Currently my AB800's have a built-in optical trigger, but still requires a flash to trigger them. I'd like to move to an all wireless setup. I also have the canon ST-E2 to pair with my Sigma 500 DG Super and Canon 580 EX II.

I'd like to use a wireless trigger system that will work with both my Alien Bee's and my Speedlites.

Money isn't necessarily an issue, assuming the triggers do what I need them to do.

8 Answers 8


My apologies for linking to Strobist all the time, but as it happens there is a recent post just about that. He lists PocketWizard Plus II Transceiver as the best and most reliable, followed by RadioPopper JrX, AlienBees CyberSyncs, and Elinchrom Skyports.

You also might want to check out RadioPopper PX, which looks like it might be able to trigger slave units for your Speedlites and AlientBees at the same time.

  • I found that useful, I have to say the most compelling point about the pocket wizards is AA batteries. The other cheaper options make use of annoying button cells (can you even get rechargeable button cells?) or CR123A batteries which might as well be button cells (I used to have a camera that used them). Feb 24, 2012 at 15:38
  • I rate the Yongnuo RF-603, they use AAA rather than AA but these are still convenient and rechargeables are readily available and can be charged by most chargers that support AA. I know the OP said money not necessarily an issue, but for what I use these for, they seem pretty reliable, and can double up as camera triggers etc too as they are transceivers Jun 18, 2014 at 10:56
  • @laurencemadill: The RF-603 has already been superseded by the RF-603 II: you can actually reach the on/off switch on the side of the unit when a flash is mounted up top; the sync voltage has increased from 12V to 250V, it has a locking ring, and it can be used on a non-Nikon/Canon hotshoe. Costs the same as the RF-603. And the YN-622 triggers use AAs.
    – inkista
    Jul 3, 2014 at 22:55
  • @inkista sounds good, thanks for the update, I'm tempted to buy the version II straight away. When I got mine I was aware they were likely to be upgraded but had no idea of the timescale so I just got them anyway. They're cheap enough so I can use my original ones as a remote shutter release Jul 10, 2014 at 10:28
  • Something worth noting, you say you will be using a Canon 580 EXII - these are known to emit a lot of radio frequency noise that can interfere with radio-based triggers, significantly reducing the trigger's wireless range. PocketWizard sell an RF shield to help with this, just to give you some idea... pocketwizard.com/products/other_gear/rf_shields
    – Darkhausen
    Mar 7, 2015 at 21:47

I think an updated answer is called for. :)

When integrating studio strobes with speedlights, there are two things to consider. Whether you want more control than manual-only triggers give you for either the strobes and/or the speedlights, and how robust you want the triggers to be.

Are there OEM/3rd party triggers to command the studio strobe?

Some studio strobes are manufactured by companies that also make triggers specifically for that family of strobes. And in some cases (Profoto, Paul Buff, etc.) these triggers can offer you remote control over the studio strobe power levels, and the ability to sync at shutter speeds above x-sync. Because the integrated power control of the studio strobe has to be built into the strobe, it's unlikely that any 3rd-part triggers can offer this function. However. That same power control may not be available with any speedlights, just as TTL triggers for speedlights probably can't control power for the studio strobes. It may come down to a one-or-the-other side trigger. Say, Paul Buff Cybersyncs with a Cyber Commander or Profotos with Air Remote TTL, but manual-only control of a 580EXII. Or you could sandwich a TTL trigger into the OEM triggering scheme and use two systems simultaneously. Or you could control both your strobes and your TTL OEM speedlights using systems like RadioPopper's Jr2 triggers, or PocketWizard's TTL triggers with an AC-3 zone controller and appropriate strobe adapters. Or maybe you really want TTL/HSS and integrated speedlights and studio strobes, so you're picking up a Phottix Indra and some Odin triggers; or going with the Godox X system of speedlights, bare bulb flashes, and studio strobes.

Also consider that many triggers for HSS/TTL only work for Canon and Nikon, and don't come in the mirrorless flavors. Some do. Think of future expansion not just of your lights, but also of your cameras. Are you going to shoot multiple systems or share with another photographer who shoots a different system?

3rd party manual trigger considerations

If you decide that you're happy walking up to any and all of your lights to make power adjustments, and manual triggers are OK for you, then any and all 3rd party triggers are liable to work equally as well as OEM triggers--and they may be easier to use to integrate the studio strobes with your speedlights, and it just comes down to reliability and cost. If you're doing pro work and need rock-solid reliability, then PocketWizard Plus units are liable to be worth looking at. Triggers, obviously, are many and varied which is why you came looking for an answer to this question, but this is also one area where the technology and feature sets move swiftly and models are always on the churn.

Keeping Up-to-Date

Looking at the original 2010-2011 answers here, nearly every one of the trigger models mentioned has been "refreshed" (PocketWizard came out with the PlusX, RadioPopper now has the Jr2, and the Cactus V5 and Yongnuo RF-603IIs are the latest cheapie manual triggers), and the cheap 3rd party TTL triggers (Phottix Odin, Pixel King, Yongnuo YN-622) have hit the scene. Over the next year or so, manual triggers with remote power control appear to be the coming thing. The recent release of the Cactus V6 triggers and RF60 speedlight, and announcement of the Yongnuo YN-560-TX transmitter for remote power control of a YN-560iii to be released this summer are probably just the beginning of this wave. In the few days since initially writing this answer, I've already had to update it for the RP Jr2; if you're reading this post-2014, possibly every model in this paragraph will have been refreshed.

This is one place where you can't expect someone to just hand you the answers; you'll have to do your own research to keep up with the times. Some great sites to use for this are:

If you do find other trigger recommendations--check the date on that recommendation. If it's more than a year or two old, I'd highly recommend doing additional research. This is one area of camera technology that's moving very swiftly.

See also: What should I look for in a wireless flash trigger for a home studio?


I have some of the "eBay" triggers that I bought a year ago. I found them at mpex.com (Midwest Photo Exchange). They are the Cactus V2's and are $30 for a receiver and transmitter. I feel like it was a good deal, considering the price of a PocketWizard. They obviously are not as reliable as the pro equipment but for an amateur like myself, they work great. They miss sometimes, but it is rare enough that I don't care or even think about it.

  • 1
    I owned a set of Cactus V2 and discarded them. At home they worked quite ok, but on several locations they tended to fire the flash without reason, probably due to electro signals of other electronic devices.
    – Sam
    Jul 23, 2010 at 13:14
  • 1
    I own (and use) Cactus V2s, and have experienced similar issues: they misfire maybe 1/4 of the time, and they wouldn't work at all in my church (which, I suspect, is the fault of the wireless microphones…). HOWEVER, one transmitter an three receivers cost less than $100, so I can't really complain — I got them to experiment with off-camera flash, and they let me do just that. Jul 26, 2010 at 2:54
  • Just wanted to add that they now offer a Cactus v4 set. I haven't tried any cactus products, so I can't comment on their quality. gadgetinfinity.com/cactus-wireless-flash-trigger-set-v4.html Dec 6, 2011 at 21:24

Or just go with the ultra-cheap YongNuo RF-602, which give you a lot of bang for the buck. I own two sets and find them good enough for serious work.

Before I owned a set of Cactus V2 Trigger (one sender, two receivers), and these gave me a lot of problems:
Sometimes they did not trigger the flash.
Sometimes they triggered the flash without me taking a picture (leaving me with a drained flash when I needed it).

The Cactus V4 are reported to be better, but I do not own these, so I cant tell from personal experience.

  • Is that one of those ebay triggers? Do you have personal experience with it?
    – Alan
    Jul 22, 2010 at 20:41
  • Well, you can get them on ebay, but some retailers offer them, too. And there are a lot other triggers on ebay, too. I own two senders and five receivers and use them a lot, not only for firing my flashes but as remote trigger for my cam, too. For flash they work great, for remote triggering the cam they could be better. They tend to take two or three pictures with one press, since timing sensitivity is not that good.
    – Sam
    Jul 23, 2010 at 6:17
  • Yongnuo triggers are absolutely the best bang for your buck. ~$30 or so will get you a two transmitters/receivers (each module is both). I have two sets so I can fire up to three external flashes (four if my T2i could trigger flashes). Flashes sync up to a shutter speed of about 200-250, and I haven't had a single misfire on medium power just holding down the shutter (4fps I think). Good up to 100yards (haven't tested this myself, but there are plenty of reviewers who have). In summation, I don't think it's necessary to get PocketWizards. Too expensive, and Yongnuo 603's get the job done.
    – Jon
    Dec 8, 2011 at 1:30

I've previously used Cactus V2s which were good enough but occasionally failed in front of people which makes you look bad and gets you in a flap. Not good.

I've just ordered a set of Cactus V5. If you remember to give me a nudge next week, I'll let you know how I get on with them. There's no TTL stuff, but the range and reliability is supposedly improved. Also, each unit is a transceiver which means you only need one spare (if you care about spare kit).

Anyway, something to consider perhaps: http://www.gadgetinfinity.com/cactus-wireless-flash-transceiver-v5-duo.html

UPDATE: They're amazing. Love them.


I use Elinchrom Skyports, but if money is not an issue then go for PocketWizards.


For a cheaper option try Phottix.

Good news is they work with pocket wizards and have a hot shoe.

Strobist also has done a review on them. http://strobist.blogspot.com/2010/06/pocket-wizard-compatible-remotes-are.html?m=1


I have a set of RadioPopper JrX and for my application they work great.

The only problem that I found is that the compartment holding the battery was very flimsy and the tab broke right away. Other then that, they have a good distance and good reliability.

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