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water-splash News & Insight

Three Monolights Go Head To Head With High Speed Splash

By Ryan Filgas on August 6th 2014

Studio Monolight Review

Studio monolights are quite an investment, and not something you’ll generally buy until you have an excellent understanding of how light works both naturally and artificially. Given their expense, they are used almost exclusively by professionals, but should you be shopping around for one, you may find this review helpful. The video compares 3 monolights, 500 watts each, though at different price ranges. Since the specifications are so similar, the video shows how they all perform in a water splash test. The speaker, Alex Koloskov, does an excellent job going over their features in the first video, then giving them some hands on action in the studio during the second.


Here’s a quick look at the interface for each monolight: monolight_back Alex starts with the basics. A great monolight will be the foundation of your studio, and as such, you should choose carefully. To give you some specifications on each light, the Elinchrom BRX 500 costs $670, and has a flash duration of 1/1500 sec at maximum power. The Photogenic PL1250 500W/s PowerLight Monolight (UV) costs $600, with a flash duration of 1/1300 sec at max power, and the Profoto D1 Air 500 costs $1200 with a flash duration at 1/2600 sec.

In the testing, it was made obvious that these are all great strobes, however none are designed for high speed photography, as they all failed to completely freeze motion. In the end, the Profoto is selected as a favorite for its faster recycle time and slightly shorter flash duration of 1/2600 sec. Though at twice the price of the others, it might not be the best option for some. Alex stresses that these are only the base of a studio and they still rely heavily on light modifiers as well as the knowledge and experience of the photographer. water-splash On another note, this last video doubled as a partial splash tutorial with some small tips. If you’re wanting to get into splash photography, you should notice the reflective surface underneath the glass of water, a non stick pad to keep it from going off the table, the diffuser behind the set helping to create a natural focal point for the glass, as well as the experimentation and practice involved in getting the final shot. Lastly, if you’re looking to get a shot like this perfectly frozen, you may want to invest in a specialized monolight like the Broncolor Grafit A4 that was used in this last image. [VIA: Photigy]

CREDITS: All photographs by Alex Koloskov and  are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.


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Ryan Filgas is an aspiring portrait photographer and studio arts major at Humboldt State University. His life consists of talking with friends, taking classes, and planning his next outdoor adventure. You can find his work on his website, Facebook, Google+, or connect with him via email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Matt LaPointe

    Another option would be the Godox QT Series that is available internationally in both 120V and 220V.

    In the UK they are sold as a house brand by Lencarta but sold as Godox elsewhere in the world. They haven’t had a large presence in the United States but will be available soon.

    The Godox QT-600 offers a top flash duration of 1/5400th of a second with a recycle time of 1.2 seconds at full power. At lower power ranges you can get 10 flashes per second. The power range is down to 1/128th power over a 50 step range.

    It is a really impressive piece of gear and shows how far the Chinese brands of strobe have come.

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  2. Marc Billingsley

    Why wouldn’t you test the Paul Buff Einstein. It has a wicked fast flash duration…..

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    • Stan Rogers

      Alex has recommended it in the past — quite vigorously, in fact — but his audience is very much international, and Paul C. Buff no longer sells outside of North America (due to disputes with his European and Australian/Asian distributors), and has left his existing international customers stranded without parts and service/repairs. It’s hard to give a big thumbs up to something that’s not available to the vast majority of your audience.

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  3. Cy Sawyer

    Just wondering of Bowens was left out for a particular reason or just not available? Thanks.

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    • Stan Rogers

      It’s in the same class (variable power depends on capacitor charge), but its actual t 0.5 is considerably longer than the spec sheet says it is (at about 1/900s at full power) and the t 0.1 is nearly in line with a typical X-sync shutter speed (and will get longer as the power is turned down). It’s suitable for a lot of things, but frozen splashes ain’t among ’em.

      And he’s only got what he can lay his hands on for review (usually gear owned by local friends) — it’s not like the makers are sending stuff to him. You may have noticed that there were more brands than just Bowens missing.

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  4. Stan Rogers

    If you’re at all interested in product photography, Alex’s entire series is more than worth your while. (Well, maybe not the recorded Google hangouts — they’re great for the Photigy community, but they’re full of technical glitches and a lot of “you’ve got to know these people” stuff. It takes a lot of patience to get the goodness out of them.)

    Oh, by the way, the Paul C. Buff Einstein (for North Americans; they’re not available elsewhere), Profoto B1 Air TTL battery monolight and the Elinchrom Pro HD monolights can also give you extremely short flash durations — as can most speedlights, but with a considerable loss of available power. Broncolor usually wins outright, but they’re not exactly budget-friendly (to understate things somewhat).

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