Jinbei have released an alternative the very popular PCB Vagabond Mini Lithium (VML) portable power pack for studio lights, in the Energon EN-350 inverter. And they are now available from around $298, with shipping included, which is really not that far off the price of the VML (once you add in shipping).
It’s been well over 2 years since the compact and lightweight VML Lithium power pack was first released. And with its huge popularity its a little surprising its taken this long for alternatives to start to emerge. Even now though for US customers the VML will remain very hard to beat considering the high level of service PCB offers for the very low price. The one other recent alternative available has been the Photogenic Ion, which at $399 is not quite as competitively priced.
So the big advantage of the Jinbei EN-350 will mainly be for people outside the US who simply haven’t had any comparable alternatives on offer until now.
The EN-350 has almost identical specifications to the VML, 14,4V 8800mAh Lithium battery, and a total weight just under 2kg for the complete battery and inverter. Continuous output is 200W and Peak power 600W.
This is enough capacity for –
- 450 flashes at full power for 1 x 600Ws flash head
- 600 flashes at full power for 1 x 400Ws flash head
- 800 flashes at full power for 1 x 300Ws flash head
Recycle time will be around 3 seconds for a single 600Ws flash. And 2 flashes can be also be used, though recycle would increase, and the number of pops would halve with 2 flashes.
Again like the VML the EN-350 has a removable battery pack pack which can be swapped over as needed, even while the lights are still plugged into the inverter.
The battery packs can be charged via a socket in the top of the inverter case, or directly via the socket in the battery pack. So one battery pack can then be charging while another is being used. Or multiple packs can be charged at once (using extra chargers). Charging time is 3 to 4 hours.
The EN-350 has a battery level indicator, 30A fuse, and a USB socket for powering other devices. This can be extremely handy for powering a laptop or charging other batteries etc on location.
Like the VML, the EN-350 comes in two versions, a 110V version for US lights, and a 220V version for lights designed for the UK, Europe, Asia and Australia etc. The 220V version comes with the Australian/Asian V plug sockets shown below, so UK and European users may need to use an adapter plug.
Unlike the VML, the 220V version of the EN-350 will be the one most readily available, because as mentioned earlier the VML will still be very hard to compete with in the USA (where the 110V version is mostly used).
The EN-350 comes with charger, carry strap, stand clamp, and bag –
Attention to the stand clamp has been a weak point of the VML, and the EN-350 is actually looking to have some similar issues. The clamp shown below, and in most of the images, is only meant to hold lightweight items which have a belt hook, so otherwise light enough to hang on your belt. Not really 2kg battery packs like the EN-350.
The obvious solution there would be to add a second clamp of the same kind, mounted down lower on the pack as well. But that may not be so easy to add a bolt from the inside of the case for the second clamp.
Some images like these from Singapore retailer The Studio Outfitters, show a Global Truss clamp used instead –
The Truss clamp would certainly be a more solid solution. And they are very inexpensive, so it would be quite easy to swap over to a Truss clamp if needed. The only catch there is you need a clamp close to the tube diameter of the section of the stand you intent to clamp to.
There are three Global Truss clamp sizes available, but the largest is 2″ in diameter, which is likely too large for most stands. So 3/4″ and 1 1/3″ are likely the common options. I would expect its the 1 1/3″ Jr Clamp size used above.
- Mini 360-F14 – 3/4″ (19mm) diameter – Amazon
- Jr Clamp – 1 1/3″ (34mm) diameter – Amazon – B&H
- Mini 360 – 2″(51mm) diameter – Amazon – B&H
The compact VML power pack is only half of the winning bang for buck combination from PCB though. The other half is the 640Ws Einstein monolight, which is also very hard to beat for the price and service offered by PCB. The Einstein features IGBT circuitry which provides very fast flash durations for freezing action, as well as very good color consistency across the power range. Not to mention compact size, and low weight at just 2kg.
So for an Einstein alternative outside of the US, the new Godox QT-600 is currently likely the one to look out for.
Price and Availability –
The Jinbei Energon EN-350 is available now from around $330 on Ebay
Jinbei – Website