UPDATE: June 22 2015
UPDATE June 12 2015: I have added more real world experience with the Rovelight’s HSS capabilities which can be found here.
I recently purchased the Rovelight and was able to utilize it today on an on location commercial shoot. I normally use PCB Einsteins combined with their Vagabond Mini system for portability. For in studio work, I use Enstein strobes exclusively. Because I will be doing on location commercial dance shoots this summer, I needed a system that would allow me to shoot fast action outdoors. Although the Einsteins have a fantastic IGBT and t:1 performance, when using them in situations where strong ambient light is present, their ability to freeze fast action is reduced.
The reason is without pumping up ISO too far to keep strobe power down, the short flash duration performance begins to drop at around 320 watt seconds. Tips of dancer’s fingers and feet begin to blur. In all fairness almost all strobes suffer from this fate. Only leaf shutters help eliminate motion blur in strong ambient light using strobes. So when the Rovelight was announced with its ability to use HSS (not the pulsing type, but creating a longer flash duration) up to 1/8000th of a second I decided to give one a try. At 479.95 it’s quite a bargain for a 600WS internal battery/radio receiver configuration including a transmitter.
There are several other sites which will explain the function, unpacking/etc of this unit. An excellent video review by Jason Macomber can be found here.
The purpose of my short review is to outline some of my findings. I chose the Bowens mount because I am unfamiliar with the Flashpoint mounting system and own some Bowens mounting modifiers. My modifier of choice for outdoor sessions is the Elinchrom Rotalux Deep Oct 39″. The light thrown from that octa is pure magic and my first preference. On those occasions where I will be shooting near the surf, I prefer to use the Westcott Rapidbox 36″ XL octa. Why? Because putting together the Rapidbox does not require me to put pressure on the softbox ring when assembling. With the Elinchrom I need to place the speedring on a hard surface to extend the rods inside the octa which are captured in the speedring. Not a big deal, but sometimes extremely fast set up is the most important factor.
What I really appreciate about the Rovelight is its integrated battery and receiver. The unit is a tad heavier than an Einstein, but I have found no issues using it on a good light stand. In those cases where I need a sandbag I simply use dry bags and fill them with water or sand/dirt/rocks so I don’t have to lug counterweights to/from the location. The remote…well it’s very basic, but does not misfire. For HSS I use the CellsII C trigger combined with the Rovelight transmitter.
I’ve clipped a copy of Jason’s video here which illustrates how to use both together. The beauty of this configuration is there is no need to add an exterior receiver to the Rovelight to achieve HSS. I use Godox AD360s and am able to fire both the AD360s and the Rovelight together with this triggering mechanism.
In HSS mode the recycle time of the strobe is about 2.5 times longer than when it is NOT in HSS mode. I believe that because the unit is extending the flash duration of the light, the time it takes to recycle the capacitors takes significantly longer. Remember that unlike speedlights, these units do not pulse the light for HSS, but instead extend the lights flash duration. Pretty clever.
Although this does not relate to the HSS function of the unit I need to mention that I really like having a LED modeling light on the unit. No it is not that powerful, however in those situations where I have used my AD360s in dark venues that are not equipped with them having any modeling light I can use with a portable strobe is a godsend. Having light to focus on the talent is key. And with my Einsteins using the 250w modeling light, even on low power can sap the battery quickly. Anyway it’s a welcome feature on this unit.
I have tested the light’s HSS at shutter speed up to 1/8000th on my Canon 1DX and it performs well. I have no reason to display a ‘test shot’ in the review simply because I think those are silly. What I want to see are shots that are actually used for client or for final products. My wish is I could have the ability to use the HSS feature of the strobe with my Pentax 645Z. I may purchase a Cactus v6 unit to see if that combination will allow me to use the Rovelight with the Pentax.
The bottom line is I’m pleased with the purchase and feel it presents a very good value. I’ll buy another one if my work calls for a second strobe requiring HSS for on location work.