Your experience using the PocketWizard Plus IV Transceiver?

Discussion in 'Lighting Equipment' started by tomweis, Apr 13, 2016.

  1. Hi,
    Is anyone here using the PocketWizard Plus IV Transceivers? It's the new transceiver that mounts to the camera hot shoe and offers a TTL pass through with another hot shoe on top of the unit itself.
    I'm wondering if anyone can share their experience with this product, specifically:
    1) With your flash sitting atop this block of a transceiver, do you feel the unit is strong enough to hold your flash without snapping off or breaking the camera's hot shoe? The extra cantilevered load looks sort of scary. How about when shooting vertically? How about when swiveling the flash head in the middle of a wedding reception to bounce the flash?
    2) How about alignment of the flash's red focus assist beam to the camera's AF sensors? Does having the flash up higher throw off this relationship?
    Thanks for sharing!
  2. I have no experience with that one but thanks for bringing it up.
    I would assume that it would be no different mechanically than what Pocketwizard has been doing with their TTL units for years. Not to mention all the other brands.
  3. Using TTL on camera with these triggers doesn't sound like a good idea to me. Not because of any mechanical strain on the hotshoe though. Digital TTL works through a pre-flash, and this basically dumb trigger won't pass the pre-flash fire signal to off-camera flash. The result will be that the camera meter only sees the on-camera pre-flash and sets its power accordingly. So when the off-camera flash fires for the actual exposure, then the result is almost certainly going to be overexposure, or at least an excess of fill flash. A hotshoe pass-through might be useful, but TTL? I don't think so.
    The quad zone feature also sounds like a white elephant. Because who wants to change their off-camera lighting setup while keeping the same (maybe blown out) on-camera fill? Sure, you might have off-camera flash set at different points along a catwalk for example, but unless you can swap zones in the time it takes a model to strut their stuff, then you might as well fire all the flashes together and save a lot of fingerwork. And distant fill? Not the best.
  4. Joe,
    it's actually a common technique to use on-camera flash in TTL with manual strobes. The on-camera flash is typically just used for on-axis fill. Wedding photographers use this technique frequently. Usually it would be in a scenario where you would have room lights (strobes that provide light to the entire room).
    Also having different zones is useful. For instance if you have placed strobes in each corner to give some rim light / definition. Depending on where in the room you were shooting, and depending on what's in the frame or not, you would activate/deactivate the strobes you wanted to use.
    Same thing could be done if you used 4 strobes for a key light. With one in each corner it would never matter what direction a subject faces because you would have a light that you could turn on.
    Another use of zones, or at least channels, would be when you are set up to shoot in two locations at the same time. For instance two adjacent rooms. Then you wouldn't flash everybody where you were not shooting. So you'd ave one zone or channel set up for each room.
    This also applies to strobes or even speedlights set up to shoot for example sports. You'd light the arena or field with a few different strobes and then depending on where you are shooting you have suitable strobes.
    Of course this goes for the studio as well. With four zones you could individually turn on / off whatever light you wanted for instance for metering.
    To me the PW IV would also makes sense just as a horizontal version of the PW3 - hotshoe not hurting anything.
  5. "it's actually a common technique to use on-camera flash in TTL with manual strobes."​
    Commonly used or not, the point still stands that the on-camera TTL flash exposure won't give a properly metered exposure. You might just as well set the on-camera flash to some random manual power.
    And as you say, the use of "zones" is no different from changing the channel code of the triggers. It seems to me that PW is trying to give the impression that these triggers are more sophisticated than they actually are. They're just dumb triggers with a hotshoe passthrough.
  6. “…the on-camera TTL flash exposure won't give a properly metered exposure [with manual remote lights]…”
    Actually the on-camera TTL flash is rather accurate even with manual remote flashes. I shoot about 30 events a year and use manual remote lights for the majority of them. I typically set up two Nikon SB-25 flashes at opposite corners of the dance floor area on 13’ stands - as far away as I can get usually. A Nikon SB-25 is dirt cheap, robust (aside from the plastic foot), has a PC connection, and the recycle time is decent with NiMH batteries. I set them to 1/8 or 1/16 power depending on distance, and usually the zoom head is set anywhere from 24mm to 50mm depending on distance and coverage needed. I’ve done this so many times I don’t take a meter reading anymore - my guesstimate for exposure is fairly correct.
    My camera settings are usually f2.8 - f4, ISO 1600, and shutter speed varies depending on ambient light (room lights, DJ lights, videographer’s light(s), etc.). Each remote is assigned a different group (A and B) so I can choose to fire both, one only, or none.
    Sure I have to pay attention to how close I get to one light or the other so I don’t overexpose. Yes sometimes I forget to stop down a little, or to disable the Pocket Wizard group and I end up with a blown out shot. But this hardly ever happens.
    Yes sometimes I’m shooting into a remote light, but it usually just looks a bit theatrical like one of the DJ lights.
    And yes sometimes I get some unflattering cross shadows.
    When using the on-camera flash in this set up, the remotes are about a stop or two under exposed from my camera setting. This creates a nice rim light, back light, or environmental light depending relative angle to the camera.
    Or sometimes I disable them and just use the on-camera flash. Or sometimes I just use the available light. The best part about using manual remotes is the option to use only the remotes and not the on-camera flash. This gives me dramatic side light or more dramatic front light, and it’s more consistent shot-to-shot than TTL.
    The point is I have lighting options.
    Having said that, there are definite advantages to TTL remote lights. The option to change aperture and shoot at f1.4, for example, and the option to use high speed sync are two that come to mind.
    Anyway this is getting away from my original inquiry. My two concerns with the PocketWizard Plus IV Transceiver are hot shoe stress and alignment of the flash's red focus assist beam. If anyone actually using this piece of gear has an opinion please share.

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