CononMark DD400S: the future for portable flash?

Lighting Rumours reviews the CononMark DD400S, a DC-only flash that takes universal batteries. Is it any good? And is it an example other manufacturers should follow?

CononMark DD400 front view

What’s in the box

On opening the package I was disappointed to discover the DD400S’s LCD had been cracked in transit, rendering the display almost illegible. Since the box was so well packaged I can only assume that Ace Ventura was my courier for my parcel. If you buy this unit from a local distributor, chances are the trip will be slightly shorter than 6,000 miles, greatly reducing the opportunity for this to happen to yours. CononMark DD400 box contents In the box (clockwise from top):

  • DD400S flash head
  • Comet mount 110mm reflector
  • Battery charger
  • Cigarette lighter plug
  • 12V 7Ah VRLA battery with carrying case
  • AC adapter
  • XLR power cable
  • Kettle plug (not shown)
  • Sync cord (not shown)

While labelled “AC/DC”, strictly speaking the DD400S is always running on 12 volts direct current. Included is an AC adapter much like the one you use to charge your laptop computer. It’s pretty bulky but takes 100-240V 50/60Hz and a universal kettle plug so you can use it anywhere in the world. My sample came with a US-style plug that I swapped out for a UK one, no bother. The 12V battery is no more than a common motorcycle battery with an XLR connector attached. Should yours somehow conk out, it should be a simple affair to switch to a new one (or even a bigger and better battery if you like). There is also a connector in the box to plug the flash into your car’s cigarette lighter.

CononMark have clearly designed this light for the location photographer. At 400 Joules it draws the same energy as an Elinchrom Quadra pack and head, and together with the battery actually weighs less. The DD400 head is seriously compact with a diameter of 105mm.

One of the accessories I both love and hate is the included sync cord. It has a hotshoe foot on one end and a 6.35mm plug on the other, making it ideal for cameras without PC ports (and more reliable for those that do). In practice, however, the cord is far too short for anything but product photography. If radio triggers came with these types of cords, however, you’d have no need for sync ports on the receivers.

On first appearances, the CononMark looks more functional than stylish. Expect a tube with buttons on it, not sleek curves and lines. On the other hand, worse sights can befall the eyes. Read on for features and controls…

David Selby
Based in Paris, France, David Selby is editor of Lighting Rumours, a part-time photographer and a quantitative analyst.