Review: Impact Venture VE-TTL (Sony Version)

In the past few years, Sony has been receiving more and more third party support in terms of flash support–Godox, Flashpoint, Phottix, Profoto and others have started supporting the system and the new Impact Venture VE-TTL monolight is one of the latest offerings to offer TTL support with Sony’s flash system. Designed for professional photographers and semi-professionals, this flash system offers lots of power in one of the smallest packages I’ve ever seen. With 600 watt seconds of output, it’s incredibly capable and designed amazingly well.

Impact is a B&H Photo house brand and they’ve had products of varying degrees over the past few years. The LiteTrek and the original Powersyncs are some of the best. I saw this light at their offices a while back, and quite honestly became very excited and intrigued.

And as a Sony shooter that emphasizes the use of a minimal kit but the right lights to deliver my creative vision, I’m thoroughly impressed by the light.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • TTL output for Sony
  • Pretty simple remote to use
  • Comes in a carrying case
  • Small size
  • Fits into a backpack with ease and still leaves loads of room for other things
  • Amazingly durable and works even in the rain.

Cons

  • Power adjustment in 1/10ths of stops would be really nice.
  • Automatic transition to HSS isn’t possible the way it is with Godox offerings.

Gear Used

The Impact Venture VE-TTL was tested with the Sony 35mm f2.8 FE, Lensbaby 58mm Velvet, and the Zeiss Biotar 58mm f2 lens. Modifiers were an Impact beauty dish, the umbrella reflector and an Interfit large white interior umbrella.

Tech Specs

Specs taken from our initial post.

  • Powerful 600 Ws battery-powered monolight
  • Amazingly compact at only 8.9 inches long and 4.1 inches in diameter
  • Battery endurance of 500 full-power flashes per charge
  • TTL support for Sony, Canon, and Nikon
  • Two flash modes: Quick (1.2-second recycle) and Power (3-second recycle)
  • Digital Color Correction Circuit (DCCC) for stabilizing color temperature throughout the power ranges of both operating modes
  • Supports TTL, HSS, and Second Curtain Sync when used with the Venture TTL Wireless Controller
  • Flash duration from 1/19,500 to 1/455 second
  • Adjustable 1500 lm (15 W) LED modeling lamp with four-option menu
  • Advanced IGBT circuitry enables fast switching at high power

Ergonomics

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When you look at the Impact Venture light, you see something that is quite honestly much smaller than what you see in the photo here. The Umbrella reflector makes it look a lot larger than it really is. But overall, what you also see is an emphasis on simplicty that you’d only otherwise see from Interfit and Profoto. Phottix is a bit more complicated if you’re a beginner and something from Paul C Buff is bound to make you scratch your head at first.

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One of the first things that you’ll notice is the battery port. It’s pretty large and when connected doesn’t exactly fit as seamless as Interfit and Profoto’s offerings do.

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Near the bottom, you’ll find the on/off switch. Near that you’re going to spot the interchangeable grip. You can set it up to be attached to a light stand or set it up to be a grip that an assistant holds onto.

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Here’s the business end of the light. It includes a frosted dome that offers protections and helps with color temperatures.

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The rear of the Venture light has very basic controls. In all honesty, it’s designed to be used with the transmitter more than anything else.

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To that end, you’ll find loads of controls on the transmitter. Changing the settings here is pretty simple and I’d honestly never recommend using the light without the transmitter unless you were connected via a PC cable and wanted to control the light manually using the dials and settings accordingly.

In that way, it’s versatile for everyone else. I’d totally use this with my medium format film cameras without TTL.

Build Quality

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I didn’t drop the light at all like I did with a Phottix offering a while back. But the light is built pretty well. I took it out into the rain to shoot at one point. Thinking that the rain was causing it to not work, I later found that it was my own user error not setting the right channel for the transmitter and light to communicate.

Granted, the light isn’t billed as being weather sealed, so just be careful.

Ease of Use

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Of any of the modern transmitters that I’ve used, the Impact Venture has the easiest to use. Godox’s are pretty simple, Shanny’s are okay, and Phottix’s are pretty awesome. But they can’t compare here. The layout isn’t intimidating and just makes sense overall. You’ll just need to pay attention to and carefully read the screen.

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Of course, that’s easier to say than reading the back of the monolight itself. Operating the light from here is better overall if you’re just controlling the power output. But otherwise, I really recommend working with the transmitter more than anything else.

With all that praise though, I couldn’t figure out how to make high speed sync work during my testing period.

Image Quality

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I always get very excited by light reviews because they’re typically used amongst the most creative, liberal and experimental of photographers. Sure, a lens and camera can do a lot–but when you start creating your own light you add another layer of creativity to a scene when you use strobe as a creative tool vs illumination.

With that said, the light is perfectly capable of balancing with your camera in the “Flash” white balance mode. But where things get even more interesting is when you work with it in Daylight, Tungsten, and Fluorescent modes. Obviously, that can be said for any light because they’re all balanced to daylight, but the effects and unique look that this one can deliver is really cool.

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A lot of my new and experimental looks involve working with crazy colors, ambient light mixtures, weird white balances, and creating overall just cool scenes. Amanda for example in this series dressed like 11 from Stranger Things. So I decided that I’d have her toss an Eggo waffle into the air to test the motion stopping abilities. Obviously, it passed when shooting down to 1/30th of a second at times.

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When paired with a small beauty dish, it can even take on the appearance of a window light in the scene. That’s just how great the TTL is with this light. What helps at times is the modeling light which in my experience only stayed on for a short amount of time but is adjustable overall. After a while the light comes off by itself. This is where you may want to go for Profoto instead.

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In terms of image quality and TTL output, it meters perfectly with anything that I expect to work with Sony and also right on par with the Godox system. But I’m a photographer that mostly works in manual mode. Overall, it’s really, really good.

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The image above and a few others from this session are done with Lensbaby and Zeiss vintage optics because I enjoy the look of them vs the high contrast modern glass at times. Combine this with the ability to work with TTL when I want or to easily switch to manual flash output at will and I’m really, really happy overall.

To be honest though, it’s pretty hard to figure out which light is which unless you were told. So a lot of this also has to do with color consistency.

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For part of this session I worked with Tungsten white balance and the other one I opted for Fluorescent. Each session has perfect color consistency despite the fast pace that Bec and I were shooting at. When I came back to edit the images, I was really quite impressed overall.

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Conclusions

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Do I like this light? You betcha! Not only is it reliable in terms of color consistency, but it can also work in the rain. Plus it’s small, simple to use and comes for the Sony full frame mirrorless camera system. What’s to complain about?

You can find out more about the light on Impact’s website.