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Old 21st of February 2011 (Mon)   #1
The Loft Studios
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Default ::My Experience with the Vagabond Mini Lithium::

Hi All,
It seems that there are far and few people who use the Photogenic 1250DR's.....
I have 10 of them in my studio and in the past it's been pretty difficult to use them on location due to their digital circuitry. About a year and a half ago, I purchased the Tronix Explorer XT Power Supply figuring that I could use it on location. And although it worked fine I was ONLY able to get less than 85 FULL power pops (500ws) from it. I was very disappointed considering that other "digital" strobes (Elinchrom) were getting well over 300-400 FULL power pops. And although I realized that analog strobes get even more pops, that wasn't an option for me since I didn't own that type of equipment. And although I borrowed a friend's Photogenic 1500SL Studio Strobe (analog type strobe), it barely gave me a little over 100 FULL pops (600ws) and another fellow photographer of mine who owns the Explorer XT has the analog Photogenic 1250 (slider version) and recorded a little less than 100 FULL power pops. So I'm thinking, "What's up with this. Does the Tronix Explorer just doesn't play well with Photogenics?" And although Photogenics currently has their own Portable Battery Supply currently in the works (being field tested as we speak) they are keeping a very tight lid on this project. It's suppose to be geared "specifically" towards their digital line of strobes. Technical support says that they "may" officially announce the product at PMA in September (too long of a wait for me). Which brings me to the point of this thread.

Trust me when I say that I am not a big fan of Paul C. Buff and "most" of his products, let alone a "Fanboi". But I do feel that I am a fair person when it comes to the use and judgement of his products. And when I say that the Vagabond Mini Lithium is the "Real Deal", trust and believe my words. When no other product has yet to deliver when it comes to Photogenics, Paul C. Buff has. And I realize that Paul is in a unique position. He alone has the ability to keep his company on the cutting edge of photographic technology (or at least has the advantage to be one of the few {or one} to bring it to market) because he basically controls and has TOTAL "say so" as to what he wants designed and manufactured. Whereby other companies such as Photogenic, Elinchrom, Speedotron, etc... (I'm pretty sure, but not positive) may have some sort of committee or department that will determine whether or not to pursue an R&D commitment. And once approved, it still may take a couple of years for that product to come to fruition. Anyway, back to my point. I was able to get my hands on a loaner Vagabond Mini Lithium (from a fellow photographer) and these were my findings.....


Photogenic 1250DR (500ws)
I wanted to do approximately 10 POPS per minute which comes out to 1 POP every 6 seconds
•Recorded the first 6 initial recycle times of 3.7 seconds
•At about 70 POPS, the Power Indicator drops to 1/2 Power :: Recorded the next 6 POPS with a recycle time of 3.7 seconds
•At about 90 POPS, the Fan on the VML comes on :: Recorded the next 6 POPS with a recycle time of 3.7 seconds
•At about 120 POPS, the Power Indicator drops to 1/4 Power :: Recorded the next 6 POPS with a recycle time of 4.7 seconds
•At about 290 POPS, the Power Indicator drops to "No Lights" appearing :: Recorded the next 6 POPS with a recycle time of 5.0 seconds
•AT THIS POINT AND TIME, I'M SO HAPPY AND ESTACTIC, I JUST CAN'T HOLD MYSELF TOGETHER!!! So, I do another 10 POPS to make it an even 300 FULL POWER 500ws POPS
•I decided to give the VML a 15 minutes rest figuring that even I would never do 300 FULL POWER POPS every 6 seconds for 30 minutes.
•VML is "Super Warm" to the touch..... not "HOT"! I could easily hold this unit in my hands with no problem
•After 15 minutes rest, I turn back on the VML and the 1/4 Power Indicator comes on :: Recorded the next 6 POPS with a recycle time of 3.9 seconds
•After 6 POPS the 1/4 Power Indicator goes off again :: Recorded the next 6 POPS with a recycle time of 4.1 seconds
•After 20 POPS from turning on the VML again, the Fan comes on :: Recorded the next 6 POPS with a recycle time of 4.1 seconds
•After 112 POPS the VML SHUTS DOWN.....
•After a 5 minute rest, I turn the VML back on and was able to get 3 more FULL POWER POPS before it SHUT OFF again..... :: Recorded the remaining 3 POPS with a recycle time of 4.2 seconds
•VML is "Super Warm" to the touch..... not "HOT"! I could easily hold this unit in my hands with no problem


CONCLUSION:
Now, according to Paul C. Buff, the Einstein Unit was able to get 445 FULL POWER POPS in 10 second increments whereby I was able to get 412 FULL POWER POPS in 6 second increments. I feel that it's very possible that I could have achieve approximately the same number if I had done my test in 10 second increments. I also feel that it's possible that I may have gotten close to 500 FULL POWER POPs in a "real world" situation, meaning that if I were shooting a real subject, typically, I'd do between 30-50 exposures, then stop (either because I was done with that outfit or we would move to another location. So, this would give the VML time to rest in between uses, which means it possible that I would have gotten more POPS out of it. And I chose to use FULL POWER POPS because that would be my "EXTREME" situation. We all know by simply doing the math (theoretically) the POPS would double as the power of the Unit was lessend (in my case 500ws = 400 POPS :: 250ws = 800 POPS :: 125ws = 1600 POPS :: 62ws = 3200 POPS, ect...) I was able to get a continuous 300 FULL POWER POPS using the Photogenic 1250DR Digital Studio Strobe (500ws) with a 15 minute rest and continue with another 112 FULL POWER POPS. Now, to many of you this may mean nothing, but to those of us who use the Photogenic 1250DR units, this is nothing short of a MIRACLE. Why? Well, I'm not an electrical engineer, but let me try to explain what someone who told me (who just happens to be and who knows how Photogenics works compared to other models). From what I understand, Photogenics is a PURE digital system, it works from a circuit board that is digital whereby others such as Elinchrom, Calumet Genesis, etc.... are not PURE digital units. Their readouts "may be" digital and people look at them as being digital units but they are not. They are still analog units with just simply digital readouts. Now, this is just what I was told. As I said I'm not an engineer, nor do I understand all this crap. I am just a photographer by trade and have been for the last 25 years. Maybe someone can explain this better if I'm "buggering" this explanation up or using the wrong terminology. But anyway, I just order 3 VML's and am very excited about this product and trust and believe when I say that after being in this industry for 25 years, there has NOT been too many products that got me "excited"..... but this is definitely one of those products!

And one last comment, I did try to connect 2 Photogenic 1250DR's to the VML (right before the 15 minute break) and both units turn on and cycle up. But when they were fired, both fired..... but 1 recycled properly (about 6-7 seconds) and the other started blinking and firing continuously at like a low power type flash. However, after about 5-6 seconds of doing that it recycled back up within 6-7 seconds and both were ready to fire again. I fired them both once more and the same thing happened again. I did this twice more, and twice more the same thing happened. So it's obvious that only 1 Photogenic 1250DR can be connected to the VML at a time!

Thanks for your time.....
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Last edited by The Loft Studios : 21st of February 2011 (Mon) at 01:48.
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Old 21st of February 2011 (Mon)   #2
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Default Re: ::My Experience with the Vagabond Mini Lithium::

Cool, I'll order one today, and maybe I'll have it shipped to me in time for it to be my Christmas present!
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Old 21st of February 2011 (Mon)   #3
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Default Re: ::My Experience with the Vagabond Mini Lithium::

Quote:
Originally Posted by MSIGuy View Post
Cool, I'll order one today, and maybe I'll have it shipped to me in time for it to be my Christmas present!
I just so happen to order 3 of them a couple of weeks ago and I asked the lady who took my order what is time line I'm looking at and she said about 6-8 weeks from the time you place your order. Which sounds about right to me from all of the current people I know who just received theirs a couple of weeks ago that were ordered around early to mid-December.....
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Old 21st of February 2011 (Mon)   #4
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Default Re: ::My Experience with the Vagabond Mini Lithium::

Very interesting and thank you for the report Mark.

Something sounds wrong. What is so different in the technology to cause you to get so few pops from the Explorer XT? When performance suffers with an XT there is glitching and the power relays flip but the draw or number of pops doesn't decrease.

Have you plugged other strobes in to the XT to see how if performs? I just haven't heard of this before and I know a lot of people using Innovatronix batteries will all types of lights.
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Old 21st of February 2011 (Mon)   #5
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Default Re: ::My Experience with the Vagabond Mini Lithium::

How much are these things and why such a long wait?
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Old 21st of February 2011 (Mon)   #6
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Default Re: ::My Experience with the Vagabond Mini Lithium::

Very interesting post, Mark. Curious, isn't it, that the Explorer XT performed so poorly. In testing with my Vagabond Mini Lithium, I was able to get 474 full power pops from an Elinchrom 600RX triggered every 15 seconds by an intervalometer.

The VML does appear to be "the real deal" and even a non-fanboy of PCB (both man and company) such as myself has no trouble acknowledging that fact.

Dave F.
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Old 21st of February 2011 (Mon)   #7
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Default Re: ::My Experience with the Vagabond Mini Lithium::

I have ordered one of them late January and I hope I get one by March end. Would be nice setup with just AB400 and medium SB on a roller stand for outdoor shoots.
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Old 21st of February 2011 (Mon)   #8
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Default Re: ::My Experience with the Vagabond Mini Lithium::

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonK View Post
How much are these things and why such a long wait?
That's just the way Paul C. Buff works... Announce a product in 2009, take orders in 2010, delay until 2011, fill first orders 2012, and if any customer complains about it, oh boy, watch out, Paul C. Buff will call you a whiny bitch and accuse you of hating him no matter what he does.
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Old 21st of February 2011 (Mon)   #9
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Default Re: ::My Experience with the Vagabond Mini Lithium::

Quote:
Originally Posted by MSIGuy View Post
That's just the way Paul C. Buff works... Announce a product in 2009, take orders in 2010, delay until 2011, fill first orders 2012,
To be fair, the VML was announced last year IIRC and shipped early this year. His tends to give too much visibility into his development process unfortunately...problems do happen as part of regular engineering (been doing that for over 10yrs, so I've seen a lot of pretty weird stuff and most companies don't announce stuff until stuff is in the warehouse to ship...

I'm not surprised two Photogenics "crash" on the VML...they probably can't deal w/ the brownout too well, but surprisingly well for gear so old. Ditto the Speedotron Force10 heads w/ their 386 processor...
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Old 21st of February 2011 (Mon)   #10
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Default Re: ::My Experience with the Vagabond Mini Lithium::

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Loft Studios View Post
I just so happen to order 3 of them a couple of weeks ago and I asked the lady who took my order what is time line I'm looking at and she said about 6-8 weeks from the time you place your order. Which sounds about right to me from all of the current people I know who just received theirs a couple of weeks ago that were ordered around early to mid-December.....
6-8 weeks is their typical response for any backordered product. Order a product from them and they'll quote a 6-8 week wait. Wait a month and call to check on the status and it's 6-8 weeks from now. Call 3 months from order date and projected shipping date is still 6-8 weeks away.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tetrode View Post
Very interesting post, Mark. Curious, isn't it, that the Explorer XT performed so poorly. In testing with my Vagabond Mini Lithium, I was able to get 474 full power pops from an Elinchrom 600RX triggered every 15 seconds by an intervalometer.

The VML does appear to be "the real deal" and even a non-fanboy of PCB (both man and company) such as myself has no trouble acknowledging that fact.

Dave F.
I wonder if Innovatronix has QC issues or perhaps the problem is related to their inverters or maybe it's just a combination of other factors.

The VML is a solid product but it appears that it's only good for powering one monoblock unless you have ABs or Einsteins.
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Old 21st of February 2011 (Mon)   #11
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Default Re: ::My Experience with the Vagabond Mini Lithium::

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Originally Posted by TMR Design View Post
Something sounds wrong. What is so different in the technology to cause you to get so few pops from the Explorer XT? When performance suffers with an XT there is glitching and the power relays flip but the draw or number of pops doesn't decrease.

Have you plugged other strobes in to the XT to see how if performs? I just haven't heard of this before and I know a lot of people using Innovatronix batteries will all types of lights.
At first, I thought something was wrong too, but I have 2 other fellow photographers who conclusions back my findings.....

•I purchased my Explorer XT NEW and as stated earlier was only able to get less than 100 FULL Power Pops from it using the 1250DR (500ws). I borrowed a friend of mines Photogenic 1500SL (600ws) and was only able to get a little more than 100 FULL Power Pops from that unit.

•One of my fellow photographers also purchased his Explorer XT NEW and he also uses the Photogenic 1250DR units and received the exact same performance. However, here's something even more interesting. After the Explorer XT failed to power his unit any more, a buddy of his came over with a couple of Alien Bees, and he was able to get SEVERAL HUNDRED (YES, that is right) more FULL Power Pops from those units. I don't recall which AB's they were though, but he did bring 2 different units.

•And finally, the other photographer that I know purchased his Explorer XT used but in EXCELLENT working condition. He has the Photogenic 1250 (slider version - 500ws) and he was also only able to get less than 100 FULL Power Pops from the Explorer XT.

So it seems like to me that there is definitely something going on with the circuitry of the Photogenics Strobe Line..... which again is probably why Photogenic is coming out with their own Portable Battery Solution.
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Old 21st of February 2011 (Mon)   #12
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Default Re: ::My Experience with the Vagabond Mini Lithium::

I just took a look at the Innovatronix compatibility chart and they list the Photogenic 1250 DR and it shows that the original Explorer it was incompatible and shows no status for the XT and XT SE. Typically, no status means that they suspect it's not compatible but have no first hand experience and don't have the strobe in house.

So, in a way they are telling you that they're not compatible or they suspect they might not be.
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Last edited by TMR Design : 21st of February 2011 (Mon) at 15:02.
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Old 21st of February 2011 (Mon)   #13
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Default Re: ::My Experience with the Vagabond Mini Lithium::

Interesting write-up, thanks!

If this means you're now looking to sell your tronix xt, I might just be interested in throwing some of my tax return your way. Drop me a line if you're interested.
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Old 21st of February 2011 (Mon)   #14
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Default Re: ::My Experience with the Vagabond Mini Lithium::

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Originally Posted by TMR Design View Post
I just took a look at the Innovatronix compatibility chart and they list the Photogenic 1250 DR and it shows that the original Explorer it was incompatible and shows no status for the XT and XT SE. Typically, no status means that they suspect it's not compatible but have no first hand experience and don't have the strobe in house.

So, in a way they are telling you that they're not compatible or they suspect they might not be.
Yep, but since I heard such good things about Innovotronix, I'd figure I'd give it a try. Especially knowing that they had developed a "Digital Safe" Portable Battery Solution. I just wasn't going to trust my equipment to the Vagabond I or the Vagabond II. I was even considering purchasing one of the "ever-so-popular" quite pure sine wave Honda Generators. But, it wasn't until after I realized that I wasn't getting what I wanted out of the Explorer XT that I read the Compatability Chart (yea, it's TOTALLY my fault, I do things arse-backwards - which is why this time around, I was going to PERSONALLY test the VML myself) and noticed the same thing that you did. But, I was confused to see that they choose to denote that the Photogenic 1250's (DR and Non-DR Units) were not yet tested. They seem to have almost every flash made from "crappy" Chinese knock-offs to top-of-the-line ProFotos and all in betweens (foreign and domestic) but they just so happen have not tested the Photogenic 1250's, which also so happens to be one of the ones that (although properly operates) just doesn't provide the power and/or the same number of flashes as the other flash manufactures. So, this is just my mere speculation, but I feel that the 1250's "WERE" tested and instead of just giving the honest facts about those units, they chose to keep quite about it and denote on the chart that they have "not yet been tested".

Now, I am in no way bashing Innovotronix or their products..... I still think that their products are top notch and most if not all who use them would be more than satisfied. I was just a little disappointed in the product using "my" equipment knowing or at least feeling that they had knowledge of the compatablity. But again, I take full responsibilty for not reading the info ahead of time..... which is why I'll state once again, that I still feel that their products are "TOP NOTCH" , well built, very durable, long lasting and anyone would be more than satisfied with them.....
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Last edited by The Loft Studios : 21st of February 2011 (Mon) at 16:35.
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Old 22nd of February 2011 (Tue)   #15
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Default Re: ::My Experience with the Vagabond Mini Lithium::

Last year, I sold off 3 1250DR's and a 1500DR because I couldn't find a simple way to use them on location. Loved the DR's, but ended up switching to Bees. Damn...
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