I recently changed both the type of lighting equipment I have as well as the brand of the equipment.
Almost all of my shoots are now location based so it made sense to me to sell all of my Elinchrom Monobloc Studio Strobes and invest in a more portable and appropriate solution. This search began some months ago and although I already had an arsenal of speed lights at my disposal the thought of dealing with AA batteries didn’t excite me. That being said speedlights are still extremely versatile, lightweight, portable and compact, and extremely useful in many situations.
About 8 months ago I started using a Godox ES600P portable strobe. Basically it’s a 600ws strobe with a lithium-ion battery pack. It fast became my go-to light for location shoots and has been used relentlessly over the past 8 months. Up until now when I have needed multiple lights it was either speedlights or the Elinchrom Monoblocs with battery inverter packs (or both) that were called into service, but I felt it was time to look for a better solution.
If you have very deep pockets there is no shortage of options. The big brands all offer battery powered strobes. My first choice would have been Broncolor’s Move Pack, but it was way beyond what the budget allowed. Being an Elinchrom user I looked closely at the Ranger Quadra system and the Ranger RX system but both were a compromise given what the financial outlay was going to be. The Quadra’s are lightweight and are rated at 400ws, while the RX’s are much heavier (both the Battery Pack and the Head) but is rated at 1100ws. Entry Price for the Quadra is about $2000 and the RX is about $2500.
I had pretty much decided on the Elinchrom Quadra Ranger system when Godox announced the RS600P. This was an updated version of the ES600P I had been using for months. Same power pack, same power output but with a newly designed head which is much more rugged and built to take much heavier modifiers, plus it also has an LED modelling light. (The modelling light on the ES600P is pretty much useless). At around $600 it was an easy decision.
The Godox Battery gives around 500 full power pops and as I rarely shoot at full power one battery usually gets me through a day of shooting. As with the ES600P, the RS600P head conveniently takes standard Bowens s-mount modifiers, so I simply changed the speed rings on my Elinchrom Rotalux softboxes and Deep Octa’s and they now fit the Godox lights and work perfectly. However, to use my Elinchrom reflectors I have to use and adapter, which is no big deal.
I was so impressed with Godox’s products I looked into what else they had to offer…
The Godox V850 is a speedlight with its own lithium-ion battery (no AA’s) which give about twice the capacity of the Eneloop AA’s I had been using. These speedlights also used the same Godox trigger system as the ES600P and RS600P strobes, allowing for full control of all the lights from the one on camera transmitter. At around $150 each, I bought 4 V850′s (to add to my collection of 8 Yong Nuo YN560II’s). According to specs they put out about the same power as the top end units offered by Canon and Nikon (although I haven’t tested this yet)
A quick side note… for those on a budget and looking for affordable lighting it is worth considering the Yong Nuo speedlights. I have been using these for a number of years now and can’t really fault them. They are super cheap at around $80 and get the job done. Maybe I have been lucky, but I have never had one fail on me.
Now for my favourite Godox product of all… The Godox Wistro AD360/Flashpoint Streaklight 360
The Godox Wistro AD360 is a 360ws bare bulb flash that kind of looks like a large Speedlight (it is also available as a 180ws version). It produces amazing light quality, fills all my softboxes and umbrellas evenly and with ease (and without hotspots), is relatively lightweight and very portable… and to make it even better, it uses the same trigger system as the rest of my Godox lights.
Sure it is a little on the expensive side, but when you consider that a similarly powered Elinchrom Quadra, which is much larger, costs around $2000, the $750 price tag doesn’t seem too bad. More importantly, there is nothing else on the market (that I know of) that comes close to the light quality produced by the Wistro.
It is powered by an external lithium-ion battery pack (Godox PB960) which gives about 500 full power pops. Godox also sell Canon, Nikon and Sony cables for the PB960 so you can also power your speedlights. I have run two Yong Nuo YN560II’s off the one PB960 battery pack and I estimate I got around 1000 full power pops with recycle times of around 1 second.
The Godox trigger system is able to control pretty much an unlimited number of lights in up to 16 groups. You can control the power of the lights in each of the group’s and switch the lights off and on (and for those with modelling lights also turn it off and on). The on camera transmitter may not win any beauty contests but is functional and so far has performed flawlessly. The only batteries required are two AA’s for the on camera transmitter. The receivers are powered by the lights they are attached to.
Another Godox product that I have found to be extremely useful is their S-type speedlight bracket. These funky looking clamps turn any speedlight including the Wistro into a Bowens mount light.
So, if you are on a budget or just want some great lighting gear, its definitely worth having a look at what Godox has on offer. They also have a large range of studio lighting and modifiers. I have recommended these to a number of photogs and all of them have been blown away by both the value for money and performance. Unless you have very specific requirements, such as ultra short flash durations, or are shooting moving objects and require a high “frame rate”, I believe the Godox lights offer more bang for buck than anything else currently on the market.