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Posts Tagged ‘wireless’

LG launches G6+ with wireless charging and improved G6 software

20 Jun

If you liked the performance of the LG G6 dual-camera in our review but still weren’t quite convinced by LG’s 2017 flagship, maybe the G6+ – announced today – will win you over.

The G6+ retains most of the original G6 specification including the 13MP dual-camera with super-wide-angle lens, but doubles the internal storage to 128GB and brings Qi wireless charging to the feature set. In addition, it will come with premium B&O headphones included in the box. The Plus model will also offer a few new color options, including Optical Marine Blue, Optical Terra Gold and Optical Black. A special coating will make the back panel change hue with the angle of reflected light. No information on the G6+ pricing and availability has been released yet.

In addition to launching the Plus model, the original G6 is also getting a boost: a new software version brings face recognition functionality for unlocking the device. The new feature allows you to unlock by just lifting the G6 up and pointing the front camera towards your face.

The Low Power Consumption feature is also new and makes use of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 chipset’s ability to improve battery usage. It collects data from sensors and optimizes power usage, depending on your location and movement. Other new features include fine volume control of the Hi-Fi Quad audio and automatic call recording for pre-defined numbers.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Flash review: the Godox Ving V860 II is a great-value wireless solution

19 Jun
  • Godox Ving V860 ll flash – $ 199/£161
  • Godox Ving V860 ll flash kit with X1 transmitter – $ 245/£199
  • X1 transmitter – $ 40/£37
  • www.godox.com

I’ve been a big fan of independent flash brands since I was a teenager. Marquee brands’ hotshoe units were always disproportionately expensive, and for a young photographer on a stacking-shelves budget the appeal of cheaper and more powerful models from secondary manufacturers was obvious.

In those days of course flash unit controls were much less complicated, but working with flash was generally much harder than it is today – all we expected back then was a cable socket and a manually variable burst of illumination.

The Godox V860 ll is a very well made flash unit that comes equipped with an AF assist light on the front, a sync socket for cabled triggering and a USB port for firmware updates.

The head offers full tilt and swivel movements, manual and automatic zoom, a diffuser and a white card reflector for catchlights

Flash changed with the advent of aperture priority options, the coming of full TTL metering, optical off-camera communications and then, eventually, radio controls. While in the distant past the independent flash brands were very much following in the footsteps of the big names, now we often see the resourcefulness of some companies putting the sluggish progress of the main brands to shame.

While Nikon and Canon have held on to their intermittently effective optical flash control systems for far too long, innovative brands such as Godox, Phottix and others have been making real progress in the field of 2.4GHz radio controls. The big names have been catching up of course, but for those looking for something that doesn’t come with a significant premium for having radio wireless TTL control these companies offer an interesting set of alternatives.

Specification

Godox V860 ll
Compatible Canon, Nikon, Sony
Guide No 60m/190ft @ ISO 100
Flash coverage 20-200mm (14mm with diffuse)
Zoom control Auto and manual
Tilt/Swivel -7-90 degrees/180 degrees both L and R
Flash duration 1/300-1/20000sec
Exposure TTL and manual

Flash exp comp

+/- 3 stops
Sync mode

High speed (up to 1/8000sec)
First curtain and second curtain

Strobe-flash Up to 90 bursts at 100Hz
Wireless functions Master, Slave, Off
Slave groups

3 (A, B, C)

Transmission range

Optical indoors: 39-49ft
Optical outdoors: 26-33ft
2.4G Radio: 100m/328ft

Channels

Optical: 4
Radio: 32

Modelling flash Yes, via camera’s depth of field button
AF assist beam Yes. Range – Centre: 33ft, Edge: 16ft
Power 11.1V/2000mAh Li-ion polymer battery
Recycle time <1.5 seconds
Battery life Approx 650 full power flashes
Sync triggering Hotshoe, 2.5mm port, wireless
Color Temperature 5600 +/-200k
W x H x D 64x76x190mm/2.5x3x7.5in
Weight without battery 430g/15.2oz
Weight with battery 540g/19oz

In case you aren’t aware, the attraction of radio over optical controls in flash-to-flash communications is that the signal is more reliable outside on a sunny day and it can pass through walls and other physical barriers. Units don’t have to be the same room or very close together, and we don’t have problems of modifiers covering sensors if the flash unit needs to sit inside a softbox or similar. And that is what makes me excited about using these Godox Ving V860 ll units.

Features

The V860 II is the latest Godox offering for Canon, Nikon and Sony users, and it provides TTL metering and off-camera control via a wireless 2.4GHz radio system, as well as the usual optical control system. The unit can operate on the camera’s hotshoe as a commander unit for both other Godox flashguns and the marque brand’s own radio units, or it can join a network controlled by an ‘official’ flash unit – or indeed by a radio transmitter plugged into the camera.

The output is healthy enough, with an official guide number of 60m/190ft @ ISO 100 at 200mm, and we are offered full manual control from full to 1/128th power in 1/3rd EV increments. Flash duration figures range from 1/300sec at the more powerful settings to 1/20,000sec for the lighter bursts.

High speed sync allowed me to shoot with shutter speeds well above the standard sync speeds of the Nikon D810. The shot on the left was taken at 1/640sec and that on the right at 1/1000sec. Despite the short shutter speed and the reduced opportunity for the flash to get its illumination out, the V860 ll was easily able to compete with the bright sunlight – even when hindered by a mini softbox

The flash provides rear curtain sync even if your camera doesn’t, and high speed sync allows the flash units to be used on or off-camera at shutter speeds of up to 1/8000sec. The head has zoom positions to cover the angle of view of lenses from 20mm to 200mm, while a wide angle diffuser provides for focal lengths as short as 14mm. Comprehensive swivel and tilt positions help us direct that coverage in practically every direction except directly downwards.

Strobing can be arranged at a range of frequencies, intensities and over fixed periods, though the over-heating protection asks that we limit ourselves to 10 sequences before resting. To give you an idea of what the unit is capable of at ¼ power it is possible to choose options between 1 flash per second for 7 seconds and 2 flashes at a rate of 100 flashes per second. At minimum power that changes to 90 bursts at 1 per second, and 40 bursts at 100 per second. In normal shooting though Godox says 30 full power or 100 ¼ power flashes can be fired in quick succession before the over-heating protection kicks in and demands a 10 minute break.

One of the interesting elements of the flashgun is its power source. The V860 II is powered by the sort of rechargeable lithium ion block battery we might expect to see in a large camera. With a 2000mAh capacity the battery is claimed to be good for 650 full-power bursts and can be recharged in about two and a half hours. I’m not sure this constitutes a revolution, but it feels like one and is a good deal more convenient and civilized than carrying and burning endless AA cells.

What can be controlled wirelessly?

The V860 II is very flexible. It’s happy to to be used to command a group of connected flash units or to be controlled by another. As a commander it can fire to influence the exposure itself or be used as a pure trigger, with no flash output. Godox offers a separate commander/receiver called the X1 that makes a more cost-effective hotshoe commander when no light is required from the camera position.

The system allows three groups of flashes to be controlled at the same time, and users can pick between 32 channels to steer clear of other radio systems in the vicinity. The V860 II can still be controlled optically across four channels, but when in radio mode it has a range of 100m and works outside even in bright light, as well as when positioned in a different room with a wall between the flash and the controller.

This scene was lit with a pair of V860 ll units – one inside and one outside the house. The main flash unit was fitted into a Godox S-Type Speedlite Bracket with a SFUV softbox, and was positioned in the garden to fire through the window on the left of the frame. A second V860 ll was placed camera-right, to light the back of the subject’s head through a Rogue snoot. The camera’s metering was set to matrix, while both heads were set to +1EV via the X1 transmitter on the camera.

I found the flash’s color consistent, well balanced and in no need of correction. The cool-day/warm-day effects here were created in post-production.

Wireless control extends to manual and TTL control, as well as high speed working and strobotic operation, and a modelling burst is still possible with a press of the camera’s depth-of-field preview button.

Handling

The V860 II has a clear enough screen and lays out its wares in a pretty logical way. Once we are familiar with the mostly standard type icons it is easy to see what settings are prevailing at any one time. Changing the settings though is less straightforward so a good and thorough read of the instruction manual is recommended. The controls are really not intuitive enough that they can be used with a hazy memory or no previous experience.

With familiarity we can take advantage of a good range of control in the master and slave units. Exposure compensation runs only to +/-3EV for in-unit controls and for slaves across the three channels, which some may consider a little short for complex set-ups. On a similar note it isn’t possible to control the zoom position on slave units from the master control panel. To be fair this is not a standard feature on this sort of flash unit, but it would be useful.

A nice touch – when in commander mode the rear screen of the V860 ll turns green and when being used as a slave it turns orange. The button arrangement is simple enough – at least once you’re used to it and know what the icons mean.

Buttons and dials on the rear of the flash are nicely designed and make operation deliberate once you’ve worked out what each one does, but the controls on the X1 transceiver are a little more fiddly than they need to be and require quite small fingers. The display screen is adequate but a bit small, and on every occasion I used the rear wheel I turned it the wrong way.

The controls on the X1 are small and quite fiddly. They are fine in a relaxed studio environment, but less easy to operate on the go or with gloves on

Changing batteries in mid-shoot is fantastically easy and can be achieved in much less than a quarter of the time it takes to change four AA cells – which makes for much more relaxing weddings. And when fumbled these batteries don’t clatter and roll all the way down the church either. I am rather taken with this idea and wonder why we haven’t been using lithium blocks in our flash units for years. I’m told it makes export more difficult, but I’m not sure how much I believe that’s the whole reason.

Cheap flashguns are all very well but we need something well made and built to last, and these Godox units seem to satisfy both requirements. They feel nice to use and have a reassuring solidity about them without being too weighty. They are actually really well made and I can personally vouch for the fact that they can withstand being dropped from about waist height on to pretty hard ground.

Performance

I used a pair of these V860 ll units with the X1 transceiver on a Nikon D810, and across a couple of weddings and a few portrait shoots they did very well indeed. Nikon I suppose must be given credit for the accuracy of the metering, but the Godox units worked with the camera seamlessly.

Godox’s operating range claims seem well-founded and the radio communication does in fact work well through walls and around corners, though in a couple of instances at very close range I managed to find a blind spot when using the X1 hotshoe transmitter. I was quite surprised to encounter this on a number of occasions when holding the gun in my hand while shooting, and also while the gun was mounted on a bracket next to the camera. The blind spot seems to be at 45 degrees forward of the transmitter when the flash is placed directly alongside.

At greater distances, more normal perhaps for off-camera work, the system performed really very well, but the short range reliability became a bit of an issue for me until I got used to it – I often hold a unit in one hand and the camera in the other when working on my own at events.

Here is an overhead view of the set-up, with flash A in the softbox and flash B bouncing into the reflector. The Godox bag is being used to create a shadow around the base of the bowl. I used an X-Rite Color Checker Passport to white balance the rear flash, and found the shift in color from the camera’s flash white balance setting was hardly noticeable .
For this shot I used a single flash (A) in a softbox, set to 0EV compensation, positioned behind the subject. Here the only light is coming from flash B, positioned forward to the side and bouncing into a gold reflector.
This shot shows the effect of both flashes lighting the scene, with both set to 0EV compensation To create a little more of a three-dimensional feel I increased the power of flash A in the rear to +2EV, and reduced flash B at the front to -1.3EV

At one stage I found the X1 wouldn’t trigger the guns at all, and no matter what I tried I couldn’t make it work. This was extremely frustrating for a long time. I solved the issue by accident when I triggered one V860 ll from the other and then found that suddenly the X1 wanted to work again. I’m not entirely sure what the problem was, but suspect some sort of communication issue that was somehow unblocked when the second flash unit kicked in.

The limitations of the over-heating system will prohibit a few users from being able to make use of these units, but for the vast majority of photographers requiring more than 30 full blast bursts in quick succession is something of a rarity. I certainly can’t complain about recycle times as even at full power the lithium ion battery feeds the flash quickly enough that we can expect a burst every second.

With one flash in another room off the corridor and aimed towards the groom, and another in my hand positioned to bounce from the ceiling, I was able to create some nice lighting effects quickly with this system. The bounced flash was set to -1.3EV so it would just fill the shadows.
The robust metal threads on the supplied feet make the V860 ll units easy to mount on tripods or lighting stands. I used a pair of softboxes to light this shot, one either side of the couple. The small size of the softboxes and the flash heads contributes to the cut-out feeling and illustrates a limitation of hotshoe flashes.

I found the coverage to be even enough at most focal length settings and the output of manual burst to be consistent from shot to shot. The color shifts somewhat between the brightest and the weakest bursts, but not so much that it will be an issue for most non-technical applications.

The flash duration quoted by Godox seems to be the total flash duration rather than the effective duration (the time the maximum intensity drops by half) . Using a Sekonic L-858D meter I measured the total duration at full power to be approx. 1/450sec, and the effective duration to be more like 1/1600sec. The difference will probably not be noticed by most.

Shot in bright sunshine at f/5.6 and 1/400sec at ISO 100, and the zoom in the 70mm position. The flash was in the hotshoe and was more than powerful enough to reach the subjects in an effective way. I was glad of the long-lasting lithium ion batteries on such a day of full power bursts. The main light here is daylight from a window to camera-right. The walls behind the bride though were rather too dull and shaded, so I placed a single V860 ll behind her to light them up a bit. I left it at 0EV and it did the job nicely.

Translating the guide number into real world situations, I found that full power gave me a meter reading of f/8@ISO 100 with the flash 10 feet away and the zoom head set to 50mm. Changing the zoom position to 200mm increased the reading to f/11 ½ in the same situation.

Add-ons and accessories

Included in the two-flash kit I received were feet/stands with a brass tripod thread in the base, a pair of strap-on diffusers, a set of colored gels and a pouch for each flash.

Like many other flash brands, Godox offers a range of accessories that help to modify the light from their units. My favorite accessory though is the S-mount adapter that allows the flash to be clamped within an adapter ring for S-Mount (Bowens) accessories. I tried the V860 ll flashes with big and small softboxes and dishes, as well as the good-sized pop-up softbox that comes with the adapter. As you will know, some speedlight accessories are too big, floppy and cumbersome to use easily, but with its own clamp the S-adapter is excellent and the softbox genuinely useful.

The company also sells an external battery pack for these flash units. The ProPac Lithium Power Pack PB960 can deliver 1800 full power bursts after a three-hour charge, and can accommodate two flash units at the same time. Via adapter cables it can run Godox, Canon, Nikon and/or Sony guns.

It is worth noting too that the radio system of the V860 ll flash units is the same as that which controls some of the company’s studio flash heads, so you can use a mixture of speedlite and studio style sources together.

Conclusion

I have been really very impressed with this system. Firstly because these V860 II units make excellent hotshoe flashguns on their own, and secondly as they provide a comprehensive amount of control and a mostly-reliable wireless radio connection. They perform well when paired with other Godox flashes and are equally well behaved within a group of Nikon radio units, as well as within a collection of optically controlled flashguns.

I really appreciate the reliability and range of radio controlled flash units, not just in these flashes, and that they can be used in a much wider set of circumstances. I got thoroughly sick of trying to use optical systems outside some years ago, and was frustrated at the chances I was missing out on.

The light in this room was nice and even, but being able to balance a flash unit on a basin in the adjoining bathroom allowed me to quickly add an extra dimension to the bride’s face and body with a bit of a broad keyline. Knocking 0.7EV off the brightness of a single V860 ll placed wide camera-left was enough to get the balance right for this early evening shot. The flexibility of the system allowed me to work quickly to get a nice result without having to dash to the flash unit to change the power

I really enjoyed having a block battery and not carrying and disposing of AA cells – it just makes life that much more relaxing and enjoyable. And with the 650-burst capacity it makes me wonder why other brands don’t adopt the same idea.

The most surprising thing about these flashguns though is their price, and that when they turn up they don’t feel like or perform like low cost alternatives. They make an astonishingly good purchase, and I highly recommend them.

Pros

  • Good wireless connection at normal distances
  • Very well made
  • Great block battery with good life
  • Plenty of control on and off the camera
  • Powerful enough for most users
  • Really good price

Cons

  • X1 transceiver could be easier to use
  • Radio signal not so reliable when the flash is close to the X1
  • Needs more than +/-3EV range of compensation

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Cactus announces flash transceiver firmware upgrade to support wireless cross-brand TTL

25 Mar

Cactus has announced a series of brand-specific firmware updates for its V6 II and V6 IIs triggers that will add TTL functions alongside their cross-brand HSS support.

The triggers are already capable of high speed sync across systems, as well as remote control over flash power and zoom. The upcoming firmware updates will add the ability to support automatic TTL exposure across brands as well. The first firmware releases will support Sigma, Fujifilm and Sony, with support for Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Panasonic and Pentax following one-by-one.

For more information on the Cactus V6 II triggers and compatible flashes check out the company’s website, and for more information on the upcoming firmware releases, see the press release below.


Press Release:

X-TTL TTL without Boundaries! Cactus launches FREE firmware upgrades on the V6 II and V6 IIs to support wireless cross-brand TTL.

Hong Kong, March 24, 24, 2017 – Just nine months since the release of the Cactus V6 II and Cactus V6 IIs, Cactus is now launching a series of brand-specific firmware upgrades to transform the cross-brand HSS flash triggers to one that also supports crosscross-brand wireless TTL. The new X-TTL firmware versions, apart from supporting cross-brand high-speed sync (HSS/FP), remote power and zoom control of Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax and Sigma flashes all at the same time1, NOW support automatic TTL exposure in the same cross-brand environment, both on-camera and off-camera.2

The first wave of firmware releases will be for Sigma Sony and Fujifilm. Other camera systems, Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic and Pentax, will follow one by one as we complete system integration on the V6 II. All these X-TTL firmware versions are free of charge for V6 II / V6 IIs users. The new firmware is system-specific so users simply choose the corresponding system when updating with the Cactus Firmware Updater. Once installed, the V6 II / V6 IIs is transformed into a cross-brand wireless TTL flash trigger.

This unique function gives photographers an unprecedented flexibility. The need for matching flashes with the same camera system for on and off-camera TTL flash photography is over – TTL without boundaries.

Cross-brand TTL

The X-TTL firmware allows users to have wireless TTL automatic exposure with camera and flash that runs on the same system, such as a Canon camera triggering a Canon flash, and one that runs on different systems, such as a Sigma camera triggering a Nikon system flash.

Similar to the cross-brand HSS firmware on the V6 II, the supported flash systems for wireless cross-brand TTL include Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, and flash that runs on the same camera system.

Two unique Exposure Locks

Cactus is unveiling a brand new approach in using TTL metering. Over the past, professionals who love the convenience from TTL metering often have to suffer inconsistency in lighting outputs, making post processing a pain. In view of this Cactus devised two types of Exposure Locks.

1. Flash Compensate: Store a desired flash exposure that will automatically adjust according to changes in camera settings. Gone is the ever-changing flash exposures between each TTL metering.

2. Flash Power Lock: Lock flash power output after a desired TTL exposure is achieved. Perfect for consistency in repeat shooting. Wireless TTL functions

The X-TTL firmware will also support advanced TTL functions on the Cactus V6 II and V6 IIs, such as first and second (rear) curtain sync, on-camera TTL, group TTL metering and TTL lighting ratios3.

New support for Sigma

We are delighted to offer firmware support for Sigma cameras and flashes. This includes remote power control, remote zoom control, wireless High-speed Sync, and wireless TTL with Sigma’s SA-TTL flashes. The same cross-brand support is also available on the Sigma X-TTL firmware. Cactus expresses appreciation to SIGMA CORPORATION for their immense support in our development for Sigma system firmware.

Fujifilm TTL and HSS

With the introduction of Fujifilm new flash system launched on the EF-X500, Highspeed Sync (HSS/FP) is finally available. Besides adopting the new HSS platform, the upcoming Fujifilm X-TTL firmware also extends support for wireless TTL to Fujifilm flashes as well as Canon, Nikon, Olympus, and Panasonic flashes. Fujifilm X-TTL Firmware release date will be announced on our website.

V6 IIs with Sony TTL

Existing Sony V6 IIs users already has a system-specific transceiver unit, and the upcoming Sony X-TTL firmware adds wireless TTL support for Sony flashes and other system flashes when paired with the Cactus V6 II. Sony X-TTL Firmware release date will be announced on our website.

Features at a glance

1. Cross-brand wireless manual power and zoom control with HSS/FP support of Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax and Sony flashes;2

2. Cross-brand wireless TTL of Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax, Sigma and Sony flashes;2

3. Cross-brand group TTL metering is extended to use in a cross-brand setup;3

4. TTL Ratios output adjustments can be done directly on the V6 II (TX);3

5. Two Exposure Locks offer consistency with the convenience of wireless TTL.

6. Works seamlessly with Cactus RF60X to support HSS, TTL, remote power and zoom control.

Price and Availability

System-specific X-TTL firmware versions are free of charge. Download the Cactus Firmware Updater4 and select the corresponding system firmware to install the X-TTL firmware on the Cactus V6 II and V6 IIs.

After launching the initial three systems, i.e., Sigma, Fujifilm and Sony, Cactus will continue to launch X-TTL firmware for the remaining camera systems. Stay up to date for the latest releases on X-TTL’s microsite: https://www.cactusimage.com/special/X-TTL/

1 With the exception of Pentax and Sony system flashes due to special timing requirements so they must be paired with a Pentax and Sony camera respectively in order to support HSS.

2 Only Canon, Nikon, Olympus and Panasonic system flashes support cross-brand TTL.

3 This function may not be supported on all the camera systems.

4 Cactus Firmware Updater version 3.01 or later will better facilitate firmware selection. To be released soon!

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Why Wireless Tethering Will Improve Your Photography

20 Mar

As a photographer, shooting tethered is one of the best ways to improve your photography skills. Tethering helps you zoom into the details of your shots on a big screen so you can make adjustments as you go. It also encourages collaboration by keeping your photo subject or client engaged if they’re on location with you. In this article, I’ll explain what tethered shooting is and why wireless tethering with an app like CamRanger is the best choice.

What is tethering?

By definition, tethering is when a mobile device shares its internet connection with another device. This can be done through Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or a physical connection cable (e.g. USB). Many mobile phones can tether to share their Wi-Fi with laptops or tablets. Similarly, cameras can tether as well. But in the case of tethered shooting with a camera, the purpose is to transmit images from the camera directly to another device such as a laptop computer or tablet.

CamRanger Wireless Tethering 11

The cheapest and most efficient way to shoot tethered is to use a wired connection. All you need is a standard USB cable that connects to your camera and tethering software such as Capture One, Adobe Lightroom, or DSLR Controller. Wired tethering is very cheap, and it’s extremely quick. There’s practically no delay between pressing the shutter on your camera and seeing the resulting image pop up on your screen. Get more info and a detailed step-by-step guide to wired tethering here.

What is wireless tethering?

However, the main disadvantage with wired tethering is the cable. It can easily get unplugged from your camera or laptop and mess up the tethered connection. The cable can also be a hazard on set, causing you or your photo subject to trip over it. This is where wireless tethering can come in handy. If you shoot on location and can’t be bothered with a cable limiting your movement, wireless tethering is an option you may want to explore.

When you tether wirelessly, you plug a device such as CamRanger into your camera and use it to create a wireless network. Any device such as a laptop or tablet can join that wireless network and your images are transmitted wirelessly every time you press the shutter button. You can even remotely control the camera from your tethered computer or tablet.

CamRanger Wireless Tethering 10

Why CamRanger is the Best Wireless Tethering Device

There are several wireless tethering devices available, and I tried many of them out in search of the one that would work best. My devices requiring connectivity included a Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 6D cameras, Android smartphone, and Apple laptop computer. Although it’s the most expensive, CamRanger is my wireless tethering device of choice. Here’s why:

1. Minimal stuff in the box

The contents in the CamRanger box are very minimal, consisting of just a few cables, a case, simple instructions, and the unit itself. I really loved the zippered case with a carabiner that easily fit all of the items. One thing that would be nice to have is the CamRanger hot shoe mounting device, which has to be purchased separately.

CamRanger Wireless Tethering

2. Intuitive setup

After unboxing CamRanger, setup is pretty simple. Begin by downloading the CamRanger app to your tethering device of choice. Currently, you can download the CamRanger app for iOS (iPhone and iPad), Android devices, Kindle Fire, and both Mac and Windows computers.

Next, switch on the CamRanger device so that it broadcasts a Wi-Fi signal. This might take a minute or two. Then connect your tethering device, with the app installed, to the CamRanger Wi-Fi network using the CamRanger’s serial number as the Wi-Fi password. Boom! You’re ready to shoot!

CamRanger Wireless Tethering 01

CamRanger desktop app allows for wireless tethering and remote camera control.

3. Compatible with Canon and Nikon

CamRanger will work with both Canon and Nikon DSLRs. For a full list of compatible cameras, check out their website.

How CamRanger actually works

Whenever you shoot tethered with CamRanger, the device stores image previews in a cache on your device. The actual files are still written to your camera’s CF or SD memory card like usual. While the wireless transfer of images can definitely be slow, this process can be sped up if you change your camera preferences to shoot in JPG only, or RAW + JPG. Transferring JPG images goes much faster than RAW images.

Another huge benefit of CamRanger is the option to switch the app into Client Mode. This allows you to hand your tethered device over to your client to preview images created in real time, without allowing them to remotely control your camera so you can keep shooting. It’s a clever feature that really adds value.

CamRanger Wireless Tethering 11

In practice, there are a few limitations of CamRanger to be aware of. First, note that wireless tethering still has a limited range of about 100-150 feet. If your camera and connected device drift outside of this range, you risk losing connectivity. Second, CamRanger does have a decent battery life of 5-6 hours by itself, but using it in conjunction with Live View on your camera can drain your camera batteries quickly.

CamRanger Positive Features

  • Very easy to setup and start using immediately
  • Built-in features include focus stacking, bracketing, and intervalometer
  • Minimal pieces, so it is easy to travel with
  • Lets clients easily see my images and give feedback
  • Reduces time in post-processing by making real-time adjustments when shooting
  • Eliminates the long, hazardous USB cable needed for wired tethering



What about built-in Wi-Fi?

If you have a camera with built-in Wi-Fi, you can probably remote control your camera and perform some tethering functions. As an example, I have the Canon 6D DSLR which has Wi-Fi connectivity. This is great for wirelessly transmitting images to my mobile phone and for doing some remote camera control via the Canon Camera Connect mobile phone app. However, no such app exists for my laptop, so I cannot wirelessly connect to my computer without using another device and USB cable. This is why I still use CamRanger to shoot tethered from my laptop, even with my Wi-Fi enabled camera.

CamRanger Alternatives

There are a couple of other popular CamRanger alternatives that also permit you to do wirelessly tethering. I tried both of these options out and found they weren’t nearly as comprehensive or reliable as CamRanger.

  • CamFi
  • Tether Tools Case Air

In Conclusion

Do you shoot tethered? What do you think about the pros and cons of wireless tethered shooting? Let me know in the comments below!

The post Why Wireless Tethering Will Improve Your Photography by Suzi Pratt appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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CamFi wireless camera controller now supports Sony digital cameras

28 Feb

Wireless camera controller CamFi now supports Sony digital cameras, the company announced recently. With CamFi 3.0, the latest version of the app, Sony camera owners can attach the CamFi wireless controller to their camera via a USB cable, then access and control the camera remotely using a laptop or tablet over Wi-Fi.

CamFi supports live view from Sony digital cameras, as well as Nikon and Canon cameras, and also enables photographers to change camera settings and capture shots using a laptop or tablet. The controller supports multi-camera setups, and also adds support for the latest DNP wireless printer server. The company says CamFi 3.0 also supports both Raw and JPEG image formats.

According to the CamFi Sony support page, the product presently supports the Sony a7R, a7R II, a7S, a7 II, a7, a6300, a6000, and a5100 models. Both MTP and PC Remote modes are supported; users can select their preferred mode in the camera’s ‘USB Connection’ menu. Check out the support page for full details on how to set up and use CamFi with Sony cameras.

Press release:

CamFi 3.0 Adds Wireless Tether Support for Sony Cameras

GUANGDONG, CHINA. – February 23, 2017 – CamFi Limited, maker of wireless controllers for digital cameras, announced today that the new version of its app, CamFi 3.0, adds wireless tether support for Sony cameras. This feature allows the photographer to transmit photos from a Sony camera to a laptop or tablet via Wi-Fi automatically during a photo shoot. 

“CamFi is the only wireless camera controller which can support Canon, Nikon and Sony currently. The support for other camera brands will be added in the future,” Said Mark Ma, CEO of CamFi, “We hope we can bring something new for the photography industry.” 

CamFi 3.0 supports both raw and jpeg image file formats. It also supports live view for Sony cameras. That way, a photographer can see the live view of the camera, change the ISO, shutter speed and aperture and shoot remotely. Furthermore, the new version added support for the newest DNP wireless printer server. This allows the user to print the photo via Wi-Fi immediately after shooting. CamFi supports multiple camera control, which can be used to create a bullet time effect. 

There are many advantages to using wireless remote capture. For one thing, the technology enables the photographer to see the preview image on a large screen, such as that of a tablet, versus the small viewfinder of the camera. The tether also makes it possible for the camera to be in a position that gets the right shot, but which is not necessary comfortable or safe for the photographer. For instance, the camera can be mounted on a high railing while the photographer can see the preview while standing on the floor below. Wireless tethers are helpful for time-lapse photography and self-portraits as well. 

For more information and the full list of product specifications, please visit
http://cam-fi.com

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Electroads: Wireless Vehicle-Charging Roads Rolling Out in Tel Aviv

11 Jan

[ By WebUrbanist in Conceptual & Futuristic & Technology. ]

electroads

A series of roads and public buses in Israel are being retrofitted to test an electromagnetic induction system designed to recharge vehicles on the go, eliminating the cost, time, emissions and waste associated with conventional fuel and refueling stops.

smart-inverter

Electroad, an Israeli startup, boasts a relatively straightforward and fast-deploying system compared to competitors. Their copper and rubber chargers can be rolled out at a rate of a close to a half a mile per day into shallow trenches just a few inches deep. The ease of retrofitting is one of the striking advantages of the system — more involved variants can require ripping up substantial sections of pavement, taking longer and costing more to implement.

air-gap

Their technology has already been tested in controlled settings (small sections of test track outside Electroad’s lab) but will now be demonstrated at scale under real-world conditions along public transit routes. Like other induction technologies, no connection is needed between the vehicle and the road — a radiation-shielded coil simply picks up energy from the lines below, tied into the grid at intervals along the way.

eletric-bus-wireless-charging

To deploy the system, an asphalt scraper digs a trench while a second vehicle unrolls the the rubber-and-plastic strips. Electric buses following the revamped route will be able to store a charge for any jumps off the invisible grid. That may not sound like much, but the reduced storage capacity means the bus can travel lighter, using less energy and requiring a cheaper battery. Ultimately, the cost and power saved upfront will help pay back for the system installation more rapidly.

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[ By WebUrbanist in Conceptual & Futuristic & Technology. ]

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Metz mecablitz M400 compact wireless flash unit now available

06 Dec

German flash manufacturer Metz has launched a new compact sized flash unit that offers wireless TTL control and coverage to match 24-105mm lenses. First announced at Photokina, the Metz mecablitz M400 has a guide number of 40m/131ft at ISO 100 at the 105mm zoom setting, along with a tilt and swivel head for bouncing the light. The gun is compatible with Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon, Micro Four Thirds, Pentax and Sony multi-interface cameras and offers TTL metering with each. All but the Fujifilm model will support wireless TTL flash as well, with the M400 being used either as a slave or commander in a group. A USB socket is provided for future firmware updates.

High speed sync mode is available, as is the choice of first and second curtain triggering, and 25 steps of manual control. The unit also has a 100 Lux/1m video light built-in that provides six stages of illumination.

The Metz mecablitz M400 is available now and costs $ 280/£122. For more information visit the Metz website.

Press Release

M400 launched by Metz

Compact and powerful flashgun

Metz has launched the mecablitz M400, a compact system flash suited to mirrorless system cameras and is ideal for any photographer or film-maker looking for a convenient, compact flash unit. It is available in Canon, Nikon, Micro FourThirds, Pentax, Sony and Fuji fittings.

Powered by four AAA sized NiMH, alkaline-magnesium or lithium batteries, the Metz mecablitz M400 has a zoom-swivel head covering a FOV range matching that of a full-frame 24-105mm lens, with a guide number of 40 (in metres at ISO 100/21°) at the 105mm position. Depending on your camera, the mecablitz M400 with master and slave mode also offers wireless TTL flash functionality. The M400 comes with an adjustable LED video/modelling light, bounce card and integrated wide-angle diffuser. Other highlights include high-speed flash synchronisation, second-curtain sync and red-eye reduction plus it can always be kept up-to-date via the USB interface for receiving firmware updates.

Features / Tech Spec:
High max. guide number 40m (131feet) for ISO100 and 105mm
Vertical (+90°) and horizontal (360°) bounce/swivel head
Clear OLED display
Integrated high-performance LED video light (100 Lux @ 1m)
Motorised zoom for 24–105mm illumination
Integrated wide-angle diffuser (12mm) & flip-out reflector card
Flash readiness indicator, correct exposure display on unit and on camera (camera dependent)
Flash range shown in OLED display
Automatic unit shut-off
Dimensions: (W x H x D) 65 x 92 x 87mm
Fittings available: Canon / Nikon / Fuji / Sony / Pentax / Olympus – Panasonic

Prices & Availability
Metz M400 Flashgun – all fittings. £121.99 inc VAT
Available immediately

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Accessory review: Western Digital My Passport Wireless Pro

11 Nov

If you’re like me, chances are good that a normal part of your mobile kit for photo travel is a laptop computer. However, given the choice, it would also be one of the first things I would jettison from my travel kit thanks to the added weight and space it consumes in my pack. Unfortunately, I haven’t found a viable way to do it since I usually need to back up data, do some editing in the field, and share images to social media or to clients.

That’s exactly the challenge the Western Digital My Passport Wireless Pro is designed to address. It’s a hard drive with its own built-in Wi-Fi network, internal SD card slot, USB connection, and dedicated iOS and Android apps. In theory, it should appeal to those who want to back up photos and videos in the field, access their data from a mobile device such as an iPad, and even do some editing of their files without a computer.

What’s new

This is the second iteration of Western Digital’s My Passport Wireless line of products; we reviewed the original about a year and a half ago and, although it was great in concept, it felt a bit like a first attempt at a product with room to improve. In fact, a Western Digital representative told us that the company listened carefully to users of the first edition, and that most of the improvements in this updated model were in direct response to user feedback.

On the hardware side of things, the My Passport Wireless Pro has a much faster SD card slot than its predecessor, with a 75 MB/sec read speed compared to 10 MB/sec on the previous model. It also supports 802.11ac Wi-Fi using both 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks, and WD tells us the new model is capable of WiFi data transfers up to 20 MB/sec compared to 9 MB/sec on the first edition. Additionally, battery capacity has been improved significantly, from 3400 mAh to 6400 mAh, providing a claimed 11.5 hours of mobile power (6-8 hours under heavy use).

However, according to WD, one of the most common feature requests was directed at the MyCloud mobile app, which didn’t provide a way for users to export photos from the drive to the Camera Roll on their device. The new WD My Cloud app facilitates this, though how it works will depend whether you’re using JPEG or Raw files.

Key Features:

  • 2TB/3TB 5400rpm hard drive
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi (2.4GHz and 5GHz)
  • Built-in Wi-Fi hotspot
  • SD 3.0 card reader
  • USB 2.0 port for external card readers
  • Connectivity to common cloud services, including Adobe Creative Cloud
  • Rechargeable battery with up to 11.5 hours of operation
  • IOS and Android apps
  • Plex media server 

The My Passport Wireless Pro is available in two capacities: a 2TB version which retails for $ 229 and a 3TB version which retails for $ 249.

Setup

Initial setup of the My Passport Wireless Pro is fairly straightforward, though I did find myself referring to the user manual on a couple occasions. If you’re working from a mobile device you’ll need to download the WD My Cloud app from the appropriate app store before starting. Then, using either a computer or mobile device you simply turn on the drive, connect to the Wi-Fi hotspot it creates using a web browser or the My Cloud app, and follow the setup instructions.

The web-based dashboard is intuitive and puts most functions within easy reach. However, since the Passport doesn’t recognize Raw image files by type they get categorized as ‘Other.’ (Which explains the 300GB of ‘other’ files in the graph.)

During setup you have the option of connecting to the internet. The My Passport Wireless Pro accomplishes this by acting as a bridge between your computer or mobile device and the Wi-Fi network of your choice. When configuring the Wi-Fi connection it’s important to pay attention to the option that asks whether you want to share the device on the network: if you’re on a private network this can be a useful feature, but if you’re on a public network, such as at a hotel or a coffee shop, everyone else on the network will be able to see your files as well.

Once the setup process is complete there are basically three ways to connect to the My Passport Wireless Pro. The first is via a direct Wi-Fi connection between the Passport and your computer or mobile device. This works whether the Passport is connected to the internet or not, and it allows you to access the contents of the drive using the My Cloud app or a computer. Second, assuming you’ve configured your My Passport to connect to a Wi-Fi network (and selected the option to share its contents), any computer on the network will be able to access the drive. In a sense, it acts like a mini-NAS. Finally, the My Passport can always be plugged directly into a computer using a USB 3.0 cable. In this scenario it just acts like a normal hard drive, but a direct connection provides the best performance.

The Passport’s built-in Wi-Fi hotspot can act as a bridge to connect to the internet and supports connections from multiple devices simultaneously.

Backing up data

My typical photography workflow when traveling revolves around a laptop computer and various attached hard drives or SSDs. The prospect of leaving all that at home, and traveling only with the My Passport Wireless Pro and an iPad was enticing, so I decided to put it through a real world test.

A couple months ago I traveled to the city of Yellowknife in Canada’s Northwest Territories to photograph the northern lights. This type of trip requires disciplined data management as it involves shooting multiple DSLRs at one time, with each camera capturing hundreds, or even thousands, of photos per night while capturing time-lapse sequences. I would have to recycle my cards and needed a foolproof, reliable way to back up all the images. (In the interest of full disclosure, I ran my normal workflow in parallel for security.)

I quickly came to appreciate the ease-of-use of the My Passport Wireless Pro. Upon returning to the hotel every morning, I simply turned it on and began inserting cards to back up while I focused on re-organizing my gear and charging batteries. The device can be set to back up cards automatically or require the user to initiate transfer. I settled for the automatic transfer option, so all I had to do was insert a card and go about my business. A row of LEDs, which double as a battery indicator, dutifully blinked away while data was copied, and once they stopped I could just insert the next card and move on.

The My Passport Wireless pro organizes card data into a very logical hierarchy.

This process works very well, in part thanks to the way the My Passport Wireless Pro organizes data. When a card is inserted, its entire contents are copied to a unique folder, and all folders are organized by date. The result is a well-organized hierarchy of every card you’ve backed up along the way. It also supports incremental backups, so inserting a card with a few extra files added doesn’t result in redundant backups or duplicated data; only new files are copied.

Working with images

The My Passport Wireless Pro did a great job of backing up my data, but that’s only part of the equation. Western Digital’s premise is that you can leave your laptop at home and work entirely from a mobile device. To access images on the drive you’ll need to download the WD My Cloud app, available for both iOS and Android. (I did my testing on an iPad. There may be minor differences when working from Android.)

The My Cloud app makes it easy to navigate and view all the contents of the drive, though there are some limitations. If you’re working with JPEG files it’s possible to preview them inside the app, save them to your Camera Roll, or share them with other apps on your device.

If you’re working with JPEG files it’s easy to preview your images in the My Cloud app. The share button in the upper right corner allows you to save images to the camera roll or send them to other apps.

The user interface isn’t quite as polished as I’d like. In particular, there’s no way to display a grid of thumbnail images across the screen, similar to what you would find in the Camera Roll or many other apps. Instead, you’re basically browsing the file system in a single column with tiny thumbnails, leaving much of the screen unused until you select an image. It works, but it seems like a missed opportunity to make the app much more user friendly.

Unfortunately, there’s no support for Raw images inside the My Cloud app. It’s possible to see the files, but clicking on one results in a giant question mark instead of an image preview. If you want to work with Raw images you really need to shoot Raw + JPEG. This essentially provides a thumbnail image for each Raw file so that you know which image you’re looking at in the app. Simply use the JPEG files to find the desired image, then select the Raw file with the same filename. From here you have a couple options to work with a Raw file.

If you’re shooting Raw files it’s not possible to view them directly inside the My Cloud app. However, it’s possible to save them to your Camera Roll (DNG) or send them to other apps for processing. Shooting Raw + JPEG serves to provide thumbnail images to help find the file you’re looking for.

The quickest way is to save your Raw image(s) to your Camera Roll or send them to another app for editing. This works fine if you’re working with DNG images, especially now that iOS recognizes this type of file. However, since very few cameras save DNG files natively, chances are pretty good that whatever you’re backing up in the field will be in a different format. In my case, I had thousands of Nikon NEF files, so this wasn’t an option.

Alternatively, the My Cloud app can be linked to several common cloud storage services. At the time of publication, this includes Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, WD’s own MyCloud and Adobe Creative Cloud. This means that you can easily copy any of your files to a cloud service where you may have additional ways to work with it. The inclusion of Adobe Creative Cloud is particularly useful since files there can be opened and edited by Adobe apps on your mobile device. (Assuming you have a Creative Cloud subscription, of course.)

Popular cloud storage services, including Adobe Creative Cloud, are integrated with the My Cloud app, making it easy to copy Raw files from the Passport to another location.

Performance

One of the knocks against the original My Passport Wireless was speed, and Western Digital has clearly focused on improving this aspect of the user experience. In particular, WD says the SD card slot can now read data at 75 MB/sec, compared to 10 MB/sec on the original model. In practice, I found that it took about 5 minutes to back up a card with 10GB of data using the built-in card reader. By comparison, connecting the drive to my laptop via USB 3.0 and using the MacBook’s built-in SD card reader to copy the same data set to the Passport took around 2 minutes and 30 seconds, or about half the time. This ratio stayed fairly constant across a number of informal tests. The card reader on the Passport isn’t a speed demon, but it’s fast enough for a portable backup solution that can run on its own while I focus other things.

There’s also a USB port on the device in case you need to back up files from a different type of media, such as a CFast 2.0 card. Unfortunately, it’s a USB 2.0 port, so it won’t support the faster transfer speeds most of us are accustomed to with USB 3.0. In practice, however, it wasn’t that much slower than using the built-in card reader on the device. The 10GB reference data set I mentioned above typically transferred in about 6 minutes and 30 seconds, compared to 5 minutes for the built-in card reader. However, it seems like another missed opportunity given that media like CFast 2.0 or XQD cards have the potential to transfer data much more quickly.

WD claims the battery on the My Passport Wireless Pro can last up to 11.5 hours, or 6-8 hours under heavy use. In practice, I typically got around 8 hours of use on a charge. The drive comes with an AC power adapter for charging or to keep the drive powered full time.

Build quality

One important feature of any device meant for travel or mobile use is durability. The My Passport Wireless Pro feels dense and solid, and I never ran into any trouble with my review unit. My only concern revolves around the plastic case, which seems more appropriate for a desktop hard drive than a mobile device. It’s picked up a few scuffs and scratches along the way, but it has otherwise held up pretty well. I suspect that it might look a lot rougher around the edges after a year of heavy use, but I’m reasonably confident that the damage would be cosmetic and not functional. 

Conclusion

Overall I really liked using the My Passport Wireless Pro, and under the right circumstances it can be a great solution. For example, if you’re the type of person who just saves all your images on memory cards until you get home, it’s a great way to provide an extra layer of security for your data while traveling: simply plug in your cards and they all get duplicated to a second location for safety.

It’s also a great solution if you work mostly with JPEG images, want to do some editing and sharing of images on the road, but prefer to leave your laptop at home. In fact, I think this is probably the sweet spot for the Passport. In this scenario it really can relieve you of the burden of carrying a laptop all the time, but still provides a way to access and perform basic editing of every photo from your trip in one place.

Power users will likely find some utility in the device, but not enough to meet all their needs, particularly when working mainly from Raw files. That said, it can still be a very useful tool. In particular, I appreciated the simplicity of using the device to back up my cards in a highly organized manner with minimal effort.

Western Digital has addressed many, though not all, of the shortcomings on the original My Passport Wireless, and overall I was impressed with the My Passport Wireless Pro. However, whether it’s the right tool for you will come down to your particular use case and whether the features meet your specific needs. 

What we like:

  • Automated, organized backups
  • Integrated mobile app
  • Integration with cloud services
  • Built-in Wi-Fi hotspot
  • Excellent battery life

What we don’t like:

  • No way to view Raw files in My Cloud app
  • Plastic case scratches easily
  • USB 2.0 connection for non-SD media types

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Overview and Test of the New Cactus V6II Wireless Flash Trigger for High-Speed Sync

28 Oct

Cactus Image recently launched a new version of their radio trigger for speedlights and strobes, the Cactus V6II. In this review, I’ll go over the features of this trigger, how to use it, and do some example photo shoots to test it.

Features of the Cactus V6II Wireless Flash Transceiver

This is a 16 channel system with 4 groups. That means 16 systems can run concurrently, and each photographer could have four sets of flashes of which they can control the power (and zoom for the RF-60/TTL Flashes). It runs off two AA batteries, mini-USB 2.0, or a 5v DC input. Like most modern flash triggers, it runs at 2.4Ghz, which helps it work reliably up to 100 meters. It supports High-Speed Sync up to 1/8000 sec (if your camera goes that high).

The mini-USB port also allows you to update the firmware on the device, giving it a certain amount of future proofing. The main difference between the V6 and the V6II is that the latter allows you to use High-Speed Sync across a range of cameras and flashes, including that of the Fuji X series (which lacks the ability normally). The V6II HSS is based on the use of camera and flash profiles. This allows both Cactus and the photographer to make profiles for flashes they may not already have in the system.

Cactus Wireless Flash Transceiver V6 II - box

The Cactus V6II transceiver box.

This means there’s practically universal support for any flash you may have. The exception is flashes that have a high sync voltage. The units are cross compatible between systems, so you can use Pentax cameras with Olympus flashes, etc.

Camera and flash compatibility list for the v6II

Camera and flash compatibility list for the v6II

There are two High-Speed Sync modes; Normal and Power. Normal High-Speed Sync works up to 1/8000th of a second and uses a pulsing flash fire. Power Sync uses the full power flash as a normal fire, but allows you to exceed the normal sync-speed of the camera.

Getting started with the Cactus V6II

The trigger comes in a nicely designed box, containing the user manual, the trigger, and a hotshoe foot. Unlike other hotshoe feet, this one doesn’t have a screw thread for a lighting stand. It’s not an issue as I wasn’t expecting one anyway. The unit can be configured as either a transmitter or a receiver by selecting Tx or Rx from the power switch.

When it is on-camera as a transmitter, you have the four groups visible on the camera left-hand side. Marked A, B, C and D, pressing one toggles it on and off. This way you can select a specific group of flashes to change settings on. This works especially great with Cactus’ own flash, the RF60. Using the dial on the back you can change the power of the flashes on the group, or by pressing in the dial, swap to the lens zoom setting and change that instead.

The unboxed Cactus V6II

The unboxed Cactus V6II

On the right hand side at the front is the test button. You can press it to test that the signal is going to either the RF60, or to another V6II set to receiver mode. One other useful feature is that there’s a hotshoe on the trigger, where you can add your existing trigger system, or another flash. Using your current triggers will allow the High-Speed Sync signal to pass through the V6II and into your flash system.

Setting up

My main portable system is based around Godox v850 flashes (more precisely, the Neweer versions rebranded as the TT850 – it’s the same flash). I also have the more powerful AD360, which responds to the same trigger (the older FT-16), so I find it a really useful system. All of the flashes are High-Speed Sync capable and have profiles in the trigger. I don’t actually use the built-in profiles for High-Speed Sync with Fuji cameras.

The Gear Setup for HSS

Using the older triggers, I set up the flash as normal. Once it’s all working I take the trigger off the camera and put the Cactus V6II on instead (switched to Tx mode). Next I put the old (FT-16) transmitter on top of the hotshoe on the V6II. Finally I set the flash to HSS mode by pressing a two button combination on the back. Each system has its own way of turning on HSS. Yes, this does mean you only need one Cactus V6II trigger with this system to get HSS working.

To get started, press the Menu button on the back right of the V6II unit. Turn the dial to Camera and Flash Setup. Set Camera to Auto, then set Flash to the brand that you use. Next use the Auto Profile for your Flash. For Fuji, you have an additional step, where you make the trigger learn the HSS response of the flash. For the AD360, I set the Flash to Nikon and the Profile to Auto (Nikon).

The Beta Test

So I set it all up, and with my trusty Godox 120cm Octabox on the Ad360, I sweet-talked my son into posing on his bike. That’s roughly three minutes of attention span before boredom hits. I’ve included some behind the scenes shots as well. The exposure was 1/4000th, f/2.8, ISO 200 with a 35mm f/1.4 lens. Even the nearby trees are out of focus. I absolutely love the bokeh in my first shoot with the trigger.

Cactus image v6ii review matt

Test Shoot #1

Testing means dragging out a range of people to shoot with. It also means working around their schedule. So this next shoot happened a little later than I would’ve liked, but I still got some good shots.

Once the trigger is set up, your main issue is dealing with power. Normally with manual flash, only the aperture has an effect on the apparent power of the flash. Below sync-speed, you can change the shutter speed to your heart’s content, and it won’t affect the flash. Not so with High-Speed Sync. Any change of shutter speed changes the flash power. The faster the shutter speed, the more flash power you need. It’s a new experience if you’ve gotten used to normal manual flash. Each stop increase in shutter speed requires about a stop of increase in the flash power.

Here’s the first setup and the resulting image.

Cactus image v6ii review sunset 1

Behind the scenes shot showing the Godox AD360 flash with Godox 120cm Octabox. Taken by Ola.

The shot with HSS. The background is beautifully out of focus. ISO200 f1.8 1/4000sec 35mm on Fuji X-T10

The shot with HSS. The background is beautifully out of focus. ISO 200, f/1.8, 1/4000th, 35mm on Fuji X-T10.

I still managed to blow out the sun slightly, but the flash was at full power, so I couldn’t change the aperture to compensate. The octabox was just out of frame too. Normally, I shoot vertical portraits but for articles, horizontal looks better, so I just recovered this highlights in Lightroom.

Test Shoot #2

For the second shoot, I had more time, better planning, and less wind! Due to the model’s availability, it was later than I’d have like, but still had enough light to get shots using HSS (out of want rather than need!).

Here I’ve used my typical short lit Godox Octa setup for this using the Fujifilm X-T10 with a 35mm f/1.4 lens. I wanted to create tension and go for a cinematic feel to the image. The grass at the bottom is well out of focus and gives a slightly ethereal feel to the shot. The black clothes and the model peering out of frame seem to reference things in the past as if a loved one has passed.

cactus-v6ii-review-emma-1

ISO 200, f/1.4, 1/1600

For the second shot, I wanted to bring in an additional element – a back light. I could’ve used one of the 850’s, but instead, I opted for the Cactus RF-60 flash. This has the receiver built-in and communicates directly with the Cactus V6II receiver. I set this to Group B and zoomed the flash to 105mm to allow it to throw the light further. Once in HSS mode, it triggered every time along with the AD360. I also went for the 50-140mm lens to get further back and compress the background more.

ISO200 f2.8 1/500sec. Shot with the 50-1400 f2.8 lens

ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/500th. Shot with the 50-140mm f/2.8 lens.

Here’s how the gear looked behind the scenes:

Cactus image v6ii review emma 3

Headshot variation

For the final look, I went for a headshot, so the Octa was moved to give her a soft loop light. I got the model to hold a reflector (in this case a California Sunbounce silver-white mini, using the silver side for contrast). It’s very similar to the last setup with the Cactus RF-60 acting as a kicker.

cactus-image-v6ii-review-emma-3

ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/500th.

Here’s the setup shot:

Cactus image v6ii review emma 5

By swapping the side the Octa is on, so the kicker and the key are on the same side, you get a very different look for only a few minutes work.

cactus-image-v6ii-review-emma-5

Cross Platform Test: Fuji Camera – Canon Flashes

Using a second Cactus V6II trigger, I added a Canon 580EXII Speedlite to the setup to use with the Fuji camera. In this case, I set the flash up as Canon with an Auto Canon Flash Profile. Again with the flash set to HSS, I went through the learning process for HSS, and the flash worked perfectly with the Fujifilm in HSS mode. The 580EXII was set to ETTL, and I could control both the flash power and the flash from the V6II transceiver on the camera.

I still have my Canon 5D MarkIII (not for much longer), so I did a quick test with that as a system check. Again I used the Canon 580EXII Speedlite on ETTL, set to HSS. Because both transceivers were set to Auto, switching the units off and back on began a new detection cycle, successfully recognizing both flash and camera as Canon. After one or two test fires, it all worked perfectly. No pretty models for this demo, but something close to my heart instead.

Shooting the X-T2 using a Canon 5DIII. The 580EXII flash was set up off camera, with the trigger set to auto detect camera, and the receiver set to auto detect flash. Set to ETTL mode, both power and zoom can be controlled from the trigger. The flash was bounced into the ceiling. ISO200 1/500sec f1.8.

Shooting the Fuji X-T2 using a Canon 5D MarkIII. The Canon 580EXII flash was set up off-camera, with the trigger set to auto-detect the camera, and the receiver set to auto-detect the flash. Set to ETTL mode, both the power and zoom of the flash can be controlled from the trigger. The flash was bounced into the ceiling. ISO 200, 1/500th, f/1.8.

Firmware Updates for the V6II

Another feature of this trigger is you can update the firmware as new features and profiles are added. During my testing period, two firmware updates became available. I also had the chance to test a beta version of the new Fuji X-T2, another testament to Cactus’ support for their product. For the public updates, I simply downloaded the updater app, ran it, and followed the instructions.

Cactus Firmware Updater

Cactus Firmware Updater

Pros of the Cactus V6II Triggers

  • Gives you High-Speed Sync ability across a range of camera systems and flashes.
  • Firmware upgradeable.
  • Works directly with the Cactus RF-60 flash.
  • Good range of channels and groups.
  • Power Sync allows additional sync speed options for non-HSS flashes.
  • Can work with only one transmitter and your existing triggers.

Cons of the Cactus V6II Triggers

  • Clunky – the shape isn’t as elegant as many others with a hotshoe passthrough.
  • One of the units I had suffered from a really tight battery clip. It’s more an annoyance than a real con as the batteries last a really long time. The clip on the other unit was perfect.
  • For Fuji users, there’s more work to get it going. For everyone else, no problem.

Verdict

I’m delighted with the Cactus V6II wireless flash trigger. It really works.

During the short time I’ve had the trigger, I’ve used it on a few magazine shoots, as well as the fun shoots I did to test it. It’s been great. Their support has been fabulous, and there’s a lot of information on their community page.

Would I recommend these triggers? Absolutely. They bring a new dimension to shooting portraits outdoors that can change your style completely.

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The post Overview and Test of the New Cactus V6II Wireless Flash Trigger for High-Speed Sync by Sean McCormack appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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Overview of the Yongnuo RF-603 Wireless Flash Trigger

26 Oct

Off-camera flash is a key technique that can really differentiate your photography style and make you and your imagery appear more professional. The tools needed to achieve off-camera flash are relatively simple, consisting of just a flash unit and a cord or triggers to connect the flash to your camera. While a cord is by far the cheapest and most straightforward option, it’s also inconvenient since it physically binds you to your camera. Wireless triggers are a simpler solution, but they tend to be pricey, especially if you opt for Pocket Wizards. Enter a budget option: the Yongnuo RF-603 wireless flash trigger.

Yongnuo RF-603 wireless flash trigger

Features

Priced at under $ 35 for a set of two, the Yongnuo RF-603 works as both a wireless flash trigger and receiver. It can also function as a remote shutter release for your camera.

Yongnuo wireless flash triggers

What’s in the box: two (2) flash triggers, one (1) N1 shutter release cable. AAA batteries not included.

One of the triggers attaches to your off-camera flash unit via the hot shoe mount. Ihe other slides onto your camera’s hot shoe mount and also connects via the included N1 shutter release cable. Then you simply turn the triggers, camera, and flash on and you’re good to start firing away!

You can also purchase additional Yongnuo transceivers to trigger multiple flashes at once. To use the Yongnuo RF-603 as a shutter release, simply attach one unit to your camera’s hot shoe mount, turn both units on, and use the second unit to remotely fire your camera.

Yongnuo wireless flash triggers

How to Yongnuo RF-603 trigger attaches to your camera.

Yongnuo wireless flash triggers

Batteries

Besides being very reasonably priced, these Yongnuo triggers are powered by two normal AAA batteries. They use the battery power very efficiently, meaning you won’t have to constantly switch out drained ones. The triggers are also very slim and lightweight in size at just three inches long, making them easy to slip into a bag or pocket. These triggers are compatible with most DSLR cameras, but double check to make sure you order the correct model that is compatible with yours.

Yongnuo wireless flash triggers

Slim and low-profile, the Yongnuo RF-603 doesn’t add a lot of bulk to your flash unit.

Shooting distance

Another point to note is that these Yongnuo triggers use a 2.4GHz wireless frequency, and the remote control distance is up to approximately 100 meters (328 feet). Synchronization speed can reach 1/320, but may only reach 1/250 depending on the exact scenario you’re shooting in.

Yongnuo wireless flash triggers

Yongnuo RF-603, the original version.

Yongnuo wireless flash triggers

Yongnuo RF-603 II, the latest version.

Why the Newer Version is Better

When shopping around, you might notice that there are two Yongnuo RF-603 models: RF-603 and RF-603 II. The older, original version looks like it has recently been discontinued by the manufacturer, but it is still available for sale. Thus, it’s important to note several key differences between the two models, and why you’ll probably want to opt for the newer version. Also note that the original and newer transceivers are compatible with each other, so you can mix and match if you happen to have both versions.

Yongnuo wireless flash triggers

The round locking mechanism above the metal hot shoe of the Yongnuo RF-603 II (the original version does not have this feature).

Yongnuo wireless flash triggers

An example of the locking mechanism being used to attach the flash to a lighting stand.

Enhanced on/off switch is on the side for easier access

The original trigger has the on/off button on the top surface, which means it is completely covered up when attached to your flash. Thankfully, Yongnuo fixed this problem in the second version, and moved the on/off button to the side of the trigger. The newer version also includes the option of designating the trigger as off, in TR mode or TRX mode, rather than simply on or off.

Yongnuo wireless flash triggers

Even before the flash unit is fully attached, the on/off switch of the original Yongnuo RF-603 is already covered and hard to access.

Yongnuo wireless flash triggers

The newer Yongnuo RF-603 II added options to the on/off button and moved it to the side of the trigger.

Yongnuo wireless flash triggers

Having the on/off button on the side of the trigger makes it easier to access with the flash attached.

Who should use Yongnuo RF-603 Triggers

If you’re a photographer looking for a low-cost way to experiment with off-camera flash, Yongnuo triggers and even their own brand name flash units are highly recommended. Based on multiple user reviews and my own experience with Yongnuo products, they are dependable, efficient, and incredibly easy to use despite being considered budget options.

The only downside to these Yongnuo RF-603 triggers lies in their simplicity. Since this base model trigger only has a simple on/off button, you still have to manually adjust your flash settings if you want to tweak the flash power, flash zoom, etc. Upgrading to a more sophisticated trigger system such as the Yongnuo 622N TX ($ 85 for a pair approx.) gives you the full power of adjusting flash settings without having to even touch your flash. However, given the extra cost and complication of the Yongnuo 622N, only opt for this version if you truly need the extra features (in other words, stick with the RF-603 if you’re a beginner or on a budget).

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The post Overview of the Yongnuo RF-603 Wireless Flash Trigger by Suzi Pratt appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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