The new Jinbei EN-350 portable Lithium power pack recently discussed, offers a similarly priced alternative to the popular VML power pack, but the other half of Paul C Buff’s popular combination is the Einstein monolight. There haven’t been many alternatives available to match the Einstein’s features and low price, but the recent Godox QT-600 may actually offer a reasonably comparable alternative.
There are so many studio monolights on the market now, and more constantly being released all the time. But models with any real stand out features are still pretty few and far between. Up until now I haven’t seen any that come close to the Einstein’s ability at anywhere near the price.
Like the (640Ws) Einstein, the (600Ws) Godox QT-600 offers –
- Very fast flash duration’s for freezing motion
- Very good color consistency across the power range
- Fast recycle times of 1.2 seconds at full power
- Accurate power consistency
- A wide power range down to low power levels
- And fast and easy remote manual power control
The Einstein and QT-600 both achieve these features by using IGBT circuitry in the flash design. So they are basically like very scaled up speedlights. But retaining these features is not easy when scaling up to much higher power levels like these 600Ws units provide. That’s where the Einstein has been a breakthrough, at least at the very low price point for a flash with this capability.
In the US its very hard compete with Paul C Buffs low price model of selling direct to the public (with exceptional customer service). But particularly for those outside the US the Godox QT-600 may now at least offers something in the way of comparable alternative.
How does the QT-600 compare to the Einstein?
The Einstein really has an advantage from the start because it provides 2 operating modes, one optimized for color consistency, and the other optimized for fast flash duration. The QT-600 is operating in just the one mode, so it has to make a compromise between the two, and the fast flash duration is where Godox have made some compromises.
There is a good review here by Phil Harbord, an electrical engineer in the UK, who has the equipment needed to measure the flash durations etc. Note – the SF-600 shown there is the same unit as the Godox QT-600, but sold by Lencarta in the UK as the SF-600 (or Super Fast 600).
Power Range –
The Einstein has an exceptional 9 stop power range. That’s power down to 1/256, or just 2.5Ws, and in fine 1/10th stop adjustments. That range is a really important advantage with a 640Ws monolight, as it means you don’t have to double up, buying lower power units as well for when 640Ws is just too much light.
The QT-600 does also have a very reasonable 8 stop power range though too (down to 1/128th). Again (mostly) in 1/10th stop increments. But the QT-600 only has 50 increments in total. The power adjustment goes from 5.0 (lowest power) to 10.0 (full power). So the first 4 stops from 10.0 down to 6.0 are in 1/10th stop increments as expected. But then from 6.0 down through to 5.0 the power drops right down the last 3 stops. So this is a slight compromise compared to the Einstein, but the important thing is the lower power levels are still possible.
Flash Duration –
Einstein T.1 flash duration’s [see chart]
- Action Mode – 1/588 (full power) – down to 1/13514 (minimum power).
- Color Mode – 1/588 (full power) – down to 1/8000 (minimum power).
QT-600 T.1 flash duration’s [see chart]
- From – 1/500 (full power) – down to 1/5400 (minimum power).
So taking into account the QT-600 goes down one less stop in power level compared to the Einstein, the QT-600’s T.1 times are very similar to the Einstein in Color Mode, actually a little better at levels below full power. In action mode the Einstein has the advantage (at the cost of some color change).
Lencarta show some test reviews showing practical results to be close to 1/10,000th shutter speeds. I don’t know how much you can really take from that, but duration’s from 1/2400 at 1/4 power, down to 1/54000 (although not ultra fast) should still be fine for most action freezing purposes.
Color consistency –
The Einstein in Color mode has an excellent +/- 50°K color consistency across the complete power range.
The QT-600 reports to be not far behind, at most still within +/- 100°K, which is excellent for a flash like this.
Power Consistency –
Both flashes report excellent results with power level consistency between shots.
Recycle Time –
The QT-600 has the advantage here with an exceptional 1.2 seconds at full power.
Compared to a very respectable 1.7 seconds for the Einstein.
Weight and Size –
The Einstein has the weight and size advantage, being a very compact and lightweight 2kg.
Compared to 3.1kg, and longer length for the QT-600.
The QT-600 uses the very common Bowen’s style mount, where the Einstein uses the Balcar style mount (which have had some issues with heavier modifiers slipping off). The QT-600 also has a solid alloy body and swivel compared to the Einstein’s plastic.
Interface and Remote Control –
The QT-600 is much more simplistic, and I wouldn’t necessarily call that a disadvantage. This probably comes down to personal preference, but the Godox interface and remotes are very simple and user friendly. There is just fast simple power dials for the modelling light and flash power. With a clear digital power level display reading from 5.0 to 10.0.
The Godox radio triggers (and remote manual power control) used with the QT-600 are the same units used in the Godox Witstro portable bare bulb lights. These may not be the most advanced radio triggers, but they are very reliable, and again the user interface is very fast and user friendly. Compared to most speedlight remote power controls at least, they are much more simple and practical to adjust power levels quickly.
A large part of my own interest in the QT-600, being a user of the Godox Witstro, is the prospect of using the same convenient radio trigger and remote manual power control for all the units. There is one catch here though, as the QT-600 uses the 5.0 to 10.0 power level system, while the Witstro lights use 1/2 + 0.3 style power adjustments (from 1/128 to 1/1).
So 2 transmitter units are needed to practically adjust both lights.
To sum up, the Godox QT-600 may not be quite a match for the ultra fast flash durations the Einsteins are capable of, but they do look to offer a reasonable alternative if you are after decent action stopping durations.
But even as a regular studio light option the QT-600 certainly stands out from many of the other options, providing -
- High power at 600Ws
- Excellent color consistency
- Very fast recycle times
- Accurate power consistency
- A wide power range down to low power levels
- Convenient remote manual power control
So even if fast flash duration’s are not a priority, the color and power consistency, power range, fast recycle times, and simple remote power control, are most of the very desirable features you would hope for in a good studio light.
300Ws and 400Ws versions are available as well, but the 600Ws would be the stand out (as flash durations are faster at the same amount of light ouput).
There are 200-240V, and 100-120V compatible versions, but the 200-240V version is likely to be most readily available (as the 100-120V version will still have a tough competition with the PCB Einstein in the US).
QT-600 Specifications -
|Guide Number (m ISO 100) . .||65||76|
|Color Temperature||5600 ±100K|
|Operating Voltage||AC200-240V/50Hz or AC100-120V/60Hz|
|Power Output Control||50 steps from 5.0-10.0 (1/128-1/1)|
|Triggering Mode||Sync cord, Slave triggering, Test button,Wireless control port|
Price and Availability -
The QT-600 are currently available from as low as $390 on Ebay, direct from HK with shipping included.
The Instruction Manual can be seen HERE.
Godox – Website