It’s here. The Phottix Odin, an ETTL capable remote flash trigger that has just hit the market. The release announcement was today and they will start shipping next week. I’ll add some links to the Phottix Store as soon as it’s ready to buy. From talk that’s gone on around the photography world in recent months, this is a device that has been eagerly awaited by many since it was first announced earlier this year. As a Phottix-sponsored photographer, I’ve had the opportunity to spend some time over the past few months testing with demo samples of the Odin and providing some feedback to Phottix from real world situations. Now that it’s been released, I can offer you my thoughts on this unit. What follows is based on my experiences with the Odin and is in no way influenced by my relationship with Phottix.
Firstly though, some specs. So far, the Odin is only available for Canon but they are working on a Nikon version. The Phottix Odin boasts the following.
- Frequency: 2.4 GHz
- Distance: 100m+
- Channels: 4 channels
- Groups: 3 groups – A, B, C
- Batteries: 2 x AA batteries (TCU and Receiver), 5V DC on receiver (external power port)
- Max sync speed: 1/8000 sec*
- Output: Hot shoe, 3.5 mm port (receiver)
- Input: USB port (transmitter and receiver)
- Attachment: 1/4 tripod lug, cold shoe (Receiver)
- Input voltage:2.4-3.2V
- Flash port voltage handling: 6V (transmitter) ≤300V(receiver)
- Body dimensions: 94(L) x 66(W) x 35(H) mm, (transmitter), 90(L) x 45(W) x 40(H) mm (receiver)
- Antenna: built-in PCB antenna
- Weight: 105g (transmitter), 66g (receiver) – without batteries
- Operating temperature: -15—65 C
- Storage temperature: -30—85 C
* On compatible cameras / flashes
Notice that maximum sync speed – 1/8000. Pretty sweet. Here’s proof.
For years now, I’ve been a dedicated proponent of manual flash usage. Give me a speedlight with manual settings and a remote trigger and I can eyeball a scene and get my settings correct first time 90% of the time. There’s no secret to it, it’s just a factor of experience and knowing my gear. I was never interested in TTL, possibly because Canon’s ETTL leaves a lot to be desired when compared to Nikon CLS. With the Phottix Odin though, that’s all changed. Now, when I need to use a speedlight or three in my work, it’s the Phottix Odin that I find myself reaching for.
Nothing is more frustrating during a photo shoot than setting up lights and then finding you need to adjust the power, especially after you’ve placed the light in a hard to reach place. Perhaps you’re balancing the speedlight with late afternoon ambient light and as the natural levels decrease, you need to make a corresponding adjustment to your strobe to maintain the correct balance. Assuming you don’t want to adjust your aperture to affect the flash output, you need to walk over to the light, lower the stand, make your power adjustment and put it back in place. Sounds simple, but if you and your subject are in a “zone”, that small interruption may be enough to affect the mood or concentration. Which brings me to the first thing I love about the Phottix Odin. You can make all your adjustments to power settings remotely from the transmitter unit on the camera. No need to break concentration, a few clicks of the button on the Odin transmitter and you can increase or decrease the amount of light without affecting any other setting.
Two other great features of the Phottix Odin are the ability to use second-curtain sync and high-speed sync. Both of these functions have been effectively off-limits to photographers working with manual lights so to have access to them now is a fantastic step forward for a lot of people. High-speed sync is especially useful in this part of the world. Not only does it work wonders in action photography, so many location shoots seem to get scheduled during the middle of the day in here in Taiwan and having a high-speed sync function makes it simple to kill the ambient if needed. While a photographer would always try and schedule a location shoot when the light is better, it’s not always up to the photographer so this is a real help. More commonly though, you’ll probably be using it in action shots, especially if it’s just a touch of fill lighting you need. You will lose a stop or two of light when using high-speed sync but as long as you’re aware of that and work around it, you shouldn’t find it an issue.
With about 4 months of use of the Phottix Odin in hand now, I can safely give it a big thumbs up. I’m told that the final release version has had a firmware update which will allow it compatibility with the Phottix Strato flash trigger. This is big news, as it makes for a much easier upgrade path for a lot of photographers. Those Strato’s you already have won’t just sit there gathering dust if you pick up a set of Phottix Odin. Note that I haven’t actually been able to test this personally as my copy of the Odin is an earlier test model. If I get my hands on one of the production versions, I’ll be sure to give it a try and let you know.
UPDATE – Phottix sent me the firmware upgrade which can conveniently be done via the USB port on the units and I made the quick and easy upgrade to give me compatibility with my Strato units. I’ll do some testing over the weekend and post the results in a couple of days.