An Intro to Flash Varieties in Images, from 70W to 4800W

There are actually a whole lot of various flashes in the marketplace. With manufacturers competing for consideration and providing some very distinctive options, it’s typically laborious to determine which flash to select. What’s extra, shopping for a flash is usually like shopping for an entire lighting system. If somebody buys Profoto they’re prone to keep it up for a very long time as a result of it’s a part of a lighting system, not only one flash.

On this introductory article, I’ll break down some frequent flashes and dive into their professionals and cons.

There are three principal forms of flashes in the marketplace: speedlights (AKA battery-powered moveable flashes), monolights, and pack-and-head methods. They might be battery-powered or not, and naturally, all of them settle for a spread of specialised modifiers. Some are higher on location, whereas others are a king within the studio.

Let’s undergo these varieties one after the other:


The primary flash most photographers purchase is a speedlight. It’s a no brainer for newcomers: with its compact dimension and significantly bigger mild output than built-in flashes, it looks as if the subsequent step in being extra “professional.”

A speedlight is all the time battery-powered, small, moveable. As a result of dimension and battery energy, it produces a reasonably low mild output when in comparison with studio strobes. Don’t anticipate to have the ability to mild up a big scene utilizing one speedlight. A median speedlight may need 70W of energy, whereas a studio strobe can have 500W or extra.

Speedlights (and a few studio strobes) have TTL, which is By way of The Lens metering. It permits setting mild energy routinely, which saves time in some circumstances. One other function is zoom — virtually all speedlights have a zoomable head. This may be helpful once you’re utilizing a telephoto lens and must cowl a small space at 180mm fairly than large at 18mm

An ideal area of interest function of the speedlight is its extraordinarily brief flash length at low (1/4 or much less) output. Nonetheless-life photographers could tape 4 and even six of them collectively to have the ability to freeze movement. What’s much less welcome is wild output and colour inconsistency shot to shot. Interfaces may be complicated too.

As a result of its small dimension and low output, it typically doesn’t make sense to make use of speedlights with mild shaping instruments. Small softboxes, bounce playing cards, or gels are among the many solely choices you’ll have. Extra generally photographers will bounce their speedlights in opposition to a wall, ceiling, or different massive surfaces.


  • Small dimension
  • Low worth
  • TTL mode
  • Much more highly effective than the built-in flash


  • Low mild output
  • Coloration inaccuracies shot to shot
  • Little to none modifier choices
  • Gradual recycle instances


A step up from speedlights are monolights. Because the title suggests: the whole lot is in a single unit. Battery-powered and mains-powered monolights are fairly completely different, so we’ll take into account them individually. Monolights are fairly heavy, and booming them on a light-weight stand requires fairly a couple of sandbags.

Battery-Powered Monolights

These are incredible on location. They’ve massive output, anyplace from 300 to 500W, which is lots to overpower the solar. Battery capability is sufficient for 200-300 full-power flashes. Broncolor’s Siros 800 can do 800W As a result of they’re greater lights with larger output, they are going to be significantly massive and require a separate mild stand.

Then again, battery-powered monolights will be capable to settle for all modifiers natively (given mounts are acceptable). Recycle time at full energy may be fairly brief. For instance, Godox AD600 will recycle in 0.9 sec and full energy. Coloration consistency can be a lot improved — the Profoto B1x has a negligible colour shift throughout the entire vary.

In comparison with speedlights and mains-powered monolights, these can run fairly costly.


  • Plenty of energy on-location
  • Modelling lamp usable for video
  • Transportable
  • Tons of of modifiers can be found
  • TTL in most new lights
  • Can be utilized over lengthy distances


  • Want stands and remotes to work
  • Take up extra space in a digital camera bag
  • Battery life may be brief
  • Recycle instances at excessive energy may be above 1s.
  • Spare batteries required
  • Stands are top-heavy

Mains-Powered Monolights

Take the battery away, and also you get a mains-powered mild. These are the primary decisions for photographers working in studios. In comparison with battery-powered lights, these could have quicker recycle instances, shorter flash length, and be lighter. The dimensions might be just about the identical — a variety of battery-power monolights have mains siblings.

Some mains-powered monolights can go all the way in which to 1200W of energy, which is a welcomed addition when utilizing massive modifiers or needing to cowl enormous units. With the advantages of mains energy comes the most important drawback: portability. You possibly can’t seize and go.


  • Quicker recycle instances than battery-powered monoligjts
  • Modifiers out there
  • Highly effective modelling lamps
  • Every thing in a single package deal


  • Want mains energy to work
  • Stands are top-heavy
  • Onerous to manage as dials are on the sunshine itself – must climb up if the distant doesn’t provide an influence adjustment possibility

Pack and Head

A basic amongst many seasoned professionals. The facility output is commonly 1000W to 4800W. These packs are the costliest possibility, however once more there are two decisions: mains or battery powered. A pack-and-head system is the bulkiest one you possibly can have, however with massive dimension come massive advantages (when you don’t thoughts the dimensions after all).

Battery-Powered Pack-and-Head

A battery-powered pack-and-head system is without doubt one of the finest on-location decisions if you wish to have respectable energy and no heavy lights up within the air. Some nice choices are Broncolor’s Move pack that has 1200W of energy.

As a result of the top is lighter than a speedlight, it isn’t an issue to carry for lengthy durations of time. Furthermore, in comparison with the same monolight system, the pack-and-head will recycle rather a lot quicker.

A disadvantage could be a scarcity of vary. For those who’re utilizing a number of lights from one pack, the cable size will prohibit how far you possibly can have them. Batteries are typically very heavy for these too, however in case you are capturing at half the ability (600W), you get a powerful quantity of flashes in comparison with a comparable monolight system.

One other disadvantage is that including lights eats up energy. For instance, if a pack is rated at 1200W and has two sockets, it should distribute that energy over the variety of lights linked. One mild at full energy can output 1200W, however add a second one, and that 1200W is reduce right into a ratio you choose. All of the sudden most energy from every socket is decreased.


  • Lengthy-lasting battery
  • No pointless weight on stands
  • Controls on floor
  • Quick recycling instances in comparison with monolights
  • Most have the choice to trickle cost in from mains whereas in use.
  • Work with all modifiers and have sufficient umph for big modifiers.


  • Cumbersome and heavy
  • Lack of vary resulting from cable size
  • Extension cables eat up energy
  • Costly
  • Batteries are enormous and take a very long time to cost
  • Every head eats up energy

Mains-Powered Pack-and-Head

Whereas I can’t say that that is essentially the most skilled of all of them, it’s the mostly discovered lighting resolution for giant productions, rental studios, and something of scale. Mains-powered pack-and-head methods have unimaginable recycle speeds, the shortest flash length in the marketplace, and colour consistency like no different. Some manufacturers provide options to program them into lighting patterns.

Most pack-and-head methods provide two or three sockets. It has develop into business commonplace to have anyplace between 1200W to 3200W of energy in whole with the complete uneven distribution. So far as reliability goes, they’re one of the best. Photographers should buy a pack-and-head system from a long time in the past and use it day in day trip with out main worries.

Pack-and-head lighting methods are very costly and weigh a ton. For some, two or three sockets will not be sufficient. From expertise, I are likely to have two packs on set. That will not be sufficient, units can get loopy with 4 or extra packs. As a result of excessive price, only a few photographers personal pack-and-head methods — they’re rented from rental homes.


  • Extraordinarily dependable
  • Constant
  • Quick recycling instances
  • Controls on the bottom
  • Heads are mild – no pointless top-heavy stands
  • Work with each modifier
  • Nice for large modifiers
  • Highest energy out there


  • Cumbersome and heavy
  • Lack of vary resulting from cable size
  • Extension cables eat up energy
  • Costly
  • Every added mild cuts energy

So there you’ve got it, a information to flashes from 70W to 4800W. Now go forth and lightweight!

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