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GODOX AD600 REVIEW – PART 2

September 14, 2017

The key question I want to answer in this section is whether or not the AD600 is a suitable flash system to be used at weddings?  Is it practical?  Is it quick to set up?  Is it powerful enough?

WEDDING 1 – INITIAL THOUGHTS

It was a windy wedding with speeds exceeding 30mph.  Unsurprisingly and to the relief of the bridesmaids, the bride chose to have the group photos inside the church rather than risk the wind destroying the girl’s hair.

The first thing I noticed about the AD600 was the fact it’s heavy.  Especially with my new beauty dish attached.  It is a lot heavier than the AD360 combination.  I put it on a lightstand and when extended the top section looked like it was at risk of bending.  If I were going to use this on a regular basis then I need a more heavy duty lightstand.  In fairness these were purchased from Amazon for about £12.  Most of the time they hold speedlights and I never intended for them to hold an actual strobe.  I’ve since purchased some stronger ones from Calumet and it feels a bit safer now.  But definitely something worth thinking about.

I borrowed an usher to keep hold of the lightstand and off we went.  I started in TTL mode and it seemed to work.  However I don’t like using TTL when off camera so switched it to manual power.  Since everything was fixed and the only thing that was changing were my groups, I felt manual power would give me the consistency I needed.  This led me to notice another thing.  Due to the power in the AD600, I had to choose a lower power setting than I usually would using the speedlight or AD360.  With hindsight it’s obvious but in the field it was a small surprise.  It’s a good job Godox have introduced the 1/256 power in the AD600.

The only other thing to note was that I accidentally left the power on the AD600 with the beauty dish facing downwards.  Later I was using my TT685 off camera in the same group and I nearly drained the battery on the AD600 since I didn’t bother to fully charge the battery the day before.  My point here is to check the groups you are using and maybe assign a different group to your strobe than your speedlight.

My conclusion after my first wedding is that because the weight is all in the head unit, it is a bit too heavy for general use.  I kept itching to pull the AD360 Mk2 out of the bag but I resisted.  My thoughts at the moment is that I think it will be useful for the specific situations where I need to overpower the sun but whether the few times I will use it against the cost I’ve invested remains to be seen.

SEVERAL WEDDINGS IN……

OK so I’ve used it now at a few weddings and nothing so far has made me change my opinion above.  The weight is a big issue for me as a wedding photographer.  Even when using an assistant the weight means it’s hard to hold aloft for any length of time.  The AD360 is far more practical where this is concerned.

The other thing that I’ve come to realise is that the one stop advantage in output is only when you use the same light modifier.  What I mean by that is if I use my bowens beauty dish on both the AD600 and AD360 then the AD600 will indeed give me an extra stop of light.  However…..the standard reflector on the AD360 is able to concentrate the light very well and using my trusty Sekonic 358, it shows me that I am getting the same amount of power from the AD360 with standard reflector as I do with the AD600 with beauty dish.

I know that some of you will be saying “Yeah well the light coming from the standard reflector will be harder since it’s a smaller light source” and technically you’d be right.  The larger the light source, the softer the light.  That’s the rule isn’t it?  But two things I’d say to that.

First, if I have the flash 10-20ft away, the relative size of the light source between the standard reflector and my beauty dish becomes much smaller.  In other words, it matters much less.  In the real world there’s not a lot of difference.  Remember I’m mainly using these portable strobes to overpower the sun, not in a studio environment where I have giant softboxes next to a model.  I’m shooting weddings, not studio portraits.

Secondly I don’t care!  As above, the difference is very minor and given the size/portability of the AD360 I would prefer to carry that.  I’ve had to put the AD600 in it’s own bag but I can break the AD360 down into my existing roller case meaning that it’s one less thing to lug about.

GODOX AD-H600B REVIEW – EXTENSION HEAD

I was talking to my friends at EachShot about the portability issues with the AD600 unit and they suggested that the AD-H600B extension head would help solve my problems.  For those who don’t know, this allows you to place the bulb onto a lightweight head and then a long cable can be attached to the body of the AD600.  This means you no longer have to mount the AD600 on top of the lightstand and it can be instead put over your assistant’s shoulder or even like I started to do, use it as a sandbag to weigh the lightstand down.

My first impressions of it were good.  It seemed to really help.  Being able to weigh the lightstand down with the body helped at a wedding which meant my second photographer could go and capture candids instead of being the “security guard” making sure no-one knocked it over.

Using this configuration during the bride & groom portraits, I did not notice any additional power but more on that later……

I used my old messenger bag to carry the AD600 and luckily this was just large enough to carry both the AD600 and the remote head cable.  The Godox carrying bag literally just carries the main body so you would have to figure out how to store/carry the H600B head unit which isn’t exactly small.

The cable itself is quite thick so not the most bendy, thicker than mains power cable.  The head itself is made from plastic but that didn’t bother me.  It seemed robust enough for professional use.

The main disadvantage was the power loss.  I had seen on various Facebook groups that other users had commented on it.  You basically lose between 1/3 to 2/3 stop of light when using the remote H600B head when compared against the AD600 alone.

I wanted to see this for myself so I took the unit outside, set it up and metered the output with my Sekonic once more.

As the second video shows, I recorded a 2/3 stop decrease in power when using the remote head.  This pretty much sealed the AD600’s fate with me.

[flo_video] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9tioqWBenA [/flo_video] [flo_video] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WD53lwUhVxs[/flo_video]

IS THE GODOX AD600 SUITABLE FOR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY? – SUMMARY

The short answer to that is no.  The longer answer is “Not for the way I work”.  Let me explain why.

As I’ve mentioned a couple of times, I have wrote this review from the point of view of a wedding photographer who needs to constantly balance not just the quality of light but the portability & speed in use.  For last weekends wedding I got a whole ten minutes with the couple for portraits.  As many other wedding photographer’s will tell you, that’s fairly common.  So in that situation spending five minutes to go get the bag and set it up is untenable.

And that’s my biggest criticism of the AD600.  That it’s too big and bulky to carry around along with all my other equipment.  Yes you do get the extra power and it does recycle faster than the AD360.  However I use strobes to overpower the sun or provide fill light for groups.  In which case I either can use a smaller reflector or move my light source closer.

The large power loss that comes when you use the H600B means there’s not a lot of difference between the AD360 and AD600 even when using the same light modifier!

So for me this is not the right flash I want to take with me to weddings.  Its too bulky and not enough of a difference to warrant the hassle, especially since I already own the AD360 mk2.

That being said though if I were doing styled shoots, outdoor model photography or even indoor studio photography where I have the time to set up large light modifiers and the space to control my environment then the AD600 would be perfect.  Because here you have a portable strobe which is giving off near studio levels of power but without the need for mains power.  That’s a very powerful solution for a lot of situations.  Just not weddings.

In summary then.  If you primarily shoot weddings and/or already own a AD360 flash then I wouldn’t recommend the AD600.  The smaller system packs a hefty punch which is suitable for most situations and has a good ecosystem of accessories which are all designed to be small & portable.

However if you want a more mature lighting system that accepts Bowens mount (or Godox I guess), more power than the AD360 can muster and you sometimes want to take it to a wedding then the AD600 may be the right solution for you.

 

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