Walimex PBS-400 portable battery flash reviewed
I chose a nice location in Pamplona to do a photoshoot, hired a model and got a spin for a couple of ideas I had. I took the PBS-400 with me as my only lighting source for the photoshoot. It went great and without a hitch, the PBS 400 proving to be reliable and working smoothly through the whole shoot. I will include here some samples and a photo of the setup used:
The Walimex PBS400 is a light weight yet rugged enough location kit that inspires confidence. It won’t break after two days of use (and believe me on this: I have been using it quite a lot). The head is a bit big compared to other units in the market (but still a lot smaller than a monolight) and the handle isn’t removable, but these are nitpicks rather than serious issues. Color exposure is consistent at all power settings and after some use, so no problem in these areas. One of the nicest surprises is that the unit came with a nice bag to carry it around which is well made and comfortable to use.
I have to admit I am not much of a fan of the gap in the head (between the housing and the accesory mount) and thus I would warn you to protect the head from rain or snow (but as said before, I haven’t seen any flash head that doesn’t need to be protected from the weather) however it hasn’t been a problem while I used it. I would also warn against using the PBS400 head on a boom arm, I am not sure the swivel mount part that connects the head to the boom arm’s spigot would be able to withstand the weight and pressure (specially with heavy modifiers).
The battery provided me with more than 230 shots (some at full power and some at less power output, mostly depending on the modifier used. The ones shots with a beauty dish needed less power than the ones with the Octa).
Of course other portable units like the Elinchrom Quadra offer two outlets and a wider range of output power (and the new Quadra RX also has built in Skyport and all the benefits that having it entails). However, for the price, the PBS-400 exceeds expectations in key areas important to location shooters and does not dissapoint. So in the end I can gladly recommend the Walimex PBS400. Sure, if you have the extra cash there are options out there that have more features and if you need them they come with a price (things like faster recycle time, remote control via radio trigger or remote control, etc.)
Those with a low budget – or just wanting a good all-round performer to add some kick to their collection of hot shoe flashes – will be pleased with the Walimex PBS400, and how reliable and sturdy it is. In other words it is a bang for the buck (or the Euro, or the pound! )
Though now that we know price of the Jinbei Discovery DC600 (which we will review in the coming months) the PBS-400 faces some hard competition. It is a tough choice, however for €100 less you are still getting a whole lot for your money.
- Small yet very rugged
- Simple and nice controls on the pack and head
- Nice weight and size
- Consistent color and exposure
- Reliable operation
- Output power matches the description provided by manufacturer
- Good quality accesories included in the kit (charger, battery, bag, sync cable, shoulder strap, reflector, reflector, etc.)
- User replaceable modeling light and flash tube
- Uses the widely available S-type (AKA Bowens) bayonet for modifiers (speedrings, beauty dishes, reflectors, etc.)
- Spare parts (extra batteries, modeling light bulbs, flashtubes, etc.) ready available at Foto-Walser (nice store with good customer service)
- Modeling light with 50 Watts of power (not super strong but still usable indoors or at dawn/night)
- Comes with a nice bag to pack everything
- Great for those who want more power than what a hot shoe flash provides
Not so great things:
- Gap in the head to allow ventilation is kinda too big (although there´s no weather sealed head from other manufacturers)
- Head is kinda big compared to what other manufacturers offer (but it is still a whole lot more compact than a monolight)
- A cap to protect the head socket port on the pack would be nice.
- Modeling lamp isn´t LED (although there aren´t many manufacturers who offer this to be fair)
Where to buy
The Walimex PBS-400 is available now for €479.95 including VAT from Foto-Walser, based in Germany.