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Pixapro Citi300 Pro (Godox ad 300pro) Hands-On Testing and Review

Citi 300 Pro size comparison

Let me start with a few quick points.

  • I have been trying to start a blog for several years but have always found excuses (Not enough time, No decent subject matter).
  • I have the title of Brand Ambassador for Pixapro but I only take payment for actual jobs for them the main one is working at the NEC at The Photography Show. All of MY equipment is bought and paid for with my own money.
  • This is not a paid test or review! They asked me through pure luck (that being I’m on lockdown with my daughter who often does modelling for me) if I would like to try this light test it out and see what I thought.

So where to begin?

Like everyone else, I have been seeing all the leaked pictures of this unit. I will admit that initially I was not interested in this too much. I already own Pika200s (AD200), Citi 400pro (ad400pro) and Citi600s (ad600) 1 TTL and 1 manual and a couple of the manual speedlights, so with such a huge range of power and portability at my disposal, this was not getting me excited like the release of the Citi600 or the Pika200.  I mean what could this possibly do for me that I couldn’t do already? 

Moving forward a bit,  I am at home on lockdown looking after my elderly mother and my daughter whilst also trying to keep busy and have fun. You may have seen a few time-lapse videos of me wrecking the front room to use as a studio on my youtube channel (another thing I have been putting off) or perhaps sharing stuff in a few groups on Facebook and my Instagram account.

Then one night, or it may have been morning honestly this virus lockdown has me lost – do we still measure time in hours and days?  I get a message from one of the owners of Pixapro “ would I like to try out the new Citi300 and give them some feedback” well I know it hadn’t interested me that much to start with but given the situation, I jumped at the chance of a new toy to play with.

Now as I said I had not been overly excited by this light but I wanted to give it as unbiased opinion as possible so I made a point of avoiding any posts about it. Friends sent me links, I ignored them, pictures, videos anything linked to this I tried to cut myself off from. It was bad enough I had already made my mind up it wouldn’t fit in with my kit I already had. I didn’t even read the specs or instructions –  well I am male why would I read instructions Pfft!

So a few days later and the courier arrives, weird times, I know the courier from DPD as  I have had a few deliveries in the past. But to have him drop it at the end of the path while I’m stood on my doorstep and sign for it for me was oddly surreal.

My first impression on the unit was the fact that it’s smaller than I expected but with a good solid feel, all the buttons and dials have a good feel to them with nothing that is wobbling or feeling like it may not respond well to my input, and that’s saying something as I have fat fingers and all the subtlety of a sledgehammer.

Size comparison Pika 200 left Citi 300Pro centre Citi400Pro right.

It has all the usual function you expect from PixaPro lights and the extra bit the other pro models have such as 1/10th adjustment from 1/256th to 1/1 and the colour stable mode.

 A good recycle rate of 0.01sec to 1.5sec from lowest to highest power not blisteringly fast but I found it impressive for a small unit like this and certainly didn’t leave me waiting..but that’s getting into the specs and seriously you can find all that on any of the sites that sell these or re planning to sell them. On paper, this is another great light from a manufacturer who, in my humble opinion, is turning out great quality lighting that compares in performance and specs very well to much higher priced units.Anyway enough of the paperwork specs if you really want to know them all just follow this link. https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/product/citi300-300ws-portable-battery-powered-flash/

With any new light, I’m more interested in how it performs with the way I work and the modifiers I use than what the manufactures state so for me I am always more interested in trying it out and using it the way I would work. I’m interested in how evenly it fills a modifier and how the light appears on my subject so that what I got to next. For me, it is very much a case of the proof is in the pudding and who doesn’t love pudding?

First I tried some basic headshots using it as the key light in one of my favourite modifiers from pixapro http://bit.ly/65cmricebowelsoftbox

Straight away I was impressed with the light this gave out when used with the modifier. As you will see from the image below which was just that light and nothing else, it gives a nice even light spread with no harsh specular highlights even though part of the image was a shiny silver metallic necklace.

Now the images I will show here are going to be straight out of the camera and in my own opinion for very good reason. If I take images with this light in whatever situation, then run it through Lightroom and spend however long in PS doing dodge and burn, spot healing and so on then a lot of what the light is producing is going to be or could be altered. 

So, for you to see what the light is putting out I will be posting shots which are exported from LR with nothing but a crop where possible. Honesty is the best policy and I figure if you are reading this you are not so interested in how the light performs rather than my editing skills.

 

First shot just testing that I took and straight away I was impressed.

First Test Shot Citi300Pro Only

Further shots were taken during this initial shoot to see how it went using gelled background lights using alt mask functions and fill light added.

SOOC Fun With My Daughter

I then did several tests using a Sekonic L-858D to compare the power output making sure each light was the same distance from the dome on the light meter. I measured this from the bulb where only a standard reflector was used or the face of the modifier in the case of the Pika round head or when testing it through my modifier. The distance was 1 meter for all. 

Comparing Light patterns from the lights

I would have liked to have done a test for the white balance also to check the shift in Kelvins but I would want a white balance meter for that such as the C-800 U but unfortunately, it’s out of my budget. But I can tell you I had no noticeable colour shift yet and I have been playing with this for 3 weeks.

Now keep in mind please, I am isolating in a 2-bed bungalow in the UK with my elderly mother and my daughter as I have already mentioned. I don’t have a studio to use to get clinical test shots done and although I have done a lot of power comparisons with the Pika200 and the Citi400 I am doing them at home. 

Also, I won’t bore you with this but will include the table of the readings I got for you to see at the bottom along with some other images, including one to compare the light pattern on a backdrop next to the other lights and the spread through my above-mentioned favourite modifier.

Then back to the fun stuff, I did some more playing this time with the light boomed over my subject. At only 1.25kg Net weight, according to specs, I don’t have scales to weigh it so will take their word for it, I was happy to boom this over my subject with a lightweight folding beauty dish but with anything heavier I moved it onto the C stand. I wouldn’t hear the end of it if I dropped it on my daughter.

Citi300Pro In white Beauty Dish

And then as I wanted to see how some of the functions I commonly use worked such as TCM and HSS I picked a nice sunny day and ventured into the garden.

I started with a few shots in a shaded area just seeing what the light was like and trying the TTL function to see how close it got.

Side Note: TTL often gets pulled apart as being inconsistent and not accurate but with this system and my canon cameras I find it works well when you remember there is a level of user input required. The flash and the camera work together to use through the lens metering. Unlike going to your subject with a flash meter and taking an incident reading this means you are using a reflective reading (measuring the light reflected back off your subject) by way of a pre-flash. This means your reading can be affected by what the subject is wearing, the brightness of the whole scene and the metering mode your camera is set to. Even a small change in framing can affect it.

The results were as good as I always get with my other lights and this trigger and meant I could work quickly and confidently in this kind of situation.

Shooting With TTL

We then moved deliberately into harsher lighting so I could test again the TTL, but also the TCM and HSS functions. TCM = TTL Convert to Manual or at least that’s what it will do and gives a very quick and effective way of getting you where you want to be. If you want to know a little more on that I have done a short video on this on Pixapro Youtube channel:

https://youtu.be/xtFGQGx_CQA

The HSS worked well also allowing me to get up to 1/2000 shutter speed ISO 100 with the light working at full power also staying within normal sync speed I was able to get f13 at 1/200 ISO100 so in all a very capable outdoor light.

To Summarise.

This is time for a small confession here. I stated I tried not to be biased on this and deliberately stayed away from other reviews and videos on youtube so as not to be influenced. But a small part of me wanted to find a fault with this light, I wanted to not like it. Probably because in the current situation I am not likely to be able to buy any new kit for a while and partly cause I like to think my equipment is well rounded enough for just about every situation I find myself in. Unfortunately the more I play with it and test it the more I like it.

The power to weight ratio makes this light, in my opinion at least, the perfect light for those wanting a portable lighting solution. Its size and shape make it similar to a decent lens and so could easily fit into most good-sized camera bags. The quality of the light from this and how evenly it fills the modifiers, at least the ones I have used, give it that beautiful studio light quality. Using it with the new smart bracket allows you to find that sweet spot when mounting it in the modifier. And although I haven’t had a chance to try them, I hear the new accessories kit planned for it will make this an even better tool.

I’m a huge believer in the saying “If it ain’t broke don’t try to fix it as well as buy what you need and not what you want ” and this leaves me in somewhat of a dilemma, I have lights that can replicate the Citi300 – yes lights plural! I don’t have all that this can offer in one such small portable package.  Should I therefore replace some of my heads that I already own with this one? How have they managed to take everything that I need and fit it all into this one tiny package?

This is defiantly a great light and if you are looking to get your first location lighting kit, step up from speedlights or add to an existing kit you feel is not yet complete then take a good look at this one. 

I will keep playing with this one till they tell me to send it back. I may have to try some tabletop photography and the ability of this to freeze action with the short flash duration, some paint splashes or water droplets maybe shoot an old light bulb with my BB gun. I will also take advantage of this time where my daughter cant escape maybe put some how-to blogs together and add more content to my youtube.

Until then please stay safe look after your loved ones and try to find something positive to do with this time. I’m certainly seeing it as a gift.