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Category : Reviews

31 Aug 2020

Flashpoint Godox AD600Pro – UPDATED August 31 2020

Update August 31 2020

I wanted to alert people that Flashpoint has added what I consider to be a vital change to their Pro series 600 strobes. I mentioned it in my original post below, but wanted to bring it up again. Something as simple as an extra hole in the light stand swivel allows me to mount the strobe PARALLEL to the light stand. This is important to me when I use the remote head (which is most of the time) with the strobe. Although I’m using another DIY mounting system with a truss clamp you can now use a simple super clamp to do the same thing. Also when possible I only purchase light stands that have a removable spigot at the top which allows me to have the spigot vertical (as all do) with another hole that allows a horizontal placement. Options, shooting for me is all about options.

Something so simple as adding this hole on the side of the swivel makes it so much more convenient to mount when using the remote head.

My truss clamp DIY mount which is way easier to make then the 90 degree mount. Oh I try to use aluminum spigots so that the mounting screw on the Flashpoint can really bite into the metal to prevent spinning. I use lock washers too.

Mounting my 600 Pro this way prevents it from spinning around the truss clamp.

UPDATE June 2 2018

I installed the optional rear handle onto the Pro and love it. Being able to use the handle to adjust the angle of the strobe when it’s on a stand is so welcomed. Even though I often use a focusing rod modifier I do NOT like to use the rod as a lever to angle the strobe, so I simply hold the modifier to adjust the angle. There is one issue with the item I received. In order to install the handle you must remove the four Allen head bolts and use the longer ones which are supplied. I received two hex wrenches and I originally thought that they were different sizes, but they are the same. The issue is they both are TOO LARGE to remove or install the bolts. Luckily I have a huge tool supply and had the correct size of hex key. The supplier should investigate whether I just received an anomaly pack or if they’ve spec’d the wrong hex key.

Neither of the supplied hex keys fits the corresponding bolts.

The second issue is more of an annoyance than an actual issue. After I installed the handle the Pro would not fit into the cool little case that comes with the unit. Sad, I really like that case…sigh! But more importantly even with the handle installed it still fits nicely into my Pelican Case which is the one I use for airline transport. I recommend the handle, especially when a heavy modifier is mounted to the Pro.

The handle is really solid once installed and fits perfectly with the unit.

Too long to fit into its native case…sad!

Gladly it still fits into my Pelican case with the handle installed. You can see how much longer it is than the xPLOR600.

UPDATE April 4 2018

My client has just released the press imagery for Hunchback of Notre Dame so I am now able to share them. The session was held on location in Seattle at the Volunteer Park Water Tower which is four stories. After obtaining the required permits we had to lug all of the grip and lighting gear up four stories and I HATE LUGGING! LOL… Because the remote head was not yet available I didn’t use any focusing arms for this session. My modifiers of choice were the Elinchrom 69″ Octa and the SMDV 110cm octa. I used the 600Pro in the Eli and an xPLOR600 in the SMDV.

The four story water tower. We shot at the top for most of the session.

Boy how I wanted an escalator! LOL!!!!

The 600 Pro inside the Eli 69″ octa. Pentax 645Z shot at HSS.

The 600 Pro inside the Eli 69″ octa. Pentax 645Z shot at HSS.

The 600 Pro inside the SMDV 110cm octa. Pentax 645Z shot at HSS.

The 600 Pro inside the Eli 69″ octa. Pentax 645Z shot at HSS.

Toughest shot, natural light with the 645Z.

The talent, hair, makeup, wardrobe and marketing team. The 600 Pro inside the Eli 69″ octa. Pentax 645Z shot at HSS.

UPDATE March 15 2018

During recent client sessions, both of which were on location I had the opportunity to use the AD600 Pro in combination with a number of modifiers. Because the remote head for the Pro is not yet released I did not use any focusing rod modifiers. In one session whose images I cannot at this time, I used the Pro in an Elinchrom 69″ Octa with both diffusion panels installed. I did not go over 1/4 power and was shooting HSS with my Pentax 645Z. The unit performed flawlessly.

In the session I can post images below I used the Pro in a SMDV 44″ (110cm) octa with both diffusion panels installed. The interior of the theatre where I was doing these portraits was very dark so I appreciated the very bright modeling light so that I could easily obtain focus. To date I’ve found the Pro model exemplary in recycle time, modeling light and ease of use.

Waiting for the talent. It looks much brighter in this phone camera image than it actually appeared in real life!

Pro with SMDV 110cm camera left. Just out of frame camera right is my Sunbounce Mini reflector using the white side.

Pro with SMDV 110cm modifier directly in front of the talent. I’m shooting from below the modifier with the Sunbounce reflector under her face just out of frame.

 UPDATE: February 21 2018

Yesterday I was able to utilize the Pro during a commercial session. Here are my observations:

  • The modeling light is VERY bright, as bright as my former Einstein strobes.
  • IF I use the modeling light at any power that enables the fan, the battery life is much shorter than the AD600. My session was only three hours and at the end of it I had only one bar left on power. Keep in mind that I was using the modeling light at 100% during the entire session. The strobe only went to sleep after 30 minutes of non use. I will need to experiment with power control on this unit, i.e, modeling light, sleep time, etc.
  • The swivel mechanism is MUCH MORE ROBUST and far easier to adjust than the AD600. I tend to adjust the position of my lights often and in incremental steps during my sessions and the ability to pivot the modifier is excellent. Not having a ratcheting mechanism makes all the difference.
  • The recycling times are extraordinary. Literally no waiting for the strobe to recycle IF you’re not using 1:1 power. One second can seem like a lifetime when I’m shooting, but I seldom use 1:1 in rapid shooting. Normally in studio I’m at power levels of 1/32 to 1/2 at the most. I’m not a “spray and pray” shooter so when I say that I shoot at will, it’s when I see a gesture or expression that I want. And at those power levels it allows me to shoot at will.
  • Because the unit swivels so freely I will purchase the optional handle when it’s released. Although I plan to use the Pro with focusing arm modifiers and can use those to pivot the strobe, I’d prefer to use the handle.

That’s it for now. I used the Pro with the Adorama 65″ Glow Easy Lock X-Large Deep Beaded Silver Fiberglass Umbrella. Incredible modifier which I’m finding can rival my focusing arm modifiers in some instances!

Original Article

I debated waiting to write an entire review of my experience using the new Flashpoint Godox AD600Pro strobe until I had tested most of the items important to me. Because this is my high season it would take me about six months to do a soup to nuts review. So I’m opting to write my findings piecemeal meaning – as I go along. Sorry, but I felt it best to do it this way for this strobe. As I integrate the unit into my workflow I will make mental notes and add my findings to this review. 

Also since I almost exclusively use focusing arm modifiers now, I probably won’t have extensive use of the Pro until the remote head is released.

Things that are immediately apparent as improvements over the Flashpoint Godox AD600 units:

  • The swivel adjustment is nice and smooth now. No more ratcheting which I hated and modified on my units.
  • The modeling light is B R I G H T and adjustable to the output of the strobe. Like my old Einsteins. Love that
  • The swivel mount now allows you to place the unit in a vertical (parallel to the light stand) position using a SuperClamp and a stud.
  • I like the power button located on the bottom of the unit rather than the side. When I pack my strobes into my Pelican cases I often worry about the units turning on due to the pressure from the foam pads. So I always detach the batteries which airlines don’t like in checked luggage. Also simply pressing the power button now turns to unit off immediately. I like that. You must hold the power button down for 2-3 seconds to power the unit up.
  • The Bowens mount seems much more snug than the AD600. But that depends on the modifier too.

Some people ‘may’ feel that the build quality is ‘better’ on the Pro but I never thought the AD600 exhibited poor build quality….except for the irritating ratcheting swivel which has been completely removed as well as improved. BTW the swivel adjusting handle can be moved by pulling and re-positioning it in the event the handle is being blocked by the strobe’s body or any attachments.

I’ve had zero issues with my units, only with the early remote heads where the LED modeling lights would fail after two months. If trolls are concerned about what happens if they drop the strobe, hell any strobe….well best of luck to them.

The overall length of the new Pro is longer than the AD600. I didn’t measure them, but the new Pro fits into my Pelican case which is what I wanted to know.

The Pro weighs 14 ounces more than the AD600

I purposely didn’t include the covers/Pro’s built in reflector to keep them apples to apples for weighing.

The charger input is the same as the AD600, but the OUTPUT is significantly higher in the Pro’s charger. 33.6v 1.3a. versus 12.6v 3.3a.

The swivel mount on the Pro has included an ingenious second hole and threaded mounting hole so that you can now mount the strobe vertically onto a lightstand when using the remote head. Very well done.

I prefer to use truss clamps when mounting the strobe to a lightstand. But now I don’t have to fabricate much. I simply bolt a spigot to the truss clamp.

Very easy!

With the new mounting hole you can simply buy a SuperClamp and pin to vertically attach the strobe to a lightstand. The advantage of using a SuperClamp over my truss clamp is the ability to use it on smaller diameter light stands.

Easy and Sano!

Whenever I have to travel with my strobes via airlines I remove the bulbs. TSA has broken bulbs before. I use these nifty short covers to protect the attachment points and LED modeling light.

The Pro’s bulbs are much larger in diameter than the AD600s so I found my old Tamrac MX5375 lens pouch works perfectly. They are no longer made, but there are plenty of others out there if you need to find one.

The Oryx Gear DSLR Lens Pouch, Medium which is available (and I just purchased and received) fits and protects the bulb perfectly when detached from the strobe body for transport.

Of course the real aspect of the Pro will be the light quality/battery life/recycle time. I’m very interested in recycle times and the Masking feature. For color consistency a separate menu choice like the Einsteins is great. But during those times my clients need absolute precise color I have never depended upon strobe color temperature, but instead the X-Rite Digital ColorChecker Passport and a recently calibrated monitor. 

I have confirmed that the new Flashpoint/Godox AD600 Pro works in HSS with the Pentax 645Z as explained in this post.

In preparation for a session this week I plan on using the Pro with my 69″ Elinchrom Octa WITHOUT a focusing rod. The session calls for a Vanity Fair style of light, so I will use ultra soft lighting which the Eli 69 delivers in spades.

The Elinchrom Bowens speedring had been back ordered so long on all of the online retailers I decided to modify one. Since I knew it would take a bit of work to do this I also decided to use one of Cheetahstand’s Low Profile Bowen Speed Ring Inserts. Those inserts are about 2/3’s of an inch shorter in depth than normal Bowens inserts. This would then allow my AD600/H600 bulbs to protrude further into modifiers allowing for a bit more power. Yeah you have to drill out all of the rivets, shave the new ring down to fit the Elinchrom speedring, but I was motivated!

Wow so combining the 600 Pro’s new bulb/socket design and my use of the Cheetahstand Low Profile Ring the bulb is actually flush with the speedring in the Eli 69! Very cool! 

Further aspects and more will be forthcoming….stay tuned.

30 Aug 2020

Flashpoint XPLOR Power 1200 Pro R2 – Update August 30 2020

Update August 30 2020

I have been able to test this strobe with actual humans during COVID. Keeping socially distanced is easy with a 1200 ws strobe. At this point in my tests I have not used full 1:1 power so I cannot say how quickly it recycles. I will say that at 1/2 power it is damn near instantaneous. And at 1/4 or lower it IS instantaneous.

She was most excited about my smoke machine!

In this image the Elinchrom 69″ with focusing rod is completely flooded and I am standing directly in front of the modifier. In a fully flooded position with a modifier this large sucks a lot of power from a strobe. In essence is creates a huge ring light. Not a problem with the 1200.

Update August 26 2020

So I decided to use my new electric motorcycle a Cake Kalk& to test the use of the 1200 with one of my favorite large modifiers, an Elinchrom 69″ Rotalux Octa. I have modified the Octa to accept a focusing rod which is my preferred quality of light for almost all of my client work. 

In the picture below the focusing rod is in fully focused position. I decided not to use this position since it did not offer me the coverage or quality of light I was after.

Here you can see how I’ve mounted the pack to the light stand as a counterweight to the modifier. You will notice that the octa is not facing the rack of cables.

And here is Sofia. The 1200/69″ octa is camera left with the octa facing so that the light is bounced off of the right side of the octa. This allows me to control light spill. The 1200 EASILY fills the large octa and I was shooting at ISO100 1/125th f4.5 with my Pentax 645Z with the 1200 at 1/32nd power.

Original Post August 24 2020

The Flashpoint XPLOR Power 1200 Pro R2 is Adorama’s first Flashpoint pack and head system. In the past their strobes have been all in one units more commonly known as monolights. They have offered Flashpoint Portable 1200ws Extension Head For The XPLOR 600 that combines two Xplor 600s into one 1200 system. I own two and use them when my work calls for a 1200 ws head. Since we are in the midst of COVID19 as I assemble this post, I have been unable to schedule any ‘human’ sessions, but have one coming up in late September. I had scheduled dance sessions in July, but with the shelter in place orders in CA, I had to cancel them. Until then I have the opportunity to assess the physical aspects of this strobe and compare it to the 1200 extension head I have been using. So for right now I will cover some of the physical aspect of this pack/head system.

I’ve never owned a pack/head system and used monolights for my entire professional career. I find monolights so convenient especially now that they are battery powered. The Flashpoint XPLOR and Godox lines have such a robust triggering ecosystem that ties so many of their products all together. I do like the convenience and option of using two Flashpoint 600 heads in combination to create a 1200 ws unit or to just use them separately. The down side of that combination is traveling on location. It’s both a blessing and a curse. If I only need to lug one 600 to a part of the location I can. But lugging two is just not fun, I hate lugging. 

Here are the physical statistics of the 1200 Pro 2 and the 1200 Extension Head

  • Extension Head Cord length 9 feet
  • 1200 Pro 2 Cord length 11 feet
  • Difference 1200 Pro’s cord is 2 feet longer
  • Weight of 2 Flashpoint Monolight 600s (non pro version) without bulbs: 11.6 Pounds
  • Weight of 1200 Pro 2 12.8 Pounds
  • Difference 1200 Pro is 1.2 Pounds heavier

On the YouTube videos I’ve seen about the new 1200 Pro most people were hoping or wondering how to attach the pack to a light stand. I fabricated a mount to use to attach them to a light stand. It’s been one of my most popular post to date. So many people say I should make and sell them. Naw, not my thing. Here is a photo of my 1200 extension head set up.

This is what I fabricated to hold the 1200 Pro onto my lightstand using a Superclamp, a J hook and a Soft Loop Tie-Down Strap.

I wanted to see how this would secure the pack to both a C Stand and a regular light stand.

First the C Stand

Placing the 1200 Pro’s pack just above the ground between the shorter legs of the C Stand prevents it from swinging right and left.

By positioning the J hook on the opposite side of the 1200’s pack I create tension on the strap to hold the pack securely against the C Stand’s two legs. In this configuration it also is low and opposite of the long leg of the base which counterbalances a large heavy modifier very well.

 

Next the regular light stand. Keep in mind this is NOT some cheap flimsy light stand.

Here you will notice that I rest the rubber base of the 1200 Pro on the cross bars of the light stand.

The strap goes through the handle of the 1200 Pro

And like with the C Stand I have the J hook on the opposite side of the 1200’s pack so I can create tension to keep the pack snugly against the light stand’s  center pole. This can be accomplished by one of two ways. First by raising the clamp up on the shaft of the lightstand until the strap is tensioned. Or by looping the strap a number of times around the handle of the pack. Either way works as well as the other. It just depends on the light stand you’re using.

OK so I need to reveal that I’m a bag whore. I mean I LOVE bags, LOVE THEM. I cannot even state how many bags I have for all sorts of things. It’s not something I’m particularly proud of and although I have tried to find a 12 step bag program, I didn’t really try that hard. Well now that’s out of the way you’ll know why I’m gonna talk so much about the 1200 Pro’s bag!

This is far and away THE BEST included strobe bag I’ve ever seen. EVER. Here are the reasons why:

First off it’s a rollie. Did I mention I hate lugging? I hate lugging, but rolling is fine.

And behind that zippered panel are backpack straps built into the bag! Now don’t get me wrong, putting this on my back would not be my first choice, but when I’ve been on location humping up and down stairs, rocks, cliffs, you name it having the OPTION of turning this into a backpack is great! Especially if I have my gf put it on her back! Hahahahaha. Seriously this is a great added feature.

On one side is an elastic pocket with a nylon strap to hold a tripod. Pretty normal stuff, but still a great added detail. And then….

There is a strap configuration on the other side which I’ve never seen before. So I thought I’d try to put a C Stand into that area and it worked great! I don’t know about you, but the fewer trips I have to make back and forth to my vehicle the better. Of course the rollie bag has an extendable pull handle you can see in this shot.

The interior top flap has zipper pockets that are well made and useful.

Of course there is the proper spot for each of the strobe’s elements. Well padded and easily configurable too.

Two front pockets. Funny as the top one’s storage pouch goes UP under the Flashpoint label, I was expecting it to go down. The lower zipper’s pouch goes down as expected.

The zipper to the very right of the main compartment zipper runs the full length and width of the bag’s front cover. It is CHOCK FULL of extra dividers for the interior. Way more than anyone even me would ever need.

One more bag which holds the 1200 Pro’s battery pack. Very cool that it has vents on both sides, a clear panel to see your settings and D rings on either side to carry it over your shoulder if needed.

OK enough about the bags already, here are the most important parts of the 1200 Pro. The battery pack and the head. For anyone familiar with Flashpoint strobes the controls are the same and will look very familiar to you. I find this an excellent development of their ecosystem so we don’t have to relearn controls when new products are released. The 1200 Pro is no exception.

I want to bring up a user error (meaning me) event that occured. When I plugged the head into the pack I ‘thought‘ I had seated the plug well. The modeling light came on, the pack powered up, but when I tried to test flash the unit from either the test flash button on the pack or my trigger, nothing. Well in the end I had NOT fully seated the plug into the pack’s receptor completely. Total user error.

Like the 600 Pro the 1200 Pro comes with its own reflector and protective cap. As well as a stepless and smooth metal swivel mount.

The flash tube and the outer glass housing are separate units. Both fit very securely into the flash head.

The battery lever ejects a handle at which time it’s very easy to pull the battery from the pack.

Cooling fans flank both sides of the pack. The state of the battery’s charge level can be viewed on the pack or the battery itself by pressing the button on the battery.

A view of the interior of the pack and its battery terminals which connect to the battery. As you can see there are several attachment points which are different then the Flashpoint monolights.

My next process will be to test the 1200 Pro against the 1200 extension heads. And finally using them both with actual human subjects….unless I’m prevented due to COVID19 lockdowns. Stay tuned….

06 Jun 2020

Saberstrip v2.0 Alternative

For any of you who follow my blog it should be very apparent how impressed I have been with the Saberstrip v2.0 which uses the Godox/Flashpoint 200ws strobe instead of a speed light like their SS v1.0. A few years ago I was very fortunate to test their new prototype and gave them some feedback about the unit. It was very minor and I anxiously awaited the final release. And waited, and waited, and….well you get the picture.

I used the v2.0s during many different sessions, but I found they worked so well for my studio dance imagery they became my defacto lights for dance. You can read about my impressions and experiences in my post about the Saberstrip v2.0.

 

Recently a visitor to my site made me aware of a similar light modifier by Strobius, their StrobiStrip 100. I also found another modifier the FOTOCREAT 3″×20″(8×50cm) Strip Flash Diffuser Softbox on Amazon. So I purchased one of each to see how they compared to the SSv2.0. Both of those units are designed to be used with speed lights, but since the 200 is close in shape and size to the end of a speed light I figured they’d fit the 200. And they do indeed.

Both the Strobistrip and the Fotocreat are very similar in materials and design. Both use a rip stop translucent fabric as diffusion material, ballistic nylon for the body and silver fabric to reflect light on the interiors. Velcro attaches the tube together as well. The Strobistrip differs as it uses a semi rigid piece of clear plastic to keep the shape of the tube consistent and I imagine more evenly reflects light throughout the tube. Because it breaks down it’s a very clever design.

FOTOCREAT 3″X20″

StrobiStrip 100

StrobiStrip 100 with the clear plastic installed.

I’m a firm believer that you never get something for nothing. The SSv2.0 is a remarkable modifier but it is bulky to carry since it is a solid tube. The other two are much smaller when packed down. About the size of a man’s travel bag for his toothbrush, shaving kit, etc. So trading portability for size, I assumed that the light output would not be the same. So I tested all of them.

StrobiStrip 100 packed compared to my Fuji X00V for size.

My Testing Chart of all three Modifiers

As you can see the SSv2.0 has the most consistent and efficient use of the light. The StrobiStrip 100 was less consistent and efficient than the SSv2.0. The FOTOCREAT was all over the place in terms of its light output along the length of the tube. I returned the FOTOCREAT as it is too small for my work and the inconsistent light output along its length made it unattractive for my taste.

In examining the interior of the SSv2.0 he follows the same design as his v1.0 unit. A very cleverly placed piece of ramped reflecting material at the opposite end of the strobe’s socket must increase the light furthest from the source to make it so even.

Interior of the SSv2.0

I also feel that the StrobiStrip’s use of clear plastic to help hold the tube’s shape also adds to the interior’s reflective value helps with its light efficiency and consistency.

Interior of the StrobiStrip 100

One of the most ingenuous design elements of the SSv2.0 is how it mounts the AD200 to the tube. He has developed what I refer to as the ‘tractor tire’ with a 3/8” peg that will fit into any standard light stand socket. The tube rotates around the tractor tire giving me the ability to easily adjust the direction of the diffusion fabric. I’m not talking about your normal x/y adjustment, but the z axis without disturbing the other two axis’s.

 

I have come to depend on that wonderful design feature. So when I tried to use the Flashpoint eVOLV 200 Round Flash Head attachment on my eVOLV 200 with the StrobiStrip in hopes that it would allow it to smoothly rotate around the strobe I was thrilled! There is enough Velcro to still securely attach the modifier to the strobe, but with the round head, it allows a smooth rotation around the strobe! The OEM Fresnel head does work as well, but the round head is much better to use in rotating the modifier.

Very convenient that the Round Head is just flush with the beginning of the StrobiStrip’s diffusion fabric. The swivel I use stops the tube from going further down the strobe too. Slick!

In the following two images you can see that I can rotate the modifier around the strobe which is one of the features of the SSv2.0 I fell in love with.

Enough Velcro to secure the modifier around the 200 with the Round Head attached.

I wanted to determine if the StrobiStrip 100 holds up to high wind as well as my SSv2.0s. Yep they do just fine. The modifier is around 5-11 up in the air on a light stand.

I will keep an eye on the StrobiStrip fabric which is wrinkled when assembled. I doubt it will pose issues in the quality of light. If so I will report back here.

I have used my SSv2.0s so much that one of the tubes has started to split, so I just used gaff tape to repair it. The other one’s diffusion fabric started to fray so I used some superglue on it. IF Saberstrip ever decides to manufacture them I will be first in line. But until or IF they do and I need more tube modifiers I’m glad to have been made aware of the StrobiStrip 100s. I keep mine built and will break them down once COVID19 is over and I have to travel for work again.

If you want to try tube modifiers with an AD200 they are the ones I recommend.

 

05 Jun 2020

Fuji X100V – Update: June 5 2020

Update: June 5 2020

I wanted to update this post about my choice of half cases for the X100V. Prior to owning the V I owned all other X100s other than the F. In most cases I purchased and used the Gariz line of half cases. I liked the build quality and the convenience of having a built in D ring to attach a strap when needed. But what I found with the one designed for the V is that it was very difficult to remove the SD card due to the depth of the bottom of the case’s base plate. And when I purchased mine from Amazon I paid 140.00. Two weeks after they had it listed for 119.00. Grrrrrr!

I happened upon a YouTube video by Mike Mu where he shows a case for the X100 line I had never seen. It is primarily metal, aluminum to be exact. And with it’s pronounced right hand grip along with a vertical ARCA mount included I was intrigued. I could not find one on Amazon so I ordered one off of AliExpress for $29.99. And then after further research I found another case I prefered and purchased, the JJC Metal Hand Grip L Bracket Holder for Fujifilm X100V for $43.69 with CA tax. Here are the reasons it fits my needs over the others.

Mike’s case does have a vertical ARCA rail on the side, but I didn’t like the idea of having that on my camera even though it can be removed. If I want a portrait orientation for my X100V I would simply rotate my ball head to vertical.

The JJC has an ARCA mount on the bottom plate built into the case.

The battery and SD card door fully opens and unlike the Gariz its depth does not prevent me from easily removing the SD card.

The case does not interfere at all with the tilting rear screen.

The bottom of the case has a slot for a camera strap which I will use with the Peak Design Leash Camera Strap I’ve ordered.

I find the right side grip extender well proportioned and matched to the camera. It fits my hand perfectly.

All in all I highly recommend this case. 

May 14 2020

Please note that these initial tests were conducted March 5-7 2020 during the COVID-19 Pandemic. So no human subjects could be photographed at this time.

I have written my impressions of the various versions of the Fuji X100 series of cameras I have owned. I became enchanted by this cute and very capable piece of kit with the first X100. I have reviewed my prior X100s in the following posts:

Anyway this review is NOT like others which are much more detailed in terms of sensor, button layout, blah blah blah. There are many of those reviews that are much more comprehensive than this one for that information. Here are just a few of those types of reviews:

Nope mine is about why I decided to not upgrade from the T to the F, but opted to buy the new V.

First off I know many folks/reviewers/site talk about what a great street shooter the X100 series is for that purpose. Sure I can see that and have used it for that too, but I honed my craft doing street work with a DSLR. I never found using a large camera as an impediment to that craft. But as I always say; to each their own…

The only version of the X100 series I opted not to purchase was the F version, the one just before the recent V. Why? Well I don’t have an answer for that.  When it was released in 2017 I was in the height of my business and felt that my T was fine even though the F had a number of improvements. The largest being bumping up the 16MP sensor to 24 although I’ve never been a MP chaser. The following image is a case in point for those megapixel trolls and chasers…..

Created with the 16 megapixel Fuji X100S

This is where the client the Dallas Symphony Orchestra used the image I created in their 18×80 FOOT banner for the side of the building.

So when the V was announced with a tilting screen which sits completely flush to the camera body like the non-tilting versions and the improvement in its already stellar lens I made the plunge. At only a $100 increase in price from when I bought mine? Incredible for a camera like this.

My first test was to try the new V with a small strobe. With the built in ND filter and a leaf shutter overcoming sunlight has never been a problem for me with the X100 series. The V is no exception.

Using a Flashpoint 200 with its native Fresnel head during mid day. The front of the flash is about 3 feet from Bob.

1/2000th f2.0 strobe at 1/8 power level ISO 160.

1/2000th f2.0 strobe at 1/8th power level ISO 160 ND filter enabled.

1/2000th f2.0 strobe at full power level ISO 160 ND filter enabled.

I then assembled a very small strobe kit to photograph my electric bike and headed out to one of my favorite off road areas near my home.

An extremely lightweight light stand which is actually made to hold a cell phone for selfies. (I’m total shit at selfies btw)

The X100V, the Flashpoint XPLOR 200 and the Flashpoint single contact point transmitter all fit in my tiny tank bag.

One of my set ups in natural light.

1/2000rh f2.0 ISO 160 flash at full power.

1/2000rh f2.0 ISO 160 flash at full power.

1/2000rh f2.0 ISO 160 flash at full power.

Incredible what a leaf shutter, a small 200ws strobe can do in mid day sun! I decided to go camping just before the State of California closed down all state campgrounds. I was very lucky to be able to camp during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. I was able to test out the X100V for nature shots. I shoot nature to relax from my regular shooting so it was wonderful.

Having a tilting screen is a true godsend for low level shots. I really like having a tilting screen on my camera. And it’s so well done since it sits so flush to the body of the camera when not in use.

My Choice of Accessories

Leather Half Case – Gariz

Since the beginning I have really appreciated the Gariz line of half cases for the X100 line. I use a sling camera strap that attached to the bottom of the X100 line of cameras. It’s just been my preference and the Gariz line allows me to do that while protecting the bottom of the camera body.

My X100V on the left has the new Gariz case design which incorporates a very nice raised strip on the right hand side of the front for a finger grip which was not present on my prior Gariz cases. It’s a welcomed addition for sure!

I have always appreciated the quality of the Gariz cases with the built in D ring for my camera strap and a tripod mount where I don’t have to remove the D ring.

I really appreciate the protection the metal base of the Gariz line of cases.

The battery and SD card can easily be removed when the case is on the camera.

There are four levels of nylon or plastic between the bottom of the camera body and the aluminum plate.

Access to both sides of the camera body ports and controls is well done on the Gariz case.

Thumb Grip – Haoge

The X100T on the right uses a LensMate thumb grip I Dremeled to accommodate the button that didn’t exist on the S model for which it was made. I tend to be the frugal type so I didn’t want to spend another 90.00 on a thumb grip….. LOL I had purchased a LensMate thumb grip for the V which is hinged and swivels to make room for your fingers for the shutter speed and backside dial. But I didn’t like it so I went with the Haoge model.The space between the Haoge thumb rest and the speed dial allows enough room for my hands to change the shutter speed setting. But if you have very large fingers that may not be the case for you.

And this grip allows plenty of space for my fingers between the thumb grip and the rear dial. The LensMate blocks the dial until you swivel it out of the way. For me that was a hassle, but everyone is different.

 

I added a few things to the Haoge thumb grip. Some 3M Grip tape to the thumb rest and some high density black foam tape to keep the thumb rest secure and safe on the hot shoe along with some cushion for the camera body. The thumb grip combined with the new Gariz finger grip addition on the half case make the camera feel very secure in one hand for me.

Lens Hood – Haoge LH-X49W 2in1 All Metal Ultra-Thin Lens Hood with Adapter Ring

On my prior X100s I have used a traditional lens hood. But when I came across the Ultra Thin model I was hooked. I call it “The Uncircumsized Lens Hood Look!” LOL For me it’s a lower profile which make the camera thinner to carry and does not interfere with the built in flash unit. I combined it with the Haoge 49mm Ultra Slim MC UV Protection Multicoated Ultraviolet Lens. I’m happy!

You can see how much more shallow the Haoge lens hood is over the on I previously used on my X100T.

Cable Release JJC Cable Wired Shutter Release Remote Control

Prior to the X100V I have used traditional cable releases for my other X100s. But this time I  decided to purchase a plug in cable release. No batteries, just plug it in. The aspect of the cable releases I didn’t appreciate is it would turn my camera on or off when I was screwing it into the shutter button.

I had purchased the 50mm teleconverter for my X100S but found I hardly used it. And with the new V model as long as you are not in RAW format it has a built in 50mm and 70mm extender! Yep all you have to do is enable that feature and rotate the focusing dial BEFORE FOCUSING and the camera switches to 50 or 70mm! There’s so much I love about this new rig and what Fuji has done to continue to improve the camera. My very lucky gf inherited my X100T and boy is she ever happy. She has lusted after the X100 series but never brought herself to buy one. And just like me she tends to hold it way more than we do with our work cameras which are way more expensive! LOL

Once COVID-19 is over I will update this post with human images. I love this little camera. It’s the one I’ll grab if my house is on fire and it’s my least expensive camera, that’s how much I love it. Go figure!

05 Jun 2020

Saberstrip – An extinct modifier – Update June 5 2020

Update June 5 2020

I have found an alternative to the SSv2.0 which you can view here.

November 27 2019

I am very sad to report that I can no longer recommend the SaberStrip v2.0. I have attempted to contact Scott the owner of SaberStrip to no avail. Not even a peep. My feeling is ignoring an email or Instagram message is not acceptable or polite. A visitor to this site had written to me since he had ordered a v1.0 SS and never heard back…until he asked for a refund. That was promptly answered.

Sad since it’s a great modifier, but when something cannot be purchased it becomes vaporware. When I find an alternative I will post it to my blog.

January 13 2019

I continue to be absolutely amazed at the flexibility and versatility of the v2.0 Saberstrips. As of this writing I do know that Scott has not yet offered these for sale to the general public. The reason I continue to post my findings here is in hopes of motivating some of you to contact him to ‘hurry him along‘ in the sale of these modifiers. In addition to dance, their form factor and quality of light make them invaluable in my tool kit. Seriously – combined with the AD200 strobes I feel they are a revolution in modifiers. Here are just a few of the in studio dance imagery created using these lights.

An AD200 is the strobe.

My general configuration of the v2.0 Saberstrips for this session. The converted Fresnel and the 69″ Elinchrom I have converted to a focusing rod modifier are actually used for FILL, not as key lights for this dance session.

  

Update November 19 2018

I continue to be so impressed how using two v2.0 Saberstrips can produce the light I so love which could only be created with a ring light. But the huge difference is since the lights are NOT attached to the camera, I can use a long lens, yet keep the lighting near the talent. This was taken with a Canon EF 85mm f1.2 lens. The versatility of these modifiers is incredible.

Not to mention my use of them in dance imagery creation.

Several of you have written to me asking when Scott will release these modifiers. I highly suggest you write to him on his website to ask. I continue to encourage him to release these modifiers.

Update October 14 2018

I recently conducted a studio dance session using three Saberstrip v2.0s combined with a Mole Richardson Fresnel spotlight I have converted to a strobe. I continue to be so amazed and impressed by the versatility and light quality of the second generation Saberstrips. As I’ve stated before I’m just scratching the surface of what can be accomplished with these remarkable lighting tools.

My general placement of the SS’s for the dance session. I am able to control on/off levels using my R2 controller. The ability to place the hair/rim light so close to the ceiling is remarkable.

Here you can see my general placement of the Fresnel spotlight which has been converted to a strobe which uses a Flashpoint 1200ws head.

Each of these images were created using a combination of Fresnel/Saberstrip light modifiers. 

Update September 17 2018

Yesterday I conducted an all day dance session. I found that utilizing three v2.0 Saberstrips with 3 Flashpoint AD200s produced remarkable light for studio dance. Rim lights, using two Saberstrips and one overhead light produced the exact mood I was trying to achieve. Seriously this combination is incredible for my dance work.

How I configured the Saberstrips for the dance session.

The results…

Update August 1 2018

I recently used the v2 Saberstrips in on location sessions in Seattle. Man I could not have done it without them! You can read about it here.

I have also completed a publicity shoot using two Saberstrips for a West Side Story publicity image as shown below.

Two v2 Saberstrips in parallel to the ground. I just love the look of this light configuration.

Original Post

Like most other folks and way before I began shooting as a full time pro, I had a day job. It was during this time I discovered a very unique light modifier called the SaberStrip. What was so intriguing to me is its shape and the quality of light it produces. I was a bit suspicious when I first received my Strip because it seemed like ‘just a high quality shipping tube’ with some rip stop nylon as the modifier’s cover. Also this was back in the day when I was almost exclusively using speed lights, but had two PCB Einsteins for my ‘studio work.’ And this was well before the advent of built in radio receivers in speed lights, so I had to use a pigtail cable connected to my speed light inside the tube to attach it to the Phottix Transmission receiver I was using at the time. A bit of a hassle, but it was the only thing that existed at the time, which was ‘high tech’ for that era.

Although I loved the quality of light it produced, for me the power or rather lack of power of the speed light relegated the Strip to my closet. I tried to fabricate my own ‘Strip’ for my Einsteins, but found out it was not as easy as I thought. So I basically gave up and moved on to other things.

In 2013 I decided to create a series of images about the hands of artists which included both performing as well as creating artists. Since I wanted to shoot the talent in their natural environments I found that all of my ‘normal’ modifiers would not work well due to space. In some cases I had literally 10 inches or less to place a light and modifier to light the talent! So as I was rummaging through my gear closet I happened upon my Strip that I had doomed to its lonely existence in the back of my modifier closet. Eureka! That’s the perfect tool for this job and since most of the venues I was shooting in were very small I would not need a ton of light power so my speed light would do just fine.

By happenstance the Director of the Peninsula Museum of Art saw one of my images and asked to see the rest. She then asked if I’d consider having a solo exhibit at the museum the following year. I politely told her no and when she inquired as to the reason for my decision I simply replied “I don’t think my work is good enough for a museum and I think it would be very narcissist to do that.” She simply smiled and said OK. Later one of the artist I know mentioned that he had heard I was offered a solo museum exhibit but turned it down. Werner asked me if I ever go to museum exhibits to which I responded “Why yes, I love going, why?” His response was typical Werner, direct and to the point; “Well quit being so fucking selfish and let others enjoy and be inspired by what you’ve created Mark!” I’m seldom if ever at a loss for words but I had nothing to say. So I contacted the Director and agreed to display my work which I titled “29 Hands, 15 Artists.” With the exception of one of the images, all were lit with my Strip and a speed light.

Fast forward to today, 2018 and I was made aware of SaberStrip’s v2.0 version of the Strip which accepts an eVOLV200! In March 2018 I was shipped two advanced copies of the modifiers to test to see if I could offer any feedback. Here’s what I’ve found so far:

The 200 is inserted into the bottom of the modifier through what I call the “Tractor Tire” the designer fabricated it to attach the 200. I believe his design is to offer strength to the mount. I simply like to think he liked Tonka Trucks as a kid! The knurled knob on the left in this photo is the turning knob that screws the 200 in place. The other nice design feature is you can eject the battery of the 200 without removing it from the modifier, a very thoughtful design element.

Sorry for the shitty camera phone blurry image. The red thing you see at the top of this shot indicates that the screw is NOT attached to the 200 which is a very nice feature. One of the things that I found to be a design issue, it’s very easy to over tighten the screw. There’s no need to do so because it makes it VERY difficult to unscrew the unit from the mount. I learned the hard way and had to use a screwdriver and hammer to loosen the screw.

It’s also not possible to let the eVOLV slide down into the tube because there are ribs on the interior which keeps the strobe from sliding too far into the unit. I believe he may have other plan since those interior ribs seem to be reinforcements for four exterior metal nipples. Barn door or grid accessories for the future? Perhaps.

I painted a directional arrow on the housing to indicate which direction to loosen the mounting screw.

What the interior looks like in the v2.0 Strip. You can see the reinforcing supports which prevent the eVOLV from sliding too far into the tube.

Although most people will not have to do this, I ground down the mounting peg that is cast into the housing. This allows me to easily insert the peg into female mounts I use to place the modifier in either a vertical or horizontal position. Although the v2.0 Strip works extremely well in stands which offer the mounting peg to be in a vertical or horizontal position, not all light stands offer that option. When I travel to other cities I often have to rent stands and not all rental houses have adjustable spigot locations on their stands.

This is why I needed to shave down the diameter of the molded peg. It would not fit as cast. I find these female spigots invaluable in my gear bag.

I plan to use these to mimic a ‘ring light’ because I can now leave the modifier and strobe very close to the talent and back away to shoot with a long lens. Not possible with traditional ring lights. Also since the eVOLVS have modeling lights in the Fresnel head I now have a modeling light in this configuration. Sure, not brightest modeling light, but way better than none.

My first test was with Bob outdoors for a ring light style lighting test.

Canon 1DXII EF135 lens ISO 100 both AD200s set at 1/8 power. 1/5000th f2.0

Canon 1DXII EF135 lens ISO 100 both AD200s set at 1/8 power. 1/8000th f2.0

In those instances where I want to place the v2.0 Strip close to the ground I will simply use a Godox S bracket as a base. This configuration will be perfect for dance shoots as fill lights or anytime you wish to place the units very low onto a flat surface.

Comparison

 SaberStrip v1.0SaberStrip v2.0w/2 eVOLVS and SS
LightFlashpoint Zoom R2Evolv200 
Flash weight17 oz31 oz 
Power levelFullFull 
Distance to Sekonic5 feet5 feet 
Shutter Speed1/100th1/100th 
Aperturef5.6f11f13
Time to Recycle6.8 sec1.57 sec 
Length of fabric29″29″ 
Width of fabric2.25″2.25″ 
Length of modifier38.5″34.75″ 
Diameter of modifier3.5″3.5″ 
Saberstrip Weight19 oz27 oz 

For me the most significant stats are the recycle time and power. It’s the very reason I stopped using my original speed light Strip, it just lacked power. And in my work a one second delay feels like 12 years. Human expressions change in a nanosecond and invariably it’s the money shot I wanted, but missed because the strobe was recycling. Two full stops and five seconds faster in recycle time makes this modifier an incredible tool.

The ‘tube’ freely rotates around the mount so it can easily and conveniently turn the fabric to any position needed. There’s also a very small 1/4 inch 20 screw hole in the ‘tractor tire’ housing. I’m not sure why the guy put one there but it’s damn convenient. I plan to place a female mounting stud in there so I can either mount the Strip with the built in male stud or a female one. It should be noted that if you place a long ¼ 20 screw into that hole it will stop the free rotation of the tube. So IF you are the anal type and want to lock down the tube’s rotation you can do that with this screw hole.

This coming weekend I have three personal project shoots and I plan to test the light quality and applications in those sessions. I’m not sure how many times the Strip v2.0 will be my key light, but now that the recycle times and the power available through this meets my needs I’m sure it will always be in my bag.

Having a stand, a strobe and a modifier all in one easy to transport package is great for run and gun shooting, especially outside in moderate to high wind. My preferred stand for these is the Neewer Light Stand, 114 inches/290 centimeters Stainless Steel Heavy Duty with 1/4-inch to 3/8-inch Universal Adapter. It has a removable spigot that can be configured for either a vertical or horizontal female mount which is perfect for the new Strips. They are well made, strong and inexpensive.

The number of ways to mount the Strip seems endless. My current favorite grip mount for the Strip is the Matthews Mini Grip Head. I modified it by drilling out one of the holes to 9/16th of an inch which fits the Strip’s 5/8th inch stud.

What I like:

  • High quality Construction
  • Built in male mounting stud
  • Ability to rotate the modifier around two axis
  • Accepts the Evolv200
  • Well balanced, having the strobe at the mounting end of the modifier
  • Very wind resistant
  • Will fit into very tight spaces

Improvements

  • Male stud needs to be the 5/8th inch size standard of all spigots
  • Wheel that attaches the strobe needs to have directional arrows.
  • Wheel needs to prevent over tightening

During the weekend of April 21st 2018 I had my first opportunity to use the v2 Sabers in studio. I wanted to determine if paring them in a horizontal way would give me the ring light type of affect. I’ve always loved the look of a ring light shot, but have been frustrated that the distance of the light to the talent is limited by the focal length of my lens. Using my ring light further away to compress the talent’s face meant that the light is also further away, causing a harsher look. But using two Strips horizontal to the ground with the ability to adjust the distance between them allows me to leave the light source close to the talent, yet move further back to use a longer focal length. Having my cake and eating it too is wonderful!

The images below show how this worked on Jessica and I’m very happy with the results. Shot with a 135mm prime lens.

The flexibility of being able to angle the pitch of the Strips and distance between them is wonderful. More control than a ring light. As a fill/rim light I have not experienced a better modifier. Reflectors make great fill or rim light modifiers, but I have always preferred strobes for that task. It allows me finer control of my fill light.

By changing the angle of the top Strip in the image of Jess with her arm above her head I am able to cast a bit of a shadow on her eyes while filling in under her eyes to prevent shadows. That flexibility allows me to create nuance shadow/highlights with the Strips.

Here I am using the Strips as a fill and rim light. All of these images are three light shots. My 10” Fresnel is the key light, a gobo modifier is used on a light to create pattern on the background and the Strip is used as a fill/rim light.

The control of the Strip as a fill light is quite lovely and can be used as subtle or as bold as you wish. Here are two more images I created using two SS’s in parallel as a ‘ring light’ but in my view with a much better result.

Erica is 50+ and just the use of a shallow DOF and the two SS lights produced this image WITHOUT the use of Photoshop.

Two SaberStrips v2.0

Three SaberStrips v2.0

Oh and large groups in moderate to strong wind? I was recently at a client to cover the high school musical awards and prior to the event kids assemble outside. It’s often a fun place to get group shots before the show. The issue is always crowded sidewalks and of course crazy high school kids. I shot this image with ONE SS and one eVOLV200 at HALF POWER. 

1/100th f5.0 ISO100, SS v2 is the modifier and the strobe is the AD200 set to half power. Can you say incredible? It’s crazy.

I recently visited Luna Cycle in El Segundo to do some documentary photography of the staff. In the vast majority of cases the SS were used due to their flexibility and light quality. As in my 29 Hands Exhibit I was able to use the SS to light the talent in places where it would be almost impossible to fit a modifier in the space I had available and achieve a quality of light I wanted. Below is an example of one of the shots.

This is the ‘natural light’ scene where I was to photograph one of the young ladies who performs logistics for Luna Cycle.

Removing some of the boxes and shooting the light through the bookcase produced the image and quality of light I was after.

My apologies as I know you won’t be able to ‘unsee’ the image that follows, but to date it illustrates the rim lighting capabilities of the Strip. During this session I was to shoot two Drag Queens. The fella on the left is 6-1 without heels and with his 4” heels it makes him 6-5! I used the Strip as a rim light and if you notice the illumination from head to toe it’s quite remarkable. Could this be accomplished with a gridded light? Of course it could. But due to the very slim shape of the Strip it allowed me to get as close to the back drape as possible keeping spill to a minimum and certainly much less than a softbox without a grid.

Outdoors with the Strip is quite good. It is ‘almost’ impervious to wind, high wind. It is more wind resistant than my go to outdoor modifier, the PCB Omni. The disadvantage is since the Strip uses the AD200 it is a full stop less powerful than the AD600 I use with the Omni or my Aputure Fresnel head. But to circumvent that disadvantage I often use two Strips as a key light when outdoors. And in those instances where I want a very large light source I use three Strips configured in a Y shape. I find it’s the equivalent to a 45” octa with 600ws of power. Ever use something that size out in moderate or high wind? And I use all three on a single stand.

My partner recently conducted a head shot session using two of the Strips. She used one as the key and the other as a rim light. It was very windy under the concrete bridge where she was shooting and the Strips barely wobbled. The light quality is excellent and easily replicated her preferred modifier, a Glow 36” Octa. But in that kind of wind, especially the gusts that occurred an octa would have been quite the handful. She does prefer the catch light of the octa, a personal preference to which many people may agree. I happen to feel that round catch lights are the default, yet in natural light a catch light is anything but round…..

Photo: Tracy Martin

As you can see the quality of light produced by the Strip is excellent. Two lights, both Strips. One as the key light the other as a rim light.

Is it the perfect modifier? Nope, but as of right now there is no perfect modifier. Just like there’s not a perfect camera, lens or person. Is it the most versatile modifier I currently own or use? YES! For me the v2 Saber Strips are revolutionary and I have not even scratched the surface of how they can be used. Thank goodness for the AD200 lights and Scott’s development to incorporate them into the Saber Strips! Scott has mentioned that the v2 versions which use the eVOLV200s will be available in late July 2018.

15 May 2020

My COVID-19 RinseKit+ – Updated May 15 2020

Updated May 15 2020

RinseKit warranty service responded to me once I filled out their warranty page and asked me to disassemble the unit and send them photos or a video. It’s very easy to do; remove the two plugs and the instruction plastic top to reveal the tank. Upon doing so I filled the tank and was able to see that the seam near the outlet ruptured causing a leak. I am awaiting their response, but they had stated that it would be replaced. More soon….

Updated May 2 2020

I use my RinseKit + all the time due to COVID19. Today as I was refilling it as I always have from my garden hose I heard a sound and rather than the unit simply stopping the sound of the flow of water, the water rose above the inner top cover where the instructions are printed. I have written to RinseKit about this issue and will post what I find once I hear back. I’m so use to using this to keep myself and family safe that I’m upset that it malfunctioned. Stay tuned.

Update April 4 2020

I wanted to update this post to cover why experts continue to place hand washing with soap and water AS THE MOST EFFECTIVE way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Like toilet paper (and who TF knows why people hoard that shit) hand sanitizer and wipes are hard to find because people hoard those too. I will continue to recommend and tell my friends and family that hand washing is the best possible thing to do.

“Soap doesn’t really fail easily,” Thordarson says. It doesn’t really matter the formulation of soap, either. You don’t need “antibacterial soap” — which the Food and Drug Administration advises to skip altogether due to a lack of evidence of its usefulness. And you don’t need a super-harsh detergent like you’d put in your dishwasher or laundry machine. Simple soap works fine. “As long as you give it a little bit of time, it will do its job.”

“Lastly, echoing health officials, McCallum says the best thing you can do to prevent the spread is by washing your hands thoroughly and consistently.”

And instead of buying liquid soap I use this recipe to make my own. I have saved those irritating little bits of bar soap for a long time. (my parents grew up during the Great Depression) But you can simply use a new full bar too.

Stay healthy. Stay mindful. Stay kind. Be considerate.

I made these so that I never forget this tragedy for the rest of my life….and to always wash my hands to say FU COVID-19!!!

Update April 2 2020

The company RinseKit recently placed my post on their Media page. I really hope this helps others.

In the fall of 2019 my home water heater malfunctioned. I have personally replaced and installed more water heaters than I care to remember. But in this case it was under warranty. So since the part had to be ordered and would take 10 days I had no home hot water. I have a camping hot water heater that is basically a large metal sprayer which is heated with a one pound propane tank. Fine for camping and I used it to take a hot shower at home while I waited for the repair. 

So I decided to start researching alternatives to my camping water heater and found the RinseKit  that was invented by a surfer. Like all surfers who take off their wetsuits and want to rinse off their bodies he invented something better than a one gallon jug to hold over your head. His site can tell you all about how it works.

Being a Boy Scout I decided to purchase his medium size unit along with accessories like the electric heater, air pump and other various bits that came with the accessory kit. Of course the most important one to me was the heating rod. And I will say it does not work that well. It takes forever to heat cold water, but works well if I fill my unit with warm water and use it to just keep the water warm.

With the current COVID-19 pandemic I had developed an inexpensive and, according to the CDC and WHO a more effective method of keeping viruses off of my hands other than wipes and sprays. Which are tough to find as well as expensive due to hoarding.

So I decided to replace my homemade hand washing kit in our primary car with my RinseKit outfitted with soap, a small spray bottle of isopropyl alcohol, two micro fiber towels, two pairs of nitrite gloves and two hospital vomit bags. The whole kit is kept in the trunk of the car.

So here’s my protocol:

  1. After I go shopping for food I open the back of the car
  2. I then place my groceries in the trunk
  3. Open the RinseKit
  4. Take out the squeeze bottle of soap and alcohol spray
  5. Use the sprayer to wet my hands
  6. Squeeze soap into my hands and wash them per the CDC guidelines
  7. Rinse off my hands with the RinseKit
  8. Dry them with a microfiber towel
  9. Use the little sprayer with alcohol to spray the RinseKit spray handle, the latch and the soap squeeze bottle and the car’s rear latch
  10. Place the used towel into one of the vomit bags

My COVID-19 hand washing kit. The blue plastic thing in the lower left are the hospital vomit bags.

The small alcohol sprayer and the squeeze bottle for hand soap.

The RinseKit automatically pressurizes itself when you fill it from a hose or house faucet and it is supposed to maintain its pressure for about a month. The RinseKit+ I bought came with a hand pump (as well as other accessories) that replaces one of the plugs (Like the one on the right) with a pump. This way if for some reason the unit loses pressure I can simply pump it up.

My feeling is now when I open my car door, use the buttons, the steering wheel, etc. I’m not transferring potential viruses to those surfaces. Plus I am now using my RinseKit more often than before. Believe me though I’m looking forward to the day I can hug my friends without worrying or using the kit.

Stay healthy and I hope this helps others who may own one.

10 Mar 2020

Instagram Ads – Cell Phone Holster

Berry Hoo Cell Phone Wallet

Photo in their Instagram ad

I am sometimes (often) reeled in by Instagram ads. Shame on me. To be fair though I have had great luck with many and about a handful where I was disappointed. This is a case of the latter. I had ordered the cell phone holster and never heard a thing for about a month. Then I left a message on their Instagram account and guess what?! Immediate response. I filed a complaint with PayPal over the issue. Granted 31.00 is not a ton of money, but it was the principle of the matter.

The ‘owner’ then wrote to me, his email name is Juli Chic from Berry Hoo. He was very pleasant in his email to me and explained that my holster was shipped and requested I be patient about its arrival. I wrote back to state that unless the item was delivered by the time PayPal allowed me to escalate the case I would take the matter further with them.

On March 9, 2020 I received the leather holster in the mail. The leather is of a nice quality as is the stitching. But the design of the holster is such that if I cinch my belt down enough to hold my pants up (the purpose of a belt right?) it’s impossible to remove or insert my Samsung S10+ into the holster.

My S10+ between my current holster and the Berry Hoo one

The leather is a nice quality but very thin which may be the issue that causes the problem.

Seems fine when the phone is NOT on my belt.

I’m happy to report that the item arrived. I’m sorry that it took filing a claim with PayPal and bitching on Instagram about it. More sorry that the design prevents its usage. Lesson learned.

Here are the two website which seem to sell the same items:

And here is their current Instagram Ad

 

15 Feb 2020

Flashpoint FV150 – Hybrid LED/Flash Combo – 2-15-20

February 15 2020

My photography partner and I have been creating hand painted backdrops for ourselves. So it was a perfect time to use the incredibly bright constant LED light and then do a quick test of the strobe feature to see how the backdrop looks in an actual photo.

The lighting in the room where the backdrops were painted is awful! So having the FV150 turned up to 100% and modified through a lantern softbox was perfect!

Nighttime with the FV150 LED at 100% through a lantern modifier. As a reference the backdrops are 10’x9′ in size.

This is the scene before using the FV150 during the daytime with the door and windows open.

Nighttime with the FV150 LED at 100% through a lantern modifier. Just before doing some test shots in strobe mode.

Here are some quick test shots of actors and the director who just happened to be working in the theatre that day. So during a break I grabbed them for some quick shots using the strobe feature of the FV150. The modifier I used was a Glow 41″ EZ Lock Deep Umbrella. I just grabbed what was convenient before heading over to do the job. Pentax 645Z with my 45-85mm f4.5 lens.

1/80th f5.6 ISO 400. FV150 at 1/2 power

1/80th f5.6 ISO 400. FV150 at 1/2 power

1/80th f5.6 ISO 400. FV150 at 1/2 power

Again the FV150’s strobe feature does not rival a normal bulb strobe. BUT the possibilities of its uses are endless and I have yet to even scratch the surface of what I can do creatively with this light. Stay tuned.

January 27 2020

Today I was able to test the FV150 on a human! LOL

Jenn was here for a headshot and I talked her into indulging me with a test of the FV in both LED and strobe mode. I used the CLAR Slim 10″ Round Bi-Color LED as a hair rim light. Key light modifier was my Parabolix 35D with the FV150 in mid focused position. Modifier was camera right 4 feet from Jenn pointed completely away from her face. This is my normal configuration when using that modifier. Camera is my Pentax 645Z.

Here you can see the FV150 in mid focused position in the Parabolix 35D

So this was a two light shot test of constant lights. I’m NOT accustomed to using constant lights and for a time it felt a bit like well, cheating. WYSIWYG 

Shot #1 ISO 160 1/80th shutter speed, f2.8 Constant Light LED mode, 70% power

Shot #2 ISO 160 1/80th shutter speed, f2.8 Constant Light LED mode, 70% power

Shot #3 ISO 100 1/80th shutter speed, f2.8 Strobe mode, 50% power

I’m just about ready to put the FV150 into production after one more test. It’s a remarkable tool for the right job.

January 21 2020

I wanted to test several more aspects of this light. First if I can effectively use it in my focusing rod modifiers. Second to test the use of my Aputure Spotlight for gobos with the flash feature and then with the constant light feature.

Here is my initial setup. I am using the Chopstick Reflective Focusing System MKII. I have found this to be the best general focusing rod for my use. Versatile, well made and very sturdy. At 160.00 USD a very good value. For all of the  following images I used one of my favorite modifiers, an Elinchrom 39″ Rotalux Deep Octabox which I use with and without the focusing rod.

Camera is the Pentax 645Z using a 45-85mm f4.5 lens.

This first shot is when the FV150 is full flooded in the modifier

Very impressive that the Cheetahstand focusing rod does NOT bow under the weight of 7.2 pounds even when extended.

1/125th shutter speed, f4.5 ISO 200 FV150 at full power

Fully flooded 1/125th f4.5 ISO 200 full power strobe.

Setup for my fully focused test shot.

Fully focused 1/125th f4.5 ISO 200 full power strobe.

The FV150 in strobe mode projects the same quality of light characteristic as my bulb strobes with a focusing rod.

Next was using my Aputure Spotlight with the FV150 alone without my Saberstrip v2.0 turned on for fill.

1/400th which is HSS for a Pentax 645Z (1/125th is normal sync speed) f4.5, FV150 strobe set to full power ISO 200

Set up for the strip of light shot.

1/400th which is HSS for a Pentax 645Z (1/125th is normal sync speed) f4.5, FV150 strobe set to full power ISO 200. With the Saberstrip for fill set to 1/128th power

Testing various gobos with the Aputure Spotlight and the FV150 set to full power in strobe mode.

1/400th which is HSS for a Pentax 645Z (1/125th is normal sync speed) f4.5, FV150 strobe set to full power ISO 200

1/400th which is HSS for a Pentax 645Z (1/125th is normal sync speed) f4.5, FV150 strobe set to full power ISO 200

1/400th which is HSS for a Pentax 645Z (1/125th is normal sync speed) f4.5, FV150 strobe set to full power ISO 200

Next I wanted to test using the FV150 as a strobe and compare it to using the LED constant light mode through a gobo and the Aputure.

1/400th f4.5, FV150 strobe set to full power constant light ISO 200

1/400th f4.5, FV150 strobe set to full power strobe mode ISO 200

So as I go about this and more testing I’m finding that like all things you don’t get something for nothing. I have been using battery powered and remote head conversion strobes for the past three years. Moving back to an AC only plug in system seems to be a bit of a pain. BUT the versatility of combining a powerful constant light AND a usable strobe in one light takes the sting out of an AC only light. I’d only tend to use this in studio, not because of the AC only aspect since I can use a generator or inverter out in the field. Nope it’s because the strobe is not strong enough to overpower the sun. At least in my view at this point even though I have not tested it in full sun.

One of my lighting mentors has been using constant LED lights outdoors so I will try this as well. One thing is so apparent to me right now; LED lights are the future of lighting, at least to me.

January 17 2020

Seriously?! OK so I just had to test HSS with my Canon 1DXII shooting 14 frames per second just to see the performance in HSS…..

How I set up Bob for the test. Glow octa with both diffusion panels installed.

FV150 set at 1/4 power, ISO 800 f2.8 1/320th shutter speed.

FV150 set to full power 1:1 ISO 500 1/400th shutter speed.

No matter how long I kept the shutter depressed, NOT ONE MISFIRE OR SKIP in the flash mode! Holy crap. More testing needs to be done of course, but so far my mind is exploding with the new possibilities of this light. A constant LED AND strobe with this kind of performance? Holy shit man!

January 13 2020

I recently received and am testing what I consider to be a very exciting light the Flashpoint FV150 Hybrid R2 Continuous LED Light and HSS Flash (Godox FV150). Please note that this post is only my initial examination and testing of this light. Because I am in the height of my shooting season I have little time to fully test this light until later in the month. BUT I was SO INTRIGUED by its possibilities I sandwiched my initial evaluation between client sessions. For me this new instrument’s possibilities are mind bending!

Right off the bat a huge plus for this unit is its ability to natively attach to my Aputure Spotlight without my DIY adapter. For anyone who has tried to mount an AD600/400/etc. to the Aputure, you know that the bulb fouls against the inner lens of the Aputure unit. Not so with the FV150 since it is a flat LED light. SCORE! Plus I can now use the Aputure/FV150 combination in video with gobos. Excellent!

Yup the FV150 attaches natively to the Aputure Spotlight, no adapter needed. And man is it bright in LED mode too!

The LED unit with the supplied 7″ cone which I used in my power testing.

The rear of the unit in LED constant light mode. It’s supplied with a remote control to change the settings while in constant light mode.

The light in ‘strobe’ mode. The lowest setting for the strobe is 1/8th power.

So here are my power test results:

I have several Westcott Skylux LED lights so I tested the FV150 against them. As you can see the FV150 is twice the brightness of the Skylux. For the strobe test I compared the FV150 to the Flashpoint XPLOR 600 HSS TTL Battery-Powered Monolight. It’s safe to say that the FV150 is about 25% the power of the 600. So in my testing I’d place it in the 150WS category.

There are a TON of features in this light I have not even examined. I will just say that my mind is exploding with concepts that I may be able to accomplish with this light that would have been much more difficult in the past to perform. For those that are thinking “Gosh isn’t this just a low powered, plug in strobe with a fancy modeling light?” I’d suggest you move along…..

For those who may see new possibilities, stay tuned – MUCH more to follow!

11 Feb 2020

Fabricating a Fresnel w/gobo for a strobe – UPDATE February 11 2020

UPDATE February 11 2020

I wanted to update this post to link to the Photogenic Pattern Maker which is the very same unit that I have which was discontinued. Brooke, a visitor to my site, mentioned in a comment that HE recently purchased the item. Thanks Brooke!

UPDATE April 22 2018

I recently used this unit during a session with a Fresnel. It can be found here.

UPDATE April 18 2018

I recently tested the Flashpoint xPLOR600 Pro on location using my gobo device for an upcoming session. Because of the Pro’s excellent modeling light I was able to see exactly where the pattern falls even in bright daylight. Plus the LED modeling light does not generate enough heat to affect the plastic Fresnel lenses in the unit.

Light pattern was created with a Rosco gobo titled “Construction.”

UPDATE March 25 2018

I decided to update this post even though the two gobo modifiers I use are sadly no longer available. The first unit I’m talking about is the SP Image Projector. It uses Rosco size B metal gobos. When it was available it was very inexpensive as well as very effective. I’m updating this post to say that I’ve adapted it to accept any Bowens strobe since I’ve switched from PCB Einsteins to Godox/xPLOR600 units. I also needed to have the ability to rotate the gobo holder so that I can angle the unit to suit my needs. When I was using the PCB strobes Paul’s mounting system allowed me to rotate the unit when attached to an Einstein. Not so with a Bowens mount so I simply used an older Bowens speed ring which allows me to rotate the SP Image Projector. 

My DIY mount to allow the use of Bowens strobe units. The thumbscrew allows me to rotate the gobo unit.

Rosco Size B window gobo. The heat from a theatrical follow spot caused the discoloration. I bought my gobos used.

I can rotate the SP unit at will to suit the mood or scene.

Keeping the gobo level in this test shot.

The SP Image Projector which sadly is no longer available.

I have used the SP Image Projector along with an appropriate gobo in many a commercial shoot. This was to portray Lee Harvey Oswald in the play “Assassins”

I used the SP Image Projector along with a jailhouse door gobo in a commercial shoot. This was to portray a convicted felon in prison in the play “Assassins”

The Bowens Universal Spot Attachment is yet another gobo strobe modifier that is no longer available. It uses the smaller Rosco M size gobos. What was so nice about this unit is that there is no fabricating to use it on a Bowens mount strobe.

For my project “Tango in the Mohave” I used the Bowens Spot Attachment with a cathedral window gobo paired with the Flashpoint Portable 1200ws Extension Head. Remarkable combination. Funny back story, when Eva, the dancer in this photo saw it on my iPad during the session she asked “Mark, where is the window? I didn’t see it when you were taking this photo.” LOL so cute!!!

Apparently both of these gobo modifiers were not popular enough for each manufacturer to continue producing them. Sad. I know that there are companies who make gobo projectors for speedlights so all is not lost if you want to use one. Before I found any of these unit I converted a Leko 1000w tungsten theatrical follow spot into a strobe gobo modifier. I wrote a post about this crazy idea and will be converting it to accept a Bowens mount. Yeah it’s damn heavy, but produces the best light to date for gobo use paired with my 1200ws head. Just kinda impossible to take on an airplane! LOL!

Yeah it’s crazy as shit, but when you’re motivated and you want something, well….

UPDATE: August 4 2015

_PEN7955-Edit

One of the great advantages of having a portable gobo/strobe combination is the ability to use patterns of light outside of a studio environment. Recently I wanted to create the illusion of a window on a painted concrete wall located in a parking structure. I loved the texture the wall provided so I simply took my gobo device, one Einstein strobe hooked to a Vagabond Mini Lithium battery. An incredible little combination for on location light pattern needs.

Original Article

For years I have hauled around a full size stage follow spot just so I could use gobos in special photo shoot sessions. For anyone who knows me I seldom complain, it’s just how I was raised. But I will say that on a CONSISTENT basis my primary bitch is lugging gear. I hate it, I literally hate lifting, hauling and dragging gear to and from the airport, onto the car rental shuttle, into the rental counter, into the car, into the hotel, back out of the hotel into the car and then into the client’s venue. And then all of that in reverse. Get the picture? Assistants? Sure, but not on every assignment….

My SP unit with a multi circle Rosco B gobo as an accent light shot with an Einstein strobe with haze in the air. Key light is an Einstein camera left shot through a PCB Extreme silver PLM.

(more…)

27 Jan 2020

CLAR Slim 10″ Round Bi-Color LED Studio Light – Update January 27 2020

Update January 27 2020

I recently used the CLAR as a hair/rim light in my review of the Flashpoint FV150

November 21 2019    

It’s amazing how technology has impacted the design and pricing of LED lighting. The CLAR Slim is no exception. I work primarily with strobes, but have had the chance to use this constant light with my partner who is a filmmaker. Although I cannot show the final product I can give some initial impressions prior to releasing the video. First off the light is very light in terms of weight. And the output is both even and easily adjustable.

Although I do not own a color temperature meter I will say that the ability to adjust the Kelvin temp of the light is a godsend. Rather than using gels the ability to adjust from daylight to tungsten is extremely convenient. I happen to own several NP F-type batteries and at 50% power levels they last approximately 50 minutes. At 100% they only last approximately 15 minutes. Keep in mind the batteries I tested are only 2200mah units.

The controls on the rear of the unit function well and are very easily adjusted. I have not yet tested the remote features of the CLAR which will be in a subsequent addition to this post. For 149.00 and the ability to use it with battery power it’s a bargain in my book. Stay tuned….

Used as a fill and rim light for this situation.

22 Jan 2020

Aputure Fresnel Lens Updated January 22 2020

Updated January 22 2020

Two factors motivated me to update this post. First on June 22 2018, a visitor to this page, “Moreno” stated the following:

“Have you tried the fresnel with a single AD200 in the dual bracket? You might find the following interesting. I measured the output at full zoom with both the AD200 and AD600 Pro, with each set to full power. Based on the power of each flash, you’d expect the AD600 Pro to measure about 1.5 stops more output than the AD200. That wasn’t the case, the AD200 was actually a full stop brighter than the AD600 Pro. And the AD200 light pattern was clean, without the horseshoe pattern of the AD600 Pro.”

Secondly someone had written to me privately to ask if the V2.0 Aputure Fresnel fits against an AD600. Since I don’t own a V2.0 version I could not answer based on my own experience. I never answer private emails simply because I get repetitive questions which do not happen if questions are posted on my blog.

So here are my own test results using one of the Aputure v1.0 units I own and are reviewed below this update:

 

I can only surmise that since Fresnel lenses were originally designed for a bare bulb with a reflector, the frosted front blub on the 600 Pro glass suffers in terms of power from the bulb design. Also in my tests I did NOT find that the AD200 to be more powerful than the Flashpoint 600, yet like Moreno’s findings more powerful than the 600 Pro, but only in the fully focused position. In the fully flooded position my findings were the 600 Pro to be more powerful then the AD200 using the bare bulb. The AD200 with the round head attachment proved to be more powerful in both focused and flooded positions than the 600 Pro. I did not nor do I plan to test the AD200 with the OEM Fresnel head.

The use of the AD200’s optional Roundhead is impressive. I can only assume that it is a result of all the light thrown forward rather than scattered inside the modifier. I feel that the round head configuration mimics a classic Fresnel light source, a bare bulb with a reflector behind it. In testing of my K5600 Big Eye Fresnel I found that a shiny reflector placed behind the bare bulb of either my AD200 or AD600 improved the power of the light which is the classic configuration of lighthouses as well as K5600’s line of Joker constant lights.

UPDATE August 6 2019

I have continued to utilize these modifiers in many different situations. They are very versatile especially in wind. In the past I had relied on PCB Omni reflectors, but find that these modifiers work better for my needs. The ability to focus or flood the modifier is very convenient. This unit is no longer made and has been replaced by the 2X version. I have not tried that one. I’ve been helping a British retailer engage women in the new EV motorcycle space so I asked a friend who is also a racer to ride my bike to take some photos. Most if not all photos of women in/near/on a motorcycle cater to men. Bikinis, tight jeans, mini skirts, you name it. I wanted to create imagery that appeals to women….

These were all shot later in the day using a Flashpoint 600 strobe. Pentax 645Z at 1/1000th with varying f stops. My goal was to have the shots not appear lit, but still have high production value. Most of these shots were with the Aputure fully flooded. The exception is the last shot where I focused the Fresnel on Kathy’s face.

UPDATE April 19 2018

Recently I have favored Fresnel lighting for my on location outdoor sessions. The flexibility of the Fresnel’s ability to focus its beam, it’s matching light quality to sunlight and the stability of the modifier in high wind makes it a winner for my work. The other aspect of my work I’ve been trying to improve is the ability to make a lit scene not look lit. It takes much more finesse to light any scene as if it is just natural light, but with a high production look. Still much more to learn, but the Aputure Fresnel is a remarkable tool. My strobe of choice for this session was the Flashpoint xPLOR600 Pro.

This is how the location looks in natural light.

Just using enough fill from the Fresnel so as not to cast a strobe shadow takes practice. 1/320th f4.5

By far the most difficult lighting balance on that day was this shot. To not overpower the ambient light, cast any strobe shadows and yet fill in the talent took some effort. 1/250th f3.5

1/250 f3.5

1/500th f2.8

UPDATE February 25 2018

I’ve written an on location post where I’ve utilized an Aputure head.

UPDATE January 26 2018

I’ve recently written a post about my use of the xPLOR600/eVOLV200s with several different modifiers for a session. You can find that post here.

UPDATE October 2 2017

I have written a post about a dance session I conducted that uses these items. You can view that post here.

UPDATE September 10 2017

I recently posted an article on my use of all Godox units in one session. The article includes the use of this product. You can view that post here.

My initial findings for the Aputure Fresnel Lens – July 6 2017

Because I work with so many theatrical stage lighting designers and bow to their artistry along with how COMPLEX their jobs become, I am very familiar with the Fresnel lens. It’s a staple of the constant light stage world and was very popular in the early Hollywood celebrity portrait days. Many shooters now love ‘soft light’ the softer the better in their minds. But the use of bare bulb lighting and Fresnel light is very powerful and effective to convey the right mood in a shot. So for a whopping $69.00 I decided to buy the Aputure Fresnel Lens off of Amazon.

An example of my use of bare bulb lighting.

The body of the modifier is made of fiberglass and is extremely sturdy. The Bowens mounts fit perfectly into all of my Bowens mount lights including Godox and Xplor units. The construction is very well executed. I appreciate the 7″ reflector around the lens which easily accepts the grids and barn doors I have for my other hard reflectors. If you don’t want the reflector it’s easy enough to unscrew from the housing.

A handy degree marking is built into the left side of the housing. Adjustment is easy and smooth by loosening a knob on the opposite side of the mount to slide the lens forward or backward. Extending the lens reduces the angle of light.

Looking ‘into’ the housing from the back of the unit.

The front view of the unit. Four hex screws hold the 7″ reflector to the unit.

One of the things I will find out in actual use is how much light bleed from the vents on the side of the housing cause. I believe that will depend on where/how the strobes are placed in relation to the subject. Since the unit is made to be used with all Bowens mount units the vents are placed to dissipate heat. I don’t imagine that the light bleed from the vents will affect my work unless I’m using the unit for an overhead light which may bleed onto any seamless I’m using. Time will tell and if that is the case I will simply use some Cinefoil to mask off any bleeding light. Stay tuned….

I wanted to determine how much light loss happens using this modifier compared to a bare bulb or 7″ cone. My little test was done outside in daylight. Using an Xplor 600 at maximum power (1:1), 20 feet from the wooden wall, measured with a Sekonic L-358 light meter, ISO 100, 100th of a second. My finding:

  • Bare Bulb: f9.0
  • 7 inch cone: f9.0
  • Aputure Fresnel: f8.0

The f8.0 was when the unit is set at the maximum spread of 42 degrees. Things change when I zoomed the Fresnel to the 15 degree mark which yields f9.0 at the same distance.

No strobe, shaded daylight illuminates the wooden wall as my control shot.

Fresnel set to 42 degrees, 20 feet from the wall.

Fresnel set to 15 degrees 20 feet from the wall.

Obviously I will be continuing to update this post when I use it on a commercial shoot. In September I have a dance session where I plan to use this unit along with a gobo strobe modifier. At this point I’m very pleased with the construction and operation of the unit. Stay tuned.

03 Jan 2020

Goal Zero Yeti 200X

I’ve owned a Goal Zero Yeti 1000 since June of 2018. You can read about my thoughts on that unit here. I purchased the Yeti 1000 from Costco back then for $999.00 and have never regretted my purchase. Since I found GZ products so well done when I noticed they had made a much smaller version, the Goal Zero Yeti 200X I decided to purchase one for a trip I was taking during the 2019 Christmas week to Joshua Tree National Forest. I wanted to use it to charge my electronic devices which included my cell phone, my camera batteries, my instant hot water heater and my CPAP machine.

Because this trip was during the winter and in addition was a very unusual December for JT with both snow and higher than normal rain, I opted to take my gas generator rather than my solar panels.

Goal Zero Yeti 200X being test charged from my solar array at home as it sits atop my Yeti 1000

The unit was released in the Fall of 2019 so as of this writing there are not many hands on reviews. You can read all about the GZ200x on the GZ site for specs.

Each day I charged the unit to 100% before beginning to use it on my devices. They included:

ResMed AirMini CPAP

Costway Tankless Water Heater

After running all of these devices during the day and charging or using them during the evening the 200x would have between 26 to 31 percent charge left in the morning. Keep in mind that I use my CPAP during the evening between 7 to 9 hours. The 200x performed flawlessly and I’m currently in the process of testing recharging it using a Jackery 100W solar panel and will post my findings later here on this blog.

I am just a bit confused that GZ has conflicting information posted on their site and user manual. Their site lists the controller as a MPPT, but the User Guide list it as a PWM controller. If you are interested in the difference between MPPT and PWM you can read about it here. I’m really hoping it’s MPPT as advertised on their site and wrote to GZ to ask, but have not heard back. Once I do I will update this post.

GZ’s website specifications for the 200x

User’s Guide for the 200x

The Costway Water Heater only uses a 12v connection to pump water from the 5 gallon bucket I use through the heating unit to the shower head. The water is heated by propane, not electricity so there is very little wattage draw from the water heater.

The only other ‘issue‘ I found is there are many sites on the web that state the 200x will charge in only two hours from dead using the USB C input as long as it uses a 45W charging source. I call BS on that since I tested it and it did NOT charge in 2 hours from fully dead. I even purchased a 87W USB C Charger Power Adapter which charged the unit in 3.25 hours NOT two hours as stated. With the included AC adapter the 200x charged in 4 hours from fully dead, as advertised in their literature.

From the GZ website.

So the question is would I buy this 300 buck battery with inverter again? Oh yes, no question. The fact that is so compact and only five pounds, powers so many of my devices while camping is wonderful. Will I have to carry a gas generator to keep this thing topped off? Only time will tell after I actually test my 100W solar panel in good sun. More to come so stay tuned….

Hey I’m a photographer so I thought I’d post some of the shots I took in Joshua Tree. For me nature shooting is my form of ‘fishing’ meaning complete relaxation!

Infrared shots

Night Shooting under the stars. (The ONLY night that it was not overcast.)

20 Dec 2019

Glow GRIPLITE X S-Type Bracket

The old and the new. The new Glow GRIPLITE X S-Type Bracket Pro on the left and the older Glow S-type Bowens Mount Bracket on the right. The physical differences are obvious. The improvements are not only welcome, but functional as well.

The trusty Bowens S Bracket. I’ve used them for ages. Bullet proof and reliable. My only gripes had been the terrible ratchet system which feels like dinosaur teeth grinding against bone. Having to cut the little rubber bumper on the top of the screw down mount to get an AD200 to fit. And the fact the pivot handle often fouls the modifier I’m using. Ugh. But other than those minor bitch points, it’s a nice device.

So when I received the Glow Griplite X S Type Bracket I didn’t really expect much for an additional three bucks. But I immediately noticed the much larger opening of the unit and the longer handle. You see in the past I had fabricated a handle for my tried and true S Bracket so that either I or an assistant could hold the thing with a strobe and modifier attached. In its OEM form the small light stand bracket was much too small to hold effectively. But the new handle on the Glow X is well made and just the right size. And the finger grips are a very welcome addition.

And as I examined it more one of the most welcomed changes is the smoothness of the pivot ratchet! It is SO MUCH MORE SMOOTH than the original. Fine adjustments can be made easily. So below I have outlined the subtle but oh so welcome changes to the new bracket.

In the following images you can see just how much larger the opening and shape of the strobe holder is compared to the older model.

Older model.

New model.

I am now able to leave the Flashpoint Silicone Skin and Bumper attached to the strobe when inserting them into the new X Bracket. (Skin review coming soon.)

No way to fit it with the skin attached to the older bracket. (I’ve tried….)

In the past I’ve had to cut a portion of the older S Bracket’s upper rubber bumper mount so that it would extend just a tad to allow me to fit an AD200 into the unit.

Although the Bowens release lever on the older unit worked well, I prefer the new version. Easier on the fingers too.

The new X version has a very effective textured rubber pad on the top. Much nicer than the older model.

And here is something that in my view is a huge improvement. Because the handle on the older version was large, when I had a wide modifier on the unit the handle would foul on the modifier. Not so with the new unit. And yes I can crank it down to assure that the modifier does not move. Plus it seems to take less tension to hold in place.

So am I going to replace all of my older S Brackets….well yes, yes I am. The improvements to the new unit may ‘seem‘ small, but in my world the cost savings in time and cussing level is well worth the three buck difference. But hey everyone is different! Thanks for improving on what was already a bullet proof tool. Now it’s just even better.

20 Nov 2019

CLAR Fresnel lens Mount Pro – Update November 20 2019

Update November 20 2019

This modifier has become my go to sub 12″ Fresnel replacement! I never thought I’d say that. The quality of light and its ability to increase the light intensity is incredible. In a recent cover band publicity shoot I did not use it as a key light since the spread would not have been sufficient. But I did use it as a rim light to illuminate the trees in the grove where we were shooting. Combining the quality of light with its ability to be used in high wind is amazing.

In the images that follow a single Flashpoint 600 (non pro) using the CLAR in its fully flooded position was responsible for the rim lighting of the trees.

Natural ambient light shot.

Update October 22 2019

I wanted to update this post to say that I have been so impressed with the quality of light and the focusing ability of the lenticular lens on the CLAR that I only plan to purchase and use these over my other small Fresnel modifiers. The falloff of the lens is incredible. It exhibits the very same characteristics of a Fresnel yet seems more efficient. I have NOT run a side by side test but during a recent on location publicity session I could not have been more pleased with the results.

Fully flooded camera right behind me for this shot. About 10 feet from the talent.

Spotlight 3/4 focused camera right approximately 8 feet from the talent as he ran through the smoke. A coned 600 was behind the smoke to illuminate it for the shot.

Update September 15 2019

I was able to test this modifier on a dancer outdoors during very bright daylight hours. I will simply say that this modifier is as capable as any small Fresnel I own. I really love the quality of light it produces along with its focusing ability. Instead of having to carry several modifiers, I can just carry one. I have no fear of cracking the lens as I do with my glass Fresnel modifiers. I will now put this into my protocol when it’s the right tool for the right job. It’s a pure joy in high wind allowing me to focus or flood the beam of light.

My goal in this test was to determine if the modifier could be controlled to appear as my shots were not lit, but simply a natural light shot. I’m very pleased with the results of this modifier.

Canon 1DX 1/8000th f2.8 ISO 100

Canon 1DX 1/8000th f2.8 ISO 100

Canon 1DX 1/8000th f2.8 ISO 100. The CLAR is placed 45 degrees from Olivia about 8 feet, camera right.

It should be very apparent in the images above based on Olivia’s thick and naturally curly hair that the wind speed that day was approximately 12-15 MPH. The ability to use this modifier in moderate to high wind replaces my former beauty dish for high wind. It’s much more flexible with the ability to focus or flood the light.

Original Post September 9 2019

In the fully flooded position, 40 degrees

I was very intrigued when I received the CLAR Fresnel Lens Mount Pro unit. During my initial unboxing I ‘thought’ that this adjustable light modifier had a built in grid. But upon closer examination I discovered that the lens of the unit was unlike any lens modifier I own or have used. It is a lenticular lens and has 3200 tiny little dimples on the lens. I looked up the properties of a lenticular lens to better understand how it affects light.

The outer surface of the lens.

Looking from the inside out.

So as is my normal protocol I brought out poor Bob to test the light properties to determine how a lenticular light modifier compares to my tried and true Fresnel modifiers of about the same size. I found that they are very similar in light properties. The CLAR adjusts just like my other Fresnel modifiers from flood to spot light patterns.

CLAR in the fully flooded position.

CLAR in the fully focused position.

The quality of the CLAR’s construction is well done. The adjustment rotates easily and smoothly. The lens is molded plastic and I estimate around 0.25” in thickness. It is 5.5” in diameter.

Markings are well done.

Unit in fully focused position, 12 degrees.

Focus marking from 12 to 40 degrees.

The images which follow illustrate the physical differences between the other focusing Fresnel modifiers I use and own with the exception of my Mole Richardson Hollywood spotlight I’ve converted into a strobe.

My 7″ cone grids fit into the CLAR.

 

I will be testing this modifier on an upcoming practice dance session, but for now I’m very excited at the possibilities this new lens offers to my lighting arsenal. Stay tuned….

19 Nov 2019

REVIEW: PCB’s Omni 18″ Reflector – Update 11-19-19

November 19 2019

Obviously I have been very remiss in updating my post about this wonderful modifier. For many years it has been my go to modifier for on location sessions especially when high wind is involved. I was recently scheduled to do a cover band publicity session when the winds were 28 MPH sustained with 40 MPH gusts. Although the grove of trees where I shot the session was somewhat protected, using soft modifiers would have been out of the question. Anyway I used the Omni bare and with the included single layer diffusion fabric. I have modified the Omni to accept a Bowens mount since I no longer use Einsteins.

If you’ve never considered the PCB Omni I highly recommend it for its quality of light and versatility. 

“Not to worry Tim, Mark’s camera is 8k not including the lens. Just don’t drop it!”

The scene as it appears not lit.

 

Omni without any diffusion panel. HSS using a Pentax 645Z

Omni with the single layer diffusion panel.

Natural ambient light.

Omni as the key light.

September 18 2015

I am constantly on the search for new light modifiers, those that fill a specific need. Since I tend to shoot quite a few of my assignments on location I have long searched for an alternative to the beauty dish. Why a beauty dish? In light to moderate wind an umbrella acts much like an America’s Cup sail catching wind like there’s no tomorrow. Their shape is just conducive to collecting wind and as a result often topples a strobe and light stand. Sure sand bags or a voice activated light stand (human) can go a long way to preventing the ensuing damage, but there are times when I want or have to work alone. Even softboxes or octabanks can catch enough wind to pose a problem.

Priolite MBX1000 Hotsync with PCB's Omni 18" Reflector attached. Pentax 645Z 1/2500th f4.5 ISO 100

Priolite MBX1000 Hotsync at full power with PCB’s Omni 18″ Reflector attached. Pentax 645Z 1/2500th f4.5 ISO 100

 

Omni with 3 stop diffuser sock installed. Note: the included diffusion sock is large enough to fit a 22" beauty dish.

Omni with triple layer diffuser sock installed. NOTE: the included diffusion sock is large enough to fit a 22″ beauty dish.

(more…)

13 Nov 2019

Glow Portable Frame Scrim Kit

Glow Portable Frame Scrim Kit Complete Studio Flag and Diffusion Set with Collapsible Frames (24 x 36″)

Whether or not you use scrims/flags/etc. in your work is a topic for a completely different post. I use scrims and flags extensively in my work. My issue has always been transporting scrim or flag FRAMES via airline travel. For local shoots it’s not too bad although some scrim/flag frames are not that easy to break down and transport. Even though they are two dimensional in size (yes they have depth too, but barely….) they can be cumbersome.

So when I was made aware and got a set of the Glow Portable Frame Scrim Kit in its own flat small carry case I was intrigued. Inside of the pouch are five frames which fold extremely small in size. And as I discovered after assembling them the scrims/flags can stay ON the frames even when folded! Halleluyah to this invention! Not only are they small enough for me to carry in my trusty SKB hard sized golf case with my other modifiers, but they are so easy to assemble and strike on location!

So for a recent out of town publicity session I opted to take one of the negative (fully black) reflectors and one net to cut light. I cannot display the images since they are not to be released at this point. But I will say that the flag and net worked very well. As well as my regular devices that do not collapse. 

My setup for this session.

My only complaint about these is Adorama does not currently sell nets/flags/scrims for this unit separately. There are times I need two, three even four of the same flag/net/scrim. And with this set up only one of each is offered. For those who need multiples of the same flag/scrim/net I would not recommend this kit until Adorama offers fabrics separately. But once they do I’d highly recommend this kit.

The carry case has two velcro slots to carry the frames. I found that I can leave the fabrics on the folding frames and they fit well into their slots.

The interior of the case has two frame slots and three clear pouches which hold the small circular and rectangular flags. I keep two small grips in the third pouch.

The flags and frames fit so nicely into my airline modifier case…an SKB hard sided golf case.  

25 Oct 2019

Cheetahstand Chopstick Reflective Focusing System MKII

Please note that Stuart Vu, a visitor here pointed out that Amazon has the exact same focusing rod as the one I purchased from Cheetahstand:

“FOTOCREAT Adjustable 38′ (97cm) Boom Holder for Light Stand with 50lb Bearing Capacity Portable Photographic Bowens Reflector Bracket for APUTURE GODOX LED Light,Flash and Other Photography Equipment”

Certainly a highly convoluted description! But it the same unit. And the price comparison:

  • Cheetahstand $158.88 – Amazon $119.99 = $38.89 less. 25% savings
  • Cheetahstand shipping from Texas to California $29.02 – Amazon Prime $0.00

So in total the Amazon unit would have saved me $67.91!!!

If I need another one of these I will be purchasing mine through Amazon. I found that the shipping of $29.02 to be a bit much from Cheetahstand.

I wanted to mount my 69″ Elinchrom Octa I often use with a focusing rod I fabricated. Here it’s using the new Mark II version of Cheetahstand’s focusing rod.

Anyone who follows my blog knows that I prefer to use focusing rod modifiers for my client base. I find the quality of light and the flexibility invaluable in my work. I’m not going to go through all of the advantages I find in focusing rods in this post. You can read about my experiences with focusing rods on other pages:

During a recent visit to the Cheetahstand site to find something unrelated to focusing rods, I happened upon Edward’s new Mark II system. Unlike his prior focusing rod (which I highly modified to use any Bowens mount modifier) which was specifically designed for his proprietary small diameter tension rod diameters, his new system now accepts any Bowens modifier. So I purchased one to find out if it would meet my needs without having to do any fabrication. 

His Mark II version uses a very standard swivel which is supplied with many instruments like a boom arm I use. Parabolix uses a very similar swivel system. It’s rock solid.

Very nice that the center puck is silver and not black.

This is the proprietary portion of the focusing rod Edward had designed. It simply slides onto the end of the actual rod and is held in place by three set screws. Be advised that my unit did not come with an Allen wrench and the Bowens collar was detached from the rod. Just as a FYI it uses a 3mm hex wrench to cinch down the setscrews.

The Bowens modifier mount can be placed at different places along the shaft of the focusing rod. I chose to mount mine at the very end of the unit to allow the most distance when I want to flood the light. I don’t plan to test the unit for ‘quality of light’ simply because I have no doubt it will perform well. I’m very happy that someone has manufactured a focusing rod this well done that accepts any Bowens modifier. For $158.88 I view it as a bargain. I was a bit taken back by Cheetahstand’s shipping charge for California via UPS ground. $29.02 seemed a bit excessive, but oh well.

24 Oct 2019

Flashpoint R2 Mark II TTL Transmitter (X2T-P)

Flashpoint R2 Mark II TTL Transmitter for Pentax Cameras (X2T-P)

I have tested and been using the Flashpoint R2 Mark II TTL Transmitter (X2T-P) for Pentax since mid September 2019 in my workflow. I have found that using the Scan feature included in the firmware with this trigger is critical to prevent misfires. Flashpoint has not released a Pro II version of their trigger for Pentax so this is the next best thing for my work. Sure it would be nice to have the same trigger configuration for all of my cameras that includes the Scan feature, but preventing misfires easily outweighs that convenience.

I should also note that I am using this trigger with AD600s, Flashpoint 600s and the Pro versions along with AD200s. All with the most current firmware. (As of Oct 2019)

I’m also a fan of the Godox Android app that mates with this Bluetooth enabled trigger. Unlike others I have NOT had issue with the app. Although I have used it sporadically in my workflow, I need to become more comfortable with its usage in a fast paced studio setting.

To date I have used the X2T-P in three client sessions. My misfire rate has been between 0.5 to 1.0% – a very welcome change from my previous experience with the R2 Pro for Pentax.

As of the date of this post the firmware version is 1.0 and I have not found any firmware update release later than 1.0 for Pentax on Adorama’s site. I will continue to update this post as I have more sessions with the R2 Mark II P and/or subsequent firmware updates.

As of 10-23-19 no firmware updates exists for the Pentax Camera.

23 Oct 2019

Flashpoint R2 Pro Mark II C – Misfire Testing Update October 23 2019

Update October 23 2019

I have been using the R2 Pro Mark II C when using my Canon 1DX Mark II and my partner has been using the R2 Pro C. When we go to a job I use the Scan feature and we pick which channels to use. I have had less than 2% of misfires. She has experienced the same, but has had full pop flashes when her units have not been set to full power. This is still an issue that Godox and Flashpoint must address.

NOTE: I have recently been using the Flashpoint R2 Mark II TTL Transmitter (X2T-P). That post can be found here.

Update September 19 2019

OK so I needed to actually TEST my Flashpoint triggers to ascertain what is the best trigger for me to use. I had become (and still am) very concerned about the misfires I have been experiencing. So here are the triggers I tested:

Left to right: R2 Pro Mark II C, R2 Pro C, R2 SPT Single Firing Pin Transceiver, Flashpoint FT16 433 Mhz

I used the very same strobe for all of the tests. A Godox AD600 set to 1/16th power 10 feet from my camera. The camera was a Canon 1DX set to 1/250th of a second shutter speed, f3.2, ISO 100. My intervalometer was set to fire at one second intervals. The strobe began to overheat at approximately 400 frames so I measured my test at 400 frames. I allowed the strobe 30 minutes between trigger testing so that it could cool down.

Here are the results:

 

So after running this test I am still concerned. In this test all triggers failed, but under 1% out of 400 shots. It’s curious that the single pin unit is the only one that failed to fire prior to the end of the test. With all of the others I ‘may assume’ that the failure at 399/400 was due to the overheating of the strobe. In a normal real world session the power of my strobe settings varies greatly. Anywhere from 1:1 full power all the way down to 1/256th power for fill or rim lights. There are times when I am firing much less than once a second and I’m always aware if I have strobes set at full power to listen for the recycle tone before pressing my shutter again. It’s part of my protocol.

My most critical time for zero misfires is during studio dance sessions. Invariably misfires will happen when the money shot is taken when a strobe or strobes misfire. The dancer has executed their move in an exquisite way and the shot is useless due to the failure to fire. Sure they can do it over again, but my view is why? My equipment should be dependable. And if that means switching to a brand that is not as modular, but is much more dependable on site then that’s what I will do, change.

I will say that prior to running this test I used the Channel Scanner on the R2 Pro Mark II C to find the best available channels for my home…today. I say today because I feel that even in the same venue, it’s important to scan the environment for the best channel. So at this point I am awaiting a new Flashpoint R2 Mark II TTL Transmitter for Pentax Cameras (X2T-P) to test. I am hoping it performs well. Currently Adorama does not offer a R2 Pro Mark II transmitter for Pentax, nor do they offer a firmware update for the R2 Pro for the Pentax. My 645Z is my defacto studio camera so it’s one of the reasons I’ve purchased the X2T-P. It has a channel scan feature. Sure I can carry my Canon Pro Mark II to scan channels, but why? If Godox/Flashpoint want working pros to use these strobes, then give us function and dependable engineering. You’ve nailed the ecosystem but misfires just won’t cut it in my world.

I have a publicity session this weekend and hope that by scanning the channels it will yield this percentage of misfires which is much less than what I’ve found on actual location shoots.

Stay tuned…

Update September 18 2019

In preparation for an upcoming client session I needed to practice a lighting technique we conceived for the shoot. I had left my R2 Pro Mark II C transmitter on channel 12 along with the strobe from my recent client shoot this past weekend. I did NOT use the scan feature to see what were the most clear channels in my garage. I was horrified to find a 14% misfire ratio during my test set up! I was literally 8 feet away from the strobe with the transmitter set to the 0-30 meter range while using a Flashpoint Pro 600. I had never had issues like this with my 433Mhz triggers or USB receivers. I really love the innovation of the Godox/Flashpoint line of strobes and the ecosystem they have developed. But the misfire issue may result in my switching to a different brand of strobes. I need to figure this out quickly. Until I do I will religiously scan the channels and/or use my single pin transmitter. I cannot afford to miss any shots ESPECIALLY in dance.

Update September 17 2019

I had a two day dance session this weekend after updating all of my AD200s/600s and my R2Pro Mark IIC transmitter. Once I conducted a scan of the area in which I was working one of the channels the transmitter recommended was 12, so I switched everything to that channel. With the new firmware the results are much improved over my prior experience. Of course I would like a 0% failure to fire rate as I had with my PCB Einstein/CyberCommander setup. I will continue to update this post about the misfire issue.

My gut tells me that even in the same space I will need to rescan with the ProII to ascertain if the same channels are free on different days even in the same space. I have asked Adorama if I can use the channel scanner on the Pro Mark II to determine the best channel for my Flashpoint R2 Pro Pentax trigger. Once I hear back I will post my findings here. As usual stay tuned…

August 2019

I have been negligent in updating my firmware for both the transmitters and strobes be they Flashpoint or Godox. I completely switched from PCB Einsteins over to the Godox/Flashpoint strobes after the passing of Paul Buff and the innovation at PCB declined after his death. His CyberCommander transmitter was tough to learn but BULLETPROOF in terms of misfires.

I won’t go into all of the gripes I had about the Flashpoint misfires simply because I had not updated my firmware. Total user laziness and error. So I decided to run some tests before and after updating my strobes and transmitters. I used the installation programs and firmware found on Adorama’s Flashpoint Firmware Download page

Even though they have improved the software interface, it’s still no walk in the park. You should know I am a PC user, not a Mac user. The steps I found necessary to begin the process in Windows 10, their new version is:

Disable UEFI Secure Boot in Windows 10

Disable Signed Driver Enforcement (bottom of page)

Then you must select the product you are updating which then indicates which installer to download and use. There are three:

Once the installer is downloaded and installed, you select the product you wish to update with the firmware:

OK so once all was done I tried to update the firmware in my transmitter. Since the Pro II uses a USB-C cable I had no issues. But once I tried to update my non pro strobes which use USB Micro connectors I got these messages:

I THEN realized that the USB Micro cables I was using DID NOT TRANSMIT DATA but were only for charging! SHEEEET!!!! As soon as I figured out that bonehead mistake I used a proper cable and got a connection. BUT it was not without further issues….. On my first two f/w updates all went fine. But after that I would get a program hang:

It only happened after the f/w was deleted and then updated. So I simply unplugged the cable and tried my strobes, also checking their firmware version. All was fine. So after this frustration I went on to test my strobes. 600s, both non TTL and TTL along with a Pro and several AD200s…

Here was my setup for testing:

I set my intervalometer to take a shot every second. My tests were done at 1/8th and 1/16th power for all strobes. As you can see I’m only about 15 feet from the strobes. I have a router booster here along with normal consumer electronics. Since I’ve had issues on location where there’s a ton more signals this is not an acid test of if the firmware will make a difference in misfires. But it was my start of testing. On my pre firmware update testing I had NOT updated the firmware for the strobes or the triggers.

I numbered each strobe. I also numbered my 200s but have not included photos of them here. My main concern were for my 600s since they are my primary strobes for work.

Pre Firmware Update Testing

In my first test strobe 2 was the one that consistently misfired. And like a fool I forgot to check the f/w version before starting the test…..but it is one of my older strobes.

At a higher power setting more misfires occurred. And as the strobes began to heat, I had many more misfires.

At the end of the first test, all strobes showed the heat indicator warning icon.

After Firmware Updates

 Next I decided to nix the 200s since I have never had a misfire with them even before updating the firmware on the triggers or the strobes…interesting. So for this test I just did a 1/16th power level. When I have time or more importantly after I use my gear on actual shoots I will report back on any improvement in misfires. But at this level I’m really please with the results.

I’m concerned that Flashpoint has not released a newer firmware version for Pentax. Since that is the camera I primarily use for client publicity sessions I’m hoping that f/w version is forthcoming. I’m currently running 1.0 which is the only one available at this time.

As you can see, no f/w update is available for Pentax.

 

I’m really quite pleased of the lack of misfires for my Pentax. It only started to misfire as the strobe heated.

Although I don’t fire my camera for 200 frames at one second intervals I am a bit concerned that as the strobes heat misfires will occur. Anyway after using my strobes on actual upcoming client work I will report back here on any improvements in misfires.

19 Sep 2019

Flashpoint R2 Pro C – Updated 9-19-19

Update September 19 2019

I have run an actual test of the various Flashpoint triggers. That post can be found here.

Update June 26 2019

I am sorry to report that my experience with this trigger has not been stellar. Misfires have happened time and time again regardless of how the venue is constructed. I recently did a product shoot and the strobes were only 2 to 5 feet from the transmitter! In this case 10% of the shots were misfires where the strobes did not fire. I am going to try the new Flashpoint R2 Mark II when it is released. As of this writing they are on pre order to be released on July 1 2019.

At this point I HIGHLY advise others to not purchase this trigger. More to follow.

This illustrates just how close the trigger was to the strobe.

The product shot.

Update March 4 2019

I was reminded today by a frequent visitor to my blog, Fritz N that I had not posted any further information about my misfire issues with the R2ProC. He’s right, it’s because I have very little to report. I have found that the trigger ‘seems‘ to misfire based not on distance, but the particular construction of the building and how many wireless devices like routers are in proximity to my strobes and trigger. Yet I have nothing scientific or objective to report. The building in my January 13 2019 post below is of normal commercial construction. Aluminum framed joices, sheetrock and tile. They do have a number of consumer routers in the building. But nothing out of the ordinary.

I’m literally stumped as to what may or may not cause misfires with this trigger. If anyone has experienced the same issue, please let us all know in my comment section the particulars of where you were shooting. Thank you.

Update January 13 2019

Unfortunately I am having an issue with this trigger. During a recent studio dance shoot it misfired 10% of the time which is really unacceptable. I’m not sure why this has happened. But at this point I will be trashing this trigger. I’m scratching my head as to what caused this malfunction.

The greyed out images in Lightroom are where the the flashes did not fire. It was not a specific strobe, as they malfunction went back and forth. The two strobes are Flashpoint 600s. Very sad and I won’t be using this trigger again.

UPDATE March 4 2018

Yesterday I was commissioned to create imagery of a dancer for an upcoming magazine cover. It was all on location and I was using xPLOR600s one with a H600 remote head. All of the locations were outdoors. In the first location I was completely outside with no walls or ceilings around me. The Flashpoint R2 Pro C worked flawlessly. When I moved into an area where two vertical walls were present that’s when my troubles began. The strobes would not fire. I had to restart my camera (1DX Mark II) as well as restart the R2 Pro. The strobes would then work for about 4 flashes and then the same issue would occur. I got my shots and then moved to the final location. Again one without walls, but during the last portion I was shooting in a tunnel which of course has walls and a ceiling. In all but the aforementioned venue the R2 Pro worked flawlessly. I’m not certain what would have caused the misfiring. I have my trigger set at the 0-30 meter setting and the strobes were well within those distances. Strange….

First location, no walls or ceiling. R2 Pro worked flawlessly.

This was a light test and I was not happy with the light so I moved him back into the shaded part of the structure you see in the background. During this light test the unit performed flawlessly.

Once I moved in between the walls the R2 would misfire as is evident in this image.

After rebooting both my camera and the R2 the strobes would fire, but only for about four flashes. 

Moving on to the next location without walls or a ceiling, again the R2 performed perfectly.

Well into the tunnel that has both walls and a ceiling the R2 performed perfectly. Both strobes without incident.

I am literally at a complete loss for why the R2 would misfire in my second location. So as a backup I now plan to carry both the R2Pro and an X1 whenever I go on location. I am using rechargeable alkaline 1.5v AAs in the unit which were fully charge. I have another outdoor on location shoot this coming Friday so I’ll be taking both.

UPDATE December 9 2017

I just returned from a two day studio session using the Flashpoint R2 Pro C on my Pentax 645Z. The unit performed well and I discovered that when using the transmitter with another non Canon (C) camera the Standby feature does not function as it does on the camera it’s designed for. I have the R2Pro set to Stby in the menu and when mounted to my Canon when I half press the shutter the R2 comes back to life. Not so with my Pentax. I must physically press any button on the R2 unit to revive the transmitter. Other than that (no TTL or HSS) it works well.

UPDATE November 15 2017

I recently had the opportunity to use the Flashpoint R2ProC during a commercial session.  The short story is it worked flawlessly. My issue with the XT32C sometimes misfiring when standing right next to my key light did not occur at all. I have the unit set to 0-30m distance in the Custom Functions. The most significant feature I can highlight at this point is being able to view most if not all of my strobe settings at once. It’s wonderful. I did run into one issue that is totally user error when attempting to use the ALL button to change all of my light settings…

Even though I was only using groups A and B I had left all of the group settings ON.

I had left A-E lights active but for this session I was only using two lights. I became frustrated when trying to adjust all of the lights at once since the unit seemed to only allow a 2 stop range down or up. What I realized when I got home is that by having more than the number of strobes I was using active on the screen, the unit will only go up or down based on the lowest or highest setting of a group.

To explain:

Let’s say group D which you’re not using is set at 1/64th. If you scroll power down and have your units set to 1/128th as the lowest setting all of your adjustments down are limited to just one stop. So the answer when using the unit is ONLY KEEP ACTIVE those light groups you’re actually using. I tried to find this in the user guide but it is not listed. Now you know.

Be sure to just leave the groups you’re using active (ON) or when using the ALL feature you will limit yourself to the lowest or highest group settings for adjustment.

Original Post

The new Flashpoint R2 Pro C. What a great improvement over the previous versions of their transmitters!

I have assembled some of my initial impressions and comments about this transmitter. It will be a few weeks until I can actually use the transmitter in sessions. But that won’t be before I run it through some of my own usability tests. I must admit that I was hoping Godox would develop a transmitter like this. I want to say straight off that in life there isn’t a single thing that is perfect for everyone. I laughed out loud when I read one person was concerned about the angle of the R2 Pro which they felt is ‘too angled’ and forced them to tilt their camera ‘too much’ to see the display. Another person complained about the R2/X1 controller having no tilt and hitting him in the forehead when he looked through the viewfinder. All things can be improved including human attitudes. The important thing is if a piece of equipment is right for YOU. And of course every manufacturer can and should improve their products, and the R2 Pro is living proof of that concept!

For many years I enjoyed the use of the PCB’s CyberCommander with his Einstein line of strobes. Sure the CyberCommanders involved a bit of a learning curve, was not the most elegant interface…BUT it was so well designed from a function/operational standpoint those aforementioned issues seemed petty. I loved being able to view the power settings of all of my strobes in one look. The range of the CyberCommander was excellent and the variety of controls I had at my fingertips made my job so much easier and more importantly was my ability to focus on the talent, not the lights.

One of the things I noticed right off about the R2 Pro was the battery level indicator. (BTW neither the R2/X1 or the XT32 have battery level indicators) I had just put fresh rechargeable Enloop AAs into the unit and in a matter of seconds it went from 3 bars to 2. Strange…so I changed to a new pair and it was the same. I then got out two fresh Duracell Alkalines and guess what? Three bars stayed. Since I had not yet read the manual and figured I needed to put batteries into the unit to follow along I began to search for the answer in the user manual. Page 09 states:

“AA alkaline batteries are recommended…..Low Battery Indicator When the battery power is weak, less than 2.5v…replace them to assure a strong wireless signal and reliable flash triggering.”

Well there you have it. Alkalines are 1.5v and rechargeables are 1.2v. So right off the bat 2.4v is BELOW the 2.5v they recommend if batteries need replacement. This is certainly not a deal breaker even though I use rechargeable batteries for all of my gear. I will research if anyone makes 1.5v rechargeable batteries. And I will have to find out through testing if 2.4v affects the transmitter’s ability to consistently fire my strobes. If not, then it’s back to using alkaline batteries in this unit. It’s also very interesting that the battery indicator does NOT come on immediately when you boot up the unit. There’s about a two second delay before it appears. I surmise that the unit is ACTUALLY testing the battery level before displaying the remaining voltage…..interesting.

I was shocked to see that the battery level was at 2 bars after just putting in freshly charged Enloops….until I read the manual.

I should also state that I am NOT a speedlight user. I may use one now and again, but my work does not lend itself to speedlights. My work involves the use of strobes so I won’t be testing/writing much if anything about the unit’s compatibility with speed lights. Sorry. I’m not a review site, but like to post what I observe to help other shooters who may or may not operate with the gear I talk about. While I’m on that subject I realize that this unit has TCM, TTL Converted to Manual. Never had that, seldom if EVER use TTL. I’m the old school light meter kinda OG and with digital hell I don’t really need to use my light meter all the time. I can get pretty close because I do this so much and adjust my lights/aperture/ISO/Speed after looking at the shot and Histogram. So I will get around to ‘testing’ the TCM at some point and report my findings. It seems like a cool feature though…

The R2 Pro works just as well with my Pentax 645Z as it does with the XT32 and X1/R2 transmitter. For that I’m very happy. Later I’ll test it with my Fuji X100T, but I’m pretty sure it will work on my little Fuji too. AGAIN I’m not a TTL guy

This is just to illustrate the different angles of the R2 Pro and the XT32. Both are mounted on Canon 1DXs. The R2 Pro is in the foreground.

Side by side shooter’s view of the R2 Pro and the XT32C. LOL I just recently discovered that I never removed the plastic film from my XT32 so I just did! Let’s see how long I leave it on the R2 Pro!!!!

Clockwise from top left, the Godox XT32C, the Flashpoint R2 Pro C and the Flashpoint R2 C.

Initial operational observations

HSS and Second Curtain Sync

The R2 Pro requires you to select HSS, Second Curtain Sync or nothing. Unlike the R2/X1 and the XT32 which automatically switch to HSS above Canon’s sync speed, you must enable HSS on the unit or the camera will not go above the sync speed, at least on the 1DX. With the X1/R2 when the shutter is set at 1/30th or slower the camera automatically goes into SCS. The XT32 does not and you must set SCS in the camera’s flash menu when using the XT32. On the R2 Pro C you must set SCS on the transmitter or the flash will remain in first curtain sync. Unless I plan to use SCS I found that leaving the controller in HSS allows it to function in both HSS or normal sync.

Modeling light

In the Group view you must press the MOD button which lights all of the group’s modeling lights. Only then can you turn OFF individual modeling lights for multiple strobes. If you do not turn on all modeling lights in the group view then selecting a specific group with the physical buttons on the left side of the controller does not show the MOD choice on the menu. Sounds confusing I know, but once  you get a unit you will see. I prefer the ability to decide which strobe’s modeling light is on or off and the unit has that ability.

Sound

Like the modeling light I prefer to control individual units beeping, but it appears it’s an all or nothing choice with the R2 Pro. Certainly not a deal breaker! The nice thing is this unit has a Menu button which easily accesses the former “Cf” function area. That’s where you can enable or disable the sound along with other functions.

Individual Group On/Off function

There are often times when I want to turn an individual strobe on or off and this can easily be done with the R2 Pro. You simply go from the Group view to an individual Group and toggle through the choices of M, TTL or Off using the physical Mode key. Easy!

Distance

This is in the Menu area and it’s welcomed. There have been a number of times when I was using my XT32 that I’d get misfires while standing right next to my keylight! It was not all the time, but sporadically and at random times. Now in the Menu area is a DIST choice of 1-100m or 0-30m. In studio and on location I tend to shoot within the 30m distance so it’s nice to have that choice. I’ll be testing to see if I get any misfires when close to strobes. I’ve never had an issue with either my X1/R2 or XT32 at long distances.

ALL

Good god I love having an ALL button that is physical so I can easily turn all of my lights up or down keeping ratios I’ve set before the same. I’ll use this feature all of the time.

Something I’ll miss….

On the XT32 when you change Channels in the upper right hand corner is a little diagram of how the old school dip switches correspond to your channel selection. I know most of you don’t use those old dip switches anymore. But for me when I use my Pentax 645Z and the old FT-16 USB receivers to get HSS with xPLOR/Godox strobes I am often changing channels. It’s pretty idiot proof for me to just look at the diagram and switch those little dip switches. Oh well… I’ll just carry my XT32 as a backup anyway.

I’ll miss those little dip switch illustrations…..

Initial Summary

These are just my initial impressions of the long awaited R2 Pro! And the topics I’ve outline above are the features that are important to me and my work. I have yet to test the unit other than to see how HSS/SCS work and they perform just fine with both the xPLOR/eVOLV line of strobes. I’ll be posting more as I have the time to test the units and finally in commercial work. So stay tuned.