When you work on location with strobes you need consistent color temperature, dependable batteries, and control of your light output. New from Westcott, the FJ400 Strobe (400Ws) and FJ-X2m Universal Wireless Flash Trigger is an impressive duo that dominates in all three areas.
The best part is the trigger’s compatibility with many cameras so you’re not locked into a brand or model. The FJ400 strobe and the FJ-X2m trigger are TTL and HSS compatible with models from Canon (including EOS R and RP), Nikon, Sony (with adapter), Fujifilm, Panasonic Lumix, and Olympus cameras. Beyond that, manual mode is available for any camera with a hot shoe mount.
Let’s talk power first. With over 480 full-power flashes per charge, Westcott’s AC/DC lithium polymer batteries can easily last through a standard portrait session. If you’re working a full-day wedding, these batteries recharge in just 2.5 hours, so you could bring a few to rotate into use. If you have access to an outlet and your battery is above 25%, the strobe unit can trickle charge while you’re shooting. Each battery has an LED indicator so you won’t be suddenly caught with a depleted spare battery. The biggest downside is weight—each is a hefty 1.5 pounds. And if you have small hands you may find it cumbersome to remove the battery from the strobe. It’s large and lacks any grooves to hold onto for removal.
The FJ400 offers impressive light output control: HSS up to 1/8000s, TTL, and Rear Curtain Sync. The unit has a 0.5-0.9 second recycle time, and a nine f-stop range in 0.1 and 1.0 increments. I experimented with various settings in my studio before going out on location, and everything worked as expected. On location I used the strobe in TTL mode to see how it performed on auto. Having typically used manual strobes on location in the past, I enjoyed being able to focus more on my subject and less on the technical side of creating the images.
Everything about this unit is elegantly designed. The menu options are easy to navigate, and I loved being able to read the output on the strobe from across the room. The FJ400 includes self-monitoring cooling fans, so you don’t have to worry about the lights overheating. The unit takes Bowens ring mounts and has a built-in umbrella mount on the bracket. My only caveat, again, is an issue of ergonomics. I found it slightly awkward to remove the ring mount while pressing the release button.
The FJ-X2m Universal Wirelesss Flash Trigger has a range of 985 feet, is Bluetooth compatible, and has a battery that lasts 200,000 flashes per charge cycle. Impressive.
You can work with 16 channels (0-15) and six groups. Using the app via Bluetooth gives you access to 10 groups. The FJ-X2m is intuitive to use, but if you’re like me and tend to dive in without reading directions, here’s a tip: Select the correct camera model before getting started. Sony users will need to use the included adapter mount for the trigger to work properly.
Overall, I enjoyed working with the FJ400 and the FJ-X2m duo. It was easy to use right out of the box, and while there are many settings to customize, the strobe and trigger don’t require a lot of technical attention while you’re shooting if you set it to TTL. In terms of consistent color temperature, I noticed no color temperature variance across any of my images. The batteries lasted well beyond what I expected, and I absolutely loved working with this equipment on location. This system isn’t the smallest battery-powered strobe offering out there, but it is consistent, portable, and powerful. For me, the key question is always, Would I use this equipment when photographing my clients? The answer is a resounding yes.
The FJ400 Strobe 400Ws with AC/DC battery includes a magnetic 5-inch reflector, magnetic CCT gel set, and a Rapid Box Switch Bowens insert. It’s available in four plug types for different geographic standards. It retails for $569.90. The FJ-X2m Universal Wireless Flash Trigger retails for $99.90. More AC/DC lithium polymer batteries can be purchased for $149.90 each.
Betsy Finn, M.Photog.,Cr. is a photographer in Michigan.