Fusion TLC Raven Review: The Most Advanced Wireless Trigger

While many lighting brands today are trying to simplify their products, the Fusion TLC Raven arrives as the most feature-rich wireless trigger ever made. 

The Fusion TLC Raven is a remote radio trigger for wireless strobes or remote cameras. What makes it special? As far as I know, it does everything any other trigger can do plus way more. 

Design

The Raven's screen was made from an Android Smartwatch. This sounds strange, but it works quite well. Instead of tapping the "up" or "down" button 20 times to change the power output of your flash, you can rotate the digital bezel in a fraction of a second. The OLED digital touch screen allows for tapping, holding, and swiping through menus faster and more intuitively than anything else on the market. The only downside to the touchscreen is that the Raven takes a few seconds to boot up. It's not a huge problem, but it is much slower than any other remote with instant-on capabilities.

In case you're wearing gloves, physical buttons have been added as well for shooting in cold conditions. The only flaw I personally see with the design is that it doesn't have an additional hot shoe on the top to add a speedlight, but this may not be important to most shooters. 

Camera Brands

Right now, the Raven is available for Nikon cameras only but will soon be coming out with Canon and Sony variants. If they get enough interest, Fusion TLC will be adding additional camera brands as well. 

Flash Brands

Perhaps the most important feature of the Raven is the fact that it can work with multiple flash brands and two of them at the same time. As I am writing this, the Raven can only communicate with Profoto, Godox, and PocketWizards, but in the near future, they will be adding many other flash brands. I happen to have both Profoto and Godox lights here, and I was able to use them both and control them independently and effortlessly. 

A quick note for Profoto users: as you know, Profoto remotes do not display the current power setting of the light. The Raven gets around this software limitation by "pretending" to always be in TTL mode, allowing you to change and monitor the power setting on the Raven rather than having to look at the back of the flash. If you're in need of a new Profoto remote, the Raven is almost the same price and is superior in every way. 

Battery

The Raven has a built-in lithium-Ion battery that is charged by a Mini USB port on the side. For me, I would have preferred AA batteries because I can always replace them in a jam, but other photographers prefer the longer battery life an internal battery provides. The Raven can remain on and working for 16 hours straight or stay in hibernation mode for two weeks. 

Speaker and Microphone

Yes, this trigger has a built-in speaker and microphone. The speaker creates unique sounds to help you navigate menus and power settings that can be turned off for quiet environments. The microphone can be used as an automatic audio trigger. 

Firmware Updates and Wifi

One of the most impressive features of the Raven and one that I'd like to see in every digital product I own is its built-in Wi-Fi adapter and automatic cloud updates. Without any smartphone apps, the Raven can connect itself to the internet, download, and install firmware updates with a single touch. Being that this product is new, it's getting firmware updates every few days that are making it better and better. 

TTL, PowerTrack, and Manual

TTL is "through the lens" metering and is basically an automatic setting for your flashes. Your camera will tell the Raven how hard to fire the flash based on the image you're composing, and the Raven will communicate that with TTL-enabled flashes. Manual is obviously full manual, and "PowerTrack" is a hybrid of the two. When in PowerTrack, you set the flash power manually, and then, it will change based on ISO or aperture changes on the camera. This can be used in the studio when you are changing the depth of field but want to keep the same exposure. 

Focus Assist and White Light

The front of the Raven has both an infrared light to help with autofocusing and a white light that can be used to expose your scene or to simply use as a flashlight. 

High-Speed Sync

The Raven can communicate with high-speed sync flashes, but it can also time and graph your flash's duration, and then, you can fine-tune which part of the flash you want showing up in your exposure in its "SyncView" setting.  Most light meters can't even do this, and the ones that can, like the Sekonic Speedmaster L-858D-U, cost $600. 

Real-Time Noise Interference Indicator

Have you ever shown up to a location and had your flash trigger's reliability drop? Certain places have more radio noise than others. The Raven can view this "noise" from all available channels at once and let you know which one will be the most reliable. 

Remote Trigger Ping

When you're firing a flash remotely, you can see if the flash is firing. If you're firing a camera remotely, you simply have to hope everything is working properly. The Raven can relay back to the firing trigger to let you know that your remote camera is in fact functioning properly. 

Wakeup Mode

The Raven can go into hibernation mode for up to two weeks and wake up your camera at a certain time and date. This is important for situations when you need to set up remote cameras in advance to be fired on a later date. 

MultiPop and SpeedCycle

MultiPop allows you to fire the light multiple times during one exposure. SpeedCylce allows you to set up multiple lights and fire them sequentially during different exposures. This could be used if you're shooting a scene where people are moving through your frame in the same direction again and again (like a race). 

Time-lapse Mode

If your camera doesn't have a timelapse mode, the Raven can take over. Simply set the interval and duration, and the Raven will take your time-lapses for you. 

Conclusion

The Fusion TLC Raven is a pretty outrageous product. For most photographers, it is absolutely overkill, but for a select few, it is exactly what they've been wishing for. If you shoot with Godox lights, and you don't need any of these extra features, you'd be foolish to buy the Raven for $449 when the Godox remote does everything you need for $69. But, if you shoot Profoto, and you need a new remote, you'd be foolish not to buy the Raven. It's better than the Profoto remote in every way (other than boot-up time and removable batteries), and it's almost exactly the same price. 

Like most ultra-specialized products, I can't recommend the Raven to everyone, but for those of you who need these features, you're going to love it. Even though very few of us will ever use the Raven's crazy features, we should all appreciate the incredible amount of work that went into this product, and because it's basically a little touchscreen computer, it will only get better with each new firmware update. 

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16 Comments

Alex Cooke's picture

Wow. Add Broncolor support and I'll definitely be buying one.

Tdotpics photography's picture

yep ..i feel that

Benoit Pigeon's picture

Not sure if it is possible due to the fact that Bron does not offer TTL and HSS. May be there is a way to control the units in both HSS and HS, and I'm sure the Raven manufacturer already knows.Typically you get one or the other. If this can be done and you have older low end Broncolor then you would need a second Raven for receiver. After tax this is a $1k purchase but with lots of potential as long as the product support keeps coming. Having two Ravens would also be good for back up.

Alex Cooke's picture

I just spoke with them over email and they mentioned that Broncolor support should be available in the coming months!

Richard Twigg's picture

Wow. The ability to use Profoto and Godox simultaneously makes this very tempting.

Leopold Bloom's picture

I wonder how many people own both simultaneously.

Richard Twigg's picture

I'd like to know. I've been slowly moving over to Profoto but keeping my Godox kit.

Tammie Lam's picture

Wow. If they make it a little bigger - it would be bigger than the camera itself!

David Pavlich's picture

:-) That's the first thing I thought when I saw the picture.

Indy Thomas's picture

Looks very capable.
What puzzles me is that every flash I have seen for the last 5-10 years offer multi-pop mode. I am wondering just who uses this feature more than once and how it gets equal billing to manual and TTL modes.

Jan Holler's picture

It may be a great trigger but a) it looks very chunky and ugly and b) it looks fragile. Have a look at 0:45 and how it bends sideways. And c) it can't be locked to the socket (I do not see any mechanism for that).

Lee Morris's picture

It has a spring-loaded pinch mechanism that works very well and locks on to the hotshoe.

david evans's picture

Add Fuji...and I will buy one!!!

Jim Cutler's picture

I love mine. I mix lights too, but having the readout for my Profotos is something I've wanted for a long time. This does many more useful things I need to explore. The little light you can turn on at the front fixed a catchlight problem I had yesterday. Someone asked if it's too big. It's not. Smaller than the on cam flashes I used to use. Very easy to operate. Cool piece of kit.

Jan Holler's picture

As nice as the readout is it is unreliable (see text). I use Elinchrom ELB400 and if I turn the dial on the remote too fast, the displayed value is not the same as on the flash itself.
It is too big, at least for me. I got two camera bodies with remote flash triggers (and control) installed. If I carry both an me such a big trigger would be in the way. It is more for studio, i.e. tripod use I guess.

Jim Cutler's picture

Hi Jan, yeah it has to fit your need or it doesn't. I find the dial easy to use. It's only a little bigger than the Profoto trigger. And YES you're right, I use it in studio.