Portable strobes combine the better of two worlds into a single entity; bringing the power and control of studio lighting together with the flexibility of speedlights or camera-based flash systems. Travel strobes are mainly used for location lighting situations, but can also prove to be a great all-around lighting system capable of fulfilling many studio-based tasks as well. In their bare essence, travel strobe kits bundle together the essentials you need to shoot with powerful lighting in any location; this includes one or two heads, a battery or power pack, the necessary cables, and sometimes a host of other accessories.
Comet offers two kits that offer compact solutions for portable lighting; both include a single head, a power pack, replacement battery, cables, and a charger. The LB-400 System Kit comes with the compact LB-4FH flash head that resembles a flash gun, and it’s ideal for lighting small quarters with its 63° lighting angle. The LB-400 power pack is equally geared for portability and weights only 2.6 pounds. This pack has a maximum output of 400Ws and a guide number of 56 meters at ISO 100.
A more powerful option is the PMT-1200A kit which comes bundled with the PMT-12H flash head. This pack gives a maximum output of 1200Ws and is controllable in full, 1/2, 1/4, and 1/8 power settings. This pack is a bit bulkier than the LB-400, weighing in at 7 pounds with the rechargeable battery. The battery, however, can be recharged to full power in three hours, giving you ample time to recharge throughout the day if necessary.
Dynalite offers three different kits for portable lighting options, all of which revolve around their UNI400JRg Monolight and Jackrabbit II power pack. The UNI400JRg is a 400Ws monolight when connected to A/C power, however when connected to the Jackrabbit II it is a bit less powerful at 320Ws. The Jackrabbit II provides 140 full-power flashes per charge with this light, and more when the light is dialed to 1/2, 1/4, or 1/8 power settings.
The most bare-bones kit, the UNIJRg-PS1, combines both the monolight and battery with the necessary cables and charger to get you shooting on location with a highly versatile setup. Also included with this kit are a 65° 7-inch grid reflector and a sync cord. Building upon this kit, the UNIJR-PS1 kit includes all of the aforementioned components and adds a 43” translucent white umbrella and a 10-foot light stand, both helping to increase the number of options you have to begin photographing with an all-around working setup. And lastly, the UNIJRG-LW2 kit adds a second light, pack, stand, umbrella, and set of cords for doubling your lighting output and giving your more freedom to toil with lighting setups.
Elinchrom also offers three different portable kits, all of which revolve around the Ranger Quadra RX Power Pack as the means to power the lights. This pack offers 400Ws of asymmetrical power and 6.6 stops of control to modify your light output. When fully charged, this pack also provides enough power for approximately 150 full-power flashes with recycle times of 2.2 seconds.
Deviating some from the rest of the portable strobe kits, the Eco-Ringflash Set contains a ring flash that is ideal for medical and dental uses, as well as creative applications for fashion or other artistic imagery. The ring flash comes with a white diffuser cap for helping to soften and spread the light more evenly about your subject. Also included with this kit is an EL-Skyport Transmitter SPEED, a wireless transmitter enabling you to control your power settings and work wirelessly within an outdoor range of 393.7 feet.
The other two strobe kits pair the Quadra RX pack with the Quadra A Head; in either a one-head kit or a two-head kit. This flash head is able to produce a 400 Ws output and a quick flash duration up to 1/6000th of a second for freezing action. A 20-watt LED modeling light with an equivalent 40-watt output is also integrated into this head. In addition to receiving two of these heads with the two-head kit, it also bundles the EL-Skyport wireless transmitter and a carrying case for maximum portability.
Offering two different kits, Impact bundles either one or two monolights with its Mini LiteTrek (LT) Battery Pack. This battery pack supplies enough power to the heads to fire 650 flashes at maximum power, or 3500 at minimum power. Recycle times range from 1 to 3.5 seconds and the battery takes four hours to fully charge. Additionally, the battery stage is removable, so you can purchase secondary batteries for extended shooting.
In addition to the battery pack, you have the option of choosing a kit with either one flash head or two flash heads. The Lite Trek 4.0 DC Flash Head is a 400Ws monolight with five stops of light control. Recycle time is only 2 seconds long to full power and a quick flash duration as low as 1/14,000 sec. makes these heads ideal for faster-paced shooting. Along with your flash head(s) and battery pack, these kits also come with an umbrella reflector, power and sync cords, a removable stand mount, and an aluminum case to pack everything together.
Lumedyne offers a wide range of kit options, each providing you with a power pack, one flash head, one battery, a charger, a sync cable, and a head cord. The most basic offering is the Next Generation kit, which is available with either a 200Ws pack or a 400Ws pack. These packs have an illuminated battery gauge, support two heads with symmetrical light output, and have four stops of manual light control. Either pack comes with a flash head that can handle up to 800Ws of power and feature a 25W modeling light.
The next step up in Lumedyne’s kits is the Action Pack kits, which are also available with either a 200Ws pack or 400Ws pack. These packs have three stops of control, and quickened recycle and flash duration times compared to the Next Generation kits. A 2400Ws-capable flash head is paired with the packs, which also incorporates the same 25W center-mounted modeling light.
Providing even greater control, the Signature Series Basic kits are again available with a 200Ws pack or 400Ws pack. These packs provide a much greater range of light manipulation ability with seven stops of control, from either 3 to 200Ws or 6 to 400Ws respectively. The included head with these kits features an 800Ws flash tube and has a unique square metal design for greater durability and configuration possibilities.
The most capable kit offerings from Lumedyne are the Signature Series Deluxe kits, available in 200Ws pack or 400Ws pack versions. These packs feature seven stops of manual control as well as manual step-less trim control between stops. Additionally, they support TTL light control when used in conjunction with optional Metz TTL adapters and have a volume control knob for audible TTL confirmation. The included head with these packs is similar to the Basic kit head and features an 800Ws flash tube and square metal design. However, the Deluxe head features an integrated Metz TTL connector for control over the lighting system directly from your camera.
Similar to other kits, Norman divides its portable strobe kits into both 200Ws and 400Ws versions and include a flash head, 5-inch reflector, power pack, battery, charger, and necessary cables. From this basic setup, there are other kits that introduce either a modeling light or built-in Pocket Wizard transceiver.
The most pared down kit is the A200C, which includes a 200Ws power pack with three stops of manual control and a 1.5 second full power recycle time. The included lamp head is rated up to a 200Ws output and features a 5-foot coiled cord for attachment to the pack. The A200C-M is identical to the A200C with the exception of an added modeling light feature to the lamp head. Another option is the A200CR, which has the same basic features as the A200C as well as an incorporated Pocket Wizard radio transceiver. This built-in wireless transceiver can receive any signals sent from any Pocket Wizard radio slave and will send a confirmation whenever a signal is received.
For greater power over the 200Ws models, the A400B is the basic 400Ws kit that closely resembles the A200C kit. Included with this kit is a 400Ws pack, a lamp head with a 400Ws-capable output, and the ancillary cables and reflector. In addition to these basic components, all of the 400Ws kits come with two B5122 battery packs, which each provide over 190 full-power flashes at 15-second intervals. The A400B-M differs from this basic setup with the inclusion of a modeling light in the lamp head, which is ideal for use in pre-visualizing your lighting setups and working in lower light situations. The A400B-R contains a built-in Pocket Wizard transceiver for efficient, integrated wireless triggering support. Combining the best options of all, the A400BR-M includes both a modeling light and a built-in wireless transceiver, giving you all around support and streamlined functionality.
Photoflex’ single offering for a portable strobe kit, the TritonFlash Lithium Strobe Kit, is an all-inclusive setup giving you, in addition to a power pack and light head, an OctoDome soft box, stand mount, reflector head, and the necessary cables and charger.
The power pack has a maximum output of 300Ws and 19 controllable power levels in 1/3 stop increments. The kit includes two individual lithium-ion batteries, each of which gives up to 750 full-power flashes per charge or 30,000 flashes at minimum power. The pack also features an integrated optical slave sensor for wireless use and can support burst shooting up to six frames-per-second. The included head gives off very short flash durations, which are ideal for freezing fast motion. It supports the full 300Ws output of the pack and also has a built in modeling light, which automatically turns off after 10 seconds in order to conserve power.
The included OctoDome measures 18 x 18 x 9 inches and helps to soften the light output and result in a wider spread when compared to square soft boxes. Also bundled with the kit are a traditional 7-inch metal reflector dome and a robust metal swivel stand mount that gives support when using umbrellas, soft boxes, or other methods of diffusion.
Quantum Instruments gives you three kits to choose from, all revolving around its famed Qflash line. Each of these kits contains one Qflash T5d-R flash head, a 150Ws head providing 19 power settings from full to 1/64 power in 1/3 steps. This compact flash head features 1.9-second recycling times to full power and supports TTL flash exposure systems when using an optional adapter. The other main component to these kits, and what rounds out the basic Qflash kit, is the Turbo 3 rechargeable battery pack. This rechargeable battery pack provides quick recycling times of about 1.9 seconds and can provide power for approximately 600 full power flashes per charge with the included Qflash. The pack also has a visible gauge for determining how much power is left in the pack or what the charging status is. It has two separate power outlets and can even be used to provide power to your digital camera, in addition to a flash, for extended use.
The Digital Flash Kit builds upon this basic setup and adds tools for further control of your light output. Along with a Qflash and battery pack, this kit gives you an 8-foot light stand, a 45” white umbrella, a bracket for mounting the umbrella, and a bracket for mounting the battery pack to any pole. Alternately, there is also the David Ziser Make Your Lighting Exciting Kit which adds a digital transmitter, digital TTL receiver, 3-section monopod, and a swivel umbrella adapter to the basic kit. The transmitter and receiver enable you to use the Qflash wirelessly, and if paired with an optional connector cord, can support full TTL capabilities with your camera. The monopod offers a unique solution for placing your lighting at a significantly longer distance from your body than just holding it would allow, while the swivel umbrella bracket keeps your lighting modifiers securely positioned.
All of these kits offer the opportunity to more creatively take control of your lighting in any situation; their portability is the main benefit, however this certainly does not insinuate a lack of overall power. These strobes feature greater output than on-camera flashes and permit a greater control over how you dial your lights in to any working situation. They are equally as effective in the studio as they are on location, and support a wide range of accessories to even further adapt them to your lighting workflow.