My Phottix Odin flash triggers just arrived, and oh, man, it’s like Christmas came early at my house.
Finally a gear-maker has delivered all the features I’ve been wanting in a flash trigger for years!
- TTL Metering? – Check
- High Speed Sync? – Check
- Second Curtain Sync? – Check
- Manual Power Settings? – Check
- Multiple Groups? – Check
- Backward Compatibility with cheaper triggers? - Check
- Super Low Price? – Well, um… six out of seven ain’t bad
Seriously, I can’t think of anything that is missing from these triggers. Technology has finally caught up to my fantasy wish list.
So, why is this trigger a big deal?
First of all, it’s one of only a few TTL triggers on the market. The others, including the Pocketwizard Flex System, and the RadioPoppers, are ridiculously expensive, and in the case of PocketWizard, known to have some radio interference issues with Canon flashes.
So the Odin is newsworthy with its lower price point, rock-solid reliability, well-built construction, and user-friendly operation. (I managed to set it up and test it without even consulting the manual.)
The price point looks even better when you consider the backward compatibility with older Phottix triggers, like the affordable Strato and Strato II Multi. (You can see my previous reviews of those triggers by clicking those links).
Of course, any flashes attached to the older Strato series receivers don’t transmit TTL information. But frankly, for me, this is not a problem. Because in a given lighting setup, I typically want only my main and fill lights in TTL mode, while my rim lights or background lights are locked down in manual mode anyway.
So the Odin gives me a perfect way to use the heap of Strato receivers that I already own—to power my manual back lights, while using my Odin receivers for the front lights in TTL mode.
I set up a little test rig just to illustrate this mix-and-match scenario for you. The moment I un-boxed the new Odin, I attached my two Odin receivers to two TTL Canon flashes (for the main light), and then I put some older Strato and Strato II receivers on two additional Canon flashes in manual mode, to serve as back/rim lights.
In other words, I’m using four different types of Canon flashes, and three different types of Phottix triggers, all at once. How’s that for mix-and-match?
See the nearby image of my first test firing of the four flashes, on my kitchen counter. Straight out of the box, first shot, and everything is firing. I love it when stuff just works!
It was raining outside, so I couldn’t do the “overpowering the sun with high-speed sync” shot I had in mind, so, instead I dragged the lighting setup into my living room and bribed my daughter to stand in for a few test shots.
You can see my lighting setup nearby, and the photo that resulted from it. (Mind you, this was not an attempt to create art, it was just me confirming that the gear works and that all the flashes and triggers were firing and doing what they are supposed to.)
It went perfectly, with no misfires, and accurate TTL metering on the subject in every shot. It just works.
The next day the weather cleared up, so I again bribed the offspring to stand for a few shots, this time out on the deck in bright sunlight. This was the test I wanted. Can I overcome the sun with a speedlight in High-Speed sync while using a wide aperture for backgrdound blur?
You bet I can. See the shot nearby. She is rim lighted by the sun. Note the blur on the buildings in the background from a f/4.5 aperture. That required a shutter speed of 1/1000. Try doing that with your manual flash triggers!
All right, you may be saying, but I could do that with the Canon or Nikon built-in wireless flash system. But you couldn’t. Not in this configuration. See my lighting setup shot.
From my shooting position, I was standing nearly beside my main light, too far forward for the flash to see a master’s signal. And the fill light was hidden behind a concrete wall!
With Canon or Nikon wireless, no line of sight means no communication. With the Odin, I don’t have to worry about line-of-sight between my master unit and my flashes.
Now I’m free to move around and put my lights wherever I like. This is liberation.
I think you can see now why I’m excited about these triggers.
The Odin is available for both Canon and Nikon, and early users are also reporting that the Odin works with many third-party flashes, but you’ll have to do your own research there, as Phottix makes no promises (and who can blame them?)
Now that I think about it, there is one thing Phottix left out of the Odin that would be handy. The infrared focus assist beam that you get with an on-camera Speedlite or a Canon ST-E2 transmitter can be a lifesaver in low-light situations. (Of course, that beam still shines from your remote TTL flash, but it won’t do much good if it’s firing into an umbrella.) For some shooters who do a lot of low-light work, that could be a problem.
But for me, even without that little feature, these are simply the best flash triggers I’ve ever seen.
P.S. If this techie stuff seems over your head—or beyond your budget—you might want to start with my beginner off-camera-flash course which teaches you the basics of how to get started with off-camera-flash on a shoestring budget.