I read on David Hobby's The Strobist, specifically on his Without Reservation: A Recommended Gear List about his choice of recommend flashes : the Lumopro 180, a manual flash (no ETTL). I was in the market for some new flashes as I only had one Canon 430ex II and wanted to experiment with a second strobe. On David's advice, I purchased two Lumopro 180 flashes and I must say, I'm impressed!
In the Box
In sturdy box with trendy words was a well protected flash inside a tough, velcro sealed case and a 3.5mm to 3.5mm sync cable. Inside the case was a flash, a flash stand, colour correction gels and colour effect gels.
It's big, not too heavy, not too light, sturdy and feels well built. On closer inspection the head swivels easily but doesn't move out of position when moving the flash. The buttons are nice to click and the bounce card and diffuser are easy to get into place.
The plastic doors protecting the sync ports are snug and the battery compartment snaps in and out of place.
Overall, this feels much more rugged and battle ready than the Canon 430 ex II.
I loaded up the flashes with batteries, mounted them and set them up in optical slave mode. Enabled sleep mode (sleeps after 20 minutes) and started shooting. After shooting for 30 minutes or so I had no complaints. So far so good.
Well, I'd say its about 1 full stop more powerful than my 430 ex II. Nice! It goes from full power to 1/128 in 1/3 stops. David Hobby complained about it, but I dig the fact that you can go from 1/128 to 1/1 by pushing the arrow button. The same goes for 1/1 to 1/128. That's always driven me a little bit bonkers with the Canons.
24mm to 105mm (24, 28, 35, 50, 70, 80 and 105mm). Goes to 14mm with diffueser on (not tested). Again, the pressing the buttons allows you to go from 105 to 24 and vice versa. I like that.
A really neat thing about the flashes is that they have an optical sync. Not unique? Well, they have 11 optical sync modes. That is, optical sync mode 0 is fire on first sighting of flash. Sync mode 1 is ignore the first flash, fire on the second. Sync mode 2 is ignore the first two flashes, fire on the third. Get the picture? Very neat if you want to fire with an ETTL flash system.
I was shooting indoors whilst at a cabin this weekend just gone. I decided to test the gels and found that there was quite a selection of colour correction gels to use. It's a nice touch, I must say, but I found them a bit fiddly. That is, trying to get them to slide into the built in gel holders. I'd probably rather the good old fashioned velcro or the Rogue rubber band, but no complaints that they were included in the kit.
The Verdict So Far
Do I see the need to try another manual speedlight? No. Is the price good? Fantastic. Would I recommend the Lumopro LP180? Unequivocally, yes!
For a full review, and the one which pointd me in the right direction, check out The Strobist's review