Friday, July 23, 2010

LumoPro LP160 ... great value strobist flash

LumoPro LP160 Manual strobist type flash
Great price, Powerful, budget flash , with a lot of built in inputs.
Most strobist use there flashes in manual , so not having TTL is not a issue.

I have been using two(2) older LumoPro LP120 (discontinued now) flashes for a long while now. They are my most used flash on the road/location because of its ease of use and it’s built in sync ability. In fact even if I am using my sb900’s for the Main and fill … I always use the LP120 for the kicker or background. In fact the LP120 is my favorite, most used , "go to" Kicker flash. And it’s a real plus that it’s lightweight too. And low priced (you don’t worry about them all the time, on a location shoot)

Just got the new LumoPro LP160 in prep for this weekends “sold out” Portrait and Lighting Workshop. And I wanted a more powerful, faster recycle flash that will match up better with my four sb900’s that I use.
First thing I noticed about the new LP160 besides the fact that it is slightly larger than the LP120, is that it comes with a 1/8 to PC sync cord and a Pop-on (sb900 style, kinda) wide diffuser, and a cold-shoe stand … all of which the LP 120 did not have. Another thing different from the LP120 is that the battery cover slides completely off (not sure if this is a good thing) I personally like the battery cover of the sb900 better
Below pictured is what is in the box of the LP160 (diffuser and sync cord, manual) ... and, my LP120 carry everywhere Kicker flash set up with the RadioPopper JrX studio attached.
On the box you can see “quad sync” flash .. that’s because it can sync via the Metal Hot Shoe (the LP120 had plastic feet) Built-in slave, PC jack, and 1/8” sync jack (which the 1/8” is my favorite way to sync my RadioPopper Receivers to the LP160.
Motorized zoom head from 24mm to 105mm (LP120 you just zoomed it manual). And it does 1/1 thru 1/64 power … also has front and back red Ready lights. Comes with a 2 year warrentee.
A cool feature is you change both power and zoom via it’s own buttons, that are within thumbs distance for easy adjustment of both, at the same time … and the level is shown via lights (nice on night shoots) ..
Also has a digital slave mode that ignores preflashes. Handy when you are shooting in TTL on your main flash.
The Power level of the LP160 vs sb900 is close when I shot it to a background , but I think the sb900 has an edge imho (but, this is great performance for a flash much less than half the cost … note no TTL or CLS on the LP160) …
It also has a wine after the pop ... that I have not heard in modern flashes. Not even the LP120 does this.
Did a 40 shot test, triggering the LP160, LP120, sb900 and Metz 48 … CH continuous shoot at 5 fps with a Niikon D700 16gb Extreme PRO CF, Delkin Low Discharge 2300mAh batteries (which are great by the way, bought at Thomas Distributing) … after the 18th shot when the shot speed slowed down to an even pace but slower (probably 1 fps) … The LP160 fired on every Fourth shot , the sb900 fired on every second shot, Metz 48 every Sixth shot , LP120 every Tenth shot aprox.
Pretty good performance for a $160 flash,754.html

fyi, the sb900 light pattern looked rounder and slightly larger when both are set to 24mm and the sb900 set to “Even” (Nikon sb900 guys know what I mean) … the sb900 light pattern choices and features needs another blog.
The light pattern on the LP160 is improved vs the LP120 … the LP120 had a hot band of light in the middle of the light pattern … like you can see the light tube. This actually made the LP120 my favorite Kicker / rim light flash. And if I wanted softer more even light I ran a diffuser.
* The LP160 does not have this issue and the pattern is clearly more even.

Bottom line:
"I love this flash!" ..
and it is a Big improvment over the older cheaper LP120 … it will be in my bag along with my sb900’s …
Normally I will shoot TTL on the sb900’s and use the LP160/LP120 in manual for Kicker or background light … the nice thing is I can trigger both using my RadioPopper PX and JrX system together, and am able to mix both TTL and manual … or go strait manual on all my flashes (in studio).

Here is three small things that could have been improved.
1) build in the ability for this flash to be controled by RadioPoppers JrX studio system ... so, we can control the power level via Radio trigger.
2) Whenever I turn on the flash the default is 35mm, 1/1 power ... imho, it should be the "last" settings. or at the very least 24mm, 1/1
3) the Power level should go down to 1/128 ... because this flash is more powerful. :)

Ross Hamamura

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