The world of radio hot shoe flashes has been marinating for a couple of years now. The original is Quantum, but then Canon did it and Yongnuo and Phottix soon followed through. It was only a matter of time until the retailers started to create their own versions with their own house brands. Adorama’s Flashpoint series have been known for years to be extremely stellar products; and their new Zoom Li-on flash is really no exception. It isn’t really a radio flash per se, but it’s designed to be. At a mere $99.99 for the fully manual version, you’ve got very little to complain about.
With a Guide Number of 112 and an innovative type of battery for a hot shoe flash, the company also claims a 1.5 second recycle time, stroboscopic mode, front/rear curtain sync, and a modelling light.
But what makes it even more special is the fact that you can control the power output via Flashpoint’s own radio transmitter.
Pros and Con
– Nice build quality
– Powerful light output
– Very punchy light; almost like an Einstein E640, but obviously nowhere as powerful
– 1/300 to 1/20,000 seconds flash duration according to their listing; though we really didn’t see the latter.
– We didn’t really have much of a problem at all with this flash.
We tested the Adorama Flashpoint Zoom Li-on flash with the Sony A7 and the Canon 6D.
Specs taken from the Adorama listing.
- Extremely Powerful Flash with a GN of 112 @ISO 100 / 105mm
- Uses an advanced Li-Ion Polymer battery for speedy recycle and longer life
- Full power recycle time of less than 1.5 seconds
- Approximately 650 full power flashes per charge
- Remote manual power control with the Flashpoint Commander System
- Zooming head for proper coverage with automatic zoom or manual control
- Front or Rear Curtain Sync
- Modeling flash
- Regular and Intelligent Optical Slave Modes
- 360 degree rotation and 90+ degree tilt
- Perfect for on and off camera use
The Zoom Li-on and its radio transmitter are both well built pieces of equipment and in many ways are very standard. They don’t do very much to reinvent the wheel and instead the biggest feature is the rechargeable Li-Ion battery. The flash itself also has the same standard IR sensor on the front that every other one has.
But we start our ergonomics tour by taking a quick glance at the transmitter. From here, you’ve got a small LCD screen to see the power level, a group switch to the right, channel switches below that, and buttons for extra controls below all of this. On top of the transmitter, you’ve got an old school radio antennae, which we haven’t really seen except with PocketWizards.
What’s really cool about this transmitter is the fact that it has a cable to be able to connect to a camera in other ways, like a PC to sound cord. You’ll need this for the old school stuff.
The Li-on flash itself though is much larger and has a lot more to it. On the back, you’ll find all of the controls like mode, zoom, lamp, etc. It looks like a Canon flash in many ways but a tad classier. Plus everything can be read via the massive LCD screen.
To actually trigger the flash via the transmitter, you’ll need to attach this little thing. Adorama took the interesting route of a proprietary transmitter vs something that attaches to the hot shoe. This receiver is very standard.
The flash head tilts in many directions and has the standard wide angle diffuser along with the bounce card that you may never use because of how small it is. Still, it’s nice that they included a very standard feature.
Overall, the build and feel the Zoom Li-on is pretty solid. It doesn’t feel as sturdy as LumoPro’s LP-180, but it is still very well designed and feels much better than Yongnuo flashes. To be fair though, we didn’t take it out into the snow the way we did with the Yongnuo flash.
Ease of Use
The Li-on has clearly labelled buttons and a dial for controls. Getting through the menu system is very straight forward, though we’ve seen easier setups. By using a combination of the dial and buttons, a photographer can get most of what they want accomplished.
If they’ve got the transmitter stuck to the top of their camera, then they can control the power output and a couple of other parameters via the transmitter. However, if you switch the transmitter to 1/4 and the flash itself is set to 1/128th, you won’t see the change set onto the flash. That is, the commander will always take over unless the flash has been most recently manually set.
When it comes to using the Zoom Li-on, you’ll realize that the flash is extremely capable and will deliver very beautiful light in the right situations. For much of our testing, we put it in a beauty dish but otherwise we bounced it off of walls and also put it in softboxes.
When it comes to hot shoe flashes, you can’t really expect a lot in regards to color consistency especially as the battery life begins to dwindle, but we were thoroughly impressed by how good it is. In fact, we like it enough to recommend it to most photographers that need an ultra light and ultra portable solution to location work while using only one light.
No, really; the color consistency is that good.
The light from this flash is incredibly punchy and reminds us of Nissin light; which to us has to be the punchiest of them all. You’ll get lots of specular highlights to go along with your already very sharp lenses. But what we couldn’t get is the 1/20,000 flash duration; to be fair we didn’t test it with something like Triggertrap’s Flash Adapter. Even at very low power, we couldn’t find a way to get the flash to that setting. In many cases, a fast flash duration can kill lots of ambient light, but don’t expect monolight type of ambient killing.
As with many other flashes, we’d recommend shooting with it during overcast days to get the best effect.
– Powerful and portable
– Simple to use transmitter
– New type of battery
– Really nothing to hate here.
The Adorama Flashpoint Zoom Li-on is an overall great flash and for the price point, you really can’t go wrong. You’ve got radio control, lots of power, and versatility in a small package. We recommend it for both pros and beginners. In fact, it could be the flash system that you stay with for a very long time in your photography career.
But to be fair, we wish that Adorama and Flashpoint did a bit more to push the innovation lines with flashes like this. Sure, it’s got TTL versions for other systems, but true high speed sync in manual flashes would be very nice.
We award the Adorama Flashpoint Zoom Li-on four out of five stars. Want one? Check out Adorama’s listings for more.