Digital SLR Photography - - Gear -

THE MOD­U­LAR DE­SIGN of the Pixapro PIKA200 makes it the most ver­sa­tile flash unit on the mar­ket. No big­ger than your typ­i­cal flash­gun, it has twice the power and 200Ws is a well judged out­put for a great va­ri­ety of tasks, us­ing the Fres­nel head on its own with maybe the op­tional gel and barn- doors kit ( not shown), or in a soft­box us­ing the bare- bulb op­tion. If you need more power, then the new twin- head mount al­lows you to clip two to­gether for 400Ws plus LED mod­el­ling lamps, and it's then trans­formed into a beefy and fully- fledged stu­dioflash. Given the per­for­mance, qual­ity and cost, the PIKA200 is the most ex­cit­ing new flash unit for a long time and it fully de­serves a Best Buy rat­ing.

Pixapro's Hy­brid360 TTL two- unit de­sign of­fers a very ap­peal­ing mix of big bare- bulb power in a highly mo­bile pack­age, with the bat­tery slung over your shoul­der. It's tai­lor- made for wed­ding and events pho­tog­ra­phers, where it's be­come al­most stan­dard equip­ment. It's also equally at home on a stu­dio stand with the Smart Adapter, though it lacks any kind of mod­el­ling lamp. Re­cy­cling can be slow at high- power set­tings, but the two- to- one adapter ca­ble fixes that.

The Pixapro CITI600- TTL is the clos­est ap­proach to a to­tal light­ing so­lu­tion we've yet seen. Very pow­er­ful, and with a spec­i­fi­ca­tion that ticks all the boxes, it's easier to list its weak­nesses. Com­pared to a mains pow­ered stu­dioflash, it doesn't re­cy­cle quite as fast and the mod­el­ling lamp isn't quite as bright, but that's all and nei­ther are se­ri­ous draw­backs con­sid­er­ing the up­sides. As a bat­tery- pow­ered flash for use on lo­ca­tions it beats all- com­ers, not to men­tion the op­tions of a ( faster) mains AC adapter, an ex­ten­sion head, and the abil­ity to cou­ple two units to­gether for an as­ton­ish­ing 1200Ws ( re­view soon). The master trig­ger­ing sys­tem is avail­able for all the lead­ing cam­era brands now, and is com­pat­i­ble with other units in the ex­cel­lent Pixapro prod­uct range, from flash­guns up­wards. This is an im­mensely ca­pa­ble strobe, for use in­doors or out, and is a Best Buy for sure.

The In­ter­fit S1 was an early pioneer in this fast de­vel­op­ing sec­tor. And it still per­forms to a high stan­dard even if others have raised the bar. It has plenty of power, but in HSS mode there are some lim­i­ta­tions – it loses auto- TTL con­trol, only op­er­ates down to quar­ter power, and there's some shad­ing down the frame at max out­put. Depend­ing on your needs, none of these things are nec­es­sar­ily deal- break­ers, but newer prod­ucts now have them cov­ered. The mod­el­ling lamp is of mar­ginal bright­ness as a work­ing stu­dio light too.

The ILUX Sum­mit 600C II is an­other very ca­pa­ble all- rounder. In per­for­mance terms, it has one ma­jor as­set – masses of power, in HSS mode too. And one draw­back – long re­cy­cle times. But given the high out­put, you shouldn't need full power that of­ten, so an easy work­around is to turn it down a bit and the re­cy­cle time will be dra­mat­i­cally re­duced. The other thing is, it's re­ally Canon- only and key func­tions are lost when used with other brands.

Prices are cor­rect at time of pub­li­ca­tion, but they can go both down and up quite fre­quently, so do check this on­line.


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