For as long as I can remember lighting has been one of the few aspects of photography equipment that hasn’t really changed much over the years – or at least that is how it has seemed. There have been changes, of course, but they are usually quite small. Compared to the pace at which cameras move, improvements in lighting technology is almost glacial. Even lenses get updated, refreshed, and improved at a far quicker pace.
This isn’t necessarily a problem as a good light remains a good light regardless of its age. I have used 30-year old Broncolor packs that have performed flawlessly and even had features still not seen in monoheads – at least not mine. It is for this reason that I continue to tell people not to skimp on lighting. If you buy good quality lights and look after them, they should last your entire career as a professional photographer.
My reason for looking at new lights is because I would love to simplify my lighting setup in much the same way that Zack Arias did with his. I would love to have a single trigger system that worked for both monoheads and speedlights alike. TTL, whilst I wouldn’t use it much, would be nice to have, and size counts. I just don’t need massive heavy heads anymore and could really do with going for something smaller and lighter.
My current setup is made up of Broncolor monoheads that have been absolutely amazing. They have never let me down, emit a good quality, colour accurate light. However, they are quite heavy, only operate off of mains, and require the budget of a king to purchase original Bron accessories or additional lights. I have seen the new offerings from Bron, and they look great, but they really just aren’t in my price bracket anymore. Perhaps if the South African Rand hadn’t halved in value against the US Dollar over the past decade or so it would be a different story, but it has, and that has made a lot of things just too expensive!
Godox AD600 & AD600Pro
I was originally drawn to the Godox AD600 heads as I had been hearing good things about the quality of the units, the pricing was good, they used a common trigger system for monoheads and speedlights, and importantly, were an excellent price. Bron and Profoto still seemed to have quite a bit of an edge with regards to colour accuracy, but in most other ways they were very tempting. Also, their use of the ever-popular Bowens mount opened up endless opportunities with regards to modifiers. Then came the AD600Pro which was a lot more colour accurate. Some tests even putting it ahead of the Profoto equivalents – no mean feat! This was really shaping up to be a solid option going forward.
Now the AD600Pro has gotten even better – for me anyway! Well, the AD600Pro is the same, but there is now an AD400Pro which is a smaller sibling. It is smaller, lighter, albeit less powerful, and seems on paper anyway, to be just as well made. On top of that there is a price saving which would allow you at almost buy 3 AD400Pro units for about the same price as 2 AD600Pro units – not quite, but almost! Three battery powered monoheads and another three or so speedlights would be perfect for what I need.
One area where lights have improved over the years is in their ability to be stopped down way more than older units. My Brons for example only have a 4 stop range which can be very limiting. I often battle to turn the power down low enough when lighting a white seamless backdrop, especially if I am trying to shoot on f2.8. I have learnt to live with this but it does require more editing after the shoot which I would prefer to avoid, especially if I should be able to achieve the desired result in camera. Newer lights, and the Godox are no exception, have 9-10 stops of range. More modern capacitors and circuits mean they can fire reliably at much lower outputs, hence the additional range which is all at the low end.
So, they are smaller, lighter, reasonably priced, well made, and offer 9 stops of range. They really do seem to be perfect for what I am needing. Having only just landed in South Africa I would love to see one in the flesh and even test it if possible, but this may not be possible as apparently demand is high so there may not be any loan/test units available for a while. I would definitely want to test them first, but perhaps if there is an AD600Pro unit available I could try that to get a good idea of what the AD400Pro would be like.
What about the Profoto B10 that was recently announced I hear you ask. Well, they are probably amazing! If they are in your budget and you were considering getting them then I can’t really see why you shouldn’t. For me, however, they just aren’t in my budget. I also don’t own any Profoto gear so there isn’t that pulling me towards the newer units either.
So, what do you lovely people of the interwebs think of the Godox range? Do you own any of their lights or thought about buying any of them? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. And lastly, here is a video I found which does a pretty good job of explaining the difference between some of the Godox lights. His use case seems pretty similar to mine.
The creator of the above video, Robert Hall, has released a short update to his initial review. It addresses some of the minor issues he had as well as confirms the addition on 0.1 stop adjustments. All in all this is shaping up to be an awesome little light. Definitely need to get one for testing.