Pixel X800C Flash review

I was excited when Pixel has introduced their new flash model X800C. The new model is the first one that is available from Pixel HK that comes with 2.4GHz radio transceiver built inside. The Flash supports both master and slave modes on both 2.4Ghz radio frequency and Canon Optic Wireless Transmission.
As you can expect from such flash unit – the X800C has full support for Canon ETTL and has HSS support with sync speeds of up to 1/8000 sec.

Pixel X800C speedlite

I quickly signed up to test and review the new flash and was from the lucky ones who got approved. Time passed and about two weeks ago I received 2 pre-production flash units for testing purposes.
When I opened the package I got present with a nice big box which contained the flash unit (inside a very good pouch which is a step up from other manufactures as it includes belt loops in two directions so you can attach it either horizontally or vertically. The flash and pouch were inside a protective bubble wrap. Inside the box there were also flash stand (quite large compared to let’s say Yongnuo – the flash is very stable when using it) and a diffuser that fits nicely on the flash head. The diffuser itself has lock pins so it doesn’t fall out.

Physical tour

Now to the flash itself – its build quality is good. The unit feels solid and the movement of the head is smooth. In order to tilt or swivel the head you need to push a button on the side of the head. Although I quite like the approach of Yongnuo and Godox (their flash heads can be moved right away as there’s no lockup mechanism) I have to admit that Pixel X800C is much sturdier because of this and can easily hold a large light modifier without the flash head give up on the weight. You need to be a bit more careful when operating the flash head due to the button but I prefer this than constantly needing to readjust a modifier position.

When turned on you can hear a slight noise from the zoom motor and a slight capacitor whistle but only if you real put your ear right next to the flash.

Pixel X800C top view

The size of the Pixel X800C is comparable to this of Godox V860 or YN568EX II. However the flash head is much more similar (if not the same) to Canon 600EX-RT as it is the interface and button layout on the back. Similar to 600EX-RT is also the locking foot. I have to say that having this style of locking of foot has made all the difference when using the flash outdoors. The camera had always a good connection with the flash – no problems with connection whatsoever. I feel the flash much more secure on the camera and locking and unlocking is much faster and convenient than having a dial lock. 

Overall impression is that the build quality is very good – perhaps not the same as Canon or Godox but really close. 

Interface 

Operating the control dial is quite smooth. The only comment is here that the pre-production unit I’ve been testing sometimes “misses” to change a value from the main dial – not a big issue but it something that Pixel hopefully will fix in the final version.
Changing parameters is fairly straightforward as there are notes above the four main buttons so you always know what you are about to change. Getting the right option is quite easy and a testament to this is the manual that comes with the flash. Instead of bulky book it is just a leaflet which however contains all the needed information. 

Another plus for the interface is that the customs functions are always displayed as an icons at the right part of the screen – this again makes it easy to check which ones are turned on and you don’t need to remember which function to what number corresponds. In order to choose custom function you hold the Function button (Sound prompt, LCD back light, AS Assist and Sleep). 

LCD Screen 

The LCD screen is of Dot Matrix type and on it you will find information about everything the flash does. The icons are a bit small to my liking but they are still easily readable. A plus of the screen is that it is easy to read in both dark studio and a bright sunny day. 

Flash Power and recycle times. 

The Pixel X800C’s GN of 60 meters (at ISO 100 and 200mm zoom) makes it one of the most powerful flash units on sale. During the two weeks I used the flash I found its power comparable to that of YN568EX II and Godox V860 at the common 105mm setting. Having the zoom at 200mm option however if you’re going to use the flash outdoors or in large studio. I took the X800C with me on a bird trip and found the X800C much more practical than the Godox V860 that I’ve been using so far. The only plus of the Godox is the quick recycle time of 1.5 sec. However I have found the Li-Ion battery to be not so reliable in cold conditions and I didn’t experienced this problem while the Pixel flash with 4 AA batteries. X800C’s recycle times are also very respectable measuring about 2.5 seconds from flash to flash on full power. Pixel also provide a High Voltage port for using external battery packs but I haven’t able to test the flash with such. 

Overheat protection 

X800C relies on two heat sensors – one for the flash tube and one for the battery compartment. I tested the protection while shooting a smoke session. Flash was set off camera, zoom at 50mm and at full power level. I was to get about 40 shots before I got temperature warning. However if flash head is set to its widest setting of 20mm the amount of shots drops to about 15. 

Real world usage and thoughts

Over the past two weeks I used the Pixel X800C flash units on a birding trip, wedding and in my studio. I have to say that they always performed very well and I haven't experienced any major issues. Given that these a pre-production samples I would say Pixel has done a really good job. 

BirdETTL, flashh zoom at 200mm (400mm lens), 1/200 sec, F5.6
SmokeFlash off camera at 1/8 power, zoom 200mm. 1/200 sec, 1/200 sec, ISO 100

What I like:

  • Solid build quality
  • Consistency in results
  • Zoom to 200mm 
  • Slide locking foot 
  • Master and slave modes Radio and Optical 
  • HSS
  • USB firmware upgrades 

What I wish was better:

  • Main dial misses to change a value from time to time
  • Head lock button is a bit tricky to release from time to time
  • The buttons on the back are good and perfectly usable but do not feel great

Technical specifications:

GN:

60 (ISO100/200mm)

Flash Zoom Coverage: 

20 to 200mm

Flash Mode: 

E-TTL/M/Multi (1-500Hz)

Wireless Control: 

Pixel 2.4Ghz Radio Master & Slave
Canon Optical Wireless Master & Slave
Basic S1 & S2 Optical Slave

SYNC Mode: 

High Speed Sync, 1st Curtain Sync, 2nd Curtain Sync

Adjustable Angle: 

Up/Down: -7/90 degree Left / Right: 180 degree/180 degree

Manual Flash: 

1/128-1/1 output control (1/3rd increments)

Recycle Time: 

~2.5 sec Full Power

LCD Display Screen: 

High definition dot matrix screen

Internal Power Source: 

4×AA 1.5V batteries

External Interface:

Hot shoe, PC port, USB port, external power port

EV: 

in 1/3rd increments (±3 stops)

FEB:

in 1/3rd increments (±3 stops)

Battery Life:

180 times (1/1 flash output, with Sanyo Eneloop batteries)

Fluorescent tube: 

Ultra long battery life design

Overheating Warning:

 Multi dot matrix temperature control, battery and fluorescent tube overheating warning

AF-Assist Beam:

Support

Firmware Upgrade: 

Support

Dimension: 

78.04mm×60.50mm×193.00mm

Weight:

408.7g (excluding batteries)