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I'm looking for a remote flash trigger for my canon DSLR. I know that I'm going to hear Pocket Wizard or other similarly-priced options, but I'm looking for something a bit cheaper. At a minimum, I want the following:

  1. Cost less then $50.
  2. Can transmit the information the same as if I had the flash directly connected to my camera.
  3. I can later upgrade to a 2 strobe solution, or more, should I decide that one just isn't enough.
  4. It should work outdoors.

So, what can you recommend?

[EDIT]. I now know just how hard it is to get both 1 and the rest of them. As an alternate, I'd like the cheapest solution that meets 2-4.

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closed as off-topic by Matt Grum, TFuto, mattdm, MikeW, AJ Henderson Oct 2 at 18:25

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2  
The lack of #2 is a little scary at first, but after a few times you start to just get a feel for what it needs to be and then its just minor tweaks. Shooting in RAW means that if you're a little off its not the end of the world too. –  rfusca Jan 7 '11 at 15:00

5 Answers 5

up vote 7 down vote accepted

I use the Cactus V4 wireless triggers. They've been reliable for me and I use them both with hotshoe strobes and with Alien Bee's B800 studio strobes. Delivery, from Hong Kong, to Canada only took a couple of days and at the time I bought the transmitter with receiver plus two additional receivers.

Now, bear in mind, these will not transmit the TTL information. As far as I know, you're into the more expensive options if you want that functionality. For me, anyways, it hasn't been an issue as I just manually set the strobes.

Note, based on your edit, the same source for the Cactus triggers also has a more expensive product ($150 vs $40) with TTL support for Canon and Nikon and the receivers have a PC port for bigger strobes. Now, I can't tell you anything about them since I shoot Pentax and these don't apply. However, if they're at least as good as the Cactus general triggers they'll do okay, though I seriously doubt up to the level of PocketWizard.

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If we're talking about a per-unit price, then the trigger that meets all four requirements is the Yongnuo YN-622C. They cost roughly $85/pair (as of the time of this writing). They communicate the full hotshoe protocol, but do require that your flash is menu commandable (e.g., a 580EXII, not a 580EX), since it's the camera menu/flash control interface that's being used to change the settings on the flash. You also either need a Digic4 or later body, or the YN-622C-TX transmitter unit to send settings via either the camera menu interface or the transmitter's UI.

In addition to communicating eTTL-II, HSS, power settings, custom settings, zoom, etc. etc., the YN-622C triggers are also capable of "supersync" ("hypersync" in PocketWizard terminology, aka "tail sync"), which allows for faster-than-max-sync shutter speeds with manual lights by firing the flash early at full power, and then lighting the frame using the "tail" of the burst where the illumination falloff is more even.

CliveyBoy's "The Other YN-622C User Guide" has most of the details about the YN-622C function and compatibilty with cameras, flashes, and studio strobes.

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The CowboyStudio flash triggers got my attention because they are (a) cheap ($26 for trigger and one receiver, $22 for extra receivers) and (b) highly rated by users. You have to run the flash on manual, but the transmitter is on the hot shoe, they're wireless (not line of sight), and support four channels. There have been some complaints about the cheap plastic in the hotshoe base, but given the price...

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+1 I've been using this one for quite some time and I'm really happy with it. It's indeed cheap plastic but it performs really well. –  Andy M May 30 at 8:07

I don't think you're going to get #1 (Cost less then $50) in combination with #2 (Can transmit the information the same as if I had the flash directly connected to my camera.) The PocketWizard devices that send the full digital flash protocol information don't seem to be available in some cheap chinese knock-off version (yet, at least).

You could go with flash units that use Canon's optical wireless protocol (using the built-in flash as a controller on models 40D/50D/60D and up), but that leaves #4 iffy. (Can work, depending on the circumstances.)

I know that's not what you wanted to hear, but there it is.

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I'll be very, very surprised if you can find something that meets #2 and the rest of the requirements.

For cheap off camera flash solution I have the CTR-301P Flash Sync Trigger Remote Control . It has three-way triggering - radio, optical slave and PC-Sync. I used it indoors and it was reliable, and undoubtedly inexpensive.

EDIT: After reading your edit, letting go #1: Have a look at the RadioPopper PX system that gives you full E-TTL wireless control.

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