Pixel Mago Flash review
Please note: I was lucky enough to receive a free sample Pixel Mago Flash to test with my Canon Cameras.
Unfortunately it wasn’t free as it got stopped by customs and I had to pay and extra €26 euros in import duty 🙁 boo…..
I do not know if this a shipping model or a Beta unit. It has very good points and some bad points. The firmware may be different on the final product.
In this review I will focus on how I use this flash in my day to day business. Other sites will no doubt provide you with the technical specification and so on but I will focus on how it works in my photographic setup.
First of all I will say this comes well packaged.
The flash comes with a snap on diffuser.
The front white diffuser is for the LED video Light. I found this to be very useful.
The only problem is that diffuser falls off really easily ! Its takes more effort to put it on than take it off!!!
I left mine out in the sun to see if it would melt a bit, to form a tighter fit…. It didn’t…
If you want to use this diffuser your will need to use sticky tape to keep it firmly on the flash other wise there is a good chance it will accidentally fall off.
It has a good set of connetion ports.
The external power socket has an extra ridge in it to prevent you using any other battery packs apart from Pixel’s own, soon to be released, new battery pack.
I like Pixels TD-381 external battery pack. It is very fast at recharging and very cheap on Amazon and Ebay. Although I now prefer using Li-Ion external battery packs as recharging 12 batteries is a bit of a pain. I hope Pixel’s new external battery pack is as good or better than the old one.
After 2 weddings I have a brown spot appearing in the flash lens. The lens often begins to disintegrates through use over time on all my flashes but after 2 weddings this is unusual.
I use this flash on my light stick. I have 2 flashes mounted on Yongnuo 622 triggers. I use TTL and HSS from my cameras (Canon 5Dmk2 and 6D)
The Pixel Mago works
perfectly. I have no problems with using it with the 622 triggers. Not quite… See below
The pixel Mago is pictured on my light stick with a Godox Ving 860. Curretly the Godox Ving 860 does not work properly with the 622 triggers, I will discuss this in another post.
I would happily replace the Godox with the Pixel Mago.
If you need TTL and HSS off camera using the YN-622 triggers then the Pixel Mago
works perfectly., I have encountered some problems with being able to change manual power levels…This may be my error or I may need to reset the triggers… currently under investigation..
Below is an example of how I use my light stick, I need 2 flashes on it because 1 flash is not enough in these bright conditions.
Here are some sample photos, this was so easy to set up thanks to the Pixels well programmed Firmware.
All ETTL II functions seem to work as they should.
How easy was this shot below!!!!
Pixel Mago with wide angle diffuser. Camera set to Manual to expose for the background ETTL flash exposure with -2/3ev flash compensation.
This was shot on the following day: Canon 5dMK2 Sigma 50 1.4lens at f2.2 1/6400 sec shutter, YN622 triggers, Pixel Mago in ETTL HSS held by the groom standing next to me….
Video Light!!!!! Thanks Pixel!!!!
For those who shoot video with their Canon DSLR’s this feature will become indispensable. A press of the button turns on the video light. It is simply 2 bright white LED’s
I just did a quick test video at a wedding. The results were great. If you need to capture on the fly video then this a super feature.
I used my Canon 5DMK2 and 28 1.8 lens to capture this video clip.
Pixel Mago Video Light Test
Pixel Mago Video Light Test 2 Light was turned off and on several times during the clip
Conclusion: >>>>> Update below<<<<<<<<
I like this flash very much. It works from 4AA batteries, recycle time is fast, hopefully a lot faster once the new external power pack is released.
The construction feels firm. The wide angle diffuser is spring loaded and it does not fall out of place.
The plastic casing not quite as good as the Canon 580ex flashes but then this flash is a lot cheaper and I don’t care anyway as long as it works.
The menu is quite simple to understand.
I did not read the manual as it is in Chin-glish. I eventually read the maual and its actually very good. The use of language is mostly accurate and understandable with only a few poor translations such as “Keypad Voice” It took me 5 mins to work out what all the buttons do.
The buttons are hard plastic and light up in the dark when the back light is turned on. There is a preference to have the LCD backlight on all the time, but I think this may drain the batteries. You can also set the LCD back light timer to be on for 5 seconds or 10 sec or off completely.
There is a beep function which works for button presses and recycle confirmation. I wish you could just have it for recycle confirmation as it get annoying when it beeps every time you press a button.
I really like the quick release hot shoe.
It supports Canon Infra red wireless protocol, so if you have an ST-E2 trigger it will work as a slave or if you have other canon flashes this will work as a master.
Rumour has it this flash will cost about USD $92 WOW! Thats a bargain, at this price you should buy 2!!!
This flash effectively does everything the old 580EXII flash can do at a third of the price or less.
I will carry on using this flash for my next weddings and I will report back if there is any more points of interest.
PS: Note to Pixel. It would be great if you could fit a tripod screw into the side of the flash to make it more convenient too attach to a light stand….Like this….
Update: 8th Oct 2014
So I have been using the Mago now for a few months and whilst I still think it is a good flash for the money I would carefully consider the options available…..
But there isn’t a problem when mounting it on radio triggers????
I now exclusively use it off camera with radio triggers.
It works reasonably well as an off camera flash with YN622 triggers, although you can’t adjust manual power levels. Weird things happen like defaulting to “Multi” mode (pic below)
It works very well with Pixel King triggers, ETTL and manual power adjustments work fine.
I flew to Slovenia to photograph a wedding the other week and whilst there we got to spend some time exploring the countryside and mountains. The following photos were taken at Lake Bohinj. We used the Mago, YN 622 triggers and Canon 6D with 28 1.8 lens.
Below is a photo taken without flash.
Here is what it looked like with a bit flash. Photo was taken at 1/180sec and f9. TTL exposure for the flash. I did not use HSS in this set of images because I was experiencing some intermittent lock up of the flash.
Here is an example of the flash freaking out and turning itself to “Multi” mode. Although it says it is in Multi mode it still fires like it is in normal TTL mode, so maybe I will put this down to a Firmware glitch.
Here is a wide shot of my setup. Just a Mago on a light stand.
We had some fun taking these “jumping” shots
So that was great photo shoot by the lake. The Mago performed well. All shots were taken using ETTL with just a bit of Flash Exposure Compensation added.
Pixel Mago used at a few more Weddings…
Here are a couple of shots from the wedding in Slovenia taken using the Mago on a light stand.
The couple were on a balcony on an old barn near the church so I had to hold the light stand at arms length to get the couple lit properly. All photos taken using ETTL.
Below is a wide shot of the set up.. notice the Mago held high in the air!!!!
Below is a cropped version from the photo session.
Pixel Mago used with Pixel King triggers
I finally made it home to the UK for a few days and managed to find my old Pixel King triggers (The old ones not the new King Pro models)
At my next wedding assignment, a civil partnership, I used them in conjunction with the Mago flash. All shot using TTL metering
Here are a few more from another wedding:
This si the set up shot. The bridesmaid flicked the Brides veil into the air and I had my assistant hold the light stick in the air.
Another behind the scenes photo…
Conclusion as of October 2014
I like this flash.
It has some quirks with firmware.
It is feels solid and works best with Pixel King triggers.
Because the hotshot has become loose I cannot use it on my camera, which isn’t a problem for me as I use it off camera most of the time. I am testing a Beta version of the flash so this may not be a problem in the shipping product.
At its price point it is possibly the best featured flash on the market.