Hands-On Review of the PocketWizard Plus III
The PocketWizard Plus III Transceiver is a camera and flash trigger and receiver that represents a marked improvement and refinement over the earlier Plus II and it accomplishes the same tasks with equal efficiency. Based on the same principles as its predecessor, the Plus III is a combination radio transmitter and receiver in one unit. This dual-function device allows the greatest amount of flexibility and customizing of your remote setup depending on your needs at any given time.
Let’s begin with the design. An updated profile with an internal antenna and a side-view LCD give this transceiver a distinct look, compared to past models. The internal antenna gives this device a more durable appearance and it cuts down on the fragility of a soft antenna. The side-view LCD is especially helpful while shooting handheld, as it integrates with your natural movements when you bring the camera to and from your face. Instead of employing switches and hard buttons only, the PocketWizard Plus III features an LCD screen for navigation, controlled with only a few soft keys. While I miss the physical slider switches and solid feel of clicking into a channel, this new display interface makes it instantly clear which channel and mode you’re operating.
In addition to providing streamlined navigation through modes and other options, the soft-touch keys also make room for the huge increase in available channels you can use. Now featuring 32 channels, up from 4, the Plus III makes it easy to find an open channel to use in busy situations where many other photographers are present. Channels 1-16 are standard channels, while 17-32 make use of the Selective Quad-Zone Triggering feature. This feature allows you to remotely control up to four groups of flashes or cameras from one location. That way you can remain in one location instead of running back and forth, turning on and off flashes or cameras when you need to alter your setup for different shots. This comes in handy when your lights are distanced from each other on location, such as when you’re trying to light a background that’s 50 feet or more away from your subject and key lights.
Other features ideal for photographing from a distance are the new Long Range and Repeater Modes. In standard mode the Plus III is already capable of remotely triggering and receiving signals from 500 meters, but when set to Long Range Mode, this range is nearly doubled. Repeater Mode is the perfect choice for photographing in obstacle-laden situations, where there might be increased interference from large, dense structures or other objects that could create a disruption in the signal. By repeating the transmission from the transceiver, there is an increased likelihood that the receiver will accept it quickly.
When the Plus III is used to trigger a camera remotely, the two-stage TEST button mimics a camera’s shutter release and provides you with the opportunity to half-press the button for autofocusing and exposure, and when it’s depressed fully, the shutter is released. This half-press is also used to wake the camera from its standby mode; however, if you pair the transceiver with a pre-trigger, your camera is kept awake and the transmission occurs instantly as if you were pressing the camera’s shutter release yourself. In some distance situations, you might be waiting for the perfect moment, only to see it pass because you are waiting for your camera to wake up. With a pre-trigger, there’s no lag time, which is crucial for catching fleeting moments. Another speed-related function to be aware of is the new High Speed Receive mode, which is capable of triggering lights or cameras at up to 14.5 frames per second, above the standard 12.
The PocketWizard Plus III Transceiver can attach directly to your camera via the hot shoe, with no cables required. For connection to flashes and cameras without a hot shoe, it comes bundled with a standard 3.5mm mini-to-mini connector, a 3.5mm mini-to-PC sync cable and a ¼-inch phono adapter for use with most modern flash packs. Two standard AA batteries will provide enough power for about 50 hours of usage; external power is also possible through the mini USB port. The transceiver is compatible with all PocketWizard transmitters and receivers of the same frequency, so integrating this with your existing PocketWizard workflow is a completely seamless function.
|Frequency||FCC/IC model: 340 - 354 MHz|
|Channels||32 Channels, 1-16 standard, 17-32 selective Quad-Zone|
|Zones||A - B - C - D, compatible with other Quad-Zone PocketWizard radios|
|Antenna||Precision tuned internal coil|
|Display||Backlit 1.0" (2.5 cm) LCD|
|Range||Up to 1,640 feet (500 meters)|
|Sync Speed||Up to 1/250 for focal plane shutters, up to 1/500 for leaf shutters|
|Triggering Speed||Up to 14.5 fps|
|Contact Time||62 milliseconds in normal operation, 2 milliseconds in HSR Mode|
|Status Indicator||LED: green, amber, red status indicator|
|Transmit Output Power||Less than 1 milliwatt (0.001 watt)|
|Power||2 x AA batteries (alkaline recommended), USB|
|Battery Life||Up to 50 hours (with alkaline)|
|Max. Port Sync Voltage||300 Volts (camera/flash port)|
|Max. Current Handling||1.0 A peak, 0.2 A (1/5 amp or 200 milliamp) continuous current limited|
|Voltage Present||3 volts, safe for use with all digital and film cameras|
|USB||USB 2.0 Mini-B connector|
|Housing||High-impact plastic with captive battery door|
|Operating Temperature||Above 5 degrees F (-15 C), below 120 degrees F (50 C)|
|Storage Temperature||Above -22 F (-30 C), below 185 F (85 C)|
|Input/Output||1/8" (3.5mm) stereo miniphone jack, hot shoe|
|Mounting||Hot shoe, lanyard/D-Ring loop, 1/4"-20 thread|
|Dimensions (H x W x D)||5.25 x 2 x 1.25" (13.3 x 5.1 x 3.2 cm)|
|Weight (with batteries)||4 oz (120 g)|