Has Wescott Out-Godoxed Godox with the Westcott FJ400 Strobe?

The post Has Wescott Out-Godoxed Godox with the Westcott FJ400 Strobe? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

The FJ400 flash and trigger

Wait? How Much? Did Westcott just outdo Godox?

Westcott has just announced the FJ400 Strobe, which on first glance is not that exciting. Then you see the price, only $569! That is $80 cheaper than the ultra-popular Godox AD400. That’s before you get to the universal trigger system. Has Wescott done the impossible? Has Westcott out Godoxed Godox?

Specs

Let’s get this stuff out of the way. If you want the headline numbers, here they are:

FJ400 Strobe

  • 400 watt-second AC/DC strobe
  • 9 F-stop range in 0.1 and 1.0 increments
  • Mains power adapter included
  • 0.9 recycle time at full power
  • 480+ full-power flashes per strobe
  • 0.05 second recycle time at the lowest power setting
  • 20 watt LED modeling lamp (Daylight balanced)
  • High-Speed Sync up to 1/8000th second, TTL and rear curtain sync
  • Bowens Mount
  • Series of gels (full CTO, has CTO, window green and diffusion) included. These attach by magnets
  • Color Screen

X2-M trigger

  • Universal wireless radio trigger for FJ400 strobe
  • Compatible with many Canon, Nikon, Sony (with adapter), Fuji, Panasonic Lumix and Olympus cameras (more are being tested by Westcott)
  • Integrated long-lasting lithium-ion battery
  • Up to 200,000 flashes per charge cycle
  • Wireless communication range of up to 985 feet (300m)
  • Bluetooth compatible with free mobile app
  • USB Type-C to USB-A cord for quick charging and firmware updates
  • 6 groups and 16 wireless channels
  • Color LCD screen

This is a serious specification list that clearly shows that Westcott is after potential Godox users. 

The Flash

westcott-fj400-strobe-Wescott FJ400 flash with bag and filters

The headline specs on this are huge. Not only is the flash cheaper than the Godox AD400, but it has a larger battery allowing for more flashes (480 for the Westcott vs. 390 for the Godox). This is at the expense of size, with the Westcott being slightly larger than the Godox. I would personally happily trade the size (and accompanying weight) difference for the extra flashes. 

The other really impressive feature is that the Westcott includes a mains cable, allowing you to plug in the Westcott FJ400 Strobe and use it as a standard studio strobe. For the Godox this is an additional extra. 

Lastly, the mount is Bowens (as is Godox), which allows you to use several different modifiers at all different price points. It also has an adapter for the Rapid Box system, meaning you can easily use the excellent Westcott modifiers

The Trigger

westcott-fj400-strobe-Westcott X2-M Trigger

The universal trigger is something that is going to be incredibly useful to many people. I shoot both Canon and Fuji and currently have two triggers that I have to remember each time I shoot. The fact that this system has a universal system is really exciting for those of us who shoot different brands. 

I also like the movement in the trigger. The fact that I can flick it up when setting my lights, then flick it back down to keep a more compact footprint is exciting. The LCD screen size is nice and big meaning it will be easy to change settings. The included Li-Ion battery is good for 200,000 flashes. This is great, but I do like using AA batteries on my triggers. It’s the peace of mind that I can get batteries no matter where I am. 

For those of you who use Sony cameras, you will need to buy an adapter. However, this is only $20. 

Isn’t this just a rebadged Jinbei?

It certainly looks like these strobes are based on the Jinbei. It is not totally surprising that the FJ400 Strobe has been based around an existing system. The price point Westcott has brought this unit out at would be incredibly difficult if they had to create the whole system from scratch. 

I am not an expert on electronic engineering, so cannot comment on the exact differences, but I have a hunch that the Westcott FJ400 will be built to a slightly higher specification. How much, however, is to be determined. The filter system included with the Westcott is more practical than those I have seen included with the Jinbei system. 

Also, Westcott has excellent customer service. You get to talk to a real person on the phone and things are US-based.  For many photographers, and especially professionals, great customer service is worth its weight in gold.

When can I get it?

Westcott expects to be shipping the FJ400 Strobe for the end of October. 

If you want to get yourself more excited, you can check out the announcement video below.

So, are you excited by the FJ400? Is it enough to persuade you to look at the switch from Godox? As always, let me know in the comments! 

The post Has Wescott Out-Godoxed Godox with the Westcott FJ400 Strobe? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

Profoto Launches Two Amazing Lights for Smartphone Photographers

The post Profoto Launches Two Amazing Lights for Smartphone Photographers appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Profoto Launches Two Amazing Lights for Smartphone Photographers

If you’re a smartphone photographer, then you’ve probably struggled to deal with indoor lighting. After all, smartphones don’t come with a high-quality flash; it’s easy to get noisy images when shooting indoors.

Until now.

Because Profoto has just released two lights made specifically for the smartphone: The Profoto C1 and the Profoto C1 Plus.

What are the C1 and C1 Plus?

The two items are billed as Profoto’s “very first studio lights for smartphones.” They’re small, orb-shaped lights, and they’re compact enough that you can take them anywhere without much hassle.

According to Profoto:

The light the C1 product range delivers is natural looking and beautiful with a soft, gentle fall-off…[F]rom now on you will always have natural-looking, beautiful light with you.

Note that the C1 Plus is both more expensive and more advanced than the C1. The C1 Plus includes a greater power output (4300 lumens versus 1600 lumens). The C1 Plus also includes a thread mount, so you can screw the light onto a stand and shoot with both hands. And the C1 Plus features better battery life than the C1.

Both the C1 and the C1 Plus offer rechargeable batteries. They also include multiple modes for increased flexibility: a continuous shooting mode and a flash mode. To use the Profoto lights, you can pair them with your smartphone via the special Profoto Camera app. Then you can take photos that are synced with the Profoto flash.

The Profoto C1 costs $299, while the Profoto C1 Plus costs $499.

But just who are these lights for?

If you like to use your smartphone on the fly, without any preparation, then I’d recommend against the Profoto C1. Despite its small size, you probably don’t want to carry the flash with you constantly. But if you’re the type of shooter who often shoots in low-light situations or prefers to capture more carefully considered shots, then the Profoto C1 could be exactly what you need.

If the Profoto C1 captures your attention, then you should also check out another product: The Godox R1, which was announced a few hours after the C1/C1 Plus announcement. The Godox light is similar to the C1 and C1 Plus, though it offers slightly different lighting options. For those hoping to purchase the Godox R1, keep an eye out for a release date!

Would you use either of these lights? what are your thoughts? Share with us in the comments!

The post Profoto Launches Two Amazing Lights for Smartphone Photographers appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Review of the Turfstand by Windborne

The Turfstand sheds the legs of conventional light stands and adds ground-anchoring spikes for a new layer of stability in outdoor lighting.

The Turfstand sheds the legs of conventional light stands and adds ground-anchoring spikes for a new layer of stability in outdoor lighting.

When you stop and think about it, how much is there to really say about a light stand? I suppose we could discuss height, weight or materials, but once we got our preferences out on the table, it would be a pretty short conversation. As long as it holds what you put on it safely and securely, and you can get it where you need it, the discussion is pretty much over, right? If we were talking about a traditional light stand, maybe. But since we’re talking about the Turf Stand, there’s actually quite a bit more to discuss.

Created by Michigan photographer Mike Drilling, the Turfstand is anything but traditional. Replacing the three legs we’re all used to with five sharp, metal spikes, at first glance the Turf Stand bears more of a resemblance to Poseidon’s trident than it does to a light stand. But a light stand it is. Obviously designed for outdoor photography, the base goes about ten inches into the ground, anchoring it securely into just about any terrain.

Specifications

  • Height:  8 feet from base to top of stand when fully extended (2.4 m)
  • Weight:  2.5 lbs (1.13 kg)
  • Spikes:  5 – the longest of which are 10″  (25.4 cm)
  • Materials:  aluminum and steel
  • Maximum load:  approximately 4.5 lbs (2.04 kg)
  • Price:  $139.00 (USD) on company website. $99.95 (USD) on Adorama and Amazon

First Impressions

There is no question that a lot of thought went into the design and manufacture of the Turfstand. Straight out of the box it appears to be sturdy and well-crafted. While I’ll confess to having one of those, “Why didn’t I think of this?” moments, I also have to admit to being a bit skeptical. After all, a conventional light stand and sand bag have always served me well in the past, so what’s the big deal? Then I remembered how much I hate dragging sand bags around with me, so that became a quick point in the Turfstand’s favor. Then I thought about uneven terrain, odd angles, and some of the other dilemmas that Mother Nature and circumstance sometimes throw in our way. Skepticism slowly gave way to intrigue and I was eager to put the Turfstand through its paces.

turf-stand-review-dps-001

Caution #1 – those spikes are sharp!

Considering the fact that the stand was designed to give you a sturdy base in grass, dirt, mud, sand, clay, etc., I would fully expect the spikes to be sharp. I would, however, also expect there to be a guard of some sort included for when the stand is not in use. First and foremost, you MUST be abundantly aware of how you carry this thing, especially when walking with or moving around your subject. Regardless of which direction I had the spikes pointed, I was a bit nervous- not only for the safety of the people around me, but for my own as well. After all, this was designed for uneven terrain. Tripping while carrying this stand unprotected could have some pretty serious results. Putting it in my light stand bag was not a viable solution, out of fear that the spikes might damage the bag itself, or the umbrellas and softboxes also stored in it. I addressed my concern with some heavy-duty cardboard.

turf-stand-review-dps-006

Caution #2 – this is not an air-cushioned stand

If you’ve been doing this a while, you know that air-cushioned stands lower slowly, regardless of how much weight is mounted on them. Non-air-cushioned stands, on the other hand, will slide down pretty fast as soon as the thumb screws are loosened. While this should not be a factor that prevents you from using this stand, you should be aware of it. As with all light stands and background stands, maintain control of each section as it’s lowered. You’ll not only keep the people around you safe, but you’ll also avoid accidents that could damage your gear.

turf-stand-review-dps-010

Out in the field

I do a lot of portrait location work, so I was pretty excited to see how the Turfstand performed. As noted, the spikes are pretty sharp, so driving the base into the ground was pretty easy. I tried it out on grass, hard-packed gravel, wet soil, and our famous Georgia clay. I couldn’t find anything on the Turfstand website regarding water-resistance, so I passed on the idea of trying it out in a running, shallow river nearby, but my guess is it would be fine, as long as the base was not completely submerged.

One area where the Turfstand performed exceptionally well, was when I tried it at odd angles. How many times have you been shooting portraits on location and not been able to get your light stand down low enough? Portraits with subjects sitting on the ground often require an assistant holding the light, or turning a light stand on its side and laying it horizontally on the ground. The Turfstand’s unique design allowed me to stick it securely in the ground at a 45 degree angle, bringing the softbox down to a lower height, without the usual hassles.

turf-stand-review-dps-003

Taking odd angles and uneven terrain a few steps further, I decided to see how the stand would fare if stuck into the side of a hill. As you can see from the photo below, it’s pretty adept at putting a light in places you wouldn’t be able to even try with a conventional light stand. Even better, it lets you do so without putting you, or an assistant, in a physically dangerous or precarious position. We all want to get “The Shot” but personal safety should come first (most of the time).

turf-stand-review-dps-008

The other big question mark for me was how the Turfstand would perform under windy conditions. Starting with the premise that no light stand is going to stay 100% still in even a light breeze once an umbrella or softbox is mounted on it, my concern was less about movement and more about falling over. By virtue of its three legs, a traditional light stand is going to have a lower center of gravity, resulting in less lateral sway. The down side is that on a windy day your traditional stand will either stay up or get blown over. Up or down. There’s not going to be much in between. An assistant or a sand bag will obviously help, but not everyone has the luxury of a second set of hands on a photo shoot. While I did notice some sway with the Turf Stand–particularly when used at unconventional angles–I was never worried about it being dislodged from the ground.

As with any piece of equipment, you have to use some common sense. In windy conditions, a softbox will fare better than an umbrella, but remember that any chain is only as strong as its weakest link. In the case of the Turfstand, my weakest point was where my speedlight and softbox were attached. Just because the Turfstand can withstand a heavy wind, don’t assume that your light or modifier can. As the product insert says, “Nothing works in a hurricane.”

For purposes of this test, I used a Nikon SB800 speedlight in a 24″ Glow HexaPop softbox (one of my favorite modifiers for ease of use and quality of light, full review coming soon). The combination of the two was well below the 4.5 pound load limit. As with any light stand, exercise caution against pushing the maximum load limit, or maximum extension.

turf-stand-review-dps-007

Pros of the Turfstand

  • Lightweight and easy to use
  • Sturdy and secure
  • Quality materials and construction
  • One-year, 100% guarantee
  • Great performance on irregular terrain
  • Reasonably priced

Cons of the Turfstand

  • The spikes could be a hazard
  • Non-air-cushioned construction

Final thoughts

I review a lot of photography products, and some of the highest praise I can offer is that a product does what it says it’s going to do and does it well. That is certainly the case with the Turfstand. Plant it in the ground and it’s not going anywhere. It’s a unique solution to a problem that any location photographer has faced, and any solution that lets me leave the sand bags at home is a solution well worth considering. You’ll notice below that I’ve given the Turfstand 4 out of 5 stars. If the designers can come up with a guard for the spikes when not in use (something I’d be willing to pay extra for, by the way), and switch to air-cushioned construction, I’d gladly give the 5th star.

As noted, the Turfstand sells for $139.00 (USD) on the Windborne website, but even at its $99.95 Adorama price, I can’t help but think the price is maybe a bit high. Realizing that you can buy two conventional air-cushioned light stands for the cost of just one Turfstand makes you stop and think about whether the added versatility is worth the added cost. As with any gear purchase, only buy it if your answer is “yes.” For me, I don’t see it being a major part of my workflow right now, but it’s nice to know that an option like the Turfstand is available if that changes.

The post Review of the Turfstand by Windborne by Jeff Guyer appeared first on Digital Photography School.