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Remotely On Topic: How to PW a Second Camera

Sports photographer Max Simbron has posted a nice little video tutorial on how to use Pocket Wizards to remote a second camera at, say, a basketball game. Being able to shoot with remote cameras is a nice perk of owning PWs.

(Heck, if you are gonna spring for them, you may as well put them to work for you as much as possible.)

If you want to learn more about getting double duty out of your wireless remotes, check out his original post for other cool tips and tidbits.



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Anonymous Ariel said...

Great tips Max! I especially liked the AA battery tip and the markings on the floor on where to place the camera. Thanks for passing this knowledge on.

June 25, 2008 1:47 AM  
Anonymous jason said...

so where do i find these pretrigger cables . and wich company is going to be the first ones to sell out now that david has posted this video, haha.

June 25, 2008 2:16 AM  
Blogger jason said...

so where do i find these pretrigger cables . and wich company is going to be the first ones to sell out now that david has posted this video, haha.

June 25, 2008 2:18 AM  
Blogger MacintoshMonkey said...

What's so special about the really expensive pre-release triggers? I use a cheap eBay wired remote on my 20D, which conveniently has a 2.5mm stereo jack in the side. I then found which contact was the common, which was the half button press, and which was the actual shutter release. Then I just made my own cable to go from here to the Pocket Wizard. Two things you can do now... either have the half-button permanently connected to the common(or through a 90p Maplin switch), or wire it so the half-button press and the shutter release are wired together bedforfe going through the PW switch. I'm guessing that having the half-press always on draws more power... do the expensive cables reduce this?

Anyway, my set-up costs about £7, and it works great (I can't remember which way I wired it, but I'll look if anyone's interested). It also worked when I made my own radio triggers out of an old radio-controlled blimp, but I've got to admit, they didn't have a great range or speed!

June 25, 2008 3:24 AM  
Anonymous Comet said...

My word! I can do this, too, thanks to my G9! Unfortunately it'd be the dSLR with the wide/different angle and my G9 triggering it. I can't believe I never considered this.

June 25, 2008 4:02 AM  
Blogger Giles said...

Thanks for posting that video, David. Max does a good job of explaining the basic set-up.

On the issue of Pocket Wizards... did you ever post anything about how to make a DIY pre-trigger cable? Maybe I missed it, but either way, I'm sure a lot of readers would be glad of the info.

And if anyone has any links to sites which explain this, then please do post them for us!

June 25, 2008 4:56 AM  
Blogger Ken said...

Pocket Wizard cables are quite expensive, at close to $100 each. And posts from LPA employees indicate that they realize they are too expensive and they offer the wiring diagram for others to wire their own. They state they intend to make their living off the PWs, and just aren't effective at making low cost cables. Good folks.

I use trigger cables from Flash Zebra, and they work well on my Nikon. They run less than $30.

Disclaimer: I have no interest in either company. I'm a customer of both.

When using strobes, I usually set the remote camera trigger to a channel 1 step below my strobes (say Ch 4 for strobes and Ch 3 for remote camera). That way, I can shoot my handheld camera on Ch4 to trigger the strobes. If the action heads toward the remote, I can change the PW on my handheld camera to Ch3 and fire (either with the camera trigger or test button). The remote camera sees Ch3 and fires the camera. When the camera fires, it sends a trigger signal via the hot shoe to the PW, which then will send a trigger signal to Ch 4. This is covered in the PW manual, so give it a try.

You can also use a separate PW to fire the remote camera, of course.

June 25, 2008 7:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Gadget Infinity triggers will trigger a camera too. I've used them to trigger a Pentax, and I'm sure they would work on a Nikon. I think Cannon's too. You just use a PC to 2.5 mono plug. Plug the PC end into the reciever and the 2.5 into the trigger port on the camera.

June 25, 2008 7:44 AM  
Blogger Andy said...


June 25, 2008 7:58 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

Great. Since upgrading to the D300 I WAS going to sell my D200. Now I have to keep it.

Thanks again Strobist! You guys owe me a lot of money!!!!!


June 25, 2008 8:56 AM  
Anonymous very1silent said...

I've been doing remote...but with my primary camera, and for a completely different reason: I wanted to photograph nesting house finches without the parents being disturbed by my presence. I quickly found that the manual prefocus thing simply gave me far too many missed shots: for the lens length and distance combo I needed, I simply had too little depth of field to get shots reliably.

Instead, I ran a USB cable to my camera, and shot tethered, triggering the shutter from a computer. I used a cheap remote tilt-pan device (the Bescor MP-101) to control aim and a webcam taped to my viewfinder to see what I was doing. Since the newer Canon bodies have a "live view" feature as well as remote autofocus point selection control, this is something which would probably be even easier with newer equipment, since you wouldn't have to deal with the incredibly poor image quality produced by webcams when they're aimed through an SLR's viewfinder.

June 25, 2008 9:19 AM  
Blogger PShizzy said...

Nothing "special" about using store bought pre-trigger cables. Yes they may be easy for you to create, but I sure can't. oh and they don't help reduce power. The switch is just useful to have. I have heard of people making a pre-trigger without a switch. it's sort of a pain to have to remove the cable so you can view the LCD for menus or image review.

the pre-triggers are available at any major online photography store.

comet, I love the g9. Amazing little camera, isn't it. I've been using it with a Vivitar 285 to sync at 1/2500th.

Good link to flashzebra. Yes, it's obvious they don't always make the cables in a plant. I've seen store bought cables look like they were handmade. Again, if I had the know-how to make my own pre-trigger, I would. One thing I have noticed is that you still need a Canon 3 pin connection. You can get them by cutting off the connection on a cheapy wire remote, but they never fit just right, so you're better off getting the Canon wire trigger. Already that's 20-30 dollars.

Thanks everyone

June 25, 2008 9:29 AM  
Blogger Shawn said...

I often wondered why NBA photogs had Wizards on thier hot shoe. Now I know.. Man I love Strobist.

June 25, 2008 9:38 AM  
Blogger Mark Scheuern said...

I bought my pre-trigger cable from Michael Bass. It's very well made and less expensive than the LPA cables. If you're a Nikon shooter, the "cold weather" cable is an especially good value with the Nikon OEM ten-pin connector.

The ordering process is a bit unusual: you have to email him, tell him what you want, and he'll bill you but he was good to work with and the cable was promptly delivered.

June 25, 2008 10:04 AM  
Blogger Saul said...

Excelent video thank you very much, but, why don't we just plug both cameras direct with a cable ? considering we have both of then so close, what is the meaning of using such an expensive gear ?

June 25, 2008 10:13 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

One thing he forgot to mention in the video was the fact that you NEED insurance and permession to do this. Remotes can pose a hazard to the athletes you are photographing and you need to know what you are doing before you show up at a venue to shoot. PLEASE don't go putting up remotes and getting someone hurt and yourself sued. Know what you are doing and knowing the rules will save you more headaches than I care to write about. DON'T FORGET SAFETY CABLES WHEN MOUNTING YOUR REMOTE WHERE IT MAY FALL AND CAUSE SOMEONE HARM.

June 25, 2008 10:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I second the GI triggers. I love the triggers, I use three for weddings. They never let me down for 30 bucks each. As well I find them great as a wireless cable release when shooting portraits. The advantage to the pocket wizards or quantum slaves (which also have this capability) is that you can trigger the cameras when you take a shot. I have modified one GI trigger to connect to a quantum and it triggers all three remote GI.

June 25, 2008 10:42 AM  
Blogger Shawn said...

I often wondered why the NBA Photogs had remotes mounted on thier hot shoes. Lot's of cameras are mounted on the back board and base, now I know how they are fired. Man I love Strobist

I wonder if CyberSync will have the same ability.

June 25, 2008 10:51 AM  
Blogger Michael Scott Vincent said...

My personal suggestion is when using either a little tripod, or in my case a mini clamp for camera suspension, loose the battery grip. I find the grips give a little more leaverage to gravity and you get more slipage. Without the grip it moves the ball part of the head closer to the cameras center of gravity. Very nice and thank you for all the tips.

June 25, 2008 11:46 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

If I'm not mistaken, this setup is without using strobes, right?

Does anyone have experience with this setup using strobes and firing both cameras at the same time?

I would think it's just a matter of adding a pocket wizard to a strobe on the same channel, but I'm not sure they would sync well.

By the way, the pre-trigger cables are WAY expensive. I bought mine from Calumet Photo and it cost me about $150 with shipping at the time for the pocket wizard brand. It still hurts to think about it.

June 25, 2008 12:53 PM  
Blogger Gareth said...

There's instructions here which will show you how to make a pre-trigger cable for a Nikon. It works. Canon basicvally the same but you don't need the funky 10 pin connector.

June 25, 2008 1:02 PM  
Blogger Josh Evilsizor said...

who needs PW's. I can fire a camera remotely with my cheapie ebay triggers just fine :D

June 25, 2008 1:16 PM  
Blogger Giles said...

@ macintoshmonkey...

I would be grateful to receive a bit more info on your set-up, as I gather you are UK-based like me - pounds, pence and Maplin are all terms I can work with!

I've checked out your blog - welcome to the blogging world! - but can't see a way to directly contact you about this. Perhaps you could drop me a few lines by following the 'giles' link here?

Many thanks.

June 25, 2008 1:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has anyone tried any of the various offerings from China on ebay??

June 25, 2008 1:42 PM  
Blogger David Manning said...

Okay, i cannot stress this enough. When you have a remote on any sort of clamp, magic arm or whatever, you need a safety cable. You cannot just rely on the arm or clamp at a sporting event to hold without a backup.

A good source for pre-trigger cables are, they also sell safety cables. However I've found that the cheaper cables just keep the camera awake, which means you cant chimp out a picture without removing the cable. Thats what's so good about a pricer cable. Because when you are 10 feet in the air behind a backboard trying to compose a shot perfectly, you don't want to have to be constantly removing the cable to check the picture.

Also I have seen many a homemade cable fail under real world conditions.

June 25, 2008 1:58 PM  
Anonymous nayo said...

so if a mod a cable can this be used with the Skyports?

i read what Macmonkey said, but can quite gasp what he is trying to say.

i diagram will be better i think


June 25, 2008 2:34 PM  
Anonymous very1silent said...

The remote camera fires slightly later than the one in your hand, since the mirror needs to swing up.

You'll want:
Channel #1:
Pocket wizard on handheld camera. Pocket wizard on flash A. Pocket wizard used to trigger remote camera.

Channel #2:
Pocket wizard on hotshoe of remote camera. Pocket wizard on flash B.

June 25, 2008 4:07 PM  
Blogger PShizzy said...

A few points:

1) in the link to my article on the video, I do mention safety, including insurance and permission as the very FIRST thing. I did not do this for the video because it was on the fly, and honestly the only plan was to try and capture the setup. However, it is VERY important. Safety cables, for anything hanging or mounted via Magic arms, are important also.

2) I set up the camera with pocket wizards instead of hard cable because I don't have a pretrigger to sync or hotshoe cable. Also, I like having them as separate entities, in case one camera goes flying (literally), I don't want it tethered to another camera. Also, I have done this, and then put that camera on the other side of the court (attended, of course).

3) PW are not the only way to trigger remotely, but they are very reliable. There's a reason you see them at all the sporting events.

4) adding a strobe to this setup creates a problem. The handheld itself would also need to be triggered remotely, along with all the remotes, from a single source. Then one of the cameras would have to relay over to the strobes, so that they can all sync up. Robert Beck has an article on SportsShooter on EXACTLY this topic

5) finally, the cables. Yes, there are various places that make pretrigger cables. I'm not endorsing any of them. I just happen to have LPA cables because I bought one used, and got one from a vendor with some other purchases. If I had the know-how, I might consider making my own.

June 25, 2008 4:10 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

NICE - Thanks David, this is a great vid.

June 25, 2008 4:56 PM  
Blogger Michael Scott Vincent said...

Me again, I just bought this morning a couple of pre trigger cords for my D200's from LON at $26.50 each. They have already been shipped, I am so exceited.

June 25, 2008 5:31 PM  
Blogger Michael Scott Vincent said...

P.S. These cables have a switch so you can chip. Darn scary monkeys.

June 25, 2008 5:35 PM  
Blogger MacintoshMonkey said...

If anyone's interested, I'll put a pic and some basic instrctions on my blog for a simple pre-release. It works, but if I've made a horrible mistake, please feel free to tell me.
I'll get it sorted this weekend...

June 25, 2008 6:33 PM  
Anonymous vincent de Vries said...

Hi guys,

anyone know if this is also possible with the skyports?

or does it really come down to the cables?


June 26, 2008 6:39 AM  
Blogger Jp said...

Hey all, another resource: I remember Chase posting something like this on his blog. Here's the link. He has pieces and prices posted up there too.

June 26, 2008 1:23 PM  
Blogger Terence said...

Couple of comments:

A) This setup does not account for shutter lag on slave camera. To do that you need to lag your camera setting. Read page 44 on the MM's manual on how to determine shutter lag response time:

You will need to factor this in IF you were using off camera flashes as well - otherwise by the time the second camera fires, the flash would have popped.

B) You can DIY a trigger cable:

C) I don't use the pre-trigger function; instead what I do is I just turn the auto-sleep off on the camera.

June 26, 2008 2:01 PM  
Anonymous boone said...

i actually put my pocketwizard into my imac and remote trigger my 1ds mIII from my aeron chair. don't even have to go outside the office any more to make a living!! awesome!!!


June 26, 2008 2:20 PM  
Anonymous brian said...

Ben- Firing multiple cameras synced with strobes is a little more detailed. You basically need to fire the camera's with another PW. You have to set the delay on each camera and have the slowest camera actually be the relay to the strobes.

To fire 2 cameras and 2 lites, you are going to need 5 PW's. 1 on each lite, 1 on each camera, and 1 to trigger the cameras.

Now, I have had 2 cameras setup to each fire the same set of lites. 7 PW's! (I rented 4 PW II's to go with my 3 multimaxes) 1 for each lite (set to receive on ch 2). 1 Multimax on the remote camera set to receive on channel 4 and relay to channel 2. 1 PW on my handheld camera to transmit on ch 2, and finally 1 PW, with a homemade trigger, set to transmit on ch 4 to fire the remote camera.

June 27, 2008 12:15 AM  
Blogger Jose said...

thank you. great insight

July 10, 2008 10:39 PM  
Blogger Serious Youth said...

Over a year ago I saw this and said - hey I can do that at weddings. And so I did. Here's a little post I made from your inspiration.

September 28, 2009 12:53 AM  

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