Bowens Gemini 400Rx studio flash review

The Gemini 400Rx is the latest compact flash offering from Bowens. If you are at all familiar with Bowens products then you will have no problem migrating across. Even if not, you will still have little to no problem with getting to grips with the lights thanks to their shallow learning curve.

Bowens Gemini GM400Rx

Visually, the Rx is slightly smaller than the standard Gemini 400, with the test button now integrated with the power LED to simplify things visually. On the back, there are three rocker switches: one to change the modelling light mode, one to change the modelling light control and one for setting whether the device beeps when its ready to be triggered again. The 400Rx also has the standard Bowens battery port, so is able to be used with the company’s Travelpak for use away from the mains.

Now, one thing that you might notice is that there is a panel attached atop the device, and this is what makes the Gemini Rx series different from standard Geminis. Built into the 400Rx is a receiver compatible with Bowens Pulsar radio triggering system. On the test model we had the channel couldn’t be changed, but this system allows for 24 channels, accessed by using the two buttons on the transmitter.

Bowens Pulsar Tx radio transmitter

The trigger is lightweight and the small solid antenna means that even if you are clumsy there is little chance of damage. With the receiver being built in, you don’t have to have things attached or dangling from the monolight, but there still is a sync port in case you don’t have the ability to use your Pulsar trigger. There were no problems syncing to 1/250 second with the Nikon D700 whilst testing. One thing however that is missing from the 400RX is an optical slave cell, now that there is a radio trigger built in.

For slightly more than the original Gemini models, you do get the integrated trigger system and the GM400Rx’s guide number is slightly higher (GN80) than that of the previous GM400 (GN76). Wonderfully suited for those just starting in studio lighting, but can equally easily fit into the lifestyles of those more established photographers.

The Bowens Gemini 400Rx retails for around £320 on its own, while twin head kits — including flashes, stands, umbrellas, a Pulsar Tx trigger and a wheelie case — start at £720. For more information and a list of dealers, visit Bowens Direct.

David Monteith-Hodge is an Edinburgh-based photographer. Follow his work at photographise.com

  • http://ranger9.net Ranger 9

    Is the Pulsar system just a trigger, or does it have any other functions such as grouping or power adjustment?

    Also, any sense of flash duration? I could be wrong, but I recall reading that the older Geminis were fairly long-pulse units and consequently not the best choice for freezing fast action (although of course that’s not an issue for many types of studio shooting)…

    • http://www.selby.hk David A. Selby

      The Bowens Pulsar is just a trigger.

  • Peter Berressem

    “One thing however that is missing from the 400RX is an optical slave cell, now that there is a radio trigger built in.”
    Why force to use a Pulsar or buy a slave cell ? This saves Bowens just peanuts (pun intended) but is not a good step IMO.

  • http://www.bowensdirect.com Luke Yates

    Hello All,

    I’m from the marketing department at Bowens, The 400Rx and 200Rx both have built in slave cells (the red patch on the top of the flash head) and with the button on the top you can either choose to use the receiver or slave cell.

    Just thought i would clear this up.

    Thanks,

    Luke

  • http://www.limelite.uk.com Tim Haskell

    Hello All.

    I also work for Bowens and would like to address another couple of points raised here:

    1. Flash duration. The Gemini 400Rx has a flash duration of 1/1000 second and the 200Rx 1/1450 second.
    2. As David Selby says, the Pulsar and the newer, smaller Pulsar Tx are just triggers and do not control other flash functions. They allow a range of different trigger channels to be selected to either isolate light sources or combine and fire all of them together without having to leave the camera.

    I hope this is of some help.

  • Trevor Davies

    How do you set the lights up to the triggers? I have Canon Eos 1DMK3, and Callumet transmitter and recievers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000095156729 Litebook Bowens

    Hey Trevor,

    Sorry but you can only use Pulsar!
    The head has built-in Pulsar receiver.

    Regards,

    Luke

  • Andrew Garner

    I have a set of these and they are very disappointing, I replaced a set of elinchromes that were superior but stolen, they overheat really easily, I have been using Bowens for 30 years and while these are overheating my older ( and occasionally very old Bowens lights) go on working.

  • Rick

    Will a standard Gemini 400 work with a Pocket Wizard?

    • http://www.lightingrumours.com/ David A. Selby

      Yes, so long as you plug in the appropriate receiver.

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