The Neewer Q4 offers a 400 WS strobe in a unique form factor
The Neewer Q4 ($379) is a 400 WS strobe, but unlike your standard studio strobe, it carries a unique form factor, which I found rather convenient, especially for photographers who mix studio and outdoor shooting.
Instead of your typical cylindrical monoblock, the Neewer Q4 is flat and square. Think a big square dictionary with a lens in the front. This makes it extremely convenient for some uses. Especially those involving hand carrying a strobe or fitting it in tight places. I took the Q4 for a ride, and aside from the form factor, there are quite a few other features that I like and one thing I wish was better. Read on for the full report.
When I first looked at the Neewer Q4, I was curious. I mean, monoblocks have not changed for so long, so one has to wonder. Is there a reason for the traditional, cylindrical monoblock form factor? LEDs seem to be moving away from this, and I think there is a good reason for it. You can make a more comfortable and more functional strobe by making it square.
When you look at the Neewer Q4, there is a Bowens mount on the front, which holds a Xenon tube and a 30W modeling LED. There is a small cylindrical reflector and a strobe cap. The reflector is a cylinder on the outer side, and on the inner side, it has a light grain for better light dispersion. You have some controls on the back, a 1/4-20 on the bottom, and a handle on the top. All in all, the unit looks very slick.
400 WS is a lot of power
The Neewer Q4 is rated for 400 WS, which is considered serious power. I mean, it’s good enough to battle the sun on a sunny day. Or, if you are using a huge softbox, it’s enough to have good illumination and not worry about the light that the modifier eats. It’s about half a stop shy of the Godox AD600s, which are very popular, and I hope the name suggests a 600 WS Neewer Q6 on the roadmap soon.
There are nine steps of power so that you can go from a full 400 WS (1/1) to about 1.5 WS (1/256). And with each stop down, the flash duration is getting shorter. From 1/209s to an impressive 1/10989s. Now, I have to be honest and say that I did not shoot anything that required freezing action. I am just impressed with the specs here.
The other place where you feel the power is when you go HSS. I shot in bright sunlight, but I still wanted to keep my aperture wide. This means that my shutter speed will be faster than the sync speed. The Q4 deals with this via HSS. (There is a great explanation about strobes and HSS if you want to learn more).
Here is the fun part: no matter if I used full power, HSS, or TTL, recycling speeds were not an issue. The spec says 0.01 to 1.2 seconds, and this was enough to keep a good flow with the model.
Before I wrap up this part, it’s worth mentioning that the Neewer Q4 also has a 30-watt LED modeling lamp. And 30 Watts is nice for controlled environments. It’s not a light that can survive a softbox, but it’s great with the Spotlight (see later) or even just as a working light. The battery should last about 90 minutes on a single charge.
Neewer Q4 controls
In terms of modes, the Q4 supports all the technologies you’d expect from a TTL strobe in 2024: TTL (for Canon, Nikon, and Sony), Manual, and stroboscopic mode. S1 and S2 optical slaves (there is a huge optical receiver on the top of the strobe). Front and rear sync. Really, in terms of features and controls, you are recovered. If you are near the flash, you can select those via a few buttons on the back with a fairly intuitive menu system. Oh, and a big red test button. You can have it beep on recycling if you want to.
There are a few buttons for navigating the menu and a satisfying wheel for scrolling between the options. To turn the strobe on, you click the on button and rotate the wheel; it is very satisfying. You get your usual display, like power, mode, radio settings, and so on. One of the things I found very convenient is the marking of the flash t.1 time for each power setting. This makes it easy to understand when you are “fast” enough to freeze the action.
Neewer Q4 and the QPRO triggers
If you need to get further away, you can use a Neewer flash trigger (they go for about $65). The triggers are compatible with all the Neewer line via the 2.4G Q system, so if you have more Neewer strobes, you can control them all using a single remote. You do it by assigning a group for each strobe (there are five: A-E) and then setting the mode and power for that group. The settings for all the groups are constantly displayed on the remote.
We got two Neewer QPRO-C TTL triggers, one for Canon, and one for Sony, since some of the team shoots Canon and some use other systems. I love that TTL works across camera systems, and all you need is a $65 trigger to migrate from system to system. This is useful if, like me, you have several photographers in the team, but it also means that if you ever want to move camera systems, the flashes will move with you. The only missing thing in the system is a remote for Fuji shooters.
The buttons on the remove mimic the buttons on the Q4, so they are very intuitive. There are even physical buttons (thank god) for selecting the group to change.
Power and battery management
The Neewer Q4 runs on an Li-ION rechargeable battery called NB-Q4 ($135). It’s quite a beefy battery, too, at 56Wh (or 2600mAh). According to Neewer, this is enough capacity for 400 full pops (we did not test) on one hand but also small enough to fit on most airlines. So you won’t have any issues flying with the strobe and a couple of batteries.
One point goes to Neewer for the charger. A wall brick plugs directly into the battery, which I find more convenient than those that require dedicated plastics. I would rather a USBC compatible battery, but this is still better than an extra charger.
In the beginning, I was happy to see a USB-C port on the side of the flash, but after further inspection, I learned that it can not power the strobe and is only meant for firmware updates. Photography lights are moving into USB-C PD and getting away from dedicated chargers, and I would love to see the Q4 going the same route.
Either way, the battery pops in easily enough and pops out with a button slide. Well done!
Neewer Q4 form factor
By now, you can’t miss that I love the form factor. Specifically, I like the wide top handle that you can hold for low shots (or just for moving the strobe) and the included swivel that connects to the 3/8 thread on the bottom. Again, kudos to Neewer for selecting a sturdier bottom thread. The fact that the bottom handle is detachable helps the strobe fit into small spaces and sit flush against a wall on a shelf.
I also like the front of the strobe with the nice cylindrical standard reflector. It’s a Bowens mount so you can opt for a regular bowl reflector, but it just looks so much nicer.
All in all, the Q4 weighs about 2.5 kilos, which is standard for a strobe at this power. It also feels nice and sturdy. There is nothing to write home about, but also nothing to complain about—a good, solid build.
In fact, my only complaint here is the bag. It does the job, but instead of nice foam, the internals are more like packaging styrofoam.
Neewer Q4 – real life tests
As I was shooting in the sun, I tested the flash both with a Neewer parabolic softbox and just going barebulb. Neewer sent me the 85cm varsity ($155.99), but you can also choose 55cm, 65cm, and 120cm.
I like the build of the softbox; it feels good and solid, and it is of the quick opening type. The ribs are already connected to the ring, and you just need to pop them in to build the softbox. The entire process feels solid and well-planned. [old people note: I can’t even imagine going back to the days when the ring and the “tent poles” were separated; If you are over 40, you know what I am talking about].
The softbox comes with both an internal baffle and a grid. (Thank you, Neewer, for not charging extra on the grid; it’s much appreciated). The front diffuser and the grid are attached via a velcro ring on the edge of the softbox. You attach the baffle with a set of small velcroes on the inside of the softbox.
When I first tried the softbox, I did see a minor hot spot. I am not a fan of this look, and this is where the internal baffle comes into play. Once I installed the baffle, the light was much more even, and the hot spot went away. The light on the rim of the softbox was a bit brighter than in the center, but this added a bit of a punch. Nothing as strong as a beauty dish, way more subtle, to the point that it’s hard to notice.
Neewer Q4 and the Neewer 20° Spotlight attachment
Along with the Neewer Q4, I also got to play with Neewer’s 20° spotlight ($358). It is a kind of optical snoot similar to a Light Blaster, only it is highly optimized for studio strobes and puts out an incredibly even light at a 20° angle.
There are two ways to mount the Spotlight. You first mount it using the bowens mount, but then you can either use the 3/8th on the Q4 or mount the Spotlight to a stand and “hang” the Q4 behind it.
Twenty degrees is a tight beam; if you want to light a big surface, you’d have to get pretty far. I find that this kind of Spotlight works best for portraits and close-ups or for setting the strobe further away. In the photo below, the spotlight is about five meters away from the head, and the projection size is only 110 cm.
That said, if this is where you are going, there is a very wide variety of adjustments you can make. Even before using any of the gobos, there are four light cutters that you can use to shape the light in straight lines. There is also a GOBO holder with 16 different GOBOs that you mount using a cartridge in the middle of the Spotlight and five gels that you can place in a second cartridge on the front. Neewer does not specify, but those are standard 66mm metal GOBOs (M size), so there is a huge selection of shapes in the industry if you need something special. For me, those 16 shapes are more than enough.
Neewer did well with this modifier. And there are three things I like about the combo.
- Usually, the focus is the hard part with an optical snoot, but since the Q4 has a powerful modeling light, nailing focus is super easy.
- The case for the Spotlight attachment is spot on. There is a dedicated place for everything, it feels nice, and it even has straps on the top for a light stand. Neewer, if you are listening, we also need this case for the Q4.
The Neewer Q4 is a great strobe. I love the rechargeable battery, the convenient form factor, and the control options it offers. Once Neewer updates the case, it would be perfect. I also hope that a new Q6 (and maybe a Q8) are on the way
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Tom Saimon is a boutique wedding and fashion photographer based in Haifa, Israel. Tom founded one of most sought-after wedding photography boutiques in Israel and shoots over 100 weddings a year, making him not only an established photogrpher, but also an authority in the industry. Tom is regularly featured in fashion and wedding magazines as a style benchmark