These are the excepted leaders in the wireless game.  Nobody can tell you better about Pocket Wizards than Pocket Wizards so here is some stuff from their website. I agree with a large percentage of what they have to say. 

TRUE: The Pocket Wizard Plus II transceiver is easy and simple. Four channels. It automatically knows when to be a transmitter or a receiver. And an auto-sensing hot shoe knows when you want it to relay the signal from your camera to the flash for remote camera work. It's just like breathing. It's so easy.  

There is a reason until recently they held the market. No real competition. Because their real competition was Quantum. Their product now called Free Wire or something like that had a few glitches and some folks just had enough of the brand.  I owned Pocket Wizards for my Nikon,Vivitar's, Photogenic and Black Lines also.

  •  Eliminate unreliable Synch cords that get in the way of your creativity
  •  Allow you to position lighting where you want it, not where the Synch cord reaches
  •  Permit you to interact with your subject without the limitations of shutter release cables
  •  Trigger your flash and camera simultaneously to capture split second action at every angle
  •  Protects your camera (digital or film) from damaging high-Synch voltage

In addition all Pocket Wizard Radios are range-tested at distances substantially greater than their advertised ratings; only units that trigger 100% of the time are released for sale, their benefits are 6 to 24 bit Digital Coding, Long Range Triggering, Unsurpassed Reliability, Innovative Features and Universal "fit" on almost anything photographic.

The Pocket Wizard Plus II transceiver system does more than cut the cord. The Pocket Wizard Plus II can wirelessly trigger lights and/or cameras within a range of 1600 feet of the transceiver. 

Utilizing advanced wireless technologies, four 16-bit, digitally-coded channels are available for selective firing of lights, or when working in ‘crowded’ environments. 

If speed is a concern, images can be captured at a rate of up to 12 frames-per-second, which outpaces most currently-available cameras, pro or otherwise. Ultra-fast microprocessors allow for top sync speeds of 1/250th-second for focal-plane shutters and 1/500th for leaf shutters.

The Pocket Wizard Plus II is compact, with a short, unobtrusive, rubberized antenna. The total height of the transceiver and antenna is less than 6.5”, and it weighs in at 6oz including the batteries. To ensure a secure fit to your camera or bracket, the Plus II features sturdy locking rings for hot shoes. Power is supplied by 2 AA batteries, which are good for about 60 hours of playtime. An optional AC adapter allows for continuous, unlimited shoot time.

Fast ‘plug-and-play’ set-up times. Simply power up, choose a channel, connect your flash cable and you're good to go.

Auto-Sensing Transceiver Technology enables the Plus II to switch back and forth between transmitter and receiver modes as needed for greater flexibility on the job. All Pocket Wizard transceivers default to receiver mode. When a hot-shoe or other trigger is detected, it automatically switches to transmitter mode.

If your cameras and lights will be positioned apart from one another, the Pocket Wizard’s Auto-Relay Mode wirelessly triggers remotely located cameras and flashes within a 1600’ range of one another. A choice of four 16-bit, digitally coded channels enable you to simultaneously trigger all of you lights at once, or isolate one group of lights from another for more complex lighting arrangements. Multi-channel switching is also useful to isolate your lights from nearby lighting systems when shooting in close proximity to other radio transmitting devices.

Sports and action shooters can confidently shoot flat-out regardless of which camera you use, thanks to the Plus II’s ability to trigger your camera at a sustained rate of up to 12 frames-per-second. Ultra-fast microprocessors enable trigger-response times as short as 1/2000th of a second allowing for reliable sync speeds of 1/250th for focal plane shutters and 1/500th for leaf shutters.

Mini-phone connector cables are available for all major brands of lighting equipment in a variety of lengths of up to 16’. A variety of dedicated camera triggering cables are also available for most popular camera systems. Thoroughly compatible with earlier-version Pocket Wizard transmitters and receivers. Equally important is the fact the Pocket Wizard Plus II communicates fluently with all Pocket Wizard-enabled photo gear for maximum flexibility on the job.



The smallest PocketWizard radio ever, the  MiniTT1™ Transmitter locks onto the camera’s hot shoe supporting an on-camera flash with its own hot shoe while working with remote PocketWizard units. 


The new PocketWizard System interprets the complex E-TTL II data being sent through the camera’s hot shoe and digitally transmits it in a reliable radio signal. 

Change the flash compensation dial on the camera, and those commands pass seamlessly through the system to your remote flash.  

Adjust your shutter speed, aperture or ISO and the system corrects for those changes.  A ratio command set on the flash or command unit passes through the MiniTT1 to set the remotes. PocketWizard ControlTL radio communication allows you to shoot farther, faster, around corners, through walls even at high noon in bright daylight.  Now you can deploy a wireless flash system wherever you want, without infrared limitations, in seconds. 

Use the MiniTT1 for standard triggering with any PocketWizard Receiver including the FlexTT5, PlusII or MultiMAX.  When used this way with a digital camera, you can take advantage of sych speeds up to 1/500th of a second .Need more speed?  Push your ControlTL system beyond 1/500th and go into high speed mode automatically.  No buttons to press or settings to change other than your shutter speed will give you flash sync all the way to 1/8000th.  

Support the MiniTT1 via a USB port.  The Utility allows you to configure your channel settings, dial in your HyperSync timing, adjust your sleep-mode timers and update your product to the latest firmware.

NOTE: PocketWizard radio systems utilize different frequencies in different markets to meet performance and regulatory requirements.  


Medium Priced - ELINCHROM SKYPORT   ($100-$200)

At about half the price of the Pocket Wizards you also get about half the size and there's the rub.  Partially, the size is achieved by a reduced footprint using our favorite rechargeable Lithium Batteries. Yup, rechargeable.  I have not explored the type, reliability or ease of replacement for this battery.  It also differs from the PW because the Skyport design is limited to either transmitter or receiver. 


This is the Yin and Yang balance of nature's Plan B.  Smaller and lighter then the Pocket Wizards. (PW) with built in lithium-ion's means the ability to bail when you forgot to charge them are non -existent.  Sir Murphy-Lawes my favorite crisis creator and crisis management director states " they will be dead only when the shot of a lifetime occurs". 

The Pocket Wizards use AA cells. I am in the battery business and remind folks of that once in awhile. Though I detest AA cells for most flash and long exposure use, for some things AA cells make sense since most folks remember to charge stuff after the car is packed, and they are well on their way to the job. Too little too late. Pro: 

They do have good service life when charged so this is not a killer problem but Sir Murphy is my uncle and I always listen to him.  Any pro who does not keep a 12 Volt inverter ( Cheap and simple to use) in his car just for these emergencies is a fool.

Their selling points are size, weight, retractable antenna and decent range. With the exception of a few problems I have heard about, such as reversed polarity and the contacts falling out, with they'll give you what you paid for.  Again may I remind you at about half the price of the Pocket Wizards you get half the flash. Whereas the pocket Wizards are transmitters and receivers and may be used either way, the Elinchrom's are one or the other and ordering from B&H can be a little confusing as they make dedicated Elinchrome to Elinchrome units and then Elinchrome to others called "Universal Packages". Also remember you will need one unit per flash head and a spare transmitter if you are diligent about backups.  Read the descriptions and verify with the sales rep you are getting what you want.

Standard features of the Skyport family include:
* Syncs up to 1/1000s
* Studio operating range of 165 feet
* Outdoor operating range of 395 feet
* Interference-free operation with 40 bit security
* Operates at 2.4 GHz – over 70x faster than the current market leader
* Eight channels with four workgroups per channel: control individual, group or all units
*  Moveable, replaceable antenna optimizes reception
*  Swiss-designed Elinchrome electronics

It has more channels,  more than that city in Italy with the Gondolas has canals. 8 mains plus 4 sub-channels theoretically in concert gives you 32 variants, not channels the 4 represents groups. 

Normally I consider this a bargain but there is reason behind it.  In various experiments some channels do a better job than others. Many factors go into this, none of which I wish to get into a lengthy discussion about. Take my word for it others have tested this. With the R616 low-end Chinese Units the outer 0 of each of the four channels had a higher peak.   

Even with four channels I doubt four guys with Elinchromes or Pocket Wizards will all show at the same wedding with light stands and flashes.  The chance of 32 guys showing is even more remote.  BUT now with wireless food ordering, cell phones and longer ranges anything can happen and it did happen to my brother.

It's because most of the components are made in four or eight slot switching with similar frequencies and most who are lazy and don't test just select 1111 or 0000 or 12 1212 and I think cost (pennies in Chinese terms) was the main reason to have channel clarity.  It's a bonus but no extra points on dancing with the stars after you fell on your face.

This is the top unit in the medium price field.  A side from a few super critical points I might bring up, they are basically reliable, fun to use and worth the pricing.  For 90% of the users they will work. On the con side, there is an excellent article on the STROBIST about a conflict involving Elinchrom's Skyport and the VIVITAR 285HV.  



Canon 580EX

CACTUS II V  R616 and 604 UNITS 
These units work and have a few quirks but overall the bang for the buck is a substantial savings over the cost of Pocket Wizards and other highline transmitters if you are on a budget. 

BUT like anything else that comes from the land of fish heads and dog meat be aware their failure rate is sometimes higher than acceptable to some and the resultant losses in both patience and possible shots may get you mad. 

With that said they are a good mix with the Vivitar's if you change the feet on the Vivitar to a simple metal foot with PC and ignore the weird sync pin the Vivitar normally uses.  Further studies indicate there are some frequencies that perform better than others. 

Strobists have discovered the value of off-camera strobes for good light. Traditional PC sync cords are considered unreliable, are limited and the better Pocket Wizards are more expensive.  These ebay super cheap devices, sometimes called Chinese Ghetto Blasters typically sell for about 20.00 dollars and are less reliable but affordable.  

Problems included but not limited to random misfiring of the flash, failure to fire when a trigger signal is sent, and slower than desired maximum shutter sync times. The writer wrote that "difficulties with these devices are particularly reported with Canon flashes".  Well, they sell more, and Canons sometimes aren't reliable under their own internal flash modes and transmissions.  

A number of users have proposed solutions to these issues, which have included moving the wireless receiver to less close proximity to the flash (often more than 30cm/12"), modifications to the trigger units themselves, as well as simply changing to another one of the channels available on the units.

On the basis of the present results, it appears users could select any of the four channels that end in "10" (reading switches from left to right): 0010, 1010, 0110, or 1110; all with equally good reliability. To prevent any residual left-to-right confusion, channel 0110 is recommended to the reader as the easiest to get correct, since it is symmetrical.

The reader is thus left to mull on one final data point from this research... Since the best answer seems to be 0110, it is suggested that the universe must be comprised of six dimensions, rather than the four we usually identify. "After all, counting in Base 6, the number 0110 translates to none other than our old friend"....  STOP!   

FUTURE SHOCK  (Wireless Systems are here today)

Wireless systems consist of combined RF components such as transmitters, receivers, transceivers,  antennas, and antenna positions. Most wireless systems use low-powered radio waves.  Not only used in computer networking and communication, many of the prosumer cameras are equipped or jacked for wireless applications. You shoot and your images are seamlessly handed off to a  laptop or workstation.  

 © copyright aljacobs Stardate 10-18-2012