Pros and Cons
- Versatile offerings
- Slave mode that works well
- The most clever implementation of gels I’ve ever seen
- You can’t really put it in a light modifier
- Lacking power
- Pretty terrible battery life
- Radios can be tough to pair at times
- Slave mode drains the batteries
- Using the LED lamp as a modeling light and the flash at once really drains the batteries
- Slow flash duration
- Getting it to work correctly with the Fujifilm hot shoe is pretty difficult for some odd reason
We tested the FlashQ Q20 with the Fujifilm X Pro 1, Fujifilm X Pro 2, Sony a7, and the Canon 6D.
Tech specs for the FlashQ Q20 are taken from their website.
- Guide Number 20 (at ISO 100)
- Focal length coverage: 32mm (on 35mm format)
- Manual flash power ratio control (7 steps adjustable, 1/64 to 1/1)
- LED video light (7 steps adjustable, Max. 60 lux output at 1m)
- 2.4GHz low-power digital radio (FlashQ Receiver) inside Q20 main body
- 10 meters wireless operating range
- Tilt-capable flash head, up to 90° and with click-stops at 0°, 45°, 60°, 75°, 90°
- Other functions: S1 / S2 optical slave, modeling light (LED)
- Two AA-size alkaline / Ni-MH batteries power source
- Recycling time (1/1 full power output) : 7 sec. by fresh alkaline batteries / 6 sec. by Ni-MH batteries
- Number of flashes : 100 – 2000 flashes by fresh alkaline batteries
- LED lighting time: approx. 1 hour (at full power LED output and by Ni-MH batteries)
- Flash color temperature : 5600K±200K (same as daylight)
- LED color temperature : 5500K±300K
- Dedicated socket for FlashQ transmitter attachment
- Dimensions : 59(W) x 99(H) x 29(D) mm (with FlashQ transmitter attached)
- Weight : 115g (without battery)
Take a hard drive, put buttons on it, then a flash, and put in a big LED light and you’ll honestly have what the FlashQ Q20 feels and looks like. But before we dive into the flash, I want to bring your attention not only to Gordon’s Laing’s book, but also these radio transmitters. They attach to the hot shoe of your camera and have two buttons on them. To turn them on you hold one down until the light goes green. It should be just that simple but the problem is that the transmitters tend to turn themselves off after a while instead of letting you do that yourself.
And because there are only two buttons, it means that you don’t have the option of really choosing the radio channels with ease.
These are the most frustrating things about the FlashQ Q20 and it’s use.
But now let’s get into the actual flash unit. It’s fairly simple. On the bottom you can choose to connect one of these transmitters via a locking system but the flash itself has radio built in. You can also connect the flash itself to a camera’s hot shoe using these transmitters.
Turn to the back of the FlashQ Q20 and what you’ll spot are these buttons. You can control a whole lot here from the flash power output, the LED power output, the type of slave mode that the flash uses, the on/off power capabilities, etc.
The FlashQ Q20 isn’t built too shabbily at all. During my test period I brought them with me on two press trips and loved just how compact they are. With that compact size though, you’d think there would be compromises but when it comes to the overall build, there aren’t any.
The FlashQ Q20 even received a bit of roughing around by me and the TSA. Amazingly enough, they cared much less about the radio flash transmitter vs the cameras.
Ease of Use
So when the FlashQ Q20 is activated in LED light mode, you’ll first off need to go over to the flash and ensure it’s in that mode. After that, you can adjust the power using the buttons on the transmitter. That’s a pain.
As nice as the LED light is, I would’ve love to have been able to place the FlashQ Q20’s absolutely fantastic gels onto the light. Unfortunately, you can’t.
The flash on the FlashQ Q20 can be angled upward but that’s about it as far as versatility goes. Don’t expect the cobra head and the capabilities of many other flashes.
Here’s the flash using its slave mode. The FlashQ Q20’s sensor is on the front of the flash and isn’t that sensitive. So if you’re using another flash in conjunction with it, the sensor REALLY needs to face the flash output.
Inside of this flash output mouth, you can slip little gels inside that come with the FlashQ Q20. They’re ingenious. Each of them has little plastic protectors. In fact, if FlashQ simply just sold these gels for other flashes, I’d buy them with ease.
Since the FlashQ Q20 is pretty weak, what I tended to do is use it as a secondary light and shoot it through a bottle or something. That’s how I got the flare effect in lots of these photos.
The FlashQ Q20 is an extremely interesting entry into an already pretty crazy flash market. But I’ve got a lot of things holding me back about it. It’s ease of use isn’t really that high due mostly to how the transmitters work. But then ensuring they pair with the flash itself can also be pretty tough. On top of that, you can only really use it directly facing your subject as it is too weak to really bounce the output off of walls or ceilings and it is way too small to put into light modifiers.
Additionally, it’s all manual–and for most strobists that won’t be a problem. But the FlashQ Q20 could have easily won our Editor’s Choice award with a much better transmitter with enhanced controls, more power, a slightly larger size, and better reliability. But in my tests, I found it dying too fast and randomly unreliable because of one reason or another.
For that reason, I need to rate the FlashQ Q20 at two out of five stars. However, I genuinely believe that this is a generation 0.5 product and with improvements could easily wipe the floor with so many others.