8.16.2017

I bought a new light for my location kit. I thought you'd want to know about it.

Neewer Vision Four with Radio Trigger. $279.

In the distant past I owned two different flash systems that were designed from the ground up to be used on location and powered by batteries. Both were pack and head systems and both were cumbersome but very useful. I owned the Profoto B600 power pack and head as well as the Elinchrom Rangers RX AS power pack and two heads. Both were older tech. They used sealed lead acid batteries for power and as you can imagine they were both heavy. The Profoto was 600 watt seconds and a nice little system but the batteries only provided between 80 and 120 full power flashes, depending on the ambient temperatures. I had to carry a bunch of heavy and expensive batteries with me to get through a day of shooting. Recharging the batteries took five hours and each replacement battery was about $250 plus shipping. The current Profoto system, with newer battery tech, is well over $2,000.

The second light was my super heavy duty system from Elinchrom. The Ranger RX AS pack and head could belt out 1100 watt seconds at full power and a single (very heavy) battery could pump out about 250 full power flashes before it needed recharged or swapped out for the second ten pound ballast I hauled around as a back up. The pack with battery weighed in at 18+ pounds and, yes, I've carried the system over rough terrain for miles, at times. Not a pleasant way to roll. 

As styles changed and the jobs that required massive amounts of battery fueled flash power declined I sold both of the units and was happy to
see them go. For the last six months or so I've been doing a good job replacing them with smaller, cheaper and handier flashes from companies like Godox and Newer. But recently I started finding myself back in situations where 200 watt seconds of power on location was just a little light so I started looking at new, battery powered flash options. I knew I didn't need to spend a fortune for a European replacement because I'm not a heavy duty user. The rationale for buying "top of the head" gear is that it is generally  built like a tank and will stand up to heavy, daily use and abuse. My outdoor assignments these days are more along the lines of single portraits done with lights in soft boxes, and occasional bouts of broad fill light.

I started looking with earnest at the Godox AD600 flashes. These are mono-light configured flashes that are battery powered. The batteries are lightweight lithium ion units and, in conjunction with the AD600 system, yield 600 watt seconds of flash pop at full power. They seem popular and I may yet buy one myself, but in my searching on Amazon.com I kept coming across the light I'm profiling here. It's one stop less powerful, and about half the price of the AD600, but has many of the features I was interested in. 

The flash is marketed by Neewer which is one of a  big handful of marketers of lighting equipment made in China. The unit I'm talking about here is the Neewer Vision Four flash. Here are the cogent specs and features: The unit weighs four pounds and comes with a Bowens S seven inch reflector with a cut out for umbrellas, a diffuser sock for the reflector and also a small remote radio trigger. The package even includes a traditional, wired sync cord!

The Vision Four is self contained. It has a nicely integrated lithium ion battery that is able to supply enough power to fire 700 full power flashes. That would be 700 flashes at 300 watt seconds per flash. Those are the basic specs but don't think that you can pop all 700 full power flashes in a row at their fastest recycling time. There is no fan and I'm certain that, like camera strobes, heat build up will cause the flash to turn off long before you achieve those numbers. This is a unit that needs to be used like a normal flash. Ten or twenty shot bursts with a bit of time in between...

The flash includes a modeling light. It's a 13 watt, daylight balanced LED light and it's perfectly fine for showing you the direction and quality of light for most set ups. It's less effective once you are set up and shooting. Especially for something like a studio portrait. 

Here's the reason why: To conserve battery power the LED modeling light is designed to only stay on for a short amount of time. The duration can be set in a menu but 30 seconds is the longest option and there is no option to have it keep burning continuously. This hardly matters for many of the uses people will put the flash to. Modeling lights are mostly useless in full sun and bright daylight. But in low light situations a strong, continuous modeling light is a big help for the auto focus in cameras. It's also nice to see a reasonably close approximation of what the flash will do when triggered. If you need continuous modeling lights then this flash is not for you. Unless you want to reach over every thirty seconds and actuate the modeling light button....

The flash unit also features an option for variable delays so it can be used as a slaved unit with on-camera flash units that send out multiple pre-flashes. I can't imagine I would use it in this way but people who depend on TTL, on camera flashes might find the extra control in a powerful, slaved unit useful. 

Another feature is a multi-flash function. Some flash makers call this a "stroboscopic" function. Whatever you call it you can set the flash to fire multiple times with each camera exposure. The minimum setting is 3 times and the maximum setting is 20. Again, this is something few people need but it doesn't seem to add cost to the unit so who cares if the feature resides on a submenu?

The flash power can be varied from 1/64th power to full power in six steps and even at full power recycles in a decent 2.4 seconds. One really nice specification for the unit is its flash duration. The maximum duration at full power is 1/1000th of a second but the unit is also useable in high speed mode with durations as small as 1/10,000th of a second. Nice. A great way to freeze fast action. 

The unit is very well designed, at least aesthetically. I can't speak to things like long term reliability, etc. but the overall build seems good and all the parts fit together well. The battery is easy to remove but requires pushing two buttons simultaneously so it seems built to not accidentally release. The flash reflector release is sure footed and easy to use. The rear panel is readable in all lighting conditions and the buttons are very straightforward.

I've been using the light to make portraits and find the color temperature to be around 5700K with no weird hue casts. So far the unit has never failed to trigger. One thing I might ask for, if the company entertains feedback, is an "auto power off" function. I left it on the first night I got it and the battery was drained the next morning. At least I feel confident that the capacitors were well formed...

Bottom line? A very likable light with a bit more oomph than the on camera speed lights. If you need an extra stop of power over something like the Godox AD200 this may be an interesting choice.







5 comments:

  1. how about the Paul C Buff Digi-Bee with a battery pack

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  2. I go back n forth on replacing Paul C Buff mainly because of the built in Battery these new units have. The thing I really like about Buff is the Cybrcommander unit which lets you take all lights up and down in power - individually or in groups- as needed.

    The built in flash meter lets you set a value easily. Need f5.6 set it on the flash meter, trip it in front of the subject, and the value is set in the light. Need f5.6 plus 1/3 stop on the background aim the light, trip it and done! You do need an external battery if on location and that's an issue for some.

    We live in an age with an embarrassment of photo riches...

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  3. I am curious, after your posts about the Godox AD200 units, about what this Neewer unit brings to the table that the AD200 doesn't - especially after you had extolled the ability of the AD200 to act as either a studio light or a speed light. More power?

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  4. Hi Craig, For around the same price as the AD200 you get a bit more power, a more elegant modifier mounting interface, a more powerful modeling light and more capacity in the battery. The other features are immaterial to me. I wanted a bit more power for some occasions. They'll make a nice kit together.

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  5. Outdoors I'm using the Flashpoint Xplor , I think its the best all around by far...has HSS, TTL, and the option to turn the head into a pack and head system to lesson a little bit of the weight on the stand AND if you have two and an extension head can get it cranked up to 1200W head with dual packs. There are later models that have better recycle but the ability to get some of that powerful head of the stand is great for wind.

    Indoors I still use my Einsteins with Cyber Commander. I also have two White Lightning X3200 for sheer power to punch through windows.

    ReplyDelete

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