With the Siros L, Broncolor can lay claim to having a truly wireless flash. Like the original Siros, the Siros L has Wi-Fi so the light can be controlled wirelessly from a mobile device. But unlike the original, the L packs a built-in, removable battery, so you can bring the light with you beyond the reach of AC power. We teamed with New Jersey photographer and director David Patiño (www.davidpatino.com) to take the Siros L for a spin.
The Siros L delivers 800 w/s of power output that’s controllable in a 9-stop range in 1/10th or full-stop increments. It offers flash durations from 1/4,400 sec. at lowest energy to 1/250 sec. at full power (measured in t.01). Recycling times range from .05–4.3 seconds in eco mode and .03-2.7 seconds in normal mode.
You’ll have a sequence mode that fires up to 50 flashes in quick succession. There’s also a 25-watt LED modeling lamp and a USB port for firmware updates. The Siros L can be triggered using the BronControl mobile app, and using the optional Broncolor RFS 2.1 transceiver ($177).
The removable battery is good for up to 220 full-powered flashes and takes about 70-75 minutes to recharge. One battery is included with your purchase and extras cost around $290—making them the priciest monolight batteries we’ve seen. There’s no way to run the Siros L on AC power, so if the battery dies, you’ll need to swap it out for a fresh one. If you’re willing to trade off flash power for battery life, Broncolor sells a 400 w/s version of the Siros L that delivers 440 full-powered flashes (model 400L).
With the exception of the removable battery on the top, the Siros L looks identical to the original. That’s a good thing, as both are sturdy blocks of aluminum. Though this is meant to be a location light, it’s not flimsy or plastic-y. It’s sleek and tubular, with none of the protruding battery bulge found on competitive models. The bad news is that it also weighs 9.5 pounds—far heavier than most of the competition.
Like the original Siros but unlike many competitors, the L has an external flash tube design to optimize its use with softboxes, parabolic reflectors and other light modifiers.
In addition to having dedicated test and modeling light buttons, the Siros L is controlled through a large multifunction button. It’s not the most straightforward interface, as functions only illuminate on the back of the light when you’re setting them and the multifunction button has to be pressed several times to change and save settings, but once you’re up to speed it’s not all that difficult. You can view remaining battery life via LEDs on the exterior of the battery itself though it’s not as easy to get an at-a-glance view of battery life if the light is high on a light stand (though you can always refer to the app for remaining juice).
Unlike, say, Profoto’s B1 which requires a press-and-hold to power up, the Siros L’s power button just needs a quick push. If you don’t pack it properly, it’s easy to turn on—which means if you pack it down with the battery in place, you run the risk of accidentally turning it on and draining your battery.
The battery life on the 800 L tops off at 220 full-powered flashes. The power management is excellent, considering the higher power output of this flash. Patiño tells us that the light performed just as reliably and consistently as the original inside his studio and out, where he used it for a series of portraits. It recycles quickly, even as the battery draws down.
Like the original Siros, the Siros L has Wi-Fi for remote control using the free BronControl app (iOS and Android). The app gives you complete control over the Siros’ main functions and lets you operate multiple units from a single app dashboard. The app is well designed and very intuitive.
Out of the box, the Siros L will create its own private Wi-Fi network, allowing you to make a direct connection between it and your mobile device—although you’ll lose your Internet connection while linked to the Siros L. Alternatively, you can set it to “Enterprise” mode and connect the Siros L to an existing Wi-Fi network so you can operate it without losing your connection. In Patiño’s experience, the Enterprise mode was much less consistent than a direct connection. Sometimes, commands would relay instantly. At other times, there would be long delays—varying from 2-3 seconds to more than 10 seconds. The private connection proved to be more reliable, but Patiño says there were still instances of delays.
Establishing a connection between the Siros and your iOS device is straightforward. As you add lights to the app, each is assigned a color code (blue, turquoise, green, pink and yellow) that appears on both the app and the light itself, where an LED at the rear of the light will glow with the appropriate color.
Patiño says he really appreciated the LED modeling light as halogen-based modeling lights die out and need replacement.
The Siros L is a unique light both for what it can do (Wi-Fi) and for what it can’t. There’s no high speed sync or TTL—features found on the comparably priced Profoto B1 and the significantly less expensive Interfit S1. The design of the Siros L is superb and operationally the performance is solid, though Enterprise Wi-Fi can be touchy. The RFS 2.1 transceiver is an extra purchase, but it’s less expensive than Profoto’s Air Remote (albeit sans TTL and HSS). If you can live without HSS/TTL, the Siros L won’t disappoint.
PROS: Sleek-yet-sturdy design; LED-based modelling light; high flash output, quick recycling; consistent light output; external flash tube.
CONS: Enterprise Wi-Fi inconsistent; no HSS; no TTL; power button easy
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