Chinese manufacturer CononMark have revealed what may be the first TTL and HSS enabled monolight available, with the coming K4S Leopard 400WS portable DC strobe and Lithium-Ion battery pack.
Profoto were recently the first with a TTL monolight available, in the B1 fully wireless strobe. Though the B1 does not have HSS (High Speed Sync) available as yet. HSS is expected to come eventually, though it may be some way off at this point.
The progression towards more automated TTL and HSS enabled monolights is definitely well under way now though. And this poses the intriguing question, of whether experienced TTL trigger manufacturers like YongNuo will possibly go straight to TTL capable units for their first studio light offerings.
CononMark though have a history of releasing lights offering features like HSS, which simply do not work at the time of first release.
The CononMark flash units themselves have a pretty solid track record of being fairly well made and reliable. But CononMark are not up to speed with TTL and HSS trigger systems to the level of Phottix, YongNuo, and Pixel etc.
So TTL and HSS capability is a pretty ambitious undertaking with the K4S. Though CononMark will no doubt get there eventually (even if the TTL is possibly not right from the beginning).
The radio trigger system built into many of the recent ConomMark lights is their 3G system (standing for the 3GHz radio band). And the K4S will require Canon or Nikon dedicated TTL and HSS enabled versions of the 3G transmitter units (to allow full function with the strobe).
If you may not be familiar with CononMark lights already, they have been one of the most prominent compact DC powered portable monolights available over the last 5 years or so. And sold under a number of large brands like Impact, Photoflex, and Phottix etc.
Although the many CononMark units may look the same though, there are a number of variations. So units sold under different brands may not actually be the same models. Flash durations vary widely between some of CononMark’s models for example.
A Little Background to the K4S HSS / TTL-
In 2013 StroBeam (a UK company, unfortunately recently out of business) released a HSS enabled version of the CononMark lights, the Strobeam D4S HSS IGBT.
Although the D4 was only named as a HSS enabled flash, it already had TTL details showing on the flashes LCD screen. There was no TTL function working, but the camera settings like aperture etc, were sent to and displaying on the strobe already.
So it was quite obvious even a year ago that CononMark had intentions of providing a full TTL version of the light eventually. At first reviewers reported the HSS feature was not working at all with the D4 (and other CononMark flashes). But since then the HSS function is now generally reported to be working well.
Though as far as I am aware the HSS function was only available at full power on the strobe. Which indicates that was using the long duration method of attaining higher sync speeds, and not rapid flash pulses like a speedlite uses for FP HSS. The K4S is stated to work in HSS at lower power levels though, so it should be pulsing the flash like a speedlite.
The other interesting thing about the StroBeam D4 is that it actually had the battery pack attached to the top of the Strobe (as seen above). So the complete unit was fully cordless, in the same vein as the Profoto B1.
Where as CononMark have stuck with the traditional external battery pack with the K4S for now.
Otherwise take away the square case of the D4, and the CononMark K4S Leopard has much the same interface. There is a 3.5mm sync socket on the right side of the case (not seen bellow).
The K4S has a lightweight (775g) Lithium-Ion battery pack, capable of 650 full power pops with the 400WS light.
Recycle time of 3.2 seconds at full power.
And the batteries are exchangeable on the base of the pack.
CononMark have persisted with the less common Comet modifier mount on the D4S, rather than the Bowen’s S-Type mount which has become pretty much the default international standard.
CononMark have made some S-Type mount versions of their strobes now though, so the K4S could possibly get one in the future. If not Comet to S-Type adapters are available anyway.
As with most CononMark lights, the K4S comes with a full metal case and accessories.
Like many of the current CononMark lights, the K4S also features a 10W LED modelling light.
Detailed specifications, or any real instructions or documentation can be hard to come by sometimes with CononMark lights. Other brands reselling them generally provide their own details.
Specs Provided –
Provided the K4S TTL function operates correctly, ConanMark may be first with a TTL and HSS enabled monolight. And likely a pretty decent portable light for the money going by previous CononMark units.
Small lights are only getting more popular, though many people are looking towards an integrated system at this stage, which can combine a TTL flash on-camera if needed, or with other TTL speedlites etc off-camera. Which still leaves the CononMark 3G trigger system a little out on their own.
It remains to be seen if ConanMark will retain their prominence in the compact light market, moving forward with the new K4S TTL and HSS enabled strobe. Or if they may be swallowed up by companies like YongNuo who can offer a much broader integrated system. Or the by recent force that is Godox (who ironically also only have a fairly basic trigger system at this stage).
And more details on the K4S Leopard in the Alibiba listing.
Price and Availability –
Price and availability of the CononMark D4S are yet to be announced.
Other CononMark flashes models can be found on Ebay
K4S Leopard – Alibiba
CononMark – Website.