It’s been a couple months since I first bought my first flash trigger and receivers, and let me tell you, I’ve never looked back. I lost my Canon infrared flash commander at a festival I was shooting at, and decided that it was time to switch up to radio transmitters and receivers. After deliberating over Pocket Wizards and Radio Poppers, I was being continually put off by the price, and then I came across the Phottix Odin.
The product came up in my news feed in Twitter, from the well respected photographer and blogger, Michael Zelbel, who had been trialling the product for a while. What I saw shocked me, not only because of what it can do, and the way it does it, but because of the price too.
I’ve had experience with both Pocket Wizards and Radio Poppers in the past, and I’ve enjoyed using them, but they have been a little bit difficult to control at times, as they’re somewhat unintuitive. Because all three of these products use radio waves, then there’s much less interference in the signal than you get with infrared, because it doesn’t rely on line-of-sight to work. The distance that it works with does vary depending on the weather, and location, but they will work over 100 meter if you want them to. And if other people are using the transmitter as you, you have 4 channels to choose from.
The product in question is the Phottix Odin, and they are by far the most intuitive flash triggers that I’ve used to date. The transmitter has a screen on it, and that’s the secret to the product’s success in my opinion, because it allows you to change the power of three different groups, from one place, with the click of a couple of buttons. The whole interface is so easy to use that I didn’t even have to read the manual, which is a rarity for flash gear with me. So with the most basic setup, where all the flashes are on manual, you can be in once place, and experiment with different lighting as much as you like, with ease.
These triggers also handle much more complicated, ETTL setups, where you want to use ratios over two groups of flashes, to control the amount of light that each flash group is outputting. This isn’t typically the easiest thing to do, but with the screen on the transmitter, again, it’s as simple as a click of a few buttons. The addition of the screen is refreshing after using other products, and it makes you wonder why it’s not been done sooner.
For those that don’t know, ETTL stands for Evaluative Through The Lens, and what is does is utilize a pre-flash to measure the light reflected back from the subject. You won’t actually see two flashes because when the shutter is pressed, a very short flash burst is fired from the unit and the metering system reads the results, then makes the necessary adjustments, hence the name, evaluative through the lens. This technology used to be much harder to transmit through radio-waves, which is why it’s so expensive, but Phottix Odin have found a way to make it much cheaper.
So far, we’ve covered manually setting the flash power, and using ETTL, but you can also use both at the same time. Because you have three groups on the transmitter, you can make adjustments to each one so that one group has less power, one has more, and one has full power, as decided by the ETTL metering. The biggest selling point of this product for me, is the ETTL metering, and the more you’ll learn about it, the more you’ll begin to see it’s worth.
I don’t know about you, but I use high speed sync a lot of the time with my flash, because it allows me to shoot at much higher speeds, for when I want to try some low key photography, or I’m shooting in the sun, but want a wider aperture for a shallower DoF. Another advantage of this product is that you can still use high speed sync (HSS) with your flashes, even over the radio transmission. This is something that cheap transmitters which you see on eBay, can’t do. For those of you that don’t know, HSS is a continuous, and much faster oscillation of light, rather than a single flash, and this allows the flash to operate much faster, allowing you to shoot at higher speeds. It will still appear to be a single flash though, because it happens so fast. You can also use rear curtain sync, which is available from the same button.
The product is only available in America, but you can find it on eBay in other countries, such as the UK, where I live. I’ll also say that I’ve not had any problems the miss-fires at all so far, which is always a possibility when you take a product which used radio waves that are designed to be used in another country. The product seems to be very reliable indeed.
There is one downside for some of the readers on this site, and that’s that the product only works with Canon so far, but it will be coming to Nikon within the next few months. If you’re thinking of upgrading your flash transmitters, or buying one for the first time, then I would strongly suggest this product, and even if you’re using Nikon, I would probably wait for the Nikon version to be released, because the price really can’t be beat. You can pick up the transmitter, and two receivers for only $429.95. If you were to buy the Pocket Wizard’s inferior version, it would cost you more like $637.00. You can also buy the parts one at a time, so if you’re only looking for one receiver for now, click here: Single receiver.
There’s plenty of videos cropping up on the internet of the product being used, but my favourite has to be Michael Zelbel’s own, and the video that convinced me to buy the product. Check it out if you’ve still not made up your mind.