An Ode of Hatred for the Pocket Wizard FlexTT5

An update on this post: Phil Bradon, a product marketing manager for Pocket Wizard, contacted me and has arranged for me to try the new Pocket Wizard Plus III transceivers to see if they will solve my problems with triggering my Canon strobe flash units. I have accepted his offer, and will report on my success here after they arrive, and I have given them a try.

I appreciate his gentle response to my ode, and want to acknowledge his kindness.

—Brian

There are, occasionally, things that make me go raving mad.

My Pocket Wizard FlexTT5 transceivers are an example. I have been a customer of Pocket Wizard for years, and I own three of their earlier devices, each of which has worked nicely. To say I was a delighted customer would be too strong, but to say “satisfied” would be fair.

The Pocket Wizard FlexTT5 transceiver, designed to work with Canon strobe flash units.

When they announced the FlexTT5 series, which work with either Nikon or Canon strobes, I jumped, and bought three of them. These devices work (or are advertised to work) with my Canon 580EXII strobe flash units, and provide a host of TTL features-over-radio. Pocket Wizard said that they would transmit 1,000 feet or more – nice – and that they were the answer to my TTL strobe flash dreams.

Sorry. Those dreams have turned into nightmares.

The TT1 transceivers don’t work. And, my goodness I have tried, and tried to make them work.

The problem started immediately after I got them, which is a couple of years ago. I tried to get them to do “normal” things, like fire my strobes from moderate distances like 25 feet from the camera. No luck. I moved them closer, and sometimes they worked. Other times nothing happened. It was very frustrating.

So, I went to the Pocket Wizard web site, and I learned that there was a problem with Canon strobes emitting radio-frequency interference that made these units fail to work optimally some of the time. What could be done? Buy these plastic shields to put around your strobes, and the problem would go away.

The dumb plastic RF shield made for the Canon 580 EX II strobe. The indent on the right allows one to push the button on the side of the strobe unit, but the shield prevents it from folding at the middle – so why did they put the indent there?

So, I bought two of the plastic shields (I spent a small boatload of money on them), and I installed them, and very quickly discovered that they rendered my strobe flash units essentially useless. The shields prevent the strobe units from folding forward to direct light out the front. I could only use them in a fully straight position, which is really dumb.

One of my Canon strobes in the dumb plastic shield. You can see the dumb isolation framis at the bottom.

And, I use an external battery pack for my 580 EX strobes. Pocket Wizard provided a little 90-degree connector to make the connection of my cable possible, which I appreciated.

In this configuration I attempted to use them for news photography. It was a disaster, so I gave up on the plastic shields.

Then, Pocket Wizard suggested that I get the little conductive cloth bags which would eliminate the radio-frequency interference. I bought two of them, spending about $50 more to solve my (their) problem.

My Canon 580 EX II mummified in the dumb conductive RF shield bag, and the dumb isolator framis on the bottom.

These bags come with what I call the “dumb isolation framis” which is a hot-shoe adapter that isolates the strobe from the camera, the Pocket Wizard, and ostensibly the source of RF interference. These framises are about an inch thick, which makes it difficult for me to use my strobes in a soft box or other modifier bracket because the center of the strobe is then one inch higher than it is supposed to be. I overlooked that and forged ahead.

When using the (dumb) isolation cloth bag, you can’t get to the controls on the back of the Canon strobe. You have to loosen the drawstring, and then wiggle the bag upward (getting it over the external power cord is very difficult) to get to the LCD screen. Often, while attempting to get this to work, I gave up in frustration; news does not wait for the Pocket Wizard conductive bag. Another bad idea.

Note: These RF problems do not affect the Nikon versions of the TT5 units; those apparently work wonderfully.

As for range, I have seen the online video where some nice guy uses his Canon 580 EX II strobe with a PW TT5 transceiver for a distance of over 500 feet. It’s very impressive. Three weeks ago I needed to shoot across a city street and through a window at a man siting in a restaurant. It was about 60 feet. The stupid things would not transmit that far, even when mummified in the (dumb) RF bag. I was so frustrated that I gave up.

I’m sure some of you are thinking “Oh, you probably had bad batteries.” Don’t get me started on batteries! I have bought several hundreds of dollars’ worth of batteries, rechargeable, non-rechargeable, and nothing makes them work correctly. It’s not the batteries.

I dropped one my my strobes one day. It fell about 10 inches from my hand to a concrete floor, and it landed on the metal foot that was connected to the bottom hot-shoe of the TT5. The (dumb) isolator framis was above that, followed by the strobe itself. The bottom hot-shoe cracked and broke off.

So, I sent it back to Pocket Wizard with a charge to my credit card of something like $125, and they kindly sent me a new one (I guess fixing the foot was more difficult than replacing the entire unit).

I put the new one into the old one’s place, and tightened the hot-shoe. It broke off as I watched, and I hadn’t even tightened it very much. So, the new one broke immediately on installation, and remains broken to this day.

The broken foot of the hot-shoe. I live with this because it’s too much trouble to send it back and get another one. I think I might try using this unit as a skeet-shooting target this weekend.

I have spent several thousand dollars on the strobes, the Pocket Wizards, and the various “fixes” that Pocket Wizard has recommended. I feel like all of it has been a bad investment. I hate them all; I hate the strobes, I hate the Pocket Wizards, and I wish I had just stuck with the original Pocket Wizards which still work just fine).

What am I going to do next?

I might try the next edition Pocket Wizards, and abandon the TTL versions. The new ones look good. But, unlike the TT1 models, they don’t allow me to connect them to my strobe units with the hot-shoe, instead requiring a short cable adapter, which I also hate. I’ll almost certainly end up with the Pocket Wizards stuck to the back of my strobes with Velcro and a cable. And, they will probably work fine, and I will grumble and get some work done.

But, I won’t be happy.

I wish that Pocket Wizard would just admit that the TT5 product for the Canon strobes is a complete disaster, and give me my money back.

For them, I have written this little ode:

 

How do I despise mine Pocket Wizard FlexTT5?

Let me count the ways!

Whilst the hot-shoe broke within an hour of its replacement, I spat and cursed (this due to the fact that it is made of a villainous plastic material, not strong enough for its own screw-keeper)

Whenst the device faileth to shoot images in a burst, sometimes faileth to respond to any signal at all (for reasons unknown to mine eyes and brain)

Whilst the device has never worked as advertised

(Lo, they claim it sendeth its waves over the ground up to 1,500 cubits!)

Mine own experience is more in the realm of 15 cubits! (which is sorely shy of the prediction)

A device so poorly engineered that it won’t work with the Canon Speedlights to which it ist paired, (Electromagnetic radiations, they protest!)

… and then they asketh me to buy a pribbling plastic shield that was so lame that it faileth to allow me to sorely use mine own Speedlights, except in a straight-up position.

(But, I want mine light to travel outward, as the jackal sneaks upon its prey, upon the Earth and not whilst pointed at the stars or the ceiling!)

And, then, for additional lucre, I acquired the slightly less-mumblejack black shield bags, which wrap around mine Speedlights as would a mummy’s cloths.

But, lo! These electromagnetic shield bags prevent me from accessing mine own controls, so making the lights go from TTL to MAN is essentially impossible (and they don’t easily allow for mine own power cable to plugeth-into the Speedlights, so I fight and scrape to get the silky bags off the bottom)

But then the “Wizards” forced me to add churlish, boil-brained Electromagnetic Isolator Blocks to the bottom of mine strobes, adding a finger of depth to them,

…and making them not fitteth in mine soft-boxes, and then to affix the clapper-clawed silken shield bags to these blocks, further isolating me from mine controls.

This is craven clay-brained canker-blossom torture!

I have given many shekels in exchange for these accursed devices, and wish that I had not done so, a sum of many hundreds!

And, I am no better off than I was before I was familiar with the FlexTT5.

I should have stuck with the original Pocket Wizards (which have always worked fine except for their awkwardness in requiring a sync cable to the strobe and no heated shoe)

Whosoever created the FlexxTT5 (that works perfectly well on the strobes-by-Nikon) is as a cur! Didst thou not ever test these maggoty devices on the Canon Speedlights?

What goatish fly-bitten fustilarian devices are these!

 

About Brian Lawler

Brian Lawler is an Emeritus Professor of Graphic Communication at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He writes about graphic arts processes and technologies for various industry publications, and on his blog, The Blognosticator.
This entry was posted in Curmudgeon, Photography. Bookmark the permalink.

56 Responses to An Ode of Hatred for the Pocket Wizard FlexTT5

  1. Jim says:

    This was a great post — especially since I just bought a TT1 and TT5 for my Canon. 😛 I use my set for small work, not taxing the system anywhere near the way you do.

    One comment though regarding the bizarre plastic shields and the fact they prevent the strobe from bending: On my 580EX, I can bend and rotate the head to essentially point 180 degrees behind itself, so that the flash is bent 90 degrees with the LCD exposed so you can make setting changes. You would obviously have to bend and rotate the strobe before putting it in the shield. Maybe that would help solve at least one problem.

    All in all, I hope I don’t have the frustration with these things that you have!

  2. Jim says:

    Oops, one more quick comment. After wading through Pocket Wizard’s website and trying to figure out all this shielding stuff, I noticed that the plastic shields were supposedly designed specifically for mounting the strobe horizontally. I guess it’s supposed to offer support as well as shielding, so maybe my previous comment about bending the strobe head is useless.

  3. Manny says:

    I have 2 580 EX II and had the same issue. I shipped them off to Precision and for $75.95 each they will modify them to reduce the RF interference.

    Before the modification I was lucky to get 30 feet of range so I rarely used the TT5s. After I get well over 100 feet of range and I use them for every wedding reception.

    Though I have to say, the 580s have acted a bit squirrely at times (won’t flash, intermittent flash) but I’m not sure if that’s a result of the modification or something else (over heating perhaps?).

  4. Brian Lawler says:

    I stopped short of sending my strobes off for that modification. Though it will probably help, I was too frustrated to spend more money on this. I returned the units to Pocket Wizard and replaced them with the new models.

    My plan is to test those soon and report on them. I am confident that they will work better than these did.

  5. Atomic says:

    Yes,
    Those marketeers of should stop selling PW to Canon strobe owners.
    It s a lot of money for something useless!
    I have to get red of all my PWs
    They are indeed very relyable: headeache guaranteed 😉

    I can still sell them to Nikonians 😉

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Dear Atomic,

      It’s too bad that you CAN’T sell them to the Nikonians. PocketWizard TTL units are brand-specific, and will not work on Nikon strobes if they are designed to work on Canons. The reason is that the TTL signals are unique to the camera and strobe system. Each PocketWizard unit is designed to “talk” to the brand it’s built to control. So, the Canon units must stay with Canon users. Alas.

      Brian

  6. Ron says:

    I thought since I had 550Ex strobes I wouldn’t have any of these issues, but lo and behold – my big issue is that I can’t use the 550ex on top of the flex on my camera and use ETTL…. What? I had planned on using mine to run 2 different situations – 1st as a remote flash with a flash on top of the camera (on one of the flex units), and as well just using one flex on the camera with a strobe on it, and another by itself simply as a remote. Well if any of my flashes are expected to be on the camera, no beans… I’ll have to run in manual on the camera, but the remote flash can run ETTL… What the heck?

  7. Ron says:

    Oh, and I was trying to figure out what the little extra hotshoe adapters were in the packaging….I’m guessing they are what you use on the 580’s or 600’s to help with the interference? sheesh.

  8. Brad Grove says:

    Yes I have spent over a $1K on stupid pocket wizards because I thought I was buying a quality product (1 x TT1 and 3 x TT5). After reading this, I can see now why I get so frustrated with the hit and miss reliability of these things. I have almost never had any success with the ETTL functionality other than at close range and with only one speedlite. What a complete waste or money.

    I look at some of the other triggers you can pick-up at 1/4 of the ridiculous price that PW charge and feel so ripped off. I am not a professional so I can’t even claim the cost of these stupid things for tax purposes. It is probably a good thing I only have 1 x 580EXII (the rest are 430s). Basically, a lot of money for a manual trigger.

    If PW are reading this, how about I send you back this crappy product (from Australia at your expense) and you send me something that actually works.

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Hi Brad,

      I’m sorry you have had such a bad experience. Since I wrote that blog post I have replaced my TTL models with the newer ones (not TTL), and they are really good. They work at great distances, and they are completely reliable.

      Brian

  9. Justin says:

    Hi Brian, I too have had similar problems with PW’s, so have some of my friends. I have found a 100% reliable solution,…. the Phottix Odin, never looked back, try one, you won’t look back either.

    Justin

  10. Kenny Backer says:

    I have had been down this road. Every single item in your list. Question is… does anyone make one that actually works. I give up on pocket wizard. Even the pocket wizard III is not reliable. I am willing to buy all new radio slaves at any cost. I just want them to work.

  11. RobG says:

    As a Nikon shooter, I’d love to be able to sneer at you poor Canonista. But alas, I cannot. I borrowed a set of TT5s and TT1s from a friend for a few weeks a while ago, and I found the same reliability problems as you seem to be having. Sometimes, they just won’t go. The PW +2s I also borrowed worked flawlessly, every time. I now use a set of dumb Hahnel radio triggers, that also work flawlessly, every time. No TTL, but that’s OK; manual flash is much better for what I do, anyway. I will admit to considering a set of Photix Odins so that I can adjust manual flash settings on the fly from a distance, but for now, the el-cheapo triggers do the job handsomely. And only $60 each, too.

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Hi Rob,

      It’s interesting that you had this experience, because I had read that the problems I reported were limited to Canon versions. They are brand-specific, by the way, so I hope you didn’t try to use the Canon TTL radios on a Nikon camera. That really won’t work.

      I am glad you found a solution. My solution was the trade the TTL devices for the newer non-TTL radios, which work just fine.

      No sneering necessary.

      Brian

  12. Emmett says:

    I feel your pain. I have spent way too much time at way too many paid gigs wanting to hurl different PW products. One of the things that still drives me nuts is that there are so many proprietary ways to trigger units. I will say that I have used canon 600 series and canon transmitter with great success. I have also used Profoto transmitter with great success. But never the 2 shall marry. So then we must play with PW which still drive me nuts. 🙂

  13. Ondrej says:

    No wonder why I’ve always had troubles and got so frustrated when using my 1x TT1 and 2x TT5’s with Canon 5d MKII and 580exII’s. First I thought there’s a problem with the batteries. But even after using new and fully charged batteries it didn’t allways work. I tried to clean the hot shoe connectors as suggested on some forums but it wouldn’t help. All my firmware is up to date on all devices and it still doesn’t work. I mean PWs work but not every time. They let me down very often. And recently I am experiencing more and more problems with them especially when using E-TTL. I allways get very frustrated with these things especially when shooting weddings or family portraits. They make me look like a total idiot in front of my clients. And this article just convinced me that I have to sell them and never look back at PW.

    Does anybody have any experience with Pixel King Pro?

  14. Gustavo says:

    OMG I don’t even use the canon brand flashes and I can’t shoot 40 feet away. They just don’t work at all. I thought that was only my cheap flashes but it seems that they just don’t work. Period.

  15. kenny says:

    I got both of my flex 5 pocket wizards exchanged. Now one of the seems to be working quite well. Still need to trouble shoot the other. I already made one phone call. They actually do provide good phone tech service. I also purchased a PW PlusX and it works great so far with the plusIII. I have to say. It is very simple and I like that. I can trust my assistant more now. the pw PlusIII has a slightly hard to read display and it is easy to switch from transmit to receive etc. on accident. Unless you really need the plus III for a repeater or something really advanced, I would pass. I have three Plus III and prefer the PlusX. I would even trade my plusIII for a PlusX

  16. Andy says:

    I have got three Flex TT5 and a Mini TT1 which I use with three Canon 600EX-RT speedlites, and they are SO frustratingly inconsistent. Sometimes they seem to work, and other times they just don’t seem to fire. Sometimes it’s clearly the pocketwizards that aren’t triggering correctly, and other times the pocketwizards seem to trigger correctly (i.e. the LED light comes on) but the flash won’t fire.

    I’m at my wit’s end. I would just switch to the Canon ST-E3-RT, but their 30m range seems pretty bad for something that costs quite a lot of money! I need something that would work at 100m for event photography.

    I’m very tempted by the Phottix Odin system I think.

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Hi Andy,

      I replaced my Flex TT5 units with three PocketWizard Plus III units. Those work 100 percent of the time.

      I have not tested them for range, but they are otherwise rock-solid performers.

      I have not tried the new Canon 600 units, as I am still using the 580EX II flashes, but I am a happy camper when it comes to radio triggers now that I sent my Flex units back.

      I think the Plus IIIs might be the answer.

      I should write an Ode to tell the world that I like the Plus IIIs.

      Brian

      • Andy says:

        Thanks Brian.

        I’ve sent off my Flex TT5 back to Pocketwizard. Let’s see in a few weeks’ time if they come back working better!

        In the mean time, I’m tempted by the Phottix Odin but I would still dearly love a system that has a focus assist beam in the transmitter. Know of one of those? I’m sure there is one out there!

      • christopher says:

        How do you connect the Plus III’s to the flash, with cable?

  17. kenny says:

    Good luck Andy. My new tt5 is more dependable but still fickle. I wish I could get my money back. My plus X’s however are so easy. Turn on and it works. end of story. no syncing etc. If you don’t need TTL. Give up on the pocket wizard TT5.

  18. Joe Schmitt says:

    I am so frustrated with the Mini and Flex units. I just can’t get them to connect reliably for the life of me. I really want to have TTL available so I’d love for these to work. It just stinks that I’ve spent the cash on a MiniTT1, 3 FlexTT5 units and the AC3 controller….and I’ve pretty much used Nikon’s CLS for the past year…and it has NEVER let me down. I’ve tried updating the firmware for the PW’s and my Nikon, done factory resets on the PW’s, updated my D4S firmware…nothing works. Probably 80-90% of the time, the Mini doesn’t fire the flash. When they DO connect, they run flawless but I could never rely on those for a client photo session.

  19. Howard says:

    I’ve always been a believer in PW and have used the Plus II’s very reliably but really love the ability to use ETTL during weddings. Bought the Mini TT1 and TT5 a couple of years ago and use them with my 580EX and 420EX. They have been hit and miss and I’ve always thought the cause was dud batteries, or my power on sequence was off but when they worked they worked pretty good.
    Decided to use them during a wedding shoot and while taking formals, my first test shots worked great until I started putting my family groups together then the flash wouldn’t fire, well maybe once in 5 or 6 attempts. I felt totally stupid and embarrassed and people started to tell my that maybe I didn’t put fresh batteries in my flash.
    I ripped my flash off the stand and put it back on the camera hot shoe and even though I didn’t like the lighting, I got the job done.

  20. Howard says:

    PS, I was going to start using the soft shield but after reading horror stories about it possibly destroying the flashes, either from heat not being able to dissipate or some RF reflecting of some sort back into the flash unit’s electronics, I’m not sure if I want to risk the flash.

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Hi Howard,

      I have not read that the shields cause trouble to the flash units. What I didn’t like was having to uncover the control panel on the back of the flash to make changes to the flash strength and other settings. That was really irritating.

      The whole thing was a kluge to attempt to make a faulty technology work correctly. Patch-upon-patch doesn’t help.

      I hope you have found a solution to your remote flash woes.

      Brian

  21. Joe Schmitt says:

    Had a ton of issues with the MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 units and my Nikon gear. Issue ended up being the MiniTT1. Started using a FlexTT5 as my transmitter and it fires each and every time now. 100% reliability!

  22. Brian says:

    I gave up on pocket wizard. Last year I bought into the Phottix Odin system. They work flawlessly plus HSS and ETTL. The controller allows only 3 groups but I have TOTAL control in TTL and manual from behind the camera. Range is as good or better than my PW. Color me a Phottix fanboi so much so I bought their Indra 500 moonlights that has the Odin system integrated. WOW. Their stuff works better with better features than PW ever had.

  23. Iggy says:

    As a Nikon shooter for over 20 years I found my 2 pw tt5 flex units highly frustrating, appart from bad quality material (who in their right mind make pro gear from low quality plastics?) they are simply unreliable and embarassing. I also have to look at an alternative.

  24. Gustavo says:

    I think PocketWizard should just exchange theses units for their new ones at not charge because obviously these just don’t work… I have three of them things

  25. Mark says:

    This evergreen thread is exactly mirroring my feelings about PW.

    I started with Plus IIs and was reasonably happy for a number of years (except when I forgot to turn them off).
    My first relationship ended when I was in a small reception room with ~60 people waiting to have their picture taken with the President of the United States. I set up and made my tests. Being a critical shoot I had a second camera at my feet with a flash on top. POTUS comes in, I take two shots and then nothing! Five seconds in that situation feels like a lifetime. I drop one camera and pick up the other and pull the sync from the flash and use the speed light to trigger the strobe optically.

    Catastrophe averted. but I immediately switched to Yongnuos. They were dirt cheap, reliable and had awesome range.

    Fast forward to the present. The Yongnuos are getting on my nerves as th sonly way to connect them to my studio strobes is via a cord. The cords fail and are a pain in the field.
    Searching for a better solution I noticed that my Bowens flashes supported a PW card and antenna. Perfect! No cords and no batteries! I decided on the TT5 as it had a hotshoe that allowed another flash or trigger to be mounted on top. An added bonus was the antenna that seemed to imply a good reliable signal to the receiver.
    Even more exciting was the promise of Hypersync.
    All the stuff came in and my first tests in studio were flawless. Reliable firing with sync speeds up to 1/4000sec. Yay!

    I go on location (bulk of my work) and of four units, only one fires…sometimes. THAT one was only 15 feet away! That shoot was a nightmare.
    Support on PWs site is worthless.
    I am heartened that I am not alone in this trial. I do have an old Plus II that did not get sold so I will see if that works. If it does I hold out hope that the new horizontal form factor with hotshoe will work well also. I can give up hypersync for reliability and range.
    My only concern is that the new PW will have range issues due to the orientation of the antenna.

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Hi Mark,

      I appreciate your input on the topic. I have three of the Pro IIIs now, and I like them. Ironically I don’t use radio triggers as much as I have in the past, so the issue is mostly moot for me now.

      Brian

  26. I have AC3 zone control, TT1 TT5 and nice fresh batteries and all work perfectly …

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Hi Alexander,

      I am pleased to know that you have been successful with the TT1 and TT5. I have not heard from a happy camper until now.

      Brian P. Lawler

      • Joe says:

        I had tons of issues with the MiniTT1 and my Flex mTT5 units. Spoke to tech support at PocketWizard and they swapped my MiniTT1 for a new FlexTT5 to be used as the transmitter. Now that I’m using all FlexTT5 units in my setup, they haven’t failed once. Using them with a Nikon D4S and Nikon D810. Now that they’re consistent, I’m LOVING off camera flash!

  27. Lee Otsubo says:

    Just found your site while researching fine art reproduction prints for a museum. I, too, was frustrated and annoyed with PW triggers. So much so that I sold them and reverted to Paul C Buff CyberSyncs (non-TTL but reasonably reliable.) Last year, a friend was waxing eloquently about Yongnuo YN-622C triggers so, for a lousy USD70.00 a pair, I took a chance. I was so impressed, I bought a 3rd transceiver plus a YN-622C-TX controller. More recently, I bought a pair of YN-685 E-TTL flashes that have integrated YN-622C transceivers in the flash. To say I’m impressed would be an understatement. I’ve sold all my Canon 550EX Speedlites and only kept my 580EX II. The YN units (triggers & flash) fully support Canon E-TTL, Manual, HSS and Multi. Best of all, I can buy YN products directly from x&y (a large NYC retailer.l)

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Dear Lee,

      Thank you so much for making this comment. I know that a lot of folks who have read my blog will appreciate your input. I have heard from a lot of frustrated people, and have not been able to make any recommendations for an alternative. It’s good to know that these Yongnuo units work so well.

      Happy New Year!

      Brian P. Lawler

  28. Peter Brøsted Jensen says:

    Just a note, that might help others?
    Pardon my English – I’m from Denmark……
    Had the same problems with my TT1+TT5 on my 2x 580EX II – I lived with it for a while and just compensated. Usually for convenience and portability, I powered the 580EX’s with AA’s. At some point I got tired of changing batteries constantly and also wanted a faster recycle time, so I bought a couple of external powerbanks ( the GORDOX PB820S) to clamp on my lightstands connected to the 580’s.
    *POOF* magically the PW problems went away?? They worked rock solid from then on up to 40-60 meters (Not that I ever use that distance, just tested….).
    Now – I’m not an electrical engineer, but I guess the over all RF changes when you hook up an external power and the shielded cable they come with?
    Anyway – they work and I’m keeping my PW’s. 😉

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Hi Peter,

      I’m impressed that you have had such success with the TT1 + TT5 units. I am sure that my readers will appreciate the input. I wonder if the internal batteries (and their associated wiring and potential RF emissions) are causing the problem? Pocket Wizard, are you reading this? This is a great solution, and I thank you for posting your comment on my blog.

      Best wishes,
      Brian P. Lawler

  29. christopher says:

    Wow, I thought it was just me. I’m so frustrated I don’t know what to do. I was just telling my wife I don’t recall ONE shoot I’ve used these on that I didn’t have some kind of issue and more than likely removed them from the equation and used my old trusty quantum slaves that I’ve had forever. That’s with Canon strobes as well as studio lights. Every time I get started in the studio it’s play with them till they work. I always thought I just needed to sit down and really try to understand them, I’ve attempted that. Early this week I was playing with them, they were firing at least, pretty consistently but not really adjusting the power ratios as described. I realized I could the C3 whatever and it would do it, seemed reasonable at $65, got it, doesn’t do squat. Now I can’t get them to fire consistently anymore. My buddy said he has the new Canon module for $250 and hasn’t missed a beat with it. I too want to throw them out the door, I thought PW was supposed to be the bomb, deeply regret purchasing this junk. 🙁

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Hi Christopher,

      You notice that Pocket Wizard doesn’t advertise these units anymore. I wonder if it’s because THEY DON’T WORK! There are many alternatives on the market now, and some of them offer TTL in addition to the radio control. I find that my recent work is satisfied by the Plus III units that I use now. I seldom shoot from more than a few meters away, and they Plus III transceivers are effective for that.

      Brian

  30. Kenny says:

    They replaced my TT5 units last year after complaining and they are still totally unreliable. I am tired of trying. I can’t even sell them because I know I will have a pissed off buyer. Wish I could just get my money back.

  31. Daniele says:

    Hi. I have the same problem since years! I’m from Italy and I bought 5 Flex TT5 and 1 Mini TT1 with US frequency. I tought was for this that they simple drove my crazy during this years. I had the same course like you (shield, test, firmware, retest, mail from PW telling me the flash were not compatible…and many more insane answer) Last March I both two more Flex and 1 Plus III…a disaster. Even just the trigging with Alien Bees doesn’t work (I’ve got even AC3 zone controller and 3 AC9)
    Well…the worst and frustrating experice EVER. Thanks for your post!

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Dear Daniele,

      I’m sorry you have suffered this problem like I did. Fortunately there are alternatives that work, and that we can rid ourselves of the curse of the TTL gadgets.

      Brian P. Lawler

  32. Joe says:

    I just dumped my PocketWizard FlexTT5 units. Done…which is unfortunate. But as you said Brian, there ARE alternatives. I just switched to the Flashpoint R2 Li-ion speedlights which are on sale for $109 each right now through Monday at Adorama. Great build quality, built in 2.4GHz transmitter/receiver, TTL, and HSS. I also got the small transmitter for my Nikon which was only $50 since I don’t care to use the speedlights on camera. So 3 speedlights and a transmitter were less than $400…far less than just one of my SB-910 units which does NOT include any wireless trigger system. The system has worked flawlessly for me and the transmitter power adjustments are quick and easy. Once I hit shutter speeds over 1/250th, it automatically kicks in HSS. And when I eventually move into a strobe (Xplor 600 TTL), the transmitter will work all of these units together which is fantastic.

  33. Ken says:

    I am right there with you. I have been through the F**KING wringer with these Flex TT5’s and my 580exII’s. I started just like you, so full of eager anticipation only to have it destroyed time and time again. Here is my journey….

    Got the radios, seemed fine. No distance. Got the shields, they work but suck terribly. No I could never get them to sync properly, thought it was batterys. Invest $125 for Eneloop battery and quick charger. Then all of a sudden, two of my three flashes wouldn’t work right. They would flash before the shutter opened!?! WHAT THE F**K. After massive research apparently something in the flash burns out to to the TT5 and something within the 580. So Pocketwizard refers me to a small camera shop in New Hampshire who will fix them AND put RD shielding inside them. FANTASTIC! There went $250. So i get them back and all is much better but now…f**king NOW…the AC3 zone controller is f**king broken and I have shoots to do. I am SO F**KING over this bulls**t I swear to God I am going to mail these back to them with a big F**K YOU on a letter in the box. I am moving on to something else.

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Dear Ken,

      I apologize for censoring your comment (this is a family blog!). I have used those same words to describe the PW TTL units. I suggest that you write a letter to Pocket Wizard and let them know of your experience. They don’t want you to be unhappy.

      And, scroll down through these comments to see how other photographers have solved the problem (using different brands of radio triggers).

      Best wishes,

      Brian P. Lawler

  34. Lee says:

    Further to my Jan 2, 2016 comment, I’ve since purchased Yongnuo 685 speedlites as well as a $100 YN-14EX-C ringlight from the same large NYC retailer, X&Y. The 685 is essentially a Canon 580EX-II knockoff with an E-TTL wireless trigger built-in. IOW, my YN-622C transceivers are no longer necessary. The YN-622C-TX controller on my camera directly controls the YN685. With 3 groups and 3 channels, I have no problems shooting in a studio with multiple speedlites and multiple photographers. The YN units have yet to fail. Full output is about 1/3 stop less than a Canon 580EXII. For the price, I just throw another $100 Yongnuo speedlite into the mix.

    The YN-14EX-C ringlight is another great product. I bought it for a specific project that was cancelled. The only times I’ve used it are around the house, playing with small insects but I’ve been impressed with the build and performance. It comes with a set of adaptors for different size front elements.

    If you enjoy banging your head against the wall, have buckets of money or are just a dilettante who isn’t under pressure to produce, feel free to keep using products that fail and frustrate you. If you want to get the job done with a minimum of hassle, try the Yongnuo products. BTW, I have NO (as in none, zero, zip, zilch, nada, nyet) interest in Yongnuo except as a satisfied customer. As an American, I hate to promote Chinese products but when a product is this superior to an American made product, I have to look out for my self interests (money, time & sanity.)

    The YN reviews on my blog are listed below as TinyURLs with Preview so you know what you’re getting. Also, please be aware, my site contains bodyscapes, nudes, pin-ups and other under-18 inappropriate images. If nude art offends you, please do not visit my blog.
    http://preview.tinyurl.com/YN-622C-transceiver
    http://preview.tinyurl.com/YN-685C-speedlight
    http://preview.tinyurl.com/YN-14EX-C

    *******************
    Brian – feel free to edit/delete links

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Dear Lee.

      Thank you for your enlightening comment on the TTL flash controllers. I have had several comments added in the last few days, and yours is an answer to the concerns of many.

      I really appreciate you taking the time to respond.

      And, as for the Made in China comment, I think that the Pocket Wizards are made in China also, so we’re not really talking about an “American” made product here anyway.

      Best wishes, and thank you again,

      Brian P. Lawler

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