Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Battery Powered Monolights
With a combination of portability, power, versatility and the ability to be used away from an AC outlet, battery-powered monolights are gaining an increasing following among professional photographers
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Bowens Gemini 400Rx
Bowens offers six Gemini monolights, from 400 to 1,500 W-s, which can be powered by AC or the Bowens Travelpak. The Gemini 400Rx has a built-in Pulsar radio receiver; the others have a slot for a Pulsar receiver card. The units are ruggedly built, and have either a 5- or 7-stop range and bright modeling lights starting at 250 watts. The 500R features a digital readout with two dials for quick independent control over full stops and tenths of a stop. The Pro models also incorporate a cooling fan, and faster recycle and flash duration. The Travelpak comes in Small and Large versions. Both provide 400 to 1,500 W-s output and recycling in 4 to 15 seconds; the Small provides 50 to 185 full-power pops per charge; the Large, 100 to 370. Each can power up to two Gemini heads.
Dynalite's Uni400JRg monolight can be powered by AC or with the compact Dynalite Jackrabbit II battery. With the Jackrabbit II battery, the Uni400JRg can deliver up to 150 full-power (320 W-s) flashes with a 4-second recycling time. It can also be plugged directly into AC power, with 1.4-second recycling and 400 W-s output. You can adjust power from full to 1/8 in 1/3-stop increments. Dynalite also offers the XP800 pure sine wave inverter with three AC power outlets for flash heads and three USB ports for electronic devices.
Photogenic's compact Studiomax III AKC-160B (160 W-s), AKC-320B (320 W-s) and AKC-320BR (320 W-s, with built-in radio remote receiver) can operate on AC or battery with the optional AKB-1 battery pack, which provides up to 150 full-power flashes per charge.
The Flashpoint 180 Battery Powered Monolight uses two NP-F960 batteries to provide up to 700 full-power (180 W-s) flashes per charge. The under-$200 kit includes the monolight, reflector, small umbrella, two batteries and charger, cords and carrying bag. The Flashpoint M-series monolights can be powered by AC or DC (battery), and the Flashpoint 320M, 620M and 1220M (150, 300 and 600 W-s, respectively) feature low-cost, proportional modeling lights, built-in slaves and fan cooling. The DG400 (200 W-s) and DG600 (300 W-s) have cool LED modeling lights and digital readouts.
JTL's Mobilight DC-600 (600 W-s) and DC-1000 (1000 W-s) monolights operate off a proprietary rechargeable battery, providing up to 500 full-power flashes with the DC-600 and up to 260 with the DC-1000. Both have a built-in photo slave and 360° universal radio receiver for wireless remote control.
The dramatic rise in the number of photographers who are also engaged in motion capture has created a lot of interest in continuous lights for still and motion. Continuous units let you see the actual lighting (electronic flash units' modeling lamps just give an approximation), but they don't have the action-stopping ability of a flash or strobe. Most reasonable portable continuous lights are less powerful than strobe monolights, and incandescent continuous lights are hot (LED and fluorescent lights are much cooler and more energy-efficient). Some photographers prefer continuous lights for their ability to create a feeling of warmth in an image. This is highly subjective, but strobes have always been characterized as creating a sterile look, and as continuous lights have become more portable, powerful and cost-effective, they're certainly worth a look.