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Guys, here is how the Odins work:
Yes, they are ALWAYS in ETTL (TTL) mode, even when they are in manual mode--it's just how they talk to the flash, or take control of it. That's why you get a preflash in manual if you trigger the flash from the camera. You can use a light meter for the Canon flashes by turning the flash to manual on the Odin TCU (or the flash itself), and then manually tripping the Canon flash using the "test" button. When the Canon flash is in manual, and you push the test button, it fires at the power setting of the flash. This is on pp22 of the 580EXII manual. You cannot "test" fire at manual power from the TCU--although I think they are working on that. In other words, if you want the manual power setting to fire at thta specific setting using "test", the only way you can do that currently is to trip the test from the flash itself, while in manual mode.
Also, the reason people think that the Odins are "all that" is because people test them in specific ways. I suspect most people use them within 10-20 feet of each other, or they use the TCU test button at 115m and get reliable flashes and think that means on camera real life is the same--it is not. I tested them today in three groups with three 580EXIIs.
Manual mode at 1/128th
Canon 1DS MKIII
At 25m, the line of sight flash misfired once in about 200 test shots.
At 25m one of the flashes hidden behind some brush misfired several times.
At 30m the flash hidden behind a large tree truck (6'diameter) misfired a lot.
Once the TCU starts to flash its green light, the first shot was the worst for misfires.
If you continue shooting (one shot every 1-2 seconds) after the TCU goes solid green light, this is the most reliable, including the 30m hidden flash.
After the TCU goes to sleep and the flash guns go to sleep, you need to push the shutter button half way down and wait a few seconds, or you will get first shot misfires almost every time. Same for changes made on the TCU.
30m doesn't sound like much, but it's a long, long way. If you have a 280-300mm lens, you could use it at that distance easy, however, especially for large subjects, like autos. So 30m is a long way, but also a short way (I like to use my 70-200 IS L Canon glass whenever I can because it is simply superior to most other glass, even the 24-70L.
Best of all, I have this documented in video. I'm going to do a more professional video test though before publishing it. The test took place where there is no RF 2.4 interference--my brother's ranch that does not get any wireless, cable, or anything else. The only wireless available at his place is his cell phone, which was off.
When testing in the city, it was noticeably worse. However, so far, at 20m or closer, and without any obstructions between the flash and TCU (wooden fences, thick brush, or cars) , the Odins are very reliable. They still require a half shutter press to wake up and talk. Same thing for any changes made on the TCU. First shot was always the least reliable.
Last, testing reliability using the TCU in your hand will not reproduce real world reliability because the test message is very small and one way. There is no talking to figure out flash durations or exposures. I've been back over 90m between cars and what have you and triggered flashes every single time that way. You can neither test with a single flash because that produces a cleaner signal rather than using multiple flashes all on their own group. If you want to truly test the unit, you need multiple flash units (unless you only plan to use one unit)
Disclaimer: The system tested is 'that" system and does not represent all systems. You cannot compare one camera system with another for reliability, for each camera and flash has it's unique way of communicating. So this test only applies to my kit. Also, I only tested using Canon 580EXII guns.
The good news: Odin is about the best thing going, even with its misfires. I just ordered a 600RT Flash tonight, and I will test again after I receive it (I won't be using the STE3 because of it limitations with older cameras, such as my 1DS MKIII, unless someone can prove that I can sync in normal mode at 1/250th, w/o the Canon STE3 system automatically going to HSS mode). I will also test using my 5D original. I will also test using ONE flash gun, first a single 580EXII and then a single 600RT.
Also, no matter what camera you use, the Canon RT system will not and cannot ever do 2nd curtain wireless, nor adjust zoom from camera position-EVER--unless Canon updates it to do such.