Take Control of Your Flash: A PocketWizard FlexTT5 Transceiver for Canon TTL Flashes Review
Mar 21, 2010
The PocketWizard FlexTT5 radio transceiver, when used with a PocketWizard transmitter, communicates by radio frequency enabling the flash to be located remotely from the camera without a direct line of sight. The FlexTT5, combined with the MiniTT1, boosts 8 fps, Hypersync up to 1/500th a second, and high speed sync up to 1/8000th a second automatically. Remote flash and remote camera triggering ports are also included. The transceiver has a hot shoe on top to connect the flash; while the bottom has both a hot shoe connector and a 1/4 20 mount. Using the power switch, the transceiver allows for two configured flash channels, plus another switch provides three slave zones. Updates and customization are handled through the downloadable ControlTL software available on the PocketWizard's website along with the manual, addendum, and tutorials. While there, registering the FlexTT5 will add an additional year to the warranty as compared to registering by mail.
Having regularly followed the Strobist's blog, I was excited to receive the compact FlexTT5 in the vine program in connection to reviewing the MiniTT1. Set up included installing the provided two AA batteries and training each channel to the desired configuration. Training basically consists of pressing a button on the transmitter until the status LED blinks a certain way, followed by doing the same on the transceiver. After a few minutes, the FlexTT5 is ready to use.
A USB cord is included to connect the FlexTT5 to a computer (PC or Mac) for using the downloadable ControlTL software. The software isn't required for use, but helps to future proof the FlexTT5 by managing firmware updates (currently version 5) while also allowing for customizing settings on each channel. Customizable options include Channel, Modeling, Exposure, Sync Timing, and Flash settings. The only potential problem is the settings can be lost after performing a firmware upgrade.
In addition to the USB cord, a mount extender and AC5 RF soft shield is included. The extender isn't necessary, but allows the shield to close easier. The cloth shield has a zip string to seal off the base of the flash, while a Velcro strap fastens the top around the flash head.
To give the FlexTT5 a test, I positioned the flash on a transceiver in a large walk-in closet on one end of the house. I then went around the corner and started down the hall. I pressed the Canon 7D's shutter button and the flash triggered. I continued down the hall snapping pictures and watching for the flash in the darkened room through the windows. I got all the way to the other end of the house, over 40 feet away, and the FlexTT5 had no problem communicating with the transmitter. According to PocketWizard, the radio signal can communicate up to 800 feet away under optimal conditions.
When not in use, the FlexTT5 takes up little space but is twice as large as the MiniTT1. Measuring 3 1/2 by 2 3/4 by 1 inches, finding a spot in most well packed camera bags shouldn't be a problem.
PocketWizard has designed a transceiver for use by both amateurs and pros. By using radio frequencies, the flash can be position behind objects without a direct line of site. Having only one FlexTT5, I was unable to try a complicated set up. For my simple one flash arrangement, the MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 worked well. This may be a more expensive option than a Speedlight transmitter, but provides far more opportunities. If you can take advantage of the FlexTT5's features and want an expandable system, PocketWizard's system is a purchase well worth considering.
PROS: Simple set up Uses radio frequency Works over 40 feet away Up to a 3 year warranty Compact size
CONS: Steep price Firmware upgrade may reset customized settings.
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