A few days ago I received the new XPro trigger from Godox. Designed to overcome some issues with the X1T and XT32 triggers, the XPro has received a warm reception so far online since the initial announcement. But how well does it really work? And does it eliminate the issues of the previous triggers?
While I didn’t have many issues with the X1T myself, my answer is a pretty resounding yes. The XT32-inspired design is wonderful, eliminating some of the ergonomic issues of the X1T. It also has that great big LCD with a lot more buttons, which makes workflow a breeze.
Godox equipment instantly intrigued when I first learned of the Godox AD180 a few years ago. I was hesitant to purchase, though. It was a new, untested company, with a very different type of light. A 180Ws strobe in a slightly-larger-than-speedlight sized package with a small external pack.
It seemed to good to be true. And when these sorts of things appear, they often are. They don’t live up to the hype and a short time later, the company usually disappears. Sometimes, though, the claims are actually true and we witness the start of something quite revolutionary. For Godox, it seemed to be the latter. As I started digging a little more into their whole system I noticed that they also offer speedlights.
My big problem at that time, though, was that they all required external receivers to use them off-camera. If I wanted high speed sync, I’d have to stack Godox and Yongnuo triggers on top of each other. That sounded like a pain and required I spend yet more money on Yongnuo triggers. I didn’t want to have to go back to external receivers, so I stuck with Nikon and Yongnuo.
Once the second generation of Godox lights were released with built in 2.4Ghz triggers, and I was sold, completely. I got rid of most of my Nikon & Yongnuo speedlights, sold my Bowens strobes and picked up a pair of Godox AD360II and a stack of TT600 speedlights along with the X1Tn trigger, and life was good. True high speed sync, outdoors, with a 4ft octabox. Yes, please!
The X1T trigger frustrated me, though. The design was functional, although not pretty. Workflow was often quite awkward, trying to remember exactly what each button did and how long you had to hold it down for to get certain menu options to appear. One click of the dial also doesn’t represent one click on power settings or menu options. So you might have to click it 2 or 3 times to actually go up or down a stop or menu setting.
One problem I didn’t run into myself, being a left eyed shooter, but heard a lot of complains about was the trigger banging into your face. For right eyed shooters, whenever you rotate the camera into portrait mode, the trigger would be pressing into your nose and forehead whenever you held the camera up to your eye. Makes me glad I’m a left eyed shooter, because I don’t know how long I could put up with that.
Then came the XT32. From a technical standpoint, the only difference between the two is that the X1T supports TTL while the XT32 does not. As I never use TTL, this wasn’t a problem. But the design is much better. It shifts the display to the top of the unit, which now leans forward, preventing those forehead-banging issues. It had several buttons and a better dial. Although it only displayed one flash group at once. Which seems kind of awkward.
As I debated back and forth between sticking with the X1T or getting the XT32, Godox announced the XPro and got in touch with me to see if I’d like to try one out. The version I received is for Canon, and I shoot Nikon, so I still don’t get the TTL that I never use. But it also means that, for now, I get no high speed sync.
What I do get, though, is a beautifully designed new interface, that easily lets me see the settings of up to 5 groups of flashes simultaneously. I can also quickly and easily adjust the power of each of those flash groups individually, or all of them at once.
Until I received the XPro, my favourite “commander” UI design was that of the Nikon SB-900/910 speedlights. I can see all the flash groups at once, quickly and easily change the power or mode of any of them, and it is a workflow speed dream. Since playing with the XPro, though, my mind has definitely been changed.
As well as being an overall cleaner design, the array of buttons is well laid out, and it’s easy to see what everything does. There’s five buttons along the left hand side of the LCD, corresponding to the five flash groups. The four buttons below the LCD change in function as you go through various interfaces – each of which is labelled on the LCD itself.
Changing the power of any given group is as simple as hitting a button along the left side of the LCD and then spinning the dial. Once you’re actually changing the settings of a flash group, two of the buttons below the LCD also turn into “Group up” and “Group down” buttons, allowing one-handed operation to adjust them all.
Speaking of adjusting them all, you can do that simultaneously, too. If you’ve got five groups of flashes to adjust up 2/3rds of a stop, you don’t have to go into each one individually. You just hit the button below “All” and spin the dial. Each of them get knocked up or down appropriately. And, best of all, it caps the brightness levels to the highest and lowest power groups.
If one group hits full power, they all stop going up. If one goes down to 1/128th (or 1/256th if it’s configured that way), the rest stop going down. It’s great that it has this built in limit to prevent you from just keep powering up the lower groups and sending things out of balance.
For Canon users, another button changes the flash mode. This is where you can set it to rear curtain sync or force it into high speed sync mode. I would imagine, though, when it’s sitting on the hotshoe of a Canon DSLR, it will automatically go into HSS mode whenever your shutter speed is fast enough. Although, as I do not have a recent Canon body here to test with, I can’t say for sure.
The modelling lights for each group, too, is enabled or disabled simply with the push of a button. Although, as none of my Godox lights except for the A1 contain a modelling light, this was tricky to test. The XPro features the same switches on the side that the X1T does, namely the power, and the focus assist beam.
One feature I’m unable to test to confirm, but would be nice to have is an auto LCD on. If I have a Nikon SB-900 on my hotshoe, when I turn my camera on, the speedlight’s LCD lights up. If the backlight turns off, when I hit the button to illuminate the LCD on the camera itself, the flash’s LCD again lights up.
This isn’t so on the X1Tn. With that, if I want it to light up, I actually have to push a button or spin the dial on the trigger itself. The XPro I have seems to work the same way. But, again, the XPro I have is for Canon. So there is definitely some signal inconsistency between the XPro’s foot and my DSLR’s hotshoe which wouldn’t allow that signal to be sent.
When it comes to sticking it in the hotshoe, the XPro has a metal foot, like the X1T, with a plastic but solid nut to tighten it down. Getting it off the hotshoe after you’re done requires unscrewing the nut all the way, due to a locking pin. This means it’s definitely not going to fall out by accident.
Hopefully, when the Nikon version of the XPro is released, we’ll see that it has this feature. It’s not a deal breaker, but it’s very handy, especially for one-handed operation in dark conditions. To turn on my camera’s LCD light is turn a dial around the shutter release. If my left hand is supporting a big lens, and my right hand is holding the camera, I don’t want to have to push a button on the trigger with my nose to get it to light up.
One very cool feature, from a technical standpoint, is the XPro’s ability to convert TTL into manual power settings. That’s what the “TCM” button is for. This is something we’ve seen in the past from Profoto. Essentially, you set your flash up in TTL mode, shoot so that it figures out the exposure it needs to give you the shot you want, and then tap a button. Your flashes have now been converted over to manual power settings, so you can get consistency from shot to shot.
This isn’t really a big deal for me personally. For two main reasons.
- I don’t shoot TTL
- It’s the Canon trigger on a Nikon DSLR, so I don’t get TTL anyway
But for wedding and event shooters, this may become the “must have” feature for the future of mobile flash. TTL can be a wonderful tool for situations with ever changing light. Although it can also be inconsistent. Being able to quickly meter a shot with TTL, and then turn it over to manual means you’ll get consistent output no matter what disco lights are flashing in the background.
Even though I can’t take full advantage of all of its features, the XPro has completely won me over. I shall definitely be picking up the Nikon version once it becomes available, and the X1Tn will reside in my bag as a backup. Even now, the Canon version of the XPro will still be my go-to trigger over the X1T for shoots where I don’t need high speed sync.
- XT32 style build design that gets the useful features out of your face
- See and quickly change all five groups of flashes individually or simultaneously
- Far fewer configuration options buried deep in menus
- The menu options that do exist are laid out much better, and easier to access
- So far, it’s as solid and reliable as the X1Tn
- None that spring to mind, really.
It would be nice if the LCD lights up with the camera. This is more a personal quirk than a con, really. And it may be fixed by putting an actual Nikon trigger on the Nikon camera. The addition of Bluetooth might also be a handy feature, although it would possibly cut into sales of the Godox A1. As I already have an A1, it’s not something I’ll miss.
TL;DR – In short, my advice, if you don’t have the X1T or XT32 triggers yet, then don’t bother. Just get the XPro. If you already have an X1T or XT32, get the XPro and put your old trigger in the bag as a backup. The time saved due to the increased speed of workflow more than makes up for the investment. If shooting on location and regularly adjusting your lights, it’s a no brainer.
The Godox XPro-C for Canon is available to pre-order now for $69 and ships on October 16th. XPro triggers for Nikon, Sony, Fuji, Panasonic and Olympus are to follow at some point, although dates have not been specified.
Update – 28th September : I contacted Godox to find out about releases for other brands. The XPro-N for Nikon should start popping up for pre-order any day now. Sony will be the next version to come out “soon”, followed by Fuji & Olympus/Panasonic shortly thereafter.
Update – 29th October : I have the XPro-N for Nikon now, so I took it out for a bit of a spin and put together a behind the scenes vlog from the shoot with some more thoughts about the HSS & TTL to Manual conversion function.