The Flashpoint Xplor 300 Pro TTL R2 is essentially a rebadged Godox AD300 Pro Outdoor Flash and, as we’ve come to expect from the Chinese manufacturer, it offers high-end sophistication and smart connectivity options at a very competitive price.
Location lighting is all the rage. Mains-powered studio flash kits are all well and good if you have access to mains electricity, but savvy photographers are increasingly wanting to take to the road and shoot anywhere and everywhere, while still enjoying the benefits of powerful and easily controllable flash lighting.
Godox AD300 Pro / Flashpoint Xplor 300 Pro TTL R2: Specifications
Power supply: Battery only
Flash modes: TTL/M/Multi
Flash duration: 1/220 to 1/11,490 seconds
Power range: 9 stops (1/256 to 1/1)
Sync modes: 1st curtain, 2nd curtain, HSS
Modeling lamp: 10 levels, 3000-6000K
Dimensions: 190 x 98 x 87mm
Weight: 1.4kg (inc. battery)
Godox AD300 Pro / Flashpoint Xplor 300 Pro TTL R2: Key features
Battery-powered monolights are the way forward for a powerful yet versatile, go-anywhere lighting solution for stills photography. With a much greater maximum power output than LED constant lights, you can overpower the sun and go much further than just adding a bit of fill-in flash, turning day to night by brightly illuminating a close-range subject while sending the background into comparative darkness, if the mood takes you.
As such, the 300 Pro has a strong 300Ws maximum power rating, while its IGBT (Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor) technology, similar to that used in speed lights, delivers a mighty overall power range, enabling you to go low on minimum output for more subtle lighting effects.
The kit comprises a monolight with Li-ion battery and mains charger, plus a standard reflector, protective cap and mounting bracket for fitment to a standard light stand, all wrapped up in a soft padded carrying case. Without the mounting bracket fitted, you can fix the monolight directly to a regular tripod head, via a 1/4-inch mounting socket on its underside.
Unlike some location flash kits, including the relatively pricey Elinchrom ELC 125 TTL and Elinchrom ELC 500 TTL, the 300 Pro’s battery slots directly into the rear of the monolight, rather than into a separate control box that connects via an umbilical cable. This adds convenience and cuts down on overall size and weight, as well as avoiding the potential trip hazard from a trailing cable.
The downside is that, if the battery goes flat, you can’t run the kit from mains electricity, where available. If you feel this might be a problem, you can buy additional Flashpoint WB300P 2600mAh rechargeable Li-ion batteries at $69 a throw. Either way, a fully charged battery has enough juice for up to 320 full-power flashes, or very many more at reduced power settings. Recharging a completely exhausted battery takes about 2.5 hours.
The monolight is well connected, featuring a standard 3.5mm sync socket and dual optical slave modes. One slave mode caters to standard master flash units, the other is designed to ignore any pre-flash pulses from speed lights. That’s fine as far as it goes but the monolight’s wireless capabilities really come to the fore if you utilize its internal RF (Radio Frequency) receiver.
For this, a range of hotshoe-mounting, dedicated Flashpoint R2 Pro 2.4GHz Transmitters are available for Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Panasonic and Pentax cameras, at $69 each. In each case, they enable convenient, cable-free triggering over a distance of up to 100mm, and the triggers themselves are feature-rich, intuitive to use, strongly built and bargain-priced. As you’d expect, the monolight triggers equally seamlessly from the Godox range of dedicated Xpro TTL Wireless Flash Triggers, which are essentially the same.
Although competitively priced, the monolight itself certainly isn’t short on features. As well as a manual range of 1/256th to full-power output, it features automatic TTL (Through The Lens) flash metering, flash exposure bracketing and compensation, high speed sync for triggering with fast shutter speeds and programmable stroboscopic (multi-flash) output for use with long exposures.
Godox AD300 Pro / Flashpoint Xplor 300 Pro TTL R2: Build & handling
Build quality feels reassuringly solid. The detachable mounting bracket for fixing the monolight to a standard lighting stand lacks any splines in its joint for adjusting vertical tilt but, even so, offers non-slip support even when a softbox is attached. Speaking of which, the generous range of optional dedicated modifiers includes a softbox, beauty dish, umbrella and snoots. These are available from Godox as well as from Adorama.
Handling is refined with a simple and intuitive control interface, based on an illuminated rear panel display screen and surrounding pushbuttons. These give easy access to flash mode selection, menus, modeling lamp control, wireless group/channel assignment, wireless/high speed sync options and test-firing the flash tube. The Set button and selection dial are similarly straightforward, the latter including a push-in facility so, for example, you can adjust the flash output power in full f/stop steps in addition to the default 1/10th f/stop increments.
The LED modeling lamp is sufficiently powerful to deliver a constant lighting option for close-up stills and video capture, with 10 brightness settings and an adjustable color temperature range of 3000-6000K.
Adding a further touch of convenience, which isn’t always featured in monolights, the main flash tube is easily user-replaceable if and when it fails, rather than requiring you to fork out for a costly service option. A replacement tube costs $119.
Godox AD300 Pro / Flashpoint Xplor 300 Pro TTL R2: Performance
The maximum power output is everything we’d expect from a 300Ws monolight and the overall power range is impressive. With IGBT, it’s a technical challenge to maintain a consistent color temperature at very low power settings but the Flashpoint does well in this respect, all the way down to its minimum 1/256th setting.
When it comes to the LED modeling lamp, the range of brightness levels and the wide color temperature range make it a useful tool in its own right. The only slight niggle is that a ‘proportional’ mode is unavailable. Often featured in monolights, this would have automatically altered the intensity of the modeling light to track the power setting of the main flash tube.
Recycling speeds after each flash are very fast. In fact, recycling is virtually instantaneous from the minimum power setting all the way up to 1/4 of full power. It’s still only half a second at the half power setting, stretching to a still quick 1.5 seconds after a full-power flash. The monolight is able to withstand heavy, continuous use, with a built-in fan that protects against overheating, and runs very quietly if and when needed.
Godox AD300 Pro / Flashpoint Xplor 300 Pro TTL R2: Lab tests
|Power||Gn (ISO 100, metres)|
Maximum power output is everything we’d expect from a 300Ws monolight. These test results were measured with the standard reflector and protective, translucent flash tube dome fitted.
At flash power settings up to and including 1/4 maximum power, recycle speeds proved virtually instantaneous in our tests, official specifications rating them at around 1/100th of a second. Recycling is still fast at 1/2 and full-power settings, recorded at 0.5 and 1.5 seconds respectively.
TTL accuracy data: 0.5
In our tests using a Canon-dedicated Flashpoint R2 Pro 2.4GHz Transmitter, TTL flash metering was a touch on the bright side, equating to half an f/stop of overexposure. Even so, the results were impressively consistent in a wide range of shooting conditions and over varying distances, so you can reliably dial in a little negative flash exposure compensation if desired.
Godox AD300 Pro / Flashpoint Xplor 300 Pro TTL R2: Verdict
A neat, elegant and powerful solution to location flash needs, the Flashpoint XPLOR 300 Pro TTL R2 Battery-Powered Monolight is a small kit that packs a big punch. It’s a strong performer in its own right, with intuitive onboard controls and a wealth of advanced flash modes. The LED modeling lamp also comes in handy, with its 10-step brightness range and adjustable color temperature.
Add a feature-rich but equally budget-priced Flashpoint R2 Pro 2.4GHz Transmitter and some of the dedicated lighting modifiers, all sold separately, and the Xplor 300 Pro becomes a fully versatile kit that competes on an equal footing to much pricier top-end competitors on the market.