Sunday, June 29, 2014

Cheetahstand Cheetahlight CL-360

I recently purchased a Cheetahstand Cheetahlight CL-360.  This is a powerful (300 ws) flash in the form of a speed light, with several differences to a standard speed light:
1) It Powerful. At 300ws it is 4 to 6 times as powerful as most standard speed lights.
2) Its a bare bulb flash, so it has a different light spread than a standard speed light, that has a very directional fresnel lens.
3) It does not have an internal power source.  It does not hold its own batteries, so you have to supply it with an external power source through the external power port.

I've created a video that provides an overview of the CL-360 that you can view below:

Unfortunately I have a light artifact at the top of the screen impacting the grey background.  I'll have to fix that next time, as its distracting.

Anyway, overall I am quite impressed with this flash.  As stated in the video, its a manual flash, it has a flash foot as well as two different sync inputs for external triggers or to attach to your camera (a pc sync port and a 3.5mm port).

It supports 5 different firing modes:

  1. Manual - supports full power (1:1) all the way down to 1/128th power.  That is 8 stops.  You can also set it in 1/3 stop increments in between any of those 8 stop settings.  This works for all the standard sync speeds your camera supports (generally up to 1/250th of a second)
  2. S1 Mode - this is basically a standard optical slave mode.  It fires when it sees the flash of the master flash.
  3. S2 Mode - this builds off of S1, by ignoring the first single flash it sees.  This is normally the TTL pre flash from many manufacturers flashes, so it tries to play nice in environments like Nikon's CLS, allowing you to optically trigger it.
  4. RPT Mode - This allows you to fire off a set number of flashes in one exposure, giving a stroboscopic effect.
  5. High Speed Sync Mode - This mode is used for sync speeds above your camera's standard sync speed, and allows you to sync up to 1/8000 sec.  In this mode, you have reduced power, and the range of the flash reduces to 1:1 to 1:8 (instead of down to 1:128).    You have to have a flash trigger that supports HSS.  The Cheetahlight CL-TX does not directly support HSS.  For Canon, the Cheetahlight Cells 2 trigger supports HSS.  Unfortunately, Cheetahstand does not sell a Nikon version of the Cells 2.  

However, there is hope.  Triggers such as the Yongnuo YN-622N DO support HSS and so if you use it with this flash, you can take advantage of the High Speed Trigger mode.  Here is an image of the flash when using it with the Yongnuo 622N:

Cheetahlight CL-360 with Yongnuo YN-622N
You'll notice that I still have the CL-TX's receiver still attached to the CL-360.  With the setup above, I can still control the power levels of the CL-360 remotely with the CL-TX, and then actually fire the flash with the Yongnuo.   Unfortunately the CL-TX does not support toggling the High Speed Sync mode, so to go in and out of that mode still requires a physical touch on the flash.

I'm impressed that it is compatible with FP/HSS on Nikon Cameras (if using a compatible trigger).  I originally thought that would only be supported on Canon's, so was pleasantly surprised to see it work with my Nikon D300 (I have also tested it with a D600).

Here is shot of the back of the flash control panel without and with High Speed Sync engaged:

You engage it by pressing the 'Mode' and 'Set' buttons at the same time.  The other mode's can be engaged by simply pressing the 'Mode' button.  Power levels are set by using the scroll wheel.  'Buzz' toggles the beep for when the flash is recycled, and the 'MF' toggles the focus assist functionality.

In the video, I show the following image as an example of the extra power that can be achieved by the CL-360 vs. the SB910.

Some extra detail on this.  I would have added another 1/2 to full stop to it to get the exposure I wanted, but unfortunately the SB910 topped out at full power before I could get there, and I didn't want to change my camera settings.  But this does show you the 2 stop difference between the two.  Both of these shots were taken in a 43" Octabox with an internal baffle as well as an external diffuser, and with equal distance from the subject.  The SB910 had the 14mm diffuser flipped down on it to help get as good of a light spread as possible.

Conceptually, I could have removed the internal baffle of the Octabox when using the CL-360 in order to regain the 1/2 to 1 stop that eats up from the flash.  The  reason for that is that the CL-360 is a bare bulb flash so has a better light spread inside of the softbox than a speed light has with its fresnel lens (which is why you need the internal baffle for the speed lights.  However, I kept the internal baffle on for the CL-360 so that it could be an apples to apples comparison.

I also did a comparison of the two flashes in HSS mode:

The way I compared here was a bit different.  Here I used the CL-360 in SuperSync mode using the YongNuo 622N.  The Yongnuo SuperSync mode allows you to use the long duration of a flash at full power to get HSS like functionality out of it.   With that set up, I was able to get over 3 stops over the SB910 (which was firing in its normal FP high speed sync mode).  If I would have used the native High Speed Sync mode of the CL360, I probably would have lost somewhere between a 1/3 of the stop to 2/3 of a stop, so the overall difference between the two flashes would have been closer to 3 stops.

The thing I found interesting about this test was the color variation in the flashes.  I did not expect it to be that great, but the CL-360 is clearly cooler than the SB910 when comparing these two photos.  I have not done any additional testing to confirm the results shown from a white balance perspective, but something I may look at a little closer in future posts.

One thing I forgot to mention about the Cheetahstand Lithium 4500 battery pack is that it comes with that shoulder strap that I had attached to it.  It's a nice little extra.

Overall I am very happy with my purchase.  I wish it came with a hard carrying case like the Xenrgizer RS600P, but that is a minor quibble for such a good flash.

I'm working on additional materials for this page regarding the CL-360, as well as its FP/HSS capabilities on Nikons, and will be posting those updates over the next few days/weeks, so come back to see those.

By the way, for a detailed article on the Cheetahlight CL-180/360, you can visit FlashHavoc

Thank you, and Happy Shooting!

1 comment:

Saeed Mofayezi said...

chould you please tell how much the duration of dischrge chitah light cl360?