A while ago, during the review of the Sony Alpha 99 I mentioned two deal breakers for me.
One was the ability to shoot tethered, which was solved by the guys from DNAsoftware, the second one was the ability to shoot with small flash with a pocket wizard style solution, but as soon as I mentioned this I already got a lot of good tips from social media followers, including the Phottix solution (Odin).
My “wish” was to be able to use TTL via radio, HSS and preferable (after getting used to the great new Canon ST-E3) a display with the settings. Now when I checked the Phottix website it seemed that the Odin was indeed just what I needed, but…. it was not yet tested with the A99, aaargh.
After some great email contact with Steve from Phottix I got a set to test out a few weeks ago and after the first quick tests it seemed to work just fine, but before I advise gear to you guys I want to make sure it really does work. During the small flash workshop last week it was time to really put the Odin system through the final test (if you can ever speak about a final test).
The Odin consists of a unit on the camera with a nice display which makes the users life a lot easier because you can set everything from a very easy and handy to navigate menu system. On the flash site you place the strobe on top of a receiver. Both units run from standard batteries and can be upgraded by USB.
At the moment I have to use convertors for my strobe and camera because the system is still build on the “old” hotshoe system from Sony/Minolta, but that’s not a big deal, the total setup is very stable and works flawless.
While working with the system I can confirm that the following things work flawless: TTL via radio, High Speed Sync and zooming of the head.
A few things you have to be aware off however when working with the Odin.
When test firing the strobe you cannot use this to meter the light, it will give a “yeah I’m working boss” test signal but that it a fixed output, this is something I hope will be fixed. One workaround could be to let the model hold the meter while shooting a testshot, however that doesn’t work, somehow there is something of a pre-flash. When I press the testbutton on the strobe itself I can meter the output, but when doing a testshoot from the camera it will only meter a “sort of” pre-flash, of course I checked if the red eye pre-flash is off so I’m looking into a workaround for this, for now I will not meter the small flash, not a huge problem seeing the benefits of the system, but I do hope it will be fixed or I find another solution.
The display on the Sony (and other strobes) will NOT show what you’re doing, when you know this it’s no problem at all, but it got me thinking “is everything working correctly?”, Phottix confirmed that this is the way the system works so that’s 100% fine, don’t worry.
The Sony strobe can go down to 1/256 but the Odin will only go down to 1/128 also no big problem but just so you know, I believe they are working on something to add this but I’m not sure if that will happen any time soon, and as mentioned before it’s not a real problem it’s just something that got my attention.
Overall working with the Odin system ROCKS….
I loved working with the TT1 and TT5 but also have to add that that is not a cheap solution (although very stable and adding a lot of extras) plus the pocket wizards don’t have a display where you can quickly set the output/zoom etc. of the strobes. When Canon released their new system I almost immediately switched to that system, also helped by the fact that it took PW way too long to get their system on the 5DMKIII, and never looked back. When you’re used to setting your strobes from a display on top of the camera you’re hooked.
The Odin will let you set the strobes in the old fashioned way with ratios (something I never really liked) but also with the (my preference) +3 to -3 FEC settings which makes much more sense for my brain. You can set the strobes in 3 separate groups with multi strobes per group of course. Switching between modes is very quick and straight forward via the Odin control unit making it possible to switch very quickly from manual mode to TTL and zooming the heads. Of course it’s also possible to set the modes in the mix, for example group 1 : off, group 2 : manual, group 3 : TTL. Zooming of the heads is per group. The display is easy to read with the build in amber colored display which is very easy on the eyes.
In the workshop the system worked flawless and no problems were experienced, I switched between the different modes and both TTL and manual did exactly what you’d expect.
If you’re in the market for a great remote control system for your small flash and are not too limited on budget (it’s not a budget solution) I would really advise you to check out the Odin system, they deliver them for different systems like Sony, Canon and Nikon. The only thing that would make me still consider Pocket wizards TT system is the addition of the studio strobes that you can also let operate in Hyper Sync mode (this is something else than High Speed Sync which DOES work on the Odins of course as mentioned in the review) but I have to be honest, when you don’t use this, it makes it possible to shoot SOME studio strobes with faster sync speeds than 1/125 on some cameras, I think the Odin system has the better cards for the display and price