SP Studio Systems’ LancerLight SPC3200 AC/DC; The Versatile Flash Goes Anywhere Page 2

Now let's talk about what really makes this light unique--the optional battery pack. It looks about the size of my old external CD burner. The battery fits into a nylon carrying case and is held securely with a strip of touch fasteners. While the manual doesn't say how long a full charge takes, it does state that you should give a new battery at least a three-hour charge, so I assume three hours should be good for a full charge. I gave it an overnight charge before testing to be sure it was ready, then would "top it off" to a full charge when I was done with it. The battery has indicators that inform you when it is fully charged and when it has fully cycled when shooting. While I found the power ratings still accurate, I did make sure to wait a full 10 seconds between full-power shots. While the spec sheet also lists about 100 full-power shots available from a fresh battery, 80 is a more accurate number to go by.

This shows how we can use the flash to give us slightly more exposure on the subject than the background, resulting in a subdued background with plenty of detail.

So how did the light perform? It worked like a precision piece of lighting equipment. In the studio I used it with the battery pack and found great freedom in being able to move it around without any cords. A self-proclaimed "cord hater," I at first used the light with a PC cord. Of course I tripped on it and had to grab it before it amputated my model. I immediately hooked up my radio control unit to it; no more cords. Battery packs are good for klutzes.

Regular readers know I am not a fan of "fill flash" for my portrait work. That's because it's really difficult to get just the right amount of fill and I prefer to find good, natural light. Having a light like this is not the same as an on-camera fill. This light can be used as the main light source and the daylight for fill. This opens up many more situations for you.

Like a background but it's too bright? No problem--either match it or shoot it a stop less for a natural look that holds detail in both areas. Found a nice area but the light is overhead? No problem--dial in the correct amount and get rid of those raccoon eyes in a flash! (Pun intended.) As you can see, shooting outside with this is like carrying the sun around with you! It's quite empowering. I used the umbrella with the light at all times outside to keep it from being too harsh and not matching the softer natural light.

Using The Flash As A Main Light
What to do when you have an area where you really like the location but the background is too bright? Add flash of course! The typical way is to "fill" flash by using a flash on-camera to add light on your subject so it either matches, or is slightly less, or is slightly more than the light intensity of the background. I'm not a big fan of this since the flat light on your subject often appears unnatural and makes your subject appear to be "pasted" into the image.

The solution? Use the flash as a main light! Taking your studio lights might mean using a 500-foot extension cord and makes tripping a major concern. Or you could take this cool blue light with an umbrella and battery pack and you've got instant "light on a stand" from South Beach to K2.

Conclusions: There aren't many lights out there that I'm aware of that give you this much versatility at such a reasonable price. The controls are rudimentary but are all that are needed for most shooters. If you want to carry the sun around with you outside and use an untethered light in the studio, this is for you.

The LancerLight SPC3200 AC/DC strobe has an MSRP of $490. Additionally, the SPLL3200KBP Kit has an MSRP of $1140 and contains two SPC3200 AC/DC strobes, two 8-foot air cushion stands, two 40" white umbrellas, and one padded equipment bag.

For more information, contact Brandess-Kalt-Aetna Group, Inc., 701 Corporate Woods Pkwy, Vernon Hills, IL 60061; (800) 621-5488, (847) 821-0450; www.bkaphoto.com.