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

Comparison with the Pixel King

Advanced users may be interested in using the Flash control menu on their Canon EOS DSLR to have finer adjustment over their remote Speedlite’s behaviour. To save you the trouble of diving into such menus, Hähnel put shortcut buttons for Second Curtain Sync and High Speed Sync on the transmitter. There is some customisation to be had in the Flash control menu. For instance, setting flash exposure compensation appears to work without issue. However, if you were hoping to put your remote flash into manual mode and then set the power levels through your camera, disappointment looms. Though “Manual” appears as an option in the External flash func. setting menu, if you try to select it, the camera decides it knows better, and ignores your selection, immediately putting it back in E-TTL mode.

Hähnel Tuff TTL disables Manual control in Flash control menu
Attempting to select Manual mode using the Flash control menu does not work

Similarly, the “zoom” menu option is available, but selecting a focal length doesn’t appear to do anything. Instead, your remote flash will either match your camera lens, or follow settings you make directly on the Speedlite’s own control panel.

Setting zoom through the Hähnel Tuff TTL
Autozoom works; manual zoom appears not to

By contrast, the rival Pixel King Wireless E-TTL Trigger has no problems enabling manual mode and selecting a power level through the Flash control menu of a Canon camera. Since the Tuff appears to be a TTL-only trigger, it also lacks high speed sync with manual flashes, a prominent feature of the Kings.

Pixel King: full manual control from the Flash control menu
Pixel King: full manual control from the Flash control menu

The Pixel King also works with manual zoom setting.

Pixel King: manual zoom works through Flash control menu
Pixel King: manual zoom works through Flash control menu

One advantage that the Hähnel Tuff TTL has over the Pixel King is that it has dedicated buttons for SCS and HSS. But on the King you can still set these – you just need to go through the Flash control menu on the camera LCD instead.

Pixel King: setting HSS or Second Curtain Sync using menus
Pixel King: setting HSS or Second Curtain Sync using menus

If, for whatever reason, you wanted to combine radio triggering with Canon’s infrared E-TTL II signals, unfortunately this can’t be done with either the Tuff or the King.

Pixel King cannot put a wireless flash in Master mode
Neither the King nor the Tuff TTL can put a radio-controlled Speedlite in Master mode

Beyond this, the triggers from Hähnel and Pixel are quite similar. Their channels are set differently, but they both take AAs, both have no TTL pass-through and both work in E-TTL mode without ratio control. The Tuff, as its name suggests, is certainly sturdier, more resistant to shock and has a more secure battery door. The pricing is nearly identical – about £100 for a kit from either brand. Read on for final recommendations.

  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.
selbydavid.com