Adorama Flashpoint 180 Monolight
$250/~£150 | www.adorama.com
The Adorama Flashpoint 180 Monolight is a battery-powered 180-watt strobe designed for on-location shooting in the middle of nowhere. The kit comes with everything needed to provide adequate fill light for scenes or soft key-light for portraits, minus the stand, which must be purchased separately. Like most of Adorama's equipment, the Flashpoint 180 Monolight is designed with a Bowens mount for reflectors, speedrings and other accessories. Because of its fairly alluring price tag, I wanted to see if the 180 Monolight has what it takes to endure a few shoots.
- 180 watts
- 48m (150') Guide Number
- 10' sync cord for triggering
- LED modeling light
- 25,000-30,000 pop flash tube life
- Stepless dial down control 5 stops-down
- Bowens reflector mount
- 2.1 lbs without batteries
- Uses two 6,000mAh Sony NP-F960F battery packs
- ~700 flashes per charge with both batteries
|The entire kit consists of the 180 Monolight unit, plastic diffuser cover, reflector, white umbrella, power and sync cords, two battery packs, chargers, battery unit, hand grip and carry case.||A closer look at the hand grip and reflector.|
The Flashpoint 180 Monolight is bundled with everything except the kitchen sink - that is if your kitchen sink is a light stand. Yes, the only item missing is a stand, but at least Adorama included the cushy MP-150S hand grip for your assistant. There's also no tripod mount included, so you'll have to invest in a stand if you don't have one lying around.
As far as the light unit itself, the Flashpoint 180 is well built, with an aluminum main housing. The tilt mechanism that enables the light to point up or down has some serious clamping power, and never budged once during my work. It comes with a sturdy aluminum standard reflector and white R-210T umbrella for diffusion. The 180 has a Bowens reflector mount, so it's very versatile in terms of aftermarket additions like beauty dishes and other reflectors.
I will say that the R-210T umbrella feels quite cheap, and folded out inside-out after a few uses. I had to manually bend it back into position every time I opened it. Keep in mind that this umbrella was from the first 180 Monolight kit Adorama sent me, as the umbrella from the second kit performed much better after setting it up and leaving it overnight. As for Adorama's need to send me a second kit, we'll touch on that in the next section.
|Umbrella woes plagued the first unit sent to me.||The preferred setup.|
Battery power comes from a pair of 6,000mAh Sony NP-F960F battery packs that fit inside a plastic housing with a DC out terminal to connect the DC power cable to the light unit. The housing has an on/off switch to tell the batteries to start working, as well as an LED status light to remind you if you left the housing on before packing up. The kit also includes a pair of chargers for the NP-F960F battery packs, but I would have rather had a dual charger than two single units.
|A look at the battery housing.||The plastic dome mounted via the Bowens mount.|
The MV-AD2 battery housing measures 4 x 4 x 3 in. (10 x 10 x 8 cm) and weighs about a kilo, but it comes with a clip for securing to a belt or other surface. I clipped it to the small grab handle on top of the lighting unit, but I think Flashpoint should have added an adequate mounting surface to the lighting unit itself, or just built a battery bay into the lighting unit rather than opt for an external pack. Often times when I was shooting without an assistant, I forgot about the battery housing resting on the floor and went to move the light. Oops! So, a battery bay integrated into the 180 Monolight unit would be preferable.
Lastly, the whole kit comes with its own nylon/Velcro carrying case with removable strapping and shoulder strap. The umbrella has its own cinching sleeve, and the light unit comes with a translucent plastic dome to protect the flash tube and LED modelling light. This dome also has decent diffusing properties, and I used it on a few shoots. The good thing is that it won't melt due to the low wattage of the LED. Toss in a camera model-specific flash trigger cable, and the Flashpoint 180 Monolight kit encompasses a lot of light power in a case roughly the size of two lunch boxes. You'll have to bring your own stand, of course.
What to Expect
The Flashpoint Monolight 180 is capable of outputting, you guessed it, 180 watts of power. It carries a guide number of 48, which means it can cast usable light from a maximum of 48 meters, or just over 150 feet. Flash intensity is stepless and controlled by a dial on the back of the unit. Despite its stepless nature, the 180 Monolight can really provide five steps of EV gain or loss. This is not a huge swath, but can be significantly altered by changing the distance of the light as it relates to the subject. And if you find that 180 watts doesn't cut it for the type of photography you do, Adorama offers the Flashpoint 400 Monolight kit.
|The control panel on the Flashpoint 180 Monolight.||A look at the modest modeling light.|
The 180 Monlight has a photo sensor set atop with unit with an on/off switch located on back in order to monitor its usage. The unit also has an LED modeling light, but it's quite weak. I have a cheap LED headlamp that outputs more lumens, so don't count on the modeling light to provide any useful illumination. I used it mainly to focus on dark environments. The 180 Monolight has a Test button for instantly firing the flash to get a sense of light intensity. Lastly, the light unit has a 3.5mm sync port for hard-wiring into your camera.
However, if you want to use more than one 180 Monolight, or can't stand the analog nature of a sync cable, any decent radio or infrared transmitting system will work. For instance, I was able to use my Phottix Odin transceiver via the 180 Monolight's sync port. Adorama also has the Flashpoint 4 Channel Radio Remote Control Set, which will make the Monolights cable-free.
Right off the bat, it became clear pretty quickly that the first Flashpoint 180 Monolight unit I received from Adorama was defective. I had used the unit for under an hour to shoot my Kawasaki dirt bike (see below). It performed admirably then, but the problems arose during an actual paid gig. The gig was only the second time I had ever used the light. I was shooting an ice bar at night in very cold New England weather when suddenly, the 180 Monolight refused to fire. After repeated attempts to make it work, I had to rely on hard-wiring my Elinchroms to finish the shoot.
The second Flashpoint 180 Monolight unit that Adorama sent me worked flawlessly. I have not had any problems to date. So I think the important thing to gain from my experience is that Adorama was very keen on making sure I had a working product at the end of the day. Yes, I had to rely on Plan B during my shoot, but every photographer needs to be prepared for the worst. Perhaps some snow made its way inside the unit, or the extreme cold played a part in the first unit's demise. Regardless, I have a second unit that works wonderfully, and that's all that matters.
|The LED modeling light and flash tube.|
Now as far as the Flashpoint 180 Monolight's performance, I was impressed by the intensity of light it was able to emit. Coupled with the reflector and umbrella, I was able to attain soft lighting with a neutral temperature, which was perfect for fill lighting during outdoor photo shoots. The light's recycle time at full wattage is five seconds and one second at the lowest setting. So, it's about one extra second per additional EV step. This is not particularly quick, but not so slow that it disrupts a shoot. The highest usable shutter speed I was able to attain on my 5D Mark III was 1/200th of a second, and that's about what I can achieve with my Elinchrom BRX lights. For portraits, the 180 Monolight is ideal.
|Kawasaki shot with the 180 Monolight used as fill.||Ice sculptures shot with 180 Monolight.|
If I had a choice, I'd upgrade to the Flashpoint 400 Monolight, and I'd get two of them and fire them with the Phottix Odin. This is because I don't do a lot of portraits, but rather more product photography and night scenes. As far as battery life, I was impressed by the Flashpoint 180 Monolight's Sony battery pack tandem. I was able to shoot all day and not even worry about recharging since the batteries offer 700 shots at full flash tube power. Again, I just wasn't crazy about having the battery housing unit separated from the light unit, as it had to be dealt with every time I moved the light. With an assistant, it's not as big of a deal.
Although the Flashpoint 180 Monolight and I got off on the wrong foot, I will still keep it in my gear bag for remote shoots in the middle of nowhere. There are a lot of things to like about this kit, particularly the bevy of options and accessories that are included, along with its own carrying case. The Bowens mount is a plus. Setup is easy and intuitive, and this light would be even better with a remote trigger like the Phottix Odin. Battery life is great, and light performance is impressive.
The kit's weak points can largely be worked around. The umbrella is cheap, the kit doesn't come with a stand, a remote triggering system must be added via third-party, the modeling light is weak, and we all know what happened with the first unit. But for the price, the Flashpoint 180 Monolight is a decent tool for the budget-minded photographer.
What we liked:
- Full-bodied kit
- Good battery life
- Decent light intensity
What we didn't like:
- First unit didn't work
- Lacks stand
- Weak modeling light
|Bald Eagle by anisah|
from Features - lips/mouth
|heron and fish by APenza|
from A Big Year - birds
|Cows Cowering Under Rare California Super Cell by RBFresno|
from -The Old Cows-
The new iZugar 3.25mm F2.5 super fisheye lens offers an insane 220-degree angle of view. That means it can basically see behind itself... good luck keeping your feet out of the shot.
You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll remember that time you took a picture of the frozen pizza baking directions.
A Craigslist poster has discovered the worst possible way to photograph a car: taking pictures of pictures displayed on a cracked and scratched up smartphone screen.
With the iPhone X coming out soon, the title probably won't last, but the iPhone 8 Plus is officially the best smartphone camera DxOMark has ever tested, and the iPhone 8 is second.
Kodak's new Facebook Messenger chatbot is trying to bring back the 'Kodak Moment' by digging up your old social media photos and trying to sell you prints and custom coffee mugs.
Affinity Photo for iPad was touted as "the first full blown, truly professional photo editing tool to make its way onto the Apple tablet." This update makes it that much more convenient.
Yashica has released a new teaser video, and this one claims they'll be releasing an "unprecedented camera" in October on Kickstarter. Ready... set... speculate!
Storage solutions company Synology has just released its very first 6-bay NAS tower. Combined with the DX1215 expansion units, it can hold and control up to thirty drives.
We're always expanding our collection of product overview content, and we've just added videos for the Canon EOS 6D Mark II, the EOS Rebel SL2 and EOS M6.
The venerable Canon PowerShot G1 was announced seventeen years ago this week, marking the start of a line of enthusiast-focused compacts that's still alive and kicking.
Super macro photographer Can Tuncer captured these incredible close-ups of a single peacock feather using a special setup and three different microscope lenses.
After successfully crowdfunding the Biotar 75mm F1.5, Oprema Jena is at it again. This time they're bringing back the Biotar 58mm F2: the world's only lens with a 17-blade aperture.
Adobe's move to a subscription model is treating it very well indeed. The company has posted record revenue for the second quarter in a row, hauling in a mind-boggling $1.84 billion.
More details have emerged about the potential sale of Blackstone's 45% stake in iconic camera brand Leica.
Popular mobile editing app Snapseed just got a major update that includes a new interface and 11 new presets for both Android and iOS, as well as adding the Perspective tool to the iOS version.
It might sound like a strange idea, but taking macro photos of boiling water can actually result in some really cool photographs. A good photo experiment for a rainy day.
The database was created to "break with the narrow lens through which history… has been recorded" by equipping those who commission photography with "the resources to discover photographers of color available for assignments.
Lensbaby has released two new optics for their special "optic swap system." The Lensbaby Sweet 80 Optic gives you that trademark sweet spot of focus, while the Creative Bokeh optic gives you 9 different drop in aperture plate options to play with.
TechCrunch has already posted their review of the upcoming iPhone 8 (not yet the iPhone X), and they're calling it "a look into the augmented future of photography."
Affinity Photo is a $50 photo editing software with no subscriptions. That's it – pay for it once and you're done. And we think it's actually pretty darn good.
Instagram is currently testing a major change to the app's profile layout: replacing the 3-photo across grid with a 4-photo grid... and some users are NOT taking the news well.
A report by USSRPhoto is shedding some light on the return of the famed Zenit camera brand. It seems the full-frame mirrorless camera they're working on will be made in part by Leica using components from the Leica SL.
According to a reliable Korean report, Samsung is developing a smartphone sensor that's capable of super slow motion. Translation: Samsung's next batch of Galaxy smartphones may be able to shoot 1,000fps.
This simple photograph of a seahorse and Q-tip has taken the internet by storm. We spoke to photographer Justin Hofman about how it was captured, and what it means to him.
After a massive leak last week, Profoto has officially debuted the Profoto A1: the company's first on-camera flash system that they're calling "the world's smallest studio flash."
"When the first hyperfocal distance charts were designed, someone decided that an acceptably sharp background contained some blur — enough to notice in a medium-sized print [...] After that point, nearly every other hyperfocal chart followed suit."
The Canon EOS Rebel SL2 (also known as the EOS 200D) is the company's impressively compact entry-level DSLR. Packing a 24MP APS-C sensor, DIGIC 7 processor and Dual Pixel AF, it promises a lot of bang for the buck. And while not mind-blowing, it handles most tasks very well.
Correct these four common composition mistakes and your photos will be more balanced, tell a better story, and lead your viewer's eye where you want it to go.
The rugged, compact 360° action camera Kodak unveiled at Photokina in 2016, the Kodak PixPro Orbit 360, is finally available in the United States.
iOS 11 launches tomorrow, and it'll save all of your pictures in a new high efficiency image format called HEIC. Fortunately, there's now a converter that will let you turn those photos back into JPEGs.