LPA Design is prepping for release the PocketWizard PLUS II, a replacement for the entry-level PLUS wireless radio remote that melds transmitting and receiving functions into a single unit while also beefing up its usability in remote camera + strobe installations.
The PocketWizard PLUS II includes the following key changes:
Transceiver functionality, with automatic real-time switching between transmitter and receiver modes
A new chipset enables the unit to alternate between sending signals and receiving signals with effectively no switching delay. The actual time it takes the unit to switch, says the product's lead designer Jim Clark, is 10 microseconds (1/100th of a millisecond), which means the switching can occur with no perceptible trigger delay and no drop in the maximum shutter speed sync relative to the PLUS unit it replaces.
The PLUS II determines its operating mode by analysing the status of the miniphone jacks, hot shoe contact and test button. By default, it's a receiver. If the PLUS II senses a triggering event - for example, a sync pulse from the camera's hot shoe - it quickly switches to transmitter mode, emits a transmit signal, then just as quickly reverts back to receiver mode. Because of the rapid switching speed there is no performance impairment; like a PLUS transmitter (with the newest firmware installed), a PLUS II sending out transmit signals can keep pace when connected to a camera that's firing at up to 12 fps, even though the PLUS II is actually setting itself back to receive mode between frames. The bottom line, says Clark, is that the PLUS II's automatic mode switching just works.
For certain situations where auto-switching isn't desirable, it's possible to lock the unit in receiver mode, thereby disabling the transceiver capabilities. For example, if a PLUS II is connected to a camera via a motor drive cable as part of a remote shooting setup, and the PLUS II is parked in the camera's hot shoe, setting the unit's Transmit Mode switch to Local will force the unit to act as a receiver only. It will then ignore the sync pulse coming through the hot shoe when the camera fires in response to a signal from a distant PocketWizard transmitter.
In essence, the PLUS II embraces the transceiver functionality of its more-expensive MultiMAX sibling, but extends this functionality to include automatic switching between transmitter and receiver modes, though the automatic switching can be partially overridden.
Automatic signal relay in remote camera + strobe configurations
|Switch Hitter: The PocketWizard PLUS II transceiver (Photo courtesy LPA Design)|
With the PLUS, triggering a remote camera that is set to sync with PocketWizard-connected strobes requires two PLUS units at the remote camera: one to receive the trigger signal from afar, and another to fire the strobes. The PLUS II can do this with a single unit and with minimal configuration effort. To accomplish this with the PLUS II:
- Place the PLUS II in the remote camera's hot shoe, connect a motor drive cable and make sure the Transmit Mode is not set to Local.
- Set the PocketWizards' channels. For example, if the PLUS II in the remote camera's hot shoe is on channel 2, set the PocketWizard that will be used to trigger the camera from a distance to channel 2 as well. Then, set any PocketWizards connected to strobes to one channel higher, which is channel 3 in this example.
- Commence firing with the PocketWizard transmitter. When the remote camera's PLUS II receives a trigger signal it trips the shutter on the camera. The PLUS II then scans for a sync pulse from the hot shoe (or, alternatively, from a cable connected to the camera's PC socket). If it detects one, it immediately sends out a signal to fire the strobes. In this example, the signal coming in from the distant PocketWizard travels on channel 2, the signal going out to the strobes travels on channel 3.
A PLUS II in PLUS clothing
The remainder of the PLUS II carries over mostly unchanged from the PLUS, including the earlier unit's dimensions, non-removable antenna, thumbwheel hot shoe lock, AA battery power, 1600+ foot range specification, 1/250 sync speed (1/500 with leaf shutters) and four channels. Which, as before, are the same four frequencies as channels 1-4 on the PocketWizard Classic and MultiMAX (the PLUS II is compatible with all earlier PocketWizards when set to a common channel).
Clark indicates that the PLUS II's design allows for greater flexibility in the sort of functionality additions that can be made through firmware updates, though he's tight-lipped about what the company plans to change going forward.
The PocketWizard PLUS II is slated to hit dealer shelves in the third quarter of 2006. Pricing is expected to be about the same, or slightly more than, than the typical recent selling price for a single PLUS receiver unit. Both the PLUS transmitter and receiver will be replaced in the PocketWizard lineup by the PLUS II. As of this writing, the PocketWizard web site hasn't been updated with information on the PLUS II.
• Changed ship date for PLUS II based on updated information from LPA Design (April 26, 2006)