One of the most important things I have learned when it comes to using a flash is getting it off the camera. There is a good reason for that: it allows for more control over where I place the light. A very important tool for this is a wireless flash trigger. I tested out the Hahnel Combi TF Remote Control & Flash Trigger for Nikon DSLRs and, for the most part, I like it. It is a question of value really. If you can manage without a typical name brand like PocketWizard, you will find this interesting.
As a remote control, the Combi TF allows wireless control of the camera’s shutter release, auto focus, continuous shooting, bulb mode, and 4-second timer delay trigger.
Radio Frequency (RF) System
As the remote transmits on the reliable FSK 2.4 GHz radio frequency, a line of sight is not a requirement for operation. Furthermore, radio waves can pass through and around obstacles such as walls and floors, triggering the camera around corners.
With interchangeable cables available for all major brands, the Combi TF is the ideal remote control for a wide variety of DSLR cameras.
Remote Flash Trigger
The remote triggering of flash units is also possible with the Combi TF. Using multiple receivers, several portable flash units can be fired simultaneously, along with triggering studio lights.
Firing Studio Lights
When you mount the transmitter on your camera hot shoe, you can fire your studio lights by connecting the receiver via a hahnel Studio Light Cable to your particular strobe (not included). The light is then triggered by the shutter release on the camera.
Additional receivers (not included) enable you to trigger multiple flash units and studio lights simultaneously. A short 6″ (150mm), Studio Light Cable (not included) attaches the Combi TF receiver to the studio light.
The triggers are built well. I was a little cautious with them, not because I thought they would break though. I was worried about the button on the trigger being pushed while in the bag as there is no simple on/off switch for the remote. I do wish the tightening wheels were a tad bit bigger for someone like me with larger fingers. It would give them a little better control when attaching them to the camera and a light stand.
Ease of Use and Settings
Setting up the Hahnel Combi TF Remote Control & Flash Trigger is really quick and straight-forward. After a quick look at the well-written and easy to read instructions, it was only a matter of minutes before I was testing the triggers. When using the remote flash control, the flash must be in Manual mode because TTL signals are not transmitted. Most users will have to read their manuals for the speedlights so that they get all the manual settings correct. It’s actually a good learning experience.
The styling of the Hahnel Combi TF Remote Control & Flash Trigger is minimalist, but nice. These triggers have a great, pocketable size to them. They are not overwhelming and don’t take up too much room in the bag. The connectors are all well placed as are the intuitive buttons.
The interchangeable cables, which are a great size, allow it to work with the most of the Nikon DSLR range. (D5100, D700, D300, D300s, D200, D90, D80 & D70s, D3, D3s, D3x, D2x, D2xs, D2H, D2Hs, D1, D1x & D1H)
Switching the channels is easy. The switches area for these is in the battery compartment so you don’t have to worry about accidentally switching them. That can be a bit of a pain though if you’re dealing with multiple channels.
Battery life so far has been very good and it’s still clicking. I took the triggers out with me to shoot spring flowers and some macro images.
The Range Test
The Combi TF Remote Control & Flash Trigger had a very good range. I could get a good distance away from them and still trigger them. Note that the flash is on the bridge as I move back.
I did have a few issues with the Combi TF Remote Control & Flash Trigger. First of all, I wish there were a simple on/off switch on the Combi TF Remote Control. I keep worrying about the trigger button being pressed while traveling. It’s an easy way to go through the battery faster. When I carry it in my Tamrac Evolution 8, I put it in the side pouch by itself.
I also wish the triggers came with something to carry them in: like a small plush case. I used a little pouch, that I already had, to carry them. My biggest issue was that occasionally the Combi TF Remote Control would drop connection and I would have to reset it by pulling the battery out. It did not happen often but when it did it was annoying. It did not happen at a distance, mind you. It happened within a very short distance during my tests.
Nonetheless, it is an issue to keep in mind.
In the End
While this trigger does not have the features of the TTL Phottix Odins, it does work well. These triggers are for those wanting to move their flash photography to its next logical step. They can be used for virtually any style of photography that requires an off camera flash. I really like using it with my Nikon 40mm F2.8 macro lens which works brilliantly with off camera lighting.
I do like the Hahnel Combi TF Remote Control & Flash Trigger for Nikon. It fits with my styles of photography. It will be used a lot in my coffee photography as well as my macro photography. As I move more into portraits it will be an invaluable tool. I thought the lack of TTL metering would be an issue but it turns out it is not. I am taking the chance to gain a better understanding of the manual controls on my flash.
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