Flash triggering guide

Phottix Strato II receiver (sides)

So you want to trigger your flash, but don’t know what equipment to get?

There are many different ways of triggering your flashes, and the number of options can be overwhelming. What’s more, some triggers are better than others in certain situations, and some are just plain rubbish, but you can’t tell this from the price alone!

With the rate of new products being released, web pages which were once a good reference are now out of date. This guide aims to be up to date in comparing the merits of each triggering system. For an in-depth guide to using different types of triggers, have a look at this article by DPanswers. For German speakers there is an excellent Strobist Hardware FAQ here.

Radio triggers have many of the functions offered by optical triggering but with more reliable signal and longer range. Some of them also act as remotes for cameras. More advanced (and correspondingly more expensive) wireless remotes will give you radio TTL and remote control of your flash power settings.

So that you don’t waste your money buying dodgy cheap triggers, or underwhelming overpriced ones, we have made a comparison table with all the important specifications. If you think anything is missing or inaccurate, contact us and we’ll put it right. With this chart you can search for products of interest, sort by price, by feature and by brand name. The listed price is for a basic kit – usually a transmitter and receiver, or a pair of transceivers. Use the table at your own risk!

Key

  • Price: estimated cost of a basic kit, usually a box set or a pair of transceivers. May vary with time/location.
  • Hotshoe: is it natively compatible with speedlights? Otherwise you’ll need a cable.
  • TTL: can you use your off-camera flashes in TTL mode with these triggers?
  • Manual: is it possible to control the manual power levels of remote flashes via this trigger?
  • Fast Sync: can it synchronise above the camera’s X-sync?
    • = High Speed Sync or FP Sync with TTL speedlights
    • = fast manual sync or ‘HyperSync’ with studio flashes
  • Shutter: does the device also work as a wireless shutter release for a camera?
  • HV: is it safe to use the receivers with flashes that have a high sync voltage?

Brand
Price, USD
Hotshoe
TTL
Manual
HSS
Shutter
HV
Range, m
Frequency
Channels
Batteries
Link
Aputure Trigmaster45.5
..
..
100433 MHz16AAAReview
Aputure Trigmaster 2.4G27.99
..
..
1202.4 GHz16AAAReview
Aputure Trigmaster Plus60
..
..
100433 MHz16AA
Aputure Trigmaster Plus 2.4G60
..
..
1202.4 GHz6AAAReview
Bowens Pulsar Transceiver229.98
..
100433 MHz4AAA
Bowens Pulsar Tx189.95
25433 MHz24CR2032
Cactus V2s32.95
..
10433 MHz4CR2
Cactus V439.95
..
..
30433 MHz16AAA
Cactus V559.95
..
..
..
1002.4 GHz16AAAReview
Canon ST-E3 + 600EX-RT948
..
..
..
..
..
302.4 GHz3AA
ComTrig G43059.99
..
..
..
1502.4 GHz5AAAReview
ComTrig H550119.99
..
..
..
..
1502.4 GHz16AAAReview
CononMk 3G Two-Way93.34
..
..
..
1002.4 GHz32AAReview
eBay PT-04TM19.99
..
..
10433 MHz4AAA
Elinchrom Skyport180
..
..
1202.4 GHz8Li-ion
Fomex Dr. Ray249.6
..
..
3002.4 GHz16AAA
Fotodiox PocketWonder Elite69.95
..
..
1002.4 GHz16AAAReview
Godox Reemix29.99
..
..
100433 MHz16AAAReview
Hahnel Combi TF89.95
..
..
1002.4 GHz16AAA
Hahnel Tuff TTL160
..
..
..
2002.4 GHzAAReview
Interfit i SYNC 459.99
..
..
30433 MHz423A
iShoot PT-04 A24.99
..
30433 MHz4AAA
iShoot PT-04 B19.99
30433 MHz4AAA
iShoot PT-04 C24.99
..
30433 MHz4AAA
iShoot PT-04 CN14.99
..
..
30433 MHz4AAA
iShoot Sniper79.99
..
..
..
3002.4 GHz16AAReview
MeiKe MK-RC728.79
..
..
1002.4 GHz16AAAReview
Ojecoco H-43057.6
..
..
..
1502.4 GHz5AAAReview
Ojecoco H-55090.24
..
..
..
..
1502.4 GHz16AAAReview
Paul C. Buff CyberSync159.9
..
..
1002.4 GHz16AA
Paul C. Buff CyberSync+180
..
..
..
452.4 GHz16AA
Phottix Aster52.07
..
..
30433 MHz4CR2
Phottix Atlas113
..
..
..
100433 MHz4AA
Phottix Odin350
..
..
..
..
..
1002.4 GHz4AA
Phottix Strato83
..
..
..
1002.4 GHz4AAAReview
Phottix Strato II Multi98
..
..
..
1502.4 GHz4AAAReview
Pixel Bishop120
..
2002.4 GHz7AAReview
Pixel King130
..
..
..
..
1002.4 GHz7AAReview
Pixel Knight180
..
..
..
..
652.4 GHz15CR2
Pixel Opas144
..
..
..
4002.4 GHz4AAReview
Pixel Pawn74
..
..
802.4 GHz16AAA
Pixel Rook90
..
..
2002.4 GHz4AAAReview
Pixel Soldier74
..
..
1002.4 GHz16AAAReview
PocketWizard FlexTT5428
..
..
..
..
..
33433 MHz32AAReview
PocketWizard MultiMax295
..
..
500433 MHz32AA
PocketWizard Plus II338
..
..
500433 MHz4AA
PocketWizard Plus III278
..
..
500433 MHz32AA
Profoto Air Remote521
..
..
3002.4 GHz8AAA
Profoto Air Sync446
..
3002.4 GHz8AAA
RadioPopper JrX Basic139.95
..
530900 MHz16CR123A
RadioPopper JrX Studio159.95
..
..
530900 MHz16CR123A
RadioPopper PX498
..
..
..
530900 MHz16AAA
Seculine Twinlink149.99
..
1832.4 GHz16CR2032
SMDV FlashWave 2250
..
50433 MHz10AA
SMDV FlashWave 3149.99
..
..
..
1802.4 GHz16AAReview
Strobeam FSK 2.4G83.95
..
..
1002.4 GHz16Lithium
Tamrac MicroSync149.95
..
30433 MHz4CR2032
Tamrac MicroSync II129.95
..
60433 MHz16AA
Viltrox JY-241062.25
..
..
1002.4 GHz4AA
Yongnuo CTR-301P20
..
..
30433 MHz4CR2
Yongnuo RF-60230
..
..
1002.4 GHz15AAAReview
Yongnuo RF-60330
..
..
1002.4 GHz16AAA
Yongnuo YN-04 II28.99
..
..
30433 MHz4CR2
Yongnuo YN460-TX + YN460-RX365
..
..
..
2002.4 GHz7AA

 

Maximum sync speeds

The following figures are from my own tests using the Nikon D700 and Nikon D40. The latter has a hybrid electronic shutter that allows one to synchronise at faster speeds (up to 1/4000 second) than possible with a conventional focal-plane shutter. The D700 has a normal mechanical shutter with a maximum sync speed of 1/250 second.

  • starship

    great work. it helps a lot…
    i really hope we get not only “promising” but really working radio-ttl-controlled solutions sometime in a forseeable future.

  • http://www.dxx.cz Harri Verch

    great work. it helps a lot…i really hope we get not only “promising” but really working radio-ttl-controlled solutions sometime in a forseeable future.
    +1

  • Bigeye

    Thanks for the listing – i’ll keep checking back. Watching to see the voltage on the Phottix triggers – the Aster will be perfect for my old 6×6′s and 4×5′s pc sync shutters, if it can handle the blast from my old Japanese vivitar 285s. The ctr-301 would do, but the Tx doesn’t have a port. The Aster’s Tx 3.5mm/pc sync makes a nice connection to the lens and I’ll use a short 3.5mm-vivitar plug for the flash/trigger. Really will make flash with the old stuff much easier. Thanks for the effort.

  • http://www.shenzhenphotos.com jesse

    great resource. thanks for putting it together.

  • Bigeye

    Bought the Photix Asters and like them very much – work with my old Viv 285s just fine.

  • 4light

    Will the cactus type flash triggers work on old manual focus 35mm cameras with only a simple hot shoe (like canon ftb)?

    • LR Editor

      Yes.

  • Paul Austin

    Great resource! I’m on my way to pick up an SB600 for my D5000′s lonely hotshoe! Looking forward to better results!

  • mubarak mukhtar

    how do i enhance my lightning i use a 580EXii on canon 50D but after a while of shooting the light reduce in intensity givin me dark images regardless of the proximity of the roof. can anyone profer a solution……………

  • RogerD

    Thanks for this useful review – I have just bought an iShoot flash trigger which claims to be the PT 04A, B, C, D and CN but there are no instruction with the unit. I am trying to get it to trigger my Minolta 5600 HSD but it does not seem to like it. Are you able to tell me if this flash requires a high voltage to trigger it or any other issues I should be aware of?
    Many thanks.

  • Alvin

    Would you compare with the Phottix Strato 4-in-1 trigger?

  • Alex

    Nice idea, but it includes wrong data. The Reemix is mentioned to have reached 100 meters…Completely untrue! I reached about 30-33 meters with it. The data about the PT’s so confusing too. There is more than manifacturer that use the same bodies and name(PT), but the inside components are different. In most cases, they are similar to the car locking remotes. I reached 65 meters with PT 04 for Nikon(not 30 as mentioned here). The PT’s that i have test are very durable and reliable triggers.
    The Aputure Trigmaster Plus is said to reachjust 100 meters(as the manufacturer say). I have tested it three times and each time i reached 300 meters! Are all of these triggers tested for real?

  • Dennis

    I am trying to find out if the ‘i-sync4′ slaves will be suitable to use with my Vivitar 283 flash units – which I know are high voltage? Any info gratefully received.

    • David A. Selby

      They are specified to work with high voltage flashes.

  • frank

    What is the least expensive, while still reliable, E-TTL compatible wireless trigger ?
    Could it be Phottix Helios? Or are there other options

    I have the Yongnuo 602 but I need E-TTL

    Thank you

    • frank

      OK sorry – I see the TTL trigger table above.
      I assume that is current

  • Patrik

    Hi there !
    I am looking for (cheap) trigger that work with several brands of cameras/flashs in order to make small free training in a non-profitmaking organization in my town.
    Thank you for your advice
    Patrik

  • IJGDR

    Overall great, but I think it is missing some relevant comparisons that can make a bid difference in some triggers: (a) how many flash groups can it manage? (b) does it control flash zoom functions? (c) does it provide multi-sync? (d) can modes be mixed (TTL/ETTL with M)?

    • David A. Selby

      Those points are specific to a very small subset of triggers and beyond the scope of this guide. Maybe if we made a separate chart just for TTL triggers then they could be included in there.

      • IJG_DR

        Agree, splitting the table into TTL and non TTL makes a lot of sense together with the additional fields. In this category, my current favorites for ease of use and loads of features are the Phottix Odins and the Canon ST-E3. For basic triggers, Impact makes a really nice, sturdy and reliable unit called the PowerSync 16 which is not included in your list. It has great range and is very compact.

        • David A. Selby

          The Impact PowerSync 16, as far as I’m aware, is the same thing as the SMDV FlashWave III, which is included in the table.

  • Blablabla

    IMHO there is one thing missing in this guide. Column indicating if trigger is offering second curtain sync with Canon cameras.

    • David A. Selby

      I think that every trigger with E-TTL also has second curtain sync. I don’t think there are any triggers that have second curtain sync but don’t have TTL…?

  • mooboy

    Although this is a nice guide, I think it’s missing some major features. For example, does TTL refer to Nikon, Canon, both, or other? Also, some triggers will only work with Nikon or Canon (YN RF-603s) even though are non-ttl triggers – and, according to the Image Melbourne guide, YN RF-602′s only work with slow sync speeds with non-Canon and Nikon cameras.

    And, although you say at top ‘What’s more, some triggers are better than others in certain situations, and some are just plain rubbish, but you can’t tell this from the price alone!’ – this guide doesn’t help much as it’s not really reviewing any of the triggers – just repeating manufacturers claimed range etc.

    I realise that you can’t get access to all these triggers to review them all (or have time) – but think that should be mentioned – or have ability for Lighting Rumor readers to add reviews/comments?

    Again – main thing I’d like to see to make this guide more useful would be brand compatibility. This is a big issue for people like me who use a variety of different brands, don’t care about ttl, and don’t want a different set of triggers for each one.

    I think the guide on the Image Melbourne website is excellent – but it only covers a limited range of triggers that they sell and had time/resources to test (and seems too heavily biased to Cactus V5′s).

    • David A. Selby

      It’s a work in progress. We’ve tested a good number of these so when I get the chance I’ll add a column including hyperlinks to the reviews. I’ve got other charts such as sync speed comparisons which I’ll put in here too. Brand compatibility is a good point, also – that’ll go in a separate chart with a slightly different format. Obviously not everything can fit into a single comparison table or it’ll be too difficult to read/use.

  • Scott B.

    Hey David !
    You and your crew always has something good to read about, when comes to lighting. On your list of “Triggers” you show that the “Pixel King” has a green check mark listed under “Hotshoe” ? Are you saying it has one on the
    “Transmitter” ? Or are you saying it has a working/useable “Hotshoe” on the Transmitter ? Yes, it does have a “Hotshoe”, BUT, it really is just for looks. It does not work at all. I read the review on “Lighting Rumors.com” on the “Pixel Kings” version 1, and for the most part, the review basiclly says they (Kings) give good competition to the “Pocket Wizards” Mini/Flex units for a lot less money, and that the only major down side was the battery door.

    I purchased a set of 1 Transmitter & 2 receivers of the Pixel Kings version 2 and found out that the “Hotshoe” does not work and in the Pixel manual it even says, it will be for the new “N-TTL” module coming soon, that will let Pixel King owners (Canon models only) the ability to run “Ratio’s” while in TTL or E-TTL mode. Ratio’s being, that I could have different power levels on different receivers (A,B,C) or groups (1,2,3) all while in TTL/E-TTL mode and all through the camera menus. But I can not get Pixel Hong Kong nor Pixel USA to return my emails and give me any idea of when the mysterious “N-TTL” unit will ever be made !?!

    • David A. Selby

      Hi Scott,
      “Hotshoe” means there is a hotshoe on the receiver. This is as opposed to triggers such as Skyports, where you need a cable to connect them to a speedlight. TTL pass-through isn’t really covered in the table at the moment. As for the King N-TTL module, I haven’t found any evidence that its development has advanced any further than when Pixel first announced it. So it’s effectively vapourware unless they publish something in the future stating otherwise.

      • Scott B.

        Hey David !
        Since I own a Pixel King Trans. & 2 Recvr’s (canon model), I guess I could Pre-set the power levels +/- by 0.3 increments on each Nissin Di866 I have, and make my own type of “N-TTL” way of doing Ratio levels while in E-TTL mode. Since I have not had a need to use my “Kings” even 50feet of distance let alone the full 100 meters it’s capable of doing, I can go walk over and set each flash. It should work that way, correct ? Keep those good lighting reviews coming ! Thanks !

        • David A. Selby

          Should work in theory.

  • http://tinyurl.com/photojenic Louis

    Dear Mr. Selby;

    First a BIG thank you for making and updating of this list. It saves me an enormous amount of time to not have to do it myself as I am in the market for upgrading from the (sometimes unreliable) Cactus V4 triggers/receivers.

    Second I agree with IJGDR’s comment about the missing comparisons (groups/channels, etc.) that I would like to see added as well. Either in this table or in a separate one as you wrote.

    Greetings from Israel,

    Louis

  • http://tinyurl.com/photojenic Louis

    By the way, I forgot to mention that one other thing is missing: For which camera brand they are compatible or not. Last but no least is it worthwhile noting that the transmitter includes a hotshoe on top for TTL through?

    Thanks again,

    Louis

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=742437647 Kristian Dowling

    Nice;y done, but would be great to have links to the various products too

  • Garry Tyler

    Hi there just thought another tigger to add to the equation would be:
    Strobeam FSK2.4Ghz trigger kit
    Price, GBP £44.99 ex VAT
    Hotshoe Yes
    TTL No
    Manual No
    Fast Sync No
    Shutter Yes
    HV No
    Range 100m
    Frequency 2.4Ghz
    Channels 16
    Batteries Rechargable Li-ion
    Link http://www.viewfinderphotography.co.uk/products/Strobeam-FSK-2.4G-Speedlite-and-Studio-Flash-Wireless-Trigger.html

    I have been using these for a few months now, found the range works fine, and they never miss a beat.

  • Chris Grady

    Hi David,
    In your opinion which of the cheaper (ComTrig H550, Ojecoco H550 or Pixel King) triggers does the best at Hypersync? Or are the more expensive ones much better at Hypersync?

    • David A. Selby

      I haven’t personally tried it with the PocketWizards or the Phottix Odin. But I have compared the H550 to the King and posted my thoughts here.

  • Louis

    Hello David,

    I noticed that the review of the Phottix Odin is missing on the Flash Triggering Guide here, although it has been reviewed on your site.

    HTH.
    Be well,

    Louis

    • David A. Selby

      We haven’t reviewed the Phottix Odin on our site.

  • http://www.aputure.com/blog Aputure

    Nice new chart, David.

  • Dude

    Pixel Knight has TTL, right?

    • David A. Selby

      Oops, yes. Not sure how that error got in there.

  • http://vicina.info vicina

    It is a very useful chart for those who want to have a remote trigger set.

  • Frederick Jones

    I can’t say thank you enough. I recently purchased the hahnel (cheap) triggers because i needed them asap for a gig within 24hrs, but with this chart, now i can take my time and really choose the right one for me and my gear.

  • http://www.bellissimaphoto.co.uk David Bell

    Fantastic comparison table. Never seen anything like it. Great work.

    I wrote a review of Phottix Odin versus PW Mini/Flex versus Radio Poppers if anyone is interested:

    http://www.bellissimaphoto.co.uk/photographers/pocket-wizard-versus-phottix-odin-versus-radio-popper-flash-triggering.html

  • Tony

    I just puchased 3 trigmater plus units for my Olypus OM-D. I have 2 flashes that I use manually (a Nikon SB26 and an old Sunpack 433D). The setup was easy enough and lo and behold, these babies flashed when called upon…and the autofocus/shutter trigger also worked great.

    BUT after a short period of inactivity during model setup, I noticed that the flashes stopped firing. The batteries were fresh, the channels were all still set the same on 1. After much experimentation I found that I needed to “reboot” the receivers attached to the flashes by turning them off/on. By doing this “reboot” it seems that the Trigmasters once again fired the flashes. After a short time of inactivity, the same problem occurs. Of course this not acceptable.

    My question; Am I doing something wrong? Are these particular units defective? Any other units for the same price range (3 units for about $100 US) that you could recommend? Thanks.

    • mooboy

      Hi Tony, sorry for reply 3 months later, but just got my aputure trigmaster plus’s yesterday. Also using an OM_D, but was testing with a FL-600R. I had none of the problem you described, having read your story, I let the camera and remote trigger sit there for a good while (camera shut off). After waking it up, all was fine, I didn’t need to ‘reboot’ the receivers.
      So, questions I would have are, did you have them set just to RX mode, or TX/RX Also, did you get the trigmasters for Olympus?
      My initial thoughts are these triggers seem great, and are the only ones I’ve found, other than pocket wizards, that seem to be able to reliably fire the FL-600R. I’ve yet to use them for an actual shoot though.

  • David

    Great chart, lots of information here. One item that might be added is compatibility between units. That is, will a Cactus V2s transmitter work with a Pocket Wizard Plus II or similar combinations. Mixing and matching could be quite useful.

  • Vernon Theron

    Is the new Hahnel Viper off camera TTL?

  • DMZ

    PocketWizard Flex TT5. In your review you mentioned that the range went up to 100M but in the chart above you only put 33M?

  • Marko

    This is a great, thanks for all the work put into this! I believe i found a glitch, though. According to the table, the Pixel King allows to control the manual power levels of remote flashes, but reading the review, i don’t believe this is true.

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