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Radiopopper Review

Alright, so I got to use my brand new Radiopoppers on a shoot yesterday. This was the first true test of these bad boys because I needed to count on them for several hours at a beach that was 224 steep stairs and one hell of a walk away from my car. If they failed on me, I was boned.

I am happy to report that my Radiopoppers performed with flying colors! Yes, I will elaborate. But before I get in to the nitty gritty of how they did, let me just describe my setup for you. I am shooting with a Canon EOS 5D with a 550ex and Radiopopper transmitter as my master flash. This is controlling 2 Canon 430ex slaves each with a Radiopopper receiver attached. I shoot with the master emitting no flash and I control the output of each slave manually. If I'm controlling my slaves manually anyway, why didn't I just get pocket wizards instead of radiopoppers you say? Well, aside from the ability to switch to TTL in the rare event that I need to and aside from the sweet perk of being able to use ANY shutter speed, these radiopoppers allow me to control the output of each slave from the convenience of my camera-mounted 550ex. That's right, no more walking over to each slave to change the output while I chimp my screen. "Oh what's that? A little too much light coming from slave A. BAM! Handled." Don't even have to change my position.


CONCEPT:
The Radiopopper website is the best place to learn what these units are and what they can do, but I will sum up the general concept for you here. Basically, they take your Canon or Nikon TTL wireless flash system and change it from infrared-triggered slaves to radio-triggered slaves. This means you can do EVERYTHING you can normally do with your wireless flash system but at a much greater range and without the colossal drawback of your flashes needing to be in line of sight. And yes, Radiopoppers really are as magical as they sound. Not only in their design and functionality, but in what they do for your photography. They give you the freedom to shoot TTL or manual, below sync speed or above, with your slaves in line of sight or not. Radiopoppers spit in the face of compromise. You don't have to sacrifice FP flash and TTL to get radio-triggering wireless. They truly allow you to have your cake and eat it too. I can't even imagine what possibilities this will open for wedding photographers. Kevin King, you are a god among photographers.

RELIABILITY:
I found my radiopoppers to be incredibly reliable. In my shoot of a little over 300 photos, I experienced misfires 10-15 frames. That's a 97% success rate! And that 3% is most likely from flaws in the E-TTL system itself, not the radiopoppers. One unusual thing I noticed while shooting is one of my slaves would randomly fire while I wasn't shooting. I assume this is just from some sort of radio interference momentarily affecting it. But truthfully, I dunno. I should probably ask the guys at radiopopper (who are incredibly helpful by the way), but it's not enough of a problem for me to write an email. I'd say this only happened 3-5 times in the entire shoot. Never caused any problems, either.

BUILD:
The radiopopper units themselves are delightfully simple in design. The transmitter has 2 buttons, the receiver has 1. Press a button to power them up, the green light turns on, they link automatically, the amber light turns on, you're good to go. The transmitter mounts with velcro on top of your master unit and that's that. The receiver mounts with velcro somewhere on the slave (I recommend the side) and then you secure the fiber optic nylon bead over the slave's IR receiver and you're ready. The units are very small and feel real solid. The single AA battery goes inside the unit by removing 2 screws from the back. I've heard some quibbles about there not being an easily removable battery door, but that would be a poor design. These things sip power so it's unlikely you're going to need to quickly change out a bunch of batteries in the field and having a removable battery door would really sacrifice the solidity of these units. I love how solid they are and that's partly because the casing only has 2 parts-the top half and the bottom half. I'll go through the "hassle" of removing just 2 screws to change the battery every blue moon in exchange for such solid construction. The antennas are sturdy and unobtrusive. But even if you damage the antenna somehow, it is easily removed and replaced (you can also get a longer antenna for the receivers from Radiopopper if you want greater range). Overall, Radiopoppers are professionally built and I'm sure will withstand the abuses of a photographer.

COMPANY AND CUSTOMER SERVICE:
The staff at Radiopopper are great. Even though they really have their hands full with backorders, they are incredibly helpful, friendly and speedy. I've found emails are the best way to get support. They are always answered as quickly as possible with a friendly response. The company is a pleasure to work with and I am happy to support them with my purchases.

COMPLAINTS:
Can't think of any. Sorry. Besides, even if there were something I feel should be improved, this is a brand new product. I'm sure these things will evolve like all products do over the years. But really, I haven't found anything that absolutely needs to be changed. These things are awesome. I did, however, come up with a different way of attaching the nylon fiber optic bead to my flash's IR sensor. Check it out here.

RESULTS:






SUMMARY:
So in summary, these things are badass. They will make you happy. Go buy them. Radiopopper.com