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).
So, what updates does the new PocketWizard Plus III bring? Here is a summary of its features:
PocketWizard Plus III Main Features
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- SYNC SPEED: Ultra-fast microprocessors allow for reliable sync speeds of 1/250 for focal plane shutters and 1/500 for leaf shutters.
- 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.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.