I've read a lot about the combinations of pocket wizards and alien bees, but most of the threads I've read have to do with the PW2.

I'd like to be able to control the flash itself from the camera/PW+3 on the camera. Do I need to get the PW AC9? If I were to get the AC9, do I need the PW FlexTT5 to go with it? or can I use the PW+3 with the AC9?

If I don't get the Pocket Wizard AC9, and connect the PW+3 via sync cable, I won't be able to control the light output of the flash, correct?

I hope I'm not just rambling, but I specifically just purchased the AlienBees B800 (2 of them) and a set of PW+3s (I know I'd probably need 2 more of the pocket wizards, but I'm just testing for now). All of which will be controlled from 2 Canon 5DMkIIIs.


2 Answers 2


The Plus units (I, II, III, IV, and X) are all manual-only triggers. They cannot be used for power control of a remote light, as they only pass along the sync signal. The Plus III and IV allow for group on/off, but not power control.

For power control, you'd need TTL triggers (Mini TT1 and two FlexTT5s), and for each non-TTL light, like a B800, you'd also need an AC9 adapter for the FlexTT5. This is expensive.

But it's not the only solution you have for remote power control from the camera.

There are also the RadioPopper JrX and Jr2 triggers (the receivers can control the ABs by the RJ11 data port).

And, of course, Buff's own CyberSync triggers: the Cyber Commander transmitter and the CSR+ or CSRB+ receivers. Which are built specifically to work with Alien Bees, White Lightnings, or Zeus units via the RJ11 data port; the Einsteins have their own (cheaper) plug-in unit, which gives you the most control. Quoting from the Buff website:

Cyber Commander™ allows control of parameters from the camera position, including the status of recycle beepers, slaves, modeling lamps, and even power adjustment. It enables manual bracketing of individual lights or a group of lights in precise 1/10f digital steps, while automatically updating the meter reading and power levels. For setups containing lights with different wattsecond ratings and model lamp wattages, the Cyber Commander™ will adjust proportionally, allowing you to maintain deadly accurate what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) preview.

Granted, all this is going to be more expensive than manual-only triggers, but also a lot more convenient. It's up to you if the additional cost is worth it.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Great info! and stupidly, I was unaware that the pocket wizards did not have any more control besides zones and frequency. Thank you for all of that information and detailed explanation about how many of what I will need. \$\endgroup\$
    – ntgCleaner
    Commented Mar 13, 2016 at 2:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ntgCleaner, triggers have proliferated like mad in the last ten years, so it's hard to keep up. A good resource is Flash Havoc. \$\endgroup\$
    – inkista
    Commented Mar 13, 2016 at 2:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ It looks like the Cyber Commander + the CSR+ is the same price as a 2 pack of pocket wizards (minus the shipping if purchasing on amazon). I've canceled my order of the Pocket Wizards and went straight for the cyber commander. Thank you for all of the great info! \$\endgroup\$
    – ntgCleaner
    Commented Mar 13, 2016 at 15:10

I shoot Nikon, but I did a bunch of research into Pocketwizards for the B800 since I have 4 of them. The AC9 is designed to work in conjunction with the FlexTTF5 and, in fact, is powered from it and so cannot be used by itself. The combined unit is then controlled and triggered by the MiniTT1/FlexTT5 attached to your camera.

Now, you can trigger the FlexTT5 from the Plus III, but you lose much of the benefit of being able to control the flash units remotely that you get with AC9 unit. Just make sure they're all on the same channel. If that's okay, then I would save the money and go with less expensive triggers that can be attached to the 3.5mm jack on the AB800 to be honest. I've used older Cactus triggers for years with no issue.

  • \$\begingroup\$ So, there are cheap receivers that work with the Pocket Wizard? I assume, as you've said, you can just get a cheap receiver and use the sync cable. Do you happen to know what kind of receiver? \$\endgroup\$
    – ntgCleaner
    Commented Mar 12, 2016 at 18:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not work with PW, instead of PW. Basic trigger support can be done cheaper than PW. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joanne C
    Commented Mar 12, 2016 at 18:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ I see, so should I cancel the PW order and find another solution? I'd like to be able to control the power of the flash via the camera, but if this would get too expensive, then I can forget about it. \$\endgroup\$
    – ntgCleaner
    Commented Mar 12, 2016 at 18:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ The combo from PW that I described will do it, but it's going to be more expensive than your strobes. I'd suggest Cactus or Yongnuo (on phone, so you may need to Google). \$\endgroup\$
    – Joanne C
    Commented Mar 12, 2016 at 18:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.