Many years ago, my first Canon 430EX II Speedlite drastically changed the way I looked at Photography. At the time I was getting started, and inexperienced with the advanced techniques such as off-camera lighting. Adding a decent Speedlite with a rotatable head opened up whole new worlds to me. Then came my Canon 7D with an IR Transmitter built into the on-camera flash. This meant triggering (With ETTL) of off-camera Speedlites. Again, new worlds were opened to me – now the possibility of professionally lighting a scene with one or two off-camera Speedlites was a whole new realm of exploration and learning.
Unfortunately things transpired that meant that the Canon 7D had to be changed. Thankfully the upgrade to a Canon 1D Mark IV was a serious step-up in terms of performance. As the 1D Mark IV doesn’t have an onboard pop-up flash, the downside to this upgrade was the loss of my on-board IR Flash Controller. Quickly I looked for a solution, and the one that appeared to be the most reliable was the PocketWizard MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 Radio Triggers.
For those of you not familiar with the PocketWizard Mini/Flex triggers, these units come in two parts. The first is the MiniTT1 Transmitter that attaches to the hotshot of your Canon or Nikon camera, and the second part is the FlexTT5 Transceiver which attaches to the bottom of your Speedlite. The Mini Transmitter is treated like a Speedlite by the camera, which in turn sends the ETTL signals it receives to the Flex transceivers, which trigger the attached Speedlite just like it was plugged into the camera. FlexTT5 Transceivers are set up on one of three zones (A, B or C), which allows for individual power control of each zone. The camera automatically adjusts the power of the zones based on the Shutter / Aperture / ISO / Metering, just like it does with the power of a Speedlite on top of the camera. The photographer can manually control the power of the three zones by adding a PocketWizard AC3 controller to the top of the MiniTT1 receiver, which allows for manual power control (in Manual mode), power ratio control (in Automatic mode), or disabled. It is worth noting that even in Manual mode, the PocketWizard system emulates ETTL input to manually apply the power setting to the off-camera Speedlites.
So the point I’m trying to make with this, is that for Canon and Nikon users, this system has absolutely fantastic for off-camera flashes, especially on cameras that don’t include in-built Speedlite transmitters.
Now, suppose you want to move from your existing camera system to another system, such as the increasingly popular Compact System Camera market (such as Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, etc) – what do you do? If you’re like me, you’ve invested a reasonable amount of money into your Speedlite gear, so wouldn’t it be great if you could use it on your new shiny purchase? Turns out you can! After doing some limited in-house testing, I have concluded that there are certain brands or models that support the PocketWizard platform. Now its worth saying, that there is No ETTL Support. In most cases this really isn’t a problem – if you’re already running with PocketWizards, chances are you’re comfortable using Manual power control, and use the PocketWizard AC3 for controlling the power of the flashes remotely.
PocketWizard don’t list support for any other camera that isn’t Canon or Nikon, however while trawling the web and with some personal testing, I’ve discovered compatibility with several other manufacturers.
PocketWizard Mini/Flex Third Party Compatibility Matrix
The following cameras have been tested with the Canon MiniTT1/FlexTT5 set, using a Canon 430EX II speedlites.
|Brand||Model||Status||Manual Power Control||Notes||Tester|
|Panasonic||Lumix FZ1000||Tested: Working||Yes: Via AC3||Requires 4x communication pins to be disabled*||TFindley Photography|
|Olympus||OM-D E-M1||Tested: Working||Yes: Via AC3||Requires 4x communication pins to be disabled*
Flash will only fire once without this.
|Olympus||OM-D E-M5||Tested: Working||Yes: Via AC3||Requires 4x communication pins to be disabled*
Flash will only fire once without this.
|Sony||A6000||Tested: Working||Yes: Via AC3||Pocketwizard|
|Sony||RX10||Tested: Working||Yes: Via AC3||TFindley Photography|
*=The easiest way to disable to 4 communication pins on the MiniTT1 is by using a piece of black electrical tape with a single hole cut in the middle to expose the trigger pin.