I’m always on the lookout for products that offer an innovative solution to common problems. For instance, we all want studio quality light when we’re on location, but no one wants the hassle of cords and extra weight. I take a studio strobe and external battery pack with me on all location sessions, so when I heard about the Badger Unleashed TTL/HSS 250Ws wireless strobe, I was intrigued.
Before my first trial run, I fully charged the batteries, which takes 90 minutes. I put the batteries into the Badger Unleashed units, turned them on to make sure they worked, and tested them with a client a few hours later. If you know how to use studio lights, you won’t have much of a learning curve, at least with the lights on manual mode. I completed two studio sessions on one charge with plenty of battery power left to spare. (The specs claim 430 full-power flashes per charge.)
The lights have a 9-stop power range, and the power can be adjusted from 250 watt-seconds (Ws) down to 1Ws in 1/10-stop increments. The maximum sync speed in HSS mode is 1/8,000 second (normal sync mode maxes out at 1/250 second), and the recycle time is 1.5 seconds at full power. That’s a little slower than my corded studio lights but reasonable for a battery-powered flash. The Badger Unleashed has a 15-watt daylight-balanced LED modeling light that you can use as a continuous light source. It maxes out at 1,250 lumens and can be adjusted proportionally to your flash power settings.
The Badger Unleashed uses a Bowens S-Type mount for modifiers. There’s also an umbrella receiver if you prefer. I didn’t have any compatible light modifiers, so Interfit sent along two soft boxes for the review. It was reasonably easy to attach the modifiers, even given my unfamiliarity with the S-Type mount.
In keeping with a cord-free goal, the Badger Unleashed is compatible with all Interfit TTL and manual remotes. So, if you’re new to the Interfit product family, make sure to budget accordingly. TTL remotes are available for Canon, Nikon, and Sony, and a manual mode remote is available for other brands. The flash unit can be used with a PC-Sync cord, but that defeats the purpose of being cordless, right? It’s worth noting that when Interfit’s second-generation remotes are released later this year, the Badger Unleashed will be able to function in stroboscopic mode—that’s up to 90 flashes at 99Hz, according to the manual.
My first few trial runs with the Badger Unleashed were done in manual mode, and I had no problems whatsoever. The images were well exposed except for the few times I took a second picture before the flash had recycled.
When I was ready to give the TTL and HSS a shot, I switched modes on the Badger Unleashed. Being able to use high-speed sync was amazing. I fully enjoyed capturing images of my clients playing on a swing set with a faster shutter speed than regular studio strobes could handle. After my clients left, I kept going, having fun creating a series of test shots to see what the Badger Unleashed could do. During this phase I discovered that you can shoot in manual mode with or without HSS, and the same is possible in TTL mode as well.
Overall it was a pleasure to use the Badger Unleashed lights, and I was a little sad to send them back. It was refreshing to use a lightweight, portable flash setup that could deliver consistent, professional results. The learning curve on these lights is negligible, and the charge time is fantastic. I had no issues creating quality images on the fly whether I used the Badger Unleashed in TTL or manual mode.
The Badger Unleashed flash unit is only 5x5x7 inches and includes a drop-in lithium-ion battery that charges in less than two hours, has high-speed sync and TTL capabilities, and weighs less than 4 pounds. The Interfit Badger Unleashed TTL/HSS retails for $349.99. Spare batteries are available for $59.99, and remotes range from $79.99 to $99.99.
Betsy Finn is a portrait artist in Dexter, Michigan.
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