Equipment Setup
We have a total of 4 Pocket Wizard FlexTT5 Transceivers that we use in different setups depending on what the situation requires. The most common scenario is with the transmitting receiver mounted on our Canon 5D Mark II Camera and our Canon 550EX Flash on top of that. Our most frequent off camera flash setup is to have both our Canon 540EZ Flash and Metz 54MZ-4 Flash mounted on transceivers and attached to flash stands. If we’re in a rushed situation and need more portability, we put a Canon 430EX II Flash on a transceiver and hand-hold. We’ve also occasionally used our transceivers with our Canon 50D Camera.

You’re probably wondering why we don’t just use a flex mini and all 580 EX II’s. If you don’t have a burning desire to get inside our heads, feel free to skip to the next section. There are 2 reasons we don’t use the mini. First, I’d rather use AA batteries in as many devices as possible. We always have charged AA’s, and even if we didn’t, we could stop by any gas station on the way to a wedding to pick up another pack. Second, getting 4 transceivers gives us equipment redudancy in case any of the units have problems. As far as the flash situation, we already had quite a few flashes, and we didn’t really want to invest in all new flahes to accomodate our triggering system. Plus, the 580EXII has known noise issues. Sure, there’s the sock thing, but I’d rather not have to experiment with workarounds if I don’t have to.

Pocketwizard Flex TT5 Transceiver 3

Ease Of Use
Step 1 – mount transceiver on camera hotshoe. Step 2 – connect flashes to transceiver hotshoes. Done. Seriously it is that easy, or at least it has been for us. I know there’s a whole Pocketwizard utility that you can use to configure your transceivers. Honestly, I’ve never even connected the transceivers to my pc. Why would I if I don’t have to? The whole system is a piece of cake. That’s one of the big reasons we bought the system, and it has lived up to its reputation.

Reliability In The Field
The only point of reference I have here is to the built in infrared system on Canon’s flashes, so I’m not an expert on what to expect with the rate of successfully popping and missing. However, I’ve been pretty impressed with the consistency of the Pocketwizards. I’d say that maybe 1 in 20 times the flash doesn’t fire. We’re fast shooters though and don’t have battery packs for our flashes yet, so there’s a decent chance that it could be related to flash recharge rate. The other thing we haven’t been particularly good at is starting each day with fresh batteries in the transceivers, so I’m sure that plays in too.

In the last 20 weddings, I can think of one time in particular that we were not getting good results at all with the Pocketwizard. The flash batteries were fresh, and there was plenty of time between the shots, so our flashes weren’t the issue. The transmitter unit was being used on a bridge, and the reciever was 10 feet lower under the bridge. We had a success rate of maybe 1 in 20. It could have been a transceiver battery issue, but I’m pretty sure we had fresh batteries. It wasn’t distance – 10 feet is well within range. The bridge was metal, so I’m thinking that’s the most likely problem. Either way, we did have that one issue, but for 20+ weddings, that’s not too bad. With our line of sight system we were using before, we wouldn’t have even attempted those kinds of shots.

Pocketwizard Flex TT5 Transceiver 2

Features
The transceivers are loaded with features, most of which we’ve never used. Selectable channels, TTL enabled, hypersync mode, flash zone aware, the list of features goes on. One of the features that we absolutely love though is that the flashes are automatically kicked over to high speed sync flash mode when your shutter speed goes into high speed sync shutter speeds. It would be a real pain to have to adjust all your off camera flashes to high speed sync mode, then back again when you’re done with high shutter speeds. It just makes sense.

Pocketwizard FlexTT5 Transceiver 1

Things I’d Change
Even good things have room for improvement. I’d love to the next generation of tt5′s have these features. The antenna seems like it could easily snap off. It’s plastic, and it’s not bendable. I always get nervous when we extend the antenna.

For some reason, a flash mounted on the transmitting unit does not switch over to high speed sync. Sure, you’re right there, so you can switch it over yourself, but why should you have to?

Why is there no battery life indicator? In a world where photographers always had the time to change all their batteries fresh every morning, this wouldn’t be an issue. I know for us, we’ve got 100 other things that would be a better use of our time if the batteries didn’t need changed.

Since we’re talking batteries, why does the signal not flow through the hotshoe if the flex is off? It would be nice to save battery for situations where all you want is to use your on camera flash, but you don’t want to have to disconnect the tt5, and you really don’t want to have to keep the unit on wasting precious battery power.

Lastly, what about a sync mode indicator? If I could take one glace down at the Pocketwizard to see if I’m in regular sync, hypersync, or high speed sync mode, that would be amazing.

Conclusion
If I could go back before I purchased my Flex TT5′s, and make my decision based on what I know now, I’d still choose the Flex TT5′s. Radio Popper didn’t provide the flexibility that I needed. Most other triggering systems weren’t even contendors because we needed high speed sync functionality. I’d say that Pocketwizard is the best solution on the market for the way we shoot.

12 Responses to “Pocket Wizard Flex TT5 Transceiver Review”

  1. Onyeka Onyeka says:

    First off I want to thank you for your matter of fact review. You went straight to the point without much ado. I do have a question. I understand that Flex TT5 is not compatible with 540ez. But you mentioned it as part of the flash group you use. Does this mean then that it actually works with your Flex TT5? If this is so, what are the limitations you have noticed? Thanks.

    • TJ says:

      We actually weren’t aware that the 540EZ wasn’t compatible, so we thought we’d give it a try. Seems to work fine as far as we can tell. We shoot our flashes in manual mode though. The only way we really push the system is when we shoot high speed sync.
      Maybe the reason it’s not compatible is because it doesn’t support ETTL. If I remember right, the 540EZ doesn’t have ETTL mode.
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  2. I just read another review that stated the problem doesn’t exist in the transmitter flash on camera, just on the receiver end. Have you found this to be the case?
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    • TJ says:

      Don,
      I’ve heard similar stories about the issue being on the reciever end. Makes sense to me since it’s the flash on the recieving end that’s generating the radio noise. Since we’re not using the 580′s, we don’t have a problem on either end.
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  3. I bought the mini and used it at a wedding this weekend, and i LOVED it. I used my 580 ex with the mini on top of my camera hotshoe, and synced with a Pro Foto monolight with a built in pocket wizard. It worked every time. I did not used it with another 580ex however, so I’ll be curious to see what happens when I purchase the Flex. It was great to have the flash on camera and the mini adds a little height to the flash, which is great to move it away from the lens slightly.
    Virginia Beach Wedding Photographers recently posted..Event Photography for Astro DJ Anniversary Party at The Westin Hotel- Virginia Beach

    • TJ says:

      Don,
      That’s cool that you were able to use that setup with just one mini attached to the camera. That’s a definite advantage of going with equipment that has built in PW’s. As far as the flash being moved further from the lens, that’s pretty nice too. Did you notice a difference in the way the light fell with the extra height?
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  4. It worked all night inside a large ballroom, about 100 ft from the Pro Foto Monolight.
    Virginia Beach Wedding Photographer recently posted..Event Photography for Astro DJ Anniversary Party at The Westin Hotel- Virginia Beach

  5. Not one missed flash the entire evening. I did not use it outside so this is not a scientific test. When I can replicate this over a few weddings I will have more confidence in it. Having the flash elevated another inch certainly is nice. I usually shoot the reception almost entirely in horizontal mode, so my flash is always directly above the lens, using either an omnibounce, Gary Fong diffuser ( which is just ugly, always have someone make a comment about it) or the built in bounce card. I never use the flash without some sort of modifier.
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  6. prmass1 says:

    The miniTT1 battery is a non issue. I hear it too many times. There is a cheap rechargeable LI2450 battery with charger in the market. Amazon sells it for cheap $10 and the batteries last for years. This fits in with your style of shooting since you go through batteries at every event. Secondly I prefer the size of the mini comparing to the godzilla size of the flex.