Review: Phottix Indra 500

September 02, 2015  •  6 Comments

So, I suddenly discovered a need for blowing out the sun.

Why?

On location I typically bring my pair of trusty Nikon SB900 speedlights. Those do their job perfectly but in the end they are still speedlights. Sometimes you just need a little more than that. And preferably without going all McNally with multiple speedlights per light modifier. ;)

 

So, let's shop! What would my ideal set of flashes be?

  • Battery driven! Or at least something you can use where there isn't a 230V socket nearby. This means either getting a large powerpack for the studio strobes, or something else instead.
  • Enough power! Obviously. Otherwise I'd stick to speedlights. They work fine!
  • High Speed sync: yes please! I like being able to do flashes @ shutter of 1/4000th of a second. That blows away the sun. G'bye sun, hello darkness!
  • Oh and if possible: compatibilty with my existing Nikon speedlights would be nice! Let's use everything together!

 

And... found it! The perfect match actually. The Phottix Indra 500.

Other contenders which I seriously considered where the Elinchrom ELB400 (since I already have Elinchrom), the Profoto B1 (really nice, and also really expensive) and the Foxflash 680 (little known, cheap, and I hear good stories about them too). Each one has it ups and downs, but I finally settled on getting 2 Phottix Indra 500's together with a single battery pack. Read on to know why these work for me.

 

First of, some specifications:

The Phottix Indra is a battery fed 500Ws studio strobe, which can be triggered using a variety of methods including the Phottix Odin triggering system, which incidentally I already have and use. The Phottix Indra supports high speed sync for Nikon and Canon, which means it can keep up with shutter speeds up to 1/8000 (in my case). I should probably include things like actual watt seconds and recharge times here... but I am not a person that cares about such metrics. Please do see other reviews and/or spec sheets for this. I care about if these flashes fit my needs, and they certainly do!

 

The good stuff:

  • Syncing work perfectly together with (both) my existing Odin trigger, or as optical slaves together with my studio set (which uses yet another trigger system). The Odin trigger never gave me misfires so far, and I love to set the power of each flash directly my camera. Good!
  • Light quality: consistent between flashes, both in output strength and in color temperature. Note that I typically don't care about that last bit that much. I often gel everything to crazy colors anyway.
  • Powerful enough for my needs (so far ;) ). You will not find detailed graphs on this blog, nor explanations on how these measure up in milliwattsecond-deltas vs other lights. That's all cool for the statistics, but not useful for me in the field. I'll settle on: powerful enough. Let me explain in a picture, taken on a cloudy day in the middle of a forest:

Lit by a single Phottix Indra about 5 meters away from the model. Note: this picture has (obviously) been edited and is not intended as a perfect showcase of what you can achieve with such a light. That said, I couldn't achieve this without such a light. ;)

 

  • The battery pack is amazingly small, light and powerful! Love this! Power wise: it fits my needs. I have used the set a couple of times within an outdoor photobooth, and it easily survives that powering both flashes @ 1/8-ish. After approx 600 photos the pack stills claimed to be 3/4 full. Perfect! A battery pack can power two flashes (and their LED modelling lights if you so prefer), and it can charge your phone too.
  • In non-Odin mode (a.k.a. manual) there's a nice big fat turnythingy-knob on the back, which you turn to get more power. Big display also tells you the numbers in nice big letters. Good!

 

The bad stuff:

  • This set is heavier than carrying two speedlights. Obviously! Keep this in mind if you're a speedlight photog.  Or you can take a few precautionsOr you can take a few precautions
  • That also means that you typically want to take bigger/heavier tripods. Especially when using light modifiers such as an umbrella. Bring a VAL or use a trick like the picture on the right ;)
  • The cord: it's long enough, but if you want to fire 2 strobes out of one battery pack, both strobes need to be reasonably close to each other. This is a downside, and I'll probably get me another battery pack later for maximum flexibility.
  • At first I got a few strange misfires when using high speed sync, until I figured out that this was because I had my camera set to rear curtain sync. This does not work well with high speed sync. Easy to fix, however I would've liked the system either telling me this, or just reverting to front curtain sync instead.
  • The optical sync eye of the Phottix Indra's is quite small and located on the back of the flash. For me this means that it doesn't always see other flashes. However, taping some wite tape near the eye allowed it to catch enough light to trigger.
  • Bowens mount. This is a good thing.. but not for me. My studio modifiers use the Elinchrom mount. So I'll need yet another set of converter rings to hook up my existing stash of light mods to this system. First world problem. ;)

 

To summarize, I love the set! The extra carrying weight to locations is a hassle, but the versatility and flexibility of these lights is perfect for me. I'll continue to do a lot of field testing (literally, by carrying it into a field) and will update this post when appropriate!

 

 


Comments

Ork fotografie
@Han - goede vraag. Ik gebruik in mijn studio zowel Elinchrom als Phottix door elkaar. Voor mij zijn de Phottix lampen beduidend lichter (maar ik vergelijk met de ELC 1000's)

Als de skyport plus HS bestond voordat ik de phottix had gekocht, dan was het wellicht logischer om voor een setje ELB 400's te gaan.. maar dan verlies je wel het deels het gemak waarmee je ook je speedlights kan mee laten flitsen. Lastige keuze :)
Han(non-registered)
@Ork Dank voor je reply. Toch nog een vraagje. In de tijd dat jij de review schreef bestond de Skyport Plus HS nog niet. Zou je nu dezelfde keuze gemaakt hebben? Ik vind namelijk het gewicht van de Elinchrom kop wel erg handzaam.
Ork fotografie
@Han - zeker wel! Ik mix 'n match ze vaak met m'n bestaande Nikon SB900's via extra phottix radiotriggers. Dan werkt de high speed sync ook nog. Of dit ook opgaat voor Canon weet ik niet zeker, maar ik vermoed dat dat ook zou moeten kunnen werken.

Kleurtemperatuurswisselingen zijn mij niet opgevallen op high speed sync. Let wel: ik gel m'n flitsers vaak dus dan hebben we 't sowieso over rare kleuren ;)

Ork
Han(non-registered)
Leuke review. Ik wil graag weten of je de indra ook samen in 1 set gebruikt samen met je speedlights, en of de speedsync dan nog goed werkt. Zelf heb ik 4 canon 600ex speedlights en ik zoek eigenlijk een systeem waarbij ik die nog wel kan gebruiken.

Heb je geen probleem met wisselende kleurtemperatuur bij snelle sluitertijden ?
Ork fotografie
Dat hangt een beetje af van de modifier die je er voor zet, en wat je verstaat onder "redelijke afstand". Ik heb dit wel voor elkaar gekregen, maar het heeft niet mijn voorkeur. Ik zat met volle zon wel op de uiterste limieten van de lampen. In de schaduw of bij bewolking is het een stuk eenvoudiger.

Deze zomer ga ik het meer testen. :)
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Ork de RooijOrk de Rooij

Ork is een fotograaf uit Utrecht. Hij vond zijn passie in fotografie van mensen, zowel tijdens evenementen of juist in de studio. Ork staat bekend om zijn gedreven aanpak, waarbij hij open staat voor innovatieve ideeën die zowel het model als de fotograaf verder brengen in het maken van de perfecte foto.

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