Review: Fujifilm EF-X500 Flash (Fujifilm X Series)

The Fujifilm EF-X500 flash may be an option for photographers who want and need to use a flash when documenting and doing photojournalistic work; but it absolutely baffles me that a camera company with a fantastic medium format camera system hasn’t started to work with some sort of third party lighting manufacturer like Profoto to get some sort of integration into their system. To be fair, this isn’t Fujifilm alone. Canon’s radio system is crippled. Nikon’s isn’t what it used to be. Sony’s flash system is laughable. Olympus and Panasonic have never had such a great option. Pentax? Don’t even get me started.

But Fujifilm–a company with such a decorated history and an entry in the medium format camera system, doesn’t have a solid flash system. The Fujifilm EF-X500 is the company’s answer and attempt at this market but in many ways the company failed out of the gate. But in other ways, they’re not doing such a terrible job and I’m just being extra critical and venting via my own blog.

Continue reading…

Review: Interfit Honey Badger Monolight (NSFW)

off-camera lighting

Today, Interfit is announcing their new Interfit Honey Badger Monolight that is designed to function as an affordable option for someone that needs both a monolight and a constant light. In fact, we’re talking about a $299 price point with a softbox included. Now, the Interfit Honey Badger doesn’t have a built in battery–which would put it over the top. But if you’re right by a power source it shouldn’t be that difficult to work with. Instead, the Interfit Honey Badger will appeal most to the photographers who work in a given studio location that doesn’t really change vs those who do location work. To add extra value to the Interfit Honey Badger the light can be controlled with their transmitter wirelessly and also act as a constant light. It doesn’t offer TTL output and only has a flash duration of 1/900th; but if you’re shooting in a studio then you’re doing everything you can to control the light output as it is.

So let’s dive into this review.

Continue reading…

Review: FlashQ Q20 Miniature Flash/LED Light

The FlashQ Q20 is a response to the need for small, simple to use flashes that also do double duty as LED lights. For today’s creative content creator, it’s a dream–but the implementation of the FlashQ Q20 is something far more likely to be in the hands of an amateur or photographer getting started than an actual working photog. To be fair, it doesn’t seem like it was designed to take on the likes of Adorama’s Flashpoint, B&H Photo’s Impact, Godox, Yongnuo, etc. Instead, the FlashQ Q20 sort of fills a totally different niche. Though it’s marketed as being versatile and easy to use, my independent analysis believes the opposite to actually be true–to a point.

Continue reading…

Review: Westcott Flex Bi-Color Mat

There has been a growing trend in photography leaning more towards working with constant lighting vs strobe; and the Westcott Flex Bi-Color mat seems to really cater to that thought process. I mean, just look at lots of the photography out there and how much it’s involving the use of neon lighting with a portrait subject these days. There’s sure a look there that isn’t very easy to do with strobe. Though for what it’s worth, the Flex Bi-Color isn’t really designed to deliver “that” look. Instead, think of it as a giant Rogue Flashbender with LED Lights built in, a very solid frame, and a very simple control interface.

Then consider that the light temperature works in the same way that color temperature works with none of the tinting abilities and absolutely no reasonable way to gel the light.

Continue reading…

Review: Pictools Folding Beauty Dish (47.25 inches)

There’s been a trend in beauty dish creation over the past few years that the Pictools Folding beauty dish really adheres to: good quality while being easy to put together and use. To boot, the beauty dish is also fairly compact when fully collapsed. It goes into its own bag and can be assembled fairly quickly if you’re just a bit patient with some of its oddities.

What you’ll be rewarded with is a pretty awesome beauty dish that I personally feel works better as an octabank; and quite a sturdy one too!

Continue reading…

Review: Sony FA-WRC1M Wireless Radio Commander and Receiver

When I was being briefed on the Sony FA-WRC1M Wireless Radio Commander for flashes before announcement, I couldn’t at all contain my glee. It meant a whole lot to me. It meant that Sony was going to take wireless flash control, strobists, and higher end photographers more seriously. They’re also only the second company to do so–following in the footsteps of Canon in a way. The flash commander also works as a camera remote. That part I didn’t totally understand but know that a whole lot of other units out there do the same thing. When I was working at B&H Photo, their Vello house brand did the same thing.

Overall, it seemed pretty positive. Seemed…

Continue reading…

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.

Continue reading…

Review: Interfit 65″ White Parabolic Umbrella

Umbrellas are by far my favorite lighting modifiers due to the variety of looks they can deliver–and the latest from Interfit is surely no exception to the rule. Their 65″ Parabolic White Umbrella is great for working with portrait subjects but it’s also quite solid when it comes to build quality and overall versatility. Of course, this isn’t a true adjustable parabolic but it can deliver that look. This just makes sense though as Interfit has been trying to take higher end concepts and make them more affordable to the semi-professional photographer for a while. So in truth, I wasn’t sure what to expect but what I got was quite a surprise.

Continue reading…

Review: ExpoImaging Rogue FlashBender 2 XL Pro Super Soft Silver Reflector

off-camera flash

These days, I’m generally not the type of photographer that shoots with a flash in the hot shoe of a camera–and in some ways it seems like the ExpoImaging Rogue Flash Bender XL Pro in Soft Silver wasn’t really designed for this. Photographers have loved the Flash Benders for a very long time due to how they bend light. They’re a staple for wedding and event photographers, but when the Extra Large came, out, they started to break more into the off-camera flash realm.

After teaming up with Frank Doorhof for their creation, the soft silver is designed to work for portraiture. It’s got the best of both worlds: the softening of white reflectors, but the sharpness that only silver reflectors can provide.

Continue reading…

Review: Flashpoint Xplor600 Monolight (Canon TTL)

At this point in the game, if you’ve been trying to figure out which TTL monolight to purchase, then the Adorama Flashpoint Xplor600 monolight isn’t exactly going to make life any easier. In a photography world with options from Profoto, Interfit, and Phottix you’re already quite confused about what to go with. But now you’ve got a very affordable option. The Flashpoint Xplor600 is based off of the Godox system and even uses their transmitters. It’s capable of deliver TTL flash output for Canon, Nikon and Sony cameras. Additionally, it can do things like high speed sync, stroboscopic modes, and offer almost full control over the monolight from the user’s remote.

One thing’s for sure though: f you’re a photographer looking to step up from the standard speedlites, the Xplor600 is an absolute incredible choice.

Continue reading…

Review: Godox Thinklite TT685S TTL (Sony)

The Godox Thinklite TT685S TTL is a flash that I’ve honestly been waiting for for a very long time. While Sony has announced their own radio transmitter and receiver to work with their own flashes, sometimes all you need is a really good an affordable flash and transmitter. Seriously, how do you beat $165 for a flash and a transmitter that both have solid build quality?

But that’s not all that this flash has. It’s got a radio receiver built in, TTL, groups, channels, manual control, multi-stroboscopic flash abilities, and full incorporation with what Sony’s platform offers.

If you’re a strobist, looking for a budget friendly option and the most bang for your buck for your Sony camera with a multi-interface shoe, then you’d honestly be stupid not purchase this–and I say that with complete and total honesty.

Continue reading…

Review: Shanny SN600EX-RF Flash (Canon TTL)

When you think about great third party flash options, what you immediately think about are both Phottix and Yongnuo–but if you haven’t checked out Shanny then you should. They’re not anywhere as popular as the others and providing that everyone and their mother suddenly think that they can grab a factory in China and throw their name on a product, it’s tough to get through all the rest. However, Shanny does a couple of things that in many ways are very true to Canon’s own interface and also much more simplistic for the user.

At the same time though, they’re not perfect–and some things may straight drive you insane when you’re on a shoot.

Continue reading…

Review: Phottix Laso Wireless Flash Triggers (Canon)

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Phottix Laso review images (10 of 18)ISO 4001-160 sec at f - 2.8

Phottix for years now have been known as a company that offers much of what Nikon and Canon do at a more affordable price point and with pretty good build quality. The company built its name starting with the Odin triggers, and from there they expanded to flashes, light modifiers and most recently monolights. But this year, they announced the Phottix Laso triggers: specifically designed to work with Canon brand flashes with Nikon support coming.

These triggers are much different from what the public is used to seeing from Phottix. They look much more high end but share the very simple ease of use that the previous triggers from Phottix did.

Continue reading…

Review: Interfit S1 Monolight (Canon TTL)

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Interfit S1 product images (6 of 10)ISO 2001-30 sec at f - 2.8

When you look at the TTL Monolight market, you’ve got Profoto, Phottix and the latest option is the Interfit S1. Interfit hasn’t been a household name like Profoto, Phottix, Bowens, Elinchrom or Paul C Buff, but with the S1 we get the impression that the company wants to do more with what they have. Interfit is trying to give strobists almost every feature that you can get with Phottix and Profoto, but at a more affordable price in the S1.

Typically, that comes with tradeoffs. As of the publication of this review, those tradeoffs involve reliability issues that Interfit says they’re working on. But the rest seems solid.

Continue reading…

Review: Aperlite YH-700C Flash

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Aperlite YH-700C flash review images (4 of 10)ISO 4001-50 sec at f - 3.2

Aperlite isn’t as well known as Phottix or Yongnuo when it comes to affordable third party flashes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the quality isn’t there. In a world where everyone and their mother is creating a Me Too flash of some sort, getting to the best of the best is tough to do. The Aperlite YH-700C is a flash. Yes, that’s it. It’s an ordinary flash with TTL capabilities with both Canon and Nikon cameras. No radio wireless control, no crazy features at all–just a flash that’s very akin to Canon’s older 580 EX II. That means you’ve got TTL, manual and stroboscopic modes in addition to a tilting and swiveling head.

It isn’t exactly doing anything to push the technology barriers, but for what you’re paying for there isn’t a whole lot to complain about.

Continue reading…

Review: Samsung ED-SEF580 Flash

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung GN58 Flash review product images (1 of 10)ISO 1001-125 sec at f - 3.2

Samsung has been on a roll for a while with new technology in their lenses and cameras, but we should never forget about the other integral part of a camera system: flash. Not long ago, Samsung introduced the ED-SEF580, a Guide Number 58 flash that is meant to be used in the hot shoe of your camera or used off-camera and triggered via infrared transmission.

With enough of them around, a very excellent flash setup can be arranged–though that can become quite costly. For the most part, they’re very on par with what many other manufacturers offer. In general though, we have to be honest and state that at this point in the technology game, we expect much more from Samsung.

Continue reading…

Review: Adorama Flashpoint Zoom Li-on Flash

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Adorama Flashpoint Zoom Li-on Radio flash review (2 of 9)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 2.8

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.

Continue reading…

Review: Magmod Magsphere Flash Diffuser

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Magmod flash modifier review images magsphere product photos (1 of 8)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 4.0

If a compact flash modifier promised to make the head of your flash 300% larger, what would you do with it? It would surely offer much softer lighting–or at least that’s what the Magmod Magsphere claims. The closest thing that we’ve seen to taking on the Gary Fong Lightsphere Collapsible and offering a nice output came from a recent Kickstarter. The Magmod system isn’t totally revolutionary, but it is surely quite smart.

In fact, it’s so smart that it may change the way that light modifiers are attached to flashes in the future.

Trust us, Gary Fong is going to want to look very closely at this one.

Continue reading…

First Impressions: Profoto B2 Monolights

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Today, Profoto is announcing their brand new B2 monolights–a compact set that in some ways bridges the gap between speedlights and monolights. Incorporating full TTL control if the photographer wishes, the lights are very traditional heads with all battery power and control coming from the battery pack. This pack can easily mount onto your shoulder, over your chest, or even on the ground as the heads can go a fair distance away onto a light stand or even by using a flash bracket that can mount onto your camera–if you’re that type of photographer.

At 280 watt seconds of power, the B2 lights offer more output than your standard hot shoe flash but less than most monolights. In fact, we’re partial to calling them the perfect in-between solution.

Continue reading…

Review: Godox Witstro AR400 Ring Flash

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Years ago when I was still finding my way with shooting portraits, I loved working with ring flashes. They delivered lots of punch, gave off a beautiful catch light in the eyes, and it would later on become part of a look that was highly valued by the fashion world. Fast forward, and ring flashes are still popular–and the Terry Richardson look still hasn’t gone away. That doesn’t mean that ring flashes can only do that type of work, in fact they can do quite a bit more.

Recently, Godox came out with the Witstro AR400 ring flash–a compact solution and alternative to many of the more expensive offerings out there. While it’s very capable, it has a few drawbacks.

Continue reading…

Review: Phottix Indra 500 TTL

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Phottix Indra 500 TTL product images review (8 of 8)ISO 4001-40 sec at f - 3.5

This is the review that almost didn’t happen; and we have pretty much no one else to blame but ourselves.

The Phottix Indra 500 TTL was announced back during Photokina 2014, and we got our test unit back in December. Phottix’s reputation is associated with delivering products that are affordable, reliable, well built, simplistic, and effective. And when the company stated that the monolight included TTL capabilities with both Canon and Nikon cameras in one monolight plus lots of creative controls offered with other lights, it seemed like an immediate win-win situation.

Then the unit came in: and what I didn’t know at the time was that my 5D Mk II was slowly on its last legs. Additionally, we didn’t know that the first version of the Odin trigger (used the transmit and control the light) didn’t work so swimmingly. Instead, we switched to the Canon Rebel SL1 and the Canon 6D–additionally we used the Odin version 1.5. When these switches were made, we had pretty much no problems; which a high emphasis on pretty much.

We played with the Phottix Indra back around Photo Plus 2014, and found it to be a great deal. In a single package you get a light that is both AC and DC capable, has TTL transmission for both Nikon and Canon (with the possibility of Sony coming), manual light control, stroboscopic mode, an adjustable modelling light, ports for other transmitters like PocketWizards, and a well built body.

Despite how incredible the Phottix Indra 500 TTL is, it’s still not the perfect monolight–but it’s possibly the closest thing to it on the market.

Continue reading…