4 More Flashes “Pocket Strobes” Worth Looking At | Transcription
Welcome to 4 more flashes, or pocket strobes that are worth looking at. These are basically some great starter flashes. If it’s not in the budget to go with our favorites, these are great flashes to look at, with the exception of this one in red. I don’t like that one. Each of these have a little bit of their cons, and so we’re going to go through and talk through each of them in this tutorial.
Let’s start from the top with the YongNuo YN564 Plus. I put plus there because they’re constantly changing version numbers. They literally are changing them every half a year. That’s this guy. He is $71, or she. Maybe it’s a girl flash. I don’t know what the originating sex of this flash is. Let’s just assume. Like all my items, it still has the plastic on it. I’m going to put that back on this time, because I was really disturbing myself by taking it off last time.
Okay. This little guy is 71 bucks, and it comes with a built in radio, but it is not a full featured flash. The radio inside of this can control other off-camera flash units, and you can also get a radio triggering system with the YongNuos. They have their own system that works pretty well actually with their own flashes, but it’s a manual triggering system. That means that you can control power, you can control zoom, but you don’t have things like TTL, rear curtain sync, high-sped sync, and that kind of stuff. Those are full-feature flash function. Still, at the price, holy cow. The main benefit of this flash is that it’s extremely inexpensive.
Off-camera flash for 70 bucks is absolutely ridiculous, and frankly, kind of frightening, because these flash companies, these Chinese branded factories are essentially taking Canon designs and other designs and replicating them, making them more simple, and then selling them back directly to consumers at insane price points, which I have no idea what it’s going to do to the name brands, but yes. Well, actually, I do know what it’s doing to the name brand. It’s putting them out of business. Competition is good so long as they follow the rules.
All right. This has the built in radio system. It has up to 3 groups. I think with their own transmitter, you can have up to 6 groups as well. Now, it’s a simple menu system. It’s pretty easy to use. It has certain things like external power input. It has metal hot shoe. The only thing I have to say … I almost dropped it. Every time I hold this guy, almost dropped it, but the battery thing pops open. The only thing I have to say about this device, and the reason why I don’t use it professionally is just because, obviously for $70, there’s going to be a little bit of a quality control issue. You’re not getting something with the best build quality.
That’s the main downside, and it has an average to below average build quality. We have poor third party wireless rage. Many of you would say that doesn’t really matter, and I would tend to agree. If you’re going with this system, you’re not going to be using PocketWizards with that. It has its own built-in radio. You’re buying it because it has everything built-in, and it’s cheap. When you use it with all its built-in functionality, for the most part, it works well, and it’s pretty consistent.
This is the one caveat. Because of quality control issues, I would say that if you are using this on professional shoots, have extras with you, because they will break. You will have issues with consistency in firing every now and then, and you need to replace a unit with a new one. Just have extras, but at 70 bucks, it’s easy to have 2-3 extra of these. 5 of these guys is equivalent to 1 Phottix Mitros. It’s like 5 to 1. That’s that.
Okay. The Neewer TT850. By the way, these 2 right here, these are the best budget starter flashes. If you’re just starting out in this stuff, these are the 2 I would look at if budget is a concern. The Neewer TT850, that’s this guy, starts at 105 bucks. For an additional 25 bucks, you can get the radio, which basically this is what the radio looks like on your camera, and then it has a little thing that pops onto the side that allows you to control the unit. Now form this radio, it’s pretty cool, you can actually switch to different groups, and you can also control power directly on your off-camera flashes, which is nice.
Again, it saves the convenience and hassle of having to have someone walk over to it, but you can’t control the zoom. You need to set the zoom manually on this, and then control power from this guy, from you camera, but still it works very, very well. For what it does, it does it well. At 125 bucks or 130 bucks basically per OCF, it does budget off-camera camera flash extremely well. Here’s the thing. What I like is that it has a simple interface. It has great third party wireless range. If you want to use it with, let’s say a PocketWizard, this actually does have really good third party range.
The reason why you might want that is because when you have a flash, like if you’re using a 580EX II on your camera, this guy has no ports to make them plug in. Basically, you have to get a hot shoe to PC sync adapter and use it that way. If you want to use a PocketWizard in those cases, this unit actually works. It works very well with PocketWizard which is nice. Also, the little radio thing tends to fall off a lot, so it’s nice to tape it on or something. Again, these are design issues that you’re just going to have when you’re buying very inexpensive items.
It has fantastic recycle times. That’s primarily due to the fact that it has this guy. Notice that it does not have a traditional AA batteries. That’s both a pro and a con. The pro to this is that you get very fast recycle times, like 1 to 1.5 second full flash recycle times. There’s cons to it too. Okay. The factory wireless system is available for 25 bucks basically for flash. It has, let’s see, control of the power but not zoom, and it has a metal hot shoe.
Let’s talk about the cons of this unit. Number 1 is the batter quality control. The quality control on these batteries is not very good, which means that we’ve gotten a lot of duds. You basically get these batteries where you charge them completely, and then they’re dead within 3 shots, and you’re like, “Okay. That’s a bad batter. I got to send it back to the factory.” Once again, you need to have lots of extra batteries on hand. You need to have lots, well at least a couple extra units on hand, in case something goes wrong with a unit. Quality control on either side is not that great, but you’re benefiting for buying them for such a cheap amount.
Number 2, I don’t even know if I put this on here. Okay. I think I forget to put this on here. The next con that I’d say is worth mentioning is that they both … There’s super quick recycle time when you’re using these batteries and when the batteries are working. That’s all fine and dandy until you actually realize that you can only pop about 15 to 20 shots before these overheat. Once they overheat, that recycle time slows tremendously down to basically worse than a regular flash. If you’re in outdoor situations where you’re dealing with lots of heat and you’re firing at full power, well very quickly this thing is going to overheat and it’s going to slow down those recycle times tremendously, even when indoors. We are testing them in a cool situation indoors, after 15-20 pops at full power. Again, you’re running to overheating issues.
Many of you might say that doesn’t seem like it could be a problem. It actually is. If you’re using a pocket strobe and you’re doing anything outside overpowering the sun, you’re going to be firing at 1/1. You’re going to be firing at full power this is a very common shooting situation. Out in California when you’re in mid-summer heat during the middle of the day, it’s very, very hot as well, and we’re trying to overpower the sun still.
This is a problem that we actually run into quite often. Even when you’re in a studio, if you’re shooting fashion, or if you’re doing other things, we have to pop fairly quickly, and you want to shoot at a higher aperture or you want to be able to use modifiers. Again, you’re going to be using these at close to full power. That whole quick recycle time that they boast, I would toss that out the window for the most part. If you’re firing that fast and you’re using it at full power, it will overheat.
Number 2, there are no AA batter slots. That means that if these batteries die and you run out of these, you have no way to power the unit, except for possibly external power. I think it does have an external power on here, but I’ve never … No. Actually, no external power. You don’t have external power. That’s the only way to keep these things going. We already mentioned below average build quality, average basically to below average build quality.
Also, the wireless system is clunky and pretty cheap. These units, they’re very, very plasticky. The ones that pop on the side, they fall off a lot. You can lose them very, very easily. Again, these are some of the drawbacks that you get with the system. What you do get is for a budget price range. For 400 bucks, you can have 3-off camera flashes ready to go. That’s a great deal overall.
All right. Let’s move on to this guy. This guy … Basically what I’m talking about here is Nikon SB-24s, 28s, 80s. All these old Nikon flashes, we use to use these a ton, especially a few years back, for off-camera flashes. By the way, we do shoot Canon, but we’d use these because we always shoot manual off-camera flash. Now these guys are fantastic, but the only thing here is that the price of these units was driven up quite a bit with David Hobby, the Strobist.
David Hobby started talking about these as being fantastic manual flashes, and people started buying them up all over the place, and the prices actually went up quite high where you’re buying used flashes for 150 to 200 bucks. Used to be able to get them for 50, 60 bucks, used, off of eBay or Craigslist or whatever, and now that’s just not possible. Now they range between $100 to $200 plus, which means that on top of that, you need to add a PocketWizard or something that’s going to be your radio trigger, and that’s a minimum of 100 bucks to 150 bucks.
For one of these, you’re looking at a minimum of $200 to $350 to have a single off-camera flash. 2-3 years ago, that was still okay. It wasn’t the best thing. It was still okay though, because we didn’t have all these other Chinese options basically. They were new. They were coming out. Nobody new about them until more recently. Well, they’ve been out for a little while, but everyone have been testing them and dipping their toes in the water and so forth. Now that we have those, it makes this an obsolete choice.
Now you’re spending a lot of money for something that’s used. It’s already a used flash to begin with. If you’re bulb has issues, if you need warranty services, you’re already going to have problems. You have to pay more to get them fixed, and it doesn’t have the convenience of some of these other guys. These guys with built in radios with their own systems. We can control power and so forth. You’re getting none of that convenience with this at a higher price point. I would say that’s an option that used to be an option, that really shouldn’t be one anymore.
Another option that used to be great, we call it that once a work horse but now it’s just a horse. I’m not [inaudible 00:10:34]. It’s more like a donkey. It used to be work horse, now it’s just a donkey. This is the Vivitar 285HV. Those of you that had taken my workshops know how much I despise this guy. I have 15 of them because I originally bought them when they did the re-release. Vivitar did a re-release of this guy. Back in the ’70s, you can see that this was … It looks like it was built in the ’70s. This guy was built in the ’70s. They did a re-release lately basically. They just brought it back because everybody is like, “We need cheap manual flashes.” so Vivitar said, “Okay. We’ll reproduce the Vivitar 285HVs.”
The problem was that the quality control wasn’t as good as it used to be. The build quality isn’t as good as it used to be. Everything is just crappy. You have recycled times of 8 seconds when you’re shooting full power, and it goes down to … After the first 10-15 shots, it’ll go to 11 seconds. It’s an absolutely just ridiculous recycle time. Also, we have this little port right here with … Let me take it. That’s how you have to get it. I’ve got to tear it off. See this, I call this the needle PC sync port or the needle port. Why? Because it’s freaking sharp, man. You could stab yourself with this, but that’s how it syncs. You had to have this specialized cable that plugs into the side of this, and it’s really difficult to get out, and that gives you your 3.5 millimeter sync cable right here that will plug into a PocketWizard.
Okay. Let’s see. This guy cost $95 by itself, but you also got to add in a cable to that, which is 15 or 20 bucks, and then you had to add in the PocketWizard, which is another 100 to 150 bucks. You’re looking $200 to $250 just to get a manual off-camera flash that’s kind of poopy. Again, 4 years ago when we were buying these things up, it seemed like a good option at the time, because the original 285HV was a work horse. It was a fantastic flash. It just worked. It was built like this nasty tank, but it still worked. Now, not so much. These were options that I would’ve said would’ve been great in the past that just really isn’t that great of an option now.
Now, the only pro to this was that it was simple to use. You have this oh so elegant design to control power right here, and this oh so elegant design to control your zoom right there. Lovely. It did have fantastic wireless range. That was one thing. When you’re using PocketWizard with this, it worked to any distance. It was ridiculous. Again, with that, you get the clunky old-school interface, terrible 1/1 recycle time. It looks like a tank.
Modifiers don’t easily fit this head because, as you can see, this is a very abnormally large head size. Look at this. The other heads fit inside of this. Things like a MagMod don’t fit this. A lot of flash modifiers, a dome, the fong dong doesn’t fit this. We also have a plastic hot shoe. It requires third party radios. It requires a special cable for that, and I mentioned plastic hot shoe. Again, why? Because I hate plastic hot shoes, so that made the list twice, number 5 and number 8. I hate plastic hot shoes.
Okay. As far as these options go, what’s my point? These 2 used to be good options. Used Nikons and the re-release of the Vivitar, they used to be okay options, but now with the YongNuo and the Neewer option and other Chinese made flashes, these are becoming far better budget starter options if you’re looking to just jump into this. Of course, buy a couple extras. Make sure that you’re testing them. Make sure that you’re constantly using them so that you know if something going bad, you can get it back to the factor and get it replaced, and you have replacement units and replacement batteries available. To be honest, they’re just much better options going on this side versus going on this side.