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Friday, March 01, 2013

PocketWizard Plus X Remotes Break the $100 Barrier



This is what I have wanted from PocketWizard for a long time: a sub-$100 remote.

Basically, the new Plus X transceiver has everything you really need—and nothing you don't. Full details below.

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UPDATE: Adds PocketWizard's feature set video:




Reader's Digest Version

Plus-III chassis, AA's, switch-hitter, physically robust, protected antenna, 10 channels, channel-hopping, full PocketWizard range, interoperability with past and present models.


Design

The Plus X is modeled after the recently released Plus-III. It has the same style of case and is very tough. The (previously) exposed antenna, which could cause trouble with Plus-II and earlier models if packed roughly, is armored as with the Plus-III.


Controls

Not much to say here; it's a simple unit. You have a power switch, a rotary channel selector and a big test button. That's pretty much your whole quick-start guide right there.

Interesting note: The rotary dial is a nod to the original deck-of-cards shaped PocketWizard from over twenty years ago. Except this is not a pure physical-contact rotary switch, as today's rotary selectors are much more reliable. But as a long-time PW user, that was the first thing I noticed.

And the 10 channels correspond with the same numbered channels of any other PW remote, providing you are using units from the same region. (US and CE units are different due to spectrum licensing legalities. So always make sure you are not mixing units from different regions.)


Range

Triple aces: 1,600 feet. But it's radio, so as always your mileage may vary. I found them to be equal to the Plus-III in normal mode. Which is to say, gold standard. (Makes sense; same guts.) Like the Plus-III, the antenna is more omnidirectional than with previous generation models.


Power

The Plus X runs on two AA batteries. Another improvement over the Plus-II generations is that you don't have to do that "cigarette pack tamping" move to remove batts.

I do not think it has a sleep mode, what with the physical switch. So turn them off when you are done.


It Goes Both Ways

The Plus X sync terminal (hot shoe or mini-jack) senses sync voltage and can thus determine whether it is attached to a camera or a flash. In doing so, it auto-sets as a receiver or transmitter just like a Plus-III. Speaking of which, it comes with surprisingly high-quality sync cords.


Channel Hopping

If a Plus X receives a signal on one channel, you can configure it to second-trigger on the next channel. This is useful for PW-triggering a remote camera, which in turn uses the same receiving PocketWizard to sync fire a remote flash. (And this would fire on the next channel higher.) This wraps around from channel 10 to channel 1. With channel hopping, you can do with three units what would otherwise require four.


Final Thoughts

With it's robust build, significant range, non-obsolescence and 2-digit price tag, I think the Plus X will quickly prove to be PocketWizard's most popular remote.

Be honest and ask yourself if you really need the additional features of the more expensive models. For the vast majority of photographers who simply need a rock-solid, manual radio remote, the Plus X will fill the bill.

PocketWizard PlusX: $99.99




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56 Comments:

Blogger JustinCaridi said...

Time to finally upgrade from my very reliable and wonderful rf-602 set.

Great post! Thanks Mr.Hobby.

March 01, 2013 10:06 AM  
Blogger Ed from Ohio said...

Unfortunately for PW, they are very late to this party. Initially I was invested in the PT-04 type of devices and now the Phottix Strato II Multi devices.

So while it would be great to go this route, I'm already using a competitors (much less expensive) product and happy with the results.

March 01, 2013 10:07 AM  
Blogger P. Altenburg said...

Are these functionally the same (but more robust) than the cheap flash-remotes from ebay?

March 01, 2013 10:07 AM  
Blogger Reactivestills said...

Very late to the party. Only for the Sekonic triggering, I am very happy with my strato Multi II's. Pocketwizard triggers are a blatant rip off. $99 for 1 unit..It should be $99 for a pair considering the others on the market that are just as or more than reliable than these units.

March 01, 2013 10:23 AM  
Blogger RonR said...

It looks like this Plus X transceiver does not have shoe mount contectivity ?? Looks like it is useless in mounting and firing speedlights.

March 01, 2013 10:34 AM  
Blogger Hendrik Mintarno said...

The problem with Pocket wizard, they are huge compared to the reliable (never had misfire), cheap (somewhere around 30usd), compact size Yong Nuo RF602. Been using RF602 for the past 3 years with no complain :)

March 01, 2013 10:42 AM  
Blogger Linh Nguyen said...

I welcome the addition. $99 still seems a bit steep for a basic trigger, but flash+camera trigger is very nice.

My only issues are: 1) I'm an Olympus/Panasonic user, no cables for me for camera trigger. 2) would have loved these to be shoe mounted so I wouldn't need another cable.

March 01, 2013 10:46 AM  
Blogger Chris Pearson said...

Do you know if these have half press to focus like the Plus III? These would be an ideal remote camera trigger if so.

March 01, 2013 10:50 AM  
Blogger NESOHU said...

No nikon TTL?

March 01, 2013 11:03 AM  
Blogger Jon said...

How's the battery life? When I upgraded to the Plus IIIs I realized that fancy little LED screen ate through my batteries much quicker than my old Plus IIs. These look like the better solution - the new form factor without the LED.

March 01, 2013 11:05 AM  
Blogger sirshannon said...

When I heard PW had a new trigger/receiver coming, I was hopeful but without a hotshoe for the flash, I can't make the move away from my current Stratos Multi II setup. $99 is a great price and I would pay it but then I would also have to increase the number of items needed per flash from 2 (speedlight + stratos) to 3 (speedlight + pw + cable) or, in the case of my SB-600s, to 4 (speedlight + pw + cable + hotshoe adapter).

Price, range, functionality, and reliability are all important. PW meets my needs there but Ease of Use is also important to me. Weighing all of these factors, it looks like I'll stick to my stratos for another couple years.

March 01, 2013 11:38 AM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@P. Altenburg-

They'll have better range and reliability, but they are both simple triggers if that's what you mean. The PWs are transceivers, tho.

@Ron-

PW chooses longer/more robust range over hot shoe mounts. It's physics: (a) proximity to RF-emitting flash circuitry, and (b) resulting antenna orientation.


@NESOHU-

These are not TTL remotes.


@Jon-

Batt life said to be 100 hrs operation, with LED color coded status indicators. I have not used mine for 100 hrs yet, so could not say.

March 01, 2013 11:39 AM  
Blogger Sando said...

They would be awesome for 60-70$. A normal "dumb" trigger costs around 30$ (Yongnuo). I get that Pocketwizard has a reputation that they don't fail. Although I never had a problem with the Yongnuo I owned on that one either and on my Phottix I never had a single misfire either.
And they are more more rugged (which is nice), but for 129$€ I get a trigger that is capable of E-TTL (and there will be I-TTL triggers as well, the YN622N)and they are capable of Supersync up to 1/8000sec (with a "slow" studio flash or a speedlight).
I am willing to pay 2 times the price of the simple triggers, but not 3 times.

March 01, 2013 12:50 PM  
Blogger Jon Bloom said...

Sa-weet! For those who are grumbling about the price compared to other triggers... the benefit of these to those of us who have a bag full of other PW models is the cross-model compatibility. I can use my PW Plus II's and Mini TT1/Flex TT5's along with these to mix and match between TTL and non-TTL systems.

March 01, 2013 12:56 PM  
Blogger JKorn said...

Snooze. Wake me when these cost $49.

March 01, 2013 1:37 PM  
Blogger David Konecny said...

Im considering getting two or three units as a first radio triggering venture. What about sync speed though? The site says "Ultra-fast microprocessors allow for reliable sync speeds of 1/250 for focal plane shutters and 1/500 for leaf shutters", so, my question is -- what about higher sync speeds? Is there a workaround?

March 01, 2013 1:57 PM  
Blogger Allen McInnis said...

Thanks for this post David.

I am in for a few to keep with the basic light kit that stays in the car. The Ebay cheapies burn batteries and are not realiable.
I still have and use the original PW, the cigarette pack comment re battery change is spot on! But they are great units (designated to foot switch use only these days). Canon Flex issues aside, PW makes great triggers.
Allen

March 01, 2013 1:58 PM  
Blogger David Konecny said...

Hi, I've been considering these as a first step into the radio trigger direction, although I've also been wondering about sync speed -- the site says "Ultra-fast microprocessors allow for reliable sync speeds of 1/250 for focal plane shutters and 1/500 for leaf shutters" -- is there any workaround for higher sync speed? How does this work? Thanks!

March 01, 2013 1:58 PM  
Blogger John said...

Wow, exactly what I needed to know, thx so much. Just placed my pre-order with MPEX. My PW-Plus-II's have been flawless, no reason to experiment with anything else.

March 01, 2013 2:46 PM  
Blogger EricFerguson said...

Looks lovely. But: despite the tehcnical logic of not including a shoe mount I think PW is losing a lot of users by not including one. Lotsa people shoot Canon. Lotsa canon (and canon-compatible, including the very popular Sigma) flashed trigger only via the hotshoe. Adapters are weak, pricey and inelegant.

March 01, 2013 3:15 PM  
Blogger Mad Marv said...

Regarding the criticism about the PW+X not having a hot shoe. Just spend the $10 and get a metal cold shoe and use the sync cable. I've snapped off the shoe on plastic radio triggers during normal on-the-go shooting. And on one of those occasions the flash fell and broke the flash tube (a $150 repair bill). Do not count on the shoe of a radio trigger to hold on to your gear, it isn't made for that

I'd also warn against using plastic shoes, since I've broken those too. I haven't broken a metal one yet.

March 01, 2013 3:42 PM  
Blogger Mark Davidson said...

I made a commitment to PW years ago. Yes, I dabbled in Chinese competitors but nothing equaled the range and reliability of PW.
I recently bought 5 PWIIIs and I will be getting these.

March 01, 2013 5:07 PM  
Blogger John Gaughan said...

Very cool. Want one! http://www.jgaughanphotography.com/

March 01, 2013 7:15 PM  
Blogger Sportymonk said...

Don't think first try at post went through so - Sounds ok but my Cactus V5s do all this +. If I had nothing I would give them a look but other than the PW name, not sure there aren't a lot of excellent products out there. I love my Cactus V5's.

March 02, 2013 2:43 AM  
Blogger Lanthus Clark said...

Too little too late, already got the much cheaper Phottix Strato II's last year and they work like a charm, even as remote shutter triggers.

Pocket Wizards may be better, but at the price they go for I will never find out.

March 02, 2013 6:35 AM  
Blogger Stuart said...

I'll stick with my rf-602 triggers for now, but I am glad to see PW coming out with a budget minded trigger.

March 02, 2013 9:58 AM  
Blogger sirshannon said...

Mad Marv said "Do not count on the shoe of a radio trigger to hold on to your gear, it isn't made for that"

Actually, that is exactly what it is made for.

March 02, 2013 10:57 AM  
Blogger Spencer Pullen said...

I hope these work better than the Flex units that I bought a year ago. I held out for the flexes so I could control the flash power from the camera. I actually had a Flex unit take out one of my Nikon D300's. It cooked the computer. I called PW and all they had to say was "sorry" as the product wasn't defective to them. I'm back to using Nikon's CLS that has worked every time for me since. Now I have six Flex units sitting in the closet.

March 02, 2013 2:56 PM  
Blogger Rider1949 said...

I have the PW III. How does this work with the Sekonic Module in the PW III? This new PW has 10 channels and the PWIII has 17+

March 02, 2013 4:14 PM  
Blogger John Gaughan said...

I don't know about you guys, but for me...a Nikon guy...the commander mode works brilliantly for me. The flash will fire even if it is behind the camera! http://www.jgaughanphotography.com/

March 02, 2013 9:23 PM  
Blogger Doug McEwen said...

Compared to Phottix Strato IIs, the new PW has the pros of 10 channels instead of 4, and transceiver design which eliminates one spare. The Strato II has the pros of half the cost, four groups which are handy for measuring levels via the camera histogram, a TTL-capable hot-shoe for a camera-mounted flash without needing another trigger, and a hot shoe on the Rx so no cables or hot shoe adapters for those of us with flashes that lack PC ports.

Regarding spares for the Strato Tx/Rx design, I keep a spare Tx and Rx which also serve as an remote camera trigger, and which cost the same as a spare PW transceiver which could also serve as a remote camera trigger, so spares are a wash between the two brands. Both units have a good reputation for reliability, and both units are compatible with a larger family of smart triggers, so those factors are a wash as well.

Probably most users will stick with the brand they have already invested in for compatibility. For me, PW is too late with this product, and I can't justify the higher cost for what I perceive as less functionality. I will stick with Strato IIs for my next purchases.

March 03, 2013 1:29 PM  
Blogger Marc Weisberg said...

This is an idea who's time has come. Great marketing and great revenue stream work PW. And great for all us photogs I've been using PW's for about 12years now and recently switched to the PW III's which are built Ike a tank. And have features that work great for me in the studio and in the field when shooting with 6 other photos. As much as I love them they are damned expensive. I own 4 PW III's and 6 PW's a mix of standard a Plus II's. That's about $1400 worth of wizards. With the intro of the X I can replace the older ones as the die with the dumbed down X's and save a bunch of cash.

March 03, 2013 1:47 PM  
Blogger michael anthony murphy said...

she ain't pretty but for 990 bucks, well, i suppose i'm game. BUT, i still do love the look of my plus ii's. i'm not crazy about the new sideways design but hey, nothing i can do about that. i mean really? is it really that much less in the way? i never considered the position of the plus ii to be obtrusive. anyway, i heart pocketwizard and i'm sure to save a buck or two, i'd probably grab one of these for any more strobes i purchase.

March 03, 2013 6:55 PM  
Blogger Scott Campbell said...

Hmmmmmmm........

What is today's date?

Oh, it's March 04. So Hobby is not having us on with an April's Fools Joke.

OK, note to self: get off your butt and go get some of these before the initial production runs are sold out.....

March 04, 2013 1:31 AM  
Blogger Jon Mather said...

I have now invested in YN560-III speedlights so only need 1x RF603 trigger....if only these had come out 6 months ago I would have been all over them.

March 04, 2013 9:11 AM  
Blogger Michael Quack - Visual Pursuit said...

I often use a flash on an extendable painters handle stick that has been modified with a spigot w 1/4-20 thread on its end. Can't do that with the new PeeWee, since there is no hot shoe for the flash. Can't control powersettings for system flashes or SuperSync long flash duration boxes like with the Yongnuo 622 monster, and can't switch off flashes with group switches like the strato II can do.

Yes, PeeWee X is very late to the party, and he hasn't brought any beer.

Not to mention that Plus IIs failed on me where RF-602s worked.

I'm not impressed.

March 04, 2013 9:12 AM  
Blogger Bryan Mitchell said...

I might finally use pocketwizards at $100, well when/if my Paul Buff #cybersync triggers die or break. Love them and never had them fail me.

March 04, 2013 1:58 PM  
Blogger V IMAGERY said...

PLenty of comments on the product...how about lighting specs on product shot? Hell I want just cuz of how cool the shot is!!

March 04, 2013 5:42 PM  
Blogger Anonymouslemming said...

I'm slightly lost - will these allow me to set the power of a connected flash if I have one on the camera and one on each flash ?

Or do I still have to walk to and from each flash to adjust power ?

March 05, 2013 2:12 PM  
Blogger Michael Quack - Visual Pursuit said...

About the lighting for the product shot: Looks to me like a single light through a large diffusor or double diffusor (see the gradient falloff to the sides) and two reflectors close to the thing. One to reflect into the logo, the other to light up the bottom and foot. Of course the thing is placed on black glass or plexiglass.

March 05, 2013 3:46 PM  
Blogger EricLefebvre said...

The thing is tha while these look pretty awesome, there are much better options out.

Youngnuo has the YN-622C tranceivers that do FULL ETTL/ITTL, hot shoe and PC synch, with 3 flash groupings and come in sets of 2 for the same price.

(94$ with free shipping).

Sure the range is an estimated 100 METERS (so about about 390feet givce or take) and that's in ideal conditions so let's cut that 50% for a more conservative estimate of about 164feet so it certainly falls short of the PW 's range but how many people need to be able to trigger a flash half a mile away?

Unless you already own PW ... it's hard to pass up on the YN-622's.

I've purchased quite a few things from these guys and have yet to be disapointed and I shoot weddings ... not exactly a stress free shooting experience.

March 06, 2013 12:52 PM  
Blogger Andreas Feustel said...

I started my "strobist career" a couple of years ago with simple Yongnuo RF602 flash triggers.
After a while it went on my nerves that I couldn’t switch the receiver on or off when a flash was mounted on top of the receiver.

Then I changed to Pocket Wizard Flex TT5 and Mini TT1 units but I had nothing than trouble with this system. Maybe it’s not PW’s fault and it was just about the known problems with Canon 580EX II flashes. But it drove me nuts and I put all these PW stuff on Ebay.

Now I’m very happy with my 8 Phottix Strato II devices (6 receiver, 2 transmitter) I use a lot in interior photography together with a bunch of Yongnuo YN-560II flashes.

For E-TTL (weddings, events, portrait) I use two Canon 600EX-R and one ST-E3-RT transmitter.

I don’t think that there is a way back to Pocket Wizard for me. I like to put my flashes directly on top of the receiver and that I not have to deal with PC cables. I also find the new Pocket Wizard’s too bulky for me. Positive is the build quality of the PW’s and that they are built in the US and not in China (but not that important for me here in Germany ;-).

If I would have to start over from the scratch I probably would give them a chance. But this offer is definitely not worth to buy everything new.

March 07, 2013 11:38 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

Do these have E-TTL?

March 07, 2013 12:44 PM  
Blogger Andreas Feustel said...

@Robert: NO!

What I just noticed is, that the piece you put into the hot shoe of your camera is made of cheap plastic. Even my China transmitters Phottix Strato II and Yongnuo RF-602 as well, are having metal plates underneath. So I need to take back what I wrote above about PocketWizards build quality. Sorry, but I find this really poor especially because they stick so much out from your camera!

March 08, 2013 4:44 AM  
Blogger Dave H said...

This is technical but few have touched the Pocket Wizard Plus X so I hope this is OK.

I'm wondering if the Plus X supports half press for shutter release? If so what is the feel of the test button? Does it have a clean feel like a camera shutter release. Is it free of backlash?

Does the Plus X wake a Speedlight from standby? I'm guessing it does not. If it does will it reset the count down to standby because if it does not one might half pressing the the camera shutter release or shutter triggering Plus X and have a speedlight go into standby while half pressed. The result is the fire signal will only wake the speedlight and not fire it, an apparent misfire. My Strato II(s) do this.

The shutter release feel and half press would be a deal breaker if it doesn't have a clean, backlash free feel. The Speedlight wake feature if present wouldn't be as important as canceling is probably required by many radio trigger even if they have a wake feature.

Thanks!

Dave

March 10, 2013 4:57 PM  
Blogger J. Bell said...

Was this product actually available to be reviewed at the time of this post or is this basically an ad?

March 11, 2013 6:54 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@J. Bell-

No, I actually had an early unit. Kinda hard to use it and photograph it if you don't have it...

March 11, 2013 7:43 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

Wondering how you lit that very cool shot...

March 13, 2013 2:42 PM  
Blogger Mike King said...

$99 each! I suppose that does qualify as "under $100" but verges on the ridiculous. I can wait a little longer I guess.

March 27, 2013 3:17 PM  
Blogger Darryl Kim Natividad said...

Would anyone mention why someone would get this over the plus III (For a first time user) and if it would make sense to buy some plus III with the plus X or that would just render the functions of the Plus III useless?

July 03, 2013 3:08 AM  
Blogger tomcoyner said...

Great idea for a remote shutter triggering device - but you will have to pay at least $90 just for the shutter trigger. Cable pricing may well be one of PocketWizard's worst enemies.

July 30, 2013 8:56 AM  
Blogger charlesjok said...

Hi Chris Pearson, did you ever find out the answer to your question: "Do you know if these have half press to focus like the Plus III? These would be an ideal remote camera trigger if so. " I like to know the answer too.

Thanks Charles

October 09, 2013 9:39 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

Sorry, guys. I do not think it does half-triggers.

October 09, 2013 11:54 PM  
Blogger Scott Micale said...

Does anyone know how to make a PlusX on camera fire my speedlite connected to my MiniTT1?

Thanks

October 12, 2013 7:54 AM  
Blogger Deirdre Haber Malfatto said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

January 23, 2014 8:56 AM  
Blogger Deirdre Haber Malfatto said...

This may sound like a silly question, but I've been using Nikon's built in creative lighting system and have no experience with external triggers (I'm pretty inexperienced with external flash in general and trying to learn).

Would I need more than one of these (one for my camera and one for each speedlight) or just one for my camera?

Also, if you can point me in the direction of something that explains why I might want to use an external trigger rather than stick with Nikon CLS, I'd appreciate it.

January 23, 2014 9:00 AM  

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