Blazzeo Wireless Trigger for Alpha


For many Alpha users, the prospect of firing studio lights or other flashes (apart from the proprietary kind) results in a journey of exploration. Exploration of the limitations of the minolta/sony flash system, and the limitations of a camera body without a sync port. Some avail to the seedy underworld of ebay products with questionable reliability. You know you’re shopping in that sordid aisle when you’re just happy that it works when you get it. I recently needed my backup body to work with my studio lights, but was in a jam because the sync port on my main body was fried, and my backup had no sync port to begin with. I could use an onboard flash, but not only did that slow the camera’s response time down, but also contributed, albeit only a little bit of unwanted light. The solution was to find a wireless trigger that fit the Alpha hotshoe mount, or something to run off of a hotshoe adapter. My current hotshoe adapter proved to be unreliable, three of them randomly stopped working, so I decided to remove the adapter from the system. There are now some manufacturers that make alpha mount transmitters, and a transceiver set costs around $180 Cdn. Not too bad considering that is still cheaper than the Sony proprietary hotshoe adapter, but just for kicks I ordered a Blazzeo set from hong kong, seeing as how the price was only $29 Cdn including shipping. It took 2 weeks to get here. So here’s what you get in the package: There are currently two versions available from the supplier, a 4 channel version and a 16 channel version. Mine is the 4 channel type. In terms of build quality, it is sufficient, though not robust. The plastic outer shell reminds me of a dollar store childrens toy, flexible and loosely assembled. I’m sure if I dropped either piece on a hardwood floor, it would crack. That said, you should be treating these with extra care, like the rest of your gear. I work largely with a portable setup and pack and repack these between 6 and 10 times a day. So far, no damage after 2 weeks of use. The battery in the transmitter was dead on arrival, leading me to my first complaint. It is a mild irritant, but the manual included does not have instructions on how to replace the battery. There is a screw on the underside, covered by a sticker, and at the back, you can press in with your finger nail to release the clip. This exposes all of the electronics while you change the battery. A simple battery compartment would have made things easier. That battery was about $7 at Zellers. (total cost: $36) There is a button on the top of the transmitter to test the battery and test fire the slave. A simple red light will flicker when pressed and the receiver will also flickr to confirm the signal. The receiver works off of two AAA batteries included in the package. Mine were dated 2006, but have worked fine thus far. The receiver mounts on the hotshoe with a reassuring click. At least it was reassuring for a moment before I realized that there is no button to remove it. After playing with it for a while, again with no instructions in the booklet included in the package, I discovered that what seemed to be a loose fitting was in fact the release. By rocking the transmitter forward and pushing back, it will slide off. At first I thought for sure I would break it, and I would not be surprised if some people have. You just need to keep rocking it until it releases. Yes, if you’re like me, you noticed that I have very dry hands. As for performance, as I mentioned I’ve been using this set for about 2 weeks, at approximately 200 shots a day without misfire. I have also tested them for range and while I can get the trigger to fire at ~160 feet, syncing at that range becomes a problem, though the manufacturer only claims a 15-40m range outdoors, and “>10m” indoors, whatever that means. They claim a sync speed of up to 1/250th, and my lights seem to max out at 1/200th. I have also rigged up a connector for my flashes, and I’ve been able to sync at only 1/125th that way. Here is the specs for those wondering voltage etc… Bottom line: For $36 Cdn I had a simple wireless system that for most purposes works well. Though fragile compared to most other systems, the Opus and Cameron systems bear a striking resemblance and similar build quality. With additional receivers costing only an additional $7 each, the system is also expandable, with a working range under 100′. For a budget option, and for somebody not looking for higher speed syncing or extensive use outdoors, this is a surprisingly good option for people using camera bodies that do not have sync ports. For people wanting to run these on a non-alpha body, the transmitter also has a sync cord attachment that is a simple 1/8th’ jack. Would I buy another if it broke? Yes. Will it probably break in the next year? With my use, probably, but we’ll see with time.

Useful links: If you want to rig one of these to your flash, This would be useful. Where I got mine: Here
These are also available in standard hotshoe format, and a variation exists with a hotshoe built into the receiver.

A parting shot

 

UPDATE:

Well, it’s been several hundred shoots, and several thousand shots later.  This trigger is still working.  It became inconsistent a couple of weeks ago, so I picked up another receiver for it.  So far it’s been working, and I think the battery is dying in the transmitter.  So with some recent projects leaving me feeling a little constricted, I’ve moved on to a more versatile setup in the Flashwave 2.  I’ll put up my thoughts when I’ve had a chance to play around with it some more.

-Josh-

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