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On Location PhotographySubmitted by Michael on Thu, 2010-07-15 20:13

Speedlight Tricks and fun with the Phottix Atlas Wireless Flash Trigger

Once you take your speedlights out for a walk and shoot photos outside, even if you don’t go further than your own garden, then you will feel the need for wireless flash triggers such as radio remotes. Yes, they open up a whole new world of lighting. But these hot babies also might burn a hole into your wallet. Before you reach really deeeeeeep into your “Pocket“ and invest in “Wizards” of the well known brands you should have a look at the alternatives. You really should.

I learned this in an expensive way. Here’s what happened: One year ago I purchased a US$1600 set of cutting edge radio triggers with truly amazing features. It was a set of 5 [Insert a product that a bunch of “reputable” photographers endorsed in videos and blog posts]. I bought them  only to find out that they are useless for my photography. They turned out to be horribly unreliable and thanks to their design (and the unadvertised fact that you have to put an extra 3cm radio noise cancelling foot underneath the speedlight) they can’t be used with lightformers. I contacted the manufacturer which is [insert company name, very reputable, at least in the past]. They refused to fix their design flaws. Having imported the product to Germany I could not even get back my money. Their local service here in Germany even refused to answer any questions. However, they did have the time to point out to me that importing such radios to Germany was not exactly legal. Thanks guys, why not suing me for buying your shit product? 

I learned from that. Now I’m more critical and I buy only from dealers that are happy to take back their products if it turns out that these products fail in the field. 

The field, yes, that’s also the stage for the little flick I have for you in this post. I filmed a couple of tricks that I do with my NEW wireless flash triggers, the Phottix Atlas. Most of it can be done with pretty much any radio remote trigger. That’s why I’m sure there will be some tips, takeaways and inspiration in there for you when you see me playing around with the new Atlas.

Since I did not use the Phottix Atlas before, this video also documents my first impression of this gadget. With that said, here’s how you use radio remote triggers to make the light of your speedlights rock. Let it roll:

 

Want to see the Atlas in the shop? Go check this out:

==> http://smokingstrobes.com/phottixatlas 

 

How to setup your camera and speedlights? Have a look at some examples from today’s photo shoot. I did not photoshop the photos because I’d like to show you the light exactly how it turned out. So please don’t be surprised to find tons of flaws in the photos. I posted the lighting diagrams with the complete settings along. 

 

Lighting Diagram for Phottix Atlas Wireless Flash Trigger Review Example image of Phottix Atlas Wireless Flash Trigger Review Example image of Phottix Atlas Wireless Flash Trigger Review Example image of Phottix Atlas Wireless Flash Trigger Review Lighting Diagram for Phottix Atlas Wireless Flash Trigger Review Example image of Phottix Atlas Wireless Flash Trigger Review Example image of Phottix Atlas Wireless Flash Trigger Review Example image of Phottix Atlas Wireless Flash Trigger Review Lighting Diagram for Phottix Atlas Wireless Flash Trigger Review Example image of Phottix Atlas Wireless Flash Trigger Review Example image of Phottix Atlas Wireless Flash Trigger Review Example image of Phottix Atlas Wireless Flash Trigger Review Lighting Diagram for Phottix Atlas Wireless Flash Trigger Review Example image of Phottix Atlas Wireless Flash Trigger Review Example image of Phottix Atlas Wireless Flash Trigger Review Example image of Phottix Atlas Wireless Flash Trigger Review Lighting Diagram for Phottix Atlas Wireless Flash Trigger Review Example image of Phottix Atlas Wireless Flash Trigger Review Example image of Phottix Atlas Wireless Flash Trigger Review Example image of Phottix Atlas Wireless Flash Trigger Review Lighting Diagram for Phottix Atlas Wireless Flash Trigger Review Example image of Phottix Atlas Wireless Flash Trigger Review Example image of Phottix Atlas Wireless Flash Trigger Review Example image of Phottix Atlas Wireless Flash Trigger Review Lighting Diagram for Phottix Atlas Wireless Flash Trigger Review Example image of Phottix Atlas Wireless Flash Trigger Review Example image of Phottix Atlas Wireless Flash Trigger Review Example image of Phottix Atlas Wireless Flash Trigger Review

 

Try it out yourself and post the links to your results over here in the comments section.

If  you have aditional cool idea for using wireless flash triggers please post them in the comments. If possible,  add a link to examples. Or if you saw some cool photos using remote flashes online, let all of us know, post it into a comment.

 

I wish you good light!
-- Michael

 

 

Related links:

http://smokingstrobes.com/phottixatlas

 


Oh, I forgot, did I mention something about comments in the video?

I wish you good light!
-- Michael

Hi Michael,

That's a great video test of the Atlas. Well done.

Thank you, Craig. It's so nice to hear that from a great cultural photographer like you.
Good light!
-- Michael

Hello, Michael.
I loved very much this issue, and I'm working on my own version of the funny fridge photo.
I promise I'll show it to you when I'll make it.

Meanwhile, let me show a photo I recently did (and excuse me if I showed it before).

In the second picture, I try to explain the settings, so I think it won't be necessary to post the whole explanation of it.

I would be very happy if you please comment this photo.

The picture:
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4018/4416777201_030b0a8590.jpg

The explanation:
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4062/4690623656_598f82627e.jpg

Please let me translate from spanish:
Camara con disparador "cactus": Camera equipped with remote trigger emitter.
Flash con receptor "cactus": Speedlight with remote trigger receiver.
Mesa de cristal: Glass table
Lámina de vinilo blanco: White vinyl sheet (curved)

I wish you good light.

Pedro.

Hola Pedro,
your photo is spectacular! That's what I call high end commercial photography. I'm loving it. Thank you so much for sharing the lighting setup. That's very kind.
Good light!
-- Michael

Thank you, Michael.

Once again, a very informative video. This kind of information that I have been looking for quite a while, but have not had much luck finding. Simple, easy to understand and doesn't require a million dollars in flashes and lighting equipment.

...and I forgot to mention, very entertaining.

As I promised you, here's my version of the fridge photo: :D

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4142/4798676953_a25f07cfe3_z.jpg

I wish you good light!

Pedro.

As I promised you, here's my version of the fridge photo: :D

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4142/4798676953_a25f07cfe3_z.jpg

I wish you good light!

Pedro.

Hahahah, a scene from the movie Alians 8!

Good light!
-- Michael

I have to say that this is one of the most enjoyable video reviews I have ever watched. I was searching for a review of the Phottix Altas and was very glad to come across your website. Keep up the good work.
Danny

thank you very much, Daniel

love these pics about lighting, meanwhile have to say it is a great teaching video to anyone. Nice work!

Xiexie ni!

Cool fridge shots!

I wanted to say I’ve been testing radiopoppers and have found them very reliable. For example, I used the JrX to trigger a small moonlight mounted in the backseat of a car from about 65-ft away. A sample shot is on my blog here:

http://zoomstreet.wordpress.com/2010/07/09/parr-taaay/

Poppers, I believe, are less expensive than PW products and appear to have greater range.

Phottix is becoming very popular.

I've just ordered a set of 4 Atlases, after watching your review. Cant wait till they arrive!

Danny

I'm sure you will have a lot of fun with them, Danny. Do you already have some nice ideas for photos that are radio lit?

It's a really cool and useful video! Thanks!
I'm using a Phottix Tetra trigger, and I'm satisfied with it, but this Atlas looks also very good!

Appreciate the attention to detail with putting this together, answered a lot of questions for me.

Thanks for the detailed review Michael. Just bought a set of atlas. Will be using them soon.

Great job again. Btw, I bought my atlas from www.camera2u.com/Flash-Accessories/Phottix-Atlas-All-in-One-Wireless-Fla...

how much are these in US dollars?
i can not find them on ebay or amazon maybe they don't send them to America?
Now that you have had them for a while how are you impressed with them?
like the videos.

Hi Cousin,
I got mine directly from Phottix: http://cot.ag/dFul7u. I don't know their current price in US$ (just set the currency to US$ in their store), but I now that they do ship to the US. They have a version that has FCC clearance so shipping should be no issue.

I don't think that they will sell their stuff on eBay ever. Their strategy is opening branches in different countries and also sell via established distributers.

I'm absolutely happy with the Atlas. I did not find any downsides. If you already own Pocketwizards and you want them to play with each other then make sure that both devices are either US or European versions. Otherwise they might run on different radio bands and may not find eachother.

Hallo Michael,

wie immer pfiffig und aufschlussreich, eure Videos, danke!

Was die Transmitter/Receiver betrifft bzw. Deiner leisen Kritik daran, bin ich auf folgendes System gestossen:
http://www.radiopopper.com/products (radiopopper PX)
Die können sowohl manual Mode, i-TTL als auch E-TTL plus zusätzlich High Speed Synch!

Eine interessante Anwendung gibts etwa hier:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cP6a47BQA70&feature=player_embedded#!

Leider konnte ich die Dinger selbst noch nicht testen, aber meiner Einschätzung nach sind sie unschlagbar...

Schöne Grüsse aus Tirol

Sure, I know the radiopoppers. However, I would still say that to this date I do not know any radio remote system that supports ETTL or iTTL and at the same time is reliable or even fun to work with. I guess we did not arrive there yet.

Love the article! Thank you for sharing your review of a good product and your techniques.

I really love your approach to creating cool pics!

Thank you so much cousin James!

You've hit the ball out the park! Incrdieble!

hahah nice post! I like the drawings you did! LOL that cracked me up.. But, in all seriousness, I love that swim suit!

Fair enough! I love the model... in the swim suite :-)

I really want to try the open shutter technique to create a blurred background in my photo. I saw it in a film the other day but I don't know how to do it. Can anyoen advise me?

Hi! Michael, awesome videos, how do you deal with grain in such high ISO values? In the scene 6, is it possible to trigger speedlights at a greater power to gain one or two ISO steps??

Thanks

i've done scene# 7, in scene# 4, looks a little haxt around subject's face...was it bcoz of the backlit?

sorry. i mean HAZY

Hard to get my thick German accent? Here's the transcript!

Hey fellow photographer, how is it going? I’m Michael Zelbel and today I would like to show you some tricks you could do with some affordable and easy to use radio remote triggers and of course with its speedlights. Today I’m going to show you a bunch of photos of my dear wife, Emily, just for fun and in order to try out our latest toy, it is this, the Phottix Atals Radio Remote Trigger. I have not used them before, but I guess by the end of the day, we will all see what you can do with them, what you cannot do with them. Yeah, what rocks and what sucks!

Wouldn’t it be even wonderful if the sun would break through the trees and radiate light on model’s head. Yeah, a strong beam of light into her dark hair. And that would be great, just one problem, there is no sun. Yeah, no problem, we can put the speedlight there, so I put it a 580 EX model, way up into one of the trees, and I have such a remote attached to it so I can remote control it from over here. I hope you can see that on video if I let it flash. Yeah, so it’s now breaking through the trees and hitting the model from the back. I first had it on 1/8 of power. That was a little bit weak. Now I dialed it up to 1/2 of its power and now it is really strong. I did shoot quite a few, quite a couple of photos and I have to say I was using the same speed of 200 per second and that worked really well.

Now we are going to use the Atlas Transceiver in the WRS mode. What that means is I can remote control the shutter of my camera so it will trigger the shutter and at the same time it will trigger an external flash and the camera so I can illuminate a photo with a flash and at the same time have a remote shutter, and for that, I attached my camera to this pole, so that I can hold it over my subject in a position that would usually not be reachable and then use the Atlas to trigger it. Yeah, so when I trigger the Atlas, the auto-focus will find a focus and the others will trigger the flash. That can lead to some, uh, let’s say, unusual photos, have a look!

Here outside on our veranda, we have one wall which is, uh, it is not the nicest wall, and I was just too lazy to paint over it for, let’s say, one or two years, and we thought this could be an interesting background and Emily are just want to enjoy ice cream, so we did shoot a couple of photos of her at the wall, eating ice cream.

What I’m going to do now is turning this whole setup with dirty wall in background into sort of studio setup with a plain white background. I just have one flash over there which is at one half of its power, so much light into the background and it’s completely blowing out. And I light my subject with two shoots from umbrellas, two flashes both on 1/16, both are connected via PC cords to one Atlas unit over here. So this unit triggers 4 flashes, which is possible if you have identical flashes and are using identical PC cords. That should work well.

So we went down to the harbor of Dusseldorf to make a little distance test and here is how it is going to work. We don’t have any lightmodifiers, but we have this white shopping bag and I can simply put the speedlights into the shopping bag, over here. That makes for, uh we have to put it upwards, now it is making for a nice softbox. I will use this radio remote to trigger the softbox. All right, we can hang it somewhere, over here. Yeap, Emily is standing close to it, and I will go along this bridge to the other side of the harbor, and shoot her from the other side of the harbor which is from here100 meter, 300 feet away. And I should see her illuminated brightly while the rest will sink into the darkness. Let’s try it out! One, two, three, yeah, there is she. I don’t know if you can really see it on the video, but when I catch her, she is just a little tiny white spot over here, but uh, like this, currently shooting with 300 mm. It is the longest lens I have got with me, but I think you can really see the light on her while the rest is sinking into the dark.

So now the really harsh sun already vanished a little bit and it is getting a little bit darker and we thought now it is time to water the burnt grass over here. We thought it might be a nice idea if we take some photos of Emily jumping through the water though this sprincler, over there which we have this on the grass. For that, I would like to give light through my speedlights from two sides. I got one speedlight in this corner, another speedlight far out over there, between trees. Both on 1/16 of power and I am shooting very fast, serious, because I really cannot control how the water is exactly when I shoot, so I will go like this and always shoot serious when she is jumping through the water in a hope that I capture the really right moment.

My question is, is it really cool? Cool as a fridge. That’s really cool, and to try that out, I would slip one small 430EX tool onto the Atlas. I won’t attach a gel, because I want this really bluish light from the flash coming out of the fridge. It’s a perfect trap for other people who might get out during night to reach into the fridge…uh…So let’s try out how cool it is.

So let’s wrap the shoot for today. It’s getting dark now and we did shoot a lot of photos and tested these babies very thoroughly and I would say the Phottix Atlas is really good, rock solid, very versatile, very handy. The only thing that it is missing for me is it does not transmit ETTL or ITTL signals and it does not work in high speed sync mode, but I have to say I have not seen any radio remote which do that and which are working anywhere near reliably. So I think this is one of the best radio triggers that I have seen so far and I highly recommend it. In fact I will post an affiliate link below this video and if you are thinking about getting you some of these, then please go via my affiliate link and check them out over there and one word about comments: please comment. If you find this video is useful, comment below this video, and last time I get a very nice comment from David H who said that it’s good every Thursday. So I will continue with that and I will be back next Thursday with some more interesting stuff. Until then, I wish you a lot of fun with your photo shooting and good light!

 


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