Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pack Comparison: Mo' Powa'!

It was just a matter of time before I wanted more power. The White Lightning X3200 has been great but the recycle time and flash duration has left me wanting... well more.


1. Shorter recycle times
2. Faster flash durations
3. Mo' powa'!


1. Shorter recycle times means faster shutters and more frames. I'm trigger happy. Especially these days that I'm shooting more with the D3, I like taking lots of frames.
2. Faster flash durations means a) freezing action but more importantly b) it means I get to sync faster. With the Hasselblad, I can sync 1/800th. But with slow flash duration it means I can't get all those Watt-seconds into my window of opportunity. Faster shutter speeds also means better control of ambient light.
3. More power means better control of ambient light. It means having the ability to overpower the sun and restructure the light on my subject the way I want it. Also the Hasselblad operates at a baseline of ISO100. Even with the X3200 at full power I'm only sometimes getting f/7.1 depending on what modifier and working distance I'm using.

So I priced out a few solutions. Price being a huge variable, recycle times, and then flash duration (t.5 because most manufacturers don't list their t.1 times!). Take a look:

The red boxes indicate the worst performer of the column. The green boxes indicate the best performer in the column. Obviously the Profoto 8A has the fastest recycle times but the worst price. Surprisingly however the Profoto 8A doesn't have the fastest flash duration. That's because Dynalite's 1600 paired with the AH4000 head achieves 1/3300 t.5 flash duration at full power. Nice! Except that the Dynalite 1600 is only 1600Ws. The Elinchroms come in pretty much dead last with slow recycle and slow flash duration. At t.5 it's only 1/300 which means its t.1 is probably only 1/90 which is intolerable.

Now I've bolded the option that I will most likely purchase. This pairs a Zeus Z2500 pack with a Z2500BTH (bi-tube flash head). Plugging the flash head into both ports on the pack allows the user to achieve a faster flash duration than with the Z2500SH (single-tube flash head). At $100 price difference with the single tube flash head (Z2500SH) it's a small price to pay for the greater performance. Plus, if I later get another Z2500 pack, I can plug the bi-tube flash head into both packs to get 5000 true Ws for sun-blinding light.

Really the biggest advantage of getting the Zeus Z2500 is that I get to use $800 of my Paul C. Buff modifiers. Beauty dish, grids, boxes, etc. Those items alone would cost 2+x their replacement value because the other companies charge so much more for the same thing.

So when do I get the new pack? Soon I hope! :)


  1. lol before clicking on the article I thought... "did he look at the Zeus?"

    well if you buy them would be cool if you could review them...

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  3. What about the Paul C. Buff Einsteins? Not a pack, but supposedly fast sync and refresh.

  4. yeah but they're pretty tame in power compared to what he wants...

  5. Hahaha yeah I'm actually looking at getting 2 Z2500 in 1 fell swoop for more power and faster refresh.