Just because your speedlite doesn’t have radio wireless built-in it doesn’t mean you can’t add it on later. Both Yongnuo and Godox make some excellent radio triggers and can bring a new lease of life into budget speedlites or older models than don’t include radio wireless. Pocket Wizard also make a top quality set for Canon and Nikon but they come at a premium price and don’t offer particularly good value for money so we haven’t included them on this website.
Radio triggers can be divided into categories depending on what range of information can be sent from the transmitter to the receiver.
Basic Manual Triggers
Basic manual triggers send just one message from the transmitter to the receiver and that is “fire”. The transmitter sits in the camera’s hotshoe and the receiver is attached to the speedlite. Every time the camera shutter is pressed the transmitter sends a signal to the receiver and tells the speedlite to fire. It’s as simple as that. If you want to change the settings on the speedlite such as controlling the flash power then you physically have to walk over to the speedlite and make the changes using the speedlite controls. You can’t set flash mode (E-TTL or manual) or power settings from the camera. If you are working in a small studio and you just have one or two lights then this isn’t a big deal. A lot of the time you can set up the lights and get the flash power correct by practicing on an assistant or using a light meter. Then when your subject arrives you don’t have to change the power settings, you can just concentrate on taking the photos. This is similar to using studio lights. If you are going to be using several lighting set-ups during a shoot and moving your lights around a lot then it’s preferable to be able to control your flash power from your camera. It also saves you from having to lower a nightstand to get to the speedlite or reach inside a soft box to fiddle around with the speedlite controls.
Advanced Manual Triggers
There are some manual triggers that allow you to increase and decrease the flash power directly from the camera.