First Look: Pixel TR-331 TTL Remote Nikon Triggers

UPDATE #1: Full manual has been uploaded (as a .jpg) here. Off-camera TTL flash is easy to figure out and works pretty well. But iTTL (i.e., master/slave TTL multiflash) continues to elude me.

UPDATE #2: We have our beta tester. Please, no more volunteers...

Just got in an early set of Pixel TR-331 (Nikon compatible) TTL remote triggers. First look, and a call for local Baltimore/Washingon TTL Nikon shooters who might want to give them a test drive this weekend, inside.

First Impressions

Right off the bat, they look a couple of notches above the typical "eBay" remotes in build quality. These guys are tight, and built solid.

All TTL connections are hot-shoe based and very solid. There are screw locks and locking pins. Your flashes will be secure.

Right now they only have Nikon models, but Canon are supposedly coming early next year.

They are essentially a wireless TTL bridge, supporting TTL flash and high-speed FP sync. They can also be used in manual mode as dumb triggers. You can use manual mode in FP sync, too.

Quick testing showed them to be pretty reliable. Not rock solid, but neither did they miss very often. I'd put it in high 90's for normal working distances.

I have one transmitter and two receivers, and found I could vary the TTL output level at the physical setting on the flash itself to easily create ratios between the two flashes.

TTL results looked to be just fine, although I am not generally a TTL shooter so I do not know whether the remotes or the internal camera TTL systems get credit for any exposure variances.

I tested it in FP mode and got reliable sync speeds right up to 1/8000th of a sec. Because of the way FP sync works (using pulses) the power levels of the flash were predictably lessened as you walked up the shutter speed scale.

High marks for the supplied sync cord choices. You get two screw-lock PC-based cords which will connect the remotes (in dumb sync mode) to any flash which syncs off of a 1/4" or 1/8" jack.

Frequency on the unit is 2.4Ghz, which means it'll be cool to use anywhere in the world with regard to various countries' radio frequency allocations. But you will also be competing with the likes of cordless phones, wi-fi and microwave ovens. FWIW, I was testing these indoors about 15 feet from a wireless router and getting good sync percentages, tho.

Biggest irk, given that I have not yet been able to test them thoroughly, is that they run on (for me) hard to find CR2 batts. These are sub-sized and 3v.

I spent two hours hitting two Targets and a Wal-Mart with no luck. Finally just had some shipped from Amazon. Pain in the butt. I sure do wish they would sacrifice a little form factor and go AA's. You get way more battery life and universal sourcing on the batts.

Lastly, the instruction manual is predictably funny and confusing -- and replete with (presumably machine) translation hiccups. Actual line in the manual:

"This is electronic products accessories, some of the environment causes may affect the working. However, this is hardly ever to get this situation. Don't Worry!"

Okay! I won't!

Calling Local Beta Testers

[UPDATE: We have our local beta testers all lined up -- to professional shooters in NoVA who use Nikon TTL frequently enough to eval them way better than I could. Thanks to those who volunteered! -DH ]

If you are local to Baltimore/Washington and would like to give them a full test drive, I would be happy to lend them out for a few days. I am booked solid well into next week and will not be able to give them the testing they deserve in a timely manner.

Here is the deal:

1) You should shoot Nikon, and be familiar with Nikon TTL flash. One of my weaknesses in testing these is that I I do not know if any inconsistencies are coming from the remotes, the camera, the flashes or the idiot pushing the button. I am a manual guy. You should be familiar with Nikon's TTL results.

2) You should be willing to pick them up and drop them off in Ellicott City and prepared to shoot over the weekend.

3) You should be willing to supply pics and your impressions of the units' performance.

4) Preference will be given to more than one person who may wish to work together, for diversity of opinion. So if you normally hang with a local meetup group or a shooting buddy, that would be ideal.

For time purposes, I can only choose one beta tester, and will pick from volunteers based on the above criteria by midday Thursday. If interested, please mark your comment as "Do Not Publish" and leave email and phone number as contact. I will update this post after I choose someone. (Got 'em. -DH)

Of course, I will relay the shooter(s)' pics and findings in a future post.

Obligatory Lighting Geek Stuff

Thought some of you might be interested in the makeshift printer paper studio I just used to shoot theses.

Everything is on manual, mostly around 1/64th power. I tripped them with low-power, onboard flash on the Canon G11 point-and-shoot I used to shoot the pics.

If you need to shoot something small quickly, printer paper and small flashes are your friends.


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