Review: Phottix Strato II Mulit

After having and using the Yongnuo RF-603N’s extensively for about 7 months, I’ve decided that I need a better Radio Trigger, or maybe I should say, a more featured radio trigger.  Enter Phottix’s Strato II Multi radio triggers.

Each Transmitter and Receiver comes with a bunch of cables and even batteries!

Down to brass tacks, what does over twice the price get you?  TTL pass through and AF assist.  (You also get channels, groups, and a few more connection options.  They are also a bit easier to use then the Yongnuos, namely the on off switch is easier to reach, but that’s all just icing on the cake).

Features:

  1. TTL pass through and AF-assist.  Works just like if the flash was attached directly to the camera.  If these were an ice cream cake, this would be the chocolate ice cream. Note: these do not send TTL information to the receivers.  For that I think you need something like the Pocket Wizards, but its not that bad having any off camera flash in manual…
  2. A logical on off switch.  This would be those crunchy chocolate crumbles and fudge sauce.
  3. Groups, it has them. 4 to be exact; A, B, C, and D.  Only really useful if you have more then one receiver.  It actually works out very well.  I can put my key light on A, my fill on B, and any additional light on C.  This way I can turn only A on and check that, then once I’ve adjusted it to my liking, I switch to B only and repeat.  Even though I still have to adjust the flash manually (ie walk over to it and change it) this is much easier than with the Yongnuos because I’d have to take the flash off the trigger, turn it off, then put the flash back on.  They’re easy to turn on and off, just push the little rubber button and the LED tells you if its on.  This would be the frilly icing edges.
  4. Channels, it also has them.  Really only useful if there’s someone else using this brand of triggers near you or if there’s a lot of interference on channel 1.  I suppose you could use it kinda like groups, but I don’t think you can fire all channels at once.  Maybe if you had a whole bunch of receivers and flashes and needed to light separate rooms, you could set up channels by rooms and then switch channels when you go into the room?  This would be those little icing flowers that are kinda crunchy.
  5. Connections, it has lots of options.  It comes with cables to attach to the ‘GPS’ port on my camera (to act as a remote shutter release) as well as other cables for other purposes.  I’m assuming for attaching to a camera’s PC sync port, but since mine doesn’t have one, I don’t know.  I think the Hot-shoe link is perfectly fine.  This would be the icing writing that says “Happy Birthday!”

Miscellany:

  • Yep, it takes AAA Eneloop batteries!
  • It has screw clamps to attach to those little flash feet.

Compared to the Yongnuo RF-603n:

The Phottix’s are a little larger than the Yongnuos due to all the awesomeness crammed in there, but still pretty small.

The Bad (from worst to least):

  1. They are a lot more expensive than the Yongnuos, these will set you back a little more than twice what it would cost for the same amount of triggers.
  2. You have to have a transmitter and a receiver.  As far as I can tell, you have to have a receiver attached to the camera and use the transmitter as a remote release.  This is annoying.  I’ve acted as a stand in light stand a few times and using the Yongnuos I could still trigger the camera, which then triggered the shot with lighting.  With the Phottix, I don’t think you can do that.  I just use my Yongnuos as a trigger now…
  3. The Group selection lights are a little hard to see in bright sun light.
  4. The plastic feels cheaper than the Yongnuos.

The Verdict:

The only real down side to the Phottixs when compared to the Yongnuos is the price difference.  If you’re not sure if you want to get into off camera lighting, then go with the Yongnuos, they will get the job done and it won’t cost much.  These are upgrades of the Yongnuos in almost every way.

As far as I can tell, there is no way to trigger another set of flash triggers with a flash on the Phottix.  The only way I can find to do this is to attach a Yongnuo onto the Phottix, but of course, this means no TTL or AF-assist…  I tried every combination of cable and connection possible, but couldn’t get it to work.  It’s unfortunate, but I guess that just means I have to use one or the other.

Field Testing:

I’ve got a few things coming up in October that will put these to good use.  I’ll update my review with some field tests probably in late October.

As usual, feel free to post your opinion of these if you’ve used them.

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