB-800s leaves me feeling pretty confident, as I rarely even go through 1 battery on the SU-800 during a shoot. I would think these would be great for the RP units?

Lithium Ion CR123A from Thomas Distributing

August 18, 2009 1:31 AM  
Blogger Alex DiFiori said...

Dear David:

It's surprising that though you spend all your time discussing lighting, you've never done a post about Herb Ritts' work.

Please consider it for a future post or mention as I think his lighting is some of the best (and simplest) ever done.

August 18, 2009 1:47 AM  
Blogger Alex DiFiori said...

BTW, thanks for the tight review, always lookin' out for us man.

August 18, 2009 1:49 AM  
Blogger Daniel Bird said...

Would it be possible for a Canon 40D to be able to remotely control older Nikon SB-28 flashes via TTL?… So in other words can Canon DSLRs work with Nikon Flashes by TTL using these?

August 18, 2009 5:19 AM  
Blogger myphotographer said...

nice post, can't wait for these babies to make its way to South Africa.

August 18, 2009 6:03 AM  
Anonymous Moshe said...

As for the range it has amazing range (i even consider if you really need that long range?)

As for the building quality it looks much better than the Chinese brands out there.

As for using it for studio pro studios could not afford to work with the chinese,but the home studio DIY style could...

Good review!

August 18, 2009 6:03 AM  
Blogger Norman said...

I will wait for the Chinese version. ;-)

August 18, 2009 10:36 AM  
Anonymous Amber said...

This is a dumb question because I haven't yet learned how radio triggers work exactly... but...

Can we mix n' match radio triggers? I have 1 set of new PW but would like one more trigger and one more light. This is a more affordable option. Now I wish I would have waited.

Thanks for any help!

August 18, 2009 11:53 AM  
Blogger tim10243 said...

hi,

thanks a lot for this very nice review with a lot of information.

it sounds a little bit as if you already know the RPcube which is needed to work with "old" nikon etc speedlights. what is this cube for? just an adapter to connect the JrX to the hotshoe of the flash? in this case it would be an opportunity to connect old nikon flashes with a sc-18 to the JrX receiver. cut the sc-18 in two halfs, ad a stereo jack at the cutted end and you´ll have a connection. this would only work if there is no electronics in the cube. so thats the question: do you think it would work that way?
tim

August 18, 2009 1:13 PM  
Blogger rondo_puentez said...

Here's a link that covers the compatibility between P1's, PX and JrX units.
http://www.radiopopper.com/docs/radiopopper_x_compatibility_guide.pdf

These Jr.X units look great!
I have a set of P1's and my only issue was that I had to have a flash on-camera to attach the transmitter. These new units seem to eliminate that problem. Now I can actually use both my Canon 580 & 580exII off camera!

Ron

August 18, 2009 1:59 PM  
Anonymous Michael Quack said...

Nice product, really.

Still it doesn't float my boat.
I'm in Europe, which means the frequency of the RPs is illegal here. With their track record of announcements and availability.... sheesh. Also - I'm travelling a lot. I'd hate to buy one set for Europe and one for the US. Asia doesn't see me too often, so I can skip a third set. But still.... what was the reason not to use 2.4GHz?

The outlook into being able to have manual power control for almost any shitty TTL flash ever built is great. But how long will it take until that cube is announced, not even daring to speak of being available? And how many arms and legs will it cost, then? Kevin initially claimed that this was going to be a very affordable non-profit thing. Hm.

This system is for now no good for anybody outside of Northern America, and since the use of the quench pin has been used by SPOT before it won't take long until somebody else comes up with a cheaper version running 2.4 GHz.

While RP failed to deliver a simple reliable trigger with long range at low cost that operates on the same frequency in every darn country of this world, there is hope: Yongnuo RF-602 is the word.

40 dollars for a set of TX/RX, and it also triggers my camera if I ask for it. Operating at 2.4GHz with excellent build quality and great range of 500+ ft.

I try to get the grin out of my face while playing with these babies. No chance.

I'm pretty sure while RP are postponing their announcements over and over again, the Chinese don't sleep. I'm confident remote power setting will be available soon. The use of the quench pin is open source after all.

And the RP cube is even less available tham the JrXs themselves.

RP.... nice try. But too late and too lame for us Europeans. And the Asians. Did I mention that there are people outside the US?

August 18, 2009 2:00 PM  
Anonymous Mark Bohrer said...

Chris:
I haven't seen a schematic for the 283, but I am somewhat familiar with Xenon flash tube circuits. My analog IC design experience was in other areas.

In most 'automatic'-mode strobes, the photoresistor controls a short-duration timer which drives a trigger circuit for the thyristor. So yes, a delayed short-circuit at the 283's CdS pins would give you a flash time in the same ballpark.

One problem is the speed of your quench switch. It should be 10 percent or less of the shortest flash duration.

An MOS transistor in parallel with your power-level potentiometer would be one way to do it, with control at the MOS gate.

There are a couple challenges. You want a resistor between the quench signal and the MOS *gate* to avoid ESD (electrostatic discharge) damage to it. That resistor (minimum 500K) forms an RC time constant with the MOS gate, slowing your switching time, so you also want a small MOS device.

You may also need to condition the quench signal itself for the proper levels to drive the MOS device. An LM311 comparator hooked to the same supply voltage as the CdS timer circuit would work. Or you may be able to drive the ESD resistor/MOS gate directly.

The next question is how big an MOS device do you need? Measure the maximum dynamic current through the power-level pot or CdS to see what MOS maximum drain current will be.

Then there's the 'sex' of the MOS device. If the CdS connects between ground and the internal circuit, you'd use an NMOS switch with ground-based gate control. If the CdS is 'ceiling-mounted' between V+ and the internal circuit, you'd use a PMOS switch with V+-based gate control. If both CdS terminals connect to internal circuits (unlikely), it depends. Either way, it's probably a small current, so the MOS device would be small and pretty fast to switch. Multiply the MOS gate capacitance by the external ESD protection resistor's value for a rough idea of switching time.

***

A more elegant approach would be to use the MOS device itself as your control resistance with varying gate bias, but that requires a look at the 283's schematic. You'd also need a more complex MOS gate control circuit driven by the RadioPopper JrX's receiver. The core of that control circuit could be an adjustable voltage reference to bias the MOS gate.

Mark Bohrer, MSEE
www.activelightphotography.com
Any Location. Any Activity. Your Story.

August 18, 2009 2:34 PM  
Blogger Ed from Ohio said...

I currently use the eBay triggers, but I have it tied in through the PC connector so I could keep my hot shoe flash connected (although with a coiled cord on a Stroboframe.) Since it's a simple trigger (no ETTL,) that has worked good except for distance issues.

I just wanted to have it confirmed that the camera to transmitter connection is a simple interface and doesn't deal with ETTL or anything like that. I could then keep my existing setup but take advantage of the remote power capabilities of the transmitter.

Also, how many receivers can work with a single transmitter? I sometimes shoot large rooms of people and it's not uncommon to have 6 strobes setup to fire from one transmitter.

Thanks,
Ed

August 18, 2009 2:37 PM  
Blogger Aaron E said...

I understand, I think, that the JRx system isn't ETTL however if I were to get a PX transmitter will the JRx receivers work in ETTL?

August 18, 2009 2:43 PM  
Blogger Ed from Ohio said...

One more question - what is RPcube exactly? Without it, am I not able to control the power of some older Canon TTL flashes I have?

Thanks again for bringing this great product to our attention!

August 18, 2009 2:57 PM  
Anonymous RHWeiner said...

Anyone noticed that the RP blog/store gives prices for trigger alone, receiver alone, combo package of trigger and receiver but the price of the combo is the same as one trigger, one receiver? I guess the only cost savings may be in shipping and handling.

:(

Still, I'm probably going to end up with 2 kits & one extra receiver(probably go with the studio version even though I don't have those strobes), that way I can have 2 cameras set up with different lenses and capability of shooting with 3 flashes...at least.

Now, can anyone tell me how I'm going to explain this to the wife? LOL

August 18, 2009 3:30 PM  
Blogger Jakebane said...

^ ^ ^ Amber,
Unfortunately, I do not believe you can mix and match triggers with recievers.

August 18, 2009 4:19 PM  
Blogger Dan Bobrowsky said...

Any input on how these stack up compared to the forthcoming Paul C. Buff Cyber Commanders? I have an AB800 and am not sure which system to go with. Thanks!

August 19, 2009 12:06 AM  
Anonymous Mark Bohrer said...

Chrisbnp (Chris):
Some additional notes on an MOS switch for quenching a Vivitar 283:

For a small MOS transistor, the package pin capacitance is usually much bigger than the gate capacitance. The pin capacitance is around 1-2pF. Assuming 2pF, the time constant with a 500K ESD protection resistor at the gate is 2E-12 * 500E3 = 1 uS.

If you'd like clarification of any of this or my previous posts, feel free to contact me through www.activelightphotography.com.

Mark Bohrer, MSEE
www.activelightphotography.com
Any Location. Any Activity. Your Story.

August 19, 2009 2:38 AM  
Blogger Norseman said...

Hello David!

I have also read about the new Radiopopper!. You mention that it can be used with Nikon SB-24, SB-26 and SB-28.

Do you know if it also covers the Nikon SB-28DX??


Tore

August 19, 2009 7:10 AM  
Anonymous photo retouching said...

Soon we will able to do everything from the comfort of our beds!

August 19, 2009 9:38 AM  
Blogger Norseman said...

Commented on the Radiopoppers earlier today. I asked if RP would work with Nikon SB-28DX!??

I meant of course the SB-80DX!!

Silly me

Tore

August 19, 2009 1:08 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Alot of people have been asking alot of basic questions that are answered in RadioPopper's FAQ: http://www.radiopopper.com/docs/radiopopper_x_compatibility_guide.pdf

But! in the spirit of this article and laziness: Yes, you can trigger PXs with a JrX transmitter, yes you can remotely fire a camera using JrX transmitter manual trigger and a JrX reciever with appropriate connection. No, there is no high speed sync, you need a PX transmitter for that.

:)

August 20, 2009 2:15 PM  
Anonymous Boston Photographer-MWynne said...

Great post...love the photo. Fat and lazy is seriously under appreciated in this country. Give me remote control!

August 20, 2009 3:27 PM  
Blogger Ed from Ohio said...

Well, I went to order a studio kit (transmitter and receiver) and they wanted almost $20. That's more than 10% of the price of the units. It can't even be 4 pounds in a box.

Since they pulled that kind of garbage, I didn't go through with the order.

August 20, 2009 10:53 PM  
Anonymous Peter said...

I would also like pentax compatibility for the more advanced features.

Given the software upgrade facility on these, I imagine it would be possible..

August 21, 2009 2:37 AM  
Anonymous Portland Wedding Photography said...

For wedding photography I can see myself using these with great results. They seem to be priced reasonably and will accommodate my needs best with my Nikon SB-800's.
I am wondering what other wedding photographers think about this setup and if this will change the way that you are currently shooting?

Does the setup work with the camera still controlling the exposure of the flashes? I am guessing yes...

I shoot weddings here in Portland, Oregon and I would love to see these poppers in action before buying...

August 21, 2009 4:09 AM  
Anonymous Hot Matches Online said...

Really agreat post. The remote power setting feature works simply and brilliantly.

August 21, 2009 8:21 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Everyone has AA's why would you choose to use CR123's, seems to me somebody wasn't thinking here. I would avoid buying these just for that fact.

August 21, 2009 11:45 AM  
Blogger Jake said...

While the questions are piling up.. This one is a bit more esoteric, but do you reckon that these would work when AB releases their "MAX" series of strobes...

--j

August 21, 2009 4:48 PM  
Blogger Jake said...

Oh and to follow up on Richards response: "No, there is no high speed sync, you need a PX transmitter for that.".. We're wondering whether the HSS works (as the site said it would earlier, but hasn't followed up on) with the PX transmitter going to one of the new receivers attached to a studio strobe...

August 21, 2009 4:51 PM  
Blogger Yvette said...

**Pocket Wizard Users ?
Is there anything available to make the PW have the ability to control power remotely? I.E. Canon Flashes?

August 23, 2009 2:34 PM  
Blogger Albertas Agejevas said...

Let's call a spade a spade. A deliberately *castrated* version for 20 dollars less. Shame!

August 30, 2009 6:58 PM  
Blogger David said...

Would you rather they not give you the option?

In truth, the profits from the "studio" version is what allows them to sell the "basic" version at very close to cost, for people that just want a solid sync for as little as possible.

August 30, 2009 7:48 PM  
Blogger PHOTOSKIASI.com said...

Disappointed. From 25$ to 69$ it's a huge difference. Now i need almost 300$ for 3 receivers and a transmitter while i was hoping for 100$. People that was waiting for a year for something affordable and reliable have to go back to those cheap unreliable ebay triggers. It was to good to be true...

September 02, 2009 3:32 AM  
Blogger Sheri said...

I am thinking I know what to ask for for my bday and/or Christmas :) Thanks for all the info.

September 02, 2009 9:11 AM  
Blogger Tom said...

A lot of people in this thread need to get a life.

If a 70 buck trigger gets your panties in such a wad, then stick with the $1.95 Chinese crap... or find another hobby other than photography.

The reliability and feature set of these triggers are ENORMOUS for the ridiculously low price they want for them.

I have been using Poppers since ver. 1.0 and they have been rock-solid reliable and these new Jrx units just expand the system.

I now have both the PX and Jrx units and they open up a whole new lighting set of lighting opportunities.

Stop whining and go shoot pictures.

Tom

September 12, 2009 3:43 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

Will these work with vivitar 285's?

September 16, 2009 2:06 AM  
Blogger tim10243 said...

hi,
the manual power adjustment of speedlights like the vivitars or nikon SBs and so on are made via a quench signal. the JrX is sending a "fire-signal" and after a "little time" a "quench-signal" which tells the flash to stop again. the problem is now that each kind of flash needs another "little time" for full power, half power, quarter power and so on. as far as i know the JrX manual power adjustment is based on the times for the Nikon SB-800. it might be, that the times your vivitar would need are similar to those of the nikon sb-800. if not, forget it. i was hoping that there would be a posibility to change the quenchtimes - but in the moment it don´t look like it.
tim
ps: by the way - the new generation of flashes like the nikon sb-900 are working on a complete different way - they will not be able to work with the manual power adjustment of the JrX anyway.

September 20, 2009 11:42 AM  
Blogger Norby said...

FYI - I recently ordered a set of the JrX triggers and they threw in a business-card sized Dip Switch Guide which has them all nicely color coded and marked for Receiver vs. Transmitter.

-/\/

November 04, 2009 5:12 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Jam said...

Tony Hoffer just did a Radio Popper PX Review on his blog. It has some interesting facts that may not be found on the radio popper site.

http://hofferphotography.com/blog/2009/11/12/radio-popper-px-review/

November 12, 2009 5:31 PM  
Blogger ~ The Stenbakken Family ~ said...

Hate to say it, but I had a BAD EXPERIENCE with the RadoPopper Jrx set I bought. Loved the idea. REALLY wanted it to work, but here's why I ultimately returned them:

1. They didn't fire 100% of the time. We're talking within 50 feet, zero obstructions, I'd have a fail rate of about 5%. Add a single drywall between me and the receiver, fail jumps about 10% for every wall. Try hiding a light behind a wall to get it out of frame and expect a 15% fail rate. Two walls? You'd better be shooting a still life. Even in-studio within 20 feet, I'd be getting misfires. Live models, real projects... nope. That alone is a deal killer.

2. No way to secure the transmitter or receivers to equipment. The lack of a lanyard on receivers is well known. But did you plan on having the TRANSMITTER fall off your camera? I didn't, but in the week I shot with it, it happened three times. There is no way to secure it to your camera. So, I've got gaffer's tape holding on the transmitter on the top of an $8k camera. Seems a little silly. And annoying when it falls on something harder than carpet (which I was lucky that's where it happened).

3. They're fiddly. Oddball batteries. You HAVE to set them up/ plug them in in a set sequence or it's all screwed up. Each receiver is 3 separate pieces (unit, cord, and 1/4 plug for WL). Try making your assistant for the day get that right every single time for every single light for eight sets a day. :-(

Fortunately, RP staffers were nice. They subbed the transmitter three times with no better results. Yes, we ran through all the tech "did you try this" stuff -- that's their job and I'm technically competent. It just didn't work 100% of the time. So, if 95% is good enough for you... go ahead. And if you're getting 100% success rates; awesome. I really wish I had. If I had, I would still have them, as I love the convenience of remote power control. So, back to PocketWizards for me. They're clunky, but they work EVERY time, and that's what I needed more than dip switches and fiddly gizmos that didn't work every time.

November 17, 2009 12:59 PM  
OpenID yojimbo55 said...

Hand-made RP Cubes and cables for Nikon strobes, as well as a lot of advice and critiques are in this thread:
http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/854383/0#7995438

February 18, 2010 10:54 PM  
Blogger Michael Getzinger said...

If you own an iPhone or iPod Touch, there is a free (unofficial) RadioPopper JrX app that shows you exactly each "DIP switches" does (for both the receivers and transmitters).

Here's a YouTube video showing the app in action:

"Flash Trigger Cheat Sheet"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=il_tDteAoQ8

Pretty cool little app! I emailed the guy who wrote it asking if he could make a similar app for the RadioPopper PX units (which don't have DIP switches but have equally cryptic messages).

I also emailed the RadioPopper people asking them to hire this guy or send him a couple of PX units for free in exchange for such an app! A man can dream...

Great article, thanks again!

February 21, 2010 11:15 AM  
Blogger Michael Getzinger said...

If you own an iPhone or iPod Touch, there is a free (unofficial) RadioPopper JrX app that shows you exactly what each "DIP switch" does (for both the Receivers & Transmitters).

Here's a YouTube video showing the app in action:

"Flash Trigger Cheat Sheet"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=il_tDteAoQ8

Pretty cool little app! I emailed the guy who wrote it asking if he could make a similar app for the "RadioPopper PX" units (which don't have DIP switches but display 2-digit cryptic messages).

I also emailed RadioPopper asking them to hire this guy or send him a couple of PX units for free in exchange for such an app. A man can dream...

Great article, thanks again!

February 21, 2010 11:18 AM  
Blogger Albino Tonnina said...

I'd love so much to take a pair of this triggers but I can't find them in Europe. Do you confirm that?

February 23, 2010 5:43 PM  
Blogger Todd Gilbert said...

Does anyone else find it crooked that they marketed these by saying "The EZset Strobe operation requires the RPcube adaptor which will be available for purchase in 6-8 weeks"

(Mis-spellings and all taken right from their product description page).

That 6-8 weeks has already been 6-8 MONTHS and they still don't advertise them.

FlashZebra.com just beat radiopopper to market with the cables they promised from the beginning!

David - I almost bought these because of pretty glowing review - I am glad I didn’t though because of this shady practice by them.

I have contacted them numerous times over the last 6 months and each time they say that the RPCube is on the way as soon as possible - but won't change their false advertising.

PS - Long time subscriber but I believe this is my first comment. Thanks for the great job on your blog.

April 05, 2010 11:16 AM  
Blogger Troy said...

Dude, e=what's the deal with the disney spam?

April 14, 2010 10:32 AM  
Blogger tim10243 said...

hi,
i am using the JrX studio system with a couple of nikon flashes (sb-25, sb-26 and sb-28dx) without any problems. i managed to connect a metz 60ct1 as well - the manual power setting is working with this flash too.
but now i got a problem: i bought a hasselblad d-flash 40. its a ttl flash and i still think it should be a solveable problem to connect this flash to the JrX as well to get remote manual power setting. i cutted of the ttl plug and got six wires - blank, yellow, red, white, green and blue. blank is ground, yellow is fire and red is control lamp. so i think white, green or blue must be quench, the pin i am looking for. but i tried everyone without getting what i want.
can anyone help? has anyone a circuit plan of the d-flash? does anyone know a specialist for this flash?
any help would be welcome!
tim

April 24, 2010 9:39 AM  
Blogger tim10243 said...

hi,
i am using the JrX studio system with a couple of nikon flashes (sb-25, sb-26 and sb-28dx) without any problems. i managed to connect a metz 60ct1 as well - the manual power setting is working with this flash too.
but now i got a problem: i bought a hasselblad d-flash 40. its a ttl flash and i still think it should be a solveable problem to connect this flash to the JrX as well to get remote manual power setting. i cutted of the ttl plug and got six wires - blank, yellow, red, white, green and blue. blank is ground, yellow is fire and red is control lamp. so i think white, green or blue must be quench, the pin i am looking for. but i tried everyone without getting what i want.
can anyone help? has anyone a circuit plan of the d-flash? does anyone know a specialist for this flash?
any help would be welcome!
tim

April 24, 2010 9:39 AM  
Blogger Allen said...

hi everyone! i just purchased my radiopopper Jrx system today. and i can't wait for them to arrive. i was wondering if i could just use the sync cords that came with my pocket wizards to connect the receiver to my sb-28? is this possible?

June 24, 2010 6:09 PM  
Blogger mposeyphoto said...

RadioPopper may be fine for Canon folks, I don't know, but my PX units have never worked reliably with my SB900. I would warn photographers against purchasing these for Nikon. The "solutions" that RP has proposed are simply insulting ... the last, the "mounting kit" they sent me, was two badly cut strips of Velcro and a strip of tape. Nikon users, run away! Run away! Save your money for a system that actually works.

March 09, 2012 11:11 PM  

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