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A rather late Pixel X800C Review

Hi Flashers…

Once again Pixel kindly sent me 2 of their new X800C flashes to test.

Whilst you read the review please remember that these were pre-production flashes so the final shipping versions may be slightly different.

If you are reading this then you will already know that the X800c has an inbuilt radio TX and RX. It follows Pixel’s own protocol and is not compatible with Canons RT system.

Please note that I have used these flashes very extensively over the past 15 weddings that I have photographed. I use both of them on my light stick as fill in flashes because I work in bright sunlit conditions.

The sample units work well as off camera flashes but they are very loose fitting when attached on to my camera’s hot shoe, the are so loose that when I tilt the camera forward the pins lose contact with the camera and the flash does not fire. I tested these flashes with Canon 5Dmk2, 1Dmk2, 6d and Eos M. The flashes did not fire on my old Canon 40D ???? For this reason I only use them as remote flashes on my Flash stick.

I was really excited to receive these flashes as I have been using YN622 triggers with various flashes and various degrees of success.

My preferred method of photographing is to have a lightweight TX on my camera so I had to buy a King Pro TX because as of now (July 2015) there is no compatibility with the old King TX.

You can read about the tech specs of the King Pro TX and the 800C on the following links:

Flash Havoc Pixel King Pro review

Flash Havoc X800c Review

Be sure to read the section about Overheat Protection, I have had these flashes shut down on my during a wedding photoshoot on a could of occasions. The batteries inside were very hot. I removed the batteries and blew air into the empty flash chamber to try and cool the flash down. If you are casual flash user then this will not be a problem but when you need a lot of repetitive pops of light the Pixels are not as good as the Canon 600EX.

First of all I tested the Pixel X800 with the old Pixel King TX and RX.x800c 01 x800c 02

I fitted it into a Beauty dish type diffuser. I used a Bowen’s fit to Speedlight adaptor that I bought from Ebay.

x800c 03

These exposures were done using ETTL flash control. I think I bumped up the flash exposure about +0.7ev to compensate for the white background.

The photo below is converted straight from RAW.

x800c 04

I photoshopped the image below:

x800c 05

A few days later I did another photoshoot with Hannah.

x800c 07

These images are straight from the RAWS using Adobe Camera Raw.

x800c 08 x800c 09

Sometimes the flash did not fire. It think I was taking photos too fast and it could not keep up. This is to be expected.

x800c 10

What is not expected is every now and then the flash would fire at full power??? This was not expected and seems to be a bug with the old King TX / Rx Combination.

x800c 11 x800c 12

But from 264 exposures I only had the  2 completely overexposed images above.

The rest of the photos came out fine….

x800c 13 x800c 14 x800c 15 x800c 16 x800c 17

So eventually the King Pro TX arrived in the post.

If you buy a King PRO you will need to update it to the latest firmware to work with the x800c flashes. I tried using my Mac to do the Firmware update but it did not work so I eventually used a Windows 7 Laptop to successfully update the firmware.

X800c & Pixel King Pro 01 X800c & Pixel King Pro 02

The flash is in Radio RX mode and in communication with the King Pro TX. It displays King ETTL on the LCD.

X800c & Pixel King Pro 03 X800c & Pixel King Pro 04

This is my flash stick.

Please note that I am using an external li-ion battery pack.

It is not a Pixel product nor is it compatible product.

If you want to use your existing external battery packs that have a standard Canon fitting THEY WILL NOT WORK!!!!

I have hacked the connector to make it fit for the purposes of  this test to see how many times I can take photos before the overheat protection kicks in.

Pixel sell a very good external battery pack that is powered by AA batteries, but it only powers 1 flash. For most photographers this will be enough but not for me…

X800c & Pixel King Pro 05

So now I have the perfect flash stick which is less prone to problems because….. the RX is inside the flash…. no external RX compatibility to worry…..no lose connection to worry about….no extra batteries to worry about

x800c 01 x800c 02 x800c 03

Luckily I had a chance to revisit  a location from last summer with a new bride and groom. I had 2  best men to help hold the flash stick. I hindsight I could have only used 1 flash on the stand without the battery pack because I only need 2 flashes when I’m doing lots of group shots and I need the faster recycling time when using 2 flashes.

X800c & Pixel King Pro 06

The couple where sitting in the shade and the light is provided by the Pixel x800c flashes all in ETTL mode.

X800c & Pixel King Pro 07

Here are some Bride and Groom photos that I took on the cliffs. The sun is behind the couple and the X800c flashes fill in the shadows in front.

X800c & Pixel King Pro 10

Using the Pixel King Pro Tx with the X800c has been very straight forward. I haven’t had any weird problems with over exposure like the I had when using the old King Tx.

ETTL is has been spot on for most of my exposures

There are a few limitations however. You cannot adjust the Flash zoom using the King Pro and Flash Exposure Compensation doesn’t feel very responsive as in fine changes of 0.3Ev don’t seem to change the exposure much but goint to -1Ev does reduce the output. Bear in mind I am in really bright summer sunshine and the flashes are possibly firing at full power so its difficult to judge the effect on the back of the camera but I haven’t had a situation where the photo has been ruined by any kind of over exposure.

The Big Question……

Should you buy these flashes??? Well….build quality wise they are really quite good. The plastic cover over the external power connector and USB port is a bit rigid and needs to be pressed in hard to fit flush with the case. The flashes feel good in the hand the flash read feels robust when tilting and rotating. The pop out diffuser sits firmly in the flash head. The battery door is firm and solid feeling in operation.

The flash quick lock shoe could be a problem area. Certainly my sample units had a very lose foot which wobbled about a lot and lost contact with the camera.

I would not recommend buying these from China on Ebay because if there is a problem you will have to send it back there for service and it is expensive to post. I have had this situation in the past …. sending a £50 flash back for service only for it to cost me £25 in postage !!!! Look for seller in your country or continent who can at least give you some service if you have a problem.

If you are looking at a cheaper alternative to the Canon RT system then you should give this some consideration. I have only used the System as a simple off camera TTL flash but you can set up ratios and manual power levels if you require.

Personally I now use the Pixel King Pro and X800c flashes instead of the YN622 triggers because I find the Pixel system is more reliable to use and the range of the King Pro transmission is further than the YN622 TX.

The only drawback is that the Pixel King Pro does not have an AF assist light to help AF in dark situations.

I hope pixel release further Firmware updates that will fine tune the system. If they do then I will post an update later this summer…..

 

Keep Flashin’……

 

 

 

 

 

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2 comments to “A rather late Pixel X800C Review”

  • tom hughes, January 4, 2016 at 6:43 pm

    would you then recommend a decent strobe and battery pack, or Nikon flashguns and decent wireless trigger,(im new to the lighting business)

    • admin, January 8, 2016 at 12:34 am

      Hi, my personal choice would be to get a cheap Nikon TTL compatible flash with a built in Radio receiver.

      Pixel make a nikon version of the X800 and their trigger is more expensive that the competitors but in my experience more reliable over distance EG: most manufacturers claim 100 meter range but in fact you will be lucky to get 20 to 30 meters! The Pixel trigger claims 300 meters range, I haven’t tested it exactly but it does outperforms my Yongnuo and Godox flashes. The only drawback of the Pixel trigger is it does not have a AF assist light built in, but I understand that some Nikon cameras have this built into the camera body?

      Have a look at http://www.flashhavoc.com for great reviews of gear. It alway worth reading the comments for more insights..

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