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Budget Radio Slaves
Old 01-18-2006, 01:59 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Hello,
With my tax return (woot!) I'm going to be getting more studio equipment. The choice comes down to Pocket Wizards and nothing else, or budget brand radio slaves, a softbox, boom, etc. There's the cheap-azzed single channel radio slaves on eBay that go for about $25. There's the Patterson InterFit Single Channel Slaves at Adorama for $90. There's the Impact brand single channel radio slaves at B&H. Does anyone have any opinions on these products? Are the ones from Patterson and Impact any better than the ones off eBay? Are any of them worth the money?
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Re: Budget Radio Slaves
Old 01-18-2006, 02:54 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I bid/ordered on two of these:

http://cgi.ebay.com/Wireless-Radio-R...QQcmdZViewItem

They are the same ones (or at least look the same from what I can see) that B&H sells for $150+. So, for $30.00, I got two wireless remotes for my studio slaves that would have cost me $300.00+ at B&H. Not a bad deal at all!

I have used them on my Alien Bees AB800's for about 20 or 30 sessions and they have never let me down. Since I got them, I never use the PC cord plug on my 20D.

Images I've created using my setup can be seen at http://www.pbase.com/hmetal/pad
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Re: Budget Radio Slaves
Old 01-18-2006, 03:18 PM   #3 (permalink)
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The main problem I see is the 20 foot range. That isn't always going to work even in many studio environments. I use the Pocket Wizards and they work from 100's of feet out. But I wouldn't buy from the ebay vendor listed in the ad myself because he's clearly violating the eBay rules. He charges $20 for shipping (for something that can ship for $1).
Cheers,
rfs
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Re: Budget Radio Slaves
Old 01-18-2006, 05:37 PM   #4 (permalink)
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[ QUOTE ]
The main problem I see is the 20 foot range. That isn't always going to work even in many studio environments. I use the Pocket Wizards and they work from 100's of feet out. But I wouldn't buy from the ebay vendor listed in the ad myself because he's clearly violating the eBay rules. He charges $20 for shipping (for something that can ship for $1).


[/ QUOTE ]

My link was just an sample/example. There are other vendors selling the same/similar product and I'm sure all work equally well. I didn't pay any such ridiculous shipping charge.

Just do your homework. As for the 20 foot range thing, I'll do some testing and let you know how that actually works in the larger studio.
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Re: Budget Radio Slaves
Old 01-18-2006, 06:23 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Brian Garrett and I shot together with the eBay ones over the weekend. It was nice for tag team since either of the camera transmitters would fire the flashes. They worked just fine for us. Mine works on battery and his works with inline power.

We even plugged the second receiving in to a light that was not firing on light slave. I suppose you could do that with any brand.

Watch the shipping on the eBay ones, though. When I bought the shipping was $19.25

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Re: Budget Radio Slaves
Old 01-18-2006, 10:27 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Well. I've got the cheap one from eBay which really ends up costing you $40-$50 because they have a high shipping rate. I love it for use in the studio... beats a sync cord.

If you shoot around other photographers though you may need something with more channels and channel security so you don't end up popping someone else's lights instead of yours and vice-versa.

One attractive alternative Andy Pearlman pointed out was the MicroSync which is a more elegant version of the eBay jobbies... $300 at B&H.

If all you want to do is ditch the sync cord, the eBay radio slaves are great. Mines been trouble free; changed the batteries once since last June.

I understand that there is a dedicated radio slave for alien bees that allows you to control the settings on the AB strobes... now that would be cool!

Chip
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Re: Budget Radio Slaves
Old 01-19-2006, 11:18 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I have the ebay ones. I'm not overly excited about them, they work "ok" but aren't great. But, for $60 (including shipping) they are hard to beat.

Watch for interference with cell phones.
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Re: Budget Radio Slaves
Old 01-19-2006, 11:46 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Also grabbed a set of the Ebay ones, and have been quite pleased with them so far. As stated, as a replacement for the sync cord, they can't be beat. However, north of the 49th, I'm having a devil of a time locating a source of the 4F22 battery (looks like a shorter 9V battery with same dual contacts on top, but is rated 6V). I found a lifetime supply of the 12V Transmitter batteries, but the 4F22 for the receiver is proving more troublesome. Anyone have any luck finding these?

(Apologies if this is considered hijacking, but could also stand as a warning for those looking at the Ebay solution)

Norm
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Re: Budget Radio Slaves
Old 01-20-2006, 08:42 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Try MCB Battery World I've not bought the 4F22 but I did get a couple of spares for my D1X from them.

This brings up a good point, there are at least 4 versions of that slave. Mine is a YHDC-B, the receiver has a 1/4" jack and uses two AA batteries, they are what I replaced. The transmitter uses a 23A 12v battery, I haven't replace that yet (I didn't even realize it had a battery, I thought it got power from the hotshoe... time to buy a spare). The other versions have different jacks and/or get receiver power differently. You have to choose the model carefully... the numbers are very similar.

One other note. I made the mistake of leaving the transmitter on the hotshoe without spinning down the lock ring. It wiggled out and one of the corners broke off the plastic shoe mount. No problem, but now I keep that ring tight.

By the way this is anything but a hijack in my opinion... good point. I've seen people put [OT] in the subject line to indicate the post was off-topic. Sometimes, like this one, it's just the best place put your post even if it's not germaine to the thread proper.

Take care,
Chip
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Re: Budget Radio Slaves
Old 01-20-2006, 08:54 AM   #10 (permalink)
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The inflated shipping is definitely an eBay violation but I went ahead and did it because all the vendors for those slaves were doing it at the time... at least it was clear up front that you had to add $20.

As for the range, I read two quasi reviews (by users) that had the YHDC-B slaves reliably firing lights at a little over 100'. I've never gone that far but I've used them to shoot diving with about 50' or 60' between the transmitter and reciever. When the batteries in the reciever get week it fires less reliably and I've noticed some odd interference in my studio that I haven't tracked down yet but it was in just a couple of cases.

Clearly they aren't PWs but the cost is dramatically less. I view them as a sync cord replacement.

Chip
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