I wanted to take a look at this unit because it appeared to have an attractive price point for a 600ws strobe with TTL support for Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus and Panasonic.
I'd also read a number of customer comments about challenges using the unit, as well as one suggesting that the quality was so terrible that the unit started smoking. That kind of stuff always creeps me out and I wanted to see for myself if there were obvious build quality issues.
With thanks to my good friend Lindsey, I arranged a short term evaluation of the AD600B. It came packed very well in a nice box, with questionably translated English on the front. The box is well labeled in Chinese, but I lack the skill to read Chinese so cannot tell you if the wording is more understandable.
Upon pulling the unit out, I found exactly what the documentation told me was in the box. I would have preferred that this was on the outside of the box because it would have saved me a second trip to the store. There s the flash unit itself, the flashtube inside a UV protective cover (I'm guessing about the UV part), a Lithium Ion battery, a charger and a charging cable.
What's not in the box? There is no mechanism for remotely triggering the unit, and upon inspection, there was not even a basic PC sync cable. So if you did not get a trigger, and I did not initially, you have a pretty brick. That's a bit unfair on my part, because you can put it in Slave mode, or control it optically from either a Canon or Nikon camera using their proprietary optical signalling system, nonetheless, it ticked me off, None of my cameras have the popup flash built into them so that option was out, and I wasn't going to put an expensive speedlight on the camera hotshoe, just to trip a remote strobe. Grrr
A second trip and I returned with the XPro C multi group radio controller for Canon. They also exist for Nikon and Fujifilm. For those not needing the 5 or 16 group controller capability, there are X1 controllers available for Canon, Nikon and Sony and X1T units for Olympus / Panasonic and Fujifilm. The X1 units support a maximum of 5 groups which is the same number of radio groups that the AD600B can participate within.
It is plain that Godox builds products sold under LOTS of different brands. It is quite conceivable that you will find identical devices under different brand names. My understanding is that Godox is the building company. That shouldn't matter but different "names" may offer different kits. I was working with the Godox branded product.
Once I had the transmitter, I was able to get going. Right after hunting down some AA batteries. Again, Godox left even cheap AA batteries out of the package and while AA's aren't expensive, what if the seller doesn't tell you that you are going to need a set? The in box documentation is quite poor, possibly due to mistranslation but the guides on the website are easier to follow. I had the strobe unit being remote controlled using the Xpro C from a Canon 5Ds in reasonably short order. It's nowhere near as simple as a Profoto Air system, more like an off brand TTL speedlight and separate controller.
The user interface on the controller is pretty easy to use for general shooting but reference to the documentation is needed for some functions as some buttons do different things based on a long press versus a short press. I realize that doing things this way releases demands on unit real estate, but I hate this kind of architecture that is not intuitive if you are in a hurry, or as many of the target buyers may find themselves, not using the devices all the time, and having the knowledge of engaging these secondary functions not top of mind.
The lack of any kind of reflector or light shaper in the box is idiotic. Every other strobe provider includes a basic reflector so the unit is practically usable right away. The Godox reflector only costs an extra $20 CAD retail, but is not in stock anywhere I checked. Mark leaving out the basic reflector as stupid and move on.
The good news is that the default light shaper mount is the widely adopted Bowens S Mount. While Bowens is gone, there are thousands of S mount accessories around, including many branded by Godox. The Godox light modifiers are very inexpensive and in my opinion, the quality is about what you would expect to get for the money. They aren't bad, but they would not hold up in a pro studio under normal aggressive use. If you need tougher kit, you can find lots of Bowens branded gear at blowout prices. The quality of the Bowens branded gear is superb.
I did not find any colour inconsistencies in my testing which is excellent news. Godox rates the unit at 5600K +- 200K. This variance has raised an, in my opinion, unwarranted amount of Internet based ire. This is the digital age, and every post processing app has some form of white balance adjustment if things went awry, and I am not sure that the average human can distinguish a 200K variance at 5600K anyway.
I recorded a short supplement to the review with images of the unit and a voice over of what I learned.
The Unit in Depth
The AD600B is rated at 600ws and a guide number of 87. I maxed the unit out at a distance of 6 feet from the subject firing into a 48" reflecting umbrella, using an aperture of f/16 and an ISO of 100. So the tube to subject distance was effectively about eight feet and I would figure a loss in the umbrella of about 1.5 stops to be generous. This suggests that the AD600B would be ok for fill flash outdoors on a bright day, so long as you can get the light very close to your subject. Recycle times between full power pops, either TTL or Manual were under 2 seconds. Godox rates the battery at 500 full power pops per charge. I only had the unit for a limited time and did not want to cause any damage through over use, but there was still lots of power left in the battery after about 120 full power pops.
TTL exposure is calculated in camera, and for the most part I find that Canon does a pretty darn good job of nailing the exposure properly with an appropriate scene. I found that the TTL exposure on the Godox was under by about 1/2 stop, and this was very consistent. This does happen with some third party lights trying to integrate with Canon's iTTL system. Godox is not alone here and you can quickly add some flash exposure compensation either at the controller or at the strobe head to make it up. I did find it odd that a flash exposure compensation made at the controller worked, but was never indicated on the panel on the side of the strobe. It looks to me that FEC is separate on the controller and on the head. Obviously you cannot drive the heads harder than their maximum output.
The mount incorporates a tube slot for a 5mm umbrella shaft and while it puts the head off centre, it works. I did not have access to the basic reflector to see if it could be mounted and used with the umbrella mount. If it does not work, that's a real shame because you lose a ton of output firing the bare head into an umbrella because it hurls directionless light all over the place. Perhaps Godox expects every buyer to only use the device with soft boxes. A poor assumption in my opinion.
The head mounts to any standard ⅝" light stand post. The tilter assembly has a large adjustment handle, but the placement makes it swing over the head itself making it awkward to use. Godox documentation suggests using the handle rotate function to prevent this. It works but is awkward. Godox has also incorporated click stops into the tilt unit. This is good because it prevents a loose unit from slipping too much, but you give up granularlity and speed in angle adjustment. The decision that they have made probably makes sense for the target buyer who will be a more casual user. I fuss with the lights a lot and found the click stops to be a major pain in the butt. I note later that the newly announced AD600 Pro has dispensed with the click stops.
I used the Godox unit to do some quick family shots of the Canon EOS-M lineup that I had in studio for a different assignment. I was firing the head back into a Profoto Silver parabolic umbrella (deep-small) The lighting was perfectly acceptable although at f/16 I was running the unit at full pop in TTL and Manual mode and getting a slightly underexposed image. The flash stand was only about five feet from the subject matter, so total light travel was about 7 feet from the head to the umbrella and back and even allowing for a 1.5 stop absorption in the umbrella which I believe to be generous. I then switched the unit to Manual mode and set the power output to full. My flash meter reported a minor underexposure for my desired depth of field so I changed out the umbrella to a 48" standard depth model and also added a Bowens Umbrella Reflector. The addition of the Bowens reflector made a full stop of output difference, and I had proper exposure even when I had to move the whole stand assembly about six inches back to accommodate the umbrella. The Bowens umbrella reflector bracket for the umbrella does not line up with the umbrella holder on the head, but I made do with the length of umbrella shaft that could be locked in and tried again. Another quick check with the flash meter and I got consistent results over 12 full power pops, plus or minus one tenth of a stop. That's not Profoto or Broncolor consistency but quite decent for the cost of the unit.
The Xpro C controller is quite easy to navigate but while the flash head supports a maximum of 3 groups in optical and 5 groups in radio, the controller can handle up to 5 groups or 16 groups depending on an internal setting. I suspect that this controller works with other Godox units although it was not clear during evaluation which units they would be.
I have to be clear that while I find the AD600B quite loud and rattling a bit when it goes off at full power, I did not find that the device got excessively hot, nor did I find any evidence of smoking or other issues that have been reported on some private forums. It is possible that the complainant simply received a bad unit.
- Relatively inexpensive for a 600ws TTL capable monolight
- Quick to set up and easy to use in TTL, Manual with either radio or optical control (Canon and Nikon only for optical)
- Flexible choice of remote controllers
- Decent mounting system
- Built in umbrella holder
- Good LCD display
- Bowens S mount for light modifiers
- Supports high speed sync to 1/8000 with suitable camera and controller
- Crappy documentation
- No reflector in box
- No sync cable in box
- No notice on box that cables are not included, or that a trigger system is required for practical use
Xpro C Controller
- Easy to read display
- Mostly intuitive operation
- Control remote strobes right from the hot shoe
- TTL, Manual, Stroboscopic modes
- Supports High Speed Sync to 1/8000
- Supports Second Curtain Sync
- Crappy documentation
- Settings on the controller do not get echoed on the strobe information panel
- Long press functions not intuitive
With fewer and fewer real camera stores around where we can actually walk in and try stuff out, it requires a larger leap of faith to buy online and hope that things work out. This is a big reason for my doing reviews.
As I conclude this evaluation, Godox has announced the AD600Pro. It has a more powerful battery pack in terms of voltage but at a much lower milliampere rating and fewer flashes per charge. The new unit comes with a reflector in the box and provides +-75K colour accuracy in stable colour temperature mode, whatever that means, according to Godox. The adjustment handle is stepless per my preference. The AD600Pro looks very much like a Broncolor Siros L unit from a couple of angles, but the display and battery mount look more like the AD600B
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I'm Ross Chevalier, thanks for reading, and until next time, peace.