In this second part of a two part feature I explain the latest flash options and systems open to us as Fujifilm camera shooters. Read part one here.
All this HSS malarkey started a couple of years ago with Roboshoot, Nissin and various other peripheral brands. None of the ‘solutions’ at the time offered true plug and play. Even the Cactus V6mk2 with HSS functionality was erratic and only recently has truly become plug and play (apparently). I still struggle to make the Cactus work with the X-T2 or GFX. The reasons for the various problems were numerous and included Fujifilm camera firmware changes altering the flash timings. Even Fujifilm’s own EF-X500 Speedlight was plagued with delays coming to market with overheating and firmware issues from the start. There is also a lack of a Fujifilm remote trigger so the EF-X500 has to be used on camera or off camera triggered by another EF-X500 on camera. What we wanted during the first 5 years of Fujifilm X existence was a radio triggered flash system dedicated for use with Fujifilm cameras. One with a trigger that had the contact pins in exactly the right place and worked effortlessly with a range of flash units of various power outputs using HSS or regular sync mode. The good news is we now have it all with Godox, Profoto and Broncolor. Within a few months other mainstream flash brands like Elinchrom may have caught up too.
If you just want to use a small Speedlight sized flash unit with TTL & HSS on and off camera you now have various options from budget units like the Godox V860iiF and the top dollar Profoto A1. If you want a complete system of Speedlights and larger units you need to look at Godox or Profoto and for bigger location flash units, Godox, Profoto and Broncolor. Elinchrom will hopefully join the party at some point in 2018.
Cactus: The Cactus RF60x is a manual speedlight with an integral tranceiver built in. It can work in HSS mode and has TTL capabilities when used off camera. There are no other flash units in the Cactus system but if you already have Speedlights from a previous system like the Canon EX580mk2 or Nikon SB910 etc you can use those remotely with full remote control from your Fujifilm camera with the Cactus V6mk2 as a receiver for each Speedlight. I still struggle to get the system working although some users say it works fine with the earlier Cactus RF60 flashes.
Godox: This relatively new kid on the block was the first on the market with a complete solution for Fujifilm and has come to dominate the scene with it’s well designed latest generation flash units. The Godox system is very well designed, well made and is available at remarkably low prices. With a large range of units that can deliver power from 50Ws to 1200Ws all with HSS and some with TTL, the Godox system is the one to beat. The Speedlights are TTL (unlike Cactus) and can act as RF transmitters or receivers. There is an excellent dedicated transmitter with pass through TTL, the X1TF and a universal receiver for other brand flash packs. The Godox radio system has a great range and works without missing a beat. The new Godox X-Pro trigger for Fujifilm users is now available too and in my opinion will be the best transmitter of any system (after a firmware update) and is a bargain at 1/8th of the cost of the ridiculously priced Profoto trigger. The X-ProF trigger doesn’t have a hot shoe so it will sit alongside the X1TF as an option. The principal flash units in the Godox system are the unique AD200 and the AD600. The Godox AD200 offers nearly three times the power of the Profoto A1 at a fraction of the cost. The AD600 can be combined with a second unit to feed one AD-H1200 head for twice the oomph. There is also the new AD600Pro that offers faster recycle times, shorter flash durations and very accurate colour consistency.
Although the light output of the Godox units has a high consistent quality across the range. The one blip in the Godox tech specs of the regular AD600B is there can be a slight colour shift when changing power or when the system switches from standard sync to HSS. This colour shift is minimal and not nearly as dramatic as the change in colour of natural daylight at different times of the day. Unless you are photographing flat copy artwork or doing colour precise commercial shoots there is nothing to concern yourselves with and even in a colour precise environment you will be fine if you use a colour checker in the scene. If colour consistency is important to you I’d suggest you pay the extra and get the AD600Pro heads and you will not be disappointed.
The godox system has many clone brands and the numbering can be confusing so I recommend putting in some research time when you invest in the system.
Profoto: At the top end of the price point is Swedish producer Profoto delivering consistent flash quality and reliability to the professional photographer. Designed to withstand an arduous working life delivering thousands of flashes per day these units are considered to be among the best in the world. Profoto lacks a 1200Ws location option offered by other brands like Broncolor, Elinchrom and Godox but it does offer lower power location units like the A1 and B2 plus the 500Ws B1X.
Broncolor: This Swiss company has been at the forefront of strobe research and development right from the start. It still has a strong user base among professional studios as their flash kit lasts for decades. If you have deep pockets take a look at the excellent ‘Move’ kit with the dedicated Fujifilm transmitter. Prices start at $6000.
Elinchrom: This Swiss giant in the flash industry is at risk of being left behind. In the short term they can rely on an extensive existing user base but some of these are increasingly impatient Fujifilm camera users. The frustrations are for HSS solutions to come to market for Fujifilm and Elinchrom are seemingly all talk but with no offerings at the moment for Fujifilm users. I expect behind the scenes R&D is underway. Hopefully the wait will soon be over. One of the problems that existing Elinchrom Quadra and ELB 400 users may face is the need to buy the new HS flash heads if they want to make use of HSS. It will be interesting to see if this Swiss company can produce a trigger as easy to use and as well designed as Godox X-Pro. Only time will tell. The Elinchrom ELB 1200 is an interesting unit and several thousand dollars cheaper than the Broncolor Move yet still several thousand dollars more than the Godox AD-H1200 kit. Once the power goes up so does the price point and the number of staff needed to cary and rig the kit.
LUMEN: All these shots and the photographs in part one of this feature were captured during filming of my latest video called LUMEN. In the video I show all the steps and thought processes needed to shoot masterfully with flash. The video was captured in real time using multiple camera angles and shows the complete process of shooting portraits with flash on location from start to finish.
Watch the trailer for Lumen
Click this link for all the video information and to get your copy of LUMEN with the Fujilove discount. Use these codes VIBRO£, VIBRO$, VIBRO€ at the checkout to get 20% off the already excellent prices.
Please feel free to comment on this feature or ask questions below.