Fstoppers Reviews The New Pocket Wizard Plus III Radio Triggers

Fstoppers Reviews The New Pocket Wizard Plus III Radio Triggers

Today, Pocket Wizard rolled out the newest in their line of wireless flash triggering devices: the long-awaited update to the industry standard Pocket Wizard Plus II, the Pocket Wizard Plus III. We at Fstoppers have been playing with them for awhile, and we're here to give you all the details, including an exclusive video look at the new Pocket Wizard Plus III. [Pre Order The Pocket Wizard Plus III Here]

For years now, the Pocket Wizard Plus II has been the standard in wireless flash and camera triggers for professional photographers. One might ask why an upgrade is necessary, or why a new version is even needed. After all, they are reliable, consistent, readily-available and incredibly simple to use. Pocket Wizard knew they could take the best and make it better, and there's no question that these radio triggers are a huge improvement from the Plus IIs. A few of us here at Fstoppers.com were lucky enough to get our hands on a bunch of the new Pocket Wizards Plus III units, which are slated to be officially released in mid-March, and we put them through the test over the course of a handful of shoots. Our thoughts so far? They're absolutely awesome and totally worth upgrading! Check out our Pocket Wizard Review Video below to get all the details and see them in action:

Youtube Version:

Patrick Hall's Test Image

Thanks to Pratik Naik with Solstice Retouch for help with the composite.

Lee Morris's Test Image

Here's a rundown of the new features:

A variety of modes let you tailor the unit to the exact function you need.

TxRx: Transmits and receives. A standard transceiver mode, what you'll use most of the time when you are shooting with off-camera flash.

Tx ONLY: Disables all receiving functionality and allows you to use the Plus III only to transmit, best used when sharing the airspace with other photographers to prevent accidentally triggering the Plus III on your camera.

Rx ONLY: For use in an area where there are multiple photographers or flashes. This will prevent a remote Plus III from performing relay functions when mounted in the shoe of another camera or to prevent a Plus III from triggering other radios when the TEST button is pressed. For example, this would be the mode to use if the PWIII was triggering a remote camera.

LR (Long Range): Doubles (!) The maximum range of a radio in a given shooting environment. There may be a slight reduction in X-sync speed as a result.

RP (Repeater): Automatically re-transmits any triggers received on the selected channel. Can be used to dramatically extend working distance with flash or remote cameras when an additional Plus III is placed halfway between the camera or flash and the transmitting radio.

HSR (High-speed receive): Shortens the contact time of the flash/camera port, allowing for triggering of remote flashes at higher FPS. Up to 14.5, that is. Woah.

Other Features

A three-stage battery meter. This might be our favorite little upgrade - no more guessing at battery power.

The Antenna is contained entirely within the Plus III. No more broken antennas due to me tossing them in my bag at the end of a long day. In addition, the durability of the Plus III has also been changed for the better, at least it seems to me - they're a bit more solid-feeling and robust than the Plus IIs, and the buttons are made with heavy-duty rubber. They're built to last; make no mistake, your standard cheap trigger these are NOT.

A backlit LCD. This is going to be especially handy, as it seems half the time (at least) that I'm using flash, there is little-to-no ambient lighting.

Zones: Four assignable zones, each with it's own switch on the face of the unit. Think of sports shooters who have more than one set of lights in the rafters, or photographers using multiple remote cameras.

USB port for upgrading firmware and changing custom user settings (let me say that I've been a HUGE fan of this functionality on the Mini TT1 and Flex TT5s that I've been using). I also anticipate more functionality being added in the future, now that this is a standard feature.

PC Screw-Locking Cords now ship standard with the Pocket Wizard Plus III units. Fstoppers has been encouraging photographers to upgrade their loose and faulty PC Sync cords to the Nikon Screw-Lock PC cords for years (yes the work for Canon too). Now Pocket Wizard has included the upgraded PC sync cord with each unit along with a 1/8" to 1/4" adapter jack for your power packs taking the larger input connector. Nice touch Pocket Wizard!


As anyone who has gone shopping for radio triggers knows, PocketWizard Plus IIs are usually one of the pricier options, despite their outstanding range and reliability. While you might expect the Plus III to cost more than the previous versions, as is the trend with nearly all photography-related items these days, they are actually priced lower than the Plus IIs, despite all of the improvements. The Plus III will be released with an MSRP of $139 in the US. That's right. Not only is it much better, it's much cheaper. This is going to be a HUGE game changer in the wireless trigger market.

Overall Review:

Our Thoughts

Mike Kelley:
Despite suffering through recovery from a lower back surgery, I was eager to get out and put the new Plus IIIs through the ringer. From what I can tell, PocketWizard has hit an absolute home run with these. The first thing I noticed after unpacking them was how solid they felt: I've used a lot of triggers over the past few years and I can say that these are some tough little cookies. You'll never have to worry about them falling apart or malfunctioning on a shoot; I can't say the same for some of the cheaper triggers I've used.

I've been a long-time fan of the Flex TT5 and Mini TT1 triggers, and was looking forward to seeing how the Plus III would fit into my workflow. Integration was simple and seamless, and I didn't have any trouble getting everything working together perfectly. Since I do a lot of remote camera and flash triggering, the extended range mode and zone features are a welcome upgrade. In my testing, I didn't experience one misfire, granted I was shooting mostly indoors and at distances of at most 300 feet. Battery life also seems to be great so far. I'm also looking forward to see what PocketWizard does with the new USB and upgradeable software functionality in the future.

I've spent the better part of the week trying to think of ways to improve upon the Plus II and it seems that PocketWizard has covered all the bases. These are without question going to find themselves a permanent home in my gear bag, and I'm sure I'll enjoy getting acquainted with the new features I haven't used extensively yet.

Lee Morris: When I was told about these new units I was honestly worried. I've never been a big fan of the Multimax units because they were so overly complicated and I thought there was a chance that the Plus IIIs would wreck the simplicity of the Plus II units. Luckily I was very wrong. 99% of the time I am going to use these new units in the standard tranceiver mode and even still I think these things are worth the upgrade. The fact that these units are built better, HAVE A BATTERY INDICATOR! and have tons of extra features waiting to be used while at the same time being cheaper than the Plus II's makes this upgrade a no-brainer. I'm excited to change my fleet of 14 Pocket Wizards over to the new Plus IIIs.

Patrick Hall: It's pretty rare that I get really excited about a new piece of camera gear, but when the guys from PW called us to tell us what they had been working on, my ears perked up! Obviously the most exciting news is the new lower price. As said over and over again, the new battery indicator is my favorite new feature. I'm also really happy PW kept the standard AA battery instead of going with something less common or not rechargeable.

The new Group Mode feature is going to be so awesome for wedding photographers who often set up a few strobes on light stands so they can light their wedding receptions. The Pocket Wizard Plus III is going to change the way I shoot my own weddings for sure because I can now mix up my lighting schemes without having to run around adjusting lights and switching the individual remote channels. I'm also excited that Pocket Wizard has found a way to improve the overall radio transmission so that when you are shooting in the portrait orientation, the Pocket Wizards now fire much more reliably than they did in the past. Overall these units are well worth the upgrade and Pocket Wizard has brought us a nice unexpected gift for the new year.

Vimeo Version:

Copyright Mike Kelley/Fstoppers.com

Copyright Gregor Halenda/PocketWizard

Copyright Gregor Halenda/PocketWizard

Copyright Gregor Halenda/PocketWizard

To learn more about the PocketWizard Plus III, head over to PocketWizard's Plus III mini-site, which contains every last (scintillating!) bit of information on these new units.

Mike Kelley's picture

Michael Kelley (mpkelley.com) is a Los Angeles-based architectural and fine art photographer with a background in digital art and sculpture. Using his backgrounds in the arts, he creates images that are surreal and otherworldly, yet lifelike and believable. A frequent traveler, Michael's personal work focuses on the built environment of unique

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As always... first rate guys!

...Sooo I didn't read the text review, I just watched the vimeo video, and was scrolling down to comment " Blah, Blah, Blah. Yeah, Yeah more sh*t to buy". Then I seen in bold "MSRP of $139". WHAT? OK, I apologize, I'm sold!

haha, ya its crazy that they are way better and significantly cheaper

That's what I'm getting next...

139$ ?! REALLY!? 

Looking at the prices in Sweden for the Pocket Wizard II's thats a huge pricedrop!
Incredible, no more poormans transmitters for me!
As always, nice video!

this looks SICK!!!! Will come in handy for wedding dance floor shots for sure....Might have sell out the Yongnou's...
and LOL @ the 8:25 mark "penis" hahaha so random

That price has got to be in response to the Chine triggers like the Phottix Strato which does a lot of what the PW do. Nice to see they've got the transceiver route too.

Ok, so heres the $150 question (seeing as thats the difference between the Plus III and the Multimax) that I haven't heard the answer too.

With all these extra channels (like the Multimax) and zones (like the Multimax), can the signal be delayed to sync remote cameras with strobes? I know this is something that 99% of people don't even know exists, let alone would want to lose, but for someone who shoots in arenas with many people using many strobes to sync with many remote cameras, this is a HUGE selling point.

If they can, I'm buying 10.

I don't think they can send a delayed signal like the Multimaxes, but that might come with firmware updates in the future.  As of now, the units do not do that

Watching the video, I noticed the ease of the relay. I guess the question is how much delay is there in the relay. If I set up a Plus III on my camera, a Plus III on 4 remote cameras, and a Plus III at each of my Speedotrons, is it going to be able to relay instantly or am I going to drop some frames because of a delay in syncing?

If it's near 0, then I can get two of these for the price of one and I'm still sold for 10+.

 I've seen it said elsewhere (either on strobist or Mcnally's site) that the delay is in order of milliseconds. Exactly how many milliseconds, I couldn't tell you.

Lauren, simpler question. Can you put a Plus III on a camera, and set the transceiver on another camera, can it be set to relay? Aka, can the camera and not a test button trigger a relay? 

Good job guys. Nice work on the video and the write-up.

Great tutorial guys.

Each time you guys talked to the models, I was sooooo expecting you to use a Peter Hurley pose technique. Chin down, neck out...

Ha yeah we cut out most of our directing...we owe Peter a lot!

i hope it works better at close proximities.... do any of you have problems with that?

yes Shannon, I also have problems with the close proximities with the mini and flex

I wonder why they are still not able to produce a trigger which would to everything.I switched from PW to Phottix Odin and won't go back!

So basically the multimaxes I paid 300 bucks for recently are out of date?? 

No - I think these are not as quite as well spec'd as the multimax.

The "old" PW Plus II were also able to shoot in relay mode like the Plus IIIs... I don't really see the big deal in specially pointing that out. I love the new antena design, the groups feature and the battery indicator. That is awesome! Love the Images shot.

I think the reason Lee pointed it out was that it's one of the lesser known features of the PW.  

You're correct, this is not a new feature but it is one that few people know about. After oats shoot there wasn't another new feature that I could easily showcase.

we didn't have access to a single person racecar

Well, a soapbox car would have sufficied ;o) Great work thought!

 Understandable! Still a great video ;o) Thanks!

I wasn't aware of the relay feature before, definitely going to have to try that out!  Do I just need to get a 10-pin release to do this?

A question, bare in mind i never used a pocket wizards b4,
I can as i have 2 speedlites for now.lets say i invest 3 of these new Plus III transceiver, one hook up to my camera (as transmitter), and rest 2 hook to my speedlites, i will still be able to trigger them via TTL or manual?

With groups, you can turn them on or off from the camera but not change their power or use TTL. You would have to get the Flex or Minis for that....these only tell the flash to fire.

So, I have a couple or three questions, beside all the PR BS hype:

-integration with ControlTL system: what is their max sync speed? What about integrating them in a Hypersync scenario?
-intercompatibility: There will be a separate Canon and Nikon versions?

no canon/nikon versions since they don't do the hypersync and TTL features.  These just send a "fire" signal and that's it.  If you want all the hypersync and iTTL/eTTL you need to get the Flex/Minis.  

ok. So basically they will trigger to the sync speed of the camera. Which should be up to 1/1600 sec in some cases, right?

yeah 1/1600 if you are on medium format.  1/160 or 1/250 if you are on a DSLR


Or if you have a D70 :)

They sync up to 1/500, at least that is what it says on the specslist

thanks for the point out.

I'm limited to 1/250th on my camera or I'd test it....but I was told by PW that these fire up to 10-14 fps which seems like at 1/250th that would be about 1/2500 a second if my math/understanding is correct.

NICE NICE NICE!!! The beautiful new design and a battery indicator. I agree with you Lee it definitely needs a battery bar. I also like the design too. Although, in my bias opinion, it looks better on a canon. (sorry nikon lovers!) haha.

I still prefer using Nikon's SU-800 commander in studio to command speedlights. You can control not only which units go off, but also their intensity, which (to me) is a huge deal.  Alas, on location, or in direct sunlight, the infrared method isn't reliable. 

One major caveat that these PWs have is size.  They stick out like a rhino's horn, just asking to be broken off.  Their Mini TT1 line is much slimmer and doesn't stand in the way of most things (such as when using a right-angle adapter with your viewfinder).   Though if there is one good thing to say about these new PWs, is that the tacky antenna has been laid to rest.  

Problem is few people are using SB800/900s in the studio...most of us use studio lights where the SU-800 doesn't work.  Then when you go outside, the SU800 usually doesn't work reliably enough in bright light.  

I guess the PW are still large but I've yet to break one mounted on my camera (I've destroyed a lot of them on remotes in the ocean).  The problem with the mini and all the knock off units is they use some crazy watch battery to make the units smaller which is so much more annoying than the size of a normal AA unit.  

I blame McNally for my speedlight affair, guilty as charged.  But I understand few use speedlights like I do.  Still, the price of PWs seems a little stratospheric. Then again, all pro photo stuff is.  Great video BTW.

I think there are quite a few people using speedlights, I love using them because of their versatility and size (TT-L with the flex's is so fun!).  I don't think PW's are that overpriced either, considering what they can do.  Really great tools to have if you enjoy playing with all the abilities your flashes have.

"Nice tough Pocket Wizard!" should I believe read "Nice touch Pocket Wizard!"

139 $ for 1 or 2 triggers?

 PWs have always (I believe, and not including the flex and mini-ttl, etc.) been quoted per 1 unit as they can either be used as a receiver or trigger.

So the flex system is still preferable if you're wanting to shoot TTL/CTL?
As I'm looking into another trigger or two this could change what I decide to buy!

Yes flex/minis for TTL or CLS....plus III for group combos without controlling power ratios

Can I "Zone" with my Plus II transceivers as receivers?  Meaning assign Channel 1's to Zone A, Channel 2's to Zone B and then be able to run groups from the Plus III as displayed in the studio example? 

I do setup multiple light for weddings and have been manually changing them out...

Or do I have to sell out my Plus II stock and switch everything over to achieve that feature?

Zones or "groups" as Patrick calls them only work from channel 17-32 so no you cannot do this with plus IIs

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