Hands-on with the Hähnel Tuff TTL flash trigger

We review the Tuff TTL wireless flash trigger for Canon E-TTL, test it on location and compare it with the Pixel King.

Hahnel Tuff TTL

What’s in the box?

We were testing the Canon Tuffs (the Nikon version isn’t ready yet) and sent a transmitter/receiver kit, plus one extra receiver. Unboxing the kit, the only thing you’ll find inside are the transmitter, the receiver, some AA batteries and the instruction manual. Hähnel Tuff TTL box contentsSince the Tuff has no output ports apart from the hot shoe, no sync cords or shutter release cables are included. You can power the units from the mini-USB port, as well as use it for firmware updates, but there isn’t a USB cable in the box. Fortunately these are easy to come by and chances are you have a few lying around your house already.

Hähnel Tuff receiver battery compartment

Both transmitter and receiver are clothed in a protective silicone cover that must be removed to change the batteries – a bit like a case for a smartphone. Tuff by name, tough by nature – these triggers certainly seem bombproof. The buttons and switches also have a reassuringly sturdy feel. To access the mini-USB port you have to remove the case, which is a bit of an oversight. Basic operation & controls Hähnel Tuff TTL transmitterSlide the transmitter into your camera hotshoe with the controls facing you, then tighten the locking wheel. Switch it on and you’re ready to go. Using the “M” (= mode) button you can turn on High Speed Sync (HSS) or Second Curtain Sync (>>>) but not both at the same time. The selected mode is indicated by a glowing red LED. Use the test button to establish “Digital Channel Matching” – a process that pairs up your transmitter and receiver using some kind of magic.

Hähnel Tuff transmitter in HSS mode
Tap the (M) button to toggle HSS and 2nd Curtain Sync

The transmitter doesn’t have many different controls and the receiver has fewer still: on/off and test. You can mount it on a light stand or tripod using the 1/4″ screw socket but there is no cold shoe foot. So if your mounting accessory only has a cold shoe clamp, invest in one of these adapters for £2. To connect your speedlight, slide it into the hotshoe. You could also use a TTL cord, but why would you want to? Hähnel Tuff TTL receiver on a light standOnce you have everything switched on, you’re ready to go. You can now fire your speedlights off-camera in E-TTL mode without having to worry about tripping over cables or losing line of sight. This allows you to put your flashgun high up or inside a softbox without the need to access the control panel.

Canon Speedlite 600EX on a Hähnel Tuff TTL receiver inside a Hylow softbox
Canon 600EX inside a Hylow umbrella softbox

Read on for an example set-up using the Hähnel Tuff TTL in a real life photo shoot.

  1. Introduction
  2. What’s in the box?
  3. On assignment
  4. Comparison with the Pixel King
  5. Conclusion

David Selby
David is a keen photographer and has been editor of Lighting Rumours since 2010. When not writing about lighting, he works as a data scientist at the University of Manchester, UK.