How to remotely trigger a Nikon camera using a PocketWizard FlexTT5 and PocketWizard MiniTT1

Steve Hooker (AUS) successfully clears the Olympic Pole Vaulting qualifying height, reigniting his passion to defend his Olympic gold medal. (Photographed on remote Nikon D3s + Nikkor 16mm fisheye and PocketWizard FlexTT5; fired by Nikon D4 + PocketWizard MiniTT1 (ISO 64000, 1/800 sec @ f/2.8)

So here’s the deal… I have spent many nights on hotel room floors with My Nikon cameras and PocketWizards going through hours of trial and error, mainly for two reasons.

1. To remote trigger different Nikon cameras using a number of triggering systems, with the main objective to fire a second remote camera at the exact same time as the camera in-hand fires

2. To Hypersync a number of flashes to obtain full power flash at up to 1/2000th sec

Here in this post I am going to give one of those secrets away… how to remote trigger a Nikon camera using a ‘master camera’… and it is not a simple as many may think. I had it all figured out when I was using PocketWizard’s MultiMax transceivers, however the move to the ‘brilliant’ TT1 and TT5′s offered new challenges. On the positive side, high-speed-sync and hypersync became available and additionally I can utilise my entire Nikon creative lighting system, including full manual control of multiple off camera flashes. But on the down-side, the TTL metering seemed to create massive complications in using the ‘Mini’ radio transmitters and ‘TT5′ transceivers as simple triggers to fire remote cameras etc.

After many hours of trying to figure out the nuances, and with many questions still unanswered, I can now present to you a step by step guide for triggering a ‘remote camera’ using a ‘master camera’

Step 1. Adjust your settings on your remote camera to suit. I prefer to use full manual exposure if I am able and often I am using a fisheye lens and so also prefer to manually focus… this avoids the complication of the triggering system activating the remote camera AF system and therefore the camera not firing at the exact moment you require or becoming out of sync with your master camera… so ideally pre-focus the remote camera where you expect to need your focal point (BONUS TIP… gaffa tape your focus ring to avoid vibration, stray birds, clumsy athletes, stupid art directors or random bumps and knocks shifting the focus of a camera that you have placed in a stupidly-hard-to-get-to-location) Should you require an automated exposure setting and/or Auto-focus tracking etc, then this system will also work but not quite as instantaneous and affective.

Step 2. Adjust your remote camera’s continuous firing speed to match that of your ‘master camera’… (e.g. Master camera = 9 fps / then remote camera should = 9 fps) … this means you won’t end up out of sync with your firing sequence. If you only require a single frame… then your life is easy.

Step 3. Plug your PocketWizard Mini TT1 into your computer and open the PocketWizard Utility. Within the Pocket Wizard Utility, select the settings tab and then select either Configuration 1 or Configuration 2 (These settings refer to C1 and C2 on your PocketWizard Mini TT1 and so you can leave one Configuration as your default flash/strobe setting whilst setting the other as a remote camera/trigger setting.)

Step 4. Select the ‘Misc’ tab and tick the box for ‘Basic Trigger’… this will now override your TTL settings and ensure the PocketWizard Mini TT1 simply fires as a simple radio-transmitter. THIS IS IMPORTANT (Should you not choose ‘Basic Trigger, then your PocketWizard Mini TT1 will still fire your remote camera… BUT only up to your max standard flash/strobe sync speed (1/250th on Nikon D3s or D4) as the PocketWizard Mini TT1 will then transmit a high-speed-sync signal that will not fire your remote camera.)

Step 5. Select the ‘Channel’ tab and choose a channel you would like to transmit on (You will notice the Control TL Channel is greyed out… as you are using your PocketWizard Mini TT1 now as a basic trigger.

Step 6. Click on ‘Apply Changes’ at the bottom of the page and wait for the PocketWizard Utility to eject and then re-mount your PocketWizard Mini TT1

Step 7. Unplug the PocketWizard Mini TT1 and fix to the hotshoe of your ‘master camera’

Step 8. Plug you PocketWizard FlexTT5 into your computer and open the PocketWizard Utility Application.

Step 9.  Select the ‘Settings’ tab and then select either ‘Configuration 1′ or ‘Configuration 2′… this should be the same Configuration as the one you adjusted on your PocketWizard MiniTT1

Step 10. Select the ‘Misc’ tab and tick the box for ‘Basic Trigger’… THIS IS IMPORTANT as your Pocket wizard will confuse itself trying to use TTL otherwise and will play funny-buggers (technical term) and your remote camera will either not fire, will fire after a few seconds delay, or will only re-fire once the camera’s metering system is turned off) … not much use of photographing sports or wildlife.

Step 11. Select the ‘Channel’ tab and choose a channel to ‘Recieve’ on (Obviously this must be the same channel as the PocketWizard Mini TT1 is transmitting on)… NOTE… make sure you adjust the ‘Receive’ channel at the bottom, not the ‘Transmit’ channel at the top. (You will notice the Control TL Channel is greyed out in both ‘Transmit’ and ‘Receive’ mode … as you are using your PocketWizard FlexTT5 now as a basic transceiver.

Step 12. IMPORTANT: Fix the PocketWizard FlexTT5 to the hotshoe of the ‘remote camera’ (I do not know why this is necessary as it should now be acting as a basic receiver with no TTL control … but trust me – DO IT! if you want the remote camera to work)

Step 13. Plug the appropriate PocketWizard camera cable (For Nikon D3s US CAT # 802-454) … 10 Pin remote cable for most modern Nikons (if you are electrically minded you can even make your own) into the P1 socket on your PocketWizard FlexTT5 (funnily enough it has a little picture of a camera next to it) and plug the other end into your camera’s 10-pin socket…. make sure your screw the cable into the camera.

Step 14.  Turn both cameras on and fire your ‘master camera’…. your ‘remote camera’ should fire at exactly the same time.

Now go and have fun.

Josh Sheehan going stratospheric in his own backyard in Western Australia. (Remote D300s + 10mm fisheye and PocketWizard MultiMax, fired by Nikon D3s + PocketWizard MultiMax .

About inciteimages

A magazine recently profiled my life and pretty much hit the nail on the head: Australian adventure photographer (and occasional journalist) Mark Watson is a liar. He suggests his job is “not so glamorous,” but drop him an email and his ‘out of office auto response’ will inform he’s heli-skiing New Zealand or trekking Patagonia. In downtime he surfs and mountain bikes Sydney’s Northern Beaches or can be spied drinking café latte’s on the beachfront when he should be editing photos. He’s a Nikon Ambassador and Red Bull Australia’s No.1 photographer, and after a few Corona’s, admits, “I photograph cool people, in cool places, doing cool things!” Quickly followed by the disclaimer “It’s not always exciting…” But always said with a mischievous grin. View all posts by inciteimages

7 responses to “How to remotely trigger a Nikon camera using a PocketWizard FlexTT5 and PocketWizard MiniTT1

  • Paul Murat

    Great Article
    Just ordered a N90M-ACC-ND Pre-Trigger Motor Drive Cable
    This info will save me a lot of time
    Thanks for posting

  • inciteimages on Remote Camera Triggering | PocketWizard Blog | Radio Triggers for Photographers

    [...] inciteimages explains how Nikon shooters can do just that by publishing a post entitled “How to remotely trigger a Nikon camera using a PocketWizard FlexTT5 and PocketWizard MiniTT1.” Fourteen steps are outlined in the uncredited story. Presumably written by Mark Watson, an [...]

  • Joe Sankey

    I had a similar delayed-fire issue to what you describe in step 10 when trying to get my rig working the way I needed, and I did find a solution. Granted it’s not the solution I hoped I’d find, but it got me firing TTL at a normal rate. Essentially, I’ve got four flashes sitting on TT5s, and a TT5 on my D3, with a MultiMax in my hand. Initially, I had the TT5 on the camera acting as a relay – I needed it to both fire the camera via cable as well as triggering the other flashes. This is where I got the delay you described. Considering where I had all of this mounted (http://blog.pocketwizard.com/?p=3096), that was problematic when it came to timing.

    Solution? Add another radio (plus II works fine, in this case) mounted near enough to the camera to connect to the ACC cable. Instead of the TT5 on the camera trying to fire both the D3 and all of the flashes, I unplugged the ACC cable from the TT5 and plugged it into the Plus II.

    Now, I trigger the MM in my hand, which hits the P2, which fires the camera, causing the on-board TT5 to fire all four flashes synchronized with the camera in continuous low (or high, up to the threshold of the flashes’ batteries) all day long. Try it and let me know if that helps you out.

    Brilliant work, by the way.

  • Scott Hone

    Thanks! Finally got it working consistently. The idea works the same on my canons. For ages either it would work with the delay, or would not work at all. Could not easily figure out why. Also I never delved deeply into the pocket wizard software.

    I ended up breaking the little test button in my mini because I was pressing it so much trying to get the camera to fire remotely.

    Now I realise that this was the higher than max synching shutter speed (I think).

    Anyhow, works a treat.

    Lovely pictures too.
    Cheers,
    Scott

  • Ian Mathison

    Good article, thanks. Maybe Pocketwizard should put it on their support pages cos they’re just impossible whereas I got it all to work first time here.

    Cheers
    Ian

  • Andy Moss

    Mark, you’re an absolute star. Thanks so much for putting this information online. I was clearly a victim of Stage 10 funny-buggeryness. Damn you Joe Brady – you made it look so easy with your MultiMax and Plus IIIs!

  • Darren

    Thank you for the information it was a great help, I really appreciate it.
    Cheers

    Darren

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