By Suzi Pratt
Adorama has been on a roll with its rechargeable lithium-ion battery powered flash units. Not long ago, they debuted the FlashPoint Zoom Speedlight, and now they have upped the ante with a monster 400ws ringflash. I recently got my hands on this ringflash and ran it through some tests to see how it would perform. Read on for some specs and details!
What’s in the Box
The first thing you’ll notice about this ringflash is its size, as indicated by the large box it arrives in. Included in the box are:
- (1) FlashPoint Ring Li-On 400ws Ringflash with a Guide Number of 82
- (1) Snap-on diffuser ring
- (1) PC cable
- (1) Rechargeable battery
- (1) Battery charger
- (1) Fully adjustable camera bracket with 1/4″ x 20 screw mount
With the rechargeable battery, the flash weighs in at 3.1 pounds (1.4kg), and has dimensions of 8.9 x 9.1 x 2.8″. Due to its size, I found it was very difficult to use this flash in handheld mode, without using the included bracket to hold it in place with my camera, or on a tripod. As a result, the final product ends up weighing quite a bit. Even though it is fully transportable, I would not consider this setup to be the most compact and travel-friendly, especially since the flash doesn’t come with a carrying case. However, the easily affixed umbrella bracket and tripod mounting included with the flash make it a breeze to use this flash in a hands-free studio setup.
The flash can be triggered via the included PC cable with a 3.5mm jack, or remotely from a distance of 150+ feet away using the Flashpoint Commander set (sold separately). This means that the Flashpoint Ring Li-on Ringflash can be triggered by any camera that has a PC socket, adapter in a hot shoe, or connection to the wireless Flashpoint Commander system. The only possible limitation is lens size. If you opt to shoot through the Ring Li-on flash, it must be done with a lens no larger than 3.5 inches in diameter, otherwise it won’t fit through the middle opening in the flash.
Despite its somewhat cumbersome size, one of the Ring Li-on’s best features is the 11.1V Lithium-ion cell battery with a 4500mAh capacity. This powerful battery can run the flash through about 450 full-power discharges, before needing a recharge. Additionally, the powerful battery also allows for the flash to perform with a solid guide number of 82 (feet at ISO 100), which is very rare among portable ringflashes.
Flash output is very easily controlled via an intuitive, illuminated rear selection dial that clearly indicates battery levels, LED model/video lamp power, and flash modes of Manual, 2 Slave, and Stroboscopic. The flash’s power is adjustable in 1/3 stop increments from full power down to 1/128th power with a recycling time of between 0.5 seconds and 2.8 seconds on a fully charged battery. Flash duration averages between 1/300 to 1/20000 seconds depending on the power of the output.
Another great feature of the Ring Li-on flash is the ability to emit constant 440 lux LED lighting with three level output settings for use as a modeling light or a video light, and it will even power-off automatically after a set period of time to conserve battery power.
Ring Li-on Flash in Practice
For those of you unfamiliar with ringflashes, they tend to be favored among fashion and portrait photographers thanks to the ringed catchlights that are produced in the subject’s eyes. Macro photography shooters may also find ringflashes appealing since they produce virtually shadow-free lighting with even illumination. You may also have seen ringflashes used by medical and dental professionals, again because of the even lighting produced.
In the portrait below, the Ring Li-on flash produces a look with very balanced lighting that is very soft on the shadows. The subject is evenly exposed, and we see the signature ring-shaped catchlight in his eyes.
The Ring Li-on flash also performs superbly when paired with a macro lens, although I strongly advise using the provided bracket to help stabilize your rig. Below, the Ring Li-on flash was used to photograph a family heirloom ring. Little to no shadow is detectable, and the ringflash’s catchlight is reflected in the pearl. In the final example, the Ring Li-on is used to take a macro photo of a succulent plant, thus providing even lighting with just a hint of a shadow even in this layered plant.
What’s your take on ringflashes? How do you incorporate them into your photography work, if at all?
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