Aputure Trigmaster 2.4G review

We found the 2010 Trigmaster a bit short on features and slow in speed compared to competing triggers. The new version has received a raft of improvements making it one of the most attractive systems on the market.

Aputure Trigmaster 2.4G receiver

Aputure Trigmaster 2.4G transmitter on a Nikon D700

Aputure’s latest trigger, the Trigmaster 2.4G, replaces the original Trigmaster Versatile Trigger which we reviewed last year. Back then, we found the first Trigmaster a bit short on features and slow in speed compared to the competition. Since then, Aputure has switched the frequency from 433 MHz to 2.4GHz and added several other improvements. Is the new Aputure Trigmaster 2.4G a better contender?

Specifications

  • 2.4GHz signal
  • 120 metre range
  • 16 channels
  • Flash trigger and remote shutter release
  • Self-timer
  • (New) Waking flashes from sleep mode

Box Contents

  • 1x Trigmaster Plus 2.4G transmitter
  • 1x Trigmaster Plus 2.4G receiver
  • 1x 23A 12V battery (for the transmitter)
  • 2x AAA batteries (for the receiver)
  • 1x mini flash stand
  • 1x 2.5mm stereo to shutter release cable
  • 1x 2.5mm mono to 3.5mm mono cable
  • 1x 2.5mm mono to Prontor/Compur (PC) cable
  • Instruction manual
  • Warranty card

Controls

The controls on the Trigmaster 2.4G are identical to the old one. The instruction manual is exactly the same.

Aputure Trigmaster vs. Trigmaster 2.4G transmitters

On the transmitter you’ll find a power switch, 2.5mm sync port, channel Dip switches and two-stage test button. You can set flash triggering, remote shutter release or self-timer modes with a slider on the front. The plastic hotshoe foot no longer has a screw lock, which is a bit unusual, but the transmitter is snug and secure in the shoes of a Nikon D40 and D700 without one. The main difference you’ll notice from the 433MHz Trigmaster is that the aerial is no longer telescopic, so you needn’t worry any more about breaking it or losing an eye. The foot now has a little tab on it that stops you inserting it into your hotshoe the wrong way round.

Aputure Trigmaster vs. Trigmaster 2.4G transmitters

Aputure Trigmaster vs. Trigmaster 2.4G transmitter feet

The receiver is unchanged. Here there are two 2.5mm ports – one for flash sync and the other for remote shutter release cables. Again, channel Dip switches and a power/mode switch. The hotshoe has a hole for flash locking pins and can now wake up sleeping flashes mounted on it.

Aputure Trigmaster 2.4G receiver

Operation

Like most modern flash remotes, the Trigmasters have a hotshoe for mounting and synchronising with your speedlights. In addition, there is a 2.5mm sync socket on the receiver. Cables are included so that you can link up the receiver to your flash’s 6.35mm, 3.5mm or PC sync ports.

The Trigmaster 2.4G cannot wake up a Nikon SB-600 from sleep mode on a shutter half-press. This is related to a voltage issue specific to the Nikon SB-600, and affects all other triggers with a wake up function. You need to fire a test shot to wake the SB-600, or switch Auto Standby mode off.

Viltrox JY-680 Speedlite on an Aputure Trigmaster 2.4G

There is, unfortunately, no test button on the receiver, but you can usually get the job done by switching it off and on again which should trip the flash.

The self-timer function is devilishly simple to use. Simply switch the transmitter to “delay” mode and connect the receiver to your remote camera with the included lead. Autofocus with a half-press of the transmitter test button and start the timer with a full press. You can use this feature for various creative ends, including self-portraits and family photos.

The battery door is a little fiddly to close, but once it’s closed it stays put. The AAA batteries fit tightly and don’t jiggle around.

Aputure Trigmaster 2.4G receiver battery compartment and base

Flash Sync

The old Trigmaster could only synchronise up to 1/200 second on a Nikon D700 before black bars appeared in photographs. The new version can sync cleanly all the way up to 1/250, just like the Trigmaster Plus.

On a Nikon D40 and other cameras with electronic shutters, the new Trigmaster will synchronise up to 1/1000 second – two thirds of a stop faster than the 433MHz model. The flash still appears at 1/1250 second but not every pixel will be equally exposed, leaving a bizarre chequered effect across the image. At 1/1600 the flash does not synchronise, leaving pictures dark.

In the course of our testing we didn’t have any misfires except when flashes hadn’t recycled fully.

Range

Aputure claims that the new Trigmaster has an operating range of up to 120 metres – an increase of 20%. In testing, the Trigmasters worked at all practical distances, even with Wi-Fi routers and other 2.4GHz devices operating nearby.

Compatibility

The old Trigmaster, which used a different frequency band, cannot trigger or be triggered by the new 2.4GHz one.

On the other hand, the Trigmaster 2.4G is cross-compatible with the more advanced Trigmaster Plus 2.4G transceiver trigger, which we have also reviewed here. This means that as a Trigmaster Plus user, you can supplement your kit with Trigmaster transmitters and receivers.

Why would you want to do this? The most obvious reason is that Trigmaster units are much cheaper. A Trigmaster kit costs just $40 and individual receivers are just $15, whereas a single Trigmaster Plus transceiver is priced over $50. In addition, when using speedlight softboxes such as the Aurora Firefly, I find the Trigmaster receivers easier to mount than Trigmaster Pluses.

The Trigmaster devices use Dip switches to set their channels while the Trigmaster Plus has LED-indicated channels 1-6. If you brush up your binary counting skills (down is “1” and up is “0” on the Trigmaster switches) the channels match up and the systems will work together easily. Trigmaster channels 7-16 do not correspond to anything on the Trigmaster Plus and won’t work.

Conclusion and recommendations

As a standalone wireless system, the Aputure Trigmaster is satisfactory but doesn’t really distinguish itself from other triggers in this price range. On the other hand, if you consider the Trigmaster as an extension of the more advanced Trigmaster Plus system then it makes much more sense. The main reason for this is that I personally don’t like the Aputure Trigmaster transmitter very much. While more expensive than a Trigmaster transmitter, the Trigmaster Plus is, arguably, better value. It feels tougher than the Trigmaster transmitter, takes standard AAA batteries, has a longer range, can use “Interlink” mode and can always be turned into a receiver when needed. And it looks a bit like a PocketWizard! All that and it still works with inexpensive Trigmaster receivers.

If you need specific features such as TTL pass-through or wireless flash grouping then you’re better off with another system such as the Phottix Strato II Multi or Pixel Rook. If you don’t, then I’d recommend getting a Trigmaster Plus to put on your camera and several Trigmaster receivers for your flashes. Maybe acquire a second Trigmaster Plus, or a Trigmaster 2.4G kit, so you have a backup transmitter. Expanding your flash triggering system will cost you a mere US$15 for each new receiver.

On a final note, what does the Aputure Trigmaster 2.4G system offer that PocketWizard Plus IIs don’t?

  • Low price
  • More channels
  • Size
  • Hotshoes on receivers and transceivers
  • Inexpensive receivers available
  • Autofocus support for remote cameras
  • Can wake up sleeping flashes

Where to buy

The Aputure Trigmaster 2.4G and Trigmaster Plus 2.4G are available now.

Although the old 433MHz devices have been discontinued, some places still sell them, so check the specifications carefully before buying.

According to Aputure, the Trigmaster 2.4G is compatible with “all upcoming Trigmaster 2.4G family triggers”. This means that there will be more compatible 2.4GHz triggers joining the Trigmaster and Trigmaster Plus in the future. The company did not tell us what these upcoming Trigmaster family members will be like. Maybe they will make a low profile transmitter with TTL pass-through?

David Selby
Based in Paris, France, David Selby is editor of Lighting Rumours, a part-time photographer and a quantitative analyst.
selbydavid.com