LIGHTPIX LABS – FLASHQ Radio Trigger Review

FLASHQ

 

FlashQ are the successfully crowd funded miniature 2.4GHz radio flash triggers designed for compact mirrorless style cameras, and LightPix Labs have kindly sent over a set of FlashQ for review.

 

FLASHQ

 

There is no shortage of inexpensive manual radio flash triggers available now, though surprisingly little designed specifically to compliment the ever growing range of compact mirrorless cameras.

With their incredibly small size and weight, combined with long life and maintenance free button cell Lithtium-ion batteries, FlashQ aim to provide a great simple triggering option to keep handy with your compact or mirrorless camera kit.

 

FLASHQ

 

FLASHQ FEATURES

 

  • Very Small Size – 25 x 25 x 15 mm
  • Very Light Weight – Tx 10g, Rx 20g
  • 2.4GHz Digital Radio
  • 160 Auto Radio Channels
  • 10M Operating Range
  • LED Indication Lamp (Flashes Green, Red & Blue)
  • Low Battery Indicator
  • Tx Universal & Compatible with Most Cameras
  • Low Latency, Providing Maximum X-sync Speeds
  • Low Power Usage
  • More Than 100K Fires Per Battery
  • 180 Days Battery Standby Time
  • 300V Safe Sync Port Voltage (FlashQ Receiver)
  • PC Sync Cable (via RX USB Port) For Studio Strobes

 

 

LIMITATIONS

 

  • Maximum Range Limited to Approximately 10 Meters
  • Auto Power Off after 15 Minutes
  • No Hotshoe Locking Rings

 

OVERVIEW

 

The FlashQ kits are supplied in simple (though elegant) cardboard packaging, which appear to provide good protection for the triggers inside.

And the courier even managed to slip this little package straight into the mail box.

 

FLASHQ

 

The FlashQ kit LightPix Labs sent provides a transmitter and 2 receivers, valued at approximately $55 in the blue color. Though singe transmitter and receiver kits are available for a little less as well.

Other FlashQ color options also available are Black, White, and Pink.

 

FLASHQ

 

Also provided in the box is a basic instruction sheet, and a PC sync to USB cord for each receiver.

Batteries are already installed in the transmitter and receivers so they are all ready to go.

 

FLASHQ

 

FlashQ are manual triggers (no TTL or HSS etc) designed to allow the flash to simply be fired wirelessly away from the camera with a reliable radio connection.

And to put into perspective just how small the FlashQ are, they are pictured bellow next to the Yongnuo RF-603 II which are likely the most popular inexpensive manual radio trigger alternative.

 

FLASHQ

 

Even the previously considered small button cell powered transmitter units like the Pixel Soldier now appear quite large in relation to the tiny FlashQ transmitter.

 

FLASHQ

 

The Sony A7 is currently the smallest camera I have to illustrate the FlashQ transmitter mounted, though you can see from LightPix Labs image here how they are well proportioned on smaller compact cameras as well.

 

FLASHQ

 

The FlashQ transmitter will also work on any camera with a standard ISO hotshoe, and mounted on the Canon 6D below just illustrates the extraordinary size of the FlashQ.

(And the Canon 6D are really not a particularly large camera either).

 

FLASHQ

 

Another great feature of the FlashQ are the low maintenance button cell CR2032 Lithium-Ion batteries used in both transmitter and receiver.

LightPix Labs have obviously used the button cell batteries out of necessity for their small size. Though they have also consciously designed the FlashQ to draw very little power, therefore providing very long standby times (up to 6 months). And up to 100,000 shots capacity.

So unlike common AAA powered triggers, you can throw the FlashQ in your camera bag and know they will be ready to go without having to worry about taking batteries in and out all the time (so that they don’t leak etc), or worry about what charge they actually have left all the time.

So for casual use I find these button cells are really quite practical and convenient.

 

FLASHQ

 

The FlashQ triggers may be small, but they are not toys. LightPix Labs have clearly taken their performance seriously, and this can be seen by the low latency and sync speeds detailed further below. And within their stated range the FlashQ appear to be very reliable.

The unavoidable physical limitation of having such a small transmitter unit though is the lack of space for a radio antenna. And this does limit the FlashQ’s reliable range to around 10 meters as specified.

Again this range is likely more than enough for casual use with compact cameras, though shooting portraits from a ditance with a 200mm lens is likely going to test the FlashQ’s limits.

Another limitation for more serious use is that the FlashQ automatically power off after 15 minutes of idle time, so they all then need to be individually turned back on again to resume use.

 

It should also be noted, even though Lightpix Labs recent crowd funding pitch for a compatible compact flash unit was unsuccessful, this shows that there are more features already built into the current FlashQ triggers, like the ability to to provide remote manual power control.

And LightPix Labs will very likely be back pitching a more enticing flash unit, and possibly other items to expand the FlashQ system in the near future.

 

INTERFACE

 

The FlashQ transmitter and receiver units have basically the same very simple interface, comprising of a Power button, a Test Flash button, and an LED indicator light which flashes Green when operating, Red when triggering, Blue when pairing units together.

The FlashQ set provided came already paired on the same channel, though they also provide an auto channel system which can select from up to 160 different channels. And up to 8 receiver units can be paired with the transmitter. Paring units to a different channel is a very quick and simple process if needed.

A low battery indicator is also built into the FlashQ, and the LED indicator light will flash red when the test fire button is pressed if the battery is low.

 

FLASHQ

 

Mounted on the camera, although small, the FlashQ’s test fire button is easy to access. As is the On / Off button.

 

FLASHQ

 

TRANSMITTER

 

The FlashQ transmitter unit is a very simple design with a universal single firing pin foot and no locking ring.

Like the FlashQ receiver a USB port is built into the transmitter unit. Though unfortunately this currently has no function and can not be used to connect to a cameras PC sync port (using the cord supplied for the receivers).

 

FLASHQ

 

Without any locking ring the FlashQ transmitter simply slides into the cameras hotshoe, and relies on the spring tension in the hotshoe and trigger contacts to hold itself in place.

Being such a small and lightweight unit though this generally holds in place fairly well.

 

FLASHQ

 

The Sony Multi Interface hotshoe is not quite as deep as regular ISO hotshoes, so the transmitter does protrude a little out of the back of the hosthoe. Though it does still appear to hold in place reasonably well and fires reliably.

 

FLASHQ

 

Different hotshoes have slightly different sizing, and the Nikon hotshoes appear to have a nice firm fit, where Canon shoes are generally more loose (though still appear to hold the transmitter ok).

 

FLASHQ

 

RECEIVER

 

The FlashQ receiver comes in 2 pieces which slide apart. So the base foot is removable, leaving a smaller receiver unit, and also access to the battery door.

The foot also provides a standard 1/4″ 20 threaded mounting hole.

 

FLASHQ

 

When assembled the receiver unit locks very securely, with a nice firm fit into the base and no movement between the 2 components.

And a very clever little latch really locks the parts together well, so they can not slide apart unintentionally.

 

FLASHQ

 

The image bellow shows the small catch which locks into the side of the transmitter unit.

 

FLASHQ

 

The receiver base then provides a cold shoe mount, and a threaded mounting hole.

One thing I did notice though is that the threaded mounting hole is not quite as deep as the standard. So a rubber washer may need to be used when mounting the receiver to brackets or studs etc, otherwise they may not screw up tightly enough to hold the receiver and flash in place without movement.

 

FLASHQ

 

Without any locking ring the receiver foot is also very loose when mounted in regular flash base stands.

With larger speedlites this is not very stable at all, though smaller mirrorless camera flash units would likely be fine.

 

FLASHQ

 

A USB to PC sync port is provided for connecting to flashes via their PC sync port.

The PC sync cord is not a screw lock connection though. And 1/4″, 3.5mm, and 2.5mm miniphone plug cords are also available separately.

The USB port / sync cord also provides a 300V safe trigger voltage, which should allow for most lights. Though LightPix Labs do not actually recommend using high voltage flashes, or flashes which are not self-powered by their own battery.

 

FLASHQ

 

The transmitter and receiver battery lids just clip off, and are quite secure when in place.

Inside the CR2023 Lithium-ion button cell battery are held in place securely, though they are also quite easy to unclip and remove when needed.

With the battery compartment and USB port tacking up most of the space inside the already tiny FlashQ cases, its really surprising a functional circuit board can be squeezed into the remaining space.

 

FLASHQ

 

RANGE

 

The main limitation to having such a small size is the limited area for an antenna to fit inside the FlashQ cases, and this was always likely to result in a more limited reliable working range.

LightPix Labs have stated the FlashQ range to be up to around 10 meters, and in open space line of sight testing I found this to be a very accurate guide. In fact moving just a meter further away resulted in a 20% failure rate.

At times I was able to reach 20 meters and through a wall as well, and 15 meters indoors for quite a while without any misfires. Though 10 meters really is a good indication of what you can expect to be the reliable limit, and any extra is a bonus when available.

10 meters is likely fine for most of the use the FlashQ were intended for though. Just that shooting portraits at a distance with a 200mm lense etc may be testing their limits.

Within their range limits though the FlashQ appear very reliable.

 

SYNC SPEED

 

The FlashQ appear to have quite good speed, or low latency. Which means you can often squeeze in a little more shutter speed above the cameras X-sync while still retaining a reasonably clean frame without shutter showing in the image.

This low latency is also important with mirrorless cameras like the Fuji X100 which provide a form of leaf shutter, allowing clean flash sync speeds up to around 1/1000. With these cameras the faster the triggers can send the fire signal the higher the shutter speeds that will be achievable.

Below is a comparison using a Canon 7D which has an X-sync of 1/250, against the YongNuo RF603 II (which are likely the most popular current manual radio triggers). And the tiny FlashQ not only match the RF-603 II, but provide a good advantage over them.

It has also taken YongNuo quite some time to reach these speeds with the RF-603 II as well, as previous RF-603 and RF-602 trigger models where considerably slower. The black area in the images is the camera shutter starting to show in the frame.

 

FLASHQ

 

COMPATIBLE CAMERAS

 

The FlashQ transmitter is a universal single firing pin unit and should operate on any camera having a standard ISO hotshoe.

LightPix Labs have supplied the compatibility chart below.

 

FLASHQ

 

Unfortunately there is no PC sync port connection available from the transmitter to a cameras PC sync port, so a free hotshoe is needed on the camera to use the FlashQ.

 

COMPATIBLE FLASHES

 

The main flash compatibility issue with the FlashQ has been with Sony flashes using the Multi Interface Foot. And this unfortunately includes the Sony version of the popular Nissin i40.

Otherwise most flash units with a standard foot or PC sync port should be compatible with the the FlashQ receivers.

The FlashQ receivers USB sync port provides a 300V safe trigger voltage, which is generally required for older flash units and studio lights. Though LightPix Labs do not actually recommend using high voltage flashes, or flashes which are not self-powered by their own battery.

 

FLASHQ SPECS

 

  • Size: 25 x 25 x 15 mm
  • 2.4GHz low-power digital radio
  • 160 radio channels
  • 20M operating range
  • No TTL, up to 1/250 sync speed*
  • Max. 900us X-sync latency (by FlashQ system)
  • Tolerate Max. 300V port sync voltage (on FlashQ receiver)
  • 3V voltage present on male hot shoe centre pin (on FlashQ transmitter)
  • PC Sync cable (via Func. port) for studio strobes
  • More than 100K fires for a battery life
  • 6 months battery standby time
  • LED indication: Green – operating; Red – triggering; Blue – pairing

 

 

SUMMARY

 

The FlashQ triggers provide a really nice option when used for what they were intended for. Just a few years ago it was hard to find any good inexpensive and reliable radio flash triggers, let alone anything as incredibly compact as the FlashQ.

To keep in your small camera bag (or even purse etc) for impromptu portraits or hand holding a flash at parties etc, the FlashQ should be ideal.

There are some limitations to the very small design though, like limited range, and the 15 idle minute auto power off. And no shutter release feature as comparable manual radio triggers usually provide.

FlashQ are beavering away at new products to expand the FlashQ system though, and ideally I think it would be nice to possibly see a larger transmitter option available as well with greater range, for those that may like to push the same trigger set a little further when using their larger DSLR kit etc as well.

Otherwise the FlashQ are currently in a class of their own when it comes to compact lighting gear.

 

FLASHQ

 

PRICE AND AVAILABILITY

 

The FlashQ are available now directly from the LightPix Labs Store from $39 for a Tx and Rx set, or $55 with two receiver units.

LightPix Labs – Website

 

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7 Comments
  1. Thomas Geist 3 years ago

    We use the FlashQ very successfully on Olympus E-M1 and all in all I agree with most everything that’s being said here.

    Two small issues we found:

    – The FlashQ are pretty loose in the camera’s hotshoe and it’s pretty easy to lose the little devices. Especially outdoors we use a little strip of gaffer tape to secure the FlashQ.

    – Power and trigger switch are flipped on transmitter and receiver. Why oh why? Each time you want to turn them on or off you have to think – left button or right? In addition the tiny symbols on the buttons are extremely hard to see. We put a dot of paint on the power button to distinguish easier.

  2. badphoto 3 years ago

    Hi Elv

    Since I mentioned these some time ago, thanks for taking the time to do a thorough review. I’m wondering if you can “relay” or “daisychain” to increase the range? In otherwords, putting a transmitter on top of a receiver at the border of the 10m parameter and in effect re-firing that to another receiver an additonal 10m away?

    An additional thought: would be great if the transmitter is made of metal, has locking nut, and pass through hot shoe on top.

  3. Craig 3 years ago

    Nice to see these great little units getting more attention. Fuji X100, an old Nikon SB-30, and these units make an incredibly small and light package but still quite capable at overpowering the sun. I agree though the lack of a locking foot on the transmitter is annoying.

  4. Andy 3 years ago

    Bad news I’m afraid! I ordered a set after reading this feature.

    They arrived today and they don’t work. I have even tried new batteries.

    Held down the on button for 3 seconds and nothing.

    I really hate poor quality control of camera products. Now I have to sort out a replacement or refund which will always leave me out of pocket.

    I would avoid this product until they are more established.

    • Andy 3 years ago

      *UPDATE*
      I had an email from customer support which was extremely helpful.
      There is a tiny metal clip inside the unit that has to clip around the top of the battery when you install.
      If you just pop in a new battery it won’t work.
      When my unit arrived I pulled the tag on the battery and the battery popped out. When I placed it back in the unit it didn’t work.
      I’m sure this must be a common issue request as they sent me detailed picture instructions about the placement of the tiny metal clip.

      I’ve now tested the unit and it works great and the customer support was excellent.

  5. JD 2 years ago

    Would’ve been nice if you showed flash output / latency / dark banding for the Sony a7. I found that Yongnuo transceivers cannot hold Sony’s stated sync speed, meaning I have to shoot at least a half stop slower. If the Flashq can even hold the listed sync speed, then it would be a worthwhile improvement to consider for the a7 platform…

  6. Craig 2 years ago

    Apparently there is a new version of the FlashQ with a locking ring on the transmitter and Sony MI compatibility on the receiver. http://lightpixlabs.com/pages/flashq

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