responsiveslider_lol_02 The Language of Light DVD - More
MeetJoe_02 Meet Joe McNally - More
inthebag What’s in the Bag? - More


Aug 15

In Equipment, Seminars & Workshops at 5:56pm


Heading north. Following the, uh, light:-) Actually, it’s great weather up there now in Iceland, and heading for my first visit to a country that has been on the bucket list for a long time. You can check out the specifics here.

It’ll be fun. I’m always jazzed by a new place, and will be pushing hard to find some crazy stuff to shoot. Another cool wrinkle–I’m on the beta team for the new Pocket Wizard Mini’s and Flexes for the Nikon CLS system. This is an interesting door to open, for sure. Line of sight issues can bedevil TTL shooters, and if we can push the envelope with TTL radio, well, that envelope just got a helluva lot larger.


So we make the great Northern trek. Drew and I have our sturdy skiff loaded, have said our prayers to Odin, donned horned helmets, buckled on broadswords, and, with following winds and fair seas, we should be pulling into Reykjavik in time for Friday night’s lecture.

If things don’t go well, and we are engulfed by the seas, I figure it’s okay, cause we got TTL radio. Instead of Mayday! Mayday! we’ll be signalling, “Minus Three! Minus Three!” I’m sure the Coast Guard will be intrigued enough to figure it out.


I’ve got a bunch of them, so figure the class will help me sort it out as well. I’ll be doing demos and see where this new signal takes us. As always, experimenting.

We’ve certainly come a long ways since Nikon introduced on board slave eyes back in the SB-26.


More tk…

Brett Carlsen says:

on August 17, 2010 at 11:35 am

I think I just lost it a little. seeing ttl radio slaves in real life pictures for Nikon. Love

Heather Disarro says:

on August 17, 2010 at 11:37 am

this last photo is CLASSIC. i’m in love!

John Verbruggen says:

on August 17, 2010 at 11:38 am

A big chapeau to the models :-)

Keep an eye on those ashclouds Joe! Seem to be pretty nasty there ๐Ÿ˜‰

Ken Toney says:

on August 17, 2010 at 12:12 pm

Is that you treking through the blizzard? Will see you in 2 weeks at the Safari (from one extreme to the other) :)

saquan Stimpson says:

on August 17, 2010 at 12:15 pm


Nat says:

on August 17, 2010 at 12:26 pm

HOT DAMN! I’ve been waiting for these PW accessories since forever! Can’t wiat to hear how they work for you!

Michael says:

on August 17, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Sounds like good times ahead, I’m really looking forward to seeing what you can do with the new PW setup.

Nat says:

on August 17, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Joe/Drew, please feel free to correct my spelling in the previous post [“wait” not “wiat” ๐Ÿ˜‰

kkjensen says:

on August 17, 2010 at 12:38 pm

beta testing…what fun! Do get permission to leak some good news! …and some good prices!

Wandy says:

on August 17, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Interesting, I can’t wait to see a full review from you about this new PW!

David says:

on August 17, 2010 at 12:49 pm

I have to say, I love your work. But this is horrible. It looks greased up, over saturated and just weird. And not in a good way. I can’t look at it any longer. Gross.

Adnan Hussain says:

on August 17, 2010 at 1:01 pm

Love the body-builders shot. Very cool how holding the flash and flexing the muscles become integral to each other!

Brian Laurent says:

on August 17, 2010 at 1:04 pm

Minus three? Mine goes to eleven. I’m so excited about not only radio TTL, but actually using my SU-800, manually remotely setting power levels and turning groups on an off depending on my shooting angle. I am, however, slightly uneased by the juxtaposition of the final images on this post and the one about Carly Simon. Somehow, seeing you in that mustache, then seeing muscle dudes in nanahammocks is disconcerting. Thanks for keeping it fresh.

Tim Skipper says:

on August 17, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Best of luck. I currently use the Pocket Wizard Mini’s with my Canon flash. Its fickle at best, one day it works fine, the next not so much. Its like its saying “Today I like, tomorrow I won’t.”

Kind of reminds me of my wife.

Patrick says:

on August 17, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Had many a day where I can’t find the light! With your news of the PW for Nikons CLS, I think I can see some light at the end of what seems like a tunnel that has gone on forever! Can’t wait for the beta test report :)

james says:

on August 17, 2010 at 4:56 pm

I just did a simple soldering mod to three vivitar 283 to connect them to radiopoppers. I now have full wireless power control of three groups, no menus to navigate, theres no TTL but I’m a manual shooter anyway. Everything cost lost less then one sb900

Mike says:

on August 17, 2010 at 6:44 pm

Hope you have more success with the PW’s on Nikon as they are next to useless on Canon speedlites, barely work with 580’s and PW’s advice is to either sell your 580’s and replace with 430’s (unbelievable response!)or buy weird RF shields. Line of site and up to about 20m they work occasionally, beyond that & out of site they struggle to work at all. I am getting rid of 6 PW’s (Flex & Mini’s)and will replace with Radio Poppers. They simply do not work as PW say they do and I have done exhaustive testing with range of PW units, mix of flashes, and camera bodies, indoor, outdoor, you name it we’ve tried to trouble shoot – they are simply unreliable.Otherwise safe travels & love your blog – good mix of tech talk and trash talk!. Fantastic

ric woods says:

on August 17, 2010 at 8:11 pm

Its great that you bring your experience to the development of these products. Ive seen chairs designed by people that never sit in them…

Styrmir Kรƒยกri says:

on August 17, 2010 at 8:20 pm

Are you planning on meeting up with any of you fans up here in the North?

I’ve been following your work since I first picked up a camera (just been a few years though) and would love to meet up with a legend like yourself!

Greetings from Iceland!

Mark Holloway says:

on August 17, 2010 at 10:25 pm

RADIO! Please bring them to Houston.

Ryan Rafferty says:

on August 17, 2010 at 10:59 pm

I am dying to get my hand on those Pocket Wizards….

TomTom says:

on August 17, 2010 at 11:37 pm

I agree with David. That is really gross.

Giovanni Ferlito says:

on August 18, 2010 at 12:30 am

Great! Just what I was waiting for!
Cool shot Joe!

Ralph Grant says:

on August 18, 2010 at 1:16 am


Love your images and the books. I think you should rename the “Hot Shoe Diaries” to the “King Joe CLS bible” and you could trick the Gideons into distributing it to every hotel nightstand as a required read for every traveling photog on using Ive read that book several times and learn a new technique every time.

By the way, it’s nice to see that even uber-super-duper-mongo-demi-god-ultra-pro-photogs like yourself can end up with a dust bunny on your sensor like in “mush”. Don’t worry, I’ll tell people that I sneezed on the screen of my iPAD.

Keep teaching us to get better and raising the bar!

UncleSam says:

on August 18, 2010 at 1:27 am

PW minis for Nikon? That is so great a news! I even came to thinking it was never going to happen.

Kholloud says:

on August 18, 2010 at 1:34 am

I don’t know if we came along on such small device, i have to take your word by that…

I love the shot and the pose am not quite sure if they freezed out or set up by you hehe

Bob DeChiara says:

on August 18, 2010 at 5:25 am

Enjoy the new adventure!

Daf says:

on August 18, 2010 at 7:06 am

Soooooo looking forward to these little gizmos.
Started working manually recently after reading about some pros working manually (lets face it TTL is great but can mess up) – so the TTL thing doesn’t bother me so much – but the CLS ability to adjust power does.
Radio poppers have only just been released in Europe but I may well wait for these.

Tyler Vance says:

on August 18, 2010 at 8:16 am

Hi Joe,

Stay warm and hurry with the beta–i need these things!



Glyn Dewis says:

on August 18, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the Pocket Wizards and TTL Joe; I guess this really does change things huh :)


joe says:

on August 18, 2010 at 6:21 pm

A friend shoots Canon, uses th PW Mini and Flex, say’s they’re great. I’m sure I am not alone in my wish to hear what you learn from doing Beta with them.

Jay Mann says:

on August 19, 2010 at 1:51 am

Looking forward to trying the new gizmos, see you on Sunday

Guilherme says:

on August 19, 2010 at 7:13 am

So you’re heading to Iceland… been there exactly a year ago. Fantastic. If you have the chance rent a helicopter and fly along the coast cliffs, they are great and I’m sure your angles will be unique. Light up there is terrific, like nothing I’ve seen before. It’s like and eternal sunset if you will. I am dying to get back there. Please let us know first hand if you’re doing more workshops in Iceland.

Keep shining

Greg Brave says:

on August 19, 2010 at 8:32 am

Everybody seems to be visiting Iceland these days. I wonder whether it is because that volcano, whose name can’t be pronounced by most of the people, reminded the world of this country… nothing against it though.
Have a great time Joe!

Matt says:

on August 19, 2010 at 9:02 am

About freakin’ time the Nikon Mini/Flex/TT1 stuff gets out there – woohoo! Can’t wait to read your impressions…

Lloyd Eldredge says:

on August 20, 2010 at 9:42 pm

I’m still waiting to see how you and some of the the other Nikon hot shoe hot shots do with these. I’ve been using the Radio Poppers for a while now, and I really like them. I do, however, have quite a collection of Pocket Wizards, so being able to mix them in would be a plus.

Loy Yuong Siang says:

on August 21, 2010 at 10:02 am

Dear Joe,
Hope to hear some good news from you. Tried out the Canon Version but never quite like them. Can get basic TTL metering only and no way to achieve full control of CLS like with SU800.. Was thinking of getting Radiopopper but now I think I’ll hold for a moment..

Vadim Kim says:

on August 21, 2010 at 10:12 am

Guys,what different between su-800 and pockerwizard II? What to buy?

waltere says:

on August 22, 2010 at 12:47 am

$5450? Aren’t you guys leaving out a decimal point?
Jeeze, I hope you are offering some Maker’s Mark with that bottled water!

waltere says:

on August 22, 2010 at 1:07 am

Oops, not published! So, is John Kerry a photographer now, along with being a Vietnam Vet? He has signed up, right?

Loy Yuong Siang says:

on August 22, 2010 at 9:27 am

Dear Vadim,
SU800 uses infrared to control the flashes. Pocketwizard uses radio wave to control the other unit of flashes mounted on their receivers..
Infrared distance shorter, RW on PW slightly longer.. IR travels only straight line, RW goes round corners..
SU800 offers full control of CLS.. Not sure about PW..
Hope that helps.

LightandPixels says:

on August 22, 2010 at 9:44 pm

I’m glad to see the Nikon version of the miniflex coming around – finally. I wish the PW guys good luck I’d like to see them have a hit on their hands. That said, I won’t be buying – I’ve been shooting with RadioPopper PXs for well over a year and they’ve been flawless on my Nikons. This weekend’s Wedding could have been a disaster if not for the run and gun reliability of the PX’s my harried bride would have melted with anything less reliable. The only thing I can complain about with the PXs is that they lack the ability to add the 5th battery on my SB800s because of the mounting system.

Competition is good in this and any industry. So it’s good to have PW guys nipping at the heals of the RP guys. Flash on!

Steroids UK says:

on August 23, 2010 at 2:09 am

i’ve been delaying my PW purchase waiting for these to be released, a little annoyed canon guys got theirs soo long ago.

Fickle User says:

on August 24, 2010 at 11:54 pm

I hope the Nikon PW TTL trigger versions work better than their Canon counterparts. Pocket Wizard lost a lot of credibility with the TT1/TT5/Canon debacle.

“Don’t use that flash, buy this one. Buy this RF reducing shield and cape!” is something a bad Chinese factory would say, not an industry leader. Shame on PW – I hope Nikon users don’t suffer the same pain, double-talk and half-truths.

Simon Jacobs says:

on August 26, 2010 at 3:26 am

Fickle User-
I rather think it’s more Canons fault, not PW’s that their guns chuck so much RF around….

dmitri yakimov says:

on September 2, 2010 at 3:09 pm

That’s great news!!
Delighted to hear about those longawaited PW’s!!!
Joe, was that sample ok? Has it proven to be ready for manufacturing?
God please help PW :)))

Vance Wagener says:

on September 4, 2010 at 3:28 pm

Joe, be careful who you talk to in IC. The Icelandic government closely regulates what radio frequencies can be used. 12 yrs ago it was almost impossible buy get a radio slave in country because of it. Good luck with the test! I can’t wait to get my hands on one. :)

Robert says:

on September 19, 2010 at 5:39 pm

For those having problems with Canon version of FlexTT5.

I too had problems with reliability, but they are much better now with the most recent firmware fixes.

I use a mix of 430EXII’s, 550EX’s and 580EX II’s. Problem was only with the 580 and that problem went away with the most recent firmware upgrade. Never had a problem with the others.

Another problem I had was with “black bars”, sync problems at shutter speeds that should have been OK. They eventually fixed that problem too.

I bought a mini the other day to fit on my G11, I had it less than four hours before returning it, the reliability was total crap, missed one in three shots.

ETTL works OK, not stellar, it’s worse in darker conditions. I almost always go manual.

High Speed Sync works great! It makes all of the problems I had with these guys worth the effort and pain. It’s the whole reason to buy them, in my opinion. I shoot manual so ETTL doesn’t hold that much appeal to me, I can’t do without.

So, if you are considering buying them, I say go for it. Also, if you set them aside because of some of the problems you say, I say upgrade them and try again.

Hope that helps


Michael Alan Bielat says:

on September 21, 2010 at 1:35 pm

I am very interested in seeing these units in real life. It seems that they have been in R&D for Nikon for the longest time… Then there were all the issues with the Canon version (ha go figure!). I have been drooling over these for what seems like an eternity now.

Good thing I have my RadioPoppers to fulfill my wireless TTL needs.

updatetoo says:

on January 14, 2011 at 1:35 pm

This is good story I love so much Thanks.

Leave a Reply