Bowens’ Esprit Gemini Digital Monoblocs; New Controls And Versatility Page 2

Flash Power
At a constant power level, repeated flash exposures were within 1/10 of a stop of one another, indicating that a stable amount of voltage was being delivered to the flash tube. Color temperature with the wide angle reflector attached varied from an average of 4910 Kelvin at 1/32 power to 5270 Kelvin at full power. While the range of only 350Þ Kelvin is very good, it's slightly outside of the unit's specs. The specified color temperature of the GM500 is 5600 ±300Þ Kelvin.

Bowens' Travel-Pak battery unit.

On Location
While the GM500 makes an excellent studio monobloc, it's also good for on-location work. When no AC power is available, it's possible to shoot with the Bowens' Travel-Pak battery. Recycle time, though, takes a hit when working with portable power. Rather than the 1.5 seconds that it takes to recycle on AC, it takes 4.2 seconds to recycle with the power pack. All in all, that's a small price to pay for having 200 full-power shots available on one charge. It is possible to connect two lights to one Travel-Pak, but that decreases the number of flashes. It isn't possible to use the modeling light in the GM500 when using the Travel-Pak.

Outdoors, the red LED digital display is a little difficult to read from a distance, but fairly readable when in-close, in the shade. And outside, the Photocell triggering with the on-camera SB-800 was more miss than hit, even when it was aimed in the direction of the GM500. But that would be expected in direct sunlight. Sync cords or radio triggers are more appropriate triggering devices in bright light situations.

Power output of the Bowens' Esprit Gemini Digital GM500 is adjustable over five stops. These two photos, taken in my garden with the Travel-Pak powering the flash, show the range of effects that the unit allows. Aperture varied from f/4 (at power setting #5) (top photo) to f/22 (at power setting #10) (bottom photo) with the beauty dish, including diffuser, attached to the unit.

Build And Fit
Both the GM500 and the Travel-Pak are built extremely well. The body of the GM500 is all metal and finished in the same gunmetal gray as the analog Gemini monoblocs. The handgrip is solid and rubber coated. The membrane switches are sealed so the unit is practically weatherproof. The only construction shortcoming is the protective cover that is supplied for the battery pack connector on the unit's back--it fit loosely and was knocked off a couple of times just through handling.

The Travel-Pak is equally well made and supplied with a protective cover that can sit in 3" of water without shorting out. Its charging unit includes adapter plugs for electrical systems in different parts of the world, but there is no car adapter. The Travel-Pak also includes a flash head connector cable, but at 9.5 ft, it's shorter than it should be for connecting two heads to one battery pack.

The Bowens' Esprit Gemini Digital 500 is smaller than the comparably-powered analog Gemini units. It weighs 7.5 lbs and is 8.6" long, 3.7" wide, and 3.3" tall. It has a street price of $650. Several kits that include stands, umbrellas, and a case are also available. The Travel-Pak battery costs $645. Additional cables are $99 each.

In the studio on main power, the Bowens' Esprit Gemini Digital GM500 produces enough output to achieve f/16 with its normal reflector and softened with two layers of diffusion material. Jewelry courtesy of Frederick Schuster,

Technical Specificiations
Bowens' Esprit Gemini Digital 500
Stored Energy: 500 ws
Sync Voltage: 5v
Color Temperature: 5600K ±300K
Circuit Protection: 230v - 5A fuse
Supply Voltage: 190-250v AC 50Hz
Voltage Stabilization: ±1 percent
Guide Number: 79.8
Typical Recycle Time: 1.54 seconds
Modeling Control: Full/Intermittent/Off
Flash Duration: 1/925
Flash Control: Full to 1/32--(five stops)
Weight: 7.5 lbs
Dimensions (LxWxH): 8.6x3.7x3.3"

The Esprit Gemini Monoblocs are distributed through Bowens USA, P.O. Box 310 West Hyannisport, MA 02672 and available at many photo imaging retailers. Please visit their website for a list of retailers.