Photography News Issue 36

Technique 28

Photography News | Issue 36 |

Theworld of flashes and flash kits Like cameras, tripods and lenses, flash heads and kits come in a wide range of prices and specifications to suit all budgets and requirements. There are simple starter sets for hobbyists feeling their way into the world of flash photography and high-spec professional heads that are designed to withstand daily use in demanding environments. There are products engineered for the maximum power and those designed for mobility. Here are a few examples to consider…

Lastolite Lumen8 F400TwinKit 2 £465 A great starter kit, Lastolite’s Lumen8 F400 twin umbrella kit is built around two versatile Lumen8 400Ws flash heads. The kit also includes two stands, two spill-kill reflector dishes, two PVC 80cm umbrellas and two cases. The lights have a metal casing for added durability, and can also be triggered wirelessly via their built-in receiver if a Lumen8 trigger is added (at £44.99), or using slave or sync cable connections. The Lumen8 F400 heads have a guide number of 60 and recycle time of 1.6secs at full output, so provide plenty of power and speed. Power is controllable over a range of six stops in one tenth steps and they use the popular S-fit accessories so you may not need to allow for new modifiers even if you’re upgrading.

Metz 64 AF-1 Digital Flashgun £309 When twinned with the right modifiers, a speedlight can make all the difference to your portrait, and with a guide number of 64 the Metz 64 AF-1 has the power to do it. Power can be controlled in ⅓ stop increments, all the way down to 1/256 and with its zoom head, the spread of the flash can be tailored to suit focal lengths of 12 to 200mm. The flash’s durable build is combined with great usability from its touchscreen on the rear and the display rotates 90° if you’re shooting in portrait mode. The Metz 64 AF-1’s head itself swivels up to 300° horizontally and between -9° and +90° vertically and it’s fully compatible with TTL flash metering, so you can use it hotshoe-mounted and expect first-class results. It also supports wireless triggering directly from the camera and comes in Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax, Panasonic and Sony versions.

Pixapro CITI600 Twin Flash Kit £1019.99 The CITI600 is a powerful and portable battery- powered monolight. Weight is just 2.66kg and the flash has an output of 600Ws (guide number 87). The battery will allow around 500 full-powered shots per charge while recycle time tops out at 2.5sec. There’s a high-speed sync mode up to 1/8000sec)and a 10W LED modelling light is built in, as is a wireless receiver, so the light can be fired using the additional Pixapro Pro ST-III trigger at £44.99. The CITI600 uses S-fit accessories so there’s a huge range of modifiers to choose from, and this starter kit comes with two heads, two chargers, two 60x90cm softboxes, two stands, carry cases and more.

Interfit STR200Strobies ProFlash 180kit £319.99 Functioning like a larger, more powerful speedlight, the Interfit Strobies ProFlash 180 can be mounted in your camera’s hotshoe or triggered off-camera in a variety of ways, including sync lead, slave mode or, best of all, using the ProFlash Transmitter/Receiver kit STR203 at £40. Via the Transmitter, all functions can be controlled, and, in addition to its small size and rugged design, this makes it an incredibly versatile kit. The range is effective up to 50m and covers 16 channels, while its suite of modes and modifiers mean the kit can be adapted to any subject; there’s manual, two slave modes and stroboscopic flash for creative motion effects or to let you paint a subject with open flash. It also offers a high-speed sync mode, and its large lithium-ion battery pack, which can be slung over the shoulder, allows up to 900 full-power 180W/s flashes on just a single charge.

Broncolor Siros 400LWiFi/RFS2.1 head £1944 Broncolor’s Siros 400 L is a battery powered monolight. It’s compact, fast, portable and durable with a strong aluminium body; plus it can operate from -10°C to +60°C, so there’s little that can’t be shot with it. The Siros 400 L can provide up to 440 flashes per charge at full power, and also has a low power consumption 25W LED modelling light, while Swiss engineering provides remarkable colour consistency across all flash durations. Full-power recycling time is just 1.2secs and for triggering and control the RFS2.1 transceiver is used. You can also control it from your smartphone using the BronControl app. Modifiers use the Broncolor bayonet fitting.

ProfotoD1 StudioKit 1000/1000Air £2800 Aimed at serious enthusiasts and pros, Profoto’s D1 1000 Air flash heads have a huge maximum output of 1000Ws, giving themmasses of range. They’re also built to withstand the rigours of daily use with a lightweight, high-impact polycarbonate casing. Power is adjustable over seven stops in one tenth increments and the lights recycle at just 2secs at full power. Even the modelling light is extra powerful with a maximum 300W output overpowering almost any ambient light. With built-in wireless receivers, the lights can controlled and triggered up to 300m away via the £225 Profoto Air Remote or using a computer via the optional Air USB device and included software. The kit comes with dual heads, umbrellas and stands and cables, plus a sturdy kit bag to ferry it about in.

ElinchromD-LiteRX4/4 Softbox ToGo Set £725 The Elinchrom D-Lite RX 4/4 Softbox To Go Kit features two powerful, robust and portable D-Lite RX 4 400Ws heads, and uses Elinchrom’s built-in EL-Skyport receiver for triggering, although sync and slave options are also available. As well as the heads, the kit comes complete with everything you need to start shooting flash-lit portraits; two stands, two softboxes – one 66cm square and one 56cm octagonal, a translucent deflector, the Skyport Plus Transmitter, carry cases and more. The EL-Skyport Plus can operate across 16 channels and four groups, so you can add to your lights and control them separately with ease. You can also control the lights via the El-Skyport app and power is highly controllable in increments as small as one tenth of a stop. For attaching modifiers the lights use the Elinchrom bayonet fitting.

Nowyou’re up and running you can start your journey into creative lighting proper. Eachmonth Lighting Academy will look at how to use a particular modifier or excel at a flash technique, so make sure you pick up your free copy of Photography News every month to keep learning. Next month: We look at flattering softbox techniques like clamshell lighting.

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