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Wireless Trigger/Receivers
Old 12-28-2006, 05:12 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Hey all, I got some strobes for xmas and have a question regarding wireless (radio) triggers and receivers. The lights are alien bees (please don't feel the need to tell me that shooting with anything less than a professional $2000.00 head is pointless, grow up) and I was wonderin about the generic brand wireless triggers/receivers on ebay. They are universal and 1/4 the price. Anyone used them? Anyone know of any TECHNICAL (NOT SNOBBISH) reason to buy the Alien Bees branded ones? I will not be shooting around others so interference isn't a concern. I just want a wireless system that will function when i want it too. thanks.
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Re: Wireless Trigger/Receivers
Old 12-28-2006, 05:26 PM   #2 (permalink)
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My partner and myself have been using the same $60 set we got off of E-Bay almost 2 years ago and they are still going strong
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Re: Wireless Trigger/Receivers
Old 12-28-2006, 06:04 PM   #3 (permalink)
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ebay for me too - they are a little light-weight, but for the price you can get a couple of them for less than $100... good deal if you ask me. just make sure you get the 4-channel ones.
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Re: Wireless Trigger/Receivers
Old 12-28-2006, 06:16 PM   #4 (permalink)
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ebay for me too - they are a little light-weight, but for the price you can get a couple of them for less than $100... good deal if you ask me. just make sure you get the 4-channel ones.

Actually, go for the 16 channel ones. I prefer those with a battery powered receiver instead of an AC powered receiver like the Alien Bees model. With a battery powered receiver, you can plug the receiver into the Alien Bees wired remote unit. Then you have a cord free camera and also a central location for adjusting all of your lights. You can tape the wired remote cords to the power cords to cut down on clutter.
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Re: Wireless Trigger/Receivers
Old 12-28-2006, 09:31 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by roastdawgg View Post
--snip-- I just want a wireless system that will function when i want it too. thanks.
I have friends who use them and they work well _most_ of the time. The deal with any of the wireless trigger systems boils down to the antennas inside of them. Interference, caused by close proximity to light stands or other metal objects near either the transmitter or receiver, can cause the triggers to mis-fire or not fire reliably. Units with internal antennas are more sensitive to the environment they're in and mis-fire more often than units with larger, external antennas. This is true regardless of price. The MicroSync system ($300) is just as bad as the eBay triggers (~$40) in this regard.

The internal antenna units are also more sensitive to orientation. Wireless communication works best if both the Tx antenna and Rx antenna are oriented in the same plane (horizontal, vertical, diagonal, whatever). Rotating your camera from horizontal to vertical can be a source of intermittent operation.

I don't mention the above to scare you off, but rather to point out some of the more common causes of intermittent behavior. You can restore consistent operation by arranging the receivers so that they're not touching the light stands (the most common culprit), or are aligned with the transmitter.

I took a quick look at the AlienBees unit, and for $80 I think I'd get that set before I spent $40 on an eBay set. If the specs are true, the Alien Bees unit has about twice the range and double the number of channels of the ones I've seen on eBay. Plus, AlienBees is known for their great customer support and liberal return policy.

Don't discount the ability to change channels. There are many, many sources of radio interference and sometimes your 'regular' channel gets hammered by outside factors.

-Chip
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Re: Wireless Trigger/Receivers
Old 12-28-2006, 09:59 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I've got the Pocket Wizards but a friend of mine went with the eBay special deal wireless ones (super small, fairly nice build quality). He enjoyed them for the year or so they lasted (mileage may vary of course). He is now investing in the PW units. I've nver had a failure/false trigger of the wizards. But they are pricey

If you are interested in the AB units, there was a set on eBay a day or 2 ago. Seemed reaosnable at the time.
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Re: Wireless Trigger/Receivers
Old 12-28-2006, 10:09 PM   #7 (permalink)
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thank you all for the great info. i will take all of it into consideration when i make my decision. thanks again.
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Re: Wireless Trigger/Receivers
Old 12-28-2006, 11:45 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by SnJPhotography View Post
I've got the Pocket Wizards but a friend of mine went with the eBay special deal wireless ones (super small, fairly nice build quality). He enjoyed them for the year or so they lasted (mileage may vary of course). He is now investing in the PW units. I've nver had a failure/false trigger of the wizards. But they are pricey

If you are interested in the AB units, there was a set on eBay a day or 2 ago. Seemed reaosnable at the time.
I also use Pocket Wizards. I've tried pretty much every wireless Tx/Rx combo there is and the Pocket Wizards are hands down the most reliable units I've found. I've never found myself in a situation where they misfire. Not saying they never will, I just haven't ever had it happen to me. I'd be willing to live with an occasional misfire by inexpensive units. But if you're going to shell out ~$300 or so, then the damn things better work every time. And with certain manufacturers, you only need to buy a transmitter because the receivers are built into some strobes. That helps on the cost-side of things.

But the original poster was comparing the AB kit to the eBay units. While I haven't used the AB kit, it seems to be designed in the same vein as the eBay units (small form factor, internal antenna, DIP switches), so I expect that they will perform similarly. But since I don't know which frequency band they operate in nor what the antennas actually look like I can't be sure. But you know AB will stand behind the product, repair or replace them at the drop of a hat, and take them back no questions asked if they don't perform satisfactorily. That would be worth $40 to me.

-Chip
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Re: Wireless Trigger/Receivers
Old 12-29-2006, 12:18 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I got the YH881-B off of ebay and they work perfect, infact they look just like the ones AB are selling now except I paid a little over 100$ for 4 sets. They use AC power when plug through the monolights and I haven't had any problems with them. I've heard that the units that are powered by battery on the receiver can be problomatic? For the cost you can't go wrong? Mike
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Re: Wireless Trigger/Receivers
Old 12-29-2006, 12:48 AM   #10 (permalink)
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But you know AB will stand behind the product, repair or replace them at the drop of a hat, and take them back no questions asked if they don't perform satisfactorily. That would be worth $40 to me.

-Chip
That point is certainly worth saying again.

I've had extremely good support from the AB units I've owned (granted not wireless triggers). I've had a half dozen lights (including their ring flash unit) and have had no questions on any requests for parts etc when asked. Sounds like a sure thing if you want to "try" before sinking cash on an unknown item off ebay. Last I saw, they had the 60 day no questions asked type return policy. How can you go wrong with that?
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