Useful-looking manual flash

Emily Horn in the snow

The LumoPro LP120 manual flash is interesting for two major reasons.

First, it defies the design logic of the big camera companies. They want to sell snazzy proprietary technologies, like through-the-lens (TTL) metering. This flash generally omits them. The big companies also want to exclude low-cost, useful features from cheap products. That way, they can drive people to buy more expensive ones. For instance, Canon doesn’t include a PC-connection on its US$275 430 EX II flash, but it does on the US$400 580 EX II. The LP120 includes a built-in PC connector, hotshoe connector, 1/8″ jack, and an integrated optical slave. It also has output roughly comparable to the 430 EX II, for US$130.

Second, it seems that the flash was designed primarily to serve a single web-based community: the talented and flash-obsessed photographers at Strobist. That seems like the kind of thing that could produce a very clever trend, where like-minded people assemble with specific needs and niche products are developed to accommodate them effectively.

In any case, I am strongly considering getting an LP120 as a second flash. It would let me do more elaborate things than are possible using just a single flash and an umbrella. I have an upcoming photographic project where better portrait capabilities would be a distinct asset.

[Update: 24 March 2009] I got the LP120 flash today. My first impression is that it feels cheap. The battery compartment is finicky, and flash head doesn’t lock in place, and the flash emits a constant high-pitched whine when on. It certainly shows me part of why people shell out money for flashes like the Canon 430EX II.

We will see whether the photographic performance of the flash is better than the build quality.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

3 thoughts on “Useful-looking manual flash”

  1. First Look: Strobist ‘Open Source’ Flashgun
    By Charlie Sorrel
    Moishe Applebaum of Midwest Photo Exchange sent us a review unit of his new LumoPro LP120 flash, aka the Strobist Strobe, and on first looks it appears to be exactly what was promised — cheap but full of function.

    What makes the LP120 different from most other products is that it is a community driven project, designed for the consumer. Getting hold of a cheap flash with manual controls is almost impossible — you either need to go for a $500+ model and ignore the bells and whistles, or trawl the second hand stores for older guns (good luck — demand is driving up the prices).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *