I was recently sent a parcel of goodies to review/torture and while some items won’t be of use to me as a press photographer, one item stood out as being of interest; the Godox PB820 Propac battery pack.


To those of you who work in press, wedding and entertainment photography, you’ll already probably own either a Lumedyne or a Quantum battery pack. While these are the market leaders for portable flash power, the combination of very high price and user reports of less-than 100% reliability always left me wondering what else was out there.

I originally bought two Lumedyne “Tiny Cyclers” (VHTF) before realising that I’d rarely need both so sold one. The remaining power pack only ever comes out at major events such as the Brits or the BAFTAs so the £300 that it cost me seems a little extravagant. If I was starting out again, I’d certainly think twice about spending so much on such a rarely used item. With a price tag of just half the price of the Lumedyne, the Propac seems to be a much more pocket-friendly option. Available in Black or Lime Green (only cowards go for black), the unit itself is light but well built. With a protection cap to cover the standard Quantum cable input when not in use and a clear display showing how much charge is remaining in the unit, the design is well thought out. While some other brand’s models opt to have a single light that changes from green to red when the juice is gone, there is no way of actually telling how much is left. With the Propac, the top display features a charging light, a status light to indicate that the unit has recycled and is kicking out power and four charge lights that show the remaining power in the cell. When handing it around to working press photographers in London, one of the first things that people comment on (after “what the hell is that bright green box?”) is it’s low weight. It’s a gnats arse over 500gm, making it 2/3 the weight of its closest competition. Aside from that, it’s a battery in a plastic case. There really isn’t that much more to say. Here’s a neat comparison of the Propac with the Quantum Battery 1+ though.

Specification Godox Propac Quantum Battery 1+
SRP £159 £199.99
Power Type Ni-MH Sealed Lead Acid
Full Power Flashes Up to 320 250
Recycle Time 1 sec 3 secs
Recharge Time 2 hours 2 – 3 hours
AC Charger Included Included
Car Charger Included Not included
Belt Clip Built-in Built-in
Shoulder Strap Not Included Not included
Flash Cable £201 £53.99
Power Gauge Built-in Built-in
Available Colours Black/Lime Green Black
Weight 502gm 750gm

As I said above, I rarely use portable battery packs but, as it happened, shortly after receiving the kit, I shot two weddings as a second shooter for Kirsten Mavric. Where better to give it a go? The first one was the marriage of wedding photographer Nick Ray and his fiancée Camilla. I can honestly say that the day provided a whole range of new experiences, from an open-top car-shot of a classic vintage car, through to bouncing on a trampoline with the happy couple. It all used flash and the unit kept up with whatever I threw at it.

The tech spec of the battery cells state that the PB820 can deliver 250 – 320 flashes at full power on a single 2 hour charge, with just a 1 second recycle time at full power. From the weddings that I shot, I used flash quite a lot in the evening and the power indicator is still showing full, so it really does store a serious quantity of juice.

In fact, I used it for a wedding, Kirsten shot a Barmitzvah with it and then I gave it a hard test with three days of car shots at half or full power during the recent News International hacking scandal, with consistently solid results. Even after all of this, I still didn’t need to recharge. A colleague gave it a look over as we waited for a job to begin and carried out a few tests with his Quantum unit and found that the much higher priced Quantum was only fractionally faster to recharge from a full power shot. Pretty good for such a cheap option.

As you’ve guessed from what I’ve written so far, this is a genuinely good option for those looking at buying an external flash battery pack, but who don’t want the considerable outlay of the high-end products. Sure, there are advantages to owning the higher-end products from Quantum or a Lumedyne, such as marginally faster recycle times and bomb-proof construction, but for those who just need the occasional extra punch, I’d suggest you give it some thought.

I should point out here that despite my praise, I’m not in fact the new owner of “Godox Industries” and desperately launching my new venture on the world but was simply lucky enough to be approached to test the battery. They are interested in how many sales it gets through this site though, so if you want to place an order, please keep me in their good books by placing your order via this link.

6 Responses to “Caution: This post may contain flashy images”

  1. Leon,

    Thanks for the review, it looks like at last there’s a real alternative to Quantum’s over priced rubbish. I like most other Quantum users am sick to death of regularly having to replace their expensive, poor quality cables!

    Terry Kane

    Posted by Terry Kane
  2. Nice blog mate. I hope Godox give you one you have a lot of people interested from the News International job and that’s quite a lot of photographers. ki

    Posted by Ki Price
  3. @Terry – Cheers Terry. As I said above, if nothing else, it’s a cheap new source for cables. :)

    @Ki – Good stuff! As you’ve seen today, it’s still going strong.

    Posted by tabascokid
  4. SOLD!
    I hope they cut you in :)

    Posted by Joel
  5. Just bought one on the basis of Leon’s review. Freshly charged, first go and it does exactly what’s claimed.
    At full power I get a flash/second, vs several seconds with AAs alone.
    At ~1/16 power at 10fps my buffer fills (18 frames, Sandisk Extreme III – not the fastest memory) before I run out of flash power. Without the Propac and at the same settings, I only get 6 frames.
    It is surprisingly light. It is NOT weather sealed. Only tested it at home so far, so can’t comment on battery life but, assuming no other issues, I’d say it’s close to spot on. I was using a Canon 1Div with 580EXii for those that want to compare.

    Posted by Joel
  6. Leon,

    Just bought one. So looking forward to playing with it next week.

    I wanted to have it to use on a job on Mon & Wed in London, but they couldn’t garantee it being delivered before 9am on Monday, so decided to have it sent to home instead.

    Cheers

    Keith

    Posted by Keith

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