Using the FlashPoint 180WS StreakLight (Review)
Flashpoint Blast Power Pack BP-960
*Bundles available at significant discounts.
If you’re a professional photographer, you need great lighting. You tell stories with light, but you can’t always have the perfect natural light that you want when you want it. You have to use continuous or flash lighting. For flash lighting, there are a lot of options. However, for those field trips, you need something powerful, rugged, portable, and long-lasting. That’s where the pack narrows down to the leaders. Among the clear winners is the FlashPoint 180WS Streak Light (180WS).
[The 180WS stands for 180 Watt-Second — a standard measure of flash power]
The 180WS has to have a power source, such as the pictured Flashpoint rechargeable Blast Power Pack BP-960 (sold separately).
- Powerful 180ws Guide Number 197 (ft ISO 100) with standard reflector
- Super Soft and Even Light from Replaceable Bare Bulb
- Stable Color Temperature
- Fast Recycle Times from with Flashpoint BLAST POWER PACK or Quantum Turbo
- Precise output from 1/128 to Full in 1/3 stop increments
- Four Modes : Pure Manual [M], Slave Normal [S1], Slave Filtered [S2], Multi/Stroboscopic with calculator [RPT]
- Auto Focus Assist Beam
- Switchable Audio Recycle
- Built in Optical Slave
- Wireless Remote Control USB Port
- 2 Sync Jacks PC & 3.5mm
- Overheat Protection Circuitry
- Vertical and Horizontal Head Adjustments
- Umbrella Mount Adapter
- Tough Secured Hot shoe Mount
- Full Line of Optional Light Modifiers from Snoots to Beauty Dishes
Why it’s Frugal: The 180WS and Blast Power Pack are true professional tools at an extremely good price ($349.95 for the 180WS/BP-960 bundle). The 180WS Creative Collection is also a value at $549.92. This professional lighting model and power pack are frugal because they offer fully adjustable, immediate flash lighting at a very affordable price point. It would be a challenge to find the power and the features of this combination anywhere at twice the price.
The 180WS is easy to setup and to use from a tabletop standalone, to tripod mount, to on-camera hot shoe mount. It is surprisingly lightweight and not bulky nor clumsy to use. The handy belt clip on the Blast Power Pack is a nice feature, although you can also use the lanyard to hang it around your neck.
The 180WS is so powerful and so versatile that my videographer and I use it off-camera, mounted on a tripod using a wireless remote shutter to fire it. We have used it for more than 300 shots on all power settings, in a variety of situations, without ever having to recharge the Blast Power Pack. It never failed us nor did it ever hesitate to fire on demand.
Flashpoint StreakLight 180WS Specifications:
- Strobe Output – 180 watt seconds
- Guide Number – 60m/196ft for ISO 100
- Power Supply – External Lithium Battery and compatibles*
- Recycle Time – 0.05 – 2.6 seconds
- Flash Duration – 1/300 – 1/10,000 sec
- Recycle Indication – Ready Light and Switchable Audio
- Light Coverage – Approximately 65 Degrees / 28mm coverage on 35mm full frame format
- Vertical Angle – -15 to 90 degrees
- Horizontal Rotation – 0 to 270 degrees
- Slave Eye Sensitivity – Greater than 33 feet / 160 degree radius
- Color Temperature – 5600K +/-200K
- Housing Size – 8 X 3.55 X 2.75 in
- Body Weight – 19.4 oz /1.50 lbs
The unit gives you the characteristic flash “beep” when the unit is ready to fire again. There was never any hesitation during any of our shoots. It consistently recharged immediately. Fire. Beep. Fire. Beep. Fire. Beep. In fact, the 180WS responded so well to our demands, I think we’re spoiled in never having to wait for a flash unit to power up again.
And I love the ability to adjust the power from 1/128 in 1/3 stop increments because it’s easier to bracket your shots. It’s great to get just enough light without blowing out the subject or the background when using it for bounced lighting.
The 180WS comes with a parabolic reflector and a set of two diffusers to further soften the light source, although the bare bulb delivers an even light coverage for objects that are as few as five or six feet away.
The flash head adjusts from horizontal to vertical and locks into place. The parabolic reflector also locks into place so that there’s no chance of it falling during movement if you have it camera-mounted. The head also rotates 270-degrees so that you can aim the flash to create any kind of special effect or bounce reflection that you want. You can also purchase an umbrella reflector setup for the 180WS so that you don’t have to have a separate umbrella light unit.
I really like working with the 180WS and the Blast Power Pack. It’s impossible for either of us to work with standard on-camera flash anymore after this experience. The 180WS is so versatile, usable, rugged, and powerful that every professional should carry one in his or her gig bag. Both units are small enough to fit into a carry on bag or into a standard camera tote.
Every time we pull out the 180WS to use, we get a universal “Wow” from whomever is within sight of it. During one video and photography shoot, we had several other photographers approach us to see what exactly it was that we were using. Of course, Joseph and I were only too happy to show it off and give our own demonstration of the product. For a moment, we both felt like we were selling the units at a trade show. It gave us a personal boost to show off the high end equipment we were using and I think gained us a little street cred in the process.
Don’t let me put you high-end amateurs or prosumers off, this unit would be great for team sports shots, school events, family photos, vacation photos, or even your first foray into the pro world. The combination is affordable enough for amateurs and pros alike. Amateurs will love the ease of operation and although the unit looks intimidating, it isn’t. It’s easy on, easy off, and adjustable with the touch of a single finger and fire, fire, fire, as fast as you can press the shutter button.
Honestly, this is the finest product of its type that I’ve ever used and I’ve used a lot of flash units over the past couple of decades. Quality really makes a difference. This unit is an investment that is a real winner. And you can take that from two guys who’ve eaten a lot of lemons over the years. The 180WS and Blast Power Pack are a winning combination.
Recommendation: Pros: It’s a must have–you can’t afford not to have one. Amateurs: This could be exactly what you’ve been looking for to take your photography to that higher level.
Note: I will soon have our own video up demonstrating the 180WS and the BP-960. My camera battery went dead during my original video. Too bad it wasn’t powered by the BP-960.