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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hi-Tech Studio: Strobe Packs

These workhorse capacitors are the mainstays of studio still photography

Broncolor Senso A4

In DPP, we’ve reported on the trend to smaller and lighter-weight lighting gear that works well for professionals who are constantly having to be on the move.
DSLRs can shoot clean images at high ISOs, and portable flashes and monolights have more power than ever. Also, the array of modifiers being made for smaller lighting gear has increased considerably. All of this has reduced the reliability on big, heavy power packs for many shoots. There are some situations, however, when you simply need the inherent output and control of a power pack and its high-output light heads.

Photoflex OctoDome
Units with 2400 watt-seconds and greater output give you a lot of options on the set. Useful features in these models are the ability to control the various heads asymmetrically, 1⁄10-stop output control, and color-temperature consistency across the power spectrum and from pop to pop. There are higher-power units available, but their expense makes them more popular for rental instead of purchase. Following is a selection of strobe power packs to have when smaller flashes and monolights aren’t enough.

Broncolor Senso A4
Broncolor is one of the most respected producers of lighting equipment. Its Senso A4 was introduced at Photokina 2010, and it has become a popular model, thanks to its combination of price and performance. Putting out 2400 watt-seconds of power, the Senso A4 gives fast recycle times of 0.4 to 2.8 seconds, and its three outlets can be set for symmetrical or asymmetrical output. A built-in radio receiver is a helpful feature, and you can adjust the light in 1⁄10-stop increments. Color temperature stays consistent across the full power range. Contact: www.broncolor.com.

Bowens QUADX 3000
Bowens QUADX 3000
Using an advanced and efficient charging system, the Bowens QUADX 3000 gives you fast recharge times and 3000 watt-seconds of output. The unit is adjustable in 1⁄10-stop increments, with a total adjustable range of 7.6 stops. The QUADX generates consistent and accurate 5,800K color temperature, +/-2%. There are four outlets that can be used asymmetrically or symmetrically, and once you have your ratios set, you can dial the power up or down while maintaining those ratios. Contact: www.bowenusa.com.

Speedotron 2403cx LV
Speedotron 2403cx LV
With a reputation for building packs that can withstand abuse, Speedotron Black Line units have been popular with pros for decades. The Speedotron 2403cx LV gives you 2400 watt-seconds of power and six outlets for your heads. The 2403cx LV has what Speedotron calls true output rationing and variable dial-down power control. When you utilize these features in combination with the six outlets, there are 53 possible settings, and because power can be dialed up or down in 1⁄10-stop increments, you actually have 530 total power settings. Recycle time is 2 seconds. Contact: www.speedotron.com.

Profoto Pro-8a Air; Elinchrom Digital RX
Profoto Pro-8a 2400 Air
Profoto refers to its power packs as flash generators, and the company enjoys a well-earned, loyal, global following due to its reputation for making reliable, accurate and powerful products. The Profoto Pro-8a 2400 Air is the company’s flagship generator. It has a 10-stop power range, 1⁄10-stop increment power settings, 1⁄50-stop precision across all power settings and color stability of +/-40K over the entire power range. Recycle time is very fast, from 0.05 to 0.9 seconds. Profoto touts its generators as being particularly well suited for digital capture due to the precision of flash duration, color temperature and precision output. Contact: www.profoto.com.

Elinchrom Digital RX 2400
The Digital RX 2400 comes from Swiss manufacturer Elinchrom. The unit has a unique computer interface to allow you to control the settings via your Mac or Windows computer. Recycle time is 1.9 seconds, and the Digital RX 2400 gives you up to 6 stops of adjustment. There are two outlets, and in addition to the optical slave, there’s a built-in EL-Skyport Radio Slave to trigger the pack when it’s out of line of sight from the camera or other flash units. Contact: www.broncolor.com.


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