A rather perplexing decision by ALL the dSLR camera manufacturers (Canon, Nikon, Olympus, etc) who have implemented remote TTL metering flash capability is to use infrared technology instead of radio waves.
Whilst infrared works reasonably well for many situations, it has major limitations placed by line of sight and limited distance from camera. In particular, placing flash strobes inside umbrella softboxes or behind the camera can mean your IR triggering no longer works and you have to resort to optical or manual radio wireless triggering devices (eg. CyberCommander, Pocket Wizards or cheap Chinese Ebay versions) and thus manual flash exposure (although I usually prefer this anyway).
Canon and Nikon users have at least one 3rd party option (RadioPoppers) using transmitters and receivers which convert the IR signals to radio wave signals to remove the constraints of IR, but at a price and the nuisance factor of ensuring the receivers are actually placed to detect the IR signal.
RadioPopper have just announced their 2nd generation product “X system” which should be a significant improvement and the key features of the PX models are:
- 64 channels with 16 unique frequencies, each allowing 4 iTTL/eTTL channels
- range > 1700 feet (in practice 120 feet?)
- manually dial in compatible studio light light levels (eg. Alien Bees)
- high speed sync up to 1/8000th sec
- full eTTL (Canon), iTTL (Nikon) with groups and light ratios control
- allows 2nd photographer to share slave units
- upgradeable firmware – maybe they will provide support for Olympus as well?
- RRP $US249 for each PX transmitter or receiver
You can download the press release pdf here.
Or watch a video here:
Now, if only the camera manufacturers would use radio waves instead of IR for their remote TTL flash, cumbersome 3rd party products would not be needed – unless you want to control studio lights or incompatible flash strobes as well.
With this, you could go out and build your own umbrella helmet knowing you won’t need to worry about that annoying off-camera TTL cord anymore:
Juergen Specht’s umbrella invention, see example:
you know you want one!!!
PS. I have made a new blog about the new TTL-capable Pocket Wizards.