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Excellent, and the only choice for Sony Alpha
on 8 May 2013
Although Sony Alpha has an optical wireless system, it relies on an optical pulse system. That's fine most of the time, but it requires all slaves to be able to see the master pulse, something that won't happen if some of your Flash's are housed in softboxes or you are shooting in high ambient light outside a studio setting. That's where these wireless triggers come in. Wireless triggers also allow you to use non-Sony flashes, especially cheaper ones that fit the Sony mount but don't have the Sony optical system.
Cheaper options (such as iShoot) perform the same function as Phottix for less, but the trigger casing is simply not strong enough to hold something as big as a HVL-F58 (I tried iShoots and they simply broke in half even with the smaller '43 - it's a good job they were cheap!), and they tend to be either too tight or too loose on the mount.
So if you are on Sony and can't (or won't) use the Sony optical triggering system, then the Phottix triggers are actually your only quality, cost effective option. They work well, always fire (unlike the Sony optical system!), and are generally rugged enough for purpose (i.e. they are as physically strong as the Flashes you will be using them with, unlike cheap eBay no-name triggers).
One very important feature of Phottix is that although the wireless doesn't send TTL, the transmitter does have TTL passthrough, meaning that you can place a Sony flash on top of the transmitter (its actually a straight through dumb pass-through because it works even when the Phottix transmitter is turned off). That passed-through flash will be able to transmit Sony optical wireless... which in turn means you can have Sony optical AND Phottix wireless working at the same time.
Few additional points:
1. The Flashes on the Phottix wireless won't see the TTL information so you have to set all those Flash power ratios manually.
2. The test buttons don't work on the receivers (at least, not on the HVL-F43 or HVL-F58). Only the ones on the transmitter work. I'm guessing there's some Sony specific incompatibility/Phottix bug there, but not a biggie.
3. The receivers don't have a Sony style connector at the bottom, so you can't use the stands that are included with most Sony Flashes: you have to use a standard tripod thread.
4. The Phottix system works well with Eneloop rechargeable batteries (and so for that matter do Sony Flashes). A saving of millions in batteries!
5 The Phottix system can be configured as a remote shutter release. A nice-to-have addition!
So, for Sony cameras, the Phottix trigger is useful if you are using non-Sony Flashes (Nissin, Opteka, Yongnuo, etc) that don't use Sony's own optical wireless system, or when you are using Sony wireless and one or more Flash doesn't fire because it doesn't have line-of-sight, or when you want to use electrical signalling rather than Sony's optical signalling because it is simply more reliable over long distances or in outdoor lighting. Phottix is also useful if you have to use non-Sony mount Flashes, assuming you have bought some Nikon/Canon mount Phottix transmitters.
** Setup used in this review **
I use a Sony Alpha A77 with two HVL-F58s (setup as key and fill lights) and a HVL-F43 (setup as hair/rim or backlight). To trigger all three lights, I use the Phottix strato II set up with the transmitter off camera (via a cable), and one flash on an additional Strato II receiver that I had to buy separately. I also use Flashbender light modifiers on the Flash heads.
My preference is to use Sony optical triggering (because it allows auto exposure and ratio control), and I use the Phottix transmitters only when I can't go optical because of distance, location or high ambient.