Equipment compatibility issues are nothing new. Most of us learned long ago to think carefully about cross-compatibility. But new tech comes along all the time, making that increasingly difficult. And sometimes maybe we’re one light short for a lighting setup we’re envisioning. In situations like these, it’s nice to have options. A whole studio makeover isn’t in the budget for most of us, and sometimes it would be nice to use speedlights to flesh out a scene lit primarily by strobes.
Last year I reviewed Westcott’s FJ400 strobe and FJ-X2m Wireless Radio Trigger (“Freed Up: Westcott FJ400 Strobe and FJ-X2M Trigger,” January 2020). I applauded Westcott for creating a remote trigger that was compatible with multiple camera brands. Now Westcott has upped its game with the FJ-XR Wireless Receiver. This little add-on allows you to use any third-party flash, speedlight, or strobe in your lighting setup, with or without FJ400 strobe units.
This may not seem like a big deal, but it is. By adding this functionality, Westcott opens the door for photographers to use a blended lighting system with speedlights and strobes. It also gives us the ability to transition our equipment to the Westcott platform gradually rather than buying a new studio kit in one shot. You could even get the FJ-XR receivers for all your third-party strobes and use them with the FJ-X2m trigger on its own even if you don’t have an FJ400 strobe unit. This could also be a good solution if you use older studio strobes and don’t yet have a trigger/receiver system. When the radio trigger for my studio strobes died a few years ago, I wished for something simple like this. It would have been perfect.
Speaking of simple, using the FJ-XR is a breeze—it’s literally plug and play. You plug it into the sync port on your flash or strobe, turn it on, select a channel and group, and then forget about it. The unit connects using a 2.4GHz frequency, no setup or pairing required. Since it relies on the sync port, you don’t have to deal with wired or optical sensor communication; you can pretty much put your lights anywhere. My testing didn’t include the range, but the spec sheet claims 164 feet if unobstructed.
The FJ-XR has a rechargeable battery that takes one hour to charge via USB-C connection. On a full charge it lasts for 15 hours of use, and the battery itself lasts for 500 charge cycles. I appreciate the folding 3.5mm sync plug, which allows compact storage (and keeps you from getting poked if it happens to be in your pocket).
I took the Westcott wireless duo (FJ-XR and FJ-X2m) and a third-party strobe light on a location session to test its performance in the field. Everything worked as expected, and I had no equipment issues.
It’s worth mentioning that you won’t be able to use the Westcott system to adjust the output on a third-party flash or strobe. I made my adjustments on the strobe itself. Since I was never more than 30 feet from my strobe, this was no big deal.
Westcott’s FJ-XR Wireless Receiver is a clever product. It can be used on third-party strobes and flashes, and that benefit, along with the price point, makes this a smart, budget-friendly option. I still remember how much I spent when I had to buy new transceivers for my studio setup—four units, plus a fifth for my camera. It set me back about $500. Now you can get four FJ-XRs and one FJ-X2m for about $200. Sold.
Yes, Westcott’s FJ-XR offers limited functionality. But if you’re looking for something simple that works with the gear you already have, maybe this is the right choice for you.
The FJ-XR Wireless Receiver allows third-party flashes to be controlled with Westcott’s FJ-X2m Wireless Radio Trigger and retails for $24.90. The FJ-X2m flash trigger retails for $99.90.
Betsy Finn has a portrait studio, Betsy’s Photography, in Michigan.
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