GROUP TEST CONCLUSION
THE MODULAR DESIGN of the Pixapro PIKA200 makes it the most versatile flash unit on the market. No bigger than your typical flashgun, it has twice the power and 200Ws is a well judged output for a great variety of tasks, using the Fresnel head on its own with maybe the optional gel and barn- doors kit ( not shown), or in a softbox using the bare- bulb option. If you need more power, then the new twin- head mount allows you to clip two together for 400Ws plus LED modelling lamps, and it's then transformed into a beefy and fully- fledged studioflash. Given the performance, quality and cost, the PIKA200 is the most exciting new flash unit for a long time and it fully deserves a Best Buy rating.
Pixapro's Hybrid360 TTL two- unit design offers a very appealing mix of big bare- bulb power in a highly mobile package, with the battery slung over your shoulder. It's tailor- made for wedding and events photographers, where it's become almost standard equipment. It's also equally at home on a studio stand with the Smart Adapter, though it lacks any kind of modelling lamp. Recycling can be slow at high- power settings, but the two- to- one adapter cable fixes that.
The Pixapro CITI600- TTL is the closest approach to a total lighting solution we've yet seen. Very powerful, and with a specification that ticks all the boxes, it's easier to list its weaknesses. Compared to a mains powered studioflash, it doesn't recycle quite as fast and the modelling lamp isn't quite as bright, but that's all and neither are serious drawbacks considering the upsides. As a battery- powered flash for use on locations it beats all- comers, not to mention the options of a ( faster) mains AC adapter, an extension head, and the ability to couple two units together for an astonishing 1200Ws ( review soon). The master triggering system is available for all the leading camera brands now, and is compatible with other units in the excellent Pixapro product range, from flashguns upwards. This is an immensely capable strobe, for use indoors or out, and is a Best Buy for sure.
The Interfit S1 was an early pioneer in this fast developing sector. And it still performs to a high standard even if others have raised the bar. It has plenty of power, but in HSS mode there are some limitations – it loses auto- TTL control, only operates down to quarter power, and there's some shading down the frame at max output. Depending on your needs, none of these things are necessarily deal- breakers, but newer products now have them covered. The modelling lamp is of marginal brightness as a working studio light too.
The ILUX Summit 600C II is another very capable all- rounder. In performance terms, it has one major asset – masses of power, in HSS mode too. And one drawback – long recycle times. But given the high output, you shouldn't need full power that often, so an easy workaround is to turn it down a bit and the recycle time will be dramatically reduced. The other thing is, it's really Canon- only and key functions are lost when used with other brands.
Prices are correct at time of publication, but they can go both down and up quite frequently, so do check this online.
GIVEN THE PERFORMANCE, QUALITY AND COST, THE PIKA200 IS THE MOST EXCITING NEW FLASH UNIT FOR A LONG TIME AND IT FULLY DESERVES A BEST BUY RATING