A rather late Pixel X800C Review
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:
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.
I fitted it into a Beauty dish type diffuser. I used a Bowen’s fit to Speedlight adaptor that I bought from Ebay.
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.
I photoshopped the image below:
A few days later I did another photoshoot with Hannah.
These images are straight from the RAWS using Adobe Camera Raw.
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.
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.
But from 264 exposures I only had the 2 completely overexposed images above.
The rest of the photos came out fine….
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.
The flash is in Radio RX mode and in communication with the King Pro TX. It displays King ETTL on the LCD.
This is my flash stick.
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
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.
The couple where sitting in the shade and the light is provided by the Pixel x800c flashes all in ETTL mode.
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.
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…..