We have heard quite a bit about the Godox AD600 and just had to take it for a test. We accompanied photographer Tom Saimon in a sports apparel shoot to see how the strobe performs in a harsh outdoors environment.
Overall, we were very impressed, both with performance and especially performance compared to price point. More sports photos and the full review after the jump.
I kinda lied, I said review, but this would be more of a life experience of using the Godox* AD600 in a real shooting scenario. The final verdict is quite good and you can scroll to the end for a boring list of pros and cons, or, you can follow along and read what we found out.
Specs and what they mean
The Godox AD600 (also known as Cheeta, Flashpoint and Pixapro), is a batteru powered strobe which can also work of the mains. This makes it quite a versatile tool. Working in the studio? plug it into the wall. Going on location? No problem, just pop a battery in. It feels solid, but its not a tank :).
The AD600 sports a 600Ws, GN87 head. While 600Ws does not indicate the amount of light that is coming out of the flash (it only says how much power the flash draws), it packs quite a punch. 600Ws was enough for anything we wanted to shoot even in the harsh sunlight and even when behind a massive 140cm octa.
The feature that was most intriguing for me was HSS. Basically, HSS means that you can shoot at a speed faster than your camera sync speed. You pay with light, so HSSing takes light away from the strobe, but having the ability to shoot at speeds like 1/8000 and still have strobe light is a big deal. Especially if you are shooting in the sun.
We opted for Bowens mount (which fits lots of my pre-existing modifiers) and a non-TTL version, since I usually shoot on manual anyways. (the non-TTL flavor will save you a few $$).
Lastly, there is the battery. As most batteries, it’s a big black box, nothing special. Godox says its good for 500 full power pops, which is a lot. But if you are a heavy flasher (yes, I said heavy flasher), you can get a second battery. The only issue I had with the battery is that charging it makes a weird humm. The same humm is there in the 860ii LI-ION battery charger so it may be something that all Godox chargers have, but as long as the charger is a bit further away and you are not doing any audio work, it’s not a biggie.
Photo 1 – dynamic run
The skies were definitely not with us that day. It was gray, bright and just felt muddy. We wanted a relatively wide shot (16mm), a wide depth of field (f/8) and a relatively fast shutter speed to freeze the run mid-air (1/500). for some fill, we used the Godox AD600 on the right-hand side, set on HSS, and placed in a huge 140cm octa (at the end of the page). The 5D mk4 only syncs up to 1/160, so Tom placed the strobe on HSS. Sure, the strobe loses power when HSSing, but it also gives more than enough light for a nice fill.
The original plan was to have the sun at the back of the model. As you can see below, the sun was hiding behind a blanket of ugly gray clouds. We pulled out a second flash, the Godox AD360, mounted it with a gridded beauty dish and TADA! backlight sun.
You can see the setup and ugly skies in this comparison (slide left and right)
We controlled the entire setup with a Godox X1 remote. (The remote has three groups, we only used two of them, one for the AD600 with the octa, and one for the AD360 with the beauty dish). Here is the nice thing, I use a Sony, Tom uses a Canon. The only thing we needed to change was the Godox X1 remote. The rest of the system remained untouched. This is a big plus if you are using multiple systems. It means that you only need to change one small but of gear when moving from one body to another.
It took me some time to get acquainted with the controls on the X1 (I was used to the YN style remote), and it’s ok. It’s not as intuative as the YN as far as remotes go, but it’s not bad either.
Photo 2 – soft portrait
The sun did not come out for this shot and even though it was hidden, the light was pretty strong. For a softer portrait, Tom chose a 35mm prime. He opted for a wide aperture (F/2.2) for a softer look. Balancing the light, it brought the shutter speed all the way to 1/5000. Even at ISO 100. The AD600 was still in that octa on the left-hand side. Even at 1/5000, HSS worked perfectly. The other thing we noted in this part of the shoot, that the AD600 recycles extremely fast. While we did not time it, cycle time was good enough that it was no concern and did not impact the flow of the shoot.
Photo 3 – The Flying Saucer
If you are the mayor of a city, you need a pretty big pair to place an 18 meters tall statue of a crashed flying saucer in the middle of the city. Well what do you know, they did it. And this was our next location.
Tom was after a specific exaggerated look and went for a 16mm lens but got really close and below the model. Shooting at 1/400 and f/5.6 we used HSS again. To fill in some of the shadows on the model’s legs we used another strobe with a gridded beauty dish on camera right pointing at the model’s legs.
The sun was fully out by now, and between the Godox and the Octa we needed some shade. This was just too powerful for a 600Ws strobe.
Our assistant created a shadow with a 5-in-1 reflector, and that was shadow enough to let the model shine. Problem is… We now had a big dude in the shot. Tom’s solution was to shoot two shots and compose the unwanted elements out.
Here is how this worked:
Photo 4 – The eye
This was out last shot of the day, coming from a more traditional angle. I am including it because it really shows what a big octa can do. Look at the sunglasses to see how big the octa in relations to the model.
A word about the Octa
The Godox 140cm Octa is exactly what it sounds like a huge, semi-round light source. It comes gridded (or at least the version that I have) and it can be bought online for about $85 (with free shipping).
It is not the easiest softbox to set up, it’s your basic 8-pongs-into-a-speedring softbox. I hate setting this thing up, and much prefer the umbrella type octaboxes, but Tom sets it up in about a minute and a half. We did notice some hot spots when not using the internal diffuser, so we used both diffusers for all the shots. It’s a tradeoff between even fall off and power and we opted for even fall off.
But even with the not-so-comfy setup and the need for double diffusion, this huge octa costs $85 shipped. This really has no competition value-for-money wise.
All and all, both Tom and I really liked working with the AD600. It’s a powerful strobe and provides much versatility at an incredible price point.
- 600WS is A LOT of light
- HSS can out burn the sun
- Compatible with more than one systems by replacing the remote
- Incredible price point for the value you are getting
- Great affordable modifiers
- Humming battery charger
- X1 remote is not very intuitive