|Godox Witstro AD-180 with ProPac external battery pack|
|Current pricing on Aliexpress: AD 180 ± U$ 275; AD-360 from ± U$ 420|
Maybe you have been wondering if a branded flash is giving you the best bang for the buck.
Or maybe you need more illuminating power when on location, without dragging around studio strobes, heavy power inverters and bags of extension cables; that is, if you have access to a wall outlet at all...
In come the Godox Witstro portable bare-tube flashes.
The Witstros are hot-shoe flashes that give you studio-strobe akin flash power in a package that is only slightly heavier than the Nikon SB-910 – not including the external PowerPac or optional accessories – and generate roughly six (AD-180) to nine times (AD-360) the flash output at a comparable price.
That is without even considering that open tube has another important advantage over hot-shoe flash: very even lighting, virtually without fall-off.
Godox claims the flashes cover up to 28mm (18mm DX) without dark corners, which is a typical problem of hot-shoe models, especially at wider angles.
With an output of 180 and 360 Ws. (Watt seconds) and a guide number (GN) of 60 and 80 respectively (ISO 100, 28mm - standard reflector), the Witstros are on par or better than basic studio strobes, which typically start at around 160 Ws., a power level that roughly translates into a GN of 40-45, depending on model.
On the other hand, they blow a top-of-the-line hot-shoe flash, such as the SB-910 – currently Nikon’s most powerful model – out of the water.
The SB-910 has a of GN 34/111.5, while the more economical SB-700 a GN of 28/92 (m/ft @ ISO 100 and 35mm), compared to 60/197 for the AD-180 and a whopping 80/262 for the AD-360 @ ISO 100 and 28mm.
In other words: the latter will properly illuminate a subject at a distance of 80 meters, which means it outputs roughly 9 times the power of a SB-910, while the AD-180 over 6,5 times...
The Witstros are compatible with cameras of all major brands, and can be used in a number of different ways, for starters on the hot-shoe, which – at least in the case of the AD 180 – can be done without mayor inconveniences because it weighs only slightly more than the Nikon SB-910 without batteries: 550 vs. 420g.
Add the typical weight of 4 Ni-MH rechargeables (± 30g, each) to the SB-910's "empty weight" and you are looking at virtually the same load on top of your camera (without considering accessories). The AD-360 is a bit more of a handful: 780g.
When used off-camera, flash sync can be achieved through a S1/S2 slave function, where the camera’s built-in or optional flash can automatically trigger these units.
The S1 mode is used when the camera flash is set to manual mode, while S2 is fully compatible with iTTL, which means that the flash ignores the typical iTTL metering pre-flashes, will correctly sync on the main flash and cut off automatically once proper exposure has been achieved.
Nikon cameras that feature the so-called commander mode on the built-in (D70, D80, D90, D7K and better) can wirelessly trigger these flashes in either iTTL or manual mode, while with all other models the Witstros – or any other off-camera flash, for that matter – must be set manually.
|Godox Witstro AD-360|
Moreover, the units include a wireless port plus a 3,5mm PC sync plug and can thus be synced “cabled” – with the help of a Nikon AS-15 hot-shoe adapter, if necessary – while Godox also offers an optional FT-16 wireless power-control trigger (± US$ 45).
You could, of course, opt for standard radio triggers instead, in case you already have those.
In any case, flash output must be set manually.
Manual mode goes from 1/1 (full power) to 1/128 in steps of 0,3 EV, while both units are also compatible with the auto FP high-speed sync mode for fill-in flash, available on the Nikon D90 and better, which will sync them to shutter speeds as fast as 1/8.000 sec.
The flashes come with an external ProPac PB-960 rechargeable lithium memory-less power pack and can be combined with a host of optional accessories.
Apart of the included parabolic reflector and the mentioned optional FT-16 wireless trigger, Godox offers light modifiers in various shapes and sizes, such as an umbrella-style reflector and fold-up umbrella, a multifunctional hexagonal soft-box, a beauty dish, snoots, honey-combs, color filters and wide angle diffusers, among others.
In combination with the U$ 45 Strobies XS bracket, discussed here, the Witstros could be paired with any standard Bowens S-bayonet flash accessory, like soft-boxes up to a meter squared, umbrellas, barn-doors, beauty-dishes, spherical diffusers and what have you.
The Godox Witstro flashes are an excellent choice for anybody who needs studio-akin flash power in a compact and light package, without the weight and hassle associated with full-blown studio strobes.
The only two disadvantages I can think of in comparison, is that you will have to do without a modeling light, while AC strobes are more economical, as well.
However, the Witstros can be used in the middle of nowhere and with no AC wall socket in sight, while they also beat the hot-shoe flashes from both Nikon and Canon hands down, both in performance and price.
I am seeing the Witstro AD-180 on Amazon for U$ 420 (on offer from Cowboy Studio), while the AD-360 goes for approximately U$ 700, depending on the included accessories.
If we compare the cheapest of the two with what Nikon has on offer, you would be buying about six times the flash output of a SB-910 (SRP U$ 550) for a price that is roughly in between the SB-910 price tag and what a SB-700 would set you back (SRP U$ 330).
Moreover, similar, more economical flashes are available from other brands, such as Neewer, which currently offer a 360 Ws. unit for about $ 650.
I – for one – cannot wait to get my hands on one of these babies...
|Max. Power||180 Ws||360 Ws|
|Guide No. (m/ft, ISO 100, with standard reflector)||60/197||80/262.5|
|Standard reflector offers approx. 28mm coverage.|
|Vertical Rotation Angle||-15° to +90°|
|Horizontal Rotation Angle||0 to 270°|
|Power Supply||PB960 lithium power pack|
|Full Power Flashes (with PB960 power pack)||900||450|
|Recycle Time (with PB960 power pack)||Approx. 0.05-2.6s||Approx. 0.05-4.5s|
|Color Temperature||5600 K ±200|
|Flash Duration||1/300 - 1/10.000 sec|
|Dimensions (flash tube & reflector not included)||205x90x70mm||220x95x75mm|
|Net Weight (flash tube & reflector not included)||550g||780g|
You might also want to read:
The Strobies XS bracket: turn your hot-shoe flash into a studio flash
WITSTRO Powerful & Portable Flash
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