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2 head Strobeam D4 HSS IGBT

2 head Strobeam D4 HSS IGBT

£1,078.80 (inc VAT 20%) £1,200.00 £899.00 (exc VAT 20%)
RRP: £1,440.00 (You save £361.20)
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kit9020
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Product Description

Kit Contents:

Package Contents

2x Strobeam D4 HSS head

2x Rechargable Li-ion battery

1x Nikon/Canon Dedicated controller/trigger

2x Spill Kill reflector

2x Battery charger 

1x Trigger kit charger



The battery is mounted on top of the flash head and is unclipped with a small button at the back. I believe Strobeam are intending to sell spare batteries for less than £100, quite possibly significantly less. The claim is that the battery will be good for 300+ shots at full power, from what I’ve seen of previous Strobeam battery powered heads this likely to be easily achieved and quite possibly exceeded.


The body of the flash has completely changed and there is a small display on the which shows the various head settings. The buttons are smaller than on other Strobeam heads that I’ve used but are still OK. It would be nice if the power button was significantly different in shape, size or location so it could easily be differentiated from the other buttons but that’s nothing that would cause a problem once you become used to the layout of the head. I guess the only problem I can foresee with this is the possibility of accidently turning the head on while transporting it, one of the problems of have the battery always connected. This would be easily solved by just taking the battery off the head when packing it away.


The controls are fairly intuitive; the main knob adjusts power, as shown on the display, there is a cell button that turns the internal photocell triggering off and on, a button to change the channel though 0 to 9, a power button, a test button and a line of 3 red LEDs which gives an indication of battery charge level.


This head is IGBT controlled, just like its predecessor. It also has a couple of other very interesting features up its sleeve, it can be adjusted down to 128th power which in my book is really useful and it can be used at any shutter speed, right up to 1/8000th second although it has to be set to full power to achieve this.


As I’ve commented before, I do like the Strobeam remotes I think they’re well designed, have a quality feel and are easy to use. The remote for the D4 HSS IGBT is no different. It’s a pity the remote doesn’t remember separate setting for each head ID but otherwise it’s excellent. The range of the remote is considerable, I tried it up to about 30m with me outside and the flash inside and it worked fine. I’m guessing most people won’t want to go beyond that. The new remote also has an automatic wake up function, so if it goes into sleep mode when on the camera it’ll wake up when the shutter release is partially pressed. This is better than the old remote which just turned off after an annoyingly short period of time and you had to slide the power switch off and back on to get it to wake up again.

One thing that is a little unusual is that there is no flash sync socket on the head so you have to either use the supplied remote of the optical cell trigger, you can’t wire it or use another trigger system such as Pocket Wizards.

The other design shortcoming in this remote is that, for reasons I can only imagine, it’s not compatible with any other Strobeam product! So if you have a couple of Strobeam G5s for instance and you want to add an D4 HSS IGBT to those then the D4 HSS IGBT remote won’t trigger the G5s and the G5 remote won’t trigger the D4 HSS IGBT. Great move in terms of supporting existing customers.

There is an LED modeling light, which I think is a 10W LED configuration. Although this is likely to be underpowered outside in sunlight it is surprisingly bright and would be more than adequate in a studio. The white balance of the modeling light is also quite close to the flash tube temperature at 4500k albeit with a bit of a green hue to it.

Build Quality And General Comments
The build quality of this head seems good. The body casing is all metal, the rear of the flash is made of a robust looking plastic. One thing I would have quite liked to have seen is a carrying handle of some sort, the flash is quite heavy (1.8kg including battery and standard reflector) for a portable unit because it incorporates the battery and there’s nowhere to really grab hold of it and carry it by other than the stand mount.

The display is quite small and has little backlighting which for me made it a bit difficult to read in a darkish studio setting. I do wear reading glasses so I’m sure someone younger with better eyesight might be fine but there’s no way you’d read the display on this head from a distance. Although the G5 display had a major viewing angle problem I’d still say the display on the D4 HSS IGBT is inferior.

The head angle adjustment is done with a normal lever and was pretty easy to use. It’s worth noting that although the remote is very similar to the other Strobeam remotes, for some reason it seems to have a slightly poorer viewing angle than the others that I’ve seen. This means when viewed at an acute angle i.e. when it’s fitted to the hotshoe on top of the camera the display is not as easily read as on the previous remotes. This isn’t a huge problem it just means you need to tilt the display a bit further towards you to see it clearly.

The controls on the remote allow full control of the head, there are direct access buttons for channel ID, all or individual ID setting and triggering, modeling light, optical cell triggering, test trigger and increasing and decreasing power level. Unlike the other Strobeam remotes there is not a group button so two sets of D4 HSS IGBTs can be used in close proximity without triggering one another.

Power Setting Accuracy
Firstly I measured power setting accuracy. This head behaves much as I expected based on the performance of previous Strobeam products that I’ve looked at. The guide number is 42m at full power but because of the nature of IGBT switched heads the light output has a long tail on it at full power, as you can see if you look at the scope traces a bit further down the page. This means it tends to be a bit nonlinear when it goes from full power to half power and indeed it is, the flash power actually drops by just over half a stop at half power rather than a full stop. However from then onwards it’s very linear and in all honesty this probably is the best compromise that Strobeam could have made so I have no complaints here.


POWER POWER SETTING IDEAL GN ACTUAL GN % OF IDEAL
400W 1/1 42 41.4 99%
200W 1/2 29.7 37.3 125%
100W 1/4 21 29 138%
50W 1/8 14.9 20.5 138%
25W 1/16 10.5 14.7 140%
13W 1/32 7.4 10.4 139%
6.3W 1/64 5.3 7.2 138%
3.1W 1/128 3.7 5.4 146%


 


I’m not sure what Strobeam are specifying this head at in terms of guide number as I wasn’t privy to a full specification at the time of writing this review. But 42m is pretty much in line with what I’d expect.

 

Colour Accuracy
The next test I did was colour accuracy. Here I measured the head’s Kelvin white balance at output power settings from full power to 1/128th power. Typically IGBT designs have a Strobeam D4 HSS IGBT Evaluation Report tendency to give a bluer light as the power is reduced, unless the manufacturer compensates for this by reducing the supply voltage as the power is reduced as done in the Paul C Buff Einsteins. However, whether by luck or judgment, Strobeam seem to have pulled it off in the D4 HSS IGBT, the colour consistency is absolutely superb! From full power to 1/64th power I was unable to measure any colour shift and at 1/128th power the flash shifted from 5000k to 5200k which is just not going to be visible at all and I’d have to say is probably within my measurement uncertainty.

 

I’m not sure what Strobeam are specifying this head at in terms of guide number as I wasn’t privy to a full specification at the time of writing this review. But 42m is pretty much in line with what I’d expect.

 

Colour Accuracy
The next test I did was colour accuracy. Here I measured the head’s Kelvin white balance at output power settings from full power to 1/128th power. Typically IGBT designs have a Strobeam D4 HSS IGBT Evaluation Report tendency to give a bluer light as the power is reduced, unless the manufacturer compensates for this by reducing the supply voltage as the power is reduced as done in the Paul C Buff Einsteins. However, whether by luck or judgment, Strobeam seem to have pulled it off in the D4 HSS IGBT, the colour consistency is absolutely superb! From full power to 1/64th power I was unable to measure any colour shift and at 1/128th power the flash shifted from 5000k to 5200k which is just not going to be visible at all and I’d have to say is probably within my measurement uncertainty.

 

So to be honest I’m gob smacked at this performance, this is by far the best colour consistency that I’ve seen to date and would equal the Paul C Buff Einsteins in their colour priority mode. Whether a selection of D4 HSS IGBT heads would all be as consistent I can’t comment but I’d guess this attribute tends to be a feature of certain design attributes so I’d imagine the heads would be pretty consistent in this respect.

 

 D4 HSS IGBT PRIME LOCATION LIGHTING Color Temperature Chart 
POWER POWER SETTING RED GREEN BLUE KELVIN WB
400W 1/1 77 76 77 5000
200W 1/2 77 76 77 5000
100W 1/4 77 76 77 5000
50W 1/8 77 76 76 5000
25W 1/16 77 76 76 5000
13W 1/32 77 77 77 5000
6.3W 1/64 77 76 77 5000
3.1W 1/128 77 76 77 5100


 

Power consistency
Here I’m checking that when set to a given level the D4 HSS IGBT consistently delivers the same power. This is actually quite an important parameter as I have seen cheap heads that can vary by almost a stop, shot to shot which isn’t great.

 

The D4 HSS IGBT is a bit of a mixed bag on this front. If you fire off a high speed burst of flashes (say 3 fps) the head allows the next flash to be fired before the power supply has fully recharged. Hence the light level gradually drops as the burst of frames goes on. In this situation the light output of the head can drop by a stop from the first to the last frame of the burst. Bear in mind most flash heads won’t even let you do this at all so the fact that performance is less than optimum here is still tolerable.

 


If you leave the head to fully recharge and fire at more sedate frame rates then the shot to shot variation is within 0.2 stops which I’d say is fine for most uses. This head is not as good as say the Strobeam G5 in terms of high speed burst rates. The most I managed to get out of it was 6fps and that had to be at 1/16th power or less, still as I said a moment ago it’s pretty amazing that you can do this at all so…

 


Flash duration
On to flash duration, arguably one of the key attributes of the D4 HSS IGBT. Well it does what it says on the tin basically. At full power you get a normal exponential decay of light stretching out over 10ms (1/100th second) or so but as soon as you reduce that power you get a sharp cut off of the light output which is very good for freeze action, in a way that most studio flash heads do not. Realistically you have to drop to 1/4 power and below to get much action freezing potential but the head gets gradually faster until at 1/128th power the flash duration is only 90us (12000th second). You’re not going to freeze a speeding bullet with that sort of flash duration but it will stop pretty much anything else in its steps.

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