Affordable flashunits with Bowens-Mount

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UnknownReader New Member • Posts: 7
Affordable flashunits with Bowens-Mount

Hello Everyone!

I am sharing a small 25qm studio with a few friends and we are curious which flash system you would recommend. We have used a very old, an almost dead Multiblitz Flashsystem in the past and "upgraded" to a portable Jinbei System about 2 years ago. This portable system literally went on fire and since then our trust in this china tech has suffered big time.

We dont need anything super fancy with super short recycle times or huge screens. But something more or less reliable would be nice! Because we already have all possible lightmodifiers and stands etc we are searching for flashheads exclusively. 200 or 300ws should be strong enough, maybe even a bit too strong? Hss would be lovely for the f1,8 shooters, but its not a must!

the idea was to buy 3 flash heads and one additional one as a backup/ or some spare parts. Our budget is 400-800€.

some solutions have caught our attention, but maybe there is more!

#1 Walimex Flashes VC 300 Link

i have used them once, and they seem to be fine. maybe a bit too strong

#2 Godox Sk300 II Link

wow are they cheap. can they be any good or good enough?

#3 some used good old Bowens

i have rented one years ago. except of them beeing too strong, they seemed to be fine

#4-10 no idea! any suggestions?

cheers!

Sailor Blue
Sailor Blue Forum Pro • Posts: 14,741
Re: Affordable flashunits with Bowens-Mount

UnknownReader wrote:

Hello Everyone!

I am sharing a small 25qm studio with a few friends and we are curious which flash system you would recommend. We have used a very old, an almost dead Multiblitz Flashsystem in the past and "upgraded" to a portable Jinbei System about 2 years ago. This portable system literally went on fire and since then our trust in this china tech has suffered big time.

We dont need anything super fancy with super short recycle times or huge screens. But something more or less reliable would be nice! Because we already have all possible lightmodifiers and stands etc we are searching for flashheads exclusively. 200 or 300ws should be strong enough, maybe even a bit too strong? Hss would be lovely for the f1,8 shooters, but its not a must!

the idea was to buy 3 flash heads and one additional one as a backup/ or some spare parts. Our budget is 400-800€.

some solutions have caught our attention, but maybe there is more!

#1 Walimex Flashes VC 300 Link

I don't have any information about these.

i have used them once, and they seem to be fine. maybe a bit too strong

#2 Godox Sk300 II Link

wow are they cheap. can they be any good or good enough?

They seem to have a pretty good reputation with many happy users. The biggest drawback is that they only have a 4-stop power range (1/1 to 1/16).

The Godox MS300 is slowly starting to become available, typically for the same price as the SK300 II. It is smaller and has a 5-stop range (1/1 to 1/32).

#3 some used good old Bowens

i have rented one years ago. except of them beeing too strong, they seemed to be fine

At ISO 100 and 1/160sec I can shoot with my 5-stop range 300 Ws strobe in a 40" softbox from f/2.8 to f/16 by varying the power and the distance between the recommended 1 and 2 times the diagonal. I get approximately the same aperture range with a 43" white reflection/shoot through umbrella.

With my 24" softboxs, which are naturally closer to the subject, I can't get all the way to f/2.8 unless I simply attach one or two cheap pieces of white translucent nylon or Dacron to the front of the softbox with clothespins. Each piece of the fabric reduces the light throughput about 1-stop as measured with my ambient/flash meter.

If you have a meter, to find the right fabric take your meter with you to the fabric shop and take a reading with the dome extended then with a layer of fabric over the dome. The difference in readings will tell you how much light the fabric is absorbing. You want about 1-stop to 1.5-stops of difference.

If you want to use your camera instead of a meter. Put the lens in Manual mode and set it to ∞. Put the camera in Manual Exposure mode and with one layer of fabric over the lens take an exposure reading by half pressing the shutter button. Next take a reading with two layers of fabric. The difference in readings will tell you how much light the fabric is absorbing.

You said you thought 300Ws was too much power. I assume that means you are shooting lots of wide aperture portraits. This can cause several problems.

1. Ambient light can interfere. Always take a test shot at the intended exposure without any strobes and chimp the result. If you see more than a faint image your ambient lighting is too strong.

2. Focus problems. For wide aperture/shallow depth of field you have to be certain that the eye nearest to the camera is in focus.

I see way too many wide aperture/shallow depth of field portraits the photographer is proud off where it is the far eye, the tip of the nose, or the ear that are in focus, not the near eye.

My recommendation is to avoid the wide aperture/shallow depth of field portraits unless you have a very good reason for taking one. Shooting at f/5.6 to f/8 almost always gives you the maximum image quality in a portrait.

#4-10 no idea! any suggestions?

cheers!

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tugwilson Senior Member • Posts: 1,363
Re: Affordable flashunits with Bowens-Mount

UnknownReader wrote:

Hello Everyone!

I am sharing a small 25qm studio with a few friends and we are curious which flash system you would recommend. We have used a very old, an almost dead Multiblitz Flashsystem in the past and "upgraded" to a portable Jinbei System about 2 years ago. This portable system literally went on fire and since then our trust in this china tech has suffered big time.

We dont need anything super fancy with super short recycle times or huge screens. But something more or less reliable would be nice! Because we already have all possible lightmodifiers and stands etc we are searching for flashheads exclusively. 200 or 300ws should be strong enough, maybe even a bit too strong? Hss would be lovely for the f1,8 shooters, but its not a must!

the idea was to buy 3 flash heads and one additional one as a backup/ or some spare parts. Our budget is 400-800€.

some solutions have caught our attention, but maybe there is more!

#1 Walimex Flashes VC 300 Link

i have used them once, and they seem to be fine. maybe a bit too strong

#2 Godox Sk300 II Link

wow are they cheap. can they be any good or good enough?

#3 some used good old Bowens

i have rented one years ago. except of them beeing too strong, they seemed to be fine

The Godox SK300II is being replaced by the MS300 (and the MS200). We haven't seen any evaluation of the MS series yet but Godox kit is generally quite reliable and fit for purpose. They have built in radios which allow you to control the settings of each light from the trigger on your camera. They are part of a very large range of lights which are all controllable from the same trigger.

Godox triggers are camera brand specific. If you decide to go the Godox route you and your friends will need to buy a trigger which matches your camera brand. There are several different sorts of Godox trigger available I'd recommend that you go for the Pro over the X1T or X2T.

If you are interested in the 300Ws MS300 or the 200Ws Ms200 you will see that they are being offered on amazon.de from China. I'd strongly recommend waiting until they are being shipped directly from Amazon and then to buy one plus a trigger and evaluate it yourself. if it's not what you need you can return it and look for something else. If it's OK (and I'm reasonably confident it will be) then you can but another 3. For lights will cost you ~€400 so you will have money left over for triggers.

OP UnknownReader New Member • Posts: 7
Re: Affordable flashunits with Bowens-Mount

hey guys, thank you so much for your feedback!

We are very aware of focus shifts/problems on small f-numbers. But more and more cameras are offering liveview and/or eye-AF capabilities. So in the end i dont really see the advantage of buying an overpowered system, when you can always crank up the 200w/s versions and use f16 at full power?  why not having the option of using both?

Probably our biggest goal would be reliability. Probably both walimex and godox play in the same league, right? or is one company more trustworthy than the other?

Anindo Ghosh
Anindo Ghosh Forum Member • Posts: 52
Re: Affordable flashunits with Bowens-Mount

UnknownReader wrote:

Probably our biggest goal would be reliability. Probably both walimex and godox play in the same league, right? or is one company more trustworthy than the other?

I have been exploiting my Godox gear mercilessly for over a year, and nothing has failed me yet. I have AD600B (not Pro), SK400ii, v860ii (both S and C versions), and XPro. Other than the occasional frustration with the SK units having only 4 stops of control, no complaints.

Not familiar with Walimex, but I recommend Godox without hesitation.

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tugwilson Senior Member • Posts: 1,363
Re: Affordable flashunits with Bowens-Mount

UnknownReader wrote:

hey guys, thank you so much for your feedback!

We are very aware of focus shifts/problems on small f-numbers. But more and more cameras are offering liveview and/or eye-AF capabilities. So in the end i dont really see the advantage of buying an overpowered system, when you can always crank up the 200w/s versions and use f16 at full power? why not having the option of using both?

Probably our biggest goal would be reliability. Probably both walimex and godox play in the same league, right? or is one company more trustworthy than the other?

Not really, they are in completely different leagues.

Looking at the Walimex Pro Amazon listings they obviously are a dealer who sells rebadged Chinese gear. I've no idea who makes the light you are interested in so I can't comment on the quality.

Godox designs and manufactures lighting equipment, it has 1,000 staff in 4 factories and an R&D team of 15 engineers. It makes equipment under its own name and does custom design and production for other brands (lights and triggers for Bowens/Wex, for example).

Sailor Blue
Sailor Blue Forum Pro • Posts: 14,741
Re: Affordable flashunits with Bowens-Mount

UnknownReader wrote:

hey guys, thank you so much for your feedback!

We are very aware of focus shifts/problems on small f-numbers. But more and more cameras are offering liveview and/or eye-AF capabilities. So in the end i dont really see the advantage of buying an overpowered system, when you can always crank up the 200w/s versions and use f16 at full power? why not having the option of using both?

Modern cameras perform well enough that using ISO 200, or even 400, isn't going to reduce the image quality significantly. Touch screen Live View and Eye-AF also reduces the missed focus problem.

That doesn't mean that shooting at wide apertures is still problem free.

At wide apertures you still have to make sure that the ambient light level is low enough to prevent ambient light contamination. I always take a test shot at the subject exposure with no studio lights active but their modeling lights turned on. If I see more than a very faint image I know I have to reduce the ambient lighting or modeling light level.

I make it a point to shoot outdoor portraits in open shade. This means that I can use my GN60 hot-shoe flash with a 43" white umbrella diffuser and not have to use a higher powered strobe. I strongly believe in KISS, and strobes add an unnecessary layers of complexity and weight vs hot-shoe flash.

If you do shoot in direct sunlight with a diffuser then you are going to find that 200Ws is not sufficient, you want 1200Ws of power.

The modeling light in the MS200/300 lights is bright enough to be useful when shooting portraits and even bright enough that you can use just the modeling lights for product photography.

The AD200/eVOLV 200 is frequently recommended. It isn't bad for location shooting but it doesn't have a modeling light. If you want a modeling light you also have to buy the AD-B2 bracket, and then the modeling light is so weak that it is practically worthless.

Stick with the SK300/400 or the MS200/300 strobes for studio work.

Probably our biggest goal would be reliability. Probably both walimex and godox play in the same league, right? or is one company more trustworthy than the other?

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Klaus dk
Klaus dk Veteran Member • Posts: 5,967
On Walimex VC 300 and power ranges

I have a Walimex VC 300 Plus, with a separate remote power control (different from the trigger). It's made in China, probably to Walimex specs, but significantly slower to recharge than my other Chinese lights (Oubao DK-300 and Godox AD 600).

There's nothing wrong with it, but it was way too expensive compared to the Oubao lights and it's clunky to work with compared to the X system Godoxes where power is controlled from the on-camera trigger (Xpro).

While a five stop power range may be sufficient for main lights, I often run my hair light or rim lights between 1/128 and 1/256, even with a grid or a snoot. Do not underestimate the convenience of not having to fiddle with extra diffusion layers, ND gels, or other hacks that could be avoided by having a wider power range.

One of the advantages of more powerful strobes is the recycle times. When you run a 600 Ws strobe at 1/4, you get much faster recycling than a 150 Ws strobe at full power.

My Godox AD 600s can recycle fast enough for 8 fps at 1/16 power. Probably not forever, but I shot a jumping girl recently, using that technique to catch the top of her jump.

Good luck and good light.

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taomarcus Regular Member • Posts: 156
Re: Affordable flashunits with Bowens-Mount

Maybe also look at Elinchrom rx one. they are 100w/s strobes for 149euro per strobe. the rx2 is 200w/s and around 220 euro per unit. Elinchrom is the brand of choice for people that cannot afford pro foto or broncolor.

Elinchrome is a good quality brand (made in switzerland, just like broncolor. elinchrom stops down 5 stops. personaly i think their flash speed is to slow and 100w/s would be enough probably. But not if your softbox is to big and to far away. you can just shoot at iso 400. You have to buy a speedring seperate.

specs for elinchrom rx one are:

- F-stop 1m, 100 ISO, reflector 48 graden: F32.4
- power range is 6-100Ws
- Recycletime is 0.44-1.5 seconden
- Flashduration (t 0.5) at max power is 1/2200 secs

the specs are not the greatest in the world. but it has great quality of light.

godox is a good quality brand. many professionals use the qt, qt2 or ad series. I don't know about their cheaper line. Is better to buy one really great light then 3 lesser quality strobes.

Most important is to see if color temperature is stable throughout the power range.

I am not really sure why you want to use a f1.4 lens in the first place. just shoot at f8 like a normal person so with portraits the face is in focus and don't have blurry noses and chins because the depth of field is to shallow.

Godox uses bowens mounts. godox is also sold under different brand names in the usa.

I own the godox qt2-400. i use it at 1/4 power at the most, but i have flexibily to put bigger softbox on it or put it far away and still have enough power at iso64 or iso 100. This godox can do 1/4400secs flash speed t0.1. That is basicly a totally insane spec for this price range.

Look at this comparison on youtube between the qt-400 and QS400. (qt is old model, qt2 is even better).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQtmVJTocDU

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tugwilson Senior Member • Posts: 1,363
Re: Affordable flashunits with Bowens-Mount
1

taomarcus wrote:

Maybe also look at Elinchrom rx one. they are 100w/s strobes for 149euro per strobe. the rx2 is 200w/s and around 220 euro per unit. Elinchrom is the brand of choice for people that cannot afford pro foto or broncolor

That may have been true a few years ago but it really isn't true now.

Elinchrome is a good quality brand (made in switzerland, just like broncolor.

Actually they are made in India by Elinchrom's Indian distributor.

taomarcus Regular Member • Posts: 156
Re: Affordable flashunits with Bowens-Mount

oh, yes you are right.  the rx series is made in india.  But all the pro gear is still made in switzerland as far as i know.

And Elinchrom is still good gear and used in many studios. they are getting a bit behind in the specs though.  Anyway topic starter wants to shoot at f1.4 for some reason and does not care about flash speed for some reason.  So elinchrom rx series is worth considering.  godox entry line probably has similar specs to elinchrom entry level.

Godox qt2 series however is pro level.  QS2 series is basicly the same as qt2 series but with couple of limitations  such as cannot be stopped down as much.

I will post a video from Robert Hall where he does a comparison of all godox systems.

maybe that can help topic starter.

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taomarcus Regular Member • Posts: 156
Re: Affordable flashunits with Bowens-Mount

here is a video about most of the godox strobes. it is about the differences between them.   some of these godox strobes have been rebranded.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guS96ufKk_8

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UKphotographers Veteran Member • Posts: 4,337
Re: Affordable flashunits with Bowens-Mount

UnknownReader wrote:

#3 some used good old Bowens

i have rented one years ago. except of them beeing too strong, they seemed to be fine

Definitely can get the Bowens mount with those. They invented it. The older Esprit's with the grey bodies are the best. The 500's would be a staple workhorse and their power adjustment range is pretty good. You can get 250's and 125's I think.

I still use Bowens units I bought back in 1985, I'll let you know when they stop working 

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OP UnknownReader New Member • Posts: 7
Re: Affordable flashunits with Bowens-Mount

oh i havent really followed this thread any longer, i am sorry!

we bought 2 Godox MS 200 und 2 Godox MS 300 and we are pretty happy with them. The Mount could be physically stronger - it seems to be a thin metal (aluminium) layer. But really, its fine. Lets see how long they gonna last

Thanks to everyone, who joined the discussion here. Enjoy your weekend!

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