tundracamper 1:55pm, 7 December 2012
So, I previously had the RadioPopper JrX system but was not happy with the coarse adjustability with the knobs. It seemed in some cases a very small turn of the knob would make a big change in the strobe output. Also, it was difficult to simultaneously increase all the groups by the same amount.

I then upgraded to the RadioPopper PX system. I like having AutoFP, TTL, as well as manual adjustability. HOWEVER, when I am in all manual mode, I hate having a large flash on top of the camera. I also have an SU-800, but it only allows 1 full stop of adjustability on each group in manual mode. Using the on-camera flash only allows two groups.

I am now thinking about moving over completely to the PW Flex system (it’s only money!). The small mini and AC3 on top of the camera really appeals to me. The ability to be able to adjust each group with a small knob in 1/3 increments also appeals to me, plus the ability to quickly turn off certain groups. I would also retain AutoFP and gain HSS.

Is the AC3 adjustability with SB-800s and SB-900s pretty good in terms of the 1/3 stops? It doesn’t have to be exact, but a full stop with each click would not be good. I am also wondering about the reliability with the above flashes. The camera would be a D300 or D700.

Any advice or suggestions before I change AGAIN would be appreciated. (PS. I despise how the PX attaches to the flash, using either the large bracket or velcro, so the shoe mounted PW system also appeals to me).
Rosko2 5 years ago
I switched to the PW FLEX system for pretty much the same reasons as you. I don't have an sb-800, but I do run sb-900's, sb-910's and Paul C Buff Einstens with the MC2 module with my mini and AC3 on camera and love it. It's very reliable and the 1/3 stop increments are precise. This is all with a D300, D700 and D800. All three cameras give me the same results. I don't think you'd be disappointed.
Photo Engineer 5 years ago
I love my AC3, and it's the reason I spent the money on the PW system. Just last weekend I shot some Christmas portraits of some neighbor's kids. (not the same shoot as my epic failure documented in "OT: I botched a shoot..." :-)

The family had two places in their home that I thought would be great for pictures, so I set up an SB-900 and umbrella at each spot--one on AC3 group A, the other on C. My fill was an SB700 that I carried with me that I just set on the floor and fired at the ceiling at the back of the room, set on group B.

With this setup, I could quickly shoot in one place with A ON and C OFF, adjusting the power with the dials quickly. Then, without wasting any of the valuable kids' attention span time, run over to the Christmas tree and flip off group A and turn on group C with physical switches (way faster for me than menus).

ALL of that could have been done optically with my pop-up or with an on-camera master flash, but having those physical switches and dials just makes everything so much quicker for me.

Being able to change from iTTL to manual flash with a physical switch right on the AC3 is also sweet... Around the Christmas tree, the kids were moving all over quickly, so using iTTL worked acceptably. But for when they're sitting down stationary, switching to manual and dialing in the manual power is a breeze.

I must say that I have had a few missed triggers, but have had much better luck lately by doing this:

1) Absolutely positively follow PWs recommendations for "Top to bottom" power: Turn on in order:

a) Flash
b) PW Receiver
c) PW Transmitter
d) Camera

2) I leave the receiver antennas folded down in close quarters (in a small room) but do extend them when in an auditorium. Seems to work better for me. YMMV

3) Update your firmware!

It's a bit irritating to ever have missed triggers with such expensive triggers when my old, cheap (all manual) Yongnuo's were so solid. But I've had far better luck following lately using the 3 steps above. Now, if I have a flash issue, it's more often than not a recycle or overheating delay.

I never tried RPs so I can't compare, but I've been really loving my PWs+AC3. I have read far less favorable reviews on this group, though, so hopefully someone will chime in with issues I didn't mention.
camcleat 5 years ago
Another happy PW Flex + AC3 user. I'm not using it with the flashes you mentioned, but too have found the adjustments to be spot on and the system reliably triggers.

Well worth the money, in my opinion.
Jerry P. H. 5 years ago
When I first received my RT-32CTL module for my Sekonic meter, I did some quick testing. There are times that PW tells you to fire off a test shot before metering, which I never did and 95% of the shots still reflected the changes accurately. I bet the errors where they were off a touch were entirely my fault, but it was still surprisingly accurate.

I have every confidence that when I crank it up by a 3rd of a stop, it's going to be a third. The system just works and works very well. I shot all Nikon, but I presume that the Canon versions work just as nice.
De Vil PRO 5 years ago
Count me in ;) very happy with the performance & reliability of the Flex & AC3 units, Canon user :)
Photo Engineer 5 years ago
The PW docs definitely recommend firing a first test shot after powering everything up... I don't recall my first shot ever being significantly different than my second, though. :)

As far as I'm concerned, it has been a worthwhile investment.
tundracamper 5 years ago
It's a bit irritating to ever have missed triggers with such expensive triggers when my old, cheap (all manual) Yongnuo's were so solid.

I would concur. However, I have had the occasional missed shot with the RP PX system. It doesn't happen that often, but it does happen. I think that there is just so much more communication going on with CLS-type remote control than with just simple triggers (PWII/III, etc). I did not realize the AC3 was only six stops, but I guess that makes sense with +/- 3 stops.

Thanks for all the info.
BobPetUK PRO 5 years ago
Yes, I use SB900s, SB800s, and P/W Flex TT5, Mini TT1 and AC3. Completely happy with them. Never had any problems.
Groups Beta