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In the fashion world the desire to make ringflash photographs seems to come and go. From an equipment point of view though, at the moment, the ringflash world has never been as busy. We have consumer models, more aptly titled macro flash, we have adaptors to convert on-camera flash and we have big pro-spec beasts, like this model from Bowens.
Bowens Ringflash Pro: Specifications
- Max Energy: 4800Ws
- Flash Colour Temp: 5600K ±300K
- Guide Number: 86 (3000Ws, 110° reflector@ ISO100)
- Flash Tube Assembly 1 x Single tube
- Modelling Lamp: 10 x 12V 20W Halogen
- Min Flash Duration t=0.5 1/4500sec @500Ws
- Max Flash Duration t=0.5 1/1600 sec @3000Ws
- Cable Length: 5m
- Dimensions: 20.5cmØ x 7.5cm
- Central Aperture: 10cmØ
- Ringflash Pro Weight: 3.17kg (inc cable)
- Camera Bracket Weight: 0.7kg
Bowens Ringflash Pro: Features
The Ringflash Pro has a 5m cable with a 20-pin Quad connector on the end. This can be used on Bowens Quad generators, but also on location with the portable Explorer 1500 battery generator.
It has ten 20w modeling lamps arranged in a circle to help when focusing and composing your photo along with a choice of clear or frosted glass covers. Both can be replaced if they are accidentally damaged. The lamps are standard household options and cost about £2 each.
There's twin fan cooling to keep things from overheating on longer shoots.
The flash is supplied with an adjustable metal camera mounting bracket that can be used in horizontal or vertical set ups.
Bowens Ringflash Pro: Build Quality and handling
With longer lenses you can sit the camera towards the back of the bracket, and wider lenses can be moved forward to prevent vignetting. The flash back plate has four screws - using two horizontal ones to support the bracket in landscape position and two vertical ones for portrait camera positioning.
The base of the bracket has a studio lighting stand mount. If you wanted to sit it on a tripod you'd need an optional adaptor. The bracket is made of heavy duty metal and adds 0.7kg to the overall weight. At one point I was using the flash with a 110º Reflector and Diffuser on a Nikon D700 and 24-120mm lens. The total weight was over 4.2kg and after a few shots my arms were begining to feel the strain, so the tripod rest was well received.
The 5m cable is heavy duty and quite bulky, but makes it better protected against breaks and the length gives you plenty of space to operate away from the pack.
One big improvement that needs to be made is in the accessory locking nuts and the bracket mounting nuts. The have to be removed completely before the accessory or mount is attached. And each one has a nylon washer too. So if you're in a hurry or don't have a hand spare you end up dropping nuts or washers. I'd prefer a release system where the items don't become detached, making it easier to assemble, and less likely to lose anything. You do really need three hands to attach the bracket.
Bowens Ringflash Pro: Verdict
The power of this unit is excellent for full length shoots even outdoors. The colour is very good and the exposure is even. What more could you ask for? Well, I'd like a bigger catchlight, but that would need a much bigger ring, and currently the only way to do this seems to be to handbuild a unit or add a large circular mask to a octabox. The larger reflector modifier is a welcome addition. Value for money wise it's a little more expensive than the Hensel version, but more powerful so worth the extra cash if you're shooting fashion.
|Bowens Ringflash Pro: Plus points
Fragile flash tube protected by glass cover
Powerful quality illumination
Great ring flash style shadows
|Bowens Ringflash Pro: Negative points
Clumsy accessory and bracket locks