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Pocket Wizard Plus II versus the Seculine Twin Link T2D Review

Pocket Wizard Plus II versus the Seculine Twin Link T2D Review - Radio flash triggers from Pocket Wizard and Seculine compared.

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Category : Portable Flash Accessories
Product : Pocket Wizard Plus II
Price : £319
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Features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

 
Will Cheung gets to grips with two radio flash triggers


PocketWizard Plus II versus Seculine Twin Link T2D
More and more photographers are enjoying the world of using  camera flash, indoors and out. Prospective ‘strobists’ face some technical challenges such as exposure, flash positioning and the basic one of how to trigger flashguns when they are off the camera. It's the latter that we look at here.

You can, of course, trigger a flashgun with a long sync lead but this isn't very practical when you're outdoors. A better idea is to use dedicated units from the camera brands such as the Nikon SU-800 Commander unit or the Canon Speedlite ST-E2 Transmitter. These are great in that they fire compatible flashguns wirelessly without sacrificing the accuracy and sophistication of through-the-lens flash metering.

The downside is that they work using infrared. In practice, this means they work fine indoors in reasonable sized rooms. They can even work when they can't ‘see’ each other because the infrared bounces around. However, go beyond a certain range, venture outdoors, shoot in bright light or go to the other side of a window and they simply don't work.

That is why there has been a rush of interest in radio triggering units. These have greater range, are happy in whatever light, can work when units are not ‘line of sight’ and that includes through windows and the like. The best known radio trigger is probably the PocketWizard system but it isn't cheap. However, there are plenty of budget trigger units coming out of the Far East – often referred, jokingly, as ‘poverty wizards’ or even ‘fleebay triggers’.

In this test, we pit the PocketWizard Plus II, currently selling at £319 for a pair and £180 for an individual unit, with the new Seculine Twin Link T2D that costs £120 for a transmitter/receiver kit and £80 for an additional receiver.

PocketWizard Plus II

The PocketWizard is not overly robust, especially the flexible aerial, so it needs treating with a little care

Being a radio flash trigger is just one of the PocketWizard’s talents. The other, with the appropriate lead, is that it can be used to trigger your DSLR too. Next time you watch football on the TV, look at the back of the goal and you will see several SLRs sporting PocketWizards in their hot-shoes being fired remotely.

Such a feature is useful to pro photographers who need to shoot in this manner, but for most of us it's an expensive remote control. The ten-pin lead, for example, for Nikon DSLRs is around £80 making this a £400 wireless camera triggering solution. The Plus II has four channels, is powered by two AA cells and just slips on the camera’s hot-shoe. It can also be used using the camera’s PC socket with the supplied lead. The unit’s casing is not overly robust but the greater weakpoint is potentially the aerial. Cases or caddies are available to protect them and they are recommended if you travel around a lot.

In use, setting up is simple. Velcro is supplied and all I did was stick this to the side of my Nikon SB-900 and the Plus II unit. For peace of mind, I draped the supplied lanyard over the flashgun or stand locking knob. Plug the lead from the Plus II into the flash and you're almost ready to go. The master unit slips on the camera hot-shoe, and make sure that it's on the same channel as the receiver.

There are three transmit modes, Local, Both and Remote. I just left the units in Both and then started the test

 
Handling of the PocketWizard is good and it works really well. It does have a tripod bush if you do want to mount it on a stand or tripod.


Seculine Twin Link T2D


Clever aspects of the Seculine Twin Link's design include the hotshoe and a magnetic plate/tripod adaptor.

The Twin Link T2D is a flash trigger only, which helps to explain its more appealing price, and has radio and infrared transmitters built-in.

The transmitter is powered by two CR-2032 cells and the aerial is simply screwed into position. The plus side of this is that it is safer when you travel around, but the downside is that it might get lost. There is no on/off switch as such but an auto off function that kicks when the unit has not been used for a certain time and you can set the time from five minutes upwards.

The receiver also has a removable aerial and although it’s much longer it is just as losable. It's powered by three AAA cells or you have the option of mains operation with the supplied cord. Once the cells are in place a supplied plate can slipped into position over the battery cover. This has a 1/4in tripod bush and an integral magnet. This is clever thinking because it means the receiver can be simply attached, for example, to the metal casing of the mains flash or screwed onto a tripod. There is also a hot-shoe fitting so with the unit on a tripod or just lying on its flat, the flashgun can just be attached without any extra fittings. This is a neat bit of design.

The Seculine receiver takes two CR-2032 cells and there is no on/off switch. You just choose an auto-off time from five minutes upwards.
 
Performance: The test
We tried our triggers inside and out, at a range of distances and situations. We used a Nikon SB-900 flashgun and for comparison's sake also tried the Nikon SU-800 Commander unit. The Canon equivalent kit was not available at the time.

The location of one of our indoor tests. At 40 metres, both radio triggers were working perfectly.

Indoors: line of sight at 10, 20, 30 and 40 metres
The location was a long lobby (40 metres long by 5 metres wide) in an office environment. Both radio triggers worked perfectly right up to the maximum distance of 40 metres. There is a doorway at the end on the right side and I went through the door, leaving it wide open, then tried the triggers again. The Seculine ran out of range further than two metres through the door while the PocketWizard worked up to 15 metres. By comparison, the SU-800 ran out of steam at 14 metres, which is respectable but not outstanding in this company.

Outdoors: daylight
It was a bright but cloudy afternoon for my daylight test. The infrared Nikon SU-800 managed to trigger the flash from two metres and that was it. Rather a disappointing but not unexpected showing from this unit.

The radio triggers worked fine as I walked away from it so I just kept going. I got to the end of the car park (about 100 metres from the flashgun) and it was still firing with both triggers. The Seculine wasn't getting it very single shot (but only missing one in ten goes) while the PocketWizard was hitting it every time. At 90-ish metres both triggers were firing the flash every time. Brilliant stuff and certainly way beyond what most users would expect - or need.

Outdoors: night
I tried the triggers in my garden, one moonless night. As you would expect, the SU-800 infrared trigger had a imited range but it still fired the flash up to seven metres so much better than in daylight. Beyond that, nada. Taking each radio trigger in turn, I wandered around the garden and tried the triggers. Brilliant - 10, 20, 30 metres and beyond, both performed flawlessly.

There's a shed about 40 metres down the garden and I ducked behind that so I was out of the receiver's eyeline and still the flash fired. I got to the end of the garden - about 70 metres from the flash and receiving unit  - and both the Plus II and the Seculine still triggered the flash. Again, that is surely more than enough for most photographers. Perhaps commercial photographers shooting huge factory interiors or aircraft hangers would want more.

Both units worked with the same ruthless efficiency until I held each trigger behind some garden furniture (at 70 metres), so they were out of the receiver's eyeline. Here, the Seculine faltered, but the PocketWizard didn't and continued to fire the flashgun.
To be honest, both radio triggers performed brilliantly.

Indoors: in the house

Once again, I started with the SU-800. In the same room or just out of the doorway, the infrared signal bounced around and got through to the receiver and the flash fired. A little further out of the room and no joy.

The radio triggers worked more or less regardless of where I went, upstairs included. I assume the radio beam just goes through the floorboards, walls, glass, whatever. Basically, wherever I went  within the house, the flashguns fired with both triggers so no problem at all here. A typical studio  or living room studio would present no problems whatsoever.

Radio flash triggers: Verdict
We're not strictly comparing like with like here because of the PocketWizard’s ability to be used as a camera remote trigger. However, we did focus on their abilities as radio flash triggers so at that level the comparison is fair.

Of course, should you need a flash trigger and remote camera release the PocketWizard is quite amazing but you do pay for it - the units and the leads are pricey. Build quality is also not something to write home about, but performance is impressive - especially the night test from behind the garden furniture. But that sort of performance is not needed by most photographers and for the price, the Seculine is quite clearly the better value for money product. It works really well and proved reliable. The only thng I can't speak for right now is battery stamina but it was no problem in the few days I used it.

To sum up, if you do need an efficient radio flash trigger for your studio lighting that is also powerful enough for strobist shooting, the Seculine comes highly, highly recommended. For the money, it's a bargain.

Radio flash triggers: Pros
PocketWizard Plus II Seculine Twin Link T2D
Range
DSLR remote release option
Price - brilliant value
Detachable aerials - easy for transport
Built-in hotshoe
Tripod adaptor

Radio flash triggers: Cons
PocketWizard Plus II Seculine Twin Link T2D
Vulnerable aerial
Price of units
Price of leads
Build quality
Transmitter battery type
Detachable aerials - can be lost


  PocketWizard Plus II Seculine Twin Link T2D
FEATURES
HANDLING
PERFORMANCE
VALUE
OVERALL











The PocketWizard Plus II set costs £319 from Warehouse Express here:
PocketWizard

The Seculine Twin Link T2D outfit costs £120 from Warehouse Express here:
Seculine Twin Link T2D

Because of the performance and value for money, the Seculine Twin Link T2D has been awarded our Editor's Choice award.

 
Radio flash triggers: specification
  PocketWizard Plus II
Seculine Twin Link T2D
Price £320 for a pair, £180 singly £120 for transmitter and receiver, extra receiver £80 each
Contact www.johnsonsphotopia.co.uk www.intro2020.co.uk
Battery Two AAs Transmitter: Three AAAs; receiver 2 CR2032. Transmitter can be mains powered with the supplied lead
Claimed range 500 metres 150 feet indoors, 600 feet outdoors
Ports Two 3.5mm mono miniphone One 3.5mm mono miniphone, PC socket
Channels Four 16
Max fps 12  
Max sync speed 1/250sec, up to 1/1000sec with certain cameras 1/250sec
Weight 130g Transmitter: 35g Receiver: 53g
Size (dxwxh) 37mmx55mmx102mm (body only) Transmitter: 40x77x35mm, Receiver: 50x80x25mm

  

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Comments


User_Removed 7 485 13 England
5 Dec 2009 8:51PM
i have a set of the Seculine Triggers and can fully endorse them. They also have a built in sleep function which turns the unit on the flash off after a specified period of your choosing upto 5 mins i think. Value for money they are excellent and as you say reliable

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martinproe 9 293 5 England
7 Dec 2009 7:29PM
Do they offer ttl metering as I believe the pocket wizards do?. They're certainly very attractive price wise.
brian1208 e2
11 10.2k 12 United Kingdom
16 Dec 2009 2:42PM
Thanks Will, a timely review as I'm was trying to make my mind up which way to go and this helped the decision.
Although the Seculine only work in manual - at that price they are abargain
Will Cheung 10 69 United Kingdom
12 Jan 2010 10:02AM
The PocketWizard I tested, the Plus II, is not TTL. There is a TTL version for Canon (the Mini TT1) recently launched and Nikon compatible system is due soon.
Been using the Seculine over the Xmas period and still going well.
vance 3
15 Jan 2011 8:25PM
Hi, new to this Wireless technology and have bought the Twinlink T2D for my Nikon D3s and SB-900. I cant seem to get the flash to fire, although when I start the transmitter up, the receiver also boots up, so it knows its there but just no flash. I know I must be doing something wrong, any ideas????

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