Phottix has been putting out some great stuff lately, specifically the Odin system recently released for Nikon. Last year I picked up a set of their (yet to be released at the time) triggers and receivers. Four office moves, three new apartments, a move to a new country, and having a child delayed me from reviewing the Odin system for many months. But on a positive note, this did give me six more months to use the units before reviewing them.
ABOUT THE SYSTEM (straight from Phottix)
- Wireless 2.4GHz. TTL and Manual Flash Triggering
- Remote power control of groups in TTL with +/- EV adjustments (3 stops in 1/3 stop increments – 18 different levels.)
- Remote manual mode flash power control with 1/3 stop adjustments
- Remote flash head zoom adjustments – auto or manual
- Mix TTL and Manual flash – fire some groups in TTL, others as manual
- Remote power control in A:B ratio modes with +/- EV adjustments
- High speed sync – shutter speeds up to 1/8000 sec.
- Second curtain sync functions
- Compatible with Phottix Strato 4-in-1 and Phottix Strato II Multi 5-in-1 Wireless Triggers
- Upgradeable firmware via built-in USB port.
The Look - Black plastic. Matches well with all Nikon camera bodies. Looks solid with no weird angles or parts sticking out that can break off. See pictures below.
Menu System - The menu system is very straight forward. You can learn how to use most of the functions in less than 5 minutes. There are three groups that you can cycle through as well as four channels. You do the math on what the options are as far as light groups and individual controls. Switching between manual and TTL is very easy. Adjustments are easily made with the huge forward/backward button layouts.
Features – Listed below are the BEST features of the Odin system, as I see them:
High Speed Sync- The HSS works exactly like it’s supposed to. See the images below. You can hide quite a bit of light shooting at 1/8000th of a second.
A:B Ratio Mode - This is nice, but I haven’t used it nearly as much as I thought I would outside of adjusting hair lights. All this does is increase the intensity of one light set and reduce the other. It’s nice for product photography work. One other really nice thing about it is that it works perfectly with high-speed sync. Check out the images below, they were fired using both A:B ratio and HSS.
Wireless TTL – It works. It’s nice. On the SB-900′s it even was enough to ‘focus’ the distance of the flash head remotely. It’s remote TTL, what else do I need to say?
Range – The range is great. I’ve used them at a distance of over 100 feet. In fact, during a studio session last year I accidentally fired my flashes from two stories above my studio while outside.
Updateability - Simply put, it’s a good thing to have a set of triggers that will receive new firmware from time to time. This means that the ODIN’s will more than likely become more and more compatible.
Durability – I’m really hard on my gear. If you read my other reviews, you’ll see that. Heck, if you look at my gear you’ll see that. I’ve thrown both the receivers and the transmitter around quite a bit and nothing has broken or chipped off. All are working just fine. One thing I did notice specifically about the Odin’s is that there aren’t any weird angles or antennae that would easily snap apart. I’ve broken both a set of CyberSyncs and also a set of Pocket Wizards.
Nonetheless, these triggers are plastic minus the hot shoe on the transmitter. Plastic things will eventually crack or break.
The not-so-good – Just a few things that stood out to me:
Compatibility – With TTL being that made attraction for these triggers, it would be nice to see them work with more lights. I tested these with SB-600′s, SB-800′s, SB-900′s, Alien Bees and also Phottix’s own PPL-400 strobes. While everything could fire, only the 600 ,800, and 900′s would do so with a TTL signal. Sadly, there is no compatibility with the Alien Bees or the PPL-400s. It would be a nice feature and one I was surprised to not see (radio poppers) in such a feature-rich package. Nonetheless, it wasn’t a big deal for me because I manually control just about everything. I like to be in control of the amount of light I’m using.
I also found the the focus assist lights, test, and AF-ILL were sporadic from light to light, the SB-900′s being the only units with perfect compatibility. Again, this will probably be fixed and improved upon with firmware patches.
Ready Button – Simply put, the ‘ready’ button didn’t do a thing. The only way I knew my flashes were recharged was by listening.
Random Firing Issues - I’ve noticed that the triggers will randomly fire on the set that I have. This will probably be fixed with a future firmware update. This has little to no effect on the reliability of the units and it could be indicative of just my copy. However, it is worth mentioning.
RX Battery Drain – This seems intermintant, but kind of a big deal because I’m forgetful. If you leave the receivers on they will drain quite quickly without any ‘rest’ mode. The transmitter doesn’t have this issue, which is a huge plus. The transmitter will actually go into a ‘rest’ mode where there is little to no battery drain. I rarely replace the transmitters batteries, which is nice.
This is normal since you don’t want your triggers shutting down while in the middle of a long shoot. But seven hours later they are still going to be on.
The Conclusion - For under $400 you can get the transmitter and two sets of receivers. That’s a good deal considering the same functionality is well over $600 from other brands. They are a decent looking and highly functional set of triggers with some great updatability. The system, despite a some obvious flaws, has worked very well for what I’ve needed over the last 1.5 years.