PIXEL SONNON DL-913 – LED & Flash – Hands On Overview

The Pixel Sonnon DL-913 are a new 308 LED panel, with a unique flash mode, as well as Pixel King Pro radio receivers built in.

Pixel Sonnon DL-913

Unique Features –

 

There are few features the make the DL-913 a little different to your average LED light panel –

  • Flash Mode – As well as a constant light source, the DL-913 have a separate flash mode.
  • King Pro Receiver Built In – And attach most other radio receivers via sync cord.
  • 2.4GHz Radio Linking – Control a number of panels wirelessly from one panel.

 

Pixel Sonnon DL-913

 

I should start by saying I’m not really an expert on the subtleties of video, or LED lights in general. So this is mainly a hands on overview of the functions of the new DL-913.

In general though, Pixel are promoting the DL-913 as flicker free, which appears to be quite attainable now with DC powered LED panels in this relatively inexpensive price range.

A small color cast is also generally to be expected in this price range (though relatively easy to correct in post). These are only around $85 panels, where more accurate versions are generally $600 plus. (Pixel state the DL-913 to have a CRI (Color Rendering Index) of 85%+).

 

Interface –

 

The DL-913 have a very simple interface, containing an On-Off switch, a power level dial, 3 group buttons, and a flash mode button.

 

Pixel Sonnon DL-913

 

Power Dial – Power level is adjustable in roughly 1/3rd stops, with 30 increments of adjustment.

The power dial can spin continuously though. And even though you can feel the detents (or clicks) as you spin the dial, the power doesn’t always adjust an increment on every click as it should. This is a little annoying, but still not really any major issue.

Group Buttons – The DL-913 also have a 2.4GHz radio transceiver system built in, which allows a number of panels to be grouped together and all controlled through the one interface. Or even to remote control the power level of other panels up to 100 meters away.

Flash Mode – The flash button (bottom right) enables the flash mode. Though this unfortunately also disables the continuous light mode. So you can’t actually use the flash while the continuous light is running. More on that further below.

 

Power / Light Output

 

Light Output – Continuous –

The DL-913 are bright. At full power too bright to be shining directly into a persons face for example (not up too close anyway).

Pixel state the power output as 16.8 watts maximum, and 25 watts maximum in flash mode (2000LM).

Though I’m getting the impression the full power can actually be accessed in continuous mode as well. Only for short periods though, as after about 20 minutes the light panel will start to flash on and off before shutting down completely.

At around half power though it appears they will run continuously, at least until the batteries eventually run out.

Very roughly I found the continuous light output to be similar to 1/128 power on a Canon 600EX-RT, at 1/60th shutter speed (at longer shutter speeds the continuous light will continue to provide more light).

This may not sound like much in comparison to a flash, but in continuous light terms its really quite bright.

 

Pixel Sonnon DL-913

Pixel DL-913 Left – Full Power.
Canon 600EX-RT Right – 24mm zoom, 1/128th power.
Camera – 1/60th, ISO 100, F2.8. Light Distance to wall 1.2M.

White balance is set to 5500K in the camera, so you can also compare the difference in color.

 

Light Output – Flash –

Pixel state the power output to be higher in the flash mode, 25 watts maximum, V’s 16.8 watts maximum in continuous mode.

Though this is where I started to question whether full output is actually being allowed in continuous mode as well, because in all the tests I have done I have not been able to achieve any higher light output in the flash mode.

There is no mention of this in the instruction manual. Though there is no mention of the lights flashing and shutting down in the manual either (which is what happens if you leave them on full power for 20 minutes or so). So I get the impression you can actually access full power in continuous mode for limited periods as well.

As mentioned above, light output in flash mode is also set to full power all the time, so there is no power adjustment there. If lower power was needed though, you would simply go back to continuous light mode.

Light output in flash mode is also set to full power all the time, there is no power adjustment there.

 

Flash Mode –

 

I was a little disappointed to discover the flash mode is also completely separate to the continuous light mode. When the flash mode button is pressed, the continuous light is turned off completely.

This is really a pity, because one of the main things I had hoped to use this system for was a flash panel with a modeling light also running at a lower power levels.

My only work around for this currently has been to use a second smaller panel as the modelling light, and the DL-913 in flash mode (that is short of switching between continuous and flash mode on the DL-913 all the time).

As mentioned above, light output in flash mode is also set to full power all the time, so there is no power adjustment there. If lower power was needed though, you would simply go back to continuous light mode.

So the flash mode is not any brighter than the continuous mode, and you can’t use the flash mode while the continuous light is running. Though the flash mode is still very handy feature to have. Because you can’t run the panel at full power for too long anyway, and it can be too bright to be shining in someones face at full power. Where the flash mode is no problem at full power.

And if you’re only shooting stills the flash mode is going to use very little battery power at all. Where running the light continuously at the same power level is always going to be limited with battery power.

 

Flash Duration –

 

One thing that should also be noted is that the DL-913’s flash duration is very slow (it even appears slow to watch).

Its not until 1/30th or 1/15th shutter speed that the DL-913 stops producing more light in the frame. So the full power flash duration is around these times.

This means you won’t be freezing any motion in the flash mode with the DL-913. In that case it would be better to leave the continuous light on, and use a faster shutter speed to freeze the motion instead. Being a continuous light you can go to any shutter speed, though the limited light available is reduced further as shutter speed goes up.

And to get full light output out of the DL-913’s flash mode, you would need to use shutter speeds down around 1/30th. Though 1/60th is still quite reasonable, and not uncommon where the light panel would mostly be used, inside and exposing to keep some ambient background in the image as well.

 

Pixel King Pro Transmitter –

 

The DL-913 have a Pixel King Pro 2.4 GHz radio receiver built in.

This allows the DL-913 to simply be fired in the flash mode (in sync with the camera shutter) by the King Pro transmitter. There is no remote power control or any other features through the King Pro interface.

This is very handy if you are a King Pro user already though, as no extra radio receivers are required.

To use the King Pro, the transmitter and all the panels must first be synchronized together on an auto channel. This is a very simple process, and although I don’t like using auto channels, you can always switch back to a regular channel on the King triggers when not using the LED panels as well.

Otherwise there is not much to it, any DL-913 set to flash mode will fire in sync with the camera (with King Pro transmitter mounted on the hotshoe).

 

Pixel Sonnon DL-913

 

Using Other Radio Triggers –

 

The built in King Pro receiver is certainly handy, though most other radio triggers can still be used quite easily to trigger the DL-913’s flash mode in sync with the camera. So anyone can really make just as much use of the flash mode.

Simply connect the radio receiver via sync cord to the DL-913’s 3.5mm mini-phone sync socket.

 

Pixel Sonnon DL-913

 

 Mounting On Camera –

 

If using the DL-913 on-camera, the flash mode can also be used by connecting a sync cord from the cameras PC sync socket to the light panel’s 3.5mm sync socket.

The DL-913 definitely has a some size and weight to it (22.5cm x 15cm & 600grams + battteries), though its still completely manageable mounted on a DSLR.

Pixel Sonnon DL-913

 

There are no electrical connections through the cameras hotshoe to the DL-913, as they are attached via a simple plastic screw on foot.

This little foot adapter is supplied with the DL-913, and can screw on to any of the DL-913’s four side edges. Its a pity the adapter has a plastic foot, as its quite well made otherwise, with a rubber washer that’s molded to lock in place. It appears strong enough to support the DL-913 (for light use at least).

 Pixel Sonnon DL-913

 

Though Pixel have not really provided much of a flat surface area around the DL-913’s threaded mounting holes. So the panel won’t exactly mount quite straight, more so following the beveled angle on the side edges of the DL-913’s case.

 

Pixel Sonnon DL-913

 

Group Mode – Radio Linking

 

The DL-913 also have 2.4GHz radio transceivers built in, allowing a number of panels to be synced together in groups. All panels can be adjusted then at the same time, through the interface on any one panel. Or even remote control the power level of other panels up to 100 meters away.

With the DL-913 you need to synchronize the panels onto the same auto channel first (which is not difficult).

Although the instructions make it seem complex, this system is actually really simple and clever. Simply assign a group on each panel by pressing the A, B, or C group button. And then any panel can become the master control unit at any time. Whichever group is selected on the master will adjust the output of all panels assigned to that same group. Select another group on the master to adjust those panels. The master simply becomes any panel you adjust the power dial on.

Pixels smaller DL-912 LED light panels also have a similar 2.4GHz radio grouping system built in, though unfortunately not directly compatible with the DL-913’s radio linking. Its easy to see here why you would only want to adjust one power dial to change a number of panels at once (the smaller DL-912 actually screw and clip together into larger combined panels).

Pixel Sonnon DL-912

 

Power Supply –

 

The DL-913 provided a number of power supply options, including the standard Sony NP-F570 style Lithium-Ion video camera and light batteries.

As well as the option of 8 AA batteries, and a DC power supply socket, which can be used via a standard adapter to mains power (sold separately).

 

Pixel Sonnon DL-913

 

A set of standard Sanyo Eneloops gave around 1 hour and 40 minutes continuous run time at half power. Or 20 minutes at full power, and another 50 minutes at half power after that. (So a couple of Sony NP-F570 style Lithium-Ion would likely provide around double that). The AA’s are a handy option though.

Pixel Sonnon DL-913

 

Filter & Diffusion Panel –

 

A CTO filter (for tungsten light correction) and white diffusion panel are supplied with the DL-913, and simply slide into place.

Pixel Sonnon DL-913

 

The diffusion panel supplied is quite translucent, and doesn’t reduce light output too much.

Pixel Sonnon DL-913

 

Pixel Sonnon DL-912 –

 

The Pixel Sonnon DL-912 are the DL-913’s little brother, and the first LED panel from Pixel.

I’ve had a few of these for at least 8 months or so now and haven’t had a chance to review them. So I have included a few details on these handy little lights here as well.

At 108 LED’s (v’s 302 LED’s for the DL-913) you can see the DL-912 really are quite compact in comparison.

Power output is 8W v’s 25W, or 588LM v’s 2000LM for the DL-913.

Pixel Sonnon DL-913

 

And the DL-912 also come with CTO filter and white diffusion panels, which simply clip on this time.

 

Pixel Sonnon DL-913

 

As mentioned previously the DL-912 can be easily attached and grouped together. Not only screwed on top of one another, but linked together in in rows sideways as well.

The connecting rods are already clipped to the top and bottom of each panel. You simply move the connector over to clip on to the next panel as well.

Pixel Sonnon DL-912

 

The DL-912 are relatively inexpensive handy little panels. And they will also run on 6 AA batteries, or a Sony NP-F570 style Lithium-Ion battery. Another good thing is they also come with adapters to run off Canon and Nikon DSLR batteries as well.

They are likely good little video lights, but I also use them just as a basic modeling light at times when using speedlites or the Cheetah lights etc. Sometimes held in hand, or just attached next to the flash on a dual bracket like the Multi Boom. Though it wouldn’t be hard to just strap or clamp one near the flash as well.

With the latest 28″ Multi Boom I have been able neatly mount one behind dual flash like this –

 

Pixel Sonnon DL-912 & Phottix Multi Boom

Taking that a step further now with the larger DL-913, this can now be a combined video light panel and full power flash for stills.

 

Pixel Sonnon DL-913 & Phottix Multi Boom

 

The above set up is still quite a hard light for the video light.  So for a softer light I moved the LED panel back away from the diffusion panel. And ideally you would really need to add a second panel as shown to create a larger light source to begin with. The speedlight adds a decent kick of light for stills.

I was just experimenting here, though its really not that impractical. And once again considering all of this kit (using the great inexpensive V850 speedlites) still cost less than just one Canon flash.

 

Pixel Sonnon DL-913 & Phottix Multi Boom

 

Again, just experimenting with adding some extra flash power for stills. This could be hand held even, and a shoot through umbrella added quickly for a softer light as needed.

Pixel Sonnon DL-913 & Phottix Multi Boom

 

Sonnon DL-913 Specs –

 

Pixel Sonnon DL-913

 

Summary –

 

Its a pity the DL-913 does not allow flash while in the continuous light mode, otherwise that would have been great as a combined modelling light and flash as well.

Though the flash mode is still a great feature to have available. And considering all things are likely fairly equal with the better LED panels in this relatively inexpensive class, the flash mode would be a bonus feature that’s pretty hard to pass up on.

Another thing I would really like to see is just a simple stand alone remote transmitter unit, which can remotely adjust power levels, but also turn lights on and off. You can use one panel as a remote for others, though that’s limiting compared to a simple hand held remote control.

If manufacturers are looking for a way to differentiate their LED panels from the hundreds of other alternatives, combining more remote control options from the Pixel King Pro transmitter for example would be a great way to do that.

We often refer to more integrated radio trigger, speedlight, and studio light systems, though perhaps LED panels and monolights should also really be integrated where possible as well.

For now the integrated King Pro receiver is a good start, and the bonus feature which makes the DL-913 an easy decision for current King Pro owners. As likely does the flash mode itself for users of other trigger systems as well.

The DL-923 is no LED Light Cube, though the flash mode is a pretty nice bonus to a decent LED panel offering great bang for buck to start with.

 

Price and Availability –

 

The Pixel Sonnon DL-913 are available from around $85 –

Ebay and AmazonUK.

DL-912 – Amazon, UK, Ebay
DL-911 – Amazon, UK, Ebay

Pixel Website – DL-913, DL-912, DL-911.

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6 Comments
  1. Pontiaku 4 years ago

    FFFFFFFFFFFFFFF…. Lost everything I typed because I forgot the quiz.

    From what I hear LED’s can exceed their rated wattage as a flash but not as a continuous light. I find it strange both the flash and continuous light can put out the same amount of light. Seems to be somewhat of a failed design.

  2. Author
    Flash Havoc 4 years ago

    I guess it depends on what your expectations are. I’d much rather still have the flash mode available than not, even if its not a higher output.

    But really it is a higher output in flash mode than what the light can run continuously for more than a short time.

    I will try and compare this with similar lights in the class at some stage. But even if they did say put out a bit more light in continuous, I think I would still prefer to have the flash mode option instead.

  3. The flasher 4 years ago

    Thanks for the review!

    Im ready to buy several of these units….radio controlled power levels of groups is just what i need.

    On the eachshot website it says there will be a version with barn doors after chinese new year…wasn’t that a few weeks ago? Have you any info on ETA on these barn door versions?

    • Author
      Flash Havoc 4 years ago

      Hi flasher,

      Sorry, I’ve sent EachShot a message, will let you know if I can get any update on the barn door kit.

  4. Manuel 3 years ago

    Hello, first let me say I love your site. My question is, can you please tell me where to buy the clamp used in this picture that’s holding the boom. Thank you in advance.
    http://flashhavoc.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Pixel_DL-913_zb500_2b.jpg

    • Author
      Flash Havoc 3 years ago

      Hi Manuel,

      That clamp is only available as part of the Phottix Multi Boom 28″ unfortunately.

      It needs to be machined accurately to fit the exact column size though, so it wouldn’t really work as a universal item anyway. Its based on the DSLR video rig concept, though they do have standard 15mm rods, where the Multi Boom is 16mm.

      I designed the Multi Boom with Phottix, and the other alternative was a standard Grip head (which can still be used as well). Its just that they were considerably heavier.

      Another DIY option though could be something like the Nano Clamps with a regular 5/8 stud screwed into the base. You just need to be careful the clamp doesn’t unscrew from the stud so it may be best to glue it in with strong Loctite or similar.

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