Let me start by saying that my product reviews are going to be a little different to what you’ve seen before. I won’t be looking to baffle with all of the science and mathematics about the lighting and all that jazz.
I’m very easily pleased with photography gear; if it does the job I want it to do then that makes me happy. So when I review equipment, I do it on that basis and that basis alone.
So does it do what I want it to….
I was lucky enough to have the CITI600 Manual Battery Powered Flash sent to me the week before the Photography Show in Birmingham as I was going to be providing demo’s on the Pixapro stand using this light. Now, I didn’t really get the chance to do a great deal with it prior to the show and ended learning the vast majority of its capabilities while demoing it live to an audience.
First and foremost, the most noticeable characteristic of the CITI600 Manual Battery Powered Flash is the fact that it is battery-powered. Yes, as studio head that is battery-powered. For me this is a god send. I run studio creative nights and have kids portraits sessions which means that a lot of the time there are lots of people in the studio moving around quickly. Being able to take away the hazard and hassle of wires, extension cables and everything that goes with that is a huge huge selling point to me.
This battery can fire 500 full power flashes on one charge. Let that sink in for a minute. That means that if you were shooting at the full 600w, you could fire continuously for 21 minutes (taking into account the recycle time of 2.5 sec). Now I wouldn’t advise this as you’d probably blind your model! So lets strip that back to even shooting at half power- around 1000 flashes at half power means you could literally go all day shooting with this.
As I mentioned above the CITI600 Manual Battery Powered Flash is as the name suggests 600w of awesomeness. Stepping down in third stops to 1/256th power, meaning the sheer range of power available extremely versatile opening lots of doors as to how it could be used. Not mentioning the three-step LED Modelling lamp which I have used to shoot at very shallow apertures to. The battery boasts an inbuilt charge indicator so that you can see at the press of a button, on or off the head, how much charge you have remaining. The official charge time from empty is around 4 hours, however, I’ve not yet had this down less than 25% of its charge, and the recharge time has generally been around the 1 hour mark for me.
There are of course two versions of this light available; the full manual and the TTL version. If, like me, you’re used to working with manual lighting, it’s a no brainer at the price its retailing right now at £450 (correct 27/04/16), and to be honest at the usual price of £599- its still a bargain! If you’re more inclined to use the TTL version for shooting in ever-changing conditions, or for quick set up- again this light offers extremely high value for money.
The High Speed Sync capabilities of both versions offer sports and dance photographers an easy line into high-powered HSS shooting, with speeds of up to 1/8000sec available. Not to mention the Strobetopic function too for multiple bursts in one exposure.
The bulb itself is very easily accessible and changed with a three prong system, and there will be an update allowing an external head to be plugged into the bulb socket for extra reach if needed.
So, let’s get back to me using this light. Weight wise its manageable for one of my assistants to hand hold even with a soft box attached at 2.6kg, and handles itself well at the top of a light stand too out on location.
Since arriving back from the photography show I have used this light on quite a few different types of shoots- just to see what it is capable of. Now this is raging from kids portraits in the studio, to a full day Fashion Editorial shoot (see the video at the bottom of the page) and each and every time it has performed brilliantly. I use the standard Pixapro trigger system, rather than the ST- III which is used for HSS and TTL shooting, as I like easy trigger systems and this is a reliable and simple remote. I tend to shoot a lot of my work with the light positioned around 8ft in the air pointing down towards my subject, so being able to adjust the power, and the modelling lamp, from the trigger on my camera is extremely important to me. The screen on the side of the unit is bright, easy to navigate and displays all of the relevant information and menu’s its ease.
Now I already use a range of location lighting systems such as the Elinchrom Quadra and Pixapro’s own PowerCore600. If I had the choice- at the price of the CITI600 Manual and everything else taken into account- it would be the CITI600 Manual every single time. The fact that I could potentially buy three of these heads for the price of one Elinchrom Quadra system is very appealing.
I can honestly say that I am in awe of this light. It’s very rare that I get excited about equipment, but the more I use this the more it makes sense to swap out all of the other lighting I use and replace it with these. I have yet to use the TTL or the HSS function (as it’s just not my way of working) but the feedback I have seen from other photographers is overwhelmingly positive.
Max Power 600Ws
Guide Number 87m @ ISO100 with Standard Reflector
Colour Temperature 5600±200k
Flash Duration 1/220s – 1/10,000s
Recycle Times 0.01 – 2.5 Seconds Recycle Time
Manual Flash Power Range 1/1 – 1/256 (1/3 Stop Increments)
Power SourceBuilt in (removable) 11.1V / 8700mAh Lithium-ion Battery
Number of FlashesApprox. 500 Full Powered Flashes Per Charge
Flash Modes Manual / Multi
High speed Sync Up to 1/8,000s
Radio Frequency 2.4GHz (Compatible with PIXAPRO PRO ST-III TTL Triggers)
Work Range 100m with ST-III Transmitter in Open Area
Channels (Radio) 32
Controllable Slave Groups 5 (A, B, C, D, E)
Slave Modes S1/S2
Other Trigger Methods PC Sync Port, 3.5mm Sync port, USB port for Pro AC Trigger Set
Dimensions 220mm x 245mm x 125mm
Net. Weight 2.69kg
Accessory Mount S-Type
CITI600 Flash Head1
Flash Tube 1
Standard Reflector 1
Lithium Battery Pack 1
Battery Charger 1
Power Cord 1
Lamp Cover 1
Credit: Chris Ord Website: https://chrisordphotography.wordpress.com/author/xtraordphoto/