PocketWizard Plus III Review – by David Welker

David WelkerDavid Welker is a recent graduate of Missouri State University and a freelance photographer based in Springfield, Missouri. David regularly covers sports, news, and events. His editorial clients include Getty Images, the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA), and newspapers throughout Missouri. David’s work has been seen in publications such as ESPN.com, Sports Illustrated, TOPPS Baseball Cards, MiLB.com, and various others. When he isn’t behind a camera David is on the golf course or is spending time with his wife and puppy.

On Febuary 20, 2012, LPA Designs, the creator of the PocketWizard series of transceivers, announced a brand new unit that would be hitting the store shelves in the early summer. The Plus III is the successor to the Plus II, the industry standard for light and remote camera triggering. It has been difficult to come by these units as the demand for them has risen due to their popularity, however, I was able to pick up two of these units to see how they compared to my MultiMax units and the Alienbee Cybersyncs. As soon as I received the pair of Plus IIIs, it became extremely apparent that the Cybersyncs would be on their way out. Here is a closer look at the new PocketWizard Plus III.

PocketWizard Plus III

The New PocketWizard Plus III Transceiver

Quality Construction

The build of the Plus III units are solid and show the quality that LPA has put into their designs from day one. The plastic used has obviously been upgraded from that of the older Plus II and MultiMax units. The Plus III also has a threaded mount on the back of the unit that can be used for mounting on an isolation bar for off hotshoe mounting. One thing that I really like about the Plus III is the internal antenna. I can not tell you how many times the external antenna on the Plus II and the MultiMax units have been in my way. The size of the Plus III units is one of the most important changes for the PocketWizard brand. The Plus III has a slimmer build, which when mounted to the hotshoe, makes the unit easy to see around and does not cause any extra bulk on the top of a camera. The unit also sits sideways on the hotshoe, which was a surprising change from previous units. I was hesitant about this at first because I was concerned about being able to makes changes quickly. But after using the units several times, I had zero issues changing settings efficiently.

PocketWizard Plus III

PocketWizard Plus III Transceiver mounted on the hotshoe of a Canon 1D Mark II N

This unit has one of the most user friendly interfaces I have ever experienced and it was incredibly easy to understand which mode , and, when using quad zone triggering, which zone was activated. The buttons on the Plus III are very responsive and the addition of the half press test button is a nice feature to have when testing remotes.

Features

The Plus III Transceiver unit has 32 channels (1-16 are standard channels, and 17-32 for quad-zone triggering) while the previous Plus II only had four channels. As with all PocketWizards, the Plus III is backwards compatible, meaning that it can communicate with all previous models. The addition of more channels allows photographers to work efficiently and not have to worry about any type of interference or triggering issues when other photographers are around. The quad system triggering allows a photographer to “activate” a camera or light that a receiving unit is attached to. I have found this feature to come in handy when in the studio and working with multiple lights. For example, I can set up three different lights and put them all in different zones, a main light (Zone A), background light (Zone B), and a hair light (Zone C). From the camera’s hotshoe, you can change activate each light individually and choose the look you want. Previously, if a photographer wanted this feature, they would have to purchase the more expensive MultiMax which also has four zones. This new addition in a less costly unit is definitely welcomed. To see how Quad Zone Triggering works, see my blog post titled “Using Pocketwizard’s Quad Zone Technology”.

The Plus III offers several different modes available to the photographer to make our jobs easier. The Plus III features Auto-Sensing Transceiver Technology. When the unit is on the TxRx mode, it will try and automatically decide which unit is the transmitter and which unit is the receiver. From my experience thus far, the unit has been incredibly accurate when attached to my lights. I have not tested how it will work when used in conjunction with a remote camera, but my assumption is that there should be little to no issues. LPA designed the Plus III with the ability to also choose transmit only (Tx), or receive only (Rx) for when the Auto-Sensing technology does not work. The second feature in the Plus III is Long Range Mode (LR). When in Long Range Mode, the range of the unit is pretty much doubled. When I had a chance to test this, I was able to trigger a strobe nearly three football fields away, 9/10 times. When outside of the Long Range Mode, the Plus III offers a Repeater Mode (RP). Repeater mode allows a user to put another Plus III unit in between two other units to send a signal from the transmitter to the receiver, and effectively trigger a camera or a light over long distances. The last feature of the Plus III is High Speed Receive (HSR). The Plus III’s High Speed Receive mode allows the transmitter and receiver to exchange signals up to 14.5 FPS.

In the Box

PocketWizard Plus III

Contents of the PocketWizard Plus III Transceiver Box

Each PocketWizard Plus III unit comes in its own box containing the essentials for use. Below is a list of what all comes in the box:

– One (1) PocketWizard Plus III Transceiver

– Small strap for unit

– Coiled Stereo 3.5mm (1/8″) miniphone to miniphone cable

– Mono 3.5mm miniphone to locking PC cable

– Stereo 3.5mm miniphone to 6.3mm adapter

– Quick Reference guide to be attached to the interior of the battery door

– User Manual

Conclusion

LPA Designs has done it again! With the introduction of the Plus III into the PocketWizard line up, I have no doubt that it will take the place of its predecessor, the Plus II. I also appreciate the changes LPA Designs made to the Plus III and added features found in the MultiMax to this new unit. These additional features make the Plus III a great compromise between more expensive choices. After using the Plus III in several scenarios, I will be buying several more to add to my bag instead of picking up more MultiMaxs or other units. Because the demand on these units is high, getting your hands on some may be tricky, but I highly recommend the Plus III to any photographer looking for a quality triggering system.

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