PocketWizard has just announced the addition of a new trigger to its lineup: The PocketWizard Plus X. Priced at $99 (and already in stock at B&H), the Plus X offers much of the same functionality and reliability as PocketWizard's much-beloved Plus II and Plus III, but with a simpler, no-frills interface and a gentler price. Read on for the spec list, a mini-review, and my thoughts on the new unit.
While PocketWizard's trigger systems have been the de-facto standard for years, they have been diversifying their product line (with triggers such as the Flex TT5 and MC2) and revamping their staple product offerings (Plus and Plus II) with the Plus III, which featured a redesigned form factor, a plethora of new features, and a USB interface for upgrading firmware. Even though the Plus III is the new standard by which all other triggers are measured, and despite its lower price than the Plus II of old, there has been a constant din from photographers who would like to invest in a PocketWizard system but weren't quite ready to shell out the $150+ per unit that the jump to PocketWizard would entail.
This may just be the perfect answer to those wishing for a Plus-lite of sorts, as the simple and robust operation is plenty for any photographer looking to get their lights off camera simply and affordably. You'll miss out on some bells and whistles, but the Plus X still has quite a nice spec sheet. Check out the facts straight from PocketWizard:
The PocketWizard Plus X is the perfect choice for both entry level wireless shooters and current Plus II owners. Auto-sensing Transceiver technology and large, backlit channel dial make the Plus X the simplest PocketWizard ever. It is compatible with every PocketWizard FCC-version radio marketed in the USA and virtually every popular flash and camera system. And the Plus X also works with all PocketWizard-enabled studio flash units including select Profoto, Dynalite, Norman and Photogenic flashes as well as Sekonic light meters.
• Auto-Sensing Transceiver – Easy to use. No settings to make.
• 10 Channels – 1-4 Classic plus 5-10 low-traffic channels
• Backlit Channel Dial – Easy to set channels in the dark
• Internal Antenna – Compact, more rugged design
• Auto-Relay Mode – Trigger remote camera and flashes simultaneously
• Transmit Only Mode – Positive operation in large groups
• Side View Design – Better subject view on camera
• PocketWizard reliability – PocketWizard compatibility
• Box Dimensions 1.75" x 4.75" x 5.25" (DxWxH)
• Country of Origin: USA
Definitely impressive for just $99, if I say so myself.
I was able to use the Plus X on one shoot, as I just received the units this week. Having been a long time PW user, I had no trouble getting them set up and rockin'. Actually, to be honest, I got the box in the mail, tore that badboy open, and threw them right on my camera. I'm a male, and as a result, clearly do not read manuals until I run into trouble. I had no problems whatsoever getting these set up, dialed in, and popping flashes. In the box, as seen below, are the manual, warranty cards, a few standard cables, a lanyard, and the unit itself.
Operation could not be more straightforward or simple. Turn the dial so the channels match, slide the unit on the hotshoe, plug one into your flash unit, and shoot away. Or if you're using them as remotes, plug them into your camera's remote port, hit the test button, and off you go. Most of the operational details are similar or the same to those of the Plus II and III, so if you're familiar with their operation, you'll have no trouble here.
The construction is the same as that of the Plus III: they have a nice weight to them when loaded with batteries and seem like some tough little cookies. I didn't drop them on purpose or anything so I can't comment on their actual durability, but if they are built the same as the Plus III (and by all accounts, they appear to be) then we can assume that they are just as strong. Though I was only using them indoors to shoot a few quick real estate photos, I didn't have a single misfire in about 550 shots. Pretty damn good, if you ask me. These are true plug and play units, and they integrated seamlessly with my Plus IIIs. While I wasn't able to check compatibility with my MC2s or Flexes and Minis, the manual states that the Plus X is backwards compatible with all of PocketWizard's products, though they do not transmit ETTL information to the flash, so they're just simple triggers.
My one shoot wasn't really a great barometer for checking battery life, but I loaded them up with fresh Eneloops beforehand and after the shoot, the units were still showing full charge. No real issues there, I expect them to have the same battery life as my Plus IIIs, if not a little longer, due to the reduced functionality, but I am just going by my best guess there.
As far as I'm concerned, at this price point, these units are a no-brainer if you are looking for legendary PocketWizard reliability, cross-platform capability, and support. While you may be able to get away with purchasing cheaper asian units from a no-name distributor on eBay, at this price, why not just get the real deal? They'll be guaranteed to work, have an excellent support system in place, and will work with basically every lighting system under the sun. Many studio systems have PW compatibility built in and anywhere you go, you'll be able to find PocketWizards. Roughly $200 to get into the professional standard triggering system is an absolute no-brainer. While it is known that PocketWizard's Flex units had some teething problems when first released, I couldn't find a single hiccup with the Plus X units that I tested. I'm fully confident that PocketWizard has done their homework here and these things are ready for serious use out of the box.
The new units are already available at B&H Photo Video for $99. I don't have any confirmation of a shipping time as of right now, but I will be sure to updated the post as soon as more information is released. I'd be willing to bet that they are ready to ship, as test units have been shipping for awhile and it appears that all the kinks have been worked out at this point. Stay tuned for more info there, and a more in-depth review as we get to use these on more shoots and explore more of their features.