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Monday, July 08, 2013

LumoPro LP180 Speedlight: Full Walk-Thru



The $199 LumoPro LP180 quad-sync, all-manual speedlight has arrived. I have been shooting with a couple pre-production units for several months now, so have had ample time to formulate some thoughts.

Short version: The LP180 is rock-solid, with a near-perfect feature set for lighting photographers. It's the first flash that I actually prefer over a Nikon SB-800.

Long version: below.
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First, Some Adjectives

Rugged. Intuitive. Fast. Dependable. Guaranteed.

Most of those could be applied to my long-time favorite Nikon SB-800s, of which I own … well, a few.

But if you do not need TTL and/or Nikon's CLS or Canon eTTL capabilities (and I generally don't) the LP180 beats it in almost every other way.


First Things First



The LP180 is a well-built, rugged, no apologies flash, backed by a 2-year warranty. That's twice as long as Nikon or Canon, and what separates it from the vast majority of flashes on the market today.

Reliability—as expressed by the manufacturer's warranty to back it up—should be the very first feature you look for in a speedlight. If all you care about are features and price, you can do better. But in doing so you can also end up with a piece of crap flash, as I have several times.

If a [insert mystery meat flash brand here] lists seventeen whiz-bang features but does not seem to have enough space on the internet to get to the manufacturer's warranty, I'd recommend avoiding it.

To that end, other manufacturers are now seeing the value in this demonstrable quality metric, and I will be writing about them here, too. It's simple: if you make a great flash, give it a great manufacturer's warranty to match. If you don't, then gloss over that minor detail and hope enough inexperienced photographers don't notice so you can sell the whole run on eBay before the word gets out.

So, kickass warranty: check.


Power and Recycle



It's slightly more powerful than a Nikon SB-800. The relative guide numbers ('180 vs. '800) vary with the zoom throw, but it consistently beats my old standby at a given setting. Speaking of power settings, they range from 1/1 to 1/128 in 1/3-stop increments.

Recycle time is officially listed at 4 seconds but I have consistently been getting 2.5 seconds with NiMH batts. (Alkalines do take longer.) The combo of good power and fast recycle is impressive. But all the more so because it also does very well delivering these pops with a HV battery, for which it is equipped (using a Canon style HV cord).

It has an intelligent heat management system for those times when you might ask a lot of it with a high-voltage battery. You'll get into the mid-twenties on fast, full-power HV pops before it starts to complain of heat. But—and this is cool—it doesn't just stop working. It slows recycle times down automatically, to better dissipate the heat until it cools off.

(Please don't do that unnecessarily. It is a torture stress test for any flash. Just a measure of the capabilities.)


Light Control

Everything you'd expect: 180-degrees rotation each way, indexed bounce, slightly down-firing for macro work, zoom range of 24mm-105mm, wide-angle adapter gets you to 14mm, slide-out bounce card.

The fresnel is a latest-gen design, offering even light across the frame throughout the zoom range.


Sync

World-class. It syncs four ways, just like every other LumoPro flash. It syncs via hot shoe, an excellent slave, a PC jack (if you are a masochist) and, thankfully, a ⅛" mono plug.

The slave can be used with pre-flash TTL systems (with the LP180 firing manually, of course) by setting the slave to count from 1-10 pre-flashes before firing. The slave is also independent of the physical syncs, and can be turned on or off regardless of other concurrent syncing methods.


User Interface

Wonderfully intuitive. But I can show you better than I can tell you. (The user interface stuff start at 2:15, the rest of the 6-minute vid is a full feature walk-through.)




Mount(s)

The shoe is metal, with a Canon-style sliding locking pin switch. It has a rubberized skirt around the foot to keep water from seeping into your... light stand? (I kid, LumoPro.)

The LP180 also has an integrated ¼" x 20 female mount, which means you can mount it horizontally directly to an umbrella swivel and easily get the flash on-axis to your umbrella. A nice (and, in retrospect, obvious) feature for a speedlight.


T.1 Times

The LP180's t.1 times are typical of 60ws flashes, if slightly on the good side. You'll give up about 1/6 of a stop to t.1 at full power at 1/250th. Drop the power even a little and the t.1 times speed up very fast. It handled the leaf shutter of my Fuji X100s at 1/2000th of a second with aplomb, here:




Gel Clip

Yes, a gel clip.

So obvious, but long neglected. Not since the (original) Vivitar 285 has there been an integrated gel holder in a speedlight to my knowledge. But this is also the source of one of my only two quibbles with the flash. (See below for more info.)


Design and Build Quality

Triple aces. The flash feels very rugged and the build quality is spot-on. You could totally brain somebody with it. (After you blinded them, of course.) It was designed by an NoCal-based industrial designer who also happens to be a shooter.

It was designed by California-based industrial designer Hilgard Muller of Springbok Designs. You may remember him from from this post about a very cool DIY PVC-pipe-based splash-proof housing for his Nikon SB-800.

Not surprisingly, he designed the LP180 to feel like, well, the SUV of speedlights. Eschewing the prevalent rounded-edges feel, he wanted to make it look as rugged as it was.

Says Muller:
I find that the products in the photography industry generally lack any attitude or character which makes the product very sterile. When I initially spoke to the team at LumoPro about designing their new hot shoe-mounted flash, I just assumed they would want to follow the trend of making a simple and visually uninspired product. After the first conversation with the team I was extremely pleased to find out they shared my vision.

The design process was very fun, working with Moishe Applebaum and Kevin Deskins of Lumopro was a hoot to say the least! There were no bad ideas (ok, maybe a few that seemed a little absurd). But no idea was not considered. Everything was open for discussion, which lead to some very out-of-the-box concepts. I wouldn't be surprised if we didn't pursue some of those in the future.

The design is really inspired by function. Being a photographer myself I was able to incorporate features that actually provide the user a better overall experience when using the LP180 such as the gel holder and integrated 1/4 insert.

Quibbles and Bits

It's hard to find something not to like about this flash. But let's try anyway!

To that end, two minor quibbles:

First off, the hot keys on flash power and zoom angle—which I love—wrap around if you go past the end settings. I realize this is a matter of opinion, but I would rather see them stop at the ends. I.e., if I wanna bleed power without looking, I want to just grab the down arrow and press-press-press it out, without having to worry about rounding the corner from 1/128 back to 1/1.

Personal opinion, granted. The other argument is basically being able to get from very high power to very low power quickly. I can totally see the other side on that. Even if they are wrong.

The other is a note of caution. LOVE the gel holder, but there is a caveat. The clips are a tiny bit wide for a standard sample-sized gel. They fit but the gel could bow in, leading to a gel touching the front fresnel. When doing higher power pops, this surface generates a lot of heat. And if you are using a gel that absorbs a lot of light (and thus, heat) you might fry it to the fresnel permanently. Any deep color is something you want to keep an eye on here.

Easy solution: cut your gels a little bigger, or laminate one side of your standard-sized samples with a strip of scotch tape so they are a little bigger and bow out.

To LumoPro's credit, they actually include a full bigger-sized gel kit (22 pieces) with each flash. (Along with a sync cord, a foot/stand and a nice case.)

Not big quibbles, but quibbles. I feel a little bad nitpicking the gel clip because it's a freakin' speedlight with a gel clip but there you go.

And I'll grant you the power and zoom user interface thing is a pick 'em.


LP180, Hiding in Plain Sight

Just to see who was paying attention, I actually ran a photo of a LumoPro LP180 on this very website in April. Fifth picture down, second light from the right. You hadda click through to the full-size to see it, tho.

(Don't feel bad. You probably missed the Fuji X-Pro 2, also…)

I was really cheating the t.1 vs power vs. recycle curve and the LP180 was faster than the SB-800. So I made it my key light on the bluebirds.


Where to Get One

The LumoPro LP180 order page is now live, with a ship date starting next Tuesday July 16th.

Because this is the first production run of the '180, MPEX (and the other LP retailers) are going to the extraordinary step of hand testing every single unit before shipping, just as they did with the early LP160s.

Obsessive? Perhaps. But they kinda have a reputation for that.

And as with the LP160s, I am told it has thus far turned out to be a needless, albeit staggeringly repetitive, exercise. But what's a little carpal tunnel syndrome among friends in the quest for 100% reliability.
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Questions about the LP180? Hit me in the comments. I have been playing with these things for awhile now, and know them pretty well.

:: LumoPro LP180 Speedlight Order Page ::


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95 Comments:

Blogger Eric Scott said...

I would rather see the flash in the video and not you

July 08, 2013 12:24 PM  
Blogger Jay said...

I'll need to remind myself about the warranty, gel clip and 1/4" insert as I weigh the decision. $199+shipping+exchange+duty adds up, but a pair of these might nicely move a few SB-28s into secondary flashes in my kit.

July 08, 2013 12:30 PM  
Blogger Neil said...

Been waiting for this day since they (seemingly prematurely) discontinued the LP-160... placed my pre-order already! My only quibble with this unit is it uses a Canon-style HV jack... but I rarely use anything but 4 NiMHs these days anyway. Lower power pops = greater flexibility, longer life, and lower weight through less batteries.

July 08, 2013 12:37 PM  
OpenID Henry said...

The wait is over.

July 08, 2013 12:38 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@Eric-

One more crack like that, and I am doing the next one in a man-kini.

http://images1.fanpop.com/images/image_uploads/Mankini-borat-1116041_554_700.jpg

July 08, 2013 12:44 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@Jay-

Pretty sure they are available internationally (EU, Israel, AU) if that helps on the shipping/duty. Email kevin@lumopro I think, is best contact.

July 08, 2013 12:45 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Sorry bro, warranty does less than nothing for me when I'm with a client. I can see me saying "lets move the shoot we've already started, don't worry my flash has a warranty." Not gonna fly. I'm sure you know this yet you go on in your initial paragraph about how great it is to have a great warranty. This warranty comes at a price. I could buy 2 versions of a cheaper flash for less money than the new LP180. If I'm going to by 2 of both to be sure I don't have a failure then why not 2 of the cheaper one? So a warranty is not a guarantee against failure it's just a promise to give you a working one if the one you have breaks. So don't rely solely on a warranty as they will never pay for your disappointed client. So a good warranty is nice but it's no panacea.

July 08, 2013 12:45 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@Neil-

Yeah, I am totally NiMH AAs now, too. They are almost as fast as HV now. Crazy.

July 08, 2013 12:46 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@Jeff-

Nothing is a panacea, of which the very word in itself a straw man argument. But I gotta disagree with you on the value of a warranty.

A good warranty is a company putting its money where its mouth is. It is a transfer of risk.

It's not that the warranty *protects* you from a failure. The warranty is only *offered* because the flashes have been designed and built and QC'd to have a high degree of reliability.

If you build a shit flash, you cannot afford to have a strong warranty, because a lot of them are going to fail. So if you build shit flashes without a warranty, you simply price them cheap because a) because you did not spend much money making them and b) you know you will not have to worry about the failed flashes after they have failed.

Which is why so many pop-up cheap flash manufacturers have little to no stated factory warranty program. It is a sweet system for them.

July 08, 2013 12:54 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Let's think about this for a sec, David. Why would somebody put a two-year warranty on a flash? Hmmm, very interesting.

Here's the way I see it, David. Guy puts a fancy guarantee on a flash 'cause he wants you to feel all warm and toasty inside.

Why shouldn't it? Ya figure you put that little flash under your pillow at night, the flash warranty fairy might come by and leave a quarter, am I right, David?

The point is, how do you know the fairy isn't a crazy glue sniffer? "Building model airplanes" says the little fairy; well, we're not buying it. He sneaks into your house once, that's all it takes.

The next thing you know, there's money missing off the dresser, and your daughter's knocked up. I've seen it a hundred times.

They know all they sold ya was a guaranteed piece of shit. That's all it is, isn't it? Hey, if you want me to take a dump in a box and mark it guaranteed, I will. I got spare time.

But for now, for your reader's sake, for your daughter's sake, ya might wanna think about buying a quality product from Nikon.

----------

In all seriousness, this flash seems worth the money just for the improved shoe (I had a few accidents with the last one because of the crappy shoe design) and the integrated gel holders. Should make life easier.

July 08, 2013 1:32 PM  
Blogger weenigj said...

I assume I can still use these with my pocket wizards? If true, this is definitely almost too good to be true.

July 08, 2013 1:32 PM  
Blogger This is Me said...

I love the David Honl modifiers with my SB800's. How's the fit with these flashes?

July 08, 2013 1:32 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@Weenigi-

Yep. And you don't need proprietary PC cords. Cheap 1/8" x 1/8" audio patch cords will connect them.

July 08, 2013 1:47 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@This is Me-

They'll fit everything Honl makes.

July 08, 2013 1:48 PM  
Blogger John Walton said...

David, can you comment on the physical size of the flash as compared to the SB800? It seems a bit bulkier and longer. My SB-800s just barely fit in my bag (standing on end) so I'm wondering how the LP-180 compares.

July 08, 2013 2:02 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@John-

Opened up, it is an inch taller than a Nikon SB-800, which by today's standards is admittedly a smallish hot shoe flash. Other dimensions are nearly identical, only design shape differences.

Weight feels very similar. The '180 is maybe 10% heavier. The increased internal size (expressed in length) almost certainly contributes to the better heat handling arising from the faster recycle/better duty cycle.

July 08, 2013 2:11 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

Regarding your quibble with the wrap-around of the up/down buttons for power, the obvious compromise is to not wrap around when holding down the button, and only wrap around when tapping the button. You'd think this would've occurred to LP, but perhaps the logic chip their using isn't advanced enough to handle "complex" inputs.

July 08, 2013 2:13 PM  
Blogger lv pg said...

Thanks for the review David. If you do for it, what you did for the x100s, I should have one by Christmas. The x100s, which...by the way, finally arrived. The only camera I ever bought based on complete hype...glad I did. I can only mimick what you have already stated. The flash sync (alone) was enough for me. It's a medium-format film camera without the size/weight or cost of film. Hope the flash arrives sooner.

July 08, 2013 2:30 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@Matt-

That's not a bad idea, and something I am sure LP could iterate.

July 08, 2013 2:33 PM  
Blogger Brad said...

The new locking mechanism alone sold me. I get a ton of use out of my LP160s, but it sure is a pain to lock down the flash. Also—love the side-mount for getting it on-axis with an umbrella.

July 08, 2013 2:48 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

@Michael -

Love the Tommy Boy quote. Great movie that many people don't know about.

I use strobes but i've been looking into using flashes now because they're so much easier to set up and more transportable when needed... I shall look into these.

July 08, 2013 3:19 PM  
Blogger Scott Williams said...

Hey David,

I'm a Nikon guy, what's the Canon HV port? What kind of external power supply can I hook up to these flashes?

Thanks.

July 08, 2013 3:51 PM  
Blogger Ed from Ohio said...

If Hilgard Muller considers this NOT to be "visually uninspired", he obviously has different tastes than me. The design of this reminds me of a Hummer - very unrefined and brute force.

July 08, 2013 4:11 PM  
Blogger dave moser said...

Thanks, David, going to buy one of these. Nice not to have to spend $500 for a full featured flash when all I use is manual mode.

Regarding the 1/8" cord -- do you know if stereo cords work, or just mono?

thanks

July 08, 2013 4:37 PM  
Blogger Bill Pugliano said...

My favorite modifier is the Photek softlighter, but it's a royal pain trying to get the sock around a strobe that's mounted vertically on a shoe, so for me, the 1/4-20 side mount is worth the cost of the flash! Makes it so much easier than trying to jerry rig a mount.

And reliability is priceless.

July 08, 2013 4:52 PM  
Blogger Antares said...

Apologies if I missed it, but what is the USB port for on a dumb flash?

July 08, 2013 5:13 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@Scott- Any reputable 3rd-party HV pack should work, with a Canon cord. Lumedyne, Quantum, etc. I'd email kevin@LumoPro.com to check for sure with your chosen model.

July 08, 2013 5:21 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi David, I bought one original LP120 then sold it and bought two LP160s. Love the quality and value of LumoPro. Seems like I will be upgrading again. One thing that bothered me about the LP160s is that if you set a manual power like 1/4 and then turned of the flash, when you turned it back on the power went back to full (1/1). Does the LP180 do that? Also wondering if the battery door stays attached when opened or does it come completely off?

John

July 08, 2013 5:21 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@Ed-

Pretty sure Hilgard was talking about the previously existing crop of flashes, this flash being the reaction to those.

July 08, 2013 5:22 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@Dave-

Dunno, but will check next I get the chance. Pretty sure it will.

July 08, 2013 5:22 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@Antares-

For firmware upgrades. They actually used that to rework the UI button sequence after the preproduction models were out to make it much better.

As they get user feedback for any refinements they might like to implement (one was suggested above) they can easily introduce that at a production level and publish a firmware upgrade so anyone can add it to a previously purchased flash.

July 08, 2013 5:24 PM  
OpenID sharongreenaway said...

Hi David
Once again thanks for your research. Umm I used Pentax...will this new flash work with this system, sorry to sound dumb.

July 08, 2013 7:31 PM  
Blogger Andrew Roach said...

This looks amazing, answers so many needs and at a great price. I'm kicking myself as I just bought a Calumet Genesis 692C as main light and Yongnuo 560 EX ii as slave for a photoshoot in New York. I had to send the Genesis back just a few days before travelling due to it packing up on me (they were very quick to send a replacement but it was still a worry) and during the shoot my V.A.L. accidentally knocked the controls and sent it into some weird grouping mode that stopped the flash. The 180 looks like it would have been perfect plus the ability to turn off sleep mode is a must with wireless. Thanks for the in-depth review.

July 08, 2013 8:00 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@Sharon-

Not dumb at all. Dumb would be not knowing and not asking. And yep, it'll work with Pentax. You can mount it on any camera with a standard hot shoe and of course, that becomes irrelevant when you use it off-camera anyway.

July 08, 2013 9:34 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@Unknown-

Yes, it will hold the power level over the course of a power down and then back up. I even checked what happens when you change the batts -- holds it there, too.

July 08, 2013 9:36 PM  
Blogger D said...

I'm wondering if is possible to change power levels using PW flex TT5 and the AC3 ?
Can you change the power levels from the camera (Canon) ?

If not walking back and forth seems a step backward.

July 08, 2013 11:51 PM  
Blogger Servando Miramontes said...

I bought a YN560II not too long ago... LOVE IT! Now I am looking for a second flash for more viable and ideal lighting setups.... Should I buy another YN flash and extra Flashpoint Receiver or should I get this flash? That's my dilemma, right now... hahahahahaha

July 09, 2013 12:19 AM  
Blogger H said...

Wait, the X-Pro2? I hope this was a joke.... It's not funny, I want to buy the X-Pro1 tomorrow! -_-

July 09, 2013 7:02 AM  
Blogger John Samolyk said...

Not that I *needed* any more strobes, but I just had to order a pair of these. I'm now at (3) SB-800's, (1) SB-600, (2) Yongnuo 560's, (1) Yongnuo 560 II, and now these. MUST-STOP-TRYING-TO-KEEP-UP-WITH-MR-HOBBY!!!

July 09, 2013 8:23 AM  
Blogger John Flowers said...

Does the Lumopro LP180 have an infared auto focus beam like that of the YN568EX...? Just thought I'd ask for the on top of the camera body flash users...

July 09, 2013 10:33 AM  
Blogger Jake Livni said...

It seems that a diffuser (a la Sto-Fen) is not included. I use them often, even off-camera, to great effect. What similar diffuser options are available? (An included diffuser would have been nice.)

(It looks like a diffuser for this should fit over the gels, which would both keep the gels secure and also avoid other gel/diffuser clashes.)

July 09, 2013 1:20 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@Jake- I think I remember hearing diffusers designed for a Canon 580 fit best. But I'd ask Kevin@LumoPro.com, as not sure of 580 or 580 II.

http://dx.com/p/flash-speedlight-diffuser-for-canon-580-white-137924

July 09, 2013 2:09 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@John-

No, it does not.

July 09, 2013 2:10 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@H-

Hee hee.

July 09, 2013 2:10 PM  
Blogger Nick Fancher said...

Love your product shots of the flash on the gradiated black.

July 09, 2013 3:11 PM  
Blogger Jake Livni said...

Just my opinion here and it's very low on the list of priorities, but the styling looks silly. In Mercedes, BMW and Porsche designs, form follows function, producing it's own natural style. In the normal flash-head position, the upper rear corner seems to be blocky just for the sake of being blocky, when many other speedlights would be naturally rounded. The Transformer look doesn't do much for me (nor for clip/grip/stick-on light modifiers). In the third image from the top in this posting, it sure looks like Darth Vader meets Teletubbies... none of which is likely to keep me from buying, in the end, of course. What I am really looking for is light and functionality, where this seems to be a big winner. If the styling really bugs me, maybe I'll just cover it up with an old sock. :-)

July 09, 2013 4:36 PM  
Blogger LumoPro said...

@Jake and DH- We found the Sto-Fen model OM-ET (for the Canon 600EX) fits really well. That's what we're going to recommend moving foward.

July 09, 2013 5:10 PM  
Blogger steven joseph said...

Freaking GREAT blog. I've learned so much from you. Thank you.

Thank you for the thorough review of the LP180 Mr Hobby.

I'm curious about the same thing as "@D" above. I'm assuming this flash does not work with any ettl triggers (e.g., RadioPoppers). I love the control my poppers give me over my army of 430exs, the ability to power up & down manually & ettl-ally.

I think you're right that event & wedding togs can use these LP180s as static manual slaves in the corner.

But (I'm assuming) not responding to Canon (or Nikon) IR wireless trigger signals, I would have to purchase new manual triggers for each of the LumoPros. Is that right?

For anyone shooting in wireless remote mode (w either RadioPoppers or PW Flexes), that increases price and complexity. For each LP180 we would have to buy new dumb triggers, and we would have to put a dumb trigger (e.g., PW) dangling off of our camera body plugged into the flaky PC port. Is that right?

Or is there a way to get these flashes to be remotely controlled in full ettl, or at least in full manual (i.e., up 3 clicks, down 3 clicks.)

Thank you so much!

July 09, 2013 6:36 PM  
Blogger H. Graham said...

I have one major problem with LumoPro- they won't keep their older (and cheaper) flash models in production. If the LP120 was still available, I'd have bought one or two by now and started replacing my YN460s and Kako 818s. Unfortunately, its been unavailable for a couple of years and LumoPro keeps adding new price- increasing features that I don't really need, like TTL support.

Thing is, I get that some people will demand more features. But do they really have to eliminate their older and less expensive flashes, when people would still buy them?

July 09, 2013 8:21 PM  
Blogger Balık Özgür said...

@David

Does it have HSS feature?

July 10, 2013 1:25 AM  
Blogger Benen said...

I've been hanging out for these to be released. I've been following your blog for years. You've taught me everything I know about flash photography! I currently have an sb800 an sb900 and just use optical or cls to trigger them. I've wanted pocket wizards for ever. I'm thinking of buying 2 of these. I'm still stuck on te PW situation though and have been for a long time. I shoot a lot of climbing photography so ttl comes in handy sometimes. Will ttl fire at the correct power if I am using a LP180 on manual with it? Or will the LP mess up the ttl reading for the actual photo? I would love to use PW flex's but they're so expensive compared to the Plus III's.

July 10, 2013 2:26 AM  
Blogger EdB said...

This may be a double post, if so I appologize.

Will the new LumaPro fit in a Nikon Mount Orbis Ring flash and as a matter of curiosity why a Canon HV fitting rather than the Nikon?

July 10, 2013 8:31 AM  
Blogger JG said...

Exciting. I'm interested in using this flash in optical slave mode with Nikon CLS. How many flashes does Nikon CLS pump out? I can't find that information online to feel confident that the LP180 will still sync after the pre-flashes from my trusty D700 pop-up flash. Thanks for the review, David.

July 10, 2013 9:44 AM  
Blogger Jake Livni said...

According to a quote from Kevin Deskins at another website, the LP180 has a red window on the front face with nothing behind it (yet!). There is no AF-assist lamp on the LP180. Perhaps the upper small window is for the optical slave sensor but I doubt that the red window is just a silly styling stunt - there seems to be too much thought put into the design of this product.

I'm guessing that they might intend to use the same outer case for other models, perhaps dedicated e-TTL versions. To do this, they'd need a lamp for the AF assist behind the red window, a fast CPU to process the pre-flash signalling and some upgraded firmware. (I'd guess that the CPU is already there.) They could probably do it at a very, very competitive price, too. Because of the lamp, this would not be an upgrade via the USB socket but would be a new model.

This would make it more suitable for mounting on the camera and also for off-camera use with the native remote controls (power settings, etc.). I use Canon IR remote control (it's very quick to set up and packs small, but it's expensive) so a LumoPro option could be interesting.

I'm not into rumors but that red window is there for a reason...

July 10, 2013 1:19 PM  
Blogger --RC said...

While this flash does seem cool and for many people, worth the money. I still can't help but feel the Yongnuo is a big disrupter for flash companies. I had my Yongnuo flash fall from 13ft onto concrete. It was a hard ass fall, and the thing still fires like a champ. Do i have a good copy? maybe, but I know several people shooting Yongnuo who have never had an issue, so I'm hard pressed to believe I am the one lucky guy with a good copy. It has virtually equal sync and connectivity, metal foot, and I can buy 2 for the price of one LumoPro. I can buy 6 for price of one Canon! NUTS!!! I think the day is going to come soon where reviewers can't site reliability as an issue with the YN flashes. I think Yongnuo has found a formula where flashes are appropriately priced so if you do break one it's not a major investment down the drain, and i think that in and of itself is a sort the perk to their products.

That said If i had the cash i'd probably get a lumopro, and would use it as my main off camera.

July 10, 2013 1:53 PM  
Blogger David Beecher said...

Been waiting for this since the demise of the LP160.

Your review mentions a zoom in the flash that goes from 24mm to 105mm. I could not find this spec/feature listed on the LumoPro site.

Is your pre production version not the same as the soon to be released version?
Also found the LumoPro site has answers to many of the questions posed already like the specific slave modes for Canon and Nikon cameras.

Thanks for the helpful review and all of the years of wisdom.

July 10, 2013 3:27 PM  
OpenID kenkyee said...

No quench pin support though, so can't be used w/ remote power control w/ the JrX Studios :-(

Specs only mention a center pin...

July 10, 2013 4:25 PM  
Blogger bubuli said...

does the LCD display have a backlight?

July 10, 2013 11:30 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@Bubuli-

Yes it does. Switchable on or off, too.

July 10, 2013 11:36 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@kenkyee-

Nope, no quench pin. That's dated tech, actually. Dunno if anyone current is doing it.

July 10, 2013 11:37 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@David-

Yes, mine is a final firmware burn for the initial run. And yes, it zooms 24mm-105mm. (14mm w/WA panel.)

July 10, 2013 11:38 PM  
Blogger marcus said...

I disagree with Matt's logic on the wrap around solution. I think it would be better if it allowed wrap around when holding the buttons but NOT when tapping the buttons.
To me tapping is done to make an adjustment to level, where you do not want to wrap; whereas holding is done when reseting the output, where you may well want to wrap over.

July 11, 2013 1:09 AM  
Blogger Sean said...

Matt - My YongNuo 568ex II has this exact feature you are talking about.

July 11, 2013 5:22 PM  
Blogger Todd Roberts said...

Does it have high speed sync? I don't see any mention of it, so I assume not.

July 11, 2013 5:26 PM  
Blogger dacha said...

David.... This speed light looks like a great option. Quite a few comments/questions on the Yongnuo flashes as well. Any comparative analysis/opinion on the +/- of both? You are the definitive authority on this. Zach seems to like those flashes for the IR capability. Just hoping to understand the real differences between the versions that are most similar. Thanks - Dave

July 12, 2013 12:32 AM  
Blogger dacha said...

Senor Hobby - Any chance for some comparative analysis/opinion on the new LPs vs the Yongnuo 560 IIs? Trying to figure the primary advantages (and your impressions) between the two. Are you converting Zach over to LPs? Or is the IR bit critical for him?

July 12, 2013 12:38 AM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@Dacha-

I think when YN gets serious about building reliable flashes, they will realize it is in their interest to stand behind them with a good factory warranty and service. Until that point, they will continue to do what they are doing.

July 12, 2013 12:57 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@Todd-

Nope. BUt if you do a little looking into HSS, you'll soon learn it is mostly a gimmick. It's good for *very* close-in, wide-open flash portraits, but little else unless you bring McNally resources to bear.

Rather than paying for that capability in every flash, you can buy it once-and-done with a good ND filter for your lens.

July 12, 2013 12:59 PM  
Blogger Javi said...

Hi David, just a quick question about the gel holder of the LP180... The promo videos on manufacturer's website also show that the pieces of gel bow out from the flash surface. This is supposed to prevent the piece of gel from the flash heat, ok... but this way "white" light can escape from the gel effect through both sides. Wouldn't this end up with a 'washed' color from the gelled flash? (or less effect when talking about CTO, for instance) I always use scotch tape to fit the piece of gel exactly to the flash surface, so all the light coming from the flash gets touched by the gel. What do you think about it? should the piece of gel be sealed to the light surface, or is it ok to just put it in front of the flash and let some light escape from the gel?
Thanks so much David. Regards from Barcelona!

July 15, 2013 6:07 AM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@Javi-

That's something you can easily control. Just make sure the ends of the gel stick out past the beam width of the flash. I have used the '180 with the gel clip and have not found it to be a problem in practice. At those times where it might be, I guess you could always tape as with any other flash. But not an issue for me.

July 15, 2013 12:09 PM  
Blogger Miles Bintz said...

I'll second the disappointment about the quench pin. I love my Radio Poppers and they work great with SB-2x's. They may be old tech but they're still viable when you can't afford a VAL! :)

July 15, 2013 7:10 PM  
Blogger Bill Pugliano said...

Does anyone make a SHORT miniplug-to-miniplug cord? I can't find anything shorter than 12 inches. My receiver is mounted on the flash, so I don't need a long cord.

July 16, 2013 3:10 PM  
Blogger PetePixxx said...

Some users like myself who aren't very experienced with gels may want to put a Rosco Heat Shield layer on the gels close to the lens.
http://www.stagespot.com/rosco-heat-therma-shield.html

July 19, 2013 12:40 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Just received my 2 LumoPro LP180s and all I can say is WOW. Actually better than I was expecting. Build quality in my opinion is VERY good. I also own the LP 160 and these are a noticeable improvement in many areas. The locking foot, the battery door, more zoom distances, adding 1/128power, keeping the power setting in memory when powering down or changing batteries, new backlit display with battery level and audible beep. Very satisfied. I see why David has no reservations about recommending LumoPro. I own several stands and have owned easy model of their flashes and am impressed with their quality and value..

July 23, 2013 5:41 PM  
Blogger Michael Quack - Visual Pursuit said...

Looks like a few days after release, there is another very heavy contender for the heavyweight crown: The Nissin MG 8000 Extreme is claimed to deliver more than 1000 pops at up to 2fps without overheating with the attached HV unit on. Full manual as well als HSS/FPsync with both Nikon and Canon full system support. If this thing delivers what it claims I see both Nikon and Canon never selling another top of the line flash anymore.

July 24, 2013 3:34 AM  
Blogger saltyfresh said...

David, Q about color temperature of the light coming out of the LP180. In my crazy mind when I got mine in the mail yesterday and popped some test flashes I thought it seemed cooler than what I'm used to with my Nikon SB-900. When looking at the flash heads side by side there's a marked difference in color of the plastic lens in the flash head, even noticeable in this iphone photo (see link: to photo http://nialldavid.photoshelter.com/image/I000056mqXkkFOtk). Have you seen a noticeable departure in color temp on this flash compared to your other ones? Can't seem to find the specs on LumoPro or Mpex's website on native color temp, any consideration on this?

July 25, 2013 9:51 PM  
Blogger WD said...

Will the LP180 work with the Fuji X100s? I am new to flash setups and did not use one much with my DSLR. I'd like to get into them now that I have gone to the X100s.

July 27, 2013 11:13 AM  
Blogger brent hirak said...

Thank you for this great review: I will order one today. I use a Cybersink jury rigged to mount on my Vivitar 285 (a shoe mount attachment from an old Chinese radiosync on the hot shoe with a 1/8 leading from that to the cybersink, what a mess)

are there any options to make a clean connection from my Cybersink reciever to the LP180?
ill post this in discussion thread as well. thank you Strobist!

July 30, 2013 2:40 PM  
Blogger mikeguttman said...

In response to connecting to the cybersyc. Just got the flash today and connected the receiver with the headphone jack cable that comes with the flash to the cybersync receiver and it works flawlessly.

July 31, 2013 1:57 AM  
Blogger Michael Douglas said...

The flash sounds great. I own a Canon 430 EXII, which has been rock solid. I also own a Yongnuo YN560, which has worked well, but isn't blowing me away.

What I'm wondering about is the recycle time at a lower power level. My YN560 seems to take the same time to recycle regardless of the power level it's at - around 3 seconds. My 430EXII has the same recycle time at full power. However, it will pop almost instantly for many frames at a lower power setting (e.g.: 1/16). This is my major beef with the YN560. How does the LP180 compare?

August 08, 2013 11:34 PM  
Blogger Vladimir said...

Quick question. Will the 180 be bale to ignore Sony pre-flashes?

August 17, 2013 2:09 PM  
Blogger Wil said...

"Yes, it will hold the power level over the course of a power down and then back up. I even checked what happens when you change the batts -- holds it there, too."

Thanks for that! The lack of this feature is probably my only disappointment with the LP160, which I otherwise love. The addition of this memory feature has already sold me on an LP180.

Thank you again.

November 10, 2013 8:57 PM  
Blogger Andrew Hubbard said...

I just bought the lumopro lp180 and really enjoy using it but I am having difficulty illuminating my scene at full power 1/1 and 1/1 -0.3 it fires but nothing in the scene receives any light.

Can anyone help me?

Nikon D600 firing off camera.

December 13, 2013 11:36 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@Andrew-

I am 98% certain that is a sync issue and not a flash issue. After all, it is firing and the problems are at the top two power levels.

The D600 does not have a full 250th sync, and is technically rated at a 200th. I have not heard of any other LP180/D600 sync issues, so I do not believe it is a compatibility issue.

What is more likely, IMO, is that your D600 is not getting a full 1/200th sync. They were obviously cutting it close enough to where they had to drop the sync to 1/200th. (Some Nikons can sync above 250th, at a 1/320th.

I have seen issues with some Canon cameras that were "rated" at 1/200th (5D's) but could only sync at 1/160th. It's mechanical, and they are splitting hairs. Some cameras miss. I write about it here in 2010:

http://strobist.blogspot.com/2010/01/know-your-sync.html

As a quick test, I'd check to see if your camera can fully sync at 1/1 at 1/125th of a second. If it can, you'll know that is likely the prob. Then start walking the shutter speed up in 1/3 stop increments until you get the bad news about what your top sync speed *really* is. This should be tested with the flash in the camera's hot shoe, or connected via sync cord. And please do report back!

Thanks,
David

December 14, 2013 10:56 AM  
Blogger Hector Rivera said...

Question on triggering !! Just got the new Lumo Pro LP 180 speed light Quad-Sync Manual Flash !! Is Rock solid , rugged , and fast !! Love it !! Omg awesome !! I'm positively it will put a dent on canon and Nikon !! Lol

Can you trigger a speed light manual flash such as this one on top of the hot shoe camera to trigger 4 off camera camera flashes ? I shoot manual so don't care about TTL !! Looking at new radio poppers nano system !!!

January 04, 2014 10:44 AM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@Hector-

Certainly, you can. The LP180 is the most flexible flash in the world when it comes to syncing. In your case I would trigger one (by cord, or radio remote, or just have it on your hot shoe) and use it to trigger the others via the excellent built-in optical slave.

January 04, 2014 4:30 PM  
Blogger Skinner said...

I didn't see anyone answer the guy who asked if the Cannon HV port works with a Nikon camera. I'm working with a D90 and looking for an off camera manual flash to start learning about flash photography. I was thinking of using radio trigger/receivers and was wondering if this was better since optical requires line-of-sight? Can anyone recommend a trigger/receiver brand? Or would you recommend wires/ and ports instead? I'm new and having problems finding clear cut answers. Thanks!

February 09, 2014 2:28 PM  
Blogger Skinner said...

Just getting started with flash photography. I was looking at the YN560II but worried about the percentage of unhappy customers & no warranty. This looks good but it seems 95% of the questions are from Cannon users. I shoot with a Nikon D90 and am looking for a solid off camera manual flash. I was thinking I'd use radio trigger/receiver but am not finding much info on a recommended type. Looks like most are using the Cannon HV port? Does this work with a Nikon? Is this a cable? Not trying to sound stupid but I would think working with a cable would be a bit clumsy. I can use the optical slave function but only if I have line of sight right??? Your thoughts? recommendations?

February 09, 2014 2:33 PM  
Blogger Nikkiah Silvey said...

I am just starting to learn about flashes. I am interested in buying the LumoPro LP180 Speedlight. Is that compatible with my Canon Rebel T3?

February 10, 2014 9:58 PM  
Blogger Paolo Santucci said...

It could be used mounted on a X100S without unbalance the camera too much or is it too bulky?!

May 08, 2014 6:25 PM  
Blogger Eric Shrum said...

I need some help, I purchased 2 LP180s but I'm having a weird problem. If the flash gets warm (it's been in the high 70s, low 80s) it will turn itself on, even in it's pouch. For Example, it had been in the car maybe 2 hours, it was late in the afternoon and the temperature reached just above 80. The car was mainly in the shade with the windows up, so the inside was obviously warmer than the outside. The moment I put the batteries in the flash, it turned itself on. If the batteries are in the flash or the batteries get warm (I had a set in a battery case on the front seat as well) not only will the flash turn itself on but it will turn itself on after put into it's pouch. For example, I installed the batteries (apparently the warm ones, they weren't hot), the flash turned itself on, I turned it off and put it back in it's pouch then put that in my camera bag. I then went inside (graduation pics) and found where I needed to stand, took my camera out and the flash, it had turned itself back on.

I've been in contact with a rep from Lumopro who has been awesome, he had 2 new ones shipped out ASAP. In fact the above scenario was with the replacement flashes. So, am I going to have to travel with flash and batteries separated? It's not a huge deal just a pain, my old 430EX or cheap rip-offs don't have this issue. Another thing, will the heat eventually kill the flashes? I've tried several different types of batteries, ALL good ones mind you.

Has anyone else had this issue?

May 12, 2014 7:28 AM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@Eric-

Whoa, that's a weird one. And certainly first I have heard of it. We get a decent amount of LP180 traffic through here, so I am sure if it is an issue it'll pop up with some regularity. But never had anything like that my end.

-D

May 12, 2014 11:54 AM  
Blogger pjcaver said...

I just finished a three week cave photography trip in several different caves in the Guadalupe Mountains of New Mexico and two weeks of it doing a photo shot for the Bureau of Land Management in Ft Stanton Cave (FSC). Because the FSC shoot will be for a museum display of this spectacular cave, I decided to upgrade a lot of my equipment. As such, I bought four new LP 180 strobes and already had an LP 160 bought previously. From the moment I opened that box, I was absolutely sold on the new LP 180's.

First thing I appreciated was the built-in 1/4 x 20 socket on the side of the swivel head. So much easier than mounting on a cold shoe socket. The built-in slave works extremely well, although I found I had to aim the slave window back towards the on-camera flash (or some other one nearby) to trigger it. The zoom variability from 24 mm - 105 mm was great and the added 14 mm spread using the flip out diffuser was an added bonus. I particularly liked the pull out bounce diffuser white card built into the flash head just behind the 14 mm diffuser. Used it sometimes as a diffuser, sometimes to block sidelighting spill from burning out areas close to the flash.

While not a criticism, it seemed odd how the 1/3 step adjustments changed their display, based on whether you were dialing up or down. If you started at, for example, 1/4 power, then ticked it up two settings, it would read 1/4 + .7. If you were dialing down to a lower power setting the same amount, it would read 1/4 - .7. That setting is the equivalent of 1/8 + .3. Sometimes in the dark environment of a cave, even with backlighting of the display window, it is difficult to see whether it is a + or a - sign. It would be easier to read and understand if it were always simply the + signs (ie, 1/8 + .3, rather than 1/4 - .7).

My only other criticism is something that nearly all other strobes have in common. I do not particularly like the motorized zoom heads. When I bought my first LP 160 several years ago, I felt that this would be a weak point, especially given the type of photography environment I work in (dirty, dusty, muddy caves). Sure enough, the mechanism failed after a few years in that it got hung up around the 70 mm setting and would simply grind. Despite the warranty having expired about two years earlier, I decided to send it back to MPEX to see if they could possibly fix it for me. They didn't fix it..... they sent me a brand new one in return!!! I was astounded! They certainly did not need to do that, but boy, did they ever come through. The argument that an extended warranty doesn't make up for anything is ridiculous. Not only are these strobes extremely well-made, they are designed and warrantied to work for a long time. MPEX and Lumopro certainly get my vote for one of the best strobes on the market.

I could go on about long-lasting power consumption, full 180 swivel in both directions, lock mechanism, ease of adjustment, etc, but it has all been covered in other reviews.

The only other thing I will mention is that because the built-in optical slave is sensitive to ANY flash going off, I would suffer endless false triggering when other flashes were fired, particularly when shooting in Carlsbad Cavern. As such, I bit the bullet and bought four Flashwave iii Radio Triggers for use in Carlsbad. They had been recommended to me by another cave photographer friend. They worked extremely well virtually every single time I used them. Like the optical slaves built into the LP 180's, they needed line of sight to work well, but it was rare when that couldn't be accommodated. The nice thing about the Flashwaves is that they reset after every flash went off, so there was no problem with having to disconnect and reconnect between shots.

I don't normally sing the praises of photo gear unless it is really worthy of it. In my opinion, based on 45 years as a cave photographer and a month's experience with the LP 180 flashes, they are a winner.

pjcaver

May 13, 2014 10:15 AM  
Blogger Ron Packer said...

David, first off, thank you for making a great lighting blog. As an experienced photographer who does mostly no-flash dirt track racing photography it is nice to have a resource when I'm thinking outside of the box when doing studio work or on-location shoots.

Secondly, based on your recommendation I bought the LP180 on Black Friday last November at MPEX in Columbus since it had a special price. I...absolutely...LOVE...this...flash! Friends of mine that have become slaves of the TTL flashes they carry in their gear bags are slowly moving away from them after shooting with my '180 for a couple of hours. I use it on my D3200 (I am NOT taking a D4 out to a dirt track!) and I'm beginning to use it more and more during studio shoots so I don't have to gel my big flashes/modifiers (gee, I wonder where I got those ideas? ;) ).

This flash is rugged, fast and very responsive. I use it mostly with my wireless triggers for my off-camera stuff and to trigger my monolights and it has never failed to perform.

Thank you again!

July 19, 2014 2:18 PM  
Blogger Kit said...

I just bought an LP180 on this blog's recommendation, and I'm super excited to start learning how to use it. I can't get my Canon 70D to recognize the flash, either on camera or off. I keep on getting the message "incompatible flash or flash's power is turned off" on my flash function screen. Can any of you tell me what I'm doing wrong?

August 05, 2014 11:30 PM  

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