Radio triggers without the hastles and expense of TTL flash

Written by Gary on April 17th, 2009

From my last post on Pocket Wizard FlexTT5 and RadioPopper PX radio triggers which both have remote TTL and HSS flash capability for remote flash trigger with certain Canon or Nikon dSLRs and flashes, you may come to the conclusion that perhaps the complexity and expense and perhaps reliability issues is just not worth it for you, or perhaps you would also like to use it on your other cameras and your film cameras, and anyway, you would prefer to have full manual control over your flashes, so what options does that leave us with?

Most amateurs would probably opt for the cheap Chinese models on Ebay made by YongNuo. Pre-2008, these models tended to have a poor reputation for inconsistent shooting and poor range, but reports of the newer models seem much more positive and range is said to be 30-50m outdoors.

The newer models include:

  • RF-602TX – 2.4GHz, 16 channel, Canon, Nikon or studio flash trigger, wireless shutter trigger. Apparently RF interference with digital sensors is not an issue with this model.
  • PT-04 CN low profile model which has 4 channels and will sync to 1/320th sec if the camera-flash combination allows it, and you can purchase an optional PL-04C receiver which has a 6.5mm plug to connect to studio flashes.
  • PT-04 TM CTR-01 which is a low profile version of the PT-04 TM but not compatible with it. It is 4 channel and has an added optical trigger mode
  • PT-04 TM which has 4 channels but no optical trigger mode
  • Cactus V4 which has 16 channels and an external antenna but you can’t mount a flash on the transmitter, and receiver can be connected to high voltage flashes such as old Metz 45CT-1’s, although some flashes such as SB-600 have trouble mounting on its hotshoe due to the pins of the flash – see here. Some have suggested that RF interference may introduce image artifacts in some digital cameras with certain transmitters including Cactus V4.

Another option is the South Korean My Slave 100 triggers:

  • 10 channels, sync 1/180th sec, 433MHz, distance up to 50m
  • receivers look similar to older Pocket Wizards

More models sold on B&H Photo include:

    • Dot Line Corporation’s RS-RT03K:
      • 4-Channel Flash Trigger Kit w/ Hot Shoe & Umbrella Mount, receiver has a PC outlet and a mono synch jack for studio flash units along with an adapter for 3.5mm synch flash units.
      • The wireless signal from the transmitter is encoded to help protect the unit from radio frequency interference, ensuring that your flash unit fires only when you want them to. Range 85 feet.


    • Seculine TwinLink T2D:
      • 16 channel radio transmitter and receiver which use a combination of both 2.4GHz radio and IR technology to allow a range of up to 150′ (45.72 m) indoors and 600′ (182.88 m) outdoors
      • receiver has a built in flash hot shoe so that it can be used to attach and trigger your standard camera flashgun, allowing a way to creative lighting, especially with its facility to be mounted directly onto a tripod head. It also can be attached magnetically to the housing of a studio flash head and has 3.5mm jack and a 6.5mm connector suitable for most studio flashes.
      • transmitter is also equipped with an intuitive LCD display which shows operation modes and system status information and can use PC sync


    • Impact PowerSync10:
      • A 10-channel selector on its underside keys into the corresponding dial on the receiver to trigger the connected flash or camera without interference from other devices. Range to 200 feet at max. sync 1/180th sec.
      • receiver has hotshoe, tripod mount, 3.5mm mini as well as a PC jack.


Elinchrom provide another option – their Elinchrom EL Skyport trigger set:

  • 8 channels and 4 work groups, distance up to 50m in studio and 120m outdoors

The above units are just flash trigger ONLY, but are extremely simple to use and cheap – just ensure the channel switches are the same, place the transmitter into your camera’s hotshoe, and attach a receiver to your flash (either hotshoe or PC sync connection). Of course, adjusting the manual outputs on the flash units is up to you to do – so you might need a flash meter, or do a bit of trial and error exposure adjustment.

Radiopopper has announced their new JRX radio triggers which add more range and the ability to adjust the manual output of up to 3 groups of compatible flashes such as Alien Bees, White Lightning and Canon or Nikon flashes, and they have compatibility with the PX system so that you could potentially fire studio flashes in HSS mode when used with a PX transmitter.

The Pocket Wizard fans will still love the range and reliability of their 4 channel Plus II transceivers which are still compatible with the FlexTT5 but just not in TTL, hyper-sync or HSS modes.

In addition, the top of the range Pocket wizard manual triggers is the 32 channel, 4 zone, Multimax which has some extra-ordinary capabilities mentioned in the last blog.

Lastly, you CAN use a PocketWizard FlexTT5 or MiniTT1 in basic manual mode as above with almost any camera and flash combinations – but you will need to set this mode using a laptop – this is the only option which allows placing a flash on the transmitter.

For instance you could place a FlexTT5 on an Olympus dSLR and place the Olympus macro flash controller on it, use the Olympus Ring Flash in manual mode as a fill in, while the PocketWizard triggers a Metz flash in a Westcott Apollo softbox to give a nice portable portrait lighting solution.

Whatever you buy, make sure it is the correct frequency for your country (eg. 433MHz for Europe and Australia; 340.00 to 354.00 MHz FCC/US and 315.50 – 317.00 MHz for Japan).


The brilliant CyberSync system as previously discussed in a much earlier blog.

This system which operates on the 2.4GHz radio band is primarily designed for controlling Alien Bees, White Lightning, Zeus, Einstein studio lights and mixing with any strobe/speedlight.

It is quite unique in that it has a built-in flash meter and can display a number of features on the CyberCommander transmitter including the f-aperture exposure of each studio light or strobe, and can even do so using modeling lamps to provide perhaps the best studio control set up there is (if your studio lights are compatible), and allows your camera’s high speed sync.

And now at last, Alien Bees will be manufactured for global distribution with voltages not only the US standard, and thus this system may become a very versatile one even for us here in Australia. In particular, the new Alien Bees Max monolights allow use of low cost AC-inverters – see here.


2 Comments so far ↓

  1. Steven says:

    TTL flash is a PITA, and, I think, unreliable for consistent exposures (outside of a studio setting). I would rather shoot with non-ttl (cheap) triggers and flashes, and control my own settings than leave it in the hands of Canon.

    Canon TTL for down-and-dirty on-camera flash shots – Sure, yes. Canon TTL for a three light set-up? Nay. Of course – Three 580 EXII in manual mode, sure.

    Great blog. Love the posts.

  2. admin says:

    Ironically, the main feature I like about the new Pocket Wizards is that you can mount your flash or off camera cord on the transmitter – why can’t someone else make a cheap non-TTL transmitter that can do that?