Lighting Equipment

The Top Monolights with Built-in Batteries

June 1, 2016

By Greg Scoblete

The battery-powered strobe is something of mash-up: part speedlite, part studio strobe. These lights are a great option for working on location where outlets are scare to nonexistent and lugging power packs isn’t attractive.

Pioneered by Profoto’s B1, the category has steadily grown to include a variety of manufacturers, price points and capabilities.


Broncolor Siros L

The newest of the crop, the Siros L is based off the original Siros and offers Wi-Fi for remote control via an Android or iOS device. You can also trigger the flash using the RFS 2.1 transmitter, sync port and optical slave. Each flash has a 9-stop power range with 1/10-stop adjustments. Additional features include a USB port for firmware updates, 25-watt LED modeling lamp (3200K), an external flash tube and compatibility with Broncolor light modifiers.

Output: 400 or 800 w/s
Flash Duration at Full Power (t.01): 1/400 sec. (400 w/s); 1/250 sec. (800 w/s)
Recycle Times: 0.3-1.2 seconds (400 w/s); .03-2.7 seconds (800 w/s)
Full Power Flashes Per Charge: 440 (400 w/s); 220 (800 w/s)
Features: TTL, HSS, Wi-Fi control
Price: $2,053 (400 w/s); $2,347 (800 w/s)
Battery Price: $289

Dynalite Baja B4

Power is adjustable in 1/10-stop increments through a six-stop power range with flash durations clocking in between 1/12,900-1/500 of a second. The B4 offers an integrated wireless receiver for remote triggering. High-speed sync for Nikon or Canon cameras is available through an optional transmitter. The B4 offers a stroboscopic mode that delivers five, 10 or 15 flashes per second and a five-watt LED modeling lamp.

Output: 400 w/s
Flash Duration at Full Power (t.05): 1/500 sec.
Recycle Times: up to 3.7 seconds
Full Power Flashes Per Charge: 550
Features: HSS, stroboscopic
Price: $599
Battery Price: $168


Dynalite Baja B6

Basically the B4 with some extra oomph, the B6 features an LED display and power control in 1/10th stop increments over a seven-stop range. It takes under five hours to recharge a battery. It uses a 5W LED modeling light. It offers HSS capabilities when using a Nikon or Canon transmitter. A stroboscopic mode lets you choose between 5, 10 or 15 flashes per second. It has a built-in optical slave and a 2.4GHz wireless triggering system. Up to six separate groups of lights can be controlled with 16 user-selected channels per group. The Baja B6 accepts standard Bowens lighting accessories.

Output: 600 w/s
Flash Duration at Full Power (t.05): 1/500 sec.
Recycle Times: .05-4.3 seconds
Full Power Flashes Per Charge: 400
Features: HSS (for Canon), stroboscopic
Price: $749
Battery Price: $168

Profoto B1

We have the B1 to thank for the birth of this flash category. Introduced in 2013, the original blending of speedlite and studio strobe ushered in even greater mobility for high-powered flash photography. In the fall of last year, the light received new firmware that delivered faster shooting in manual mode for Canon cameras. According to Profoto, the quicker pace will be most noticeable for those shooting with the 1D-X. Thanks to better integration with Canon models, it will also be possible to select TTL or manual mode in the camera menu instead of only on the Air Remote itself. You’ll also now have the option to deactivate auto power-off, which before turned off both flashes after 60 minutes of inactivity. The Air Remote display will no longer turn black after 30 seconds of inactivity but will instead dim partially after 20 seconds but stay readable for up to 100 seconds before going dark.

Output: 500 w/s
Flash Duration at Full Power (t.05): 1/1,000
Recycle Times: 0.1-1.9 seconds
Full Power Flashes Per Charge: 220
Features: TTL, HSS, strobo, mini USB for firmware
Price: $2,095
Battery Price: $266

Read the PDN Review of the Profoto B1

Flashpoint XPLOR 600

Power is adjustable over a nine stop range from 1/256 to full power in 1/3 stop increments. You’ll find a 32 channel R2 2.4GHz radio receiver built in for triggering, high speed sync and TTL metering for both Canon and Nikon cameras. The flash can also be trigged via a sync cable or optically. It has a stroboscopic mode and supports flash exposure compensation (FEC) and first or second curtain sync. It has an adjustable 10W LED modeling light and is firmware upgradeable via a micro USB port. The XPLOR 600 accepts Bowens S-mount light modifiers.

Output: 600 w/s
Flash Duration at Full Power (t.01): 1/220 sec.
Recycle Times:  .01-2.5
Full Power Flashes Per Charge: 450
Features: TTL, HSS, micro USB for firmware upgrades
Price: $749
Battery Price: $150

Interfit S1

The flash works with an optional remote for Canon and Nikon cameras ($100) to enable TTL metering. The S1 has a seven stop power range which is calculated in 1/10th stop increments when shooting in TTL mode with +/- 3 stops of exposure compensation and the ability to manual adjust the flash within 1/3 stophen shooting in manual mode, the S1 is controllable in 1/10th stop increments with access to HSS mode for shutter speeds up to 1/8000 sec. You’ll enjoy shutter speeds of 1/250 sec. in normal sync mode. HSS mode uses the top four stops in the S1’s power range and is manually adjustable in 1/3 stop increments. It has a Bowens S-type mount.

Output: 500 w/s
Flash Duration at Full Power (t.01):
Recycle Times: 1/1,000 sec.
Full Power Flashes Per Charge: 350
Features: TTL, HSS, USB for firmware upgrades
Price: $1,000
Battery Price: $200

Read the Rangefinder review of the Interfit S1.

Priolite MBX 500

The light’s HotSync feature enables HSS with Pentax 645z and 645d medium format cameras (up to 1/4000 sec.) as well as Pentax, Canon, Sony and Nikon models at up to 1/8000 sec. Power is adjustable in 1/10 stop increments and the unit packs an LED modeling lamp equivalent to an 80W halogen.
Output: 500 w/s
Flash Duration at Full Power (t.05): 1/4500
Recycle Times: 2.5 sec. at full power
Full Power Flashes Per Charge: 220
Features: HotSyncPrice: $1,649
Battery Price: $175