22 June 2010
I had a serious photography job coming up, my brother's wedding, and I started to realize how much more reliable my lighting kit could be. I had 2 CTR-301 radio receivers and only 1 transmitter. If anything happened to that transmitter, I'd be stuck triggering optically or just shooting natural light.
I also only had 3 old Sunpak 4xx strobes, and I had already replaced one that had failed about a year ago. Sometimes the battery doors jiggled loose, I had broken one foot already, and sometimes they fired full-power even though it was set for less.
It was time to spend a little money on some new and some backup gear. I hit eBay and ordered 2 more YongNuo CTR-301P receivers, another transmitter, and 2 shiny new YN-460MkII strobes.
The radio trigger set tested out fine -- working through walls and across the house, and they inter-operated with my old CTR-301 triggers which have been serving me well for over a year. Once they looked good, I removed the batteries, and boxed them back up for backup.
The 2 strobes were a bit more exciting. I threw some random alkalines into it that were too weak to recycle my Sunpak 433, and it powered right up and I was seeing reasonable recycle times. It's good to know that it'll not be finicky about its batteries. With relatively fresh NiMH batteries, it's still recycling within about 10 seconds from a full-power pop. I had the strobes figured out and tested within about 3 minutes of opening the packaging.
Upon inspecting the user's manual a bit, I realized that these things could be fine-tuned more by pressing MODE and PILOT together, then I could adjust the EV up and down from the original setting in 1/7 stop increments. Nice...not that I'm used to having that level of control.
The S1 slave mode is esay and seems to work nicely enough triggering off bounced light in a small room. The whole thing is dead simple, since it only works with manual power settings -- it's the cheapest new strobe a Strobist could want, I think.
For my final tests, I took them outside, put them on the CTR-301's on stands, and played a bit with my shoot-through umbrella and this tiny flash-mounted softbox I had also bought. In the hand, these strobes feel like their made of thick-enough plastic, and the hotshoe's about as solid as plastic can be and still be thin enough to fit in a hotshoe socket.
I'm pleased so far, and hopefully, they'll hold up as well as my YongNuo CTR-301's are, and I'll still be saying good things about them in a couple years.
Filed Under: Photography