Photo Shoot: Male Model Portfolio ‘On Location’

I briefly mentioned a couple of posts back about a recent a day long Male Model Portfolio Shoot where I was working both out ‘on location’ and in the studio.

Well, for this post I thought I’d cover the ‘on location’ part of the shoot to not only give you an idea of what I was working on but to mention about how I changed my ‘shooting’ style.

First off let’s talk about the shoot…

As is always the case it takes me a good 15 minutes or so of shooting before I start to feel comfortable and get ‘into the groove’ so I started off taking what I guess could be called ‘throw away shots’ that served a purpose in helping both Richard and myself settle into things…

I was working alone on this shoot so it was just Richard and myself moving from location to location. There were the obvious challenges to this when it came to kit and the odd bit of high wind but with a little improvisation which I’ll explain about in a little while, we worked through it without any hiccups.

“Simple & Clean” was the order of the day for the images and to keep the lighting subtle. With this in mind the lighting couldn’t have been any simpler…One Nikon SB800 Speedlight and a couple of modifiers namely a 46″ Shoot-Thru Umbrella and a Honl Speed Grid.

I was also using the new Pocket Wizard Mini TT1 and Flex TT5 to trigger the flash, and it’s this that I want to talk a bit more about. Those who know anything about me and my shooting style will know that I always shoot in Manual, and I do so because of the consistency in exposure that it gives from shot to shot. Now I can’t explain why this happened but for this entire shoot I changed everything and decided to shoot exclusively in Aperture Priority and TTL…

I simply chose an aperture which generally hovered around the f/4.0 and f/5.6 mark and got on with it. Changes in ambient light were made using exposure compensation on the camera and if I needed more or less light from the flash I just used the Flash Compensation on the SU800 Commander unit sat ontop of the Mini TT1.

Shooting this way was a whole new experience made possible by the new Pocket Wizard units but I have to say, hand on heart it was an extremely pleasant one. The kit worked faultlessly and being able to make all adjustments to the ambient and the flash power from camera meant I could work alot quicker and with fewer interruptions.

Being a whole new way of shooting for me, it felt odd not paying much that much attention to the shutter speed but having finished the shoot and then looked through the images in Lightroom the EXIF data was fascinating.

Shutter Speeds throughout the day varied from 1/60th of a second and  up to 1/1600th of a second; a speed before now unheard of when shooting with a DSLR and Speedlights but again, not one misfire and no unexpected exposure variances as we went from location to location.

The only downside of shooting with the Nikon SU800 in addition to the Pocket Wizard Mini TT1 ontop of the camera is the bulk, but it works really well. Needless to say though, when the Pocket Wizard AC3 unit becomes available in the next couple of weeks I’ll be adding that to the kit back to keep everything as compact and user friendly as possible.

Anyway back to the shoot…
Again, something different I hadn’t done this time was my usual visit to the area beforehand and meticulously planned locations where we would shoot; we just walked and talked and when we came across somewhere we liked we went for it, and if we felt it didn’t work we simply moved on.

Photographing in the street offers up all manner of creative possibilities, however one thing I’m paranoid about is members of the public knocking into, or worse still falling over some of my kit. With the culture of “Where there’s blame, there’s a claim” ever present I take extra care when putting down a light stand in the street and either won’t shoot until everyone has well and truly passed or if I do have an assistant with me, get them to stand right next to it.

Talking of light stands, when we were shooting on the bridge over the River Thames connecting Windsor with Eton (images below) a sudden gust of wind took hold of the shoot-thru umbrella and had it not been for the lightning speed reactions of Richard, along with a lighting stand, a Speedlight and a Flex TT5 it would have all ended up being lost at sea.

Generally I’ll carry sandbags with me to prevent such mishaps but as there was only the two of us and the shoot was very much ‘on the hoof’ I couldn’t bring them along.

Life Saving Tip #1
However all was not lost with a little improvisation using my Think Tank Airport Security Roller camera bag/case; an expensive sand bag granted but it worked a treat:)

The series of photos on the bridge saw the end of the ‘on location’ part of the shoot as we then packed up and made our way over to the studio.

I’ll cover the studio part of the shoot in another post as some of the images have had the ‘compositing’ treatment so I’ll also include some of the editing involved.

•    •    •

Having gone through this entire shoot without being in my usual comfort zone of ‘Manual’ it’s certainly given me food for thought. Now I’m certainly not thinking of changing my shooting style from this point, not at all, but what I like very much is being able to add this ‘style’ of shooting to the kit bag. Being able to use off camera flash with wide apertures and make all adjustments from the camera position was extremely handy and I’m sure contributed very much into making the shoot run as smoothly and as quickly as it did.

As usual if you do have any questions or comments or maybe just fancy leaving some feedback, then please feel free to make use of the comments section below.

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  • February 16, 2011 - 5:35 am

    Tim Skipper - Hey Glyn, the pictures look great they really do, but can the dude smile? He’s almost smiling in the second one, but otherwise he looks like he will kick your tail.

    As to weighing down your stands with a bag, thats what I always do on location. I just put my camera bag on the base of the stand. Its sure is heavy enough and saves me from having to lug extra gear.

    I told some models last year, my favorite word for photography is adapt.

  • February 16, 2011 - 7:43 am

    Glyn - lol…I promise you some smiles (kind of) from the studio part of this day shoot Tim :) On a semi serious note though this was the kind of look we wanted, going down the ‘street’ photography feel. As for ‘kicking your tail’ you should have been in my position…I really thought he was going to…lol :) Great guy though; a real gent and great to work with.

    Liking the ‘adapt’ mantra…definitely one that came in handy on this day that’s for sure; didn’t really fancy a dip in the River Thames :)

    Cheers for looking in mate.
    All the best to you,

  • February 16, 2011 - 8:52 am

    Tweets that mention Photo Shoot: Male Model Portfolio ‘On Location’ » Glyn Dewis Blog -- - [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Photoshop Nut, Dominic. Dominic said: Another excellent blog post entry by @GlynDewis about a change of style on the move & how to cope without a sandbag! [...]

  • February 16, 2011 - 8:55 am

    Nat - Hi Glyn
    Very nice shots indeed. Love the sarnie/newspaper one. Thanks for talking us through it all.

  • February 16, 2011 - 9:42 am

    Scot Baston - Hi Glyn,

    It is always good to hear more about the flex range, I shoot with Canon but I believe they also have the same kit available.. Yet another thing to put on my wish list.

    You mention that shooting Av was a pleasant surprise, but could you also detail the downsides of shooting Av in your experience?



  • February 16, 2011 - 10:32 am

    Ziggy - LUSH!!!

    It’s even funnier when you see a Broncolor mobil light taking off on its stand with a shoot through umbrella acting as a sail (NOT).

    Great stuff. Love it. Can’t wait for the ‘Studio’ stuff.

  • February 16, 2011 - 10:58 am

    jewelzdezine - Glyn, great shots! And finally someone shot a male model! All kidding aside, great locations. Thanks for sharing the process with us.


  • February 16, 2011 - 11:30 am

    Simon Jacobs - Nice pix Glyn. Working on your own is a pain sometimes. Yesterday I did 2 C-Stands, an Octa and a Strip Box and sandbags on my own!! :) Arggghhh!
    Strangely I have gone Manual —>TTL and stuck with TTl for about 7 months. Yesterday for some reason I shot Manual again and remembered how lovely and consistent everything was. TTL is very cool, but can play up in a horrendous way sometimes…Horses for courses, both good for different reasons.

  • February 16, 2011 - 12:13 pm

    claudio.von.grubens - Hi glyn,

    great moody shots! it is always hard to get your client in the right inner mood! great work!


  • February 16, 2011 - 12:46 pm

    Jim - How did you get to 1600th of a second using triggers av and ettl. Reason I ask is I took some shots at 200th on my 7d and had that black band coming i’n. Down to 160 was fine though .

    I’m guessing hi speed sync, but does that make the ettl go nuts. I am just trying to figure out if I have a slow camera, not enough juice i’n the triggers or need to go back to cables. Thanks Glynn, keep up the blogs males for a great reading. Cheers mate!

  • February 16, 2011 - 1:51 pm

    Tim Skipper - Glyn

    I know what you mean about thinking he might try to kick yours. Last year I shot for a husband and wife body builder team. I kid you not his arms were bigger than my thighs.

    The whole time I’m thinking, if he doesn’t like this, he’s going to break me in half.

  • February 16, 2011 - 6:53 pm

    Noel Hannan - Hey Glyn,
    Great shots, very atmospheric and macho, full of drama. I recongize that sandwich shop! You must give me a demo on the ttl shooting,
    Thanks for sharing,

  • February 16, 2011 - 9:45 pm

    Glyn - @Nat…Thanks for that :)

  • February 16, 2011 - 9:49 pm

    Glyn - @Scot…The thing about shooting in AV that I don’t like is that when taking a series of shots, a slight change on focus point can produce varying exposures being produced as opposed to Manual when an exposure is set no matter what.

    That being said, I didn’t experience that this time round so I think a little more looking into AV is called for.


  • February 16, 2011 - 9:50 pm

    Glyn - @Ziggy…Now that would have been an expensive sounding splash…lol :)

  • February 16, 2011 - 9:52 pm

    Glyn - @Julie…Thanks for stopping by and for the kind words; glad to ‘hear’ you like the results.

    All the best to you,

  • February 16, 2011 - 9:55 pm

    Glyn - @Simon…Absolutely mate. I guess certain shooting styles lend themselves to certain shoots as in this case it worked a treat.

    Lots more shooting to be done using this style to be 100% trustworthy so we’ll see. Of course with my big lights (Ranger) I’ll be shooting manual but with those heads that’s great fun…lol


  • February 16, 2011 - 9:56 pm

    Glyn - @Claudio…Cheers Buddy

  • February 16, 2011 - 9:59 pm

    Glyn - @Jim…Out of the box I’m getting sync speeds of up to 1/8000sec on High Speed/Hyper Sync with full flash exposure on sensor. I’ll dive into the settings and let you know what the PW’s are at.


  • February 16, 2011 - 10:01 pm

    Glyn - @Tim…Going by that you obviously did a cracking job mate :)

  • February 16, 2011 - 10:05 pm

    Glyn - @Noel…Ah yes the coffee shop; the very one we’ve partaken in the occasional sandwich and coffee at mate.

    Re the TTL, I’ll hopefully see you at the studio on Friday evening…we’ll geek about it then :)


  • February 17, 2011 - 6:26 am

    DaveT - Hi Glyn

    Nice set of shots-I too like the newspaper shot the best.

    Thanks for the tips re weighing down the stand.

    A couple more tips I heard of to weigh down your stand are

    a)Using a bungee cord and tent pegs (soft ground only)
    b)Using a strap with divers weights. The advantage here is that the weight pulls straight downwards so the stand is less likely to topple over.


  • February 17, 2011 - 8:19 am

    Bert Stephani - Good job mate,

    I tried Av but I still feel more comfortable and faster in M. Take a look at the Manfrotto Nano stands, the legs can spread out flat on the floor. You’ll loose some hight but it’s much easier to put some improvised weight on.

  • February 17, 2011 - 9:11 am

    David Kelly - Hi Glyn,

    Really liking the cafe shoot as with others. Always good when a client can save the day for you and have lightning fast reactions ;-)



  • February 21, 2011 - 6:57 am

    Glyn - @Dave…Nice one mate, thanks for the divers belt tip :)

  • February 21, 2011 - 6:58 am

    Glyn - @David…Absolutely mate; was like the scene from Spiderman 1 when he catches the lunch tray :)

  • February 23, 2011 - 9:36 am

    Glyn - @Bert…Thanks for that mate.
    Re the Nano Light Stands after this ‘solo’ experience I’ll definitely be putting an order in for a couple of them; especially if it means avoiding diving into the River Thames after some kit :)

    I remember seeing you using them in your Motivational Light DVD ( and yeah having the legs go flat to the floor would be ideal for placing a camera bag across for even more stability.

    Thanks again and all the best to you,
    Glyn :)

  • February 24, 2011 - 5:10 pm

    Photo Shoot and Technique: Spillers Farm B&B, Devon » Glyn Dewis Blog - [...] time rather than shooting in Aperture Priority as I did in the earlier Male Model Shoot [Link] I decided to go back to using Manual and for the record, this is where I’m going to be [...]

  • April 8, 2011 - 3:15 pm

    James H - Good lord. I’m not sure why I’ve never thought to use my bag as ballast before, but that’s pretty brilliant for the days when you have to pack light. Thanks for the innovative tip!

  • April 10, 2011 - 1:48 pm

    Glyn - @James…You’re welcome mate; this saved me on more than one occasion I can tell you :)

  • November 4, 2012 - 5:49 pm

    shahzad asad - sweet2
    i like your photograph

  • April 20, 2013 - 7:16 pm

    Ramesh Awal - hi glyn, like your pose, you looks great,so handsome . but no smile makes me sad.

Book Review: “Layers (2nd Edition)” by Matt Kloskowski

With what seems like an infinite number of Photoshop books out there on the shelves all making claims to contain the ‘secrets’ of Photoshop when all is said and done, most do the same thing and that is show you how to achieve certain effects.

Now that’s all well and good but what about a book that will help you to really understand Photoshop and show you how to not only achieve certain effects but at the same time, understand the how and why? Well, with the 2nd Edition of Matt Kloskowski’s ‘Layers’ book it totally lives up to it’s sub heading:

“The complete guide to photoshop’s most powerful feature” … and that is giving a total understanding of Layers.

Over the years we’ve seen incredible advances in Photoshop with Refine Edge, 3D and so on but no matter how good these enhancements are they’re nothing without Layers. So that being said, clearly having an understanding of what Layers are and what they can do is a neccesity for anyone; be they a photographer, digital artist, designer etc…

Now before I cover what’s in the book I will say that I think this book is for anyone who uses Photoshop, be they a complete beginner or advanced user because not only does Matt cover the basics he also at the end of the book covers more advanced techniques.

Personally speaking I would have brought the book for just the final chapter where Matt goes into depth about compositing images and then works through how the actual book cover itself was put together; in this section alone I learned heaps! (Incidentally this is something that’s new in the 2nd Edition)


  • Chapter 1: Layer Basics

If you’re new to Photoshop you definitely do not want to skip this opening chapter. When first using Photoshop, the whole concept of a Layer and using Multiple Layers can at first be a little challenging to grasp but I guarantee reading these first few pages will make everything click into place…

  • Chapter 2: Blend Modes

Regular readers of this blog and those of you who have watched my video tutorials will know that I’m a big fan of blend modes; they’re such an incredibly useful part of Photoshop and can save you heaps of time let alone help you create all manner of special effects/looks.

In this Chapter Matt takes a closer look at what blend modes are and in particular concentrates on the 3 most popular ones namely: Multiply, Screen and my personal favourite Soft Light.

  • Chapter 3: Adjustment Layers (i.e. Colour, Curves, Levels and so on…)
  • Chapter 4: Layer Masks
  • Chapter 5: Type and Shape Layers
  • Chapter 6: Enhancing Photos with Layers
  • Chapter 7: Retouching with Layers
  • Chapter 8: Layer Styles
  • Chapter 9: Smart Layers
  • Chapter 10: Advanced Layer Blending and Compositing

Like I said at the start, I would have even bought this book if it only contained this chapter…

Packed full of information covering amongst other things something I love to do…compositing; plus a section dedicated to showing how the book cover was put together.

•    •    •

Not wanting to feel as though you’ve wasted your money it’s always difficult knowing what book to get when every one of them makes promises to teach you incredible techniques and the ‘secrets’ of Photoshop, but I will say this…

There are no secrets in Photoshop; all it is, is having a working knowledge from the ground up and understanding what does what.

I made the mistake when I first started using Photoshop of buying into the ‘effects’ books and while they were good fun, I didn’t really learn much at all. If I was asked to do a certain thing to a photo or design and create a poster I’d struggle because if it wasn’t in print infront of me I wouldn’t have known where to start.

Following on from that I also went through a stage a couple of years back of using a number of Photo plug Ins in Photoshop which were a great fast way to work but didn’t serve to help my understanding of what I was actually doing and how.

It wasn’t until I took things back to basics and started grasping an understanding of what was going on that my skill level improved and has continued to do so. In fact since doing so the Plug Ins I own are only used at certain times such as client work that is on a tight time scale for completion as I can generally work out how to achieve the same effect by myself using…wait for it…Layers:)

To summarise, if having more confidence and ‘know how’ when using Photoshop is what you’re after then this book is money well spent.

It’s 312 pages are packed with ‘no nonsense’ and ‘straight to the point’ information but written in a conversational style that makes it easy to read and digest leaving you not only with more knowledge but an ability to apply what you’ve read.

Highly Recommended!

Layers (2nd edition) by Matt Kloskowski
ISBN-10: 0321749588
ISBN-13: 978-0321749581
Currently priced at £16.50 with Amazon UK


  • February 14, 2011 - 7:51 am

    DaveT - Good review Glyn.

    I had wondered about this book for some time, but never having actually laid my hands on it I was unsure as to whether the book lived up to the marketing. As you clearly know what you are talking about, and can identify the worth of this book, it is now on my wish list.

    Like you, I have bought countless books in the past, many of which were in the end disappointing. So, I can’t tell you how useful it is to have a considered recommendation.


  • February 14, 2011 - 10:26 am

    Glyn - Hi Dave.

    Like I said I definitely recommend this book by Matt. I’ve read it from cover to cover which I’d strongly advise as there’s some hidden gems in there, and the final chapter is knockout!


  • February 14, 2011 - 11:44 am

    Neil Holmes - Thanks for the recommendation Glyn, meant to order it when it first cam out, and now its gone down in price! Cheers Neil

  • February 14, 2011 - 3:00 pm

    Glyn - @Neil…You’re welcome mate, enjoy :)

  • February 14, 2011 - 8:52 pm

    Dom - Excellent review, so much so I’m gonna search out a copy.

    Reckon it’ll teach me more than a few things as my PS knowledge is only just beyond basic at best.


  • February 14, 2011 - 9:11 pm

    Glyn - Dom…You won’t regret it mate. Matt has a great teaching style that get’s the message across without any confusion.
    Enjoy, and thanks for looking in :)

  • February 15, 2011 - 12:35 pm

    Matt Kloskowski - Thanks for the review Glyn!
    – Matt K

  • February 15, 2011 - 8:41 pm

    Glyn - @Matt…You’re welcome mate; it’s a great read!

  • February 16, 2011 - 9:13 am

    David Kelly - Hi Glyn,

    I’ve only just got this book (at the same time as pre-ordering RC’s book too) so have only managed to skim through it so far. However as your review indicates there’s a plethora of information & insights available inside. I barely touch the full power of layers in my PS use, so I’m sure to get a lot of out this book.

    Well done and big thanks to Matt for his efforts here.



  • February 16, 2011 - 9:46 pm

    Glyn - @David…Thanks Buddy; I just know you’ll love the book :)

  • February 21, 2011 - 4:52 pm

    Richard O'Brien - Hi Glyn,

    Good review, and spot-on too! Despite having the ‘first edition’ I got the second for Christmas and it really is a great book.

  • May 13, 2011 - 5:05 am

    Monthly Guest Photographer: Matt Kloskowski » Glyn Dewis Blog - [...] Glyn: You’ve recently written a second edition of your ‘Layers’ book which I did a review for on the blog [Link] [...]

  • October 26, 2011 - 6:30 pm

    Lola Aycinena - Hi Matt:
    I just bought your book, but I’m having problems to acces the photos to work on. I enter the sites you give in the book and then I can’t find them.
    I’m a spanish speaker, so maybe I don’t realy understand how to actualy get to the pictures.
    I would appreciate very much if you could help me. I love you book anda I know I’m going to learn a lt from it.

  • February 15, 2012 - 11:18 am

    Lola Photography London Blog » Blog Archive » Professional Portrait Retouching » Lola Photography London Blog - [...] (If you aren’t sure how its work there is a good book to start with, is called Layers for Matt Kloskowski, I recommend it [...]

Aperture Priority? But I’m a Manual Mode Guy

As it’s now Friday and the weekend is fast approaching I thought I’d finish off giving you a ‘heads up’ as to what will be on the blog next week…

The shot above is from a photo shoot this week; a whole day shoot both out on location and in the studio for a model portfolio. I’m going to put together a ‘walk through’ showing some of the ‘location’ shots which incidentally found us in Windsor & Eton, UK for a few hours plus a look at what we did in the studio. Lighting was kept really simple whilst out on location using Nikon Speedlights and a couple of modifiers but the main thing I have to mention is that this was the first ever complete client shoot I shot in Aperture Priorty and TTL using the Pocket Wizard Mini TT1 and Flex TT5’s we’ve talked about over the past couple of posts.

I’ll explain more next week but in a word they were Awesome! Shooting in Aperture Priority with flash for me was a first as I’m normally a 100% ‘Manual Mode Guy’ but hey I had not one single misfire, no weird behaviour…just 100% reliable and what’s more, shooting this way with the Nikon SU800 in the mix too meant I was able to work alot faster. Now don’t think I’m looking at changing my way of shooting but this was certainly a pleasant surprise so I’ll let you know more about what went on plus I’ll be passing on a tip that stopped my kit taking a dive into the River Thames:)

Also I’ll be posting another book review plus a post I’m giving the title ‘Are you Poor?‘ ; sounds a little odd maybe but in true ‘Friday’ fashion, I’ll explain all next week.

Have a great weekend and I’ll catch you Monday,

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  • February 11, 2011 - 10:12 pm

    Russell Pritchard - Glyn,
    saw some of the guys at the Amir Khan press conference using the Flex TT5 i’m just hoping my wife has got me one of these things for Valentines Day !!

    I’ll not hold my breath

  • February 11, 2011 - 10:45 pm

    Tim Skipper - I’m always nervous in AP mode, but I think I will try it next time I’m using the Pocket Wizard Mini & Flex.

  • February 12, 2011 - 8:17 am

    DT - Glyn,

    How interesting. I’m almost the complete opposite for flash. I used to use AV (aperture priority) almost exclusively. Now I use manual mode a lot in order to control the ambient light without resorting to exposure compensation. But, I always shoot with flash on TTL as opposed to manual flash settings. I haven’t got to grips with manual on flash yet – though I can see the advantage of absolute consistency. I suppose it all comes down to what methods we were taught/learnt to start with.

    I have been using the Flex and mini for around nine months and find that they work quite well.

    Looking forward to reading your posts next week.


  • February 12, 2011 - 8:37 am

    Glyn - @Russell…Good luck with that mate; here’s hoping you’re right :)

  • February 12, 2011 - 9:31 am

    Paul Hodgson - Looking forward to those articles next week Glyn. Out of curiosity, for the image above, did you use 4 flash guns? One overhead, one each for rim and one for the back wall?

  • February 12, 2011 - 9:44 am

    Glyn - @Tim…Go on, be a devil and give it a try :)

  • February 12, 2011 - 9:47 am

    Glyn - @Dave…Its always fascinating to hear how other people shoot. Like I said, as a rule I shoot in manual when using flash but changing things up was quite a nice change and actually surprisingly user friendly.

    Don’t intend to change my shooting style; just yet anyway :)


  • February 12, 2011 - 9:50 am

    Glyn - @Paul…You’ve no idea how happy your comment has made me :) The photo in this post is actually a composite where I added in the background during post production so the fact you ask if it was lit etc makes me happy…real happy :)

    I’ll cover all that was done during the posts next week.

    Have a great weekend mate,
    Thanks again,

  • February 12, 2011 - 11:30 am

    Scot Baston - Hey Glyn, Aperture mode?? whatever next?

    I must admit I have been an Aperture mode guy up until recently, more because Canon Flash is not quite as easy to control off camera as your lovely Nikon. Having said that, I’m getting plenty of ideas from Syl Arena’s new book ‘ Speedliter’s Handbook so soon I’ll be squeezing every last drop out of my speedlites.

    Really looking forward to hooking up again soon



  • February 12, 2011 - 2:25 pm

    Keith Hammond - looking forward to it, will be good to see how you got on once out of your comfort zone :-)
    I mainly shoot Aperture because when situations change quickly i find i can change to suit it, although i do shoot some manual when i have more time as in set up shots like ring detail / cake etc

  • February 12, 2011 - 6:54 pm

    Dave Clayton - Glyn let me into a a secret, he shoots it all on Auto and only uses the on camera pop up flash. Then edits in Apple Aperture and Paint Shop Pro. True fact ;o)

  • February 13, 2011 - 12:38 am

    Sam - Glyn,

    I am a faithful reader to your blog. You have some great stuff. I had your post open today and I just had to laugh. You post was open in a tab in firefox and I was ready something else when I looked back at my tabs and noticed the top bar abbreviated your title to “Aperture Priorty? But I’m a Man…” I thought that was hysterical and thought you might enjoy. I took a screen capture I am not sure if it will load or not. If not you get the idea.


    P.S. you misspelled priority.

  • February 13, 2011 - 8:08 am

    Glyn - @Scot…Yeah I know mate..starting to come over all dizzy :)
    Syl’s book sounds interesting, so I’ll be looking to see what you come up with soon then.

    Cheers and see you soon,

  • February 13, 2011 - 8:09 am

    Glyn - @Keith…Yeah shooting Aperture Priority with flash was a completely new experience but one I’ll definitely look into a little more when using speedlights. The Mini and Flex performed brilliantly which meant working real quick.

    Cheers, Glyn

  • February 13, 2011 - 8:11 am

    Glyn - @Dave…Now that’s blown it; secrets out :) lol

  • February 13, 2011 - 8:13 am

    Glyn - @Sam…Superb lol I can see exactly what you mean there :)
    Thanks for being a ‘faithful reader'; it’s good to know you’re looking in and that some of it is useful.

    Best wishes,

    ps> Cheers for the ‘heads up’ re the spelling mistake :)

  • February 16, 2011 - 8:04 pm

    Matthew Roach - I have been a die-hard full manual (camera & flash) shooter for a long time now. But a few months back I had the opportunity to shoot a portrait shot for a Chemist (the blow things up & make stuff smoke kind).

    He wanted a good portrait shot which told the story of being a Chemist without resorting to the old-hat coloured test tubes. Luckily he is a photographer as well & we set about making the shot happen. The concept we settled on was such that it would have been impossible to actually shoot the camera in Manual (although the flashes had to be) & Aperture Priority was necessary.

    That shoot opened my eyes to the fact that each shoot needs specific things & I had been closing my mind to other possibilities (by only shooting Manual) which could have made my work easier & possibly better.

    Here’s the resulting shot with some more explanation & you can see why AP over M was chosen;

  • February 16, 2011 - 10:09 pm

    Glyn - @Matthew…Absolutely mate. Just from this shoot I experienced a massive plus to shooting in a different style. As you say, each shoot is different but keeping closed to one way of shooting can possibly limit the creative side of what we produce.

    Lots more to be looked into with this but it’s looking good so far. Like I said in the post, I’m not looking to change completely but having this style at my disposal is certainly handy.

    Cheers for the link; I’ll head on over there now and take a look at the result you got from the chemist shoot which sounds like a blast…pardon the pun :)


Working in harmony: Pocket Wizard Mini TT1, Flex TT5 and Nikon SU800

Following on from yesterday’s review a number of questions arose around using the Nikon SU800 in conjunction with the Pocket Wizard Mini TT1 and Flex TT5 units.

So, I thought I’d add a ‘follow up’ post which will hopefully go some way to explaining how all these fabulous bits of kit can work together and make our lives alot easier; and to make sure everyone is catered for I’ve included information on shooting in both Manual and Aperture Priority Modes:

Aperture Priority Mode with SU800

  • Mini TT1 on Camera
  • Speedlight in TTL and Flex TT5 in Group ‘A’ on light stand
  • SU800 in hotshoe on Mini TT1 with Group ‘A’ set to TTL

Using the SU800 we can now simply increase or decrease flash power as you can see in this series of images where I have adjusted the Flash Exposure Value (EV) by 1 stop each time:

Shooting in Manual with SU800

  • Mini TT1 on Camera
  • SU800 in hotshoe on Mini TT1 with Group ‘A’ set to ‘M’
  • Speedlight in TTL and Flex TT5 in Group ‘A’ on light stand

*Note: Whatever mode you are shooting in, be it Aperture Priority or Manual, the flash itself must always be set to TTL in it’s own control panel. This doesn’t mean it’s actually shooting in TTL as the ‘real’ mode of the flash is what you have it set to on the SU800 Commander Unit ie ‘M’, ‘TTL’ etc…

With this set up I can now adjust the power of the flash from the SU800 Commander Unit as opposed to physically adjusting it on the flash itself or having to alter my aperture to allow more or less light from the flash into the exposure:

Multiple Lights
The advantage of using the Nikon CLS is that we can control powers and modes of multiple flash from the camera position by using, for example the SU800. With these new Pocket Wizard units we can do the very same thing but unlike before, we are now no longer reliant on ‘line of sight’ to send and receive the signal as it’s all done via radio waves.

So, looking at this example here we have two lights…

Again, the flashes themselves are in TTL mode but this time as we have two lights, one of the Flex units has it’s switch set to Group ‘A’ and the other has it’s switch set to Group ‘B’.

Now, on the SU800 controller I can control both lights independently of each other , and to show that here’s a series of photos where on each one I have altered the power of one or both of the flashes:

To Summarise:
If you have an SU800 or a Speedlight that you can put into ‘Commander Mode’ such as the Nikon SB800 or SB900 then:

1) When shooting in Aperture Priority Mode you can adjust the Exposure Value (EV) i.e +1.0EV, +2.0EV and so on…

2) When shooting in Manual Mode you can adjust the power of the flash to taste i.e 1/16, 1/8, 1/4 and so on…

3) If you have multiple lights you can control them individually in whatever mode you want (Manual, TTL) by choosing a Group (i.e. A, B, C) using the switch on the side of the Flex TT5 and then set up the same Group’s on your SU800 or Speedlight.

One final thing and that is to mention the Pocket Wizard AC3
In short this little unit will be able to do all that the SU800 above can do but at a fraction of the cost and size.

•    •    •

Hope that all makes sense and goes some way to answering the questions that were posted in the earlier post, but as always if there’s anything else you want to ask or comment about then feel free to make use of the comments section below,

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  • February 9, 2011 - 9:18 am

    Keith - I think thats cleared up all my confusion mate, thanks.
    Have you had any missfires or setup problems at all ? seems a few people around the interweb are having some minor issues, but not as much as when they first launched for Canon, but then again that could have been a natural reaction to being connected to a Canon………….sorry :-)
    Rumour has it the AC3 will be at Focus, don’t forget your plastic

  • February 9, 2011 - 9:33 am

    Glyn - Hi Keith. So far so good; no misfires or misbehaving :)
    Would be good if the AC3 is available at Focus because as good as it is, the SU800 does make things a bit chunky.

    Cheers, Glyn

  • February 9, 2011 - 10:15 am

    Dave - Rather than the SU800, can the lights be controlled from the camera on models like the D700 which have the Commander Mode menu? That menu does the same as the menu on on a commander unit (as it uses the pop up flash). I appreciate the pop up flash cant be used with the TT1 on the hotshoe but the SU800 isnt actually firing is it, so theoretically the popup flash wouldnt be needed with a TT1 in place.

    Does that make sense?

  • February 9, 2011 - 12:44 pm

    Keith - Thats a good question Dave, I have D700 but not the new PW’s so can’t check but i think the comander mode will only work when the flash is popped to trigger, lets see what the flash master has to say :-)
    i have another Q, does the AC3 sit on top of the Mini or take the place of it ?

  • February 9, 2011 - 2:51 pm

    Nick - One correction.

    pretty sure the su-800 can still af-issist while the ac3 can not.

  • February 9, 2011 - 3:06 pm

    Tweets that mention Working in harmony: Pocket Wizard Mini TT1, Flex TT5 and Nikon SU800 » Glyn Dewis Blog -- - [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by dave cross and Andre Roosenburg, PocketWizard. PocketWizard said: More from Glyn Dewis on using the SU800 with the ControlTL system for Nikon: [...]

  • February 9, 2011 - 3:06 pm

    Sanka - thanks for the detailed post

  • February 9, 2011 - 4:23 pm

    Derek - The AC3 does sit on top of the transmitter (i.e. does not replace it)

    D700/300/200 popup flash commander menu mode will not work because the transmitting pocket wizard will be in the hotshoe preventing the popup from popping up

    Yes the SU800 does still af-assist

  • February 10, 2011 - 4:01 am

    Ernie - Thanks for clarification but I was taken aback by the comment re: sync speed capabilities. How can this possibly sync at 1/8000 th sec?? What am I missing here?

  • February 10, 2011 - 3:25 pm

    Keith Hammond - Guess what i just thought of another scenario, i think you said the PW plus 11 will work with the Mini and Flex so would this work…… Plus 11’s on my SB800’s and a Mini on camera……if yes then add in an SU800 would that do any more than just having the Mini on camera.
    I’m thinking if all that works then i could just splash out on a Mini.

  • February 11, 2011 - 8:22 am

    Dave - I get that the pop-up flash wont work with the transmitter on top (I’m sure I said that?!) but my question was could you use the command menu for commander mode on the D700 rather than using the menu on the SU800? My thinking being that the camera sends those commands to the flash which transmits them as light pulses. With the TT1, the instructions from the in-camera command menu would then be sent to the TT1 which transmits those commands via radio.

    Or maybe not, I don’t know!

  • February 11, 2011 - 8:36 am

    Keith Hammond - @ Dave : i think the commander mode will only work when the flash is up (or it senses an SU or SB800 in the hot shoe) because the info is sent via the flash pulses……..isn’t it.

    I wonder if Glyn is off in the field trying out all these scenarios :-)

  • February 12, 2011 - 6:04 am

    Glyn - @Nick…Spot on mate; it sure can :)

  • February 12, 2011 - 6:04 am

    Glyn - @Sanka…You’re welcome; thanks for looking in :)

  • February 12, 2011 - 6:07 am

    Glyn - @Ernie…Might be worth checking out this link to explain all,
    Cheers, Glyn

  • February 12, 2011 - 8:36 am

    Glyn - Hi Guys. Back from Devon now and seeing your questions…

    Re using the in built Commander Mode this isn’t something I can test as it isn’t in the D3 due to not having a pop up flash. Looking at Derek’s comment below I’m guessing he’s right in that it wouldn’t work so if I hear otherwise I’ll be sure to post it up.

    Thanks for looking in and commenting,

  • February 14, 2011 - 6:04 pm

    Doug - Good info. Thanks.

    I am still a little confused. I use SB900s. I assume I would not set the remote flashes to slave mode, or they would only work via the SU800. So, they should be set to simply “on”? If so, I got it and will be buying a mini and some flexes, soon.

    Also, would this mean that I could put a mini and SU800 on camera, assign one SB900 to group A, the other to group B (each with a flex) and then set up a group C controlled via IR with the SU800?

  • February 14, 2011 - 9:13 pm

    Glyn - @Doug…Absolutely mate. Just set the SB900s to TTL and then control everything else from the SU800. If you set that flash to Manual on the SU800 it will be manual, despite being shown as TTL on the back of the flash…does that make sense?

    Also, re your final question, you’re spot on!

    Cheers, Glyn

  • February 15, 2011 - 3:13 pm

    Doug - Thanks for the confirmation. Regards, Doug

  • February 15, 2011 - 8:41 pm

    Glyn - @Doug…No worries mate :)

  • February 20, 2011 - 6:53 am

    Ernie Atkins - Glyn,

    Thanks for the PW video link on Canon high speed sync. I should have assumed you were referring to HSS when you mentioned sync speeds well over the standard sync. I used HSS routinely for shallow DOF outdoors before the new PW’s came out.

    PW claims a higher efficiency HSS capability. Have you made any quantitative or qualitative tests of that claim? I haven’t – for now I’ve taken their word for it.

  • February 21, 2011 - 7:21 am

    Glyn - @Ernie…To be honest it’s very much so far so good. For the male model shoot I was outside shooting continuously for over 3 hours with a single SB800 that didn’t complain or let me down once. Whatever was going on inside those circuit boards is pretty darned impressive…lol :)

  • February 21, 2011 - 7:57 pm

    Doug - Glyn, a follow-up to the other day.

    The on-camera Mini/TT5 quelches (sp?) the SU-800 IR signal. So, I need more TT5s. There is no free lunch. Later.

  • February 24, 2011 - 9:52 pm

    Spencer - I have an SU800. I see in your examples that you go down as far as 1/16 power. This might sound like a stupid question however, can you go all the way down to 1/128 power using the Flex and SU800 combo? Thanks in advance…

  • February 25, 2011 - 9:12 am

    Glyn - @Spencer…Not a stupid question at all mate. Yeah you can go all the way down using all power levels & modes using the SU800 this way. It behaves exactly as it would when just using it in the Nikon Creative Lighting System except for the signal is now Radio as opposed to IR.


  • March 1, 2011 - 10:16 pm

    Charlie - Hi, thanks for the review and for showing what the SU-800/AC3 units can do.

    All the power settings on the flash in your examples are changed a full stop at a time. Can the power be changed in 1/3rd (or 1/2) stop increments as well? If so, is this possible with the SU-800 and/or AC3?

    I’m looking forward to getting a set of these all the same!



  • May 24, 2011 - 6:54 am

    Rick - Would you mind answering a question on shooting with SB800’s?

    Will a SB800 in Commander mode with FlexTT5 attached and fired remotely from a camera with MiniTT1 attached, set off other nearby SB800’s set to Remote mode?

    i.e Can the Mini/Flex system work the Commander/Remote setup (at a large distance from the camera) with out the need for transceivers attached to every remote flash unit?

    or put another way, can I use the PW radio signal for the first leg and then Infra Red to complete the journey.

  • May 25, 2011 - 8:03 am

    Glyn - @Rick…I’ve actually tried this hoping it would work but alas no :(

  • June 20, 2011 - 2:38 am

    Alec - Glyn,
    Very interesting info, thanks a bunch.
    What i want to know is can you use the SU800 or AC3 controller, or even an SB900 (in commander mode) on the TT1, however using PWII’s on my speedlights and STILL get full functionality, ie HSS and the ability to change the manual output of the off camera flashes, or do one have to have the TT5’s for full functionality?

  • June 25, 2011 - 9:13 am

    Glyn - @Alec…I use the SU800 ontop of the TT1 as a controller with no problems but I know of a few folks that have had issues. To get the HSS and full functionality though you will need to have the TT5 too as the PLUS II’s wont work; they’ll trigger but not all the HSS info etc…

    Hope that helps,

  • July 9, 2011 - 8:27 pm

    Alec - Glyn,
    Thanks so much for the info, really appreciated.
    Looks like the TT1 and TT5 will be on the next shopping list for me then. Then probably go for the AC3 instead of the SU800.
    Really great useful info you posting here. Thanks once again.

  • July 13, 2011 - 11:46 am

    Glyn - Hi Alec.
    Thanks for stopping by and thanks too for the kind words. The PW units are superb..extremely reliable and portable; you’ll love them!

  • August 12, 2011 - 3:43 pm

    Dee - Glyn… thanks for a great review and I really considering pocket wizard as my future investment… I have few questions for you: –

    1. In manual mode, you mentioned from SU-800 you can have power from 1/16… just to confirm it won’t work with power output of 1/64 and 1/128 is it? If that’s the case that’s one of the reason I need the AC3

    2. If I have 2 speedlight and one SU-800… one speedlight with the receiver and one without. Can the one without, if I put it under the remote mode can it be trigger with the SU-800… If can I don’t think I need lots of receiver because for speedlight that is close to camera I can just trigger via SU-800

    3. How far distance have you try with this unit?

    Thank you for your answer and I really appreciate your time to answer my questions :)

  • August 17, 2011 - 10:54 am

    Glyn - @Dee….Just to clarify with the SU800 you can set the flash power to anything from 1/128 up to 1/1. Re the 2 speed light you mentioned to be honest I’ve not tried; I’ve only triggered the non-connected flash with it in SU4 mode if that makes sense.


  • March 6, 2012 - 6:29 pm

    Anel Montero - Does the flex TT5 work with the SU-800 to command my SB800 flash? I do not have the TT1. Please advised.

  • July 27, 2012 - 8:29 am

    Binh Tran - Hi Glyn, thanks for the review. I was wondering about the tt1 and tt5. If i put the tt1 on the camera and the tt5 on the Flash. And can that flash on the tt5, communicate to another flash(without another tt5), since it can be used as a master.

    hopefully its not too stupid question and that other people have ask already.

    thx in advcance.


  • December 19, 2012 - 11:48 pm

    Kiran - Have a question for which I cannot find an answer. Does the SU 800 continue to to send IR signals when set on top of the mini tt1? If I have 2 flashes and only I flex tt5, can I control both flashes in ttl mode. 1 flash will get ttl info via tr5 and second flash will receive info from su800 ir.

  • March 25, 2014 - 5:09 pm

    anthony - I need to create indoor studio lights. Was planning to buy su-800 to use with two units sb-800 & one unit sb-910. Hi can you guide me to decide for what shall go, exactly the tt-1 & tt-5 how they work

Review: Pocket Wizard Mini TT1 and Flex TT5 for Nikon

So after what has seems like an age, Pocket Wizard have finally released the new Mini TT1 and Flex TT5 units for Nikon DSLR’s; but now that they have the question is … “Do they really live up to all the hype?”

To answer that I thought I’d put together a short review but do it in such a way that is relevant to how I work and the way I use ‘Off Camera’ Flash…

When using ‘Off Camera’ Flash I can safely say that for 90% of the time I’m shooting with the camera and flashes in Manual; be that with my Nikon Speedlights, my Elinchrom Ranger/Quadra or Profoto Heads in the studio. This is something I’ve always done for the main reason that I like the consistency of exposure that it gives me from shot to shot.

Up until now when shooting with my Nikon Speedlights I’ve used Pocket Wizard Plus II’s which I absolutely love for their reliability and range of use but with the introduction of the new Mini TT1 and Flex TT5 things have changed…BIG time and I’ll explain why as we go through.

Shooting in Manual Mode
Using the new Mini and Flex in straight forward Manual Mode is no different to how it’s always been with the Plus II’s apart from the fact that now there’s no danger of poking your eye out with a big aerial sticking out the top of your camera. Also there’s no wires connecting the transceivers to the Speedlights so no worry of them coming out during a shoot; so straight away things are looking alot more compact and ‘user friendly’.

There’s a couple of ways to mount the Flex TT5 to a light stand; the hot shoe adaptor (but this has a very ‘plasticy’ feel to it and feels as though with a bit of abuse may end up getting damaged) or my preferred method of screwing in a spiggot which can then drop into the umbrella bracket as shown below…

I’ve been really impressed with the build quality of these new units. Despite being plastic they feel solid and very well made, in particular the aerial on the Flex TT5’s.

The Nikon Creative Lighting System
I’ve always been a big fan of the Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS) for it’s ease and speed of use but that’s ok so long as I’m not shooting in bright sunlight or the flashes are positioned in such a way that the ‘line of sight’ signal isn’t blocked.

If only there was a way to combine the Nikon CLS with Radio Waves/Signal so that the ‘line of site’ issue was a thing of the past…

Well, that’s exactly what we can now do when we attach the Nikon SU800 Commander Unit ontop of the hotshoe on the Mini TT1; all of a sudden we can now take complete control of a number of Speedlights and all in different groups if need be…

Experience from shooting in Manual has meant that each time I set up the lights I have a pretty good idea of what power settings I need to put them on and what camera settings I’ll be working with. However there are the times when adjusting the flash power by opening up or closing down the aperture isn’t enough; sometimes I’ll have to physically return to the flash and manually alter the power setting. Now though, by mounting the SU800 ontop of the Mini TT1 I can do all of that from camera position which means I can again work alot quicker, I don’t lose my shooting position and so on…

Hyper/High Speed Sync
Without question the big interest in these units evolves around the apparent sync speeds that can be used. Syncing a DSLR and a Speedlight at up to 1/8000th second and not the standard 1/250th second as in my case, have been mentioned across the internet many times, but is this really possible?

Well in a word…Yes! The image below was shot in the middle of the day with a fairly bright sky and just a few clouds but nothing worth shouting about, but when shot at iso 100, f/2.8 and 1/8000sec things certainly take on a whole new look…

A single bare Nikon SB800 Speedlight zoomed to 105mm was used for this shot. Incidentally before using the Mini and Flex units, to get anything near this look would have meant shooting later in the day if I was using Speedlights or bringing along more powerful packs such as my Elinchrom Ranger. In the case of using Speedlights, shooting later in the day might have meant losing the shot as the clouds may have completely gone by that point and that’s happened to me on more than one occasion.

Below are some more examples of shooting the same scene but at varying shutter speeds:

Another big advantage of being able to shoot at higher sync speeds means that wider apertures can be used. By this I mean that before I could only use a maximum sync speed of 1/250th second so to darken the scene down a touch more would mean closing down the aperture to maybe f/8.0, f/11 and so on. The problem here is that the narrower the aperture becomes the more depth of field there is in the shot, but now with the Mini and Flex units we can shoot alot wider and at higher shutter speeds which in turn will give us that beautiful shallow depth of field.

So what next?
I’ve not had a chance yet to try these units out on Studio Strobes or my Elinchrom Ranger/Quadra Packs but I’ve heard on the grapevine talk of being able to sync at 1/500th second. Needless to say this is something I need to check out asap and once I have done I’ll be sure to let you know what I find out.

Final Thoughts
Overall I’m extremely pleased with the new Mini and Flex units. They appear to do everything that was claimed and in true Pocket Wizard style are proving 100% reliable with not one misfire or failed triggering of the flash. The ability to use the Nikon SU800 on camera to control the power of the strobes in the same way as the Nikon Creative Lighting System but without the need for ‘line of sight’ is a big plus! Build quality is in my opinion very impressive. The Plus II’s I’ve used for some time, despite doing a fantastic job, always felt very fragile but these new units feel like they could certainly take some abuse. Being compact and no need for wires to connect to Speedlights too is a very welcome advance as is the fact that they can be used in conjunction with other Pocket Wizard units such as your Plus II’s.

Having used them a number of times now I’m liking them more and more and have actually struggled to come up with a negative but in an effort to balance this out I’m going to say the price as at around the £400 mark (roughly £200 each) for the Flex and Mini it is quite an investment.

•    •    •

Got any questions about the new Mini and Flex units? Thinking of getting some for yourself? If so feel free to make use of the comments section below and if it’s something I can answer for you from having used them then I’ll do so otherwise I ‘know a man who can’.

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  • February 8, 2011 - 6:46 am

    Lee - Great post Glyn.

    One question though,
    whats the difference between the flex and the mini?
    Is the flex used on the camera hot shot and the mini’s at the flash locations? or would you need more then one flex?

    Awesome images!



  • February 8, 2011 - 6:59 am

    Glyn - @Lee…The Mini is a dedicated transmitter mate so you’d only ever need one of those whereas the Flex does both…transmit and receive; much like the Plus II units.

    Cheers, Glyn

  • February 8, 2011 - 9:14 am

    Keith - Good review mate as usual, now i know your a manual shooter but did you try them in Ap / Shut priority mode, thats were the TTL magic comes into play doesn’t it ?
    I’m confused a bit, is this correct, with just the Mini & Flex you don’t need line of sight and you can make changes to the strobes if shooting TTL. But if shooting manual and you want to change strobe settings you need to be using an SU800 or wait for the AC3 to arrive on our shores.
    If you are using say 2 or 3 strobes then they would all be the same output unless you were controling them independantly with the SU800 or the AC3, so as in your case you need the SU800 to make changes.
    Iv’e just read that back and iv’e managed to confuse myself, i hope you can get what i’m on about :-)

  • February 8, 2011 - 10:20 am

    Mark - I think I’m a little confused too. This is possibly the same question as Keiths, so forgive me.
    I thought the point of these units was that you could control the manual power of the speedlights, without the need for the SU800? or are you just using the SU800 until the AC3 comes out, so you can control more than one unit?

  • February 8, 2011 - 1:29 pm

    Glyn - Hopefully this answers your questions…

    On their own you can use the units in either TTL or Manual. If using it in manual then it is as always has been…flash power can be adjusted by opening/closing aperture and/or manually adjusting the flash power by it’s own controls. These units trigger the flashes by radio waves and are not dependent on ‘line of sight’

    Using the units in TTL is exactly that…basic TTL. Obviously you can use exposure compensation to adjust the overall ambient exposure which the TTL will compensate for but to actually take more control and adjust flash exposure over what TTL does then you need to use the SU800/AC3 or a Speedlight in Commander Mode ontop of the mini.

    I always shoot in manual so with just the flex and mini I gain nothing apart from a neater, more compact unit etc… However I can adjust the flash power manually by the SU800 etc as opposed to walking over to the flash and doing it that way.

    Whatever mode you shoot in, you can take advantage of the Hyper/High Speed Sync.

    Hope that helps.

    Oh and re the AC3, I will be getting one of these units to take the place of the SU800 as it’s purpose built, compact etc…

  • February 8, 2011 - 2:25 pm

    Mark - Thanks Glyn, that all makes sense now. I panicked for a sec, as I’d just ordered mine! Sadly I’ll have to wait for the AC3, which I’m told will be available at Focus.
    Great Blog BTW.

  • February 8, 2011 - 2:43 pm

    Tweets that mention Review: Pocket Wizard Mini TT1 and Flex TT5 for Nikon » Glyn Dewis Blog -- - [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Scot Baston, Photoshop Nut. Photoshop Nut said: Review: Pocket Wizard Mini TT1 and Flex TT5 for Nikon (Via @GlynDewis) [...]

  • February 8, 2011 - 2:59 pm

    Laura - I am using this Nikon Mini TT1 with Plus IIs and Alien Bees and cannot get the hypersync to work even though I’ve tried all different types of settings. Has anyone had more luck??

  • February 8, 2011 - 3:09 pm

    Sanka - i am also bit confused about AC3 / SU800. So if I have a su800, sb900 and a sb600 then can i get a mini tt1 put it on camera and put su800 above that, get two flex units and put sb900 and sb600 on them and;

    1) put sb900 in group A and put sb600 in group B
    2) control their power (in manual mode) individually from su800
    3) control FEC values (in TTL mode)individually from su800

    or do i have to get a AC3 to do above 3?


  • February 8, 2011 - 3:11 pm

    Paul - Laura, I had a problem with HSS and hypersync with my D300s. I eventually found it wouldn’t sync faster than 1/320 if I was using 14 bit RAW recording. 12 bit is fine, as is JPEG and TIFF, with these I can go to 1/8000 seamlessly.

  • February 8, 2011 - 3:27 pm

    Andy Rapkins - Nice review and – more imortantly – great images.

    On the topic of sync speeds, syncing at 1/8000 has always been available with CLS – this is the Nikon High Speed Sync where flash output is pulsed as the shutter travels. In practice it works well but the downside is reduced flash power and it can cause banding (take a frame of a white wall to see what I mean).

    Hyper sync is the PocketWizard juju tech which cleverly offsets the flash trigger point to allow higher sync speed. Whilst mega fast sync speeds are claimed, in practice the best I’ve managed so far is 1/400. 2/3 stop might not seem much but it’s welcome for daytime shooting. To get this, you need to use the PW utility, enable the function and experiment with the offset speed to get a result without shutter banding. It’s easier to do than explain.

    Anyway, to Glyn: if you have got Hypersync – that is full power flash using the PW technology – then I am massively impressed and please can you share your utility settings as I want to adjust mine!

    Great stuff and to see your excellent shots. Regardless of the supposed limitations of HSS, the end result speaks for itself and radio control of CLS is an absolute winner.

  • February 8, 2011 - 5:17 pm

    Tim Skipper - Glynn,

    Glad to see they are working for you. I have had some sketchy results with them on a Canon, but I keep using them. You are right the high speed sync is awesome. One question though, where you still using manual or had you switched to TTL?

  • February 8, 2011 - 5:18 pm

    Tim Skipper - Never mind Glyn, I should have read all the comments :)

  • February 8, 2011 - 6:12 pm

    Keith Hammond - OK got it now, will still keep your SU800 for any CLS work, Clifton Cameras are doing the AC3 for £60 when it comes into stock, thats a lot cheaper than an SU800 and it’s going to do the same thing only better right ?

  • February 8, 2011 - 6:24 pm

    Glyn - @Tim…In the last shot at 1/8000sec I was shooting in Manual mode mate

  • February 8, 2011 - 6:26 pm

    Glyn - Hi All.
    Following on from some of the questions posted here about using the SU800 Commander Unit along with the Flex and Mini, tomorrow morning I’ll be posting up a ‘follow on’ which goes through how to do this covering shooting in Aperture Priority and Manual Mode; hopefully that will help out.

    Cheers, Glyn

    ps> Keith…Spot on mate!

  • February 8, 2011 - 6:31 pm

    CatchlightPhotographyOnline - Glyn,
    I had the chance to be a beta tester for the Nikon PW Flex/Mini, and I can tell you that they are magnificent! They have extended the application range of our Speedlights so much that they are becoming our primary on-location lighting kit. As you say, there is not much you CAN’T do with them, now that we have a reliable, radio-powered, TTL-capable firing system that can sync faster than 1/200 – 1/250. By adjusting flash exposure to create a delta between two Spedlights, TTL can provide a lot of consistency as the ambient lighting changes.

  • February 8, 2011 - 7:30 pm

    Rick Wenner - Nice post here Glyn, thanks for the info (even though I’m a Canon guy). Do you know if these new PW’s are compatible with studio strobes such as the Rangers? I’d love to get a higher sync speed but am unsure how to get it. Maybe these are the answer?

  • February 8, 2011 - 7:47 pm

    Glyn - @Rick…I’m led to believe they are compatible and can increase the sync speed of studio strobes up to 1/500th sec. I’ve yet to try it out but will be in the next couple of days mate.

    Certainly sounds promising :)


  • February 9, 2011 - 1:25 am

    Barry Frankel - Aloha Glyn,
    Thanks for this post. I’m hoping to have similar success as well.
    After a very long wait, I finally received my Mini and two Flex’s for Nikon with great anticipation. As a wedding photographer shooting on the beach under extremely bright conditions with fluctuating light due to incoming clouds, I typically shoot in shutter priority at a 250th on the camera and use TTL on the strobes. The line of sight has obvious limitations under these circumstance as the IR eye is usually facing the sun but does work somewhat despite the challenges. Clearly the radio triggers were the answer to my prayers………or at least I thought. Despite numerous testing with my D700 with an SB900 as commander and two SB800 remotes, they are delivering completely erratic results with no consistency whatsoever. Naturally I assumed this was caused by the knucklehead operating the camera. PW suggested this is a firmware issue, however the firmware is up to date on all three units. They are sending replacement units immediately, and I really hope these will work as they are intended.

  • February 9, 2011 - 5:27 pm

    Julien - Glyn,

    Can you use the mini with SU800, a flash on a flex using the pocketwizard synch and in the same time using CLS to command two other flashs (SU800 as commander and two other flashs as remote) ? That would be fantastic because a lot of time I would have only one flash that would be out of sight.


  • February 9, 2011 - 10:57 pm

    Ian - Glyn, It’s good to see some stuff actually being shot with these things, so good start. I expect that the CLS over radio works as well as the Nikon system does, so I’m not too interested in that really as it should just work as expected (if I ever desire to use it). I am however, interested to know whether in Hypersync or FP mode sync you are getting any more ‘light on subject’ than you would by just using the Nikon optical signal CLS? Is for instance – 1/250s at full power – the same flash exposure level as you get at 1/500s Hypersync (if thats the speed you can manage in hypersync.. what is that speed?) thus resulting in a +1 stop increase over ambient? Any increase over ambient, or the highest possible output otherwise attained I am interested in. Do you know what this is with your setup, or if there is actually an increase? Thanks.

  • February 12, 2011 - 8:40 am

    Glyn - @Barry…Sorry to hear you’re experiencing some unpredictable results with the units at the moment. So far everything seems ok this end so maybe it’s the units you have that are faulty…who knows.

    Hopefully it’ll be sorted for you soon enough.


  • February 13, 2011 - 7:37 pm

    Ian - OK, to answer my own question.. I can get sync with a D3x and TT1/TT5 combination off camera at 1/800s with barely no light loss. (1/3 of a stop perhaps). This translates to 1.66 stops more effective output and about +4.33 more output than illustrated in your samples above using HSS. Using HSS with the ControlTL system compared to the optical Nikon CLS system there is no difference to output and result. Using Hypersync with the PW ControlTL the improvement over CLS/ControlTL can be up to 5.66 stops better (although I’ve not optimised for 1/8000s so at this setting there is still a 15% black band on the bottom, if your subject is against a dark background this would not be noticeable) At 1/800s which I have optimised for, you get a good +4.33 advantage over CLS. All good, but the ControlTL software doesn’t cater for the 1/800s optimisation on camera yet, here you’re restricted to using only 1/500s.

  • February 14, 2011 - 10:23 am

    Glyn - Ian, thanks so much for such a detailed comment; I really appreciate it mate.


  • February 18, 2011 - 7:04 pm

    Budy - I was wondering if you use SU-800 on top MiniTT1, which one is actually triggering the remote flash?

    Unless of course you turn off SU-800 right after setting remote powers or before shooting.

  • February 19, 2011 - 8:05 am

    Budy - Please ignore my previous comment. Having read the PW quick guide, all remote flashes are not in “Slave” mode (likewise using SU-800 only CLL mode) , so obviously they are triggered by PW.

  • May 10, 2011 - 9:44 am

    John Cooper - Hi Glyn, Great review and images from the Pocketwizard system. Hope you can answer something for me. I understand the difference between Hypersync and HSS and also the benefit of radio over infrared, but what I’d like to know is, when using High Speed Sync, is there any advantage in effective light output at high shutter speeds when compared with Nikon’s CLS? I use SB-800’s and an SU-800 commander and the light loss at higher speeds is significant when using high shutter speeds, meaning that flashes have to be very close to the subject. Pocketwizard claim a more efficient light pulse and therefore ‘brighter’ light. What’s your experience of this compared with the Nikon infrared version.

  • May 12, 2011 - 2:20 pm

    Glyn - @John…To be honest the light output between using HyperSync and HSS is there but nothing to shout home about. However the battery usage and recycle time is very noticeable.
    I was a big user of the Nikon CLS and infrared…love it..still do, but the new pocket wizards are fantastic! I can do everything I did before with CLS but no worry about line of sight, sunlight and so on…gives me so much more flexibility.

    Hope that helps,

  • May 22, 2011 - 2:18 pm

    rick - I too have had problems with my miniTT1. Using it with Plus II. It would fire for about 20 to 30 shots and then shut down. After a couple of days just sitting around, it would start working again. Have tried mulitple batteries as well as checking firmware and performed a factory reset. Have sent it to repair shop. They said that they would send me a new one. Hope it gets here soon.

  • September 18, 2011 - 4:02 pm

    Ray - I’m not getting the same lighting as you. I am using a D700 and SB-900s. Are there some setting that need to be made on the pocket wizards? If so, where can I go to for this information?

  • November 8, 2011 - 2:00 pm

    Stephane - Hi Glyn, what is your feedback using flex and mini flex with the quadra? Is it working like hell? Cheers, Stef from Paris :)

  • November 9, 2011 - 6:10 pm

    Glyn - Hi Stephane. i mainly use the Quadra with the Elinchrom Skyport but have tried it with the PW units. Worked great but obviously no High Speed Sync.

  • December 4, 2011 - 10:40 pm

    Micol Phillip - Dear Glyn,

    I’ve been thinking of getting the unit. But i need some advice from you which combo is the best for my current budget.
    · get 2 units of TT5
    · get one unit of each Mini TT1 & Flex TT5
    Thanks for helping me out.