Radio triggers are big business. Go on eBay and you will find plenty of units coming out of the Far East. And next time you’re watching Match of the Day, check out the row of DSLRs lined up behind the goal all fitted with such triggers.
Most radio triggers are designed to fire the flash unit that they are connected to. Look out for brands like Seculine, Phottix and Elinchrom Skyport, which are perfect for strobists.
Where models like the PocketWizard Plus II and now these new Titan Pro units from Interfit gain is that they will trigger flash just like the others, but with the appropriate lead you can fire your SLR remotely too.
PocketWizard is probably the best known brand in this market but its kit is expensive. Typically, a pair of Plus II units will set you back around £320. Add a sync cable or two plus a cable to remotely fire the camera and that’s easily £400 spent.
It was inevitable given the growth in this market that other brands would leap onto the bandwagon and here is the latest entry from Interfit Strobies.
Interfit is a well established brand offering competitively priced mains flash and innovative continuous lighting systems. The Strobies brand has taken the company into the world of lighting accessories for camera flash units or Speedlights. It offers a range of modifiers and other accessories.
The Titan Pro transceiver is a camera and flash trigger and compared with the equivalent PocketWizards Plus II is competitively priced at £90 per unit. Being a transceiver means that the unit automatically switches from being a receiver to a transmitter.
In terms of looks the Titan Pros are very similar to the PocketWizard Plus II units. There’s a flexible aerial, a tripod socket on the bottom, they both take two AAs and there are two mini-jack sockets along the top. The controls are broadly similar too, with the option of four channels and a test/fire button.
Interestingly, the Plus IIs and the Titans work on the same 433Mhz frequency which is a big selling point to existing PocketWizard owners like me. I can now add extra triggers to my collection at a much lower price that buying more PocketWizards.
I started my test by slipping in a Nikon SB-900 flashgun into the Titan’s hot-shoe – no cable needed here, unlike the Plus II’s – and took this combination to the bottom of my garden, about 60m distant. Interfit claims an operating distance of 100m so 60m should be a walk in the park and so it proved. Using another Titan set to the same channel as that of the unit attached to the flash, the flash fired time after time from where I stood, and that included times when I moved out of sight-line. I then managed to get even further away, extending the test to 80m and this too proved no problem.
Clearly I needed more distance to test the claimed 100m operating distance, so I retrieved the flash and got my partner to wander off down the road with it. Yes, flash triggering at 100m was achieved. Incidentally, as I have two SB-900s, I connected my second one – with a cable – to a Plus II and positioned it alongside the Titan for these tests. This too performed fine.
I had the 10-pin lead to connect my Nikon D700 so I tried remote camera and flash triggering next. I had one Titan connected to the camera, another on the flash and a third used to do the firing. For this, the Titan has a Wireless Remote Sync (WRS) mode and the switch on the cable needs to be in its ‘on’ position. In this mode, the camera and flash are ready to fire instantly and the triggers worked fine. Again I tried triggering the set-up at different distances.
So far, my testing proved that the Titan worked up to its claimed range and that remote flash and camera triggering worked fine.
But I thought now was time to actually use the things properly. I teach main flash lighting techniques to Jessops customers so I took three Titans along to a training session.
I turned off the slave triggers of the two mains flash units and wired up the Titans with the supplied mini-jack cables. The third transceiver was my trigger and this was going to be handed around by my novice studio photographers. Everything worked fine, as you would expect given the short range, and the only issue was that on several occasions the Titan was almost forced onto the camera hot-shoe from the wrong direction. There is a lip to prevent this, and this issue only surfaced because of inexperience. I am sure that a Titan owner would soon learn which was the right way to mount the transceiver onto their camera.
In terms of flash firing, the Titans performed flawlessly, regardless of the camera brand and that includes Sony with the Titan attached via an adaptor. In the past, I have had problems with some triggers. It seems that some triggers don’t take kindly to being used on a number of different cameras and give up the ghost towards the end of a day.
During the time of my test I actually took along the Titans to three separate studio training days. With regards to battery capacity I am still on the same set of batteries in two of the three transceivers. This is with all three units being left on for most of the three days although I usually remembered to switch them off at lunchtime for half-an-hour.
Buy a pair of PocketWizard Plus IIs and you’ll be paying around £320 (actually, the lowest price I found in early March was £269 for a pair) and the guide price is £385. The single unit price was £180. The lowest price I found for the Interfit Strobie Titan Pros was £87 for an individual unit and £170 for a pair. The cables for the Titan are significantly cheaper too and they are interchangeable. The PocketWizard Nikon ten-pin cable costs around £70, the Strobies equivalent is £25.
I know this all sounds like I am knocking the PocketWizards, but I’m not. I have three Plus IIs and I love them.
What pleases me most about the Titans is that they provide an identical performance (and they can be used with PocketWizards) and give many more people the option to enjoy the flexibility that such units provide. Of course, I can’t vouch for their long-term reliability just yet, but so far so good.
It seems to me that the Titans are an absolute steal, whether you need a trigger for studio flash, flashgun and your camera – or all three.
Taken from the April 2011 issue of Advanced Photographer magazine