Paul C Buff has announced the VLX Vagabond Lithium Extreme portable power pack, a new big brother to the very popular Vagabond Mini Lithium pack first released around 3 years ago.
The new VLX with 400W continuous power pure sine wave inverter, provides 2 second full power recycle for a 640WS light, around the cycle rate of two VML’s. At 6lbs the VLX is also a pound lighter than two VML.
The number of full power pops for a 640WS light is still around 500, up a little from the 400 – 500 the VML can produce with a healthy battery. (Extra batteries can always be added for more capacity if needed though).
So the VML do still have the advantage in size, weight, and convenience, while the new VLX offer very solid recycle times, and the ability to run a whole set of lights of one pack if desired (using a power board for extra sockets).
The other main advantage to the new VLX is the LiFePO4 type Lithium battery used, which has a life of up to 10 years, compared to around 2 years for regular NMC Lithium batteries used in many packs including the VML. So the VLX is more expensive initially, though much more economical over a number of years.
The VLX will sell for $399.95, and the extra LiFePO4 batteries are $159.95 (compared to $239.95 for the VML, and $89.95 for the VML battery).
There is only a 120V AC version available this time (no 230V AC). The VLX also provides a much larger metal light stand clamp.
Paul C Buff’s VLX description –
The VLX™ ($399.95 – 6lbs is the 4th generation Vagabond™ compact portable power system for studio flash units. The first production run is built and thoroughly tested/debugged, waiting only on one minor stand-clamp part that is being remade. ETA for shipping is about April 20. Further information, pix, and details will be posted here and at http://www.PaulCBuff.com in the next ten days.
VLX™ employs a BUFF designed 400W continuous power 120VAC 60Hz Pure Sine Wave Current-Limited inverter capable of recycling normally-AC-powered flash units considerably faster than than the 25lb Profoto Batpack, 11lb Innovatronix Mini, Elinchrom Quadra Ranger and others, with up to 5 times as many flash WS per charge, It can operate multi-voltage units at 120VAC. (230V 50Hz units are not being made at this time.)
VLX™ includes a 3-4 hour global charger that runs from 90 to 250VAC, 50/60Hz. VLX™ may thus be operated while charging, in any country, for all day in-studio shooting, or spare batteries may be charged outside the VLX™ unit.
As with all battery power supplies of this sort, Modeling Lamps must be turned off, or replaced with very low wattage lamps for successful operation.
VLX™ typically cycles 640WS in 2 seconds, 1280WS in 4 seconds, 1920WS in 6 seconds, 2560WS in 8 seconds, and 3200WS in 10 seconds, as well as most 1200 to 2400WS power pack systems in 4 to 8 seconds. It employs a very sturdy metal light stand clamp for up to 1-1/2″ poles, and a 2A USB port capable of charging smart phones and tablets.
Typical shots per charge is 1000 full power 320WS pops, 500 pops at 640WS, 250 pops at 1280 seconds – proportional to total WS recycled.
A single VLX™ can operate an entire 4-5 light system (using “Power Bar” extension cords) in the field at usable recycle times, or multiple VLX™ units can be employed for lightning fast shooting and extreme numbers of shots per charge.
A most important part of the design is the quick-change 26.4V 6.4Ah 170Wh LiFePO4 (Iron Phosphate) battery system. This is the latest, and far and away the safest and most durable Lithium made today.
All other systems mentioned use either Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) or LiCoxNiMnzO2 (NMC) Lithium batteries. Depending on battery sizing and recycle speed, these battery types offer typical storage life of about two years and as few as 100 battery recharge cycles before depletion.
Also, SLA batteries characteristically result in longer and longer recycle times (very frustrating) as they discharge, and are easily destroyed if not recharged immediately after use.
LiFePO4 batteries have a shelf life of over ten years, and offer an estimated 1200 to 1500 recharge cycles, and maintain recycle speed throughout their discharge cycle.
While the LiFePO4 battery is somewhat heavier, and initially more expensive, in real world use it can be expected to last from 5 to 10 times as long before needing replacement . . . making it not only the best battery made, but also the cheapest to operate.
A high quality carrying case is optional at $24.95, and is smaller and lighter when loaded than a Canon Rebel case.
Paul Buff points out the VML are –
“capable of recycling normally-AC-powered flash units considerably faster than than the 25lb Profoto Batpack, 11lb Innovatronix Mini, Elinchrom Quadra Ranger and others, with up to 5 times as many flash WS per charge”
Paul does however also mention –
“The only thing close the VLX performance is the $1000 or so Dynalite unit.”
The Dynalite packs are based on the Godox Leadpower LP-800x, which can be purchased from around $840. Though more comparable in cycle rate and continuous output are the smaller LP-450x, which can be purchased from around $680.
Being twice the cycle rate and output the LP-800x are likely the most bang for buck of the Godox packs. Though you can still buy 2 VLX for the price of an LP-800x. And over a couple of lights at least, that should provide roughly similar
cycle rate and continuous output. While having the 2 VLX batteries then provides the advantage of roughly twice the number of pops compared to the one LP-800x. (Edit – the LP-800x cyles 2400WS in 2 seconds – so its seriously fast!)
Having 2 smaller VLX packs also means less cords, and you have a smaller lighter option when travelling light. Not to mention $399 is much more affordable price to get started, or for those only needing one pack of this size.
So although Godox come a lot closer to the VLX in bang for buck offerings than the $1800 Profoto BatPack at least, it looks like Paul C Buff has again ensured the VLX are another product offering the most value for minimum budget (for those lucky enough to be located in the USA at least). And the Vagabond Lithium Extreme are likely to be another very popular option, as the VLM have been over the last 3 years.
Omni Modifier System
The new Omni Modifier system for PCB lights, consists of a long throw 18″ diameter 30° reflector (ideal for sports etc where distances up to around 60′ are required). But then also a a triple layer diffuser cover which converts the reflector to wide a 120° light pattern, which is very even across the face of the diffuser (and therefore across the resulting light pattern provided).
A 20° grid will also be available for the 18″ Omni Reflector.
Paul C Buff’s Omni Reflector Description –
The BUFF OMNI system ($79.95 including 3 layer accessory diffuser sock – shipping about April 20) is a unique multipurpose 18″ diameter reflector system for all BUFF lights – Einstein™, AlienBees™, White Lighting Ultra™ and WLX™, Zap™ and Zeus™
In its raw form, OMNI is a superior long throw reflector that produces an extremely even and powerful 30° pattern producing f32+ @ 10′, ISO100 at 640WS for overpowering or augmenting the sun at working distances up to 20′ or more, eliminating the “Light in your face” look often necessitated with softboxes and umbrellas, while providing a natural blending of ambient and flash.
For arena basketball and other sports, working distances beyond 60′ are practical.
OMNI is designed, unlike most reflectors, such that the rays converge very evenly across the face of the reflector. Thus when the included 3 layer diffusion sock is attached, the result is a perfectly round “softbox” with absolutely even illumination across the face (+/- 1/4 f stop). This is important for achieving beautiful catchlights without hot spots and anomalies in the eyes and on silver and glassware, autos, etc.
The triple diffusion sock spreads the coverage out to a very wide and even 120° circle, and also reduces the output more than a single diffuser so that very close subject placement can be used for moody low key lighting at shallow depth of field.
This configuration will likely be your go-to modifier for most studio lighting from groups to head shots, high key or low key and product shots. Many pros consider the 18″ size ideal for specularity control and pop, without the sometimes mushy overly soft effect of softboxes or the hard shadows of smaller reflectors.
Finally, an optional 20° honeycomb grid ($79.95 – estimated ETA May availability) can be used on top of the diffuser, or without the diffuser, for Hollywood lighting and for selective and dramatic moody low key shots.
Another new PCB product also to be available soon is the 14″ x 60″ quick folding stripbox.
Price and Availability
The Vagabond Lithium Extreme (VLX) will sell for $399.95, and the extra LiFePO4 batteries $159.95.
Expected shipping approximately April 20th.
18″ Omni Reflector and triple layer diffusion cover – $79.95. And 20° grid also $79.95.
Expected shipping approximately April 20th for the reflector, and May for the grids.
14″ x 60″ folding stripbox price approx $145.
Anticipated delivery to begin by June 15.
All only available directly from Paul C Buff USA.