Saturday, April 7, 2012

ControlTL and Plus II - Together!

Receiving a post at a popular photography forum that I visited, one user was having issues getting his ControlTL and Plus II units to work together, so I decided to address it and use this as the topic of my next blog entry.

First one needs to know that the ControlTL units are the most advanced  and feature rich units on the market today and because of that, they have a very  steep initial learning curve as well as their own idiosyncrasies.  These are  not the plug-n-play triggers that the Plus II or the Plus III'S units  are!

That said, the process to get the MiniTT1 to be able to trigger both a FlexTT5 and a Plus II is very easy.  Basically all one has to do is make sure that all the settings are as they were from the factory.  A MiniTT1 or a FlexTT5 simultaneously can and do transmit on both standard and ControlTL and can therefore trigger a FlexTT5 and Plus II at the same time.
Make no mistake, though, because even though these units can transmit on both of these channels at the same time, a FlexTT5, used as a receiver, can only listen to ONE of these channels at a time.  This is why it is easy to get a MiniTT1 or FlexTT5 to trigger a Plus II, but it is a lot more difficult to get a Plus II to trigger a FlexTT5.

The process to set this up is very easy.  As I said, a good place to start is from a well known good configuration and the best one is the original factory settings.  So, the process starts thus:

- Do the 10 second factory reset on all your FlexTT5 and MiniTT1 units and when you turn them on, use only configuration C1 (I will touch on different channels a little later).

- Be sure to set your Plus II to channel 1
- Install a MiniTT1 on your camera

- Install a flash into the hot shoe of your FlexTT5
- Connect your other flash to the Plus II in the manner you usually do (either by inserting a sync cable into the sync port of your flash if it has one, or by placing the flash into a hot shoe adapter and plugging this adapter into the proper socket in the Plus II).

Let's test the first part, the ControlTL aspect.  To do this:

First, turn on all units in the proper order.  This order should be:

    - Remote flash (make sure it is set to TTL mode!)
    - Remote FlexTT5
    - MiniTT1 on camera
    - The camera itself

Basically... remote units, top to bottom and on the the camera end, again, top to bottom.

If you do not follow this order, you may be asking for inconsistencies!
Now that you have activated the ControlTL side of the equation, test it before moving on, by taking a few shots.  The flash should be firing, and because we are not using any commander in the on camera MiniTT1, we should be seeing multiple flashes from our speedlight, as the system at this point can only be used in iTTL mode.

For us to now add the ability to trigger the flash plugged into the Plus II, we:
- Turn on the PW Plus II, again confirm it is set to channel 1
- Turn on the flash and make sure it is set to MANUAL mode and set to a lower power to not blind you.

You are now ready to test everything out, so go back to the camera and squeeze off a few more photos and this time, both flashes should fire, but remember, the flash on the FlexTT5 is firing off pre-flashes and flashes because it is in iTTL mode and the flash in the Plus II is firing off single flashes at the power setting you have set (let's hope you heeded my advice and set it to something like 1/128th).
That's it, that's all, you now have a completely functional setup that works with ControlTL units and Plus II units at the same time!

I've made a small YouTube video of under 3 minutes in length that restates the above for those people that are visual and just won't grasp things until they see it done.

Now, I said earlier that I would discuss channels, and basically out of the box, one can use either channel 1 or channel 2 on the Plus II unit without changing anything on the ControlTL units except moving from configuration C1 to C2.  On the ControlTL units, when set to factory settings, C1 uses both ControlTL and standard channel 1 and C2 uses both ControlTL and standard channel 2.

If one wished to use channel 3 or channel 4 of the Plus II's, this is also very possible, however, you will need to set your ControlTL units to that same channel used by the Plus II's, and the only way to do this is to use the Pocket Wizard Configuration Utility that is downloadable from the website and connect your ControlTL units to a computer via USB cable and reconfigure them via this software.

Also, I want to make a little note here.  In this article and the video, we used a speedlight connected to the Plus II.  That could be almost any other kind of light source with a sync cable, be it 3rd party flashes or even studio strobes.  One could also connect a 3rd party flash or studio strobe to the FlexTT5, however you should connect it via the P2 port and of course functionality such as iTTL and other ControlTL features are disabled for all light sources not on the compatibility list over at PW.

For more information, visit the Pocket Wizard website at:

Another great location for information on the PW site is their WIKI, don't forget to go there and go through all the info they have to offer at that location.  The address is:

That's it for this post... enjoy!