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+|
|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|
|Car Charger||Included||Not included|
|Shoulder Strap||Not Included||Not included|
|Available Colours||Black/Lime Green||Black|
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.