Using the Strobeam DL-D4 with the battery pack was just a pleasure.
The accuracy the power the reliability and capabilty of this little unit just blew me away.
In high-speed photography the first thing people jump for is the shutter speed dial on there camera. Well as some of the results of will show you that this dial is virtually useless and rarely quick enough to grab the action, also the big disadvantage of dialing up the shutter speed is the amount of stops of light you loose to get that shutter to fire fast enough. As you increase the speed so you reduce the light. Also if you wanted to add flash suddenly that dial wont go any faster than 1/200 - 1/250 which would never freeze the motion.
So the alternative methods that are available;
Firstly HSS or High Speed Sync mode, when using high speed sync modes, you will need to purchase TTL cables or triggers like the pocket wizard, this will then allow your camera to sync with the flash gun at greater speeds than 1/200 and indeed right the way up to 1/8000. It does this by causing the flash gun top fire on a pulse and seamless matching the shutter motion to stop banding occuring (please note the pulse is faster than the eye will see). The major drawback of using TTL to create High speed work is the cost of the trigger units/cables and the fact that your flash is pulsing its flashes and will therefore gobble batteries like there tomorrow.
The next method would be FP flash.
This is the process of removing ambient light and then using the flash as the shutter. The major advantage of this is it can also be done without the use of mega expensive trigger systems and it allows a true freeze frame where as HSS will capture the movement of a rolling shutter,
Image to follow
A simple test done by painting the edge of a pc fan blade white and turning it on using TTL flash you can see the movement of the fan blade, this is because as the flash pulse fires the shutter curtian moves, so the first half and the second half of the frame are not exposed simultaneously. With FP flash the shutter opens (rememebr no ambient exposure is available) once open the flash fires illuminating the subject and freeze framing it with its fast duration, the shutter then closes allowing a crisp image frozen in time.
So with the techy section out the way, a small test to ensure the unit is capable of producing the results required, I set getting some results from it.
My biggest issue with previous models capable of producing results was cables, as shooting in FP mode requires a very low level of ambient light, cable management was something that was absolutely esential, well how about that the Strobeam unit comes with its own battery pack allowing a trip free working zone around the unit.
So ease of use, I found the controls on the unit simple where I would expect them to be and user friendly. With a large dial to adjust my power and simpply depressing that same dial allows me to switch the mode though the Manual power output the FP flash mode and then a strobe effect for added fun.
The strobe feature on this unit allows for plenty of experimenting, with the option of 5, 10 and 20 flash bursts and the ability to change the duration of the burst though 10th second intervals means that you can get many different types of action. I put this to the test at a band rehersal, and captured this inspiring shot of the singer/guitarist in a single frame.
Overall I found the use of this unit intuative, the specification itself gave me ideas for other work and personal projects. Over the time tested the battery pack worked hard being drained and recharged a few times, but each charged kept a consistant result of flashes and power, the light itself recycled quickly and was ready for the next shot before I was, the colour accuracy in many different enviroments and though the power ranges pleased me even whilst in its FP mode.
In a quick overview I would say a robust hard working light from the brand that wins hands down in design and spec over many other higher priced units.