Do you fancy a portable yet powerful flash kit to use outdoors? We test six of the best portable flash kits available to see which overs the best combination of quality and value for money.
Earlier this year we tested a range of complete studio flash kits. They all came with a pair of flash heads, lighting stands and umbrellas or softboxes, as well as the same drawback – their reliance on mains electrical power. So, while they’re portable, they’re of limited use for outdoor shooting.
If you’re photographing outdoor events and need to add extra illumination for portraits or just for foreground areas in general, a battery-powered flash system is more suitable.
Battery-powered kits commonly comprise a single lightweight flash head, or sometimes a pair of heads, plus a power pack and mains-powered battery charger. The power pack usually plays host to the controls for setting flash power, helping to keep the weight of the heads to a minimum.
However, portable kits don’t generally come with lighting stands, umbrellas or other accessories. To test the flashes, we fired them through a translucent umbrella at a subject two metres away.
Best portable flash kit: 01 Bessel WP6 400 Ws
Price: £400, $640
This single-head kit weighs 7.2kg, including the supplied flight case. Power adjustments and control of other features like the audible ready beep and modelling lamp are handled by the power pack. The 400Ws head is compact and lightweight.
A full charge takes five hours, and enables 400 full-power flashes. The modelling lamp is a halogen bulb, but its use drains the battery.
There’s only a single output on the battery pack, so you can’t add an extra flash. Controls are intuitive, and adjustments are precise, in 1/10th f-stop increments through a nominal seven-stop range.
Using a shoot-through umbrella at a distance of two metres, the power range enabled apertures of f/7.1 to f/14, at ISO100.
Pros… Good build quality, easy to use and competitively priced.
Cons… No provision for adding an extra flash head.
We say… A basic kit for a bargain price that performs well.
PAGE 1 – Best portable flash kit: 01 Bessel WP6 400 Ws
PAGE 2 – Best portable flash kit: 02 Calumet Genesis GF400 + PowerPort Duo 1000
PAGE 3 – Best portable flash kit: 03 Bowens Small Travelpak Kit + Bowens Gemini 400Rx
PAGE 4 – Best portable flash kit: 04 Lencarta Safari Li-on Portable Flash
PAGE 5 – Best portable flash kit: 05 Elinchrom Ranger Quadra Hybrid One Head
PAGE 6 – Best portable flash kit: 06 Priolite M-Pack 500J Frankfurt Kit
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