While this might seem straight forward, I quickly learned this isn’t the case if you shoot Sony and use custom trigger buttons to fire remote cameras.
Read on for the details…
Please see my previous post Sony Alpha, PocketWizard and remote cameras if you are unfamiliar with triggering remote cameras.
E Release Firmware
PocketWizard’s E Release Firmware is a paid upgrade that adds features like additional channels and extended range. New radios come with E Release preinstalled and most older models can be upgraded.
All your radios need to be on either Classic or E Release to work together due to frequency changes. In my opinion, the upgrade is worth the small cost.
April 2023 Updates
Previously there were only two options for firmware updates: Classic or E Release. However the April 2023 update brought a new option with two choices of E Release available.
PocketWizard still hasn’t published release notes so myself and other Sony photographers I know naturally selected version 2.840.
Unfortunately this meant our custom trigger buttons stopped working. Switching to firmware 2.740 brought the buttons back to life.
I had a great dialog with PocketWizard support and found out some interesting information worth sharing.
Mono vs. Stereo
Most custom trigger buttons use a mono 3.5mm mini connector for connecting to the PocketWizard. It turns out this was the problem.
Changes for the Sony specific 2.8 firmware cause the radio sync port to only work with stereo connectors. The 2.7 firmware continues to work with both mono and stereo plugs.
PocketWizard support shared:
“The PocketWizard radios are designed to trigger when the circuit closes, and stop when it opens. It’s a very simple system. The problem with the Sony cameras is that when the camera goes to sleep, that circuit closes. That means the radio gets a signal to start triggering, so it will just start triggering, as it’s supposed to do. Version 2.840 solves that issue but basically disables the mono mini jack.”
Thankfully radios running any E Release firmware version remain compatible with each other. This means you can mix and match between those versions which allows for some flexibility.
“A Plus IIIe transmitter on 2.740 has no problems triggering a Plus IIIe receiver running 2.840. It is OK to mix and match between firmwares 2.740 and 2.840.”
- A remote Sony camera should be paired with a receiver running firmware 2.8.
- If a handheld Sony camera is being used to trigger a remote each time the shutter button is pressed; a S-VPR1-ACC cable must be used and the transmitter should be running firmware 2.8.
- If a custom trigger button is used to fire the transmitter, it can be on firmware 2.7 for a “legacy” mono cable or 2.8 for a stereo cable.
- While the 13377-S cable works for the receiver, it might not wake up the remote camera if it sleeps.
With this knowledge deciding on a workaround is needed.
1. One option is replacing the mono jacks on trigger buttons with stereo jacks which then allows use of firmware 2.8 on all radios for maximum Sony compatibility. This also means you can use any radio for any function without thinking about it.
If you built your own buttons this might not be too hard, but likely isn’t an option if you purchased one.
2. Another option, if you only ever use a custom button with a “legacy” mono jack, is to mix and match firmware versions. A dedicated transmitter on firmware 2.7 and dedicated receivers on firmware 2.8 will maintain compatibility.
A downside of this approach is that more care is required when setting up before a game to make sure the right radios get used for the transmitter and remote. Another is that if you want to switch to shutter button triggering you either need to change transmitters or upgrade the firmware before hand.
For now I’m mixing and matching firmware versions with dedicated transmitters and receivers. However I plan to test stereo connectors on my trigger buttons so I can eventually switch to the Sony specific firmware on all radios.
Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to help.