I may have found a new obsession. Good. I need something to keep me off of my news feed. What now? Flashes.
Or more specifically a flash. The Godox V1/Flashpoint Zoom Li-on X R2. Same flash. Two names again like Rokinon/Samyang. Godox is the original and Adorama sells the same products under their own Flashpoint brand. Why? No idea. But Flashpoint usually has better sale prices so I am all about it. They need to work on the names though. V1 rolls off the tongue much better than Zoom Li-on X R2. More on the pricing below.
So how did I get to the title of this post?
I liked Godox flashes so much that I wrote a KEH review for them. Before getting on to the Godox V1/Flashpoint Zoom Li-on X R2 here are the high points of why I like the system so much.
- TTL. And it works. I took the time to learn manual flash and I am glad I did. But I am now perfectly happy to use TTL. Take a few test shots, adjust the exposure compensation if need be, and have at it.
- Flashes are triggers as well.
- Universal. Any trigger or flash as trigger will remotely fire any of the flashes TTL regardless of the TTL flash system. This is huge. Not only do I find manufacturer flash systems to be priced out of my range, they can only be used for one system. Many, including myself, do not shoot just one system or switch systems now and then. The fact that remote firing all flashes is available by just purchasing one single trigger or flash is fantastic.
- Value. All of these flashes are phenomenal. The TT350 flashes/triggers have been rock solid and cost only $79. An AD200 runs a little over $200 and comes with a flash head and a bare bulb and a battery that lasted for an entire evening shoot without issue. This is a great lead in.
Why the Godox V1/Flashpoint Zoom Li-on X R2?
Had read great things about the Profoto A10, but it costs significantly more than I am willing to spend at $1,095.00. Then I read that the Godox V1/Flashpoint Zoom Li-on X R2 had a very similar feature set. So much so that reviews like this go from praising the A10 to recommending the Godox/Flashpoint units by the end. Why? The Godox V1/Flashpoint Zoom Li-on X R2 goes for $259. If you can catch them on sale, like I did recently, the Flashpoint variant can cost as little as $140 (Thank you Anthony for the tip.). But even at the original price they are a great value. I was happy with the TT350 flashes but upon closer consideration I found there were some significant advantages.
- More powerful.
- Round head casts a more pleasing light pattern.
- Has improved ergonomics, controls, and a larger back screen that makes for a much better experience as a flash remote.
- Has a modeling light which is great for acquiring focus in dark environments or as an ad hoc constant light in a pinch.
- Improved recovery time between flashes.
- Has a great set of magnetic modifiers like a dome and card reflector.
But this last bullet below is what actually sold me.
- Long lasting rechargeable battery.
Packing and keeping extra AA batteries for the TT350 flashes was their one downfall. Slight in theory, but I had to make sure that all batteries were topped off before a shoot and I had to change batteries mid shoot more than once. Not a huge inconvenience but one less thing to have to worry about. Multiple reviews report that these flashes have phenomenal battery life and will easily get through multiple shoots rather than one.
Picking up Sony units was a no brainer. Quickly found that the flashes were far better than I had expected. It was everything I liked about the TT350 flashes raised to another level. As I have found with past flash systems and the TT350 flashes bounce flash can be very effective. But the between the additional power and also likely owing to the light pattern these flashes throw out a lot of pleasing light while not being harsh. The light provided looks very natural. Combine this with a modeling to aid in acquiring focus I was able to focus and fill a completely dark room to the point that you would never know there was no light. I expected good results with remote flash but on camera performance far exceeded my expectations. Bonus.
Now on to the main topic of this post.
When a flash costs more than your camera and lens.
Then I had a thought. At this sale price why not top off the better than it has any business being “Revisiting Old Gear” Olympus set up also. Not only would it do a fine job on camera this would also allow me to use this flash to fire the rest via TTL. A win win. Then I got it and what followed was a brief camera gear existential crisis.
Ok, that is a bit dramatic but let me explain.
Fine. Not completely surprising. As stated in the lens review linked above this inexpensive lens is far better than it has any business being. And while the camera cost less than the flash on sale now it did win multiple camera of the year awards. A good shot. Then I quickly reviewed the shot above back of camera and zoomed in and thought that can’t be right. It cannot be that sharp. Then I reviewed the photo on my computer later.
What in the actual heck?
Ok, one shot? A fluke. Nope. Went on to another shot. This time same lens with the little more than $200 once legend OM-D E-M1 with the same 40-150mm lens and…
Then the crop…
Then had one of those brief, “What am I doing buying all this newer gear?” moments. Sell everything! <ahem>
Then I caught myself and calmed down.
This is a simple function of “light > gear spec” under certain conditions. No surprise. That is photography 101. But…
The world is not always made up of:
- IBIS having cameras aiding in sharpness.
- Docile subjects willing to sit still as you dawdle about them with a camera.
- A subject distant enough to easily frame with a functional 300mm full frame equivalent lens.
- The mother of all reflectors in the form of a flat white ceiling off of which to bounce your flash.
- Situations that allow for all of these elements to come together.
Ok. So I am keeping the other gear. Of course. But this is still quite an impressive results from:
- 16MP micro four thirds sensors.
- Eight year old camera focus tech.
- Cameras that cost less used than the regular price of the flash.
- A small, lightweight lens that can be purchased for around $80 used and $90 brand new.
Cool. Now two things need to happen.
- All in costing less than near any portrait lens I know of I need to take some follow up portraits of actual people with this lens and flash set up.
- Team this inexpensive 40-150mm lens and the also better than it has any business being power zoom 14-42mm with a camera each and add them to my “That’ll do” camera and lens combo post series.
That is all for now. Happy shooting.