PocketWizard Plus III Announcement

PocketWizard has just announced an update to their PocketWizard Plus line of radio transceivers. The new PocketWizard Plus III is the latest generation radio transmitter/receiver that adds a boatload of new features, but best of all, comes at a much more affordable price of $139 (the old PocketWizard Plus II units are priced at $159).

PocketWizard Plus III

So, what updates does the new PocketWizard Plus III bring? Here is a summary of its features:

PocketWizard Plus III Main Features

  1. 32 CHANNELS: With the Plus III Transceiver’s 32 channels (16 Standard plus 16 Quad-Zone Triggering channels), finding an open channel is easy. Photographers working in a busy environment, including wedding halls, sports arenas or busy studios, can dial in a channel as simply as pushing a button.
  2. QUAD-ZONE TRIGGERING: Selective Quad-Zone Triggering keeps you shooting photos, not running back and forth to your lighting or cameras. Without leaving the camera position, you can wirelessly activate or deactivate your remote flashes or cameras in 4 separately controllable zones: A, B, C, or D. This is ideal when using multiple lighting setups or turning remote cameras on and off as needed. The Plus III Transceiver is also the perfect partner for the MultiMAX® radio, which also features 32 channels and four zones.
  3. AUTO-SENSING TRANSCEIVER: With the patented Auto-Sensing Transceiver Technology, the Plus III Transceiver is one smart radio. When set to TxRx, it will instantly and intelligently switch between transmitter and receiver modes as needed for greater flexibility on the job. The Plus III may be set to transmit (Tx) or receive (Rx) only when needed.
  4. TWO-STAGE REMOTE CAMERA TRIGGERING: The Plus III Transceiver is the perfect solution for remote camera triggering. The unique two-stage TEST button on the Plus III works just like the shutter release button on your camera. Press it halfway and your remote camera wakes up to meter and focus. Press TEST all the way to take your photo. When released, your remote camera will return to sleep mode normally; a real battery saver. Using the right cables, you can have a remote camera follow the camera in your hands – half press your hand-held camera’s shutter release and the remote camera meters/focuses, full press and both cameras trigger away. This feature requires a receiving Plus III, MultiMAX or FlexTT5, and ACC Pre-Trigger cables.
  5. AUTO-RELAY MODE: Our Auto-Sensing Transceiver technology lets you trigger a remote camera in sync with remote flashes using only 3 PocketWizard radios: the one in your hands, a Plus III cabled to your remote camera, and the one connected to your remote flash. The Plus III cabled to your remote camera will receive a radio signal and trigger the camera’s motor drive, then switch to transmit mode and trigger your PocketWizard-connected remote flashes, all automatically. Start the sequence by simply pressing the TEST button of any PocketWizard Transmitter in your hands. Remote cameras require motor drive cables.
  6. LONG RANGE CAPABILITY: Under ideal conditions, The Plus III Transceiver works up to 500 meters (1600 feet). Shooting environments are seldom ideal, so the Plus III incorporates two range extending modes for the challenges of the real world. Use Long Range Mode (LR) to nearly double the effective triggering distance in almost any environment. In very challenging environments or extremely long working ranges, place a Plus III in Repeater Mode (RP) between your transmitter and receiver to repeat the signal and complete the connection. These modes take a little extra time to do their jobs, so maximum X-sync may be reduced when firing remote flashes in LR or RP modes.
  7. HIGH SPEED RECEIVE: Normally, the Plus III is capable of triggering lights or cameras at a sustained rate of up to 12 frames per second (FPS), a standard for PocketWizard radios. Set the Plus III to High Speed Receive Mode (HSR) and trigger at rates up to 14.5 FPS, beyond the capability of most of today’s cameras. This mode can also help high FPS triggering compatibility for any flash.
  8. SIMPLE USER INTERFACE: The Plus III has an intuitive user interface where all channels, zones and modes can be easily engaged via a soft-touch keypad, and displayed on an easy-to-read backlit 2.5cm (1″) LCD display. When you’re working in dark environments, simply press any key other than TEST to Illuminate the LCD.
  9. MODE & POWER ON/OFF BUTTON: To turn on your Plus III, hold down the MODE/Power button for about two seconds. Press the MODE button to select the Mode of operation you want to use. Press and hold MODE button down for a few seconds to turn the Plus III off.
  10. SYNC SPEED: Ultra-fast microprocessors allow for reliable sync speeds of 1/250 for focal plane shutters and 1/500 for leaf shutters.
  11. EASILY CONNECTED: On your camera, the Plus III slides into the hot shoe with no cables required. For your remotes, it features one do-it-all sync port. The industry-standard miniphone (3.5mm or 1/8″) connector is much more reliable than a PC connection, so each Plus III comes complete with a miniphone-to-miniphone cable, and a miniphone-to-phono (1/4″ or 6.3mm) adapter for triggering the majority of modern flashes. And it even comes with a miniphone to locking PC cable for triggering some remote speedlights, or for using your Plus III on-camera when you can’t put it in a hot shoe. Other miniphone connector cables are available for major brands of lighting equipment in a variety of lengths. Dedicated remote camera triggering cables are also available for popular camera systems.
  12. VERY COMPATIBLE: The Plus III is compatible with all PocketWizard transmitters and receivers of the same frequency* including PocketWizard-enabled photo gear from Profoto, Dynalite, Norman, Photogenic and Sekonic light meters. The PocketWizard wireless system allows for total flexibility with whatever lights or cameras you may be working with. (*FCC and CE PocketWizard radios operate on different frequencies)
  13. SLEEK NEW DESIGN: The Plus III features a durable, side profile design with an unobtrusive, internal antenna minimizing visual obstruction between you and your subject. By utilizing an internal antenna, there’s no chance to kink or break it when on location. The total height of the transceiver and antenna is less than 5.25 inches, and it weighs only 4 ounces, including batteries.
  14. ON-CAMERA HOT SHOE MOUNTING: The Plus III mounts facing to the side to provide a smaller profile while shooting. This unique mounting position enables quick Channel and Mode selection as well as easy setting of zones. No other radio triggering system offers this kind of positive operation.
  15. EXTERNAL POWER AND FIRMWARE UPGRADEABLE: The Plus III is normally powered by two AA (IEC:LR6) batteries. For long term remote placement, use a compatible AC adapter that plugs into the standard Mini-B USB port of the Plus III. The USB port also enables future upgrades of the Plus III operating system.

In summary, this is a huge upgrade over the previous generation PocketWizard Plus II unit. The new features such as quad zone triggering, remote camera triggering, 32 channels, battery life indicator and ability to upgrade firmware are all exciting and welcome changes to the industry-standard PocketWizard Plus. Best of all, these puppies will work with pretty much any kind of lights out there, including all professional studio lights. I have been using PocketWizard Plus II units for many years now and I love the ability to mix different types of light (studio lights working together with speedlights). As for reliability, I have yet to see a system that is as reliable as the PW Plus units – they work amazingly well. Another advantage of a remote radio trigger system like PocketWizard, as I have pointed out in my Infrared vs Radio article, is that it does not require multiple flashes or a dedicated commander for a single off-camera flash. like TTL systems do. You can get a single speedlight and two of these PocketWizard units and you simply mount one on your camera’s hot shoe to trigger the slave unit that is attached to the speedlight via a sync cord.

The biggest disadvantage of the PocketWizard Plus unit is its 1/250 sync speed limitation. As I have pointed out in my “Taekwondo Photography Tips” article, this can be too limiting for high-speed action shots. While there are ways to get around this problem, they often require shooting at full power, which is not always desirable. While medium format cameras with leaf shutters can go all the way to 1/500 of a second, all traditional focal plane shutters are limited to 1/250 sync speed.

I am excited about the new PocketWizard Plus III units, mainly because we are getting all these awesome features at a lower cost than the previous-generation Plus II units. Looks like Nikon is not the only company to give us great pricing for their new products this year: PocketWizard did even better, slashing the price on an amazing product that is endorsed by thousands of working pros.

PocketWizard Plus III Videos

A bunch of videos covering the PocketWizard Plus III have been released today. Here is a video review from my friends at Fstoppers.com:

Joe McNally also released a video covering PW Plus III:

And lastly, Mark Wallace from Adorama also released a 6 minute video explaining the different features of the PW Plus III:

Pre-Order PocketWizard Plus III

B&H is already accepting pre-orders for the new PocketWizard Plus III transceivers/receivers:

I suspect that the new PocketWizard Plus III units will become hot sellers very quickly, given their popularity and adoption among photographers. I will be pre-ordering a couple of units for myself and I am planning to write a detailed review once I get my hands on these units.


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Avatar of Nasim Mansurov About Nasim Mansurov

is a professional photographer based out of Denver, Colorado. He is the author and founder of Photography Life, along with a number of other online resources. Read more about Nasim here.

Comments

  1. 1
    ) peter

    Gee! Just what I need to simplfy me life. Beam me up, Scotty…I’m ready.

  2. For pros only…not my cup of tea, sorry, Peter

  3. So, if I’m reading this right, the advantages of the FlexTT5 are propagating TTL info, and synching below 1/250th? While the +III has advantages of more channels, higher fps, relay mode, and price.

    Anything I’m missing?

  4. 4
    ) Mick Rhodes

    So is this the best thing to get my Nikon flash off the camera and have all the magic flash and camera talking to each other still work?

    • Mick,

      The Pocket Wizard Plus III, like the Plus II before it, will SYNC off-camera lights to your camera, i.e. it will trigger the lights at just the right moment. It will work with most any light, including big studio flash. The Plus-III will NOT transfer other control info between camera and flash.

      If you want the flash and camera to talk to each other, you can go with Nikon CLS infra-red control or use the Pocket Wizard TT-5 / Mini radios, which are designed to transfer that control info between the units. Either way, you will also need dedicated flash units (Nikon or compatible) to do this.

      What’s best for you? It depends on a bunch of things. I’m a Canon user and setting up two Canon speedlights with IR remote control is a snap for me. I can carry two speedlights in my bag and set them up and set controls within seconds, so it’s compact, easy and fast – but expensive. For the price of 1 dedicated Canon flash, I can get 2 LumoPros and a Pocket Wizard, which will give me more lighting options with less control for the same money. With the new prices, I’m looking at that option. For some situations, it could be a winner. You decide what’s best for you.

      • 6
        ) Mick Rhodes

        Thanks, I have a curly wire that I fit between the camera and flash (SB-400) think i will stick with that, as anything ells is just too complicated, and expensive.

        • Mick,

          A curly cable (if it is the right one and is connected securely) will get your flash off-camera and preserve e-TTL. However, it is limited in length, generally not much at all, a foot or two. I have a curly-cord for mounting my flash on a bracket. Another option is a longer dedicated TTL cord (e.g. from Flash Zebra or Syl Arena) which is 20-30 feet long and will cost about $50-60. With that, you can get your MAIN flash off-camera and still trigger other TTL flashes remotely. Simple, inexpensive. However, a Pocket Wizard solution with LumoPros starts sounding financially reasonable, if you want / have need for more lights. (Dedicated Nikon/Canon speedlights are expensive.)

  5. 8
    ) Frank

    What do i need to buy with pocket wizard 3 for 4 light set up. 4 additional receivers?

    • Frank,

      “additional receivers”? Does this mean you already have one or more transmitters / transceivers? If you want each light to be independent of the others (i.e. you are not sharing a Pocket Wizard with a Y-connection between two lights – which CAN be done, it seems), then you will need one PW for each light, one for the camera – and it would be good to have one spare (depending on the criticality of your mission). If you want the extra control of the new PW III, then you’ll need the new ones for each light (and the camera). I think that the PW III is somewhat compatible with the old MultiMax, if you happen to already have that; check for details.

      Disclaimer: I am not an expert on this at all…

      • 10
        ) Frank

        Thanks Jake

        So basically i give them my wallet. I guess i cant have full control of each light.

  6. 11
    ) Jabari

    Would you recommend the Plus III over the MultiMax?

    • Jabari, personally yes, I would recommend these over MultiMax units.

  7. 12
    ) Manzini

    1). So do these PW +3s fire Einsteins?
    2). I want to be able to fire my 580 ex2 as well as the einstein, what is the best radio trigger with range and reliability, not considering cost?

    • Manzini, I believe you will need an adapter for your Einstein to trigger with the PW units. PW Plus units are pretty much the gold standard, they will work reliably with anything you throw at them, including your 580 EX2 flash.

      So for your case, you will need three total units – one for the Einstein, one for 580 EX2 and one for your camera to trigger the other two.

      • 22
        ) Manzini

        Thank you. But I want to able to do e-ttl, which trigger would you recommend. Can you speak to the Phottix Odin, I read they can do e-ttl!
        Thank you.

  8. Nice review! Just one correction: leaf shutter lenses with medium format should be able to go up to 1/800 sec flash sync with the PhaseOne 645DF and 1/1600 using a iQ back. I’m shooting with the P1 645DF w/ p30+ and am curious if the III’s with allow me to sync up to 1/800. Any thoughts?

    • R.J., technically it should work. The specs say that the units are limited to 1/500, but they should be able to handle 1/800. I have a pair of units that I am testing right now – let me know if you want to borrow and test them with the PhaseOne.

  9. For a neat multi-shot, layering technique, I want to trigger the camera remotely AND sync a remote flash. The remote flash will be near me (on a lightstand or pole) and the camera will be on a tripod, not near me at all. How many PW’s will I need to do this?

    In the simple-minded approach, I would need 1 PW on the camera hot shoe and 1 on the flash for flash sync. I’ll also need 1 PW (on another channel?) plugged into the shutter release on the camera and another 1 in my hand for taking the shot. That’s 4 units. If I’m using the new PW III, can I get by with fewer units, perhaps three? Can the PW III at the camera handle both the shutter release and the flash sync, probably on another channel? Can the PW at the remote flash handle both transmiting the camera trigger and receiving the flash sync signals? What if I use a different PW (not the new III)? Any ideas on this?

    Thanks.

    - Jake

    • Jake, PW units get triggered via radio signal. They do not communicate flash or shutter data. So if you have 3 units total, 1 connected to the camera, 1 on the flash and 1 on your hand, they will all communicate with each other. When you fire the PW on your hand, it will fire the flash and the shutter at the same time. Now this might create an issue, where the flash might fire too early for the shutter. A slight delay would be needed to make this work. If your flash supports a delay, you might want to give that a shot. If not, then you will have to go with 4 units – an additional one in a separate channel for triggering the camera. Also, some studio lights can extend the duration of flash, which might be enough for this particulat situation.

      This setup should work 100%: 1 PW on channel 1 on the camera hotshoe, 1 PW on channel 1 on your light, 1 PW on channel 2 connected to the camera release and 1 PW on channel 2 on your hand. Your hand unit fires the camera, which through the hotshoe fires the remote flash. But obviously that is no different than using older PW II units… As far as I know, there is no built-in functionality on PW III units to do what you want.

      • Nasim,

        Thanks for that. There was something about the repeating function in the Plus II’s which receives on one channel and also transmits by stepping up to the next channel. But even if that exists on the III’s, it still might not solve my problem. Shutter lag would require the flash sync to happen a bit later – so I might need 4 PW’s after all. Thanks.

        - Jake

  10. Thanks for such a quick reply! Now that’s a stellar blogger :) I spoke with Doug at Capture Integration and I think they were gonna do a few tests and share the results. They are having a deal right now with the V-Grip air and two transceivers, still hundreds more than the cost of a similar setup with the IIIs. Otherwise, I might take you up on the offer! I’ll be flying from MSP to Fort Collins on June 11/12 on a test shoot and we can test them out then, perhaps :)

    • You are most welcome R.J.! Let me know if you need anything when you are back in town.

  11. 23
    ) Goran

    As a Nikon user who is looking at my first off camera flash solution for use at home (non-commercial use), what would you recommend TT5 or Plus III and how many units?

    My basic setup consists of
    + Nikon D3s
    + Nikon SB-800

    I’m not an experienced off camera flash user and looking at exploring off camera flash for some family portraits and the like.

    Any advise would be much appreciated.

    • See what I wrote above in comment number 7, dated February 24, 2012 at 5:28 am

      If you only have the one flash unit, you can do most of what you want with a ttl flash extension cord. Flash Zebra sells a good one (I have that one for Canon) and I think that Syl Arena sells a slightly longer one (check if it’s decicated for Nikon). This would be the simplest, cheapest way to start. For family portraits, it will do wonders. However, beware of tripping over cords, pulling your lightstand to the ground, accidents, etc. When your camera is tethered to your flash, you can’t walk around with it very far!

      If your Nikon had a pop-up with Commander mode, then you wouldn’t need anything! You would then be able to control a remote flash from the camera. I don’t think the D3S has a pop up flash, though. Advantages: wireless control; control from camera menu. Disadvantages: dependencies on flash sensor sensitivity, especially when not in line-of-sight; dedicated speedlights are expensive and getting moreso.

      Otherwise, a Pocket Wizard setup will work wirelessly. If you decide at some stage to add more lights to your setup, you’ll need to add more PWs. As for TT5 vs Plus III, that is an issue that is clarified elsewhere (TTL remote control, etc.)

      • 25
        ) Goran

        Thanks Jake. I only recently upgraded to a D3s, and this is the only instance I think I miss having an on camera pop up flash.

        With young kids who are both very curious, I think I would prefer a wireless solution and avoid any accidents altogether ;)

        Can you provide any links regarding the TT5 vs Plus III comparison it would be much appreciated. I’m not too sure on what one unit will provide me over the other. Also, from a longer term perspective, which would give me better flexibility if I wanted to experiment further and try new things (such as add new lights, etc…)

        • I don’t own Pocket Wizards at this stage, though I sometimes use the older Plus II’s when working with other photographers and their gear.

          Very briefly: the TT5 sounds nice but had a bunch of design and production problems (more for Canon users than Nikon?). It includes remote TTL, which is cool if it works. The Mini uses an uncommon battery (i.e. not AA), which bothers some people. There are separate TT models for Nikon and Canon; they are not the same.

          The Plus III does not have remote TTL and is more suited to non-dedicated lights (e.g. big studio monoblocs, Quantum/Lumedyne portable units, etc.) Pros will go with the Plus II / III for their versatility and reliability. Pros often shoot manual, anyways, for total control so auto TTL etc aren’t that important.

          (Remote TTL means that the TTL features that Nikon/Canon have in their dedicated speedlights will also work via PW radio control and not just with their own proprietary IR control. TTL features include auto-exposure, adjusting ratios with multiple flash, flash confirmation, etc. IR=InfraRed remote control, involving pre-flashes which send out metric and control info before the exposing flash.)

          Personally, I am disturbed by any product that accepts firmware downloads via USB; this suggests that the product was released before prime time and they will fix the bugs later. I think that all the new PW products (including TT and Plus III?) have USB downloaded firmware “updates”, i.e. bug fixes. People used to make things that just work, but not anymore, it seems. Oh, our digital cameras get firmware updates, too… :-( Once upont a time, you used to buy a Hasselblad or Nikon and it would just work for 20 years without any “bug fixes AKA updates”…

          Since you don’t know the future (if you do, please get in touch with me!!) you can’t say for sure what lights you will want next. The Plus III might work better with your next light than a Nikon-dedicated TT5, which will work best with a Nikon speedlight. Also think about usability – i.e. where will you mount things, what cords will you need, if any, how will you access the buttons and batteries, etc. Pros who want an on-camera flash AND a Plus II/III put together some funny rigs to hang it all on the camera (which only has one hotshoe!); the TT hot-shoe/hot-foot design is a nice idea.

          Some people are complaining about the sideways-mounted Plus III having the LED display on the side in landscape mode and on the bottom (!!) in portrait mode. I think this was Joe McNally’s idea (?) and I wonder what they were thinking when they did this. Think cost, too; the TT is a bit more expensive. If you’re only buying 2-3 units, then it might not be that significant, but if you’re getting a dozen, it adds up.

          I haven’t gone this route myself, but I am thinking of getting some LumoPro hotshoe flashes and controlling them via Plus III’s. It’ll be cheaper than getting a few Canon speedlights, which are getting abusrdly expensive. I currently use Canon IR for multi-flash together with a Flash Zebra long extension cord, which gives me some neat results for minimal investment. I can carry two flashes in my camera bag and produce the goods, easily and quickly. However, if I want more flash units, I will see how the LumoPro works with IR pre-flash and if that isn’t good enough, I will likely go with the Plus III radios and skip IR control.

          For more comparisons, try a ‘net-search (Google).

          - Jake

          • 27
            ) Goran

            Hi Jake

            Many thanks for the feedback, it is much appreciated.

            Regards
            Goran

  12. 28
    ) Alex Limon

    I want to use the TTL capability of the SB 910 with flash being off the camera. Is it possible to use Pocket Wizard Plus III and Flex TT5 on SB 910 flash to utilize TTL? If yes, how can I configure them? Would TT5 go on the flash or on the camera vs. PW Plus III?
    Thanks.

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