Last week I managed to get to the last day of the photography show at the NEC in Coventry. I always go the last day as it’s a great chance for me to catch up with all those friends & acquaintances that are working on the stands. The last day seems a bit more relaxed, so a good chance to catch up & do a bit of networking. The night before I had been chatting to a few friends, Mark and Glenn who had spent the show working on the Pixapro stand. To be honest I think I’d already made up my mind, just wanted to confirm that it would link in one way or another to some of my other gear, having Godox, Yougnou, Canon & plenty of other bits of lighting. Once we arrived at the show, I headed straight for the stand, where I met Mark & Glenn, had a chat. At this point, and this is a great advice for all you guys, the wife was bored, needed the toilet, so went off in search, at this point whipped out my card and paid for my new set of lights. On her return I’m standing there very happy with two full bags. The deal being done, the money spent…. sorted.
So once at home it was time to unpack the new puppies and inspect, at first look the
quality is great, good build. Even more impressive is what these units are capable of, I have used speedlite systems out on race tracks shooting up to 1/8000th & monoblocks in studios & events shooting portraits for many years. But have always wanted the speed of the flashes & the power of the studio lighting, well here it is, with the added bonus of no cords. These are battery packs, not a separate one, all included in one lump. Another thing that has put me off other brands. Jogging around a track lighting things up, you have to keep it simple, four speedlites on a spike, simple, an external battery pack with leads… not for me. So for me this was a dream come true. Next, triggering system, the units come with a great little trigger, the ST-III, simple to use & does everything you need. The bonus for me, that I can also plug in my Godox triggers into the USB port, allowing me to link this up with my Godox RS400’s & Godox Speedlites, which also allows me to link to my Yougnou’s, Canon’s & so on. But you can trigger all of these in many ways, for me the way I’ve stated is one I’m used too and comfortable with. So far, happy chappy…
Next it’s time to put them to the test, over the years I’ve used plenty of lighting that states it goes to 1/8000th, but with so many hoops & difficult triggering systems to get it there. So time to attack the garden birds, it’s easy, no travelling & they do forgive me, I feed them, I then nuke them…
It works for both of us. Simple set up, one unit, fired straight at the feeder, camera shooting towards the sun, so aiming to overpower the sun. Setting’s as shown, 1/8000th, f10… Not to bad for straight out the box, didn’t miss a beat.
Now for a proper test, the weekend has come & it’s time for a little MX (motocross), the reason I bought these puppies. This is my main work, spending every weekend shooting flying bikes, all year round, through sunshine & rain, deep mud, just love it, nothing better then standing ankle deep lighting up bikes..lol.. Why do I use lighting? A quick explanation, it just adds, MX is grungy, using lighting adds texture, creates shadows, adds grunge, for my customer it gives that magazine look, for me, I can be as creative as I want.. The other bonus, like the test day, you turn up at a perfectly prepared track, Washbrook Farm MX, my Saturday job. To find a dull, gloomy day, shooting normally, it’s going to be hard, very little light & colour, your riders are going to blend into everything. So a great day & conditions to test some lighting.
First up, one thing I like to do, rider & bike shots, portraits, but outside using a location as
the backdrop. I looked around & quickly found my victim, Lauren, loves a shot, great colour kit & bike. So as I stated, I like things simple, make it difficult & it going to take more time, more things to go wrong, more everything. As an event photographer covering 150 riders, offering a selection of lit images, simple is best… So setup, 2 units on stands as diagram, Red Car is motorbike, sorry no symbol for MX bike. Just using standards reflectors with a piece of white cloth stuck over the fronts to diffuse the light (soften), well she’s a pretty thing, so trying not to make the lighting too harsh. Normally I might of used a couple of 120cm Octobox’s, but with gale force winds ripping through the pits, went for safety. The lights were set, one right, set high aiming down the right side of Lauren & one on the left a little further away aimed to cover the bike, I didn’t want to light the bike to much to distract from Lauren. For me the results were just as I wanted to capture… Few more at bottom of page..
Then it was time for the fun to start, so off out on track, again as it was the first time using this, I went simple. One unit & two batteries. I had picked half a dozen areas I wanted to
try, some of my best speedlite shots, plus a couple more, that are very difficult with speedlites, this way I had a good comparison at the end of the day. Unit set in place as shown in photo. Kept low, aimed slightly up, with still some spill across the track to add texture & shadow to track, see that’s where some of it adds for me. Then it all starts, practise days are normally cut into four sections, three adults & one kids, all 15 minutes each. So first set out, I’ve got 30+ riders
setting off with roughly a few seconds between each rider as you can see in the second image, this is where I am hoping the recycling time will keep up. The answer very impressive, the first lap they are all quite tight, after that they space out depending on the riders ability. Out of the whole set one or two unlit, but still retrievable for selling purposes. Once they have passed it’s time to grab the lighting & jog to the next point, screw the lighting in the ground, get to my position, do any setting changes waiting for the first of the flyers to scream past. You can understand that running between points the last thing I need is external battery packs & leads…
On went the day & it seemed what ever I expected from the
unit it gave. Here is another simple lighting shot, unit place just after lip of jump, shot across the track. Again keeping the lighting low, adds the texture to the soil etc.. Even great to capture the eyes through the goggles.
Below there is a selection of shots from yesterday’s practise day, all shot using one directional flash, on a day when shooting without light would have been a struggle at best. I love lighting for the versatility & creativity it gives me, I don’t have to worry too much about weather, a strong sun or really anything, with lighting anything is possible..
So how did they perform during the day? Well I ended up with 1300+ images, 97% were lit beautifully, I used to batteries, one died at around the 700 images mark, the other had one bar left at the end. The quality of the light was superb, the recycling times impressive, I actually think these could be the last pieces of lighting I buy. My wife was so relieved when I said that, my office is packed with lighting..lol.. I can even see myself selling off some of my gear, this compared to other brands, is a killer, I can’t see anything else I would want from a lighting unit. All I can say to end this is, Pixapro has produced a superb looking unit with great build quality, so versatile that with many ways to trigger these units, allows me to link to my existing units, light delivery was superb throughout & smooth, fast recycles & reliable… 10/10 for me..
Thanks for reading, I will keep you informed as the year go ons…