Thursday, February 23, 2012
RadioPoppers JrX: Long-term update
'Til the wheels fall off. The first JrX transmitter I purchased.
Here's the medium-term update.
Here's the short-term update.
I've been using these for a long time, since late 2009. More than two years later, I'm still in love with the RadioPopper JrX triggers.
If you use AlienBees/White Lighting strobes whether it's their monoblocks or pack/head combo, the power to control light from the trigger (on-camera) is priceless. I simply can not going back to setting the power from the back of the strobe.
And if it weren't for the existence of the Paul C. Buff CyberSyncs and Cyber Commander, I think there would have been some partnership between PCB and RadioPopper that would incorporate the RadioPopper JrX triggers into the AlienBees strobes.
Or at least there should be.
For me, I have only needed more than 3 channels of lights once or twice in my entire career. I rarely use more than 1 or 2 lights as it stands. And I understand that's an objective need. But this is an objective review. Furthermore I have never needed the precision of 1/10th stop digital increments that the Cyber Commander & Einstein might offer. Besides, running to the back of the AlienBees/White Lighting strobe only provides you an analog adjustment of power anyway.
Being able to dial the power from the camera has been critical for my development as a photographer. The obvious benefits are that I can dial in proper exposure much faster. But the intangibles of this reality are priceless. I can now develop greater rapport with the model and break her flow much less often than if I were to run back and forth between the light and my shooting position. I can provide greater flexibility to my models' poses and range of motion now that I know I can knock down power (if they move too close to the light), or bump up the exposure (if they move too far away). Such "ad hoc" power adjustments have allowed me to shoot more fluidly in difficult lighting scenarios.
Especially with multiple light setups. Things get a lot more complicated with balancing multiple light outputs.
Do the JrX's have flaws. Of course! I wish the battery cover (slider) were better made. I wish I didn't operate on CR123 batteries (though I use rechargeable ones so it's not a big deal anymore). I wish there were 5 channels (just in case) instead of 3. I wish they never misfired, though statistically I've had roughly 99+% success rate. I wish my workshop students didn't manage to break the first trigger by turning the dial too hard (you can fault RadioPopper for that though). I do wish that RadioPopper as a company was a little more inclined to help me with the repair of the trigger unit and had better customer service like Paul C. Buff. I wish I didn't have to velcro the JrX units to the side of my PCB units (but as with most receivers you have to attach them somehow). I wish canceling slave syncing on the PCB units were more elegant than using a dummy audio jack plug (though I think this is actually a PCB complaint and not a JrX complaint!).
Are the CyberSyncs & Cyber Commander better? I don't know. My inclination is that they don't offer the adjustment speed that an an analog dial provides. I'm sure they're much more accurate though.
Are the PocketWizards better? I don't know. I think the PocketWizard III's are sexy, but still no power adjustment.
I'm sure eventually something better will come out. I know that the poverty wizards (like the "Cacti" that I still have) are getting better and better. Eventually there will be a new "paradigm" trigger!