Commlite ComTrig ‘ultra speed’ flash triggering system review

We test out a new set of Chinese radio triggers with an adjustable "HS Flash" high sync speed mode.

ComTrig H550 and G430

Example setup using HS mode

In this test, I used a Nikon D700 DSLR camera with a 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR Nikkor lens, Hobo Merlin 300 studio flash and a light tent.

We start with a control shot with no flash, to gauge the ambient light levels (and sound scientific). It’s pretty dark.

Sample image #1
Iso 200, f/9, 1/125s, no flash used

Now we trigger the Merlin, using a ComTrig H550 on the camera and another H550 plugged into the Merlin’s 6.35mm port.

Sample image #2
Iso 200, f/9, 1/125s, flash power 3.0, H550 in normal mode

Let’s ramp up the shutter speed. Unfortunately we already get a bit of dark feathering at the D700’s normal sync speed.

Sample image #3
Iso 200, f/9, 1/250s, flash power 3.0, H550 in normal mode

We switch on HS mode, “learn” the parameter of the D700 at 1/250, and adjust the HS dial to level 3 to even out the exposure.

Sample image #4
Iso 200, f/9, 1/250s, flash power 3.0, H550 set to HS = ~3

Now we switch off HS mode and increase the shutter speed much higher, to 1/1000. As you can see, only a tiny portion of the frame is illuminated so the image is unusable.

Sample image #5
Iso 200, f/9, 1/1000s, flash power 3.0, H550 in normal mode

We switch HS mode back on, clear the previous parameters (by holding the test button down for a few seconds) and have the H550 learn the D700’s new parameters at this shutter speed. Let’s start with HS level 2.

Sample image #6
Iso 200, f/9, 1/1000s, flash power 3.0, H550 set to HS = 2

Hmmm, still some black banding. Let’s turn the HS dial a bit further and try another setting.

Sample image #7
Iso 200, f/9, 1/1000s, flash power 3.0, H550 set to HS = 4

More or less even, but we experiment a little more.

Sample image #8
Iso 200, f/9, 1/1000s, flash power 3.0, H550 set to HS = 4

We find the best setting is level 5. But the exposure is too low, so we increase the flash power by one stop.

Sample image #9
Iso 200, f/9, 1/1000s, flash 4.0, H550 set to HS = 5

It was still a bit too dark, so we increase the flash power another stop. And now we have a nicely exposed(ish) image using flash at 1/1000 second.

Sample image #10
Iso 200, f/9, 1/1000s, flash power 5.0, H550 set to HS = 5

Magic!

If you’re looking for a foolproof, affordable way to use flash at high shutter speeds then this is it. While this is the flagship feature, it also works as a very capable conventional flash trigger, wired or wireless shutter release. Rather than buying lots of H550 transceivers, just get one or two to use as transmitters and then supplement them with G430-RX receivers, which are cheaper and have built-in tripod sockets. If you need more bells and whistles then go for PocketWizards or get some speedlights with FP Sync.

Update: I’ve done a similar high speed test with the Pixel King, a trigger with high speed sync that was overlooked in this article. You can find the results here.

The ComTrig H-550 costs US$44.99 per unit, available from ThePhotoGadget. For more information on this system, refer to Commlite’s web site.

Previous page: Hands-on preview
First page: Introduction

David Selby
David is a keen photographer and has been editor of Lighting Rumours since 2010. When not writing about lighting, he works as a data scientist at the University of Manchester, UK.
selbydavid.com