Looking for your first studio flash?
Hot on the heels of the Honey Badger strobe introduced in 2017, Interfit Photographic has come out with a new line of products called the Studio Essentials. Included in this line is a 200 watt second strobe head that retails for $99.99. Called the 200Ws Value flash, it offers a 6-stop range of power adjustable in 1/10 stop increments. The specs for the flash claim a 5-stop range, but the unit goes from power level 2.0 to 7.0. Testing the light with its 20x28-inch softbox at 3 feet my meter reads from f/2.8 (power level 2.0) to f/16 (power level 7.0). That is f/2.8 - f/4 - f/5.6 - f/8 -f/11 - f/16. Plenty of power for the home studio.
This light comes with a built-in radio receiver and a trigger for your camera is available for $19.99 (if you purchase one of the kits I write about below the trigger is included). The light also uses the industry standard Bowens S-mount for accessories (as do the Honey Badger and the S1 from Interfit). A standard 7-inch metal reflector is included. At this price point,though, it should be pointed out that the radio triggers are not compatible with those for the Honey Badger and S1 and work most reliably at shutter speeds of 1/125 and slower. The Value Flash does have an optical slave trigger so can be triggered by other lights in your studio setup up to the sync speed of your camera. High Speed Sync is not available
The Value Flash shares the ratcheted angle adjustment with the Honey Badger. This helps when using larger/heavier modifiers on the flash head. Even if the angle adjustment isn’t tightened down completely the ratchet keeps the flash from flopping over. It took me a little while to get used to and appreciate this feature. Now I find it quite useful.
Recycle time at full power is 2 seconds. Color temperature is 5600K at full power. Color temperature gets a little bit warmer at lower power settings. This is easily compensated for by adjusting the white balance in Adobe Lightroom or other raw converter. Exposure has been very consistent from flash to flash in my testing. These are very economical first lights if you are just getting started. And the optical slave triggering and use of S-Mount accessories means that you can continue using them as you progress to more advanced lighting units in the future.
The modeling lamp is a 75W halogen lamp. And it should be mentioned here that you should never touch the modeling lamp with bare fingers, as the oils from your skin will boil on the lamp possibly causing the lamp to fail and even shatter. Use the cushioned wrap that the bulb comes in to hold and insert the bulb into the flash head when you set it all up. If you do touch the lamp you can clean it with alcohol on a clean cloth
Specially priced lighting kits
Now about the kits Interfit offers. There are three options. The first one is $119.99 and includes one flash head, a 7’6” light stand, a 36-inch translucent white umbrella, and a remote trigger that sits in the hotshoe of your camera to fire the flash wirelessly. Purchased separately these items would sell for around $150.
The other two kits each include two flash heads. The umbrella kit comes with 2 stands, 2 translucent umbrellas, and the remote trigger for $199.99. And for an extra $100 ($299.99) you get 2 20x28-inch softboxes instead of the umbrellas, the remote trigger, the light stands, and a carrying case. The speedrings for the softboxes are included and you should know that to assemble the softboxes to the speedrings you should use the holes marked B1-B4 on the speedring for the proper shape and tension on the rods. The softboxes have flat front panels that make them good for both product and portrait photography. I find that flat front softboxes (no lip) cane be easier to control and feather and provide for nice straight edge reflections in shiny objects in still life photos. The softbox kit does not come with the 7-inch metal reflectors
The Studio Essentials line offers a lot more than just the Value Flash. There is also a variety of LED lights (which I have not tried yet, so will not be talking about here) and a number of other accessories such as light stands, background stands, backgrounds, and pop-up reflectors. Rounding out the collection is a set of S-mount light modifiers that include beauty dishes (22” and 28”), grids, a background reflector, a snoot and a set of barn doors that includes4 color gels (red, green, blue, yellow) and a 40-degree honeycomb grid to narrow the light output for $34.99. A similar set of barn doors from a “pro” flash company sells for $250 and doesn’t include any gels or grids. Speaking of grids, a set of 4 (10, 20, 30, and 40 degree) sells for $39.99 or in a set that includes a 7-inch metal reflector for $49.99.
The 22” beauty dish with a honeycomb grid sells for $89.99 or step up to the 28” version for $139.99. There is also a deep reflector with 3 grids for $89.99. One of my favorites int he collection is the 45-degree background reflector for $34.99. Unlike most other background reflectors I’ve seen and used, this one has an open top for a nice graduated fall off and it also includes clips to hold color gels and it has a locking rotating collar on it to easily position the reflector.
All of the items in the Studio Essentials line are very reasonably priced and good quality. My only suggestion is that if you use 9-foot wide rolls of seamless paper or heavy canvas you should opt for the Premium Background Support.
While on the Interfit site take a look at all of their modifier options. Interfit offers a wide variety of softboxes that are top quality for a very reasonable cost--plus most of their modifiers come with fabric grids at no extra cost.
The bottom line is that the Value Flash is a great starter light that you can grow with. As mentioned above, it uses the industry standard S-Mount so if you graduate to a Honey Badger or S1 set of lights the Value Flash can remain in your lighting kit for use as accent lights to complement the larger light units.
As a member of the Interfit Creative Pros group I can also offer you a 10% discount on any Interfit products that you purchase directly from Interfit by using the code CORNICELLO10 (all caps) at the end of the checkout process (and yes, I may be compensated for referring you, so we both win). This includes not only the Studio Essentials, but all of the lights and modifiers on the Interfit site. Check them out for all your S-mount modifier needs.
Now go out and light up the world!