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Pixel King ETTL Radio Triggers Part 1

Hi Flashers,

I recently bought myself some Pixel King ETTL Radio Triggers. So I phoned up my friend Ian and we decided to test them out…..

The reason for buying these is that I’m fed up of running around and changing power levels of flashes.

I used to use a Canon ST-E2 infra red trigger but it does not work very well doing the day.

The Pixel kings allow me to do two things:

  1. ETTL and Flash Exposure Compensation from the camera with the following flashes: 580EXII, 580EX, Sigma 500 super
  2. Manual power control from camera menu of 580EXII

Note: the Pixel Kings do not support Ratios. You cannot have a 580EXII in manual and 580 in ETTL. You can use a manual flash along with an ETTL flash but  you must set the power on the manual flash yourself.

The Pixel King have issues with 550EX flashes although the preproduction triggers did work, so functionality may be restored with a future firmware update

There is a fantastic in-depth review of these triggers made by CliveyBoy here, you will need a Google account to view it or there is a simplified version on Flickr.

I won’t go into the nitty gritty of the units but I will give you my hands on impression.

These triggers are a lot cheaper than the TTL Pocket Wizards but because the Pixels use 2.4ghz frequency they do not fall foul of RF interference like the PWs do.

Firstly they are designed to work best with the EXII type flashes however its very difficult to mount a 580EXII flash on the receiver (Rx) because the Rx hotshoe not designed to fit with the rubber skirt around the flash’s shoe. THe flash does mount but it is very tight fit!

Other types of flash with a normal locking ring fit perfectly well.

On a plus point the transmitter (Tx) has a built in Focus assist light which is very handy indeed as the Canon cameras I own (1Dmk2, 5dmk2, 40d) can barely focus in low light!

So how do they work in the real world?

First of all I tried them out in my back garden.

I used a 580EX and the 580EXII mounted on tripods and light stands and used a 60 Inch parabolic umbrella that I bought from Cotwold Photo on Ebay

I tried various set ups throughout the day below are some photos with the flashes positioned behind me to either side and with a reflector in front to fill in the shadows on my face.

Once the light dropped in the evening we used a similar set up and captures some very moody shots!

The set up was almost the same as before:

The triggers always seemed to be in High Speed Sync mode and I noticed that the flash head would move according to the focal length of  the lens. This was a bit annoying but nothing major a quick trip into the camera menu sorted this out. The Pixel kings are compatible with the flash camera menu first introduced with the 40D so if you have a newer camera than the 40D you will have this menu on your camera. The Pixel Kings also work with my 1Dmk2 although only in ETTL mode but I’m happy to report that Flash Exposure Compensation and Flash Exposure Lock works as they should!

Through out the day I shot over a hundred photos and only had 1 misfire which I could not reproduce. The Kings work as advertised and an ideal entry point into ETTL radio triggering.

Pixel have already released a couple of firmware updates to fix some glitches. I hope that 550EX compatibility will be restored at some point in the future.



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12 comments to “Pixel King ETTL Radio Triggers Part 1”

  • Dobrin Alin, May 14, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    Hi, I buy two sets of Pixel King, and I was very happy until I noticed the TX is freezing randomly. I used with Canon 5D mkIII and Canon 430/580 EXII. When is not blocked it work great with all settings. There are few isolated cases with different type of camera but nobody can’t tell way the trigger get stuck.
    Do you have any idea what is going on?


    • admin, June 2, 2012 at 7:19 pm

      Sorry to hear about your problems, have you tried changing batteries? Maybe the Tx is faulty did it work OK with another Canon camera? I’m afraid i cant be any more help 🙁

  • Luiz, August 14, 2012 at 7:24 am

    Work with old 550 EX?

    Thanks \o/

  • Luiz, August 14, 2012 at 7:28 am

    The Pixel King have issues with 550EX flashes although the preproduction triggers did work, so functionality may be restored with a future firmware update

    🙁 sorry

  • Tavares, September 13, 2012 at 3:10 am

    I would like to know how to use the flash on top of the main transmitter. I tried and is not firing …

    • admin, September 13, 2012 at 11:05 am

      sorry, it doesn’t work! THis is disabled by Pixel. I don’t know if it will ever work?

  • JBJ, December 2, 2012 at 9:57 pm


    I am about to buy Pixel King Flash Triggers for my Canon 60D and Canon Speedlight 430EXII. Are you still happy with them? Do you think they are better than Cactus V5 and the Phottix Flash Triggers? And do you know if there will be new Pixel products released soon (i.e should I wait to buy them)?

    Thank you for your answer!

  • JBJ, December 2, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    Thanks for sharing the information. I haven’t read the whole thread about YN 622 but they seem to work well and yes they are a bit cheaper than the Pixel King. So I guess I should get the YN instead. I haven’t seen if they would work well (Hyper Sync and ETTL) with my 60D and 430EXII though…

    • admin, December 3, 2012 at 5:39 pm

      Hi, follow this link for compatibility and more info regarding triggers etc http://flashhavoc.com

      Note: the new firmware from pixel now adds ratio support!

      Note 2: Your 430exII will work in HSS mode with the Triggers. Hypersync is a different method used to trigger older non TTL flashes.

  • JBJ, December 3, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    Hi! Thanks again. It is so hard to make the right decision when it comes to choosing camera equipment. The YN-622c seem to include all the options the Pixel Kings offer (HSS and ETTL II) for cheaper so I guess I should get the YN?

    • admin, December 4, 2012 at 12:18 am

      Personally the 622c’s work for me with all my flashes and they have a brighter focus assist light, the new Pixel King 1030 firmware seems to address most of the compatibility issues I had, but i will test it out in the next few days. However if you are going to use more than 1 or 2 flashes it may be prudent to wait a bit longer and see what the new generation of TTL triggers look like….. an LCD screen and buttons beats going into the camera menu to change ratios and other functions…..