Pixel Knight TR-331 Review Part III

by Dennis on December 22, 2010

This is the third and final installment of my Pixel TR-331 Wireless Flash Trigger review. In parts one and two I talked about the features and benefits of these triggers along with a few issues I had with the particular units I initially tested.

http://www.insidetheviewfinder.com/pixel-tr-331-wireless-ttl-flash-trigger-review/

http://www.insidetheviewfinder.com/pixel-tr-331-ttl-wireless-flash-trigger-part-ii/

I recently received a nice email from PIxel telling me that the TR-331 for Nikon had been updated so I decided to take another look at them. I was pleased to find that the new units fired consistently and synced the flash (SB800) and camera (D300) reliably. The user’s manual has also been improved considerably over the original and I think it describes the functions and features of this trigger much better than the first version.

The big question on everyone’s mind when these triggers first appeared was if they would allow you to use Nikon’s Creative Lighting System (CLS) to  control the light output of one or more remote flash units from the camera.

This is cleared up right away in the new product manual on page 2 under “Cautions before use:”

1) Knight TR-331 product will not support the creative CLS system of Nikon wireless flashgun.

That’s as far as most people will care to read but the TR-331 does have other benefits to offer the serious photographer. You can adjust flash output remotely through the flash exposure compensation menu on the camera from +1 to -3. That’s not a huge range but it does come in very handy when your flash is mounted on a boom arm two feet above your head.

The other feature that sets the TR-331 apart from the crowd of flash triggers is the ability to work in High Speed Sync mode (HSS) or Auto FP Flash in Nikon terms. This allows you to shoot flash exposures at shutter speeds well beyond the normal sync speed of the camera, usually around 1/200 or 1/250th of a second. This is a useful tool for shooting in bright ambient light where you want to use large apertures to blur the background of the image behind your main subject and to freeze action. The TR-331 can sync at speeds at or near the maximum shutter speed of your camera. I won’t go into the details other than to say that what you gain in speed you loose in power so you may have to figure out a way to double up on your flashes or use them at fairly close range depending on the working conditions.

The photos below were taken in HSS mode (Nikon FP Flash) at ISO 200, f/2.8 shutter speed 1/1600 & 1/1250. Without flash the foreground was completely dark. The initial auto iTTL exposure is on the left and the +1 compensation (made from the camera) changed the shutter speed to brighten the part of the image illuminated by the SB800 flash unit.

Photos taken at f/2.8 1/1600 and 1/1250 second at ISO 200.

The Pixel TR-331 is supposed to work with the cameras through the lens (TTL) metering system and while this may be true, I and quite a few other photographers feel there is more control and the ability for consistent and repeatable results by using the camera and flash units in manual mode. This is because we are often shooting (and directing) cooperative models in front of a static backdrop where we are able to control a lot of what is going on in front of the lens. Documentary photography, wedding photography, photographing children, pets and racing photography are a different story completely. In those scenes the light changes from moment to moment and with every tilt and pan of the camera. On many assignments using intelligent metering is a essential part of the process. Within certain restrictions the Nikon Creative Lighting System works exceptionally well at this and it’s already built in to the Nikon camera and flash units. That’s the rub, it works great but most often it requires line of sight to do so. The Pixel TR-331 can be a useful addition to your kit for the times when CLS will not work as well as a radio triggering system.

I don’t believe that there is any single solution for all photographers or all types of photography but the TR-331 has earned a place in the camera bag. If the sun ever comes out again I will be using the TR-331 for High Speed Sync work or in those places where I need a way to adjust my flash output from a distance.  Remember that tools are just a means to express yourself and should not get in the way of your personal vision. Consider all options carefully when selection any equipment.

{ 8 comments }

Matt December 22, 2010 at 7:06 pm

Thanks Dennis.
Does the higher speed sync work with a non ittl/cls flash ie not a sb6,7,8,900. Say a SB28 or a studio flash?
Also, what reliable distances are you getting with the unit?
Thanks
Matt

Dennis December 24, 2010 at 11:54 am

I’ve managed to break all my manual flash units so I can’t give a firm answer on that. Using the studio flash is probably dependent on the flash model and the camera shutter type. I have tested the TR-331 up to 120 feet outside on the terrace and ran out of room. They fired in sync consistently at that distance so I feel like they would do the job indoors over the length of a basketball court without any problem.

Ovidiu May 23, 2011 at 1:25 am

hi there.
I jsut got my pixel knight for nikon set and I figured out how to enable each group and how to select the channel but I have no clue how to set the operating mode, i.e. i-ttl, manual, etc.

can you help me out here please?

Dennis May 23, 2011 at 3:40 pm

You change those settings from the cameras flash menu or function buttons. You should see the settings change on the flash unit just as you wool if it was mounted on the cameras hot shoe.

imitto June 29, 2011 at 2:17 pm

And what if I have Nikon D40? It have no menu for flash…but they said it’s compatible. I try to use it with SB-600, when half press exposure it wakes up the flash from standby but on exposure it wont fire it.

imitto July 1, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Still not work with D40 – same setup on D80 works. If it needs that the camera body support CLS (that’s the only difference between the 2 camera’s flash) then it’s not compatible with some Nikon… D40, D40x, D60, D3000, D3100…

pphoto July 14, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Im confused it doesn’t support CLS only I-ttl, however it needs a camera with CLS in body to run the system with?

That doesnt just wipe out low end cameras like the d40 but also older pro models such as my trusty d2xs.

I’ve emailed they’re uk retail arm to request confirmation as my camera is listed as compatible so only time will tell.

imitto July 20, 2011 at 9:49 am

It works (we tried it) with D3100 that don’t support CLS – so I don’t know why my D40 don’t support it…

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