I Just Sold My Pocket Wizards – What About You?

Sep 9, 2016

JP Danko

JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand.

I Just Sold My Pocket Wizards – What About You?

Sep 9, 2016

JP Danko

JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand.

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Back in 2006 when I first started getting serious about photography, I found Strobist.com and was instantly hooked. I followed every tip and technique that David Hobby had to offer from the beginning and it didn’t take long before I had a set of six Nikon SB-800’s and was lighting everything Strobist style.

Eventually, I saved up enough cash to invest in a set of Pocket Wizards (if they were what David Hobby used – they were what I needed) – and when the Pocket Wizard Mini TT1 and Flex TT5 were released I upgraded to a brand new set (here is the original review from Strobist).

However, since then I have been using my Pocket Wizards less and less – up to the point that I finally decided to sell them.

Here’s why…

Why I Sold My Pocket Wizards

Pocket Wizard makes great products – I’m still a bit uneasy about getting rid of them because Pocket Wizards are nothing if not bombproof reliable (which is why I bought them in the first place) but over the years my photography style and gear requirements have evolved to the point where it didn’t make sense to keep a set of expensive Pocket Wizards unused in my gear closet.

I still use my Nikon SB-800’s on a regular basis, and I still need to trigger them – but I found myself preferring to use a set of Cactus V6 radio triggers (read our full review here) rather than Pocket Wizard.

I love the manual control system that the Cactus V6 triggers use – its simple to use and offers so much more consistent control over your lighting – rather than trying to guess WTF TTL is going to do.

Cactus V6 radio trigger

The Cactus V6 triggers do have their quirks, but so does the Pocket Wizard TTL system with the Flex and Mini.

Considering that the Cactus V6 radio triggers cost roughly a third of what Pocket Wizard Flex / Mini units sell for – from both a usability and business perspective the Cactus V6s eventually won me over.

Cactus has recently released the V6 II which offers some ease of use upgrades along with high speed sync – HSS. (While Pocket Wizard does technically already offer HSS – I was never able to get it to work well with my Flex / Mini setup – I haven’t seen any clear reviews about how well it works with the Cactus V6 II.)

I also found that I don’t use hot shoe strobes nearly as often as I used to.

My style has evolved to be a bit more natural – where I’m not trying to light the crap out of everything (the photo below is all ambient light – in a parking garage).

natural light in a parking garage

I have gotten much better at seeing and understanding ambient light and when I do need to add artificial light I have upgraded my lighting system to a set of Elinchrom Quadras.

I find that the Elinchrom Quadras are very flexible – I use them on location and in studio – and the quality of light from full size studio light modifiers is a big improvement from what I was used to struggling with hotshoe strobes (not so much in terms of quality of light – more so in terms of ease of use).

Plus the freedom of not worrying about squeezing every lumen of light out of a little hotshoe strobe opens a lot of creative opportunities – such as very large light modifiers, setting lights much further away and color gels.

That and the Elinchrom Skyport Plus transmitter makes high sync lighting an absolute breeze – its amazing.

Elinchrom Studio Strobe on Location

What Do You Think?

Have Pocket Wizards outlived their usefulness?

With many hotshoe strobes now coming with built in radio triggers and the current selection of low price alternative like Cactus, would you still purchase a Pocket Wizard system today?

Or do you think that Pocket Wizards are still the most reliable radio trigger system available and worth every penny?

Leave a comment and let us know what you think!

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JP Danko

JP Danko

JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand.

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22 responses to “I Just Sold My Pocket Wizards – What About You?”

  1. Don Smith Avatar
    Don Smith

    Never owned, only ever owned @YONGNUOhk

  2. Don Smith Avatar
    Don Smith

    Never owned, only ever owned @YONGNUOhk

  3. Don Smith Avatar
    Don Smith

    Never owned, only ever owned @YONGNUOhk

  4. Don Smith Avatar
    Don Smith

    Never owned, only ever owned @YONGNUOhk

  5. Don Smith Avatar
    Don Smith

    Never owned, only ever owned @YONGNUOhk

  6. Don Smith Avatar
    Don Smith

    Never owned, only ever owned @YONGNUOhk

  7. Don Smith Avatar
    Don Smith

    Never owned, only ever owned @YONGNUOhk

  8. Don Smith Avatar
    Don Smith

    Never owned, only ever owned @YONGNUOhk

  9. Tolot Avatar
    Tolot

    yeh kill the american products… buy china knockoffs… doesn´t matter.. trump will make america great again. LOL.
    i never had PW.. i bought the cheap phottix triggers and they worked fine for me.

  10. Cynicaleye Avatar
    Cynicaleye

    I’ve owned and used my Pocket Wizards for 15 years. Although I’ve tried other solutions, I’ll never get rid of the Pocket Wizards. They work EVERY time. Never had an issue with them.

    1. Kaouthia Avatar
      Kaouthia

      Funny that. I went with Yongnuo initially because of all the Zack Arias videos I saw where he had nothing but problems with PocketWizards. Sure, he’d get them to work eventually, but it seemed like every time he wanted to shoot footage of him using them, they took 5-10 minutes of faffing with to get them firing properly.

      I also got bored waiting for PW to release their Nikon CLS triggers and didn’t want to have to spend a fortune on PW manual triggers when I knew (hoped) I’d be replacing them fairly quickly. So, I went with YN in around 2010 just because I needed something to at least give me manual until the PWs came out. But 18 months later when the PWs finally came out, the YN’s had already proven themselves to me.

      They’ve never failed on me once, although I am going to be switching to Godox soon, though.

  11. DPJ Avatar
    DPJ

    I’ve always had the Yungnuo triggers, i tried a friends PW’s, but they just didn’t work as I expected. My RF602’s have never failed once, they have worked with every kind of system I use and will use, so if they ain’t broke, don’t fix ’em.

  12. Pepperberry Farm Avatar
    Pepperberry Farm

    love my Cactus V6 + RF60 combo….

  13. John Flury Avatar
    John Flury

    I mostly use the Elichrom skyport as well (the new version, which let’s you control power settings from the trigger unit on the camera). However, about 50% of the shoots at least one of the strobes is quite far away or the signal gets jammed on the way to the receiver. For these cases I’m still using the PWs. I also often use the PW as a remote camera trigger, which works really well too. So I’m not ready to give up on my Plus IIIs yet :).

  14. Victor de Saint-Etienne Avatar
    Victor de Saint-Etienne

    I used a set of Chinese triggers that did the job pretty well for about 20€. But I haven’t used them for so long now, I think I barely only use natural light now except in studio. I still can’t see the point of buying expensive triggers as long as all the flashes are on a manual setup, if anyone could explain ?

  15. WillTheLightingGuy Avatar
    WillTheLightingGuy

    I used PW for close to 20 years. They were rock solid, until the Flex/Mini system. Finicky is the only polite descriptor I can think of to describe that system. Unfortunately, it was still better than the online crap, but not by much. Cactus piqued my interest with the V5 with the hotshoe on top – I could use them with flash and strobe without an $80 cord.
    Cactus V6 and RF60 combo works amazingly well. It’s everything Flex/Mini should have been and more. As a beta tester for the V6II, I can tell you that HSS is simple. I haven’t tried cross-brand HSS, but using RF60 and SB-900 with V6II, I can sync my D810 up to 1/8000 with no banding. I’ve been able to get my broncolor Siros L strobes to sync fully up to 1/8000. All without plugging a trigger into my computer and messing around with flash curves trying to guess at the right setting.

  16. Rick Scheibner Avatar
    Rick Scheibner

    So let me get something straight. You bought an item, used it for awhile, then sold it because you weren’t using it anymore. Isn’t that kind of what we do in photography? I’m not sure how that subject is worthy of a DIY article.

  17. Kay O. Sweaver Avatar
    Kay O. Sweaver

    I’m using the Godox X1 system right now and am perfectly happy with it. Four groups, remote power control, speedlites and now 600WS strobes. All for a reasonable price. Plenty for me. My first set was the Yongnuo RF603’s and they were great also, even if they didn’t offer remote power control.

  18. William I Avatar
    William I

    I’ve used pocketwizards ever since getting into studio lights 20 years ago, and eventually got a full flex &.mini TT set when it came time to integrate speedlites or use speedlites on their own when traveling light(in my case, I liked to mix them with buff einsteins). now I’ve reached the point where there really isnt a need to have them integrated anymore… if I need speedlites for an assignment, size and weight are far more important than power or light mod capabilities. conversely, if I need power and modification options, I’ll use proper monolights exclusively.

  19. Mike Servis Avatar
    Mike Servis

    I purchase pocket wizard TTL version when they 1st came out and for some reason the system broke my 580 EX II and then I had to send the speedlight into Canon for repair. I did get in contact with the Pocket Wizard. I did send in my speedlight to Pocket Wizard tech support and they did a so this issue would not happen in the future. For more about this you can view this pdf. http://lpadesign.com/580EXII.pdf I did sale my Flex system soon after the repair and have been usin YN602 and 622C triggers ever since.

  20. Robert Johnson Avatar
    Robert Johnson

    I had problems with PW in the studio. Canon/ Nikon/ Sony. does not matter. At the price they sell, I should not be having same quality issues as with something 1/3 the price. Will be moving to a different system soon.

  21. Wedding Photographer Avatar
    Wedding Photographer

    Been trying to sell my Pocketwizards, where did you sell them?