Quantuum PT200 Review
Just a short review of the QUANTUUM PT200 strobe.
I decided I needed a studio strobe as I was finding I could of used a modeling light in many situations when setting up for and during a photo session.
Cost was a main factor in the choice due to my wife insisting I have enough gear but also I only shoot in a small environment and didnít need anything too powerful as having too much light in a small space is more of a problem than not enough light.
There are many different manufactures selling low cost strobes and I honed in on a company from Poland called Quantuum. The reason for this was because I had purchased some of their other products and was impressed with the build quality so decided to look at their strobes.
There are two budget strobes available from Quantuum the PT200 & PT300 & it was difficult to decide which one to choose. The difference in price was only about £25 however I chose the PT200 as including postage it was under £100.
My requirement was for a strobe at full power to give me F16 at 1 metre through a dual layer Quantuum softbox at ISO 100, (The Metz 50 AF-1 gave F8.) I came to this max F stop from looking at how I shoot and the typical F stops I use and F16 will be the max I use and I donít want the strobe to be running at full power all the time.
So I took a gamble that the PT200 would be more powerful than the Metz 50 AF-1 that I had been using for my portraits. It arrived a few days later and was well packaged with polystyrene inserts to hold the strobe in place. In the box were also a 5m power lead, a 5m sync cord with a 1.5mm mono jack at one end and a push fit PC sync at the other, 7Ē standard reflector and instructions but no protection cap to protect the tube during storageÖ..thatís a pity.
The strobe itself feels solid being made of aluminium and has a rubberized coating applied to it. I donít understand why it has this as in time possibly the rubberized coating may get sticky as the rubber breaks down due to oils in the skin.
Itís not a large strobe being only 25cm long and 10cm in diameter & 1.5kg in weight. On the top front/left there is a silver lever which locks the reflector or other type of light modifier into the Bowens (s-type) mount, still on top in the middle at the back there is the slave sensor protruding roughly 10mm from the casing and underneath is the tilting pivot mount with a spring loaded handle. This pivot also has a section that allows the shaft of an umbrella to be inserted and tightened with a small thumbscrew (the 7Ē reflector has a slot cut into it to accommodate the fitting of an umbrella.)
On the back is where the power lead and sync cable can be plugged in, the illuminated rocker on/off switch and the function buttons. When you switch the strobe on you hear the cooling fan start up. Noise wise I would say this is similar to CPU fans found on pcís but if you play music whilst shooting you wonít hear it. The function buttons are a membrane type and have a small LED that illuminates when the button is pressed. The PT200 has the same configuration of function buttons as the PT300 consisting of:
Modeling light - this is on or off & not adjustable Ė however, there is a sentence in the manual that states the modeling light is adjustable as long as you do not exceed 250 watts. So Iím assuming you can swap this for a more powerful wattage if you want as the strobe comes supplied with a 230V/50w G6.35 lamp and I have seen this type of lamp in 70, 100, 150, 200 and 250w variants.
Slave cell Ė this simply turns the slave cell on or off. I have found that when using the on camera flash to fire the strobe, it requires the on camera flash to be at least 1/16th power as any lower the strobe will not fire. I use a Metz infrared clip over my on camera flash so as not to contaminate the scene when working in close and found the strobe fires perfectly with this in place too. Also when using Olympusís RC system to control my Metz flashes from the camera the PT200 still fires along with the Metz flashes (the reason I state this is because if one Metz flash is controlled by the RC system and another is being used as a manual slave then the whole system fails to work.) So Iím pleased I can use the PT200 as a manual slave whilst still retaining the use of the RC system.
Recharge confirmation Ė The usual ďBeepĒ that you hear on so many strobes and some speedlights. It is not loud enough to be annoying but might not be heard if like me you play music whilst shooting.
Flash test/power dump Ė Press this to test the function of the flash. It also dumps the excess charge in the capacitors when you lower the power setting.
Flash power Ė This is controlled by two buttons with arrows on them (up/down.) The flash power is adjustable in 1/10th increments from 6.0 = full power to 1.0 = 1/32nd power. If you press and hold the up or down buttons the strobe will speed through the settings so you can reach the desired setting quickly.
Also on the back of the unit is a two digit Green LED display which is used to show the power setting of the strobe and also to indicate that the power needs to be dumped if you lower the power setting. It does this by flashing the display and as soon as you dump the power the display stops flashing.
The flash tubes are user replaceable and are available direct from Quantuum at around £22 each and the modeling lamps can be bought online as most DIY shops only seem to stock the 12v type.
So did it meet my F16 @ 1m requirements? In short not quite, however Iím still very pleased with my purchase as it was close at full power through the dual layer softbox at a distance of 1 metre and ISO 100 it gave me F11. Thatís only one stop lower and if I bump the ISO to 200 it achieves F16 but a lot of my shots are around F5.6 to F8 and I use ISO 100 when I want to create high contrast portraits otherwise Iím usually at ISO 200 or 400. So for ISO 100 I will be using this strobe at half or quarter power @ 1m with both diffusion layers on the soft box. If I remove the outer diffusion layer I get F11 +7/10th so only 1/3rd stop below F16 and if I put the 7Ē reflector on then I have to dial it down as in my small room it blasts light everywhere.
If I want to get F16 then I will need to get a 400Ws strobe. Quantuum make a low cost version (Quantuum S 400Ws) for about £168 and that has an adjustable modeling light. On the whole the PT200 strobe is twice the power of the Metz 50 AF-1 and has a one second recycle time at full power which is faster than the speedlight plus its half the price too.
The color temperature is 5500K as opposed to the Metzís 5600K but I wouldnít have thought this would pose a major issue if I combine the two. As for fluctuations in color temperature at different power settings Ė who knows? Not me, and I have no way to check either. I shoot in RAW and use a colorchecker passport for custom white balance and color correction so hopefully I can sort any issues like that out.
For the future my plan is to get another PT200 and then the S 400Ws strobe that way the 400Ws will be my main and the two PT200ís can be fill/hair lights, but for now the PT200 will be perfect for a main and the three Metz speedlights can be the fill/hair lights. I will purchase another stripbox a 55cm white beauty dish with a grid and an adaptor that converts S type mounts to fit the pop up speedlight soft boxes of which I have two.
Iím still on the lookout for a Zuiko 50 Ė 200mm Mk1 so I will be learning and practicing with the PT200 as a main for quite some time to come, especially if I want to stay married.
Re: Quantuum PT200 Review
Hi all, Just a quick update. I got the 50-200mm mk1 i was looking for and it is mint.
Cost £357, came with original lens hood, tripod mount and a rather nice case too.
Im a happy bunny and cant wait to test it out. (wifes a bit miffed though) I promised her thats it for lenses now as i have all i need. until the next one !!!!!
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