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Monday, June 14, 2010

Pocket Wizard Compatible Remotes Are Invading from The East

UPDATED: Steve from Phottix (CEO) checks in with some answers to our questions, inside...
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With the announcement of the "Atlas," Hong Kong -based Phottix has just gone from an unremarkable, third-party accessory manufacturer to a company who is raising serious eyebrows.

This upcoming PW-compatible remote is getting lots of attention -- and with good reason.

Details inside.
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Charles Verghese, a friend from the UAE (and the person from whom I nicked these product photos -- thanks, Charles!) has been testing an early set and has been surprised and impressed at the results.




Highlights

• They are transceivers, like the PW II+'s
• AA batts.
• They are PW-compatible (chan. 1-4 only)
• Metal foot, w/big screw collar
• Built-in 1/4x20 mount (!)
• Built-in female hot shoe (!!)
• Range seems to be at least that of the PWs. (Caveat: see below)


Question Marks

• Can it sync clean at a 250th? Unknown.
• Charles was getting some (repeatable) phantom pops.
• There are also reports of some hinky stuff in burst mode.
• No US compatibility yet -- only CE. (Said to be coming, tho.)
• Not so fast: Am told that if that extra range is coming from a chip that is not limited (to make it legal on emissions) US models probably will not meet FCC specs.
• Price: Not yet known, but street price in Singapore dollars translates to USD ~$115.


UPDATE: Phottix checks in w/answers:
• The Phantom triggering problem and "hinky" burst mode have been corrected - the reviews were based on pre-production models, not the final model.

• Sync speed is 1/250 on cameras that will sync that fast (my Canon 40D will sync with the Atlas at 1/250 no problem).

• The FCC models will be FCC approved - and should be on the street by late July - early August. I will be testing these models next week.

• Regarding the patent - we feel our product does not violate present patents.


So, muddy enough for you?

Maybe. But interesting, too.

Charles has lots more info in a detailed, three-part series in which he tested them pretty thoroughly. It begins here.


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51 Comments:

Blogger budrowilson said...

This truly is the golden age of photography... ;-)

June 14, 2010 11:28 PM  
Blogger cfimages said...

I've also got a set of these for testing. We looked at them in a studio, an outdoor location and then in a studio workshop. Some videos of each of the situations are coming but only in the rough cut stage now.

I just now did a quick test with a Canon 40D and 580exII and it synced okay at 1/250. During the testing we did, I shot with a Canon 5D MkII which syncs at 1/200.

June 14, 2010 11:58 PM  
Blogger Henry said...

does this trigger support HSS?

June 15, 2010 12:20 AM  
Blogger Elisha said...

$115? When you can buy a REAL PW Plus II for $169 retail or less on eBay? I'll hold out for the real thing...

June 15, 2010 12:25 AM  
Blogger i e R said...

this thing cost less then USD60 (after covertion) in Malaysia and Singapore. i guess the price u gotten is the RRP in Singapore

June 15, 2010 12:52 AM  
Blogger Caphics said...

I'll be skeptical until I can see a close up of how the unit balances on an umbrella adapter with a flash on the hot shoe. And just because it has the shape of a pocket wizard and uses the same radio frequencies, it does not make it a pocket wizard. I don't see how they couldn't have done the same at a cheaper price point. I'll stick with my cheap ebay triggers until I can get the real deal.

-Tito

June 15, 2010 2:20 AM  
Blogger LR said...

Elisha: If it has longer range and more features than the PocketWizard (hotshoe etc.) and the final version turns out to be just as reliable, then how is that not a good deal?

June 15, 2010 3:07 AM  
Blogger Balls said...

@Elisha: that's street price in singapore. I'd wager it'll be lower in the US, as we pay far less for electronics than most other countries.

June 15, 2010 3:11 AM  
Blogger Robert Whetton said...

These look great, Elisha, these seem to have a longer range and better trigger consistency than the PW's

Henry, according to their website 1/250 is the max

June 15, 2010 5:34 AM  
Blogger aradilon said...

It's a good company, i bought batteries and a batterygrip and they re the same quality as the Nikon ones.

June 15, 2010 5:39 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

Hopefully all this makes PW lower their prices too. Yay for competition haha

June 15, 2010 5:46 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

I'd be interested what response if any MAC group's legal department have. I'm pretty sure they hold patents on a number of the technologies used here...

June 15, 2010 6:16 AM  
Blogger dwdmguy said...

So, how would you use one of these if you wanted to use it on the camera WITH the flash on the camera as well?

June 15, 2010 7:08 AM  
Blogger Raleigh Beringer said...

At that price I think I would look toward RadioPopper.

June 15, 2010 8:12 AM  
Blogger Harrythephot said...

Could be good for Rip-off UK though, as the PW's are about $260 each over here.

June 15, 2010 9:02 AM  
Blogger NtoKB3 said...

Don't see these as game changers... certainly not at that price point. Cybersyncs are still cheaper and operate on more channels. If these were being sold for under $50 then I'd think they might be contenders.

I'm happy with my set of Plus II's and probably will upgrade a couple when the Flex/Mini's come out in Nikon flavor.

June 15, 2010 9:42 AM  
Blogger phototakeouter said...

What is US vs CE compatibility?

June 15, 2010 9:56 AM  
Blogger Alex said...

@ Caphics (somewhat at least)

Well Haven't we all wondered why PW's are so incredibly expensive???
I and some friends have.
Sure they are really really reliable, but we have actually succeeded in making our own PW's with the same reliability (and range) for a fraction of the cost. Of course those didn't look as great as PW's but we're talking 1/6 - 1/7 of the cost (not counting man hours)
So I have to admit that I believe a part of the PW's price is artificial and who is there to stop them. We will still be buying them :D :D
So the Atlas shows, at least to me, great promise in partially overthrowing the King of wireless flash.
If they really are going for $115 then count me in! I want to try them.

Oh and let me not forget to say that I don't really care for the hot shoe anyway since I almost always use pc or jack to my cheap ebay triggers. Hot shoe on those things is just way to unreliable (I only use it with my SB600's when I'm not playing around with CLS)

Can't wait to get my hands on these!

June 15, 2010 11:06 AM  
Blogger Andre said...

Why would someone clone PW's at this point in time?

433 MHz is woefully outdated technology at this point. PW has gotten away much too long with selling commodity hardware at inflated prices.

There are so many good, reliable, 2.4 GHz alternatives out there now that 433 MHz just doesn't make sense anymore.

And as other stated, $115 just isn't that attractive with the alternatives out there.

Phottix (and others) should focus on cloning "Hyper sync" somehow. A RF-602 equivalent trigger with HyperSync would be great! A 433 MHz PW clone in 2010? Not so much...

June 15, 2010 12:13 PM  
Blogger Török Ferencz said...

Ouh that is sweet duude ! Can't wait to buy a set of thoose ! Was using cactus v4s.

June 15, 2010 2:45 PM  
Blogger Charles Verghese said...

1st Thanks for the Link David!

Next, my biggest point with my review was to make as many people aware of the existence of these new radio triggers. This brings in competition to the field. We all benefit from that.

While it's not the latest technology may violate copyright laws or may even not be allowed into the US (FCC regulations mentioned by David), it is the closest thing to the mainstream King of the Hill! This, hopefully will make them sit up & offer us better products and/or at better prices. When your looking over your shoulder, it is easier to strive for perfection. We (the consumer) only stand to gain.

Thanks to all of you for visiting the review as well!

June 15, 2010 3:18 PM  
Blogger gert schipper said...

info@gertschipper
Dear David
is there a hole in the hotshoe for the locking pin of a nikon flash?

June 15, 2010 4:09 PM  
Blogger Charles Verghese said...

Just an update.

The Phottix Atlas was officially launched today.

Charles

June 16, 2010 5:24 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Overpriced for a chinese clone given the alternatives out there.

I wish we would stop seeing dumb sync radio triggers, we need a nikon compatible ttl and hss capable trigger in Europe.

June 16, 2010 7:32 AM  
Blogger The GWC said...

saw the gadget at a IT fair last weekend. not too impressed because of the pricing and they are only available in CE. i am also not sure how it can be conveniently mounted onto a flash umbrella bracket. its abt the half the price of a CE PW here in singapore so i think there will still be takers. and at least it has a metal hotshoe unlike the pw.

June 16, 2010 9:50 AM  
Blogger Maks said...

A little too late. People are waiting for TTL triggers.

June 16, 2010 1:25 PM  
Blogger Ian W said...

I'm slightly curious why it's ok to promote (for the lack of a better word) PW rip-offs here, but David was against doing this when he was looking at Orbis/Rayflash ring flashes.

I'm sure there's some distinction here, and I'm not knocking the article -- far from it. It's just... I'm confused I guess?

June 16, 2010 4:03 PM  
Blogger David said...

@Ian-

Good point.

Short answer is that the original patent for the PW tech is coming close to expiry, from what I have heard. Not sure on the exact dates (and who is doing what when) but this is very different than a company coming in an, uh, "borrowing" a mold right off of the bat.

I also found it interesting that a Chinese company coming in with a similar design was only able to marginally undercut the price, if best info is to be taken at face value.

-D

June 16, 2010 6:04 PM  
Blogger bencki said...

I hope they'll copy PW tt5 soon !

June 17, 2010 4:04 AM  
Blogger Nicolas Favro said...

I can't wait to see these Phottix in France.
Hope we'll see it before end of 2010 !

June 17, 2010 7:44 AM  
Blogger FirstZoom.tv said...

Check out the Video Review by cfi and Firstzoom.tv
:http://www.firstzoom.tv/2010/06/phottix-atlas-wireless-flash-trigger-full-review/

June 17, 2010 9:44 AM  
Blogger Vince Edward said...

I had really high hopes for these when I first read Charles' blog and he he bought three Atlas transceivers for a little over one PW Plus II. The new price, to me at least, puts it square in that gray region in which one is unsure whether the $50 some odd savings is worth venturing into the unknown, so to speak.

Now if that $60 range does in fact turn out to be true, they move from gray to definitely worthwhile to try it out. Either way, I'm glad to see that options for triggering and even manual strobes have increased dramatically even during the year and a half I've been reading this blog as I've long felt photo equipment to suffer from some serious mark up.

June 17, 2010 9:53 AM  
Blogger Heipel said...

I note, with drooling-ness, that PW is now saying perhaps August for Nikon mini and flex. Markup margins aside, for the PW mini I await :)

June 17, 2010 1:26 PM  
Blogger Richad Hinton said...

The ghost firing may be due to the canon flash giving out interference. I used to get lots of ghost pops when using a canon 430ex flash, but not with nikon flashes or other canon makes. And that flash in the product shot looks remarkably like the 430ex.....

June 18, 2010 3:49 AM  
Blogger pokerwater said...

I just want to know Who I can trust to buy and ship me a set of these baby's for testing?(3 units).

I think they look great! I have held off from buying PW and been using the off brand RPS stuff from dotline. I have been waiting for some one to step up and build an affordable option to PW.

Where can I get these shipped from at in Singapore, to the USA, from a person that can be trusted!

On a side note I can HSS with RPS-trigger (dotline) on an OLY e-3. I post this link only to show there are some ways to Hack Sync to 1/8000 using Cheap triggers Video Link (sorry for the amerture tutorial).

I hope that the Atlas transceivers will be able to do the same 1/8000th as I need the range and thru walls.

I am very excited to hear of this David, Thanks for hosting such a wonderful information!

June 18, 2010 5:56 AM  
Blogger Mi said...

I met the CEO of this company in an Exhibition in Dubai last month, he firmly insisted that they're not a company from "Hong Kong" and that it's an international/European company (he actually had a questioning expression 'from where did u get that info?')

Their flash triggers are better in terms of functionality than PocketWizard, with quality, and So MUCH cheaper. Too bad they're not yet listed on PhottixStore.com

June 18, 2010 6:00 AM  
Blogger Nikica said...

Hello! What I have to report does not have a direct connection to the topic of this post, but, since there is no other way to contact you..:-) anyway-I've stumbled on this battery pack on eBay, who knows, maybe it's not so bad-you'll be the judge!
Here's the link:
http://cgi.ebay.com/External-Battery-Pack-Nikon-SB800-28DX-SB-24-E2C-/260551199995?cmd=ViewItem&pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3caa0fccfb#ht_2381wt_1134

All the best to you!

June 18, 2010 9:50 AM  
Blogger Bosco said...

The Phottix Atlas is available in Hong Kong for HKD$790 (just over USD$100). The specs says it is a 2.4ghz, 100 meter wireless transmitter and receiver in one. For those interested in TTL function, the dealer told me Phottix will release the Phottix Strato soon, price unknown.

June 18, 2010 10:32 AM  
Blogger cfimages said...

My video test and review in conjuction with FirstZoom TV can be at this link

June 18, 2010 11:09 AM  
Blogger David said...

@Mi-


That's odd. Phottix' CEO signed his email to me as:

Regards,
Steve, CEO
Phottix (HK) Ltd.

June 18, 2010 5:16 PM  
Blogger Sheldon said...

What about rear curtain sync and High Speed sync. Anyone know yet? David? Can you email the CEO? Thanks! If it does both, I'm ordering for from Singapore immediately. Thanks!

June 19, 2010 12:23 AM  
Blogger microbuilder said...

@andre: "There are so many good, reliable, 2.4 GHz alternatives out there now that 433 MHz just doesn't make sense anymore."

2.4GHz is probably exactly what you don't want to use if you care about range. Longer wavelengths like 868(EU)/915(US)MHz have much better penetration through concrete and other urban obstacles than 2.4GHz, and tend to be a lot less crowded. The only real advantage 2.4GHz has is speed, though for a wireless trigger 868/915 or 434 are more than plenty fast enough. You're sending a byte or two of data ... not a .iso file.

I suspect most of the price on these is tied out in the housing, molds, etc. Basic RF electronics components themselves aren't that expensive (less than $20 total parts cost I'd guess). But I would guess something around $100 would be the point at which all the effort and investment becomes worthwhile, with room to drop below that once the initial fixed costs are recovered. I say that never having looked in side one though.

June 19, 2010 10:58 AM  
Blogger Photography By Jef said...

I use a low cost trigger like these from Cowboy Studio on Amazon. One trigger fires multiple receivers if they are set to the same channel. I don't have the cash to but a PW. I use them to sync two different flashes. For $20 US they are well worth it. If I buy another flash in the future I will build in the cost of one of these.

June 20, 2010 7:46 AM  
Blogger Roland said...

Already on stock in the Netherlands:
http://www.fotoshopaalten.nl/phottix-atlas-professionele-draadloze-flitstrigger-p-2042.html


(Price includes shipping.)

I have tested the extensivly towards the CTR-301 triggers and I must say. More power! Where the CTR-301 dropped some shots in an old building, the Atlas was firing every time.

In normal (studio-like) conditions, the CTR-301 or RF-602 is to be preferred because of the lower pricing....

June 21, 2010 4:37 AM  
OpenID Backdrops said...

i also read about this equipment in a photography blog were a person even explains it how effectively we can utilize this pocket wizard but in the comment people say it is costly and unnecessary for a photographer who owns normal lighting controls without remote. it is an extra expense for them.

June 21, 2010 7:54 AM  
Blogger jim said...

It's about time someone came out with some competition for the PWs. I'm using elinchrom triggers, and they're not bad, but not any real threat to PWs.

June 21, 2010 10:45 AM  
Blogger gh said...

Now, if they can be as small as Flashwaves, that'd be great.

June 29, 2010 10:43 AM  
Blogger Julian Ribinik Photography Blog said...

Hi, I have a question. I got both Atlas and PW II. You wrote they're compatible, however, I can't, for some reason to trigger a PW with an Atlas. What do I need to make them work together?

Thanks,
Julian

July 23, 2010 8:26 PM  
Blogger Dale Thornton Photography said...

I have the Phottix Atlas and use it as a third transceiver with my two PocketWizards. I can honestly say that this product blows the PocketWizards out of the water in terms of :
Build Quality, funtionality and also presentation & packaging.

August 07, 2010 10:58 AM  
Blogger Marco Maas said...

I tried a set of the Phottix to remote control a camera on a bigger stage - my blog entry is in german but the pictures can be understood without the words. i already had some pw and these ones blend in perfectly - conclusion: no missed shots over a distance up to 30 m above a large amount of people:
http://www.themaastrix.net/?p=1062

August 12, 2010 12:12 PM  
Blogger Andy Rogers said...

I just received a pair of these from Phottix, and am disappointed to find that they don't work with our Pocketwizards after all. They will work with European PWs, but will NOT work with US PWs. After reading over the specs, it appears the Atlas operates on the 433MHz frequency, as opposed to the 344MHz, which PW uses in the US. If I'm mistaken or there's a fix out there, I'd like to know what it is. Otherwise I guess we'll have to return them. Just wanted to post it here, since I haven't seen this stated clearly anywhere yet (or maybe I'm just dim). Aside from that deal-breaker, they look really solid and seem to perform great...grrr.

September 01, 2010 3:03 PM  

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