Review: Lumopro LP-180 Flash

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Lumopro LP-180 product images (1 of 8)ISO 10001-60 sec at f - 3.2

Lumopro’s LP-180 is the successor to the very well acclaimed LP-160. As an all manual and well built hot shoe flash, you’d be surprised to know that this flash isn’t designed for the hot shoe. Instead, it is designed for the strobist looking for an affordable, manual solution with excellent build quality and lots of power. Indeed, the LP-180 is a flash that many are currently in love with.

For the past month, we’ve been testing in flash in various situations–and we have to do nothing else but agree.

Pros and Cons

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Lumopro LP-180 and Profoto Speedlite Speedring test with Natalie (6 of 10)ISO 12501-40 sec at f - 4.0

Pros

– Excellent light output

– Incredible build quality. We took it out into the rain and it suffered no issues.

– Side 1/4 20 socket for a light stand is quite convenient

– Fast recycle time

– Hands down the most reliable flash that we’ve ever tested.

Cons

– Absolutely, positively, not a single complaint.

Gear Used

We used the Lumopro LP-180 with the Canon 5D Mk II, Sigma 35mm f1.4, Sony A7r, 35mm f2.8, Pentax K3, Profoto Speedlight speed ring and RFi Softboxes.

Tech Specs

Specs taken from Lumopro’s listing of the product

Guide Number: Every company measures guide number differently. At LumoPro®, this is how we measure guide number:
GN= Distance x f/stop,
Distance = 10ft, F/stop at 105mm, ISO 100, Full Power = f/11
10ft x f/11 = 110, GN = 110
The LP180’s power is roughly equivalent to the Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT or the Nikon SB-900.
Sync: 3.5mm (1/8″) Miniphone port, PC port,
standard ISO hot shoe, built-in optical slave
Recycling Time: 4 seconds at full power with fresh NiMH batteries, 1 second at full power with high voltage battery input
Bounce (Tilt) Angle: -7°, 0°, 45°, 60°, 75°, 90°
Motorized Zoom Settings: 14mm (with wide-angle diffuser), 24mm, 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 70mm, 80mm, 105mmm, 105mm
Swivel Angle: 360° Total
Right: 0°, 60°, 75°, 90°, 120°, 150°, 180°
Left: 0°, 60°, 75°, 90°, 120°, 150°, 180°
Manual Power Settings: Full Power to 1/128
Built-in Slave Function: S0 (off), S1 (standard optical slave), and S2-1 through S2-10 (pre-flash synchronization optical slave).
Hot Shoe: Standard ISO size, center pin contact, mounting foot lock with drop-down locking pin.
Sleep Mode/Auto Power-off: Sleep mode engages after 20 minutes (if enabled). Auto power-off engages 3 hours after sleep mode.
Flash Ready Indicator: Front and rear ready LED light, optional flash ready tone
Power Source: Four 1.5V AA size batteries (Alkaline or rechargable NiMH). NOTE: Do not use Nickel Zinc “NiZn” batteries as they can cause damage to the LP180.
Included Accessories: Soft case, flash stand, 3.5mm miniphone to 3.5mm miniphone sync cord.
Flash Body Dimensions: 8.125″ (L) x 2.5″ (W) x 2″ (D)
Flash Head Dimensions: 2.875″ (W) x 1.75″ (H)
Weight (without batteries): 15oz (0.9lbs) (425 grams) (0.0004 metric tons)
Warranty: 2 years from date of purchase through authorized LumoPro® dealers.

Ergonomics

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Lumopro LP-180 product images (7 of 8)ISO 10001-50 sec at f - 3.2

Like many other flashes, the Lumopro LP-180 has a couple of things that are very standard to it. For example, there is an infrared slave sensor on the front along with indicator lights. But the overall build and feel of the flash just feels beefy. In fact, it’s incredibly beefy and feels better than anything Canon, Nikon or anyone else has put out.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Lumopro LP-180 product images (6 of 8)ISO 10001-50 sec at f - 3.2

On the side of the flash, you’ll see a little 1/4 20 slot for a light stand if you choose to use it this way. Otherwise, you can connect the stand to the hot shoe and then screw that into the light stand. Lumopro offers a solution for either position–which one one else does at the moment.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Lumopro LP-180 product images (2 of 8)ISO 10001-60 sec at f - 3.2

On one side of the flash are ports such as USB, PC, sound and for extra battery power. The sound port is probably what you’re going to use using the most if you’re working with radio transmitters.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Lumopro LP-180 product images (3 of 8)ISO 10001-60 sec at f - 3.2

On the other side of the flash, you have your slot for four AA batteries. This area also closes very tightly with an authority that you can physically feel. Perhaps this adds to the ruggedness of the flash.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Lumopro LP-180 product images (4 of 8)ISO 10001-60 sec at f - 3.2

The back of the flash has the standard buttons that many others have. Here you can control the power output, zoom level and more. There are single buttons to switch the flash into slave mode or have it be tested. Then there is the on/off switch and the LCD screen that you can use to judge the settings.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Lumopro LP-180 product images (8 of 8)ISO 10001-50 sec at f - 3.2

And of course like most hot shoe flashes, the head turns around and flips up or down. Seriously, what would a modern flash be without this feature.

Build Quality

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Lumopro LP-180 and Profoto Speedlite Speedring test with Natalie in rain (1 of 1)ISO 80001-40 sec at f - 3.2

This photo is of the LumoPro LP-180 in a rainstorm a couple of nights before the publishing of this story. It got soaked but still continues to fire even with its socket port open. More than anything, this impressed us. Sure the flash is powerful, but I didn’t expect it to stand up to NYC rains like this.

It’s a rather impressive feat.

Ease of Use

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Lumopro LP-180 product images (5 of 8)ISO 10001-50 sec at f - 3.2

The Lumopro LP-180 is controllable via the top and side buttons. The + and – buttons control the power output while the left and right buttons control your zoom.

Otherwise, just make sure that it is ready to fire along with your radio trigger when in use. Granted, there is no TTL; it is all manual. If you’re okay with that, then there is no real better option.

Something that we wish it had though was radio control from some sort of commander. However, then the price would be much more. Still, it would be an excellent feature.

Image Quality

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Little Miss Rollerhoops portraits (8 of 24)ISO 1001-40 sec at f - 2.8

We used the LumoPro LP-180 on many shoots as well as for much of the product photography that we do here on The Phoblographer. It has almost never failed and on top of that the flash doesn’t seem to eat batteries. Yongnuo’s tend to have them for Thanksgiving dinner and leftovers though.

We used the flash bounced off of windows, in a softbox, and bounced off of ceilings.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Lumopro LP-180 flash Rollerhoops images (2 of 2)ISO 2501-6 sec at f - 8.0

One of the tests that made me really appreciate the LP-180 is when I shot Little Miss Rollerhoops: a fire dancer in the New York area. With the Sony A7r set to second curtain flash and the flash set to 1/8th power, it was able to fire off consistently with the camera’s continuous burst shooting to help me get an image like this one.

Here are a couple of other shots.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Lumopro LP-180 flash Rollerhoops images (1 of 2)ISO 4001-30 sec at f - 5.0

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Fujifilm 23mm f1.4 product images for review (5 of 8)ISO 4001-50 sec at f - 3.5

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Lumopro LP-180 and Profoto Speedlite Speedring test with Natalie (5 of 10)ISO 12501-60 sec at f - 4.0

 

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Fujfilm 23mm f1.4 sample images (8 of 13)ISO 2501-30 sec at f - 2.8

 

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Pentax K3 review images extras (11 of 13)ISO 4001-50 sec at f - 1.8

Conclusions

The-Phoblographer-Editor's-Choice-Award-Logo

After a month of testing, we have no reason not to give the LP-180 our Editor’s Choice award for best afford Strobist flash. Its build quality can surely stand the test of time, the fact that you can shoot at ISO 100, 105mm at 10 feet away at f11 is also blowing our minds just a bit. Then mix into all of this the portability and the reliability.

We just can’t see us using other flashes. Sure, Yongnuo has some more affordable options, but they’re not as tough or as powerful as the LP-180.

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