Hähnel Viper TTL trigger released; Pixel King II spotted

Want control of your Canon Speedlites from the camera? Thinking of buying a Phottix Odin? Have a look at this first.

Hahnel Viper transmitter LCD

Want control of your Canon Speedlites from the camera? Thinking of buying a Phottix Odin? Have a look at this first. The Hähnel Viper Wireless GroupsTrigger (announced earlier this year) has been released. A very similar product called the Pixel King II has also been spotted.

Hahnel Viper transmitter LCD

Contrasting with other E-TTL triggers — such as the Yongnuo YN622C and Hähnel Tuff — you do not need to dive into your camera’s menus to adjust your flashguns, because there are dedicated controls on the Viper transmitter itself. Using the rear LCD screen you can set power levels for each of your three groups of Speedlites. It’s also not strictly speaking a “TTL trigger” because you can only adjust manual power from the transmitter, not TTL mode exposure compensation.

Camera-based control puts it right up against the Phottix Odin and PocketWizard ControlTL, both systems that will cost you over £250 for a basic kit (though which both offer TTL). Hähnel’s offering is substantially cheaper, at £135 for a transmitter+receiver combo. Extra receivers cost £59 each.

As well as being less expensive than PocketWizards, the Viper has its own LCD control panel so you can read off exact power settings. Though the PocketWizard AC3 ZoneController has not got its own screen, the new L-478DR light meter does and can control a much wider range of devices including Nikon speedlights and Elinchrom studio flashes. ControlTL is aimed squarely at professionals with extra features such as the PocketWizard Utility software. Still, if like most people you do not do photography for a living, then the Hähnel Viper could be a more sensible option.

Hahnel Viper LCD preview

The Viper will work at ranges over 100 metres on the 2.4GHz frequency band with “digital channel matching”. Both transmitter and receiver take two AA batteries. You can plug the receiver into a studio light using the 2.5mm socket or mini USB port, though you won’t get any functionality beyond basic triggering in this arrangement. The mini USB port can also be used for external power and firmware updates.

One benefit that the Viper has over both PocketWizard and Phottix is a hotshoe on top of the transmitter, letting you add in an on-camera flash or extra radio trigger.

Hahnel Viper receiver with Speedlite

The Hähnel Viper is available now at Bristol Cameras and other UK retailers. Nikon, Sony and Pentax users should look elsewhere though, because the Viper is only for Canon and no other versions are planned. For more information, visit hahnel.ie.

At the Photokina trade show this year, Pixel Enterprise had a new addition to their catalogue. The previously-unseen King II bears strong (but not total) resemblance to a Hähnel Viper with a more comprehensive feature set, suggesting it might be the company’s answer to the rival Phottix Odin Wireless TTL Trigger.

Pixel King II: excerpt from Pixel Enterprise's Photokina 2012 catalogue

The only information we have so far is the above excerpt from the manufacturer’s catalogue. The Pixel King II will run on the 2.4GHz frequency band with a 100-metre range, Second Curtain Sync and High Speed Sync up to 1/8000 second. Like the Hähnel Viper, it has automatic channel switching, three groups and manual control of flashguns. TTL has been added and the LCD preview suggests the King II will also let you adjust (or at least review) the zoom head setting on each Speedlite group.

Fingers crossed, the Pixel King II actually exists, will be reasonably priced and come in models for Nikon and Sony, just like the original Pixel King. Stay tuned.

David Selby
Based in Paris, France, David Selby is editor of Lighting Rumours, a part-time photographer and a quantitative analyst.
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