The best camera…

…is the one you have on you. And it does not have to be an SLR with a 70-200 f/2.8 IS Lens, like this one I am carrying here in Sedona:

Even the iPhone takes nice pictures. Even of my morning coffee.

If you use an iPhone, get yourself a great little app called Best Camera, and edit your pics with a few simple filters. That leads to this more punchy image:

Have fun:


And yes, that was also taken on my iPhone, and slightly finished with Best Camera. See – you don’t always need a $10,000 camera.

More reliable PW connection

In my post earlier today I noted that Pocketwizards aren’t always reliable when they have a wire plugged into them. That, and you need to keep them away from 430EX flashes, and point the antenna on the receiving side the same way as that on the sender, ideally.

The “a cable plugged in makes the receiver unreliable” phenomenon is presumably due to some of the RF going into that wire. So a possible solution should have been obvious to a radio amateur/electrical engineer like me:

Yes, that’s is: the little RF choke I put on the cable. And indeed, my testing shows that this type of choke seems to keep the receiver significantly more sensitive. Problem solved (or at least, problem alleviated: the other recommendations still stand).

Pocketwoes

Nah, I exaggerate. Pocketwizards (specifically, the non-TTL model, namely the Pocketwizard II Plus, of which I own five) are great. But I do want to draw attention to two issues to watch out for.

First: what am I doing. I am firing a Pocketwizard, as in my post a few days ago. Meaning I have this setup:

The camera contains a TTL flash, plus from the PC-contact (the X-contact) I am firing an additional flash, set to manual at low power.

I even have three brand-new Pocketwizard-to-hotshoe cables [link] from Flashzebra – recommended, both the equipment and the company. My order arrived promptly via US mail (as did the mounting brackets that you see under the PW – these allow neatly mounting the PWs onto lightstands). No UPS ripoff.

The Gel on the flash above is a Honl Photo blue gel, to add a splash of colour to a photo I was working on.

To my surprise, I have found this Pocketwizard setup to not always be reliable.

When I mount the PW onto the top of the camera hotshoe, no problem. But when I use the PC connector on the side of the camera, and a cable supplied with the Pocketwizard, no go sometimes. I can fire the camera or even press the local PW’s button, and I get intermittent remote flash firing.

I have so far narrowed the issue to the following three causes:

  1. Bad X-sync contact. I needed to use contact cleaner and squeeze the connector a bit to ensure good contact.
  2. Antennas need to be polarized equally (if the sender is vertical, ideally the receiver needs to be vertical as well).
  3. Maintaining the distance from the speedlite is a good idea: Speedlites can interfere.
  4. Radio signal: when I continuously press the sender’s test button, the receiver’s LED should stay on. Normally this happens. Even when I hold my hand by the sender’s antenna, the receiver normally stays solid. But when I attach a cable to the PW, even when it is dangling in mid air and not connected to the camera, it is much less reliable.

I mean this:

With that cable, whether connected to the camera or not, the sender seems to send out less power than without. This is not surprising: the wire probably affects radiated power and pattern. But it is good to be reminded this is a radio transmitter and radio is black magic (and I am a licensed radio ham, VA3MVW, so I have some appreciation of this).

The moral of this story: Watch out, the rock solid reliability of Pocketwizards, which I had always taken for granted, is not guaranteed. Especially when not using the hotshoe.

But by watching all factors above, I think I have it down to a reliable setup -and when I have issues at least I know what they are and how I can address them.

Update: see the post I wrote a few hours later about RF chokes

Juxtapositions

Are always good. And surprises. And reflections. And “filling the frame”.

Or all four, like in this picture from Nov. 2, which although it doesn’t work very well at small size, does illustrate the point. Do you  like the CN Tower’s reflection?

IMG_2180

Juxtapositions can be opposing colour. Or old/new. Ugly/beautiful.Large/small. Funny/serious. Curved/straight. Liberal/conservative. Traditional/modern. Fast/slow. Soft/hard. You get the picture.

Always carry your camera. This was a snap, taken handheld with the Canon 7D. From the car. Another example, of a similar subject:

Old/new immediately occurred to me.

-13C outside. Not a day for outdoors pictures. Back to watching TV and making an inventory of my memory cards.