Review, Adorama Flashpoint 180 – Portable Flash Unit

I have a new portable flash unit in-house for testing. It is the Flashpoint 180 – a highly portable, lightweight unit that produces up to 180 watt/seconds of output. It comes complete with portable battery pack and charger, a diffuser dome, a reflector, a shoot-through white umbrella, a brief instruction manual, and a carrying case.

180 1

According to the manufacturer’s specs, it is capable of up to 700 flashes at full power. Flash duration ranges from 1/400 to 1/1100 of a second, depending on power output selected. Specifications state that color temperature is 5500k +/- 200k, which is reasonable.

The battery pack consists of two Sony rechargeable units housed in a plastic case; these are removed and charged via external charger. The manufacturer provides two charging units. Good news is that 700 shots should get you through a full day’s shooting. If you are shooting consistently outdoors in bright light or direct sun, depending on your needs you may want to get two of these, one of the 180 model, and another of the 400 model, using one for key lighting and the other for fill or add-on.

Overall, this is a lightweight unit, favoring portability over bullet-proof construction. The controls are sturdy and well made, and should hold up over time. Most of the flash body is aluminum, and a diffuser dome does double duty protecting the flash tube and LED-based modeling light. This is definitely not water-proof, so I would take care outdoors in mist or rain.

180 2

Power output is controlled via a stepless rotating knob, providing about 5-stops range. A slave sensor is also provided, along with an on/off switch for a triggering audio signal.

An LED modeling light is provided, but it’s anemic at best. Not too surprising, as many people will leave it turned on throughout a shoot, and that will drain batteries quickly.

Adorama also provides a short padded handle which can be inserted into the mounting socket – it’s easy to carry the unit around in the field – you would just clip the battery pack to your belt or carry it in your off hand.

Like any other studio flash unit, time to recycle depends on power output selected. This ranges from 1-5 seconds; not surprising at all on a battery-powered unit supplied by a lower-voltage power pack.

I also like that the unit is Bowens-compatible. As I own some Bowens gear, that’s a big plus in my book. I can use their light modifiers on this flash unit, for example.

Overall, a good, lightweight unit, highly portable and suited for use in the studio or just about anywhere you want to go.

Link to the Adorama page: http://www.adorama.com/FPBPLB.html

Product Review: The Flashpoint DG600 300 w/s AC/DC Monolight

I’ve been testing a studio strobe from Adorama, the  Flashpoint DG-600. Intended for use in both studio and location work, this is a 300/WS workhorse (published guide number of 58m/190ft ISO 100) that offers flexibility in many types of shooting situations. It can run on normal household power (US) or a 12v DC power pack.

The housing of the light is made of heavyweight plastic, and seems quite durable. An attached carrying handle is provided, as is a  8” metal reflector – the latter is attached using a locking bayonet-style design.

On the front end, one sees a conventional semi-circular flash tube mounted in front of an LED-array modeling light.

hero shot angle

At the back, most controls are push-button variety, with the exception of the power switch, which provides on/AC, off, and on/DC positions.

hero shot rear

The unit is provided with a nice long power cord (which is a good change – it seems lately that power cords are shrinking in length, or are not provided at all), and a PC/sync cord for those of use who haven’t yet gone to wireless triggers. The sync plug on the housing is of mini-plug variety, not the full-size “stereo” plugs one often sees.

Push button controls include flash test, sound on/off, modeling light, and slave operation. Flash intensity is read through a digital numeric display, and is controlled through a rotating knob. Flash intensity numbers are not linked to f/stop, but are displayed relative to total flash output, from nil to maximum.

Flash output is consistent in intensity right from start up, and stays that way throughout a shoot. Max recycling time is 1.5 seconds at max power (AC) – but at lower power settings is near-instantaneous. The cooling fan is quiet and unobtrusive. Stated flash duration is 1/800 to 1/1500/sec.

I also tested the light with a color meter. While I found that the light easily hit daylight color temperature (5500k) a from a cold start, it needed to fire a few times before settling in and stabilizing at this color temperature. (In other words, color temp varied a bit from shot to shot from a cold start to warm-up).

Once warmed up, variance in color temperature in the mid- to ¾-power range was not a significant issue. At full power, it took a bit longer for the light to warm up and stabilize – if you are shooting at full power, and the light has been resting a while, fire off five or six test shots to bring everything into line.

The modeling light is an LED array, which operates in proportion to flash output settings. This is a great idea – those of us who engage in day-long shoots will appreciate this. Completely cool, with no appreciable heat generated, so less wear and tear on umbrellas and soft boxes, not to mention one’s fingers!

Also, unlike tungsten or halogen-based bulbs, it is roughly the same color temperature as the flash tube, which is a significant convenience. However, the modeling light is challenged to provide enough illumination used with a diffuser or soft box, and I’d like to see available luminance increased. Otherwise, a brilliant idea (no pun.)

One might think that the lower power usage of the LED modeling light would bode well for its use with a battery pack – however, Adorama doesn’t recommend this.

Accessories available include a NIMH portable battery pack and spare battery, a speed ring for soft box/light modifiers, a beauty dish, umbrellas, and related items.

At this price point, $199, this light is a good value vis-à-vis overall build quality and light output, and it appears that it would deliver sold performance in the field or in the studio. In my opinion, at 300/ws, a couple of these would fill an average room nicely – even at levels below full power. All you location shooters and real estate photographers, take note!

The Flashpoint DG-600 is available through Adorama: http://www.adorama.com/FP600DG.html

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UPDATE: Fine Art Reproduction Seminar New York, Wash DC

This has been re-posted as registration links have changed, and sign-up deadlines are approaching.

Join us for this introductory seminar and learn how you can add significant income to your photography or art-related business. New technology in fine art reproduction makes this a viable option for professionals and aspiring pros alike.

Offer high-quality fine art reproduction services to artists and galleries. The system is suitable for curators, galleries, museums, and fine art publishers.

Workflow includes:

  • Studio preparation for image capture using the Nikon D3/D3x
  • See a demo of the new HP Artist Software solution (embedded in the Ergosoft StudioPrint RIP) which can control color, exposure, illumination, density, and more.
  • See how the power of HP Artist software solution can correctly and efficiently automate image processing
  • Evaluate prints made on the new HP Designjet Z3200 photo printer!
  • Review recruiting artists or organizations as new customers – and learn how they can market their art reproductions at reasonable cost.

The many applications for fine art reproduction include:

  • Exhibition of gallery quality reproductions
  • Sales of limited edition reproductions of watercolors paintings, drawings or sketches
  • Archiving and restoration of national collections
  • Reproductions of private collections or family paintings

Attendees of this class will learn how to automate tasks and streamline processes reducing the production time from hours to minutes, while lowering costs to produce high-fidelity prints.

Attendees do not need to bring a laptop computer; just a pen, paper and open mind.

For more information please visit:

– http://www.nikonusa.com – http://www.hp.com/go/HPArtist – http://www.ergosoftusa.com – Web directory of relevant articles and presentations

TO REGISTER PLEASE USE ONE OF THESE LINKS:

JUNE 1: B & H PHOTO, NY, NY

JUNE 2: Adorama Photo, NY NY

JUNE 4: Mac Business Solutions, Gaithersburg, MD/Wash DC

These sponsors have made the educational programs possible at reasonable cost. My thanks to them for their support 

 

David Saffir’s May Newsletter Update – Part 2

Time flies in the springtime!

I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying better weather. It is windy and very hot here in California; unusual for this time of year.

I have quite a bit of news this round. New workshop dates, new content, and more. Here’s a set of links:

 I’ve moved my blog to WordPress. The link is David Saffir’s Photography and Printmaking Blog There is quite a bit of new or extended content on the new blog

I did this as I felt it was faster to load, and much easier to create a searchable index and tags for readers’ convenience. A great site; consider it for your blog.

Other new content on the site and blog:

Directory of Leaders in Photography, Printmaking, Color Management, and Related Fields

This is a directory of people who I feel are leaders in photography, printmaking, color, and related fields. I include names, web addresses, and one or two paragraphs describing their expertise. It is a work in progress, so you’ll see a good start, with more to come.

We have new seminars on fine art reproduction June 1 and 2 New York (B&H and Adorama) and June 4 in the Baltimore/DC area at Mac Business Solutions. Learn how the HP Artist Solution for Nikon can help you improve color accuracy, reduce costs, and build your business. Registration links are on this page.

Also, Santa Fe Workshops will host my three-day intensive on Digital Fine Art Reproduction in November, 2009. New Seminars, Fine Art Reproduction with David Saffir

I am also planning on opening a photography studiooffering rental space and educational programs in late summer 2009. Mango Studios Of California will be located on the West Side of Los Angeles, in or near Santa Monica. We intend to provide an environment for seasoned pros, aspiring professionals, and students alike. You can find further info on this near the top on the opening page of the David Saffir’s Photography and Printmaking Blog.

Panoramas r’ Us A new client, photographer Nick Carlson, is making multi-frame grand scale panoramas that are selling as fast as we can print them. Some are made up of dozens of frames stitched together, and print about ten feet long.

I have a continuing series on key issues in Color Management for photographers. Articles are based in part on questions I’ve received in the past few months.

Part OnePart TwoPart Three

Upcoming education sessions on the calendar later in 2009 include the ESRI conference in July. This is a preliminary announcement, so details will be coming up soon!

Access to other content that has proven to be useful and gets many visits is listed on my Intro & Site Directory page on my web site. You’ll find links to numerous tutorials, lessons, articles, and the like.

Thanks, and best regards,

 

David Saffir

http://www.davidsaffir.com

New Article on Fine Art Reproduction Training/Education

Here’s my latest HP Pro Photo Blog post on fine art reproduction training and education. Offered in three East Coast locations, the seminar is suited to the technically-oriented and those new to this craft.

 

David Saffir

Latest Workshop Update – Fine Art Printmaking

Jack Duganne and I had a great time hosting our fine art printmaking workshops in Santa Monica on May 1 and May 2. We covered a lot of ground – from advanced camera setup, use of advanced RAW processing, through image editing in layers, use of layer comps, multiple image print proofing, media evaluation and selection, and more. We also covered use of a number of wide-format printers, including the HP Designjet Z-series and the HP Designjet B9100 desktop printer. We had a mix of Nikon, Canon, and Hasselblad shooters as well.

One part of the workshop that generated a good deal of interest was selective color adjustment in Photoshop. Selective color adjustment provides fine control of color and tone – and methods we now teach for CS4 make this pretty intuitive and straightforward. With the right setup, what you see is what you get – you can work through different combinations, and get to your desired result quickly and easily.

One thing that make quite an impression on both of us was that some students booked flights to attend the workshop – they came from San Francisco, and as far as away as Atlanta, Georgia. 

I have several new seminar events coming up June 1-2 at B&H Photo and Adorama in New York, and Mac Business Solutions in Baltimore/Wash DC area on June 4. These will provide an introduction to starting and running a successful business in digital fine art reproduction using the HP Artist Solution for Nikon.

I’ll be posting a short tutorial on selective color adjustment, other event updates on my web site later this week, so stay tuned!

 

 


New Seminars – Digital Fine Art Reproduction

Join us for this introductory seminar and learn how you can add significant income to your photography or art-related business. New technology in fine art reproduction makes this a viable option for professionals and aspiring pros alike.

Offer high-quality fine art reproduction services to artists and galleries. The system is suitable for curators, galleries, museums, and fine art publishers.

Workflow includes:

  • Studio preparation for image capture using the Nikon D3/D3x
  • See a demo of the new HP Artist Software solution (embedded in the Ergosoft StudioPrint RIP) which can control color, exposure, illumination, density, and more.
  • See how the power of HP Artist software solution can correctly and efficiently automate image processing
  • Evaluate prints made on the new HP Designjet Z3200 photo printer!
  • Review recruiting artists or organizations as new customers – and learn how they can market their art reproductions at reasonable cost.

The many applications for fine art reproduction include:

  • Exhibition of gallery quality reproductions
  • Sales of limited edition reproductions of watercolors paintings, drawings or sketches
  • Archiving and restoration of national collections
  • Reproductions of private collections or family paintings

Attendees of this class will learn how to automate tasks and streamline processes reducing the production time from hours to minutes, while lowering costs to produce high-fidelity prints.

Attendees do not need to bring a laptop computer; just a pen, paper and open mind.

For more information please visit:

http://www.nikonusa.comhttp://www.hp.com/go/HPArtisthttp://www.ergosoftusa.comWeb directory of relevant articles and presentations

TO REGISTER PLEASE USE ONE OF THESE LINKS:

JUNE 1: B & H PHOTO, NY, NY

JUNE 2: Adorama Photo, NY NY

JUNE 4: Mac Business Solutions, Gaithersburg, MD/Wash DC

These sponsors have made the educational programs possible at reasonable cost. My thanks to them for their support