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Testing the new Broncolor Move 1200 System | Mount St. Louis Moonstone, ON

In September 2012, Broncolor announced their new portable lithium power pack, the Move 1200. The first one arrived at Broncolor Canada less than two weeks ago and I was given the chance to take it for a shoot and put it through it’s paces. Pulling some strings and asking some favours, I had Simple Snowboarding on board for the talent, Mount St. Louis Moonstone helping out for the location and B3K Digital providing the Phase One 645DF.

What’s in the Kit?
The Move 1200 Kits (Outdoor Kit 1 and Outdoor Kit 2) ship in a fancy all-weather rolling backback. The case has a similar feel to my ThinkTank Airport, high quality materials and zippers, with hideaway emergency shoulder straps. The backpack is capable of holding the Move 1200 pack, 2 MobiLED heads with integrated , the Pulsoflex 70×70 softbox, speedring, charger, sync cord, RFS2 trigger and an umbrella. One could probably fit an additional battery inside with some careful packing. The pack also has straps that can be zipped away for holding a tripod or lightstand to the front. The Move 1200 pack itself also comes with it’s own nylon case. The top zips along 3 sides, has a vent on one side for the Move’s integrated fan, and a velcro flap on the opposite side for the dual head attachments.

Flash Durations
A few important flash durations (in T0.1 measurement) on the new Move pack. The Broncolor Move has two settings (optimal and minimum) which will effect flash durations. Optimal puts the emphasis on accurate colour temperature while minimum focuses on the fastest speeds. I’ve never seen Broncolor packs shift more than a couple hundred degrees between these settings, so we shot on minimum all day. I’ve noted the durations for both below. I should have a complete list from Broncolor shortly detailing the the T0.1 durations at all levels, but didn’t have time to write them all out during my time with the pack.

  • 10.0 – Full Power – 1200W – Optimal 1/375 – Minimum 1/375
  • 8.4 – We Shot Here Most of the Day – Approx. 450W – Optimal 1/1150 – Minimum 1/1630
  • 5.8 – Everything Below Here is Peaks for Speed at Minimum Duration – 65W – Optimal 1/2800 – Minimum 1/8500

Compared to?
I currently use the Elinchrom Ranger RX AS Speed. It’s been a trusty workhorse for the last 5 years, but frankly it weighs a ton. Elinchrom had talked about creating a Li-Ion battery, and I have been patiently waiting… but patience has run out and my back doesn’t want to take the weight. They continue to focus on the Ranger Quadra, a great pack indeed, but the Ranger RX hasn’t seen an update in about 10 years. The A-head was also supposed to see an update to LED modelling light, but Elinchrom had to retool the LED when a fault was discovered in manufacturing. More delays… when it comes out, only time will tell.

Perks of the Move over the Ranger RX.

  • 22lbs for pack+head of the Ranger, about 15.7 for the Move 1200.
  • Full asymmetry across both channels for the Move, 66/33 for the Ranger.
  • The MobiLED head can work as a 100W continuous light, for 2 hours on the Move pack. Or it has a wall adapter for providing AC power included, no extra charge.
  • The Move displays T0.1 flash durations on it’s display, so you always know what your full duration is.
  • The pack, head and cables are all physically smaller, making it easier to pack for a flight.
  • Under 2 hours to fully recharge the battery. I think the Ranger takes over 3-4 hours for a complete charge.
  • Detailed LCD screen gives all of the power, distribution, flash durations, battery level, modelling light info you could ever want. The Ranger doesn’t come close.
  • The protective caps on the MobiLED are actually travel reflectors, and they work well. Smart.
  • There is a larger rental network for Broncolor in Canada now than Elinchrom (Headshots, B3K Digital, PhotoService and Flashpoint vs. Vistek).

Only downside for the Move is price, coming in quite a bit higher than the Ranger, but you’ve got to pay to play. Accessories are also pricier than their Elinchrom equivalents, although I’ve seen enough photographers with 20+ year old Bron equipment recently to have full faith in the build quality of anything in the line. I take solace in looking over at Profoto, $7,899 for their new Pro-B4 battery pack only, and $1,200 for a replacement battery. Ouch. That doesn’t even include a head. The features between the two packs are quite similar when comparing apples to apples, however Profoto tend to make some interesting claims quoting T0.5 flash numbers, and their pack is also 200 watts shy in total power output.

The Move 1200 comes in at $6,286 in Canada for the Outdoor Kit 1, with a head, softbox, pack, speedring and if you ordered before December 31st, they threw in a 2nd spare battery for free.

Other Equipment
Broncolor is all about speed, so I felt the need to really push the limits of mid day sun and fast action. For this shoot, we used the Phase One 645DF and IQ 160 digital back with 24mm, 80mm and 150mm Schneider Kreuznach leaf shutter lenses from the great team over at B3K Digital. If you want to know the benefits of a medium format system, they’re always willing to help people understand these incredible systems. The Phase One system has a unique ability in that the leaf shutter lenses are capable of a 1/1600 of a second flash sync speed, helping to keep the ambient light at bay. No tricks, predictive syncs, hypersyncs, tail-cutting or voodoo here. It just works, every time.

To sync everything together, we had to use the Profoto Air Sync receivers. In my initial tests before heading out to the hill, I found out the Air Sync’s were not outputting enough power to trip the Move power pack. My Pocket Wizards tripped the pack fine, but for some reason the Profoto’s didn’t want to play nice. Unfortunately, the only wireless flash system on the market that is able to sync at 1/1600 with the Phase are the Profoto Air Syncs. Time to MacGuyver a solution, and that we did. Profoto Air Sync to Nikon SB-800. The Move was placed on ‘Cell’ and was able to see the Nikon inside it’s protective case, still affording the 1/1600 durations we were hoping for. The Air Syncs mysteriously stopped syncing for an hour on the mountain, possibly the cold got to them, but that is why you see the red sync cord in the video briefly. I’ve let Broncolor know about my findings between the pack and the Air Sync and will hopefully update when there is more info.

I also brought out a P50 reflector, helping to focus the light on riders as they were hitting some of the larger kickers.

The First Setup
Our first setup was a 42 ft jump. It was early AM so the sun was still low in the sky and strong. I knew I’d want an underlight with the sun acting as a rimlight. At the same time, I wanted to show the distance of the jump to landing, while hiding the Broncolor head from being in the photo. If the takeoff lip had a dropoff on the other side, I would have placed the light directly under the takeoff spot, but the lip actually rolls over, and being in an open park, I didn’t want to surprise someone and have them ride into brand new lighting kit.

To project the light over the distance, I had the P50 reflector attached to the MobiLED head. The Move was set to 8.5 on the display, f/9 at ISO 100 over the distance.

and the results…
1/1600 @ f/9.0 – ISO 100

The Second Setup
Second setup of the morning would be some halfpipe. You don’t see too many skilled halfpipe riders these days, but the Simple crew have some well rounded riders. This setup would be just the Move kit, a single head, and the integrated reflector that doubles as a protective cap on the MobiLED head. The light was positioned about 8-10 feet from the lip of the pipe.

and the results…
1/1000 @ f/10.0 – ISO 100

The Final Setup
Looked to the rails and boxes for the final setup after lunch. We would have a chance to divide the power between heads. The Move 1200 is fully asymmetric, a huge win over my current Ranger pack. We used the integrated reflectors on both heads and dialed in a 55/45 lighting ratio. I would have liked the second light a little farther downhill, pointing back up hill, but the landing zone was a bit tight. Better to air on the side of safety in an open park than have a lightstand get taken out by someone you don’t know. Once you’ve worked with riders enough, you’ll learn there habits and where you can get away with putting lights.

and the results…
1/1250 @ f/5.6 – ISO 100

Conclusion
Broncolor Move 1200 on order, arriving in May. Elinchrom Ranger RX for sale. My back thanks me.

The Move worked flawlessly all day, not missing a single shot. After shooting for the morning, we were down 2 bars out of 5 on the battery. Left it to charge over lunch (30 minutes) and were back to full power for the afternoon session.

The Move is definitely the Rolls Royce of lighting kits. All the bells and whistles you could ever need are included. It has some outstanding features (such as the LED modelling light) I look forward to using as I move more into video, and packs all the features in at a reasonable price (relative to other brands). Broncolor continues to impress with the pushes they are making in the photo industry recently, and I look forward to jumping on board when my pack arrives in March. Just in time for wedding season, where I expect my assistant will be wheeling this package around to produce some great formal photos.

Thanks again to the following who supported the shoot:
Broncolor Canada
B3K Digital
Mount St. Louis Moonstone
Simple Snowboarding

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  • Marksetgo

    Thanks, a good read. So right that the Ranger is too heavy and overdue for an update. Elinchrom are behind the market here. On the move can you adjust color temp?

  • http://www.mikelastphoto.com/ Mike Last

    That’s one thing they left for the Scoro’s only. Everything is a consistent colour temperature, except for speed mode, where you may see approx. +/- 200 degrees to get the extra short durations.

  • Diego

    Is the 1/1000 shutter because of the flash&trigger or your camera’s shutter design?

  • http://www.mikelastphoto.com/ Mike Last

    Both. The camera is actually capable of 1/1600, but if I shot at 1/1600 at that power level, I would be losing some of the flash’s overall power. I would need to dial down the power on the pack a bit, but wouldn’t get the same flash intensity over the long distance. Hope that explains it.

  • Diego

    Thanks Mike. Is the Bron RFS 2 not able to fire at those higher shutter speeds?

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