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Product Review: PocketWizard FlexTT5, MiniTT1, AC3 and AC9 For Cannon — Part 1

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Because of the scope and capabilities of these products, trying to cover everything in one review would not do these products justice and so I will be splitting this into multiple reviews. This first one covers what these products are, what they can do, and setting up and configuring

The MiniTT1 Transmitter and FlexTT5 Transceiver are the newest set of receivers and transmitters from PocketWizard. They allow you to take your flash off camera and control them in a wide range of different situations and conditions. Using ControlTL – the newest firmware platform, these devices are able to tap into the Canon (or Nikon with a specific version) digital communication system providing a new level of remote flash capabilities.

PocketWizard Transmitters and Receivers

The AC3 is a zone controller for the PocketWizard system it attaches to either the FlexTT5 or the MiniTT1 and it will allow you to have three zones of flash control. Whether working in E-TTL II or Manual mode, you now have control over all your flashes directly from the camera’s position.

The AC9 is an Alien Bees Adapter that, when paired with a FlexTT5 Transceiver, enables remote power control of Alien Bees or White Lightning flash. This, when used with the FlexTT5, gives you the ability to adjust the power settings on your Alien Bees or White Lightning flashes directly from the camera. When you add the AC3 ZoneController and you can control three different groups of lights in 1/3-stop increments with a six-stop range.

While the ones I am using are for Canon cameras, there is a set for Nikon as well. The reason for this is that in automatic mode, they are using the native camera electronics to control the flashes. This, for Canon, means that they use the E-TTL system. So to be effective the flashes also must use E-TTL. In my testing while I have found, they will work in manual mode with some of the older A-TTL, there are no guarantees.

What is needed to work with PocketWizard FlexTT5 and MiniTT1?
• A Canon (or Nikon) camera with a hot shoe fitting on the top. This is the case with most modern digital SLRs today.
• You need a Canon Speedlight flash that uses E-TTL.
• Optionally, you can use studio lighting as well.

PocketWizard Transmitters and Receivers

What Do You Get with the PocketWizard FlexTT5 and MiniTT1?
that is smallest PocketWizard radio ever made that works on two separate control channels. It can operate on 52 Channels over 26 Frequencies (FCC/IC) 35 Channels over 5 Frequencies (CE). It can also shoot 8 fps for E-TTL II & normal triggering. It comes with a USB cord a battery and a quick start guide.

Transceiver that also can be set to two different configuration channels giving you a lot of different flash setup options. You also have three zone selectors that the receiver can be set to that match the Canon slave group. This will be covered in another part using the AC3 ZoneController. Using E-TTL II, the range for these are between 30 and 800 feet and for basic triggering from 30 to 1200 feet, depending on flash used, antenna orientation and other variables. There is also a P2 port for triggering studio lights as well as a remote camera trigger. It also comes with a USB cord a set of batteries and a quick start guide.

One of the first things that you will want to do when you get these is to start using them, but as I learned from experience, is don’t. You will see a red card in the box that says “PLEASE READ [Seriously you’ll thank us later…]” Inside it says to download the PocketWizard Utility application and get the latest firmware updates. I was having some problems getting some things to work right and I found that I needed the latest firmware.

PocketWizard Transmitters and Receivers

To get this utility, you just go to the PocketWizard site and download and install it to your computer. You then hook up the FlexTT5 Transceiver and MiniTT1 Transmitter using the USB cable and when you run the utility you will be presented with an update page. You have three options – check for updates, update firmware, or factory reset. You select check for updates. If there are updates, you will be prompted to download. Once you do, you can run update firmware and you will be done. Do this for both devices and you are ready to go.

Also with the utility is another tab that controls the configuration channels. From here you can set a wide range of capabilities to these units for working with your lighting. These include working with modeling lights, power tracking, sync timing, flash as well as other miscellaneous settings.

It is through the PocketWizard utility that you can set up the different channels. The ControlTL- the new firmware platform, uses a new channel system in addition to the Standard channel system used in other PocketWizard radios. The MiniTT1 Transmitter and FlexTT5 Transceiver can trigger all existing PocketWizard radios. They can also be taught channels (including new ControlTL channels) by existing PocketWizard transmitters. The FlexTT5 can operate as a receiver for any PocketWizard transmitter. You can have, as needed, up to 20 ControlTL channels for TTL photography or Manual Power Control, or 32 standard channels for manual flash photography. This gives you the flexibility to be in any situation with any number of other photographers and not be setting off each other’s flash systems.

From there you just put the transmitter on your camera and the transceiver on to the flash and for basic mode shooting you are ready to go. You can shoot just like you would if you had the flash on your camera. You can shoot in E-TTL mode or manual or a combination of both. I was even able to shoot at speeds from 250-8000 with nice even light.

PocketWizard Transmitters and Receivers













If you want to work in E-TTL, the flashes that you use need to support the technology. For compatibility of cameras and flashes check out PocketWizard for either Canon or for i-TTL/CLS mode on Nikon.

You can also use the FlexTT5 to trigger a Canon Speedlight in manual mode or to trigger a manual flash (studio pack, moonlight, non-Speedlight hotshoe flash) when used with the P2 port. Other brands of flash may or may not work in manual mode as well. There are other PocketWizard transceivers that will work with non-Speedlight flashes and these can be triggered with the MiniTT1. In fact you may have as many remote transceivers on the same channel as you want giving you unlimited possibilities.

Once I got everything setup with the FlexTT5, I found the set to be incredibly reliable and easy to use. I do not think I have had a misfire yet. I have used them to shoot with flashes in E-TTL and manual as well as using Alien Bees studio lights.

I really like the smallness of MiniTT1 – you really almost forget that it is on your camera. I also like flatness of the FlexTT5’s design as well. With all of the configuration abilities and reliability, if you want professional grade remote flash triggering, then I can highly recommend the MiniTT1 and FlexTT5.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.