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Phottix Tetra Wireless Flash/Studio Trigger Set

Thursday, September 17, 2009
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Being a new strobist, and wanting to experiment with off-camera lighting, I decided to purchase a wireless flash trigger.

Let me explain my purchase decision here. I did not want to invest too much in a lighting system when I knew next to nothing about off-camera lighting. So, the highly-acclaimed Pocket Wizards were definitely out. But I did need something that would work with my newly purchased 430EX II strobe, and also offer the convenience of wireless triggering. Most optical triggers, except the Wein Peanut, were out too. However, I read about inherent problems with the new Wein Peanut. To be on the safe side, I opted for a wireless system using radio frequency, which is more expensive, but tends to be less restricted than Canon’s proprietary wireless infrared trigger system.

So, the Phottix brand is kind of an el-cheapo brand which is actually manufactured by a Chinese company. I decided to try my luck, and ordered it from ShutterCentral for S$60. Being a company in Singapore, they offer cheap shipping (local normal mail rates).

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The kit includes one transmitter unit, powered by a 12V battery, two receiver units and mounting brackets, powered by AA batteries, two (very short) PC sync cables and two 3.5mm to 6mm adapters.

Set up was a pain at first, as I couldn’t get the battery door on the receiver units to open. Turns out, it’s easier if you use something hard and flat to push the clip inside, like a letter opener. After I installed the batteries, the darned thing wouldn’t work! According to the instructions, pushing the test button on the transmitter would cause the LED lights on both units to flash, but that failed to happen. I was feeling pretty dismal, and thought I had to return the goods.

Well, I suddenly thought of checking the battery inside the transmitter, and got out a screwdriver to open it. I used a size zero Phillips (crosshead) screwdriver to do the job. The battery tested fine, and after I replaced it, the unit suddenly started working!

The package states that it is compatible with my Canon SpeedLite, and “other flash models with a trigger voltage of 12V or lower”. I guess my Sunpak RD2000 has a trigger voltage higher than 12V. Of course, my SpeedLite worked fine. Surprisingly, a very old flash that I dug out from my father’s camera equipment stash, a National PE-201M, worked well. Unfortunately, that flash has no manual adjustment, so it releases at full power every time. Man, is that thing bright!

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Here’s a test shot using my new gear:

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. pete permalink
    Saturday, September 26, 2009 3:31 am

    Cool! I am thinking of getting a flash unit too, but it sure looks like there’s a lot to learn before I can use the thing properly. split between 430 and 580 EX II too.

  2. robin permalink
    Friday, December 11, 2009 7:04 am

    I’m very new to this too. Would this work with a Nikon D80 with a SB-600 and say, a Vivitar flash? How does the trigger mount to the camera? Thanks for any advice.

    • Friday, December 11, 2009 9:19 pm

      Hi Robin,

      The trigger unit mounts on your camera hot shoe. According to the specs, it should work with an SB-600 and a Vivitar 285HV flash.

      Note: Only the newest Vivitar flash model works wirelessly and not the older 285 or 283s. However, those should work with a PC sync cable.

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