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Pocketwizard Plus II problems

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Published on Nov 21, 2011

My wife and I have had nothing but problems with our Pocket Wizards since the day we got them. Here's an example: The other day I was shooting with a 5D Mk II about 5 feet away from my 430EX and everything was working fine. Then I backed up to about 10 feet away and suddenly the flash wouldn't fire. I took several shots and it never fired once. I checked to make sure the transmitter was fully seated, and it was. Then I pressed the tester button and it fired. Waited plenty of time for the flash to refresh then tried a few more shots and it never fired once. Pressed the tester button and it fires again. Several more photos and it never fired once. Moved back to my previous spot 5 feet away and suddenly it works again. We have had this same basic problem (not necessarily related to distance but intermittent firing of the flash when taking a photo even though the test button always works) with three separate Pocket Wizard transceivers, three different flashes (580 EX, 430 EX, and 430EX II), and four different camera bodies (Canon 5D, 5D Mk II, 1Ds Mk IV, and Nikon D3s).

This problem happens so regularly that I was able to reproduce it in my basement on video. In this video I was using a Canon 5D with a Canon 430EX speedlite and synching them with a pair of Pocketwizard Plus II Transceivers.

We mostly use the Pocket Wizards at wedding receptions with a Canon 5D Mark II to operate one off-camera flash from distances of no more than about 30 feet. The tester button always works, but when actually taking a photo the flash often fails to fire even when the flash has had plenty of time to refresh. Since the test button always works, that rules out most of the possible explanations for the failure. I know the 580EX has a known issue with Pocket Wizards due to radio interference, but again, the tester button always works and I have the same problem with the other two flashes. The hot shoe in my camera works flawlessly when any one of my flashes is mounted directly to it. It could not be the batteries in the transmitter or receiver or the flash since the tester button always works. And besides, this is a chronic issue that has been occurring since the day we got these things almost a year ago.

I figure it must be a problem of communication between the camera body and the transmitter. I have noticed that there is no positive "snap" into place when I seat the transmitter. Even when the plastic nut is tightened down very tight it has the ability to wiggle and slide back a little bit, causing the Pocket Wizard pin to slide off the center pad of the camera's hot shoe, and it is not very apparent when this happens. I figured this out a long time ago and now when there is a problem I always make sure the transmitter is fully seated into the hot shoe. Sometimes it starts working again after that, but sometimes it still doesn't work (as in this video). I have problems regardless of which unit I use as a transmitter and which is the receiver, and my wife even accidentally swapped one of our transceivers with another photographer at a workshop and we have the same problems with that unit as well.

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