The original PocketWizard radio, called a FlashWizard, was developed in the late ‘80s. Three lab partners at the University of Vermont created a business called LPA Design (Lab Partners Associates) and were approached by an architectural photographer’s assistant. He was looking for something better than a modified garage door opener to trigger his lights. The FlashWizard was created, the predecessor to the current line of PocketWizard products.
A Defining Moment in PocketWizard History
A crucial moment in its history came at an NBA™ Finals game in the 1990s. Event management had insisted that everything be hard wired as they didn’t trust these new-fangled wireless devices. During halftime, pianist and singer Bruce Hornsby did a show on the court and as the crew rushed to get the piano off the court a leg snagged on a bundle of cables on the sidelines. With no time to unsnag the cumbersome piano, a knife appeared and with one slash, cut through all the cables, including those to all the overhead strobes.
On hand was Jim Clark, one of the brains behind LPA. He quickly called the photo assistants and had them pull the cords on the remote flashes and rely solely on the wireless FlashWizard radios. The second half went on without missing a shot (at least for the photographers) and from that moment, sports photographers have been a leading user of PocketWizard Wireless Freedom™.
In the late 1990’s, LPA continued development and launched the PocketWizard line of precision wireless control devices for the professional photographer. The Plus and the MultiMAX products started the new system. These products have evolved significantly since then and are the only choice when reliability is the number one concern.
A Whole New Frontier in Radio Triggers
On February 16, 2009, PocketWizard launched a new era of PocketWizard triggering devices, featuring the MiniTT1 Transmitter and the FlexTT5 Transceiver for Canon. The Nikon version followed in November, 2010. With the Slide-n-Shoot simplicity of the new ControlTL software platform, these new E-TTL and i-TTL capable radio slaves make taking off-camera flash as effortless as slide-in, turn-on, and shoot.
In the fall of 2010, the PowerST4 for Elinchrom RX lights and AC9 AlienBees Adapter were added to the line. These provide remote power control for studio photographers. At the same time, the AC3 ZoneController was introduced as a simple way to dial power levels up and down in both TTL and manual for both speedlights and studio lights. In April 2011, the PowerMC2 was introduced as the first cooperatively developed radio for the new Paul C. Buff Einstein flash.
Improvements and Changes
In the early spring of 2012, the PocketWizard Plus III was born to replace the ever popular Plus II and quickly grew to become a favorite. With its half press capability among other features, it opened up remote shooting to “regular” photographers and has become the preferred unit for professionals as well.
Based on the success of the Plus III, the PlusX was created in 2013 to fill the need for a basic, simple trigger, to replace the Plus II radios. It has quickly become the favorite radio setup for schools and students, as well as anyone looking for basic triggers without any frills. It marries simplicity and durability with the legendary PocketWizard standard of reliability and range.
The Plus IV was introduced in 2016. This radio has all the features and reliability of the Plus III but adds key new functionality. Sporting a pass through top hot shoe, it allows the user the ability to use an on camera flash in TTL, as well as trigger any remote flashes manually.
The FlexTT6 for Canon was added in early 2017 to replace the FlexTT5. With new camera technology, the engineers at PocketWizard found a small hardware change was necessary. True to form, the FlexTT6 is still backwards compatible so customers could retain their FlexTT5 units and continue to use them as remotes.
The summer of 2017 also brought a huge announcement for our loyal MultiMAX users, as the product had been discontinued in 2014. The MultiMAX II was introduced with the same form factor but some amazing upgrades including Infinite Intervalometer and the ability to use SpeedCycler with a total of 16 remotes!
Kudos to the Team
In 2018, the founders of LPA Design were honored by the Professional Photographer’s Association. The PPA Technology Impact Award is presented to individuals in recognition of a unique and outstanding technological contribution to the field of photography. The award is not presented every year and it was an incredible honor for the founders to be recognized for the work they have done and the products they have created. PocketWizard radios have changed the field of photography in countless ways and have been the industry standard since introducing radio triggers for photography.
Changing the Game
The fall of 2019 brought a big announcement to the world of PocketWizard: the E Release firmware protocol.
Expanding on PocketWizard’s reputation for reliability and range, this new firmware version allows the radios to work at even greater distances and have less chance of RF interference. Literally changing the game, this new protocol was tested at the IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar. Photographer Nick Didlick beta tested the new firmware. Nick mounted his remotes in the ceiling and was able to walk around the entire area of Khalifa International Stadium, triggering them without ever missing a shot, without direct line of sight in most cases. The team at PocketWizard also pushed the limits here in Vermont. They found that they were able to trigger from the top of a small mountain in Charlotte to a ferry boat in the middle of Lake Champlain – a distance of 4 miles!
One of the best features of the E Release is the backwards compatibility. PocketWizard has always prided itself on the fact that a 30 year old PocketWizard will still work with one you buy today and that is still true. Many NBA photographers continue to use their original FlashWizard units. While the E Release uses a completely different protocol and uses different frequencies for the Channels, any unit that has been upgraded to the E Release can also be downgraded to use PocketWizard Legacy firmware. This ensures that a new Plus IIIe will still work with an old blue Plus Transmitter from 2005. PocketWizard is in the process of transitioning products to the E Release firmware and currently, the Plus III, Plus IV, Nikon FlexTT5, and FCC PowerMC2 radios can all be upgraded to the new technology. The Canon FlexTT6 protocol is a work in progress.
Looking Forward to the Future
At PocketWizard, we take pride in making reliable products that last. Stay tuned to see what is coming next!