Flashpoint Studio System

Affordable Power in a series of monolights
(By George Schaub)

Monolights have long been favorites of location photographers, and have been gaining increasing popularity with studio photographers as well. The all in one approach to lighting means less to haul without great sacrifice in output or features. Of late, monolights have been offering greater output as well, a real plus for serious location shooters. Recently, we had a chance to work with one such unit the Flashpoint, and its basic kit light stand, umbrella and monolight unit.

Flashpoint monolights come in three power output configurations the Model 600, 1200 and 1800, with each delivering the w/s in the product code. Along with the basic kit, the unit comes in a portrait/Wedding kit [in 600 and 1200 w/s configurations] that includes two monolights, two stands, an umbrella, and a snoot [light modifier] with color filters and a carrying case.

Regardless of the power output, the Flashpoint units share a number of features. First there's the aluminum casing, a hardy enclosure that gives a bit more confidence than some of the plastic encased systems out there.

There are also variable output settings that range from 1/8 to full power, with a proportional modeling lamp. Both power and modeling lamp are controlled by a knob on the rear. Ready signals are audible [and cancelable] which means that you don't have to check the light when working on the set. And there's a built in slave, which can be set or defeated, that makes multiflash shooting a breeze. Each unit has a flash duration of 1/700 second and outputs a consistent 5500k.

The units do differ in the power of their modeling lamps, the recycling time [there's about a 0.2 second difference between the 600 and 1200. If you're counting], and in weight, with the 600 and 1200 close at 4.9 and 5.7 lbs. Respectively and the 1800 at a bit over 10 lbs. The weight difference between the 600 and 1200 is, I suspect, due to fact that the 600 lacks the cooling fan present on the 1200 [and 1800].

Lighting's a Breeze
Setup and break down of the 1200 was a breeze. We worked with a Matthews light stand, which held its ground with the unit atop. Because of the cantilever effect of the umbrella. It's a good idea to check balance and the stability of any light stand before letting go. The cording is composed of a photo jack/PC tip for camera connection and the power cord. Naturally, with the slave on, the unit can be used as a second light without the PC connection.

Controls on the back are intuitive, even for a novice assistant. The power selector dials from full to 1/8 power with proportional or full modeling light, If desired. {the modeling light can also be turned off.} There's a Main off/on switch, and two lamps that inform you when the full charge has been achieved. You can also use the modeling light as an indicator, as it can be set to turn off when full charge is reached.

The slave fires if the flash is turned on and there is no camera/flash cord attached. It doesn't fire if the camera is hooked directly to the unit.

Wedding photographers will appreciate this feature, as it eliminates the need to always turn the slave off and on, and avoids accidental misfiring caused by amateurs in the area making their own shots. Finally, there's a red Test button for kicking the flash to make test reading.

Standard Supplies
Each monolight is supplied with a standard 6-inch reflector, which casts light perfectly for use with the supplied umbrella. If other accessories are desired, the reflector is easily removed by loosening the two knurled knobs on the sides. The unit takes all the accessories soft boxes, light banks, etc. designed for Balcar lights.]

Last but not least there's supplied halogen lamp. It's a screw in type, much appreciated by those who have struggled in the heat of the shoot with pin loaders in other systems. A plastic jacket is supplied with the lamp to help avoid touching the glass jacket with fingers a no for this type of light, as the oils from the skin can cause the heated lamp to blister.

Put to the test
We did a series of shots in our offices. The light was pointed into the Flashpoint umbrella, all of which was set up about ten feet from the subjects. The light was set to the side a white wall served as the kicker to the subjects' left. A small slave was placed on the floor behind the subjects to give some backlight glow and was about 1.5 stops lower than the main. The umbrella was high and pointed down on the subjects to avoid a back shadow.

A reading was taken from subject position with a Sekonic Flash meter, and the light was set at half power to get a reading of f/8. [We were using ISO 200 black and white film in our camera] The beauty of the off camera is free to roam so all shots were made with the light coming down at about 45 degrees on the subjects. Each frame, of groups and individuals was right on the money, and we were able to shoot fast enough so that poses could change on the fly. The light was soft and complimentary, and the white wall kicker read less than a half stop down on the fill side.

All in all, the Flashpoint performed as advertised, and hassle free shooting on this quick setup. For the affordable price, this system is just right for the studio and location shooter looking to handle a wide variety of jobs.


Manufacturer: Flashpoint

Sold exclusively by Adorama
42 West 18th Street 
New York, NY 10011


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