Pocket wizards affected in Hotels/Wedding reception venues?

Pocket wizards affected in Hotels/Wedding reception venues?

31 posts
10 Oct 2013
smooth_image
Photographer
smooth_image
So I prepared my equipment for the wedding, tested and re-tested, packed and off I went...
Everything fine, until I decided to set up the 2 pocketwizards (1 TT1 and 2 TT5's) with small softboxes for some really nice images of the bg in the reception room, I had bagged everything I needed so this was really a bit extra.
Set it all up, test button was getting the correct flash responses, but when it came to actually using them....nothing, checked settings, nothing, checked each flash on top of spare cameras, nothing, changed batteries in flashes and all pocketwizards, nothing, left it a while, tried again....nothing....gave up....

Got home later, set them up exactly as I left them just basically switched them on and put the trigger on the camera, bang every time a perfect shot, as they have always done, the thing i love about these is they just work...normally

It was a shared venue and there was a couple shoot a wedding in another part of the building, I spent a few mins chatting to them and mentioned the issue, which they said they had experience before at a wedding, couldnt understand why they could not get them to work at this one place.

The DJ was at the other side of the room, there is wifi availability at the hotel, could it be something the Reception venues are using that may affect the PW ?

Anyone else come across this issue ?

I mainly use them out on location but have used them indoors before (not at weddings) without issue. This is bugging me though, I need to understand why or what was causing it so I am ready for it next time.

Cheers

G.
Posted 10 Oct 2013
Strober
Photographer
Strober
Did you clean the hotshoe of your DSLR ? speaking from experience then pocket wizards won't fire if you have a dirty hotshoe as the electronic signal can not be sent from the DSLR to the PW, trust me a dirty hotshoe dose cause problems like this. remember a pw is only connected by a needle like pin to the hot shoe. So that would explain why it did not fire, but your test button did NB: late entry I'm talking about the PW's 2, as they have a needle like connection to the hotshoe
smooth_image
, nothing, left it a while, tried again....nothing....gave up....
Posted 10 Oct 2013
Edited by Strober 10 Oct 2013
smooth_image
Photographer
smooth_image
Hi, Yeah checked and cleaned, as I mentioned, got them home and all worked fine, and even then if one was dirty surely the other would work ? and tested ok the night before, worked fine as soon as I got back, just would not work at the venue inside or outside.

Thanks for the suggestion though appreciated

G.

Posted 10 Oct 2013
Strober
Photographer
Strober
It's electronics mate, it happens to the best of us, makes you look silly don't it when they don't work, but hey it's all part of the game mate and helps us build on our experience. You could use TTL cable, but even then some silly person might trip over it lol
smooth_image
Hi, Yeah checked and cleaned, as I mentioned, got them home and all worked fine, and even then if one was dirty surely the other would work ? and tested ok the night before, worked fine as soon as I got back, just would not work at the venue inside or outside. Thanks for the suggestion though appreciated G.
Posted 10 Oct 2013
OldMaster
Photographer
OldMaster
Did you try a flash gun on the hot sure to see if that was firing? If it was you could have used it to trigger the other lights in old fashioned IR/SU4 (for Nikon) triggering and it would have cleared the camera/hot shoe as being the culprit.

PW certainly have a fine reputation and I know colleagues that work in graduations with me where there may be 8 or so of us all with different wireless set ups, wifi in the venues and hundreds of students on mobiles/tablets, etc..and I have not heard of any issues?

Don't they have little leds on the transmitters and receivers which activate and flash when manually tested to indicate that one is sending and one receiving. Are you 100% sure with the stress of the wedding that you had not inadvertently knocked them to a different channel or mode?

If you contact PW I suspect it will confuse them to...

Posted 10 Oct 2013
grahamr
Photographer
grahamr
Does the Poketwizard transmitter have a test button? This would check the transmitter and receivers are talking correctly. I guess it is possible that environmental electrical interference could cause problems. I've shot school proms in one venue and each time the wireless network from by camera to receiver has suffered massive interference and become ususable. I've never had wireless problems anywhere else.

I use Photix Odin kit and always use the test button to check each channel is firing correctly.

Graham


Posted 10 Oct 2013
Iconoclast
Photographer
Iconoclast
If the Pocket Wizard is a radio transmitter, I have had problems in the past with the wi-fi that hotels use for their card machines. Did you try altering the frequency that you were using?

Posted 10 Oct 2013
smooth_image
Photographer
smooth_image
Thanks for the responses,

Yes I shot most of the day with a EX580mk II on cam and as always it was fine, then switched it onto one of the PW and my EX430 on the other, green lights on both PW and pressing the test button made both flashes respond, I would then focus on a subject and press the shutter button to find nothing happened. I switched them off packed them away, got back, got them out attached them back onto the flashes, switched them on, popped the TT1 onto the camera, switched it on, and they all worked fine, Its just unexplainable to me, I am so very familiar with them, and totally confident that they do the job, I just can't explain why on this occasion they either chose not to work, or something was affecting them to the extent that they were just not able to operate.

Wierd, I would go out and shoot with them tomorrow on location because I know they will work, just baffled at why they wouldnt on that occasion.

G.

PS yes i also changed the the settings on the PW's removed them from each other and connected numerous times, changed the batteries on all the items, all were showing bright green power, everything seems absolutely fine, but just would not fire when the shutter was pressed and a definate focus was achieved.

Baffled of Doncaster

Posted 10 Oct 2013
Edited by smooth_image 10 Oct 2013
RedChecker
Photographer
RedChecker
A lot of hotels/conference centres have radio microphone setups for speeches, another possibility I suppose.

Can't say I've ever had a problem with wireless networks.

Having them near any metal such as piping, vehicles, radiators or railings seems to cause problems from my experience.

Posted 10 Oct 2013
photostore
Photographer
photostore
definetly sounds like local interference from ? source I have had the same problem with a different brand while on a shoot, came home and they worked perfectly .
Posted 10 Oct 2013
Strober
Photographer
Strober
The problem with the big assignments is that you as a photographer are put under pressure, let's face it we all love it when people think / ask us if we are professional photographers. But then we look very foolish when things like this do happen to us. When you are working under pressure, then you tend to have not much time in order to fix problems. So for example lets say that you are using a 5 flash setup, then the chances are you are using 5 Flash Guns, and 5 radio triggers etc... now here comes the bride and BOOM nothing happens..... So where does the problem lye ? Is it dead batteries ? (If so which ones) Is it incorrect channels (quickly check) ? Is it in correct groups (Quickly Check) ? Is it dirty hotshoes (quickly clean), is it the flash guns not set to the correct mode (e.g. speedlite is in SU4) mode. Has a sync cable worked it's way lose (but they are the screw in cables) ? Is it radio interference (I thought they told the guests to switch of their phones etc...) And to top it all off, you hear the words you may now kiss your wife... Boom.... sometimes you have to admit being a photographer is not all what it's cracked up to be. Because when you get home (i.e. no pressure and loads of time) it all works perfectly
Posted 10 Oct 2013
eosfan
Photographer
eosfan
Almost worth asking the venue if you can go back, preferably at the same time as the reception was, with the same equipment, same set up and see what happens. If it fails again then maybe you will be able to spend some time investigating. If it works ok..........

Dave

Posted 10 Oct 2013
Strober
Photographer
Strober
I remember I noticed once that the "magnets" from my speakers on the TV did in fact interfere with my Pocket Wizards and my studio lights would not trigger because of this. Also if i'm correct in thinking then us (Brits) and the Americans may use the same brand of triggers, but are not we (brits) on a totally different radio frequency than the Americans? Is it not EU law that we have to allow "interference" within the frequencies we use. I'm not a radio guy, but I remember reading somewhere that the American PW's worked on a "dirty frequency" if that means anything to any one ?
eosfan
Almost worth asking the venue if you can go back, preferably at the same time as the reception was, with the same equipment, same set up and see what happens. If it fails again then maybe you will be able to spend some time investigating. If it works ok.......... Dave
Posted 11 Oct 2013
Edited by Strober 11 Oct 2013
mikethefoto
Photographer
mikethefoto
Had a similar problem at an F1 GP last year when I had rigged a remote camera for the pit stops.

Everything worked fine prior to the race but got nothing during the race. I think it was the down to the jammers the teams use to stop each other eavesdropping on their comms. 

Pity, but we live & learn.
Posted 11 Oct 2013
Strober
Photographer
Strober
Makes you think if it's worth investing in alternative brands of triggers as some form of backup, to see if it happens with them too... Your thoughts please
mikethefoto
Had a similar problem at an F1 GP last year when I had rigged a remote camera for the pit stops. Everything worked fine prior to the race but got nothing during the race. I think it was the down to the jammers the teams use to stop each other eavesdropping on their comms.  Pity, but we live & learn.
Posted 11 Oct 2013
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