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PocketWizard Ac-3 vs SU-800

slevine

US
50 posts

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slevine Registered since 04th Nov 2012
Tue 27-Nov-12 02:07 AM

Hey all.

I have a couple of SB600's that I was going to run through CLS but it's just not as reliable as I had hoped, so I invested in the pocketwizard system with 2 flexes and a mini TT.

I can make it all work with the SU800 I'm sure, but I'm starting to believe that the AC3 may be smaller and easier to use.

Can anyone think of a reason not to just drop the SU800 on Ebay and buy the AC3 for a third of the price?

Steve

Steve Levine
Shrewsbury, MA
http://stevelevine.smugmug.com

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gbowen

Canton, US
1111 posts

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#1. "RE: PocketWizard Ac-3 vs SU-800" | In response to Reply # 0

gbowen Gold Member Nikonian since 31st Mar 2011
Tue 27-Nov-12 10:01 AM | edited Tue 27-Nov-12 10:03 AM by gbowen

You haven't given any setup information, as in what locations you are shooting in where CLS failed. So far the only place it has failed me was shooting in a mall with a large open space. Line of sight was needed to make it work and I had to position my flashes (3) so they could see the commander. Sometimes the umbrella I was using blocked the sensor port on one of my speedlights.

PW is nice and I hope to have a good setup with them, but for now it's too expensive. Yes, the AC-3 is cheap, but at $200 per flash for the mini TTs, plus one for the camera, it gets pricey really quick. I suppose I could build up slowly, getting one at a time. But for now I don't need them in my small studio. CLS works very well for me and I like the control my SU-800 gives me.

George

slevine

US
50 posts

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#2. "RE: PocketWizard Ac-3 vs SU-800" | In response to Reply # 1

slevine Registered since 04th Nov 2012
Tue 27-Nov-12 10:33 AM

I was trying to use it outside, in sunlight, and it seems like it was a #### shoot as to whether the flash would go off or not, and that was only from 20 feet away. Additionally, I was trying to use some fill behind my subjects, and the line of sight became an issue.

I have no doubt that in a small studio it would work fine.

Steve


Steve Levine
Shrewsbury, MA
http://stevelevine.smugmug.com

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gbowen

Canton, US
1111 posts

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#3. "RE: PocketWizard Ac-3 vs SU-800" | In response to Reply # 2

gbowen Gold Member Nikonian since 31st Mar 2011
Tue 27-Nov-12 10:58 AM

Indeed. As I had mentioned, I will probably invest in PW a bit at a time. I also like shooting outdoors. So your need of PW is quite apparent.

George

slevine

US
50 posts

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#4. "RE: PocketWizard Ac-3 vs SU-800" | In response to Reply # 3

slevine Registered since 04th Nov 2012
Tue 27-Nov-12 11:02 AM

Thanks. So the question for the group is.... I have the Mini and the Flex units now, as well as an SU800 that i'd just bought. Am I better off scrapping the SU800 and just using an AC3 to control the Flashes, or is there some advantage I don't know about in keeping the SU800.

Steve Levine
Shrewsbury, MA
http://stevelevine.smugmug.com

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

gbowen

Canton, US
1111 posts

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#5. "RE: PocketWizard Ac-3 vs SU-800" | In response to Reply # 4

gbowen Gold Member Nikonian since 31st Mar 2011
Tue 27-Nov-12 11:26 AM

I saw a video from Mark Wallace where mini TTs were used with an SU-800 as commander. Here's the link:
http://www.pocketwizard.com/inspirations/tutorials/su800/

That's how I will do it.

George

hujiie

US
572 posts

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#6. "RE: PocketWizard Ac-3 vs SU-800" | In response to Reply # 0

hujiie Silver Member Nikonian since 10th Apr 2009
Wed 28-Nov-12 02:46 AM

I had SU800 for my SB 900's setting. but I sold to get AC3's due to the easy operations and low profile. For me, only reason for keeping SU 800 is to use Nikon Macro lighting setup. Otherwise, PW is the way to go if the $ is not the issue.

www.hitoshiujiie.com/photography.html

gbowen

Canton, US
1111 posts

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#7. "RE: PocketWizard Ac-3 vs SU-800" | In response to Reply # 6

gbowen Gold Member Nikonian since 31st Mar 2011
Wed 28-Nov-12 09:54 AM

$$ are the issue with me, as usual. So the SU-800 will handle my needs for awhile. Hopefully I can find some used deals sometime. (Or win the Powerball)

George

matcam

cambridge, US
710 posts

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#8. "RE: PocketWizard Ac-3 vs SU-800" | In response to Reply # 0

matcam Silver Member Nikonian since 31st May 2007
Wed 28-Nov-12 05:37 PM

+1 for the AC-3. I got mine about 18 months ago and never looked back. Smaller, lighter, no batteries and simplier, faster, more intuitive controls. The only down side I can think of is that, as I recall, you get one more stop of adjustment using the SU800. I still have my SU800 for backup but am thinking of getting rid of it.

Matt Murphy

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My Flickr Setshttp://www.flickr.com/photos/28712192@N08/sets/>

MEMcD

US
28697 posts

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#9. "RE: PocketWizard Ac-3 vs SU-800" | In response to Reply # 0

MEMcD Moderator In depth knowledge in various areas Nikonian since 24th Dec 2007
Thu 29-Nov-12 07:20 AM

Hi Steve,

If you use SB-R200's or plan on adding one or more of them in the future, I would keep the SU-800.
If not, the AC3 is smaller and lighter and less expensive to boot.
Good Luck and Enjoy your Nikons!

Best Regards,
Marty

nebosphere

Brooklyn, US
50 posts

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#10. "RE: PocketWizard Ac-3 vs SU-800" | In response to Reply # 9

nebosphere Registered since 24th May 2007
Sat 19-Jan-13 06:06 PM

Out of curiosity, why is SU-800 needed for the SB-R200s? I'm in the same boat currently and do enjoy macro photography now and then!

Regards,
Ben

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Visit my Nikonians gallery.

gkaiseril

Chicago, US
6739 posts

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#11. "RE: PocketWizard Ac-3 vs SU-800" | In response to Reply # 10

gkaiseril Gold Member Nikonian since 28th Oct 2005
Sat 19-Jan-13 07:09 PM

Yes you can use the pop-up flash, SB-700/800/900/910 but they all use visible light to carry the CLS AWS IR, Infra Red, control signals.

A couple of basic facts about CLS AWS control maybe in order. IR light is part of the light emitted by all light sources unless filtered out. The SU-800 has an IR pass through filter so only the IR signal is emitted from the SU-800. The SB-R200, SB-600/700/800/900/910 and older Nikon Speedlights have an IR pass through filter over the optical remote sensor within the Speedlight.

Although the exposure test and control signals are prior to the opening of the camera's shutter, pre-release. The trigger signal only occurs after the shutter has been opened and before it closes. This is part of the reason for the need for a flash sync speed by cameras.

At the lowest possible power the visible light trigger signal from the pop-up flash will be visible in the captured image. You can purchase the SG-3IR to block visible light from the pop-up or make an visible light blocking filter from filter gels for the SB-700/800/900/910.

The SU-800 in closeup mode has balance slider to adjust the output between group A and B.

George
My Nikonian Galleries

J_Harris

US
691 posts

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#12. "RE: PocketWizard Ac-3 vs SU-800" | In response to Reply # 11

J_Harris Silver Member Nikonian since 29th Mar 2011
Sun 20-Jan-13 12:17 PM

Something to be aware of if purchasing or using the SG-31R.

After your recommendation I'm going to buy the SG-31R as it sounds like a simple and very useful item. However, reading reviews at B&H there is many who highly recommend it but have had problems removing it from the flash shoe. The locking detent pin often gets stuck on the flash shoe contacts and becomes very difficult to remove. The quick-fix is to remove the pin with needle-nose pliers.

It is currently " temporarily out of stock" so maybe the manufacture has taken notice and is working on a modification.

Jerry

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MEMcD

US
28697 posts

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#13. "RE: PocketWizard Ac-3 vs SU-800" | In response to Reply # 10

MEMcD Moderator In depth knowledge in various areas Nikonian since 24th Dec 2007
Sun 20-Jan-13 07:50 PM

Hi Ben,

First, the SB-R200's are not compatible with Pocket Wizard Control TTL system since they don't have shoe so an AC-3 is useless with them.
Second the SU-800 has Close up mode.
Third, the SU-800 uses IF light unlike an SB-700, SB-800, SB-800, or SB-910 in Commander mode.
Good Luck and Enjoy your Nikons!

Best Regards,
Marty

sl33py

Seattle, US
340 posts

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#14. "RE: PocketWizard Ac-3 vs SU-800" | In response to Reply # 0

sl33py Silver Member Nikonian since 24th Apr 2008
Mon 21-Jan-13 11:25 PM

I have the TT5's and AC3, but no SU-800.

I believe one difference may be control and amount of adjustment? I know the AC3 allows 3 stops each direction, where the SU-800 like using a SB-800/9x0 allows total range?

I've used the AC3 and love the ease of control and so far 3 up/down has been plenty for me. I have an old SB29s for macro i use in manual when i want some macro (not very often). Though i have thought about getting the R1C1 setup...

HTH and GL!

rob

PaintedRays

Oregon, US
81 posts

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#15. "RE: PocketWizard Ac-3 vs SU-800" | In response to Reply # 0

PaintedRays Silver Member Nikonian since 25th Oct 2011
Wed 30-Jan-13 02:12 PM

I'm very late to this discussion, but for future reference, I'll chime in. One negative to the AC3 is if you use a Sekonic light meter with the PW flash triggering. The light meter will not trigger the pocketwizard if you use the Mini/Flex with the AC3. With the SU-800, it triggers fine. Not the end of the world if you use the delay function, but if working on your own, you need the light meter on a stand or the model to hold it. The newest touchscreen meter, L-458DR I think, works with the AC3, but it's very new and not worth it to me to downgrade from the L-758DR. Good luck, and tell us of your experiences.

www.paintedrays.com

NenBikonian

Roswell, US
209 posts

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#16. "RE: PocketWizard Ac-3 vs SU-800" | In response to Reply # 0

NenBikonian Registered since 30th Sep 2011
Thu 31-Jan-13 08:49 PM

Steve,

I think one thing that has been forgotten in all the responses to your inquiry is expandability. Although you are certainly limited by the capabilities of your SU-800 (or any other CLS/AWL optical control) in terms of useful situations and distance from trigger to remote, you must also factor in the expandability of the system. With an SU-800 and a couple of CLS/AWL remotes like your SB600s, you need only buy another remote like the SB600 to immediately add another remote-capable speedlight to your kit...a cash outlay that only involves the price of the next flash. If you limit your remote control capabilities to only the PW system, then you must buy a new FlexTT1 for every new flash that you add to the system in the future.

If I were in your shoes, I'd probably sell the SU-800 and replace it with a used SB-800 and keep the PWs. With that, you'd have a flash that can:


  1. Operate as an on-camera CLS/AWL commander of your two SB600's with all the functionality of your current SU800
  2. Operate as a third remote (in one of two remote groups) commanded by your camera's pop-up flash.
  3. Operate as a third remote in your system if you choose to get another FlexTT1
  4. Operate as a third remote in SU-4 mode while the SB-600s are commanded by the PW system (the SB800 would then be triggered by the flash from one of the SB600s...you'd have to keep your PW system in manual mode for this to work so that any preflashes didn't trigger it prematurely).


I hope this helps in your decision!

Good Luck,
Ben

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

dbvisions

Ringgold, US
65 posts

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#17. "RE: PocketWizard Ac-3 vs SU-800" | In response to Reply # 16

dbvisions Silver Member Nikonian since 25th Jan 2011
Thu 14-Feb-13 10:04 PM

I am very happy with the MiniTT1/AC3 on my camera and three FlexTT5's for the strobes. I have AB's that I use with AC9's for studio shoots. I disable the the automatic trigger of the AB's from other strobes so that everything is controlled by the AC3 using two or three groups.

For other shoots outside the studio and for the portability, I use an SB910 and SB600 with the PW's. While I tested it just to show myself that it all works together in TTL, I still prefer to shoot in manual. Then I just adjust the levels on each group with the AC3.

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sl33py

Seattle, US
340 posts

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#18. "RE: PocketWizard Ac-3 vs SU-800" | In response to Reply # 15

sl33py Silver Member Nikonian since 24th Apr 2008
Mon 18-Feb-13 05:31 AM | edited Wed 20-Feb-13 05:16 AM by sl33py

>I'm very late to this discussion, but for future reference,
>I'll chime in. One negative to the AC3 is if you use a Sekonic
>light meter with the PW flash triggering. The light meter will
>not trigger the pocketwizard if you use the Mini/Flex with the
>AC3. With the SU-800, it triggers fine. Not the end of the
>world if you use the delay function, but if working on your
>own, you need the light meter on a stand or the model to hold
>it. The newest touchscreen meter, L-458DR I think, works with
>the AC3, but it's very new and not worth it to me to downgrade
>from the L-758DR. Good luck, and tell us of your experiences.

I may be wrong, but have the AC3, and 758DR. I just upgraded the PW radio in my 758DR to trigger my TT5's. New model just came out a few months ago and now the 758DR/PW trigger the Control TL channels. A,B, or C groups. Tested w/ my own.

EDIT - link to RT-32CTL (model) in sekonic blog:
http://blog.sekonic.com/2012/06/11/rt-32ctl-radio-transmitter-module-for-l-358-and-l-758-series/


Hope that helps someone looking at investing in PW's and Sekonic meter (besides the new 458DR - which is good looking!)

rob

shaynec

US
47 posts

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#19. "RE: PocketWizard Ac-3 vs SU-800" | In response to Reply # 0

shaynec Silver Member Nikonian since 27th Jun 2009
Tue 19-Feb-13 04:37 PM

I have a similar system and the AC3 makes it look like I know what I am doing. Simplifies the process for me. shayne

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G