on October 20, 2011
I'm coming from a set of Radiopopper Jrx Studio triggers which were just a nightmare as far as reliability goes. The design of the system was also questionable and certainly didn't help the reliability either. The one trick feature of the Radiopoppers is that I could manually adjust power of a remote flash from the trigger on my camera. This was a time saver. Unfortunately most of that time was wasted just trying to get the darned things to work right.
So that brings me to these guys. The design of these triggers is much simpler than the Radiopoppers. For these you need no cables to fire a remote Canon speedlite - even if you are using a shoemount flash on-camera. Nice! Both the transmitter and the receiver have built in hot shoes. Simply slide your remote speedlite onto the receiver hot shoe, turn the triggers on, and you are in business. If you'd like to use an on-camera shoe mount flash AND fire a remote flash, that's just as easy. Just slide a flash onto the transmitter's shoe and you're good to go.
One big benefit of these over the original Strato is that these transmitters allow for a pass-through ETTL signal. This means that it will pass a full ETTL signal from your camera to your shoe-mount flash sitting atop the transmitter. That will let you use an on-camera flash in ETTL mode while firing your remote flashes in manual mode (manual mode is the best way to fire remote flashes anyway).
These triggers come with 4 channels and 4 flash groups. The channels are selectable via a sliding button on the side of the receiver while the groups are selectable via an illuminating button on the back of the transmitter. There are no dipsticks to fool with!! Finally! Illuminated buttons are SO much easier than trying to remember which dipstick combination activates which channels or groups you want.
So as for the design of these triggers, I give them a 9.5/10. The 1/2 point deduction comes from the fact that the power button is too easily switched. If you just toss these things in your bag, they will likely turn themselves on once the bag shuffles around a bit. If they stay on for too long, they will just run dead. I don't believe there is any "auto-off" feature with these triggers. I would recommend carrying an extra couple sets of AAA batteries. Both the triggers and receivers take standard AA batteries (another design plus).
Reliability wise, these things have been near perfect for me. The electrical connections are secure and misfires are rare to never. They are also built well and can support the weight of a 580exII flash without any undue strain. I would be careful not to hit the flash on anything while atop the transmitter. A tall shoe-mount flash makes for a large moment arm and hitting it too hard would surely either break the foot of the flash or the shoe on the trigger. This is more a result of basics physics than it is a product design flaw.
So despite losing the remote adjustability of the Radiopoppers, I have been extremely happy with these triggers. The design is very well thought out and the reliability has been perfect for me. Highly recommended.
on November 30, 2011
For a few years, I've used the cheap PT-04 wireless triggers. They worked about 90% of the time when I was within 200 feet of them at first. Recently, they won't reliably fire even when I'm within 10 feet of them. Two triggers and four receivers all behave the same way. Enough was enough, so I started looking around at what is currently available and obviously stumbled across these.
I ordered the Canon transmitter and two receivers to start off with. Tried them out with two Nikon SB-28 flashes, some Vivitar 285HV flashes, a couple of Canon's old ATTL 430EZ flashes, and Canon's ETTL 420EX and 430EX flashes. ALL of them fired using the Canon remote. The remote has a functionality that allows your flash to go to sleep then the remote wakes it up when it's time to get back to business. This function only worked on the ETTL flashes that I have. Once the 430EZ (the old ATTL flash, not the 430EX) flash went to sleep, that was it. So if you really need your flashes to be able to go to sleep and wake up, make sure they are compatible with these remotes.
Reliability so far seems excellent. Being able to use commonly-available AAA batteries makes these units a little bulky but that's an acceptable trade off considering the flexibility that affords. I'm using Sanyo Eneloop rechargeable batteries which hold a charge for several months, and they work great with these.
As far as how they work, they're pretty slick. There are 4 channels, no big deal there. What I like the most is that each remote can be assigned to one of 4 groups. Then at the transmitter, you can choose any combination of groups that you want to fire. Seeing which groups are active is very easy since they put a subtle red light at the top of each of the buttons. Each button is independent so you don't waste time cycling through 16 combinations if it were just one button. Each remote blinks green every 5 seconds or so to make it easy to tell if you remembered to turn on the remote or not.
I won't get into other details that other reviewers had mentioned. I just wanted to let it be known that the remotes do work with other brand flashes that accept a 6-volt trigger signal (at least all the ones I had to test with,) and it's not just restricted to Canon. They simply won't have the wake-up functionality that several of Canon's ETTL flashes will enjoy.
Since it worked out so well, I ordered a couple of Nikon remotes to use with the SB-28's that I have (my favorite flashes.) Not sure if the sleep function will work or not, but it can be disabled in the flash itself like I've done for years with the el-cheapo remotes. Canon isn't so kind to their users and don't have that sleep-disable feature in many of their flash units.
If you're looking for an alternative to more expensive solutions like Pocket Wizard, or wanting to step up from the cheap wireless triggers, you would do well to give these some serious consideration. I'm expecting these to be in my lighting bag for many years.
on January 20, 2012
I've had these triggers for about 3 months now and have very few complaints. I had previously used the Cactus v4 triggers, which had pretty spotty reliability and fairly limited range. These triggers are very reliable--I don't think I have had a misfire yet. I tested out the range of the triggers one day and they reliably triggered at approximately a quarter mile away. They were still triggering consistently, but I was no longer able to shout instructions to my children (who were carrying the flash) at that distance, so we stopped the test. Based on other things I have read, others have gotten consistent triggering at even longer distances. I also used them outside recently in snowfall with temperatures in the single digits. I didn't push the range (they were always within about 20 feet), but I still didn't have a single misfire. It's probably not recommended to use them in this way, but I had no problems.
There are a lot of things I like about these triggers. First, they use standard AAA batteries, which means it is easy to replace them on the fly as opposed to trying to find some exotic batteries in a pinch. Also, access to the battery doors is very easy--no screws need to be removed, but they seem to hold securely. Second, the multi-channel control on the transmitter is wonderful! I have two receivers (and plan to add more in the future), and it is trivial to quickly disable one of my lights from firing, whether it is to check exposure or because I just don't want that light to fire. This is a wonderful addition. Third, the TTL passthrough on the transmitter is actually quite useful. I have used it for candid shots (Where I've got remote lights flooding the room with light) where I put a TTL flash on the camera to use as a fill light. Works great when it's needed! Fourth, the shutter release function works well. I have used the shutter release in corded mode, as well as in wireless mode, and I have had no problems either way--I actually use this feature more than I thought I would.
The only downsides I have seen with these triggers are relatively minor. First, one of my triggers had a pretty tight hotshoe connection at first. I had difficulty sliding shoe-mount flashes in and out. It has since loosened up a bit. The other units didn't have that problem, so maybe it was just a fluke of manufacturing. Second, and this is really minor, I have had a problem with the power switch getting switched to the on position while in my bag. That probably has something to do with the way I was storing them. I've switched bags and don't have that problem anymore. I actually really like the power switches on these triggers.
Overall, I am very pleased with these flash triggers. I think they are an excellent value for the money and have worked reliably for me!
I still am really pleased with these triggers! They have held up well, even bouncing around inside camera bags for the last year+. I still find them very reliable, and I don't recall any misfires. I've thought that the new PocketWizards looked nice, but I just couldn't find any good reason to upgrade--these do everything I need for a great price. I now have two transmitters and three receivers. I'm able to set up one transmitter in my hand for a remote shutter release, and the other transmitter on-camera to trigger lights. It works really well.
To update the couple of negatives I mentioned in my original review, I no longer notice any problems with the hotshoe connection. I don't have any problems with getting flashes in and out anymore.
The second issue was that the power switch was constantly getting switched on in my bag, so that they were dead when I pulled them out of the bag. I've had the problem in basically any bag I've used, but I finally solved the issue. A bit of gaffer's tape over the power switch keeps the switch from getting accidentally switched on (or off). The tape has held up for several months now. I just peel it back when I need to flip the switch, then put it back on. I'm pretty happy with this solution. All in all, I still highly recommend these triggers. They work great for not a lot of money!
on November 5, 2012
Pro: Excellent construction and reliability compared to cheaper triggers.
Pro: I like how clearly the settings work on the transmitter & receivers. No confusion as to which channel and group you're talking to.
Pro: Very reliable flash trigger, even at 50 yards.
Con: The receiver does not awaken the SB600 from standby, like it says it will. You have to turn off the SB600 auto-standby mode to get a reliable flash trigger. If the SB600 goes into standby, the first trigger signal will awaken it, and the second trigger signal will fire the flash. In other words... you've missed your first shot. While the SB600 is awake, the triggers are reliable.
Con: don't buy this product as a remote shutter controller for the D5000. None of the included cables fit the funky plug on the D5000. I guess the cables must be for other Nikon models. Use the optical remote trigger for the D5000 instead.
on August 1, 2012
I initially purchased the Pixel King which are great if used with Canon/Nikon strobes because they're a bit more feature packed (eTTL, TTL, etc) but unfortunately they did not work with a recently purchased battery pack monolight which I use for on-site shooting.
These Strato II Wireless 5 in 1 Triggers are just a dream! They do what they're supposed to do, fired every time and worked right away with my studio lights. Did not try them with regular flash but I don't see why they would have a problem working with that setup. Used them yesterday for a senior shoot, outside and they fired every time. Took about 250 shots during a three hour session, in different locations. The range seems to be what the company claims; I went past 150 m and they worked fine. I normally have the softbox (or the light source) within a few feet from me so distance doesn't affect me much.
They look sexy and the transmitter screws tightly onto my Canon 5D Mark II. Someone mentioned earlier that the buttons can easily be switched accidentally and I found that to be true. It's really not a big deal and it doesn't happen all the time. It takes literally 1/8000th/s to set them back on the same channel if that should happen. They're no menus or combinations. It's simply switching to clearly marked channels/groups.
I love them. Very inexpensive for what they do, build and design. I'm very happy with this purchase.
Of note, these sync up to 1/250s. Pushing beyond that, will not work. It is truly sufficient (for me at least) , shooting up to that speed. And everything has to be set to manual (which is what I shoot anyway). They simply trigger your strobe, flash or whatever you have setup in the studio or on location.
on May 1, 2012
Product does what it is supposed to do. Good build quality and much less expensive than other flash rec/trans. I saw pro photographer using them and he recommeded them. He was right.
on June 12, 2014
These are amazing and paired with my Youngnuo YN560-II I'm able to pop off 8fps with my Sony a77. The triggers I got is the Sony/Minolta hot shoe mount and they fit perfectly and have fired on every attempt. My favorite feature with these triggers is that you're able to keep a flash mounted on your camera with the trigger on it as well plus if your flash supports TTL it'll still function on camera but from what I've read it doesn't support TTL on the off camera flash which I'm totally fine with. Get these while you can for the Sony mount because if you haven't been paying attention Sony is going to a "standard" hotshoe mount on all it's new cameras like the a77 mark II, a99, a7/a7 and the NEX 6.
on January 3, 2014
Definitely a major improvement from my Cactus V4's that I've been using (hit and miss) for a couple of years. The hotshoe on the transmitter is what clinched it. The pass thru hotshoe sends the ettl information from my Canon 580exII via a off camera shoe cord to my 5DMKIII which even the new Pocketwizard PlusX doesn't for more money. The low profile of the the transmitter/recievers to me is important too as I can visualize the PW's snapping off completely under the wrong circumstances. plastic being plastic. The Stratos II's feel solid albeit plastic, with sync speeds up to 1/250th of a second, 4 channels in 4 groups . . . if you're reading this you know the specs, what you might not know in addition to the AAA batteries included when they say all dedicated cables, they're not kidding. Right out of the box with the 580EXII connected to the transmitter on the camera along with two Vivitar df-283's they worked first time like a charm with no misfires so far. Same goes for my Alien Bee AB800 on a boom with the supplied 3.5mm connector. I bought this and an additional reciever initially and within minutes I realized I'd be picking up one more reciever immediately. For what you're getting you can't beat the price for the performance, I did the research and almost went with the PW's until I came across Phottix and I'm really glad I did. The ol' "You get what you pay for" adage doesn't apply here, you get more.
on March 28, 2012
The Phottix Strato II works great and is a fraction of the cost of other brand name remote flash systems. I bought the kit with the transmitter and one receiver. I purchased two additional receivers. I have the transmitter on my camera and the three receivers on my three studio flashes. The Phottix receivers come with cables and adapters to plug them into the studio flash, saving added cost. I spent less for a three flash set than one receiver of the other brand names. They work perfectly.
on February 25, 2013
This little pair has incredible value. I have been looking to replace our sync cable solution (we use Elinchrom flash heads in our studio) with a wireless solution, and have primarely looked at either the Pocket Wizard and Skyport solutions, when out of the blue (literally) a photographer friend recommended that I also look at the 'more affordable' end of the spectrum. Little did I know what would hit me.
Since (by photography standards) the Strato was dirt cheap, I ordered an (already outdated) Strato transmitter/receiver pair to test in our studio. As I mentioned, we use an Elinchrome setup, using a number of 500 W/s flash heads, triggered the 'old-school' way using a synch chord. Since business was picking up, and new full frame cameras seem to eschew the PC port (notably the EOS 6D, which is a nice step up from the 5D MKII for significantly less sticker shock), I was looking to replace the cord with a wireless solution.
Now, in a studio, TTL (through the lens) metering is a lot less important than in the field, so you should remember this for the rest of my review. Before a shoot, I can setup my lighting and camera to produce great shots at my leisure, and have a 50/50 chance of producing good shots when the client arrives. In this environment, the only requirement to a trigger is that it always, and with little delay, triggers the flash. Like the cable I used to use. Those who rely on TTL metering may have to look elsewhere, as this little combo does not support it (the transmitter does, however, provide as pass-though so you can mount a TTL-Flash on top of it. TTL data is *not* transmitted wirelessly, though)
The Strato performs flawlessly. At a nearly unbeatable price. At a sync speed of 1/250 and 6 fps (the limit of my flash heads, not the transmitter) I have yet to experience a single misfire. The G4 waveband makes sure that I don't suffer from the dreaded frequency saturation that can kill a Pocket Wizard's transmission (although in theory you may run into problems if you are an an area that is saturated by WiFi and Cell Phone Towers).
Most importantly, I can fire my flash heads with pro-level reliability at a great price. To give you an indication of how price-effective this little pair of gizmos is: Elinchrome's adapter (required to use the (standard) 3.5 mm cable) costs more than the transmitter/receiver set. To be completely honest, it costs less than a replacement 5m synch chord would cost me, and is almost as reliable. Almost, because the Stratp runs on batteries which can run down. Which is why I keep a synch cord as a backup around, but have not had to use it since I got the Stratos.
Hardware-wise I wish the receiver had a metal mounting clamp, and that Phottix offered a power supply (the receiver has a 5V input, but you have to get your own as it's not offered as an option). The pair comes with many standard cables that will definitely fit you system flash (provided you order the correct version), and maybe also fit your pro flash heads (I had to order my adapter from Elinshrom, which is completely Elinchrom's failure to adhere to standards).
I only tested the remote trigger once and can attest that it works as advertised - I don't use it that way, but am happy to report that I have this option should I ever need it.
All in all, I am really, *really* happy with this transmitter/receiver pair, and can definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to replace their sync chord with a wireless solution, and who does not need TTL metering.