Saturday, 2 October 2010

PocketWizards: Triggering a Remote Camera

This is one of those things that I always have to think twice before getting right, but this is how to remotely trigger your camera AND your lights which are attached to your Pocket Wizards PlusII units.

The situation is that:
you have a camera set up away from you and you want to (remotely) trip the shutter, at which point you want that camera to fire AND also trip your remote flashes which are connected to your PW units
The Pocket Wizard documentation refers to this as Relay Mode in their PW PlusII manuals.

The actual setup is relatively simple but for this you will need the following equipment:
  • camera with electronic shutter release/pre-trigger port
  • PW pre-trigger cable (such as N90M3-P compatible cable)
  • 3 PW units

The Setup

The camera hotshoe will be occupied by a PW unit and your remote flash units will be attached to another PW unit, as per usual PW triggering configuration. The sync lead is plugged into the Flash port (closest to the antenna) and then into your flash unit.

In addition to the usual configuration, the pre-trigger cable is to be plugged into the camera and then into the hotshoe PW's Camera/Flash port (furthest from the antenna) as per lead image. Just to reiterate, the PW on the camera hotshoe is connected to the camera via the pre-trigger cable.

The pre-trigger cable has a rocker switch which determines whether the camera is active (simulates auto-focus activation on the camera) or not. For people who are using their camera in continuous auto focus mode, this means the camera is constantly working tracking focus. For manually focused lenses the rocker may remain in the inactive position.

Now the connectivity is complete, here is the part that will confuse some people.

Whilst in normal use the camera hotshoe PW and flash unit's PW share the same channel, the channels now differ with remote camera triggering. The least complicated way to explain this is with an example:

PW locationChannel #
camera hotshoe4
remote trigger4
remote flash units1

The remote trigger and and the seated camera hotshoe PW units must be on the same channel (in this case #4). However, any flash units that need to be triggered by the remote camera need to be on the channel above (in this case #1).

Transmit mode should be left as Both.

In this setup, whenever the remote trigger PW unit is tripped - whether it is connected to another camera for simultaneous image capture or when the test button is pressed - the remote camera will fire and also fire the remote flashes.

If you wish to temporarily disable the remote camera from firing the remote flashes, you can do this by setting Transmit mode to Local on the remote camera's PW.

All of this information is covered in the PW PlusII documentation but I'm more likely have a net client rather than a PDF client which me.

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