Look Ma! No Hands! OK, maybe hands, but No Wires!

Since the advent of Pocket Wizards, the photographers life, especially with strobes, has become a less cluttered one.
In our early training days, everything was wired and the best you could do was have a slave on a strobe bank unit, so multiples could be tripped simultaneously.
The Wein company in CA had some great solutions with deep red colored triggers in a flash unit, (infra red?) that would activate the strobe banks without creating another light source. They are still selling em.

Pocket Wizard has pretty well owned the market, with reliable, multi-channel wireless trigger for cameras and/or lights.

How would you use it? Anytime you need to trigger a camera remotely: For wedding photographers, they may want to have a camera mounted in a strategic place to cover the action, high above the maddening crowd. Or maybe an assistant is holding a beauty dish or softbox on a pole, while the key shooter concentrates on the moving action.

Yep, the slightly bulky, always working Pocket Wizard has been a stalwart friend.

We wanted to do something a little different. How about at a holiday party, you have the lights and background set, but instead of a shooter behind the camera, the subjects themselves would snap the photo.

Sounds easy right?

Seems there were a few ways to solve this one.

First of all we upgraded to the new Pocket Wizard Mini TT1 and FlexTT5 for an overall smaller profile, and TTL control over the flash exposure.

The smaller transmitter would feel better in peoples hands, than the larger deal with the antennae.
Check.
Then we realized we had to get a remote cable, so the camera would be controlled by the transceiver, and plugged into the 10 pin on the Nikon.
The camera would now be triggered by the sleek new mini system.
Check.
Were we done?

Not quite.
This set-up would not trigger the strobes as well. So, luckily we had the older Pocket Wizards, which we plopped on the hot shoe of the camera, and then to the strobe bank so that when a subject would click the remote the camera would fire and the flash would trigger, plus get the second strobe bank with a slave, to fire.

Still with us?

We used the simplest (cheapest) cable to connect the transceiver to the camera. All well and good, but it took a test shot from the remote to wake up the camera into an auto-focus/ exposure mode. Or we could just set a focus at a solid f/stop like f/11, set exposure and leave it at manual.

We were in it too deep by now.

The next cable available, had a simple switch in the middle. This kept the camera awake, and by doing so it would constantly be in auto-focus mode, and auto exposure mode, if you like.
Downside, it was a battery sucker. Although, when you have multiple folks standing randomly in front of a camera, you may want that auto focus on your side.

So there you have it: 2 sets of Pocket Wizards, and 2 choices of cable connectors got the problem solved.

There was one other method we did explore: the manufacturer had to have something for this problem, right? In the lower cost consumer DSLR’s, a $20 remote did the trick.
That would be the easier cost effective way.

But no.

Nikon has a product called the ML-3. This uses a line of sight infra-red, still connecting to the 10 pin, and a slightly more elegant, useful remote trigger:
Continuous shooting, single shot, self-timer, choices of channel to transmit on, etc.. all on the remote trigger. Plus, like the other set-up you can either add a speedlight to the hotshoe, or, yep, another transmitter to trigger the strobe banks.
We won’t even get into shooting this tethered so you can edit as you go, and make the prints, or upload to a live screen or site.

So, what seemed to be a logical simple process, turned into a mutli-trip to the store, on-line and off, yet ended up with a quality reliable, system that actually has a myriad of uses.

Of course, we then postponed the party.

And for everyone that has an easier way, please share.

the full rig:

Just added:
Here is Astor Morgan, from the lOS Angeles Chapter of the APA, with Hi & Lo tech

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