Join Abba Shapiro for an in-depth discussion in this video Using a wireless transmitter, part of Up and Running with Studio Strobes.
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Abba, you have a control unit in your hand, I have one. We, we seem to have similar taste here. What is that? >> Right, yeah, we have a lot of the same thing, and we need to figure out the purpose of these, and this, this is a specific brand. This is called a PocketWizard. But there's a whole variety of triggers out there on the market. >> And, and that's exactly what this is. It is a remote trigger that will wirelessly pull off one of these flashes going off. And as you saw earlier, we could then create a relationship between the flashes to trigger them, but this is going to engage the flash.
You have two pieces, I have one. Let's start with, why you have two. This is the more common setup. >> Well, the more common setup is that I need one, can remote to trigger, and one to receive. So, I need one to send, and one to receive. They actually can work on different frequencies or different channels. So that if there's a lot of photographers around, another photographer won't accidentally set off your light. As a matter of fact, they have frequencies and sub-frequencies to avoid all of that. >> Yeah. This is a lot like having a custom phone number for your phone, because obviously you don't want to get everyone's calls.
Or walkie talkies have channels, same idea, you want to have that. Like right now, we both have ours set to the same channel, channel 1, right? >> Exactly. >> So if I push the test button, you see the flash goes off, and go ahead. Well, that could be useful if we were doing a co-shoot. Maybe we were just socially shooting together on the same lighting set up we, you know, we decided to, to book a model or do a shoot together or a teaching shoot. We may want to all share the same lights. But, that can be annoying if say you were at a wedding or an event, and somebody else is triggering your lights.
So you have to be careful. And that's why there's channels and frequencies. But, you have two parts there and put the one part on the camera that attaches. >> So these are designed to go right on the hot shoe of the camera. This would be where you would put an external flash unit. >> Yeah, the, the bottom is actually very similar. You have a little metal pin that makes the connection, just like a flash would. And just as when you push the trigger on the camera, it would trigger the flash. It triggers this sending the signal. So, it sends a little bolt of electricity through that, and it triggers the device, and that would then trigger off the flashes.
>> Now these can be set to transmit. To receive, or to do both because you can use them to kind of, extend the range. And as a matter of fact, one of the challenges with shooting with strobes, is a lot of times you're so buried in taking the picture, you don't realize your flash isn't going off. Either it's not recharging, or maybe the battery burned out on the transmitter or the receiver. >> Yeah. >> So, it's always good to stop and occasionally look at the image and even ask the person you're shooting, did all the flashes go off? >> Yeah.
>> So, it's important not to be buried into the camera. Now. >> So now you think it's working. >> It should be working. >> Give it a test on the camera. Good. So, everything's fine there. And what he's triggering off in that case is, you're taking it to one of the flashes over there. And that's going into my power pack unit. Which is actually got a receiver built into it. Some brands have a partnership with certain manufacturers. As we mentioned, you know using this one here from Pocket Wizard is one of the more common ones.
And so the Pocket Wizard, if I trigger this, it sends a signal over to the unit, and then it pulls off my flashes and that's fine. That's how my lights are set up. Your lights don't have that central control unit. So you need to attach a receiver, correct? >> Exactly. So, I can attach a receiver to any one of these lights. >> Yep. >> To turn it into the, the master unit. I'm going to go over here, and put it into this one in the middle. >> Yep. >> Or else we can put the adapter on it, there we go. And simply plug it into the top. Now these all come with a cord.
And what people tend to do is they, you know, either they do this which you should never do. >> Don't let it dangle. >> Because it's going to put stress on it, it will fall. If it hits concrete it could break. They then try to maybe hang it here. Which is a good backup plan. But if you really want it secure especially if you're moving lights around and bringing the height of the light. >> Yeah. >> Up and down. >> A lotta different units have some way to tether it to the stand. And this is actually something that PocketWizard made, and I can just wrap it around. It's like a bungee chord.
>> Yep. >> And, snap it and make sure that it's on there. >> And, so what he's got here is the receiver. Now Abba, does it really matter which end is up? Like in this case, you put it upside down, so you have to read it, but it, it'll still receive. >> It'll still work. It's it's radio frequency. It's not very antennae, you know reliant. Yes, if I put this behind maybe a lead shield. >> Yeah. >> Superman could not, actually trip this light. But I should be able to trip it. And as a matter of fact, let's go ahead and turn this one off.
>> Yep. >> So we don't accidentally trip it. And I'm going to tip this over. >> Excellent. >> And it triggers this light, which in turn, triggered this light. >> So, really straightforward stuff, and this is one of the most common options used, is a dedicated control unit like this. And really, for the specific fact that you have the ability to assign unique frequencies. Rather than getting hung up and having somebody else's lights getting triggered. Or having results that you're not expecting, this lets you get really specific.
It also makes it easy to walk around and test your lights. If you want to be walking up to the light, making adjustment, triggering that off, dialing in the tes, settings. You don't have to constantly go back to the camera. >> And, Rich, I wanted to add a couple more things. you can actually group your lights, so that I could put each one of these on say, A, B, and C. >> Mm-hm. >> And trigger them independently. And a lot of times, when I'm setting up my lights, I want to see what each light is doing. I don't want them all to pop at the same time. >> Or that could be. >> advantage. >> That could be useful if say you were shooting a sporting event and you want one group of lights to be this basket.
>> Exactly. >> And the other group of lights to be the other basket. So you were only triggering the ones you need. So, there are flexibility and that's why we have A, B, C, and D buttons on this thing so we can actually do groups. And four groups are usually considered enough. >> Right. And as we've both said, there are other brands that do exactly the same thing. The other item is, this is triggering off the hot shoe. >> Yep. >> Now, if for some reason your hot shoe is broken, or you need to put this in a slightly different location. There's also the ability to run a PC cable, a very short PC cable, from the transmitter to the camera, so when I click this.
>> So you can use that Sync Cable just like we saw before with this triggering it. So it's a backup, to your backup, to your backup. >> Absolutely, it's, it's nice to know that, that PC cable can go right into here, and you can trigger it just as you would if it was tethered. >> Now this is one of the most popular solutions. Most people as they get serious about shooting with strobes, step up to some sort of wireless control for all of those issues. Particularly the ability to have more mobility as they're walking around and testing their lights. But the good news is, if you're not ready to make that investment, you can often use what's built into your camera.
The pop up flash, or the speed light that you already have to trigger the other strobes. And we'll look at that next.
- Why shoot with strobes?
- Buying a lighting setup or parts
- Mixing brands
- Understanding the components of a studio strobe kit
- Getting to know your lights
- Triggering a light
- Setting up your lights effectively
- Testing your strobes
- Modifying strobe lights