02 May PocketWizard FlexTT5 Hot Shoe Mount Fix
PocketWizard radio triggers… I love ’em. 95% of the time I have zero issues and they are worth every penny spent on them. That’s saying something too, because I own 7 of them. My current PocketWizard arsenal consists of: 4 – FlexTT5’s, 1 – MiniTT1, 2 – PowerMC2’s, 1 – AC3, and 3 – AC9’s.
There is one flaw I’ve found in the PocketWizard FlexTT5’s hot shoe mount (the part that tightens to the camera end) is not built out of the strongest material. It performs just fine when mounted by itself to a camera to trigger other radios, however, if you slide a speedlite onto the Flex (it’s intended use), the added weight and torque that the speedlite can apply to the Flex’s mount can become too much and… it breaks, rendering that hot shoe mount useless. It’s kind of shocking that PW didn’t think this one through, or even make a change in future production of the product after what I’m guessing is a very large number of photographers having this issue. A speedlite/Flex rig can easily put a couple pounds of force on this single small piece of plastic (and especially stressful on the mount when the speedlite is situated sideways), and it’s only a matter of time before each and every Flex hot shoe mount will fail. Why it’s not metal to begin with is beyond me.
Good news is that you can call PocketWizard up, tell them your problem, and they will send you a new mount to replace the broken one. The bad news is that it’ll cost you $20 per replacement mount. The repair process is simple enough to do yourself in under 5 minutes, but frustrating that you have to do this to begin with.
I started doing my own research, ’cause even if I start shelling out for replacement parts, if I continue to perform my job within it’s normal bounds the new ones will break too, and that’s not cool. I found that Manfrotto makes a cold shoe mount that will fit the 1/4-20 screw thread in the bottom of the Flex. It’s called the Manfrotto 262 (click for link), and it’s only 5 bucks! This will provide you a METAL mount on the bottom of your Flex, so you don’t have to squirm at the thought of mounting a speedlite sideways on your flex any more.
Yes, the Manfrotto 262 is a cold shoe, meaning that you can’t send any communications though it, but the fact is that you’ll never have to. The only functioning hot shoe mount you’ll need will be the PW you have connected to your camera. The other PW’s you are sending signals to will only require that the top mount (where the speedlite mounts) to be “hot,” which it will be.
I would recommend anyone who uses FlexTT5’s to buy the Manfrotto 262 mounts, even if you haven’t experienced any mount issues. The new mount does not interfere with any operations you may put the Flex through, you won’t even know it’s there. I’ve purchased one for each of my Flex’s. Now I’ll use the metal Manfrotto cold shoe mount when I’m using Flex’s on the lighting end, and use the native hot shoe mount when using the Flex on the camera.
It’s important that I point out which is already obvious in the photos… the adapted mount does not have a tightening down type of fastener like the original hot shoe mount has. This means that your umbrella adapters will need to be able to tighten down on the cold shoe mount. A lot of umbrella adapters will have an adjustable slider that will allow you to squeeze the shoe mount to keep it in place.