Choosing Triggers

This is pretty simple and straightforward advice. First, start with a wire. Yep, a simple sync cable.

It is cheap and reliable, and a great backup to have for when your wireless triggers decide to go all hinky on you. Which they sometimes will. Because, radio.

If you chose your flash wisely, you'll not be locked into expensive, proprietary PC-based cords. I live in a one-eighth-inch sync ecosystem and could not be happier with it. As such, my current favorite universal camera-to-flash cord is this 30-foot coiled baby. I wish everything in my life was this simple.

Next, promise me this, or we are gonna have words: that you will never again buy a flash without a good built-in slave. Every flash I have recommended to you has one. Don't be without it. That makes triggering multiple units much easier, whether you have wires or radios or whatever. Just makes too much sense. Friends don't let friends buy flashes without built-in slaves.

Remote Triggers

For wireless triggers, I can offer a couple of recommendations. First would be PocketWizard. And I've used them for 20+ years in various iterations.

The PocketWizard PlusX (seen above) is a ~$100 remote (but you need two) that is one of the most reliable flash triggers ever made. It's not complicated (manual trigger only) dead simple to operate. PW makes fancier, more expensive remotes, but this is the one I would recommend. It has the same great range, without paying for features many lighting photographers really don't need.

For a long time, PocketWizard was the only brand I would recommend to people. But lately, that's changed.

Over the last ten years there has been a flood of cheap (and frequently, awful) Chinese remotes. I had never found one I was willing to use, much less recommend. But lately that has changed.

Hong Kong-based Phottix has risen out of the primordial ooze to offer a range of capable remotes that perform very well and cost about half of even the cheapest PW model. Basically, you can now get both cheap and reliable, with cool features like standard (AA, AAA) batteries and hot shoe pass-throughs.

But the kicker for the Phottix brand has been the rapid adoption of the standard for built-in Phottix circuitry for flashes that come with receivers designed right into the light itself.

In fact, Phottix, Elinchrom (a very reputable "big lights" company) and Sekonic (who make light/flash meters) has recently teamed up to cross license each others' tech and build cross-compatibility into their respective platforms. This is pretty exciting stuff.

And it does not stop there, as remote-embedded flashes like the LumoPro LP180R (the remote-enabled version of my favorite speedlight) is using the Phottix platform as well. So if you are looking to looking to develop a system that is tightly integrated and leverages all of the capabilities of your various components, Phottix deserves strong consideration.

NEXT: Light Stands


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