Pixel X800C Flash Preview/Review

16817890277_580f9cfe16_z

Pixel gave me the opportunity to test their newest flash. Currently this is the pre production model so the look and functionality may change.

The Pixel X800C is a Canon ETTL-II flash. It can act as a ttl wireless master and slave via both radio and optical. It boasts guide number of 60 @ 100ISO at 200mm.

Features/Specs:
-GN 60 @ 200mm 100iso
-Manual and auto zoom
-TTL/M/Mult Flash modes
-Radio FSK 2.4Ghz and optical master and slave.
-1-500Hz Stroboscopic flash
-360 degree head adjustment with lock adjustment.
-Manual power 1/1-1/128 in 1/3rd increments
-Recycle time 2.5sec 1/1 power with Eneloop’s
-dot matrix lcd screen
-Power 4xAA batteries
-USB, PC, and Battery pack ports
-EV and FEB 1/3 power increments
-Battery Life 180 flashes at 1/1 with Sanyo Eneloop’s
-USB firmware upgrades

First impressions:

When I got the flash it came in a nice box well packaged. The flash was in its pouch. It was in a bubble wrap protective pouch also. The pouch has been re-designed and now you can wear it on your belt two different ways nice touch. Holding the flash I really liked the size and the improvements it had over the mago. Now it has rubber seals on the sides of the head and a button to press to lock and release the head. This is exactly the way that my Canon 580EXII is. It is a nice and welcome feature. Now heavy modifiers will be more secure. However make sure and press the button to turn it. :)

The locking foot is again the canon style locking foot.. I am not a big fan of dial locks anymore. I guess I have been spoiled. They work but they are a Pain to tighten. I am glad manufacturers are moving toward the canon style lock for third party on camera flashes.

The flash it self is very well designed and has clean lines. The LCD screen seems to have a tighter dot pitch than the mago making it seem more crisper. I also like the size. The flash has all the normal things you would expect of a quality flash.. The head rotation, and the wide angle panel and bounce card use is well done..

img_0001 Large Dot-matrix LCD screen:
One feature I am seeing being added to more and more flashes is a dot matrix screen. While this may be a tad more expensive it really adds to the flexibility and usable interface if designed right.
img_0001_01 Button Layout:
The layout of the buttons seems to be intuitive. The top row you have dynamically depending now hats on the LCD then you have a mode button, the dial and ok, and then of course the on off and lock switch.
IMG_7492 - Version 2 Quick lock lever
One feature that has started showing up in some third party flashes is the quick locking shoe. This one is canon style. That type of locking shoe in my opinion is much better than dial locks.
IMG_7487 - Version 2 Ports:
The Pixel X800C comes with a HV port *need peel brand pack*, PC port, and a thread mount for Canon accessories. It also has a micro usb port for fw updates. I kind of was disappointed we did not see a 3.5mm port here they are much more reliable than a PC port and becoming more standard.
IMG_7485 - Version 2 Battery Compartment:
The battery compartment is what you would expect. The door is smooth to close and locks in place.
IMG_7485IMG_7511 Diffuser panel and bounce card.
The normal diffuser panel standard on many flashes now days so nice to have. It goes in and out smoothly and is not flimsy.

Usage:

This flash like the mago was quite intuitive. I was able to pick up and use. I did have to check to see how to get into s1 and s2 mode in the manual but everything else I was was able to find.

I love the locking head. This helps when using modifiers on camera. The locking head is just like my Canon 580EXII it also has rubber seals on the side. I do not know if it is weather sealed like a Canon flash but I would assume the seals help some if it gets splashed.

I normally take the flash out for a spin in the quick moving situations. What else is quick than my kids playing. I was able to keep up with them in bounce. I had to remember though the head locks and not to force.

One of the things that I do not like and wish could change is for example when you go to bounce with say a Canon 580EXII it goes to 24mm for bounce when the head is tilted up or down.. You can of course bypass this but manually setting the zoom. With the X800C it will not reset the zoom when tilting. It also when in a tilt position zoom with the lens. I normally have to switch to manual zoom to over ride this and get my wide bounce.

I would use this flash fine on paid shoots.

Power testing:

I saw that the guide number is 60 @ 200mm and the Mago is 65 @200. It seems to not to be as powerful as I would like it compared to the other flashes I have tested. It is more powerful than the YN568EX but not as powerful at zoom levels than my other flashes. It still is a powerful flash and I do not see any handicap using it.

E-TTL testing:
I wanted to test out the EV accuracy between my Canon 580 EXII and the X800C seemed to perform well. The X800C goes -3EV to +3 EV. Main issue I discovered was when you put the flash in optical or radio master modes. You got a 1 stop in exposure drop.

HSS testing:

The X800C seems to perform will in HSS work. On camera and off camera with my YN622C works well. It has enough power to help in mormal situations. It works with the YN622C fine off camera in TTL with HSS. I was able to use this outside under a pavilion on a bright day to expose the background correctly while lighting the subject.

Multi-mode:

In Multi Flash mode you can control the number of pulses and the flash frequency. This is very handy if you are doing things like trying to capture an object multiple times at different points in a frame. The lower the power the more pulses you can get in of course. It seems pretty easy to setup.

IMG_7495

 

Manual mode:

The X800C has power adjustments in the 1/3 increment’s in manual mode. You can also use in s1 and s2 off camera.

IMG_7494

 

Wireless Master and Slave:

One thing the X800C has that even some high price third party flashes don’t have is master mode in addition to slave. Even more impressive is that this can be with optical or radio. You can do X800C to X800C or, you can add in combination of Pixel King and Pixel King Pro system. This is not compatible with the Canon RT system.

You can control the functions through either the flash its self or through the camera flash control menus.

 

On flash control:

Optical
IMG_7496

Radio
IMG_7497

In camera menu control:

VRAM3

VRAM9

VRAM5

VRAM10

VRAM12

TTL Slave Functionality:

You have the ability to set the flash to ttl slave in group A, B, or C across 4 channels.

IMG_7498

S1 S2 slaves:

You have the ability to do standard optical slave modes. One mode is trigger on first flash. The other mode is if you are using t/l flashes also and it will ignore the ttl pre flash.
IMG_7502

IMG_7500

 

 

Over heat testing:

The X800C has a sensor based overheat setup. With sensors in the head and body. I did some abuse testing sorta bypassing the sensors bu opening the bater door. Not a good idea. I have been informed my beta unit was bad and they were unable to duplicate it. However either way I would suggest letting the protection do its job and when it gives you there over heat message let it cool off.

Issues:

As above I saw an exposure difference by 1 stop when switching into optical or radio master. Pixel is working on fixing this. Also I ran into an issue with getting an ERR20 when firing the flash on my camera without first wooing the flash to recycle. I had the same issue with my first YN568EX and it was an improper ready signal returned to the flash. I informed Pixel also and they are working on correcting. Also I had to abuse overheat test failure which looks to be my beta unit.

Conclusions:

I really like this flash. Its user interface is easy its a nice size. Has a great display.. It is well built and sturdy. I always love the canon quick releases. The feature set is great for a third party flash. Currently there are more and more flashes with builtin radio. However its nice to see another one and it is my first TTL flash with builtin radio.

Pros:

-Good build
-Large clear LCD
-USB firmware upgrades
-Slide locking foot
-Master and slave modes Radio and Optical
-Sensor based overheat monitoring
-HSS

Cons:
-Proprietary HV port
-Use of PC port instead of the almost new standard 3.5mm port
-No 1/4-20 mount thread on side.
-With YN622C you can not do manual power adjustments
-Will not work with Cactus V6 because digital protocol does not match Canons exactly and no analog quench pin.

Pricing and availability information not available yet.