Monday, April 16, 2012

Wireless tethering on the cheap.

One of the lesser talked about features of the new Canon 5D mkIII  is its ability to simultaneously write to both an SD and CF card.  CF cards are by far the pro standard for speed, capacity & reliability but the SD card is significant because it allows the use of an Eye-fi wireless card. With Eye-fi's free app, I was able to wirelessly tether my 5D to a Kindle fire. With the camera set to write raw files to the CF card and medium Rez Jpg's to the Eye-fi card, I can get maximun image quality & fast transfer times to the kindle.  I've tested this setup on my last shoot and it worked out well.  As good as the 5D's new high res screen is, it was so much nicer to check critical focus on the larger screen,  but  what was really valuable was the ability to show the images to the subject in order to provide direction without them move off mark or having to take my camera off the tripod.
 Another good thing about this setup is that its relatively cheap -the Eye-fi is about  $50, the app is free and you canpickup refurb kindle fires for less than $140.
I currently have a 1Dx on pre-order but now I'm a bit disappointed that its 2nd card slot is for a CF and not an SD. I may need to reconsider that potential purchase...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Phottix Odin TTL wireless triggers - Check channels for reliability

Autotesting the Odin

Well after 2 years of trying to make them work, I finally gave up on the Pocket Wizard Flex TT5s - they just weren't reliable, I even picked up a a 430exII just to see if they'd work better than my 580exIIs- they did. But then it hit me, was I really going to downgrade all my speedlights to get this to work- uh no.
Lucky me, I found someone to buy all my PWs for more than I paid for them (thanks Craigslist)

Hello Odin!
So for the same price as my 3 TT5s and AC3 I was able to pick up an Odin Transmitter, 3 TTL receivers, 2 Manual Receivers, and 1 manual transmitter - Not a bad deal - as long as they work, right?

Well to find out if they do work I set up a test using my intervalometer and 4 speedlights. To try and test as many modes of operation a once I had each speed light set up a bit different:
  • 430exII on TTL
  • 580exII on Manual w/TTL receiver
  • 580exII on Manual w/TTL receiver
  • Vivitar 283 on manual w/manual receiver
I set the strobes outside facing the camera which was setup indoors, set the intervalometer to take 100 shots 8 secs apart (to allow that old vivitar to recycle- and prevent overheating) I repeated this test on both my 1dmkii and my new 5dmkiii - results indicated no differences for each camera.
So how were the results? Not good - I had a fairly consistent 15% failure to fire across each of the speedlights - disappointing to say the least, especially when I read so many rave reviews on this system. However, switching everything from CH1 to CH4 I saw a dramatic improvement-100% operation on all the TTL receivers and only 5 FTFs out of 200 attempts for the manual receiver (which could have been the old vivitar being tired) This is a MUCH better start than with my old PWs.

So far I've only shot one job with them so I still need more time with them, but so far I'm happy.

Initial impressions:
  • Internal Antenna: While the build quality may not be as solid as PWs, I appreciate the absence of any appendages - the antenna design on the TT5s was plain stupid an I always felt like it was just a matter of time before that sucker gets rip outta its socket.
  • Better Manual control: Adjusting Manual power settings from the odin seems MUCH more consistent than with the AC3 - the full power setting on the AC3 was far from what my 580s were capable of.
  • All sync cables included - even the camera shutter release cable that PW rapes you for $95!
  • 2.4Ghz - they work with my 580ExIIs - I have an acre lot and couldn't get enough distance between camera and flash for them to be out of range - this was much better than the 25 ft I sometimes got with my TT5s
  • Remote control of zoom setting on each TTL Flash - TT5s didn't do this trick.
  • HSS and Rear Curtain sync just like the PWs but as I said above these guys work at distance which I need when I working in daylight with my 70-200 and need some distance.
  • 1/4" threaded adapter is inline with the hot shoe - a small thing, but sometimes the offset location on TT5s caused some grief with certain modifiers.
  • No Hypersync - not missing it so far.
  • Manual power control is only in 1 stop increments (not 1/3) - I've been playing with the zoom setting to bleed some power off as a work around.
  • Doesn't control the power of my Einstein640 - this was the one thing that caused me to hang on to my PWs for so long.
Pocket Wizards have long been the de-facto standard in wireless triggers and all others were just cheap imitation rarely worth the risk. However, in the TTL game, Pocket wizard has really dropped the ball and now have a product that actually performs WORSE than the cheap knock offs.