With all the LI-ION strobes going around, it is sometimes hard to remember that not so long ago, most strobes had to be connected to a power outlet to actually work. But with the rise of the battery-operated strobe, the AC-powered strobes are now cheaper than even and provide a great opportunity to get started in a studio for almost no money at all. The Godox MS200 (Amazon | B&H) is a prime example of that.
I recently was contacted by Godox to review their new MS200 200ws monolight. Being on the low budget end of the spectrum at $99.00 on Amazon or B&H, I did not expect too much. I was quite surprised by the value of this value monolight.
What’s in the box
The light comes well packed but stripped down compared to what I am used to with other monolights I have purchased. I received the flash body with tube already installed, the modeling lamp, two replacement fuses, a power cord, a lamp cover, an instruction manual and a lens cleaning cloth.
This monolight does not come with a standard reflector or anything else such as a sync cord. You must provide your own modifiers and sync system. You should be able to find inexpensive modifiers to fit as it is the common Bowens mount.
This value-priced monolight is packed with features that are usually reserved for much more expensive studio lights. Who would ever think that you can get a monolight that includes all the below for only $99.00?
- Built-in Godox 2.4G wireless X system
- 0.1~1.3s Recycling time
- Precise power output in 50 steps from 1/32 to 1/1
- High-quality 150w modeling lamp from 5% to 100% light adjustment
- Large and clear LCD panel & settings auto memory
- Fan cooled
So for those of you who are techies, here are the specs:
|Max Power (Ws):||200Ws|
|Guide Number (m ISO 100):||53|
|Color Temperature:||5600 +/- 200k|
|Power Output Control:||5.0~10.0(1/32~1/1)|
|Modeling Lamp (W):||150W|
|Modeling Lamp Level:||5%~100%|
|Triggering Method:||Sync Cord+ Test Button+ Slave Triggering+ 2.4GHz Wireless Control|
|Output from the sync port jack:||5V|
|Output from the USB port:||5V/200mA (only for the Godox receiver)|
|Dimension:||Flash diameter 12.6cm|
|Height of flash with handle:||12.7cm|
|Length of flash with lamp cover:||28.3cm|
|Net Weight||Approx. 2.6kg.|
*all specs provided by the Godox MS200 Manual 705-MS0000-00
I have chosen to compare this monolight to other value-line monolights – in particular, the Elinchrom D-Lite ($352.99) and Hensel Certo 200 ($449.00). This is because I have previous experience with the D-Light and just viewed the Certo at the Photo Plus Expo here in New York.
My first impressions after taking the MS200 from the box is that its low price does not reflect in its quality. Everything is plastic except for the Modifier Mount and bulb area. Those areas appear to be a cheap alloy of some type (pot metal probably). The plastic seems to be thicker than both the Certo and the D-Light and even though it is plastic it feels substantial more like a more expensive Elinchrom.
The Ms200 does not utilize a flash tube protection dome like the Certo. In this way, it is like the D-Lite. If this protection feature is mandatory for you this is not the light for you. All of the flash tubes are user-replaceable though if the bulb breaks.
The buttons are easier to use and seem more robust on the MS200 that either of the other two flashes. The light stand mount is metal lined but I would not crank down on it too hard for fear of breaking it.
Overall, for the money, this little flash seems as well or better built than the competition.
To run this test I used my Polaris light meter and universal triggers to test the consistency at minimum, ¼, ½, and full power. Meter was set to ISO 100 and 1/125th sec. at 6 feet. Each setting was triggered 10 times.
- Min: 2.0, 2.0, 2.0, 2.0, 2.0, 2.0, 2.0, 2.0, 2.0, 2.0
- ¼ Power: 5.6, 5.6, 5.61, 5.6, 5.6, 5.6, 5.6, 5.6, 5.6, 5.6
- ½ Power: 8.04, 8.01, 8.01, 8.01, 8.01, 8.01, 8.01, 8.01, 8.0, 8.01
- Full: 11.0, 8.09, 11.0, 11.0, 11.0, 11.0, 11.0, 11.0, 11.0, 11.0
As you can see, this light is extremely consistent. These above results demonstrate quality much beyond its price. The Ms200 is $100s less than its competitors and delivers equal or better quality.
Here is a test shot I performed with the light bounced into a white umbrella. Camera Sigma SD Quattro H, ISO 100, 125th sec., f5.6, Sigma EX DC OS 17-50mm f2.8 @ 50mm.
And the corresponding behind the scenes shot.
Who Is It For?
This monolight is for the beginner, person who shoots in a small space, or someone that needs a hair light. Someone who wants to get into studio photography on a budget. Since this monolight uses the Bowens mount system you can grow with Godox modifiers like beauty dishes, snoots, soft boxes, etc. and then upgrade lights as your budget allows.
I must first clarify, I am not a Godox fanboy, actually, I was hoping for it to fail. That said this is a high quality, value-priced piece of lighting gear equal or better to lights costing $100s more.
If you are just entering studio photography or need a hair light and are already invested in Bowens mount modifiers this is the light for you. If you are already using AD200s but don’t want abuse the batteries at home, this is the light for you. If you are on a tight budget, the MS200 is definitely the light for you!
About The Author
Paul E. Destocki first got behind the lens in 1983 with a Canon AE-1 Program and was published that year. In the last 36 years, he has owned studios and been published many times. He is a former Fuji Professional in 2001-2004. Currently, he is Phase One POCP certified and a member of PPA. His nickname is the Sigma Artist due to his love of Foveon cameras.