The TR-120, up until now only sold in China, was promising not only to be the first inexpensive bare bulb speedlight, but also the first TTL enabled bare bulb speedlight!
EDIT – the Polaroid version sold like hot cakes on Amazon for the first few batches, but there were a number of quality control issues. They stopped selling them for a short while but are now listed again. We have no idea if, or what, has been updated, but they continue to sell constantly, and are now listed Amazon fulfilled.
The TR-120 has TTL, Manual, Multi, and S1, S2 slave modes.
But even regardless of TTL the TR-120 is a fully equipped manual flash ideal for off camera use with –
- Full manual power levels from 1/128 to full in 1/3rd stop adjustments.
- External battery port (Nikon socket, in both Canon and Nikon versions)
- PC sync port
- S1 & S2 optic slave modes
- High Guide Number GN54@ ISO100, 105mm
- 3.5 second recycle
- 360 degree swivel head
This is a regular speedlite with a bare bulb head added, so its powered by 4 AA batteries inside like most other speedlites. The bare bulb should, at least to some degree, also reduce the overheating issue regular speedlites face, allowing more flashes in row or higher power levels to be used.
As an on camera TTL flash the Triopo even appears to have good compatibility with most Canon and Nikon digital SLR cameras.
- Focus assist light
- Full 360 degree swivel, and 90 degree tilt.
What the TR-120 doesn’t have is HSS (which you couldn’t expect for a flash this price), or optic wireless master or slave modes for the Canon or Nikon system. Manual and TTL radio triggers are fast leaving the limited optic systems obsolete though anyway.
Its highly likely most manual radio triggers will work fine, the very interesting question will be how TTL triggers like the YN-622C and YN-622N etc cooperate with the TR-120 (possibly providing inexpensive remote manual control as well).
What also makes the price of the TR-120 even more impressive, is the fact that bare bulb flashes require some extra gear. The bulbs themselves separately can cost around $50 alone. With the TR-120 you also get the standard reflector, diffuser, bag, strap and base stand.
There is an external High Voltage battery port in the front of the flash (both Triopo and Polaroid versions) , and that uses the Nikon style socket for both Canon and Nikon TTL compatible versions of the flash.
Triopo even have their own battery pack available with twin ports (not many details on that as yet), but the standard Nikon compatible 8 AA cell packs should work fine as well.
The Chinese price for the TR-120 flash unit is around US$130, while the kit with battery pack is aproximately $280.
Unlike the original Sunpak 120j (which the Triopo was no doubt named after), the TR-120 is just a regular speedlight with no extra capacitor added. So if it had the regular Fresnel speedlite head it would be fairly similar in power to a YN-560 III etc.
But the Bare bulb disperses the light producing a softer more even coverage when used in umbrellas and softboxes etc. So you have to expect the light output is going to be lower than a regular speedlight, though it is a nicer quality of light.
If you look at it this way, using a stofen style cap or flip down wide angle diffuser on a regular speedlite is going to cut the light down more than this bare bulb version will. So comparing similar light quality the bare bulb is really ahead in light output.
So the Triopo TR-120 (or Polariod PL-135) is very likely the start of the bare bulb speedlite revolution. And its really started with a bang!, packing a whole lot into an incredibly low price. Don’t get me wrong, this is certainly no Godox Witstro, but its going to allow a lot of people to get started with inexpensive and compact bare bulb flash units.
The TR-120 is currently only available as the Polariod PL-135 on Amazon (with local US shipping ) but these won’t last long –