Back when I was photographing Ontario’s largest climbing gym, astute readers might have noticed that I was using both Nikon and Canon camera bodies interchangeably, but I was triggering a set of Nikon strobes (and one studio strobe).
To be more specific, I was using a Pocket Wizard Plus X as a transmitter on a Canon 5D Mk II, a Pocket Wizard Mini TT1 transmitter on a Nikon D300, and three Nikon specific Pocket Wizard Flex TT5 receivers on my Nikon strobes (the remaining four strobes were triggered by optical slave – which just thinks bright light is bright light).
However, since Pocket Wizard Flex TT5s are brand specific – Nikon or Canon (and especially if you have ever tried this), you should be having a saaaaayyyyy whaaaaat moment right about now – because this unholy alliance won’t work out of the box.
In this article, I will show you how to convince your camera bodies to love everyone.
I primarily shoot Nikon (a Nikon D800 is my primary body) – my strobes are all Nikon, and my Pocket Wizard Mini TT1 triggers and Pocket Wizard Flex TT5 transmitter / receiver radio triggers are all Nikon models (you can also get Canon specific Pocket Wizard Mini TT1s and Flex TT5s).
However, I also shoot with a Canon (Canon 5D MkII) body on a regular basis.
(If you’re wondering, I like the Canon better for work where the safety of my camera might be in some doubt, or where I specifically want smaller RAW files, like when shooting time lapse sequences.)
This led to the issue of triggering Nikon strobes, using Nikon Pocket Wizards from a Canon camera.
Forget About TTL With Your Mini TT1 and Flex TT5 (i-TTL or E-TTL II)
If you are working in a multi-brand environment, the first thing you should accept is that TTL (through the lens) flash functions are not possible.
That means that you have to set your strobes to work in full manual.
If you are used to working with the TTL capabilities offered by using the Pocket Wizard Mini TT1 and Flex TT5 setup, this might be a bit of a limitation for you – so if you are planning a shoot that really requires TTL – stick with a single-brand setup.
I should also point out that triggering strobes in a multi-brand environment is only a problem if you are using Pocket Wizard Mini TT1s and Flex TT5s that are specifically built to work with either Canon or Nikon’s TTL systems.
If you are using Pocket Wizard Plus III or Pocket Wizard Plus X radio triggers / receivers, older Pocket Wizard brand radio triggers or other brand radio triggers, you are already shooting in full manual and the brand of the camera and strobes does not matter.
How To Trigger Nikon Flash With Canon or
Trigger Canon Flash With Nikon
The solution is to set up your Pocket Wizard Flex TT5 to work as a manual trigger only – similar to how the Plus III’s and Plux X radio triggers/ receivers work.
To do this, you have to connect your Flex TT5 to your computer and use the Pocket Wizard Utility to set one of the configurations (C1 or C2) on your Flex TT5s to “Basic Trigger” and then match the channel to the channel you are going to use on your Plus X (the Plus X has ten channels).
Crazy right – you’d think it would just work out of the box!
Of course I didn’t just magically figure this out, I searched everywhere for somewhere that would tell me how this was done. The only guy on the entire internet who seems to have cracked it is my man Chris Amini, to whom I owe the sinful relationship my Canons and Nikons have been enjoying to this day.
If you want the details, step by step – here is Chris’ video tutorial:
By the way, this tutorial is for using the older Pocket Wizard Plus IIs – but I can confirm it also works with a Plus X, and I assume it would also work with Plus IIIs.
The same process should also work for using a Plus X on a Nikon body to trigger a Canon specific TT5s on Canon strobes.
It Gets Even Better!
Now that you have set configuration C1 or C2 on your Flex TT5 to work as a “Basic Trigger” on a specific channel, you can now pop any brand (by any brand, I mean Nikon or Canon of course) Flex TT5 on any brand camera and use it to trigger any brand strobe.
Canon body with a Nikon Flex TT5 triggering a Nikon Flex TT5 and Nikon strobe – done.
Nikon body with a Canon Flex TT5 triggering a Nikon Flex TT5 and Canon strobe…now that’s just crazy…done!
(Unfortunately, it doesn’t work with Mini TT1s, because as far as I can tell, you can’t set them to behave as a basic trigger).
No go and share the love!
(Lead photo “Dog and Cat” by kitty.green66 (CC) )