I'm quite excited to have found the Z-Flash. I love what it gives the photographer: continuous predictable light. I don't know why I haven't thought of this before - even after reading Jose Villa's beautiful book where he mentions his use of continuous light. Continuous light is really delish - I can see what I'm going to capture even before I press the shutter button.
What's more, this model offers both continuous light and sync light - or flash. Doesn't it sound real good? I thought it did. So I went and got one for me.
It did not disappoint. I love it. Unlike the Nissin di866 which I invested in and rarely used, the Z-Flash actually has me excited.
I tried its baby brother, the Z96 (which only offered continuous light) in covering the student council elections last week. So I knew what its continuous light feature was going to give me. I knew of its yummy consistency and temperature. I knew of its light and how it lightened-up the shades just as much as you wanted it - not more or less.
Now I was going to try for this new flash feature. Will it work well? As good as the di866 perhaps?
Let me show you.
I've done comparisons on how continuous light affects my images in 25%, 50% and 100% capacity. I used the dimmer as my gauge. Then, I synced it up with my Canon 5D MkII and used it in flash mode.
Here's how the comparison went with the naked LED. I think the highlights are overblown. I also think the flash isn't so powerful - not like the di866 - but not so bad.
If you're wondering how to sync it, there's really nothing to it: you just plug in one end of the provided cable to your Z-Flash and the other to your camera. It won't take in any settings. It'll do its own thing with no help from you.
Here's how the white diffuser affects it.
I think the flash behaved a little better here but I'm not satisfied. I think that's saying a lot because I'm not even much of a strobist here.
Please note that all factors are the same throughout. Same aperture, shutter speed, lens, location. Images are only minutes apart from each other so window light quality is as consistent as possible.
Variables include the amount of light from Z-Flash and the gel over it.
Here's how its warming gel affects the light.
You can even see how warm the light is on the background!
You can also stack the gel filters on top of each other. Here's white diffuser + warming gel.
I like this the most. Especially how flash worked well with it. The image looks brighter but not harshly so - and its not grossly overblown.
The Z-Flash itself is worth its price and more. It costs about US$ 100 where I'm at. It's not the Z-Flash which I think is ill-priced - it's the battery that you need to purchase for it. Unlike its younger brother which takes AA batteries (Helloooooo Eneloop!) or a Sony Video Cam battery, this one only takes the Sony VideoCam battery - which it is not packaged with. So you buy the Z-Flash + Sony Re-chargeable Battery.
But wait! You need to re-charge it, right? Then… you guessed it!… you need to purchase your charger on top of it all. So you buy the Z-Flash + Sony Re-chargeable Battery + Sony Battery Re-charger. Why not bundle it up? Or, better yet, why not design a battery for the Z-Flash? Or at least choose batteries that the flash sync cable is compatible with? (Only Canon or Nikon. If you're a Sony user, you need to get a cable adaptor.) As much as I'm in love with my nifty little toy, this part of its design just bugs the hell out of me. It feels illogical and ironic. (Maybe it was meant to be a political statement? Maybe not. Maybe they just seriously overlooked it.)
Ok. So you're sitting there and trying to make up your mind. Do I get one or not? Here's a simple answer:
You want continuous light, you don't need flash… go and get its younger brother the Z96. Don't worry about cash. This little toy is worth more than its price - and it's not very expensive at all!
You want continuous light, you have to have flash - or at least want to have the option of using flash - you have about US$ 200 for a budget. Get the Z-Flash. Worth it. I promise.
You're a strobist. What are you doing here? Get yourself your Nissin or Canon or Nikon. This isn't strong enough for the likes of you! ;)
The box I got it in says its only available in Indonesia where I'm based. If you want one, here's where I got mine. I love their service. They do COD. But… maybe only within Jakarta. ;) I'm a MitraKamera fan. :)
The Z96 and others like it (ONLY continuous light, no flash option) is available in quite a few places - in different numbers of LED lights, too. Here's a shop which sells it in the Philippines.
I'm not getting anything for this - not from Z-Flash, not from any of the stores - I just like my new toy. I also know there's not much online about it - so here's my contribution to the information pool. I hope it helps.