While many lighting brands today are trying to simplify their products, the Fusion TLC Raven arrives as the most feature-rich wireless trigger ever made.
The Fusion TLC Raven is a remote radio trigger for wireless strobes or remote cameras. What makes it special? As far as I know, it does everything any other trigger can do plus way more.
The Raven's screen was made from an Android Smartwatch. This sounds strange, but it works quite well. Instead of tapping the "up" or "down" button 20 times to change the power output of your flash, you can rotate the digital bezel in a fraction of a second. The OLED digital touch screen allows for tapping, holding, and swiping through menus faster and more intuitively than anything else on the market. The only downside to the touchscreen is that the Raven takes a few seconds to boot up. It's not a huge problem, but it is much slower than any other remote with instant-on capabilities.
In case you're wearing gloves, physical buttons have been added as well for shooting in cold conditions. The only flaw I personally see with the design is that it doesn't have an additional hot shoe on the top to add a speedlight, but this may not be important to most shooters.
Right now, the Raven is available for Nikon cameras only but will soon be coming out with Canon and Sony variants. If they get enough interest, Fusion TLC will be adding additional camera brands as well.
Perhaps the most important feature of the Raven is the fact that it can work with multiple flash brands and two of them at the same time. As I am writing this, the Raven can only communicate with Profoto, Godox, and PocketWizards, but in the near future, they will be adding many other flash brands. I happen to have both Profoto and Godox lights here, and I was able to use them both and control them independently and effortlessly.
A quick note for Profoto users: as you know, Profoto remotes do not display the current power setting of the light. The Raven gets around this software limitation by "pretending" to always be in TTL mode, allowing you to change and monitor the power setting on the Raven rather than having to look at the back of the flash. If you're in need of a new Profoto remote, the Raven is almost the same price and is superior in every way.
The Raven has a built-in lithium-Ion battery that is charged by a Mini USB port on the side. For me, I would have preferred AA batteries because I can always replace them in a jam, but other photographers prefer the longer battery life an internal battery provides. The Raven can remain on and working for 16 hours straight or stay in hibernation mode for two weeks.
Speaker and Microphone
Yes, this trigger has a built-in speaker and microphone. The speaker creates unique sounds to help you navigate menus and power settings that can be turned off for quiet environments. The microphone can be used as an automatic audio trigger.
Firmware Updates and Wifi
One of the most impressive features of the Raven and one that I'd like to see in every digital product I own is its built-in Wi-Fi adapter and automatic cloud updates. Without any smartphone apps, the Raven can connect itself to the internet, download, and install firmware updates with a single touch. Being that this product is new, it's getting firmware updates every few days that are making it better and better.
TTL, PowerTrack, and Manual
TTL is "through the lens" metering and is basically an automatic setting for your flashes. Your camera will tell the Raven how hard to fire the flash based on the image you're composing, and the Raven will communicate that with TTL-enabled flashes. Manual is obviously full manual, and "PowerTrack" is a hybrid of the two. When in PowerTrack, you set the flash power manually, and then, it will change based on ISO or aperture changes on the camera. This can be used in the studio when you are changing the depth of field but want to keep the same exposure.
Focus Assist and White Light
The front of the Raven has both an infrared light to help with autofocusing and a white light that can be used to expose your scene or to simply use as a flashlight.
The Raven can communicate with high-speed sync flashes, but it can also time and graph your flash's duration, and then, you can fine-tune which part of the flash you want showing up in your exposure in its "SyncView" setting. Most light meters can't even do this, and the ones that can, like the Sekonic Speedmaster L-858D-U, cost $600.
Real-Time Noise Interference Indicator
Have you ever shown up to a location and had your flash trigger's reliability drop? Certain places have more radio noise than others. The Raven can view this "noise" from all available channels at once and let you know which one will be the most reliable.
Remote Trigger Ping
When you're firing a flash remotely, you can see if the flash is firing. If you're firing a camera remotely, you simply have to hope everything is working properly. The Raven can relay back to the firing trigger to let you know that your remote camera is in fact functioning properly.
The Raven can go into hibernation mode for up to two weeks and wake up your camera at a certain time and date. This is important for situations when you need to set up remote cameras in advance to be fired on a later date.
MultiPop and SpeedCycle
MultiPop allows you to fire the light multiple times during one exposure. SpeedCylce allows you to set up multiple lights and fire them sequentially during different exposures. This could be used if you're shooting a scene where people are moving through your frame in the same direction again and again (like a race).
If your camera doesn't have a timelapse mode, the Raven can take over. Simply set the interval and duration, and the Raven will take your time-lapses for you.
The Fusion TLC Raven is a pretty outrageous product. For most photographers, it is absolutely overkill, but for a select few, it is exactly what they've been wishing for. If you shoot with Godox lights, and you don't need any of these extra features, you'd be foolish to buy the Raven for $449 when the Godox remote does everything you need for $69. But, if you shoot Profoto, and you need a new remote, you'd be foolish not to buy the Raven. It's better than the Profoto remote in every way (other than boot-up time and removable batteries), and it's almost exactly the same price.
Like most ultra-specialized products, I can't recommend the Raven to everyone, but for those of you who need these features, you're going to love it. Even though very few of us will ever use the Raven's crazy features, we should all appreciate the incredible amount of work that went into this product, and because it's basically a little touchscreen computer, it will only get better with each new firmware update.