Visico Excel VC 300 plus Studio Flash
The Visico Excel 300 plus flash unit is one of a range of studio flash units and accessories now being imported into the UK by Photoskill who are based in the West Midlands.
Including 300w and 500w, the units are of a professional standard with a full range of controls and connections, decent guide numbers and a colour temperature of 5,600K (/- 200k).
Visico Excel VC 300 plus: Specification
- Model: PS 4099V
- Output: 300W/s
- Input: 170/240v
- Guide No: 56m (ISO100)
- Flash duration: 1/800-1/1200sec
- Exposure Control: 1:32 steps
- Mounting: S-Type bayonet
- Price(RRP): £189.95
Visico Excel VC 300 plus: Build and handling
The unit I tried was the 300w model that comes supplied with a 150w modelling lamp, standard reflector, protective cap, sync cable and a 3m UK mains lead. The unit, with bulb and reflector fitted, weighs in just on the 2.5kg mark and is finished in an attractive two-tone matt grey. The same finish appears on the clamp knobs and lever, a set-up that is adjustable for well-balanced, easy operations. The rear control panel is sensibly laid out and adjustment of settings is simple, even with large hands like mine.
A standard, three pronged, bayonet fitting, reflector is supplied with the flash unit utilising a guarded bayonet catch, I think the rubber guard was the only item I was likely to mislay.
Visico Excel VC 300 plus: In use
It's some 30 years since I used studio flash units (although tungsten units have seen considerable use recently) but it didn't take long to get the hang of this Photoskill unit. The supplied sync cable, along with a few test shots and a peek at the histogram, soon found me using it as though I'd never taken a break from the format. Recycling times, quoted as 0.8-1 sec, were certainly quick enough for the studio and the light output is consistent enough to have no qualms there.
The unit is fan cooled and remained cool to the touch throughout my sessions which were not too long, but give confidence that the body would remain at a safe temperature even if used all day long. Neither was the fan obtrusive noise wise, with only the slightest of background hum and quieter if anything than a computer fan. There is an audio ‘bleep' that tells you when the flash is fully recharged, and fortunately this has an on/off button on the rear control panel. It soon got turned off, although in some circumstances I'm sure it would be useful.
After using the sync cable, with their obvious restrictions on movement, I tried the built in slave of the unit, using the on-board flash of my D300 turned down to -3EV (the maximum) so as to cause as little interference as possible. This gave me more freedom to move around and triggered the VC300 plus surprisingly consistently.
Visico Excel VC 300 plus: Storage
Using studio lighting as little as I do, and needing to transport it to various venues when I do need it, has been cured by Visico's kit bag, available separately but worth a mention here. They come in two sizes and can carry either 2-4 or 4-6 flash units along with stands, brollies, snoots and doors etc and have pockets all over the place! Utilising a suitcase style pop-up handle and wheels, as well as shoulder strap and carrying handle, they seem to be the perfect solution to both storage and transportation of your studio lighting kit. Even if you don't go anywhere with it, it makes a safe and tidy depository for storing it all in.
Visico Excel VC 300 plus: Verdict
A good value for money professional studio flash unit that provides consistent output and quiet, cool operation.
Visico Excel VC 300 plus: Plus points
Simple, easy to use controls
User replaceable tube and lamp
Visico Excel VC 300 plus: Minus points
Sliding mount needs screwdriver to adjust
A little heavy
Test carried out by Ian Andrews from The Wildlife Studio.