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FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
Thread started 02 Aug 2011 (Tuesday) 15:15
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POP TESTS: Paul C. Buff Vagabond Mini Lithium and Assorted Strobes

 
TMR ­ Design
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Aug 02, 2011 15:15 |  #1

After doing a review and pop tests with the Innovatronix Explorer Mini I decided to do similar tests with the Paul C. Buff Vagabond Mini Lithium.

Results were good, as expected, with a few bumps in the road.

I only did full power pop tests with the VML because battery life at full power was so good that I saw no reason to test at lower power levels. Anything less than full power and battery life is exceptional.

I tested the following strobes:

PCB Einstein E640
Elinchrom 600RX
Elinchrom BX500Ri
Elinchrom D-Lite 4it
Elinchrom 300RX
Elinchrom BX250Ri

If I had other strobes available to me for testing, I would have included them but since it seems that most people that aren't shooting pack and head systems are either shooting with PCB or Elinchrom strobes. I know there are others but those two do seem to be the most popular.

I was going to test a pair or Einstein's and a pair of 600RX's but sadly, the VML battery failed before I could complete the tests. It was shipped to PCB on behalf of the owner (dmward) and returned to him with a new battery, but no further explanation.

Pop, pop, pop:

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Obviously, the E640 had no issues and worked fine. The Elinchrom 600RX and 300RX also had no problems, as they are not bi-voltage. The D-Lite 4it worked well but I did get the Elinchrom E4 error and the unit had to be rebooted. After reboot everything was fine but it did happen another time. Each time the reboot fixed the glitch.

The BXRi's were a different story. The BX25Ri works well and should be considered compatible but if you have the audible ready beep on you can hear the additional beeps as voltage is stabilized. The glitching is pretty consistent and recycle times increase drastically, and honestly, I would not recommend this combination.

The BX500Ri is absolutely incompatible with the VML. This strobe not only has the glitching, but it also misfires 3 out of every 5 pops, and that was also very consistent.

The delayed recycling is one thing but misfires, or missed shots, are unacceptable. Therefore, the BX500Ri does not work with the VML.

For this reason, the Innovatronix Explorer Mini is a better solution for the BXRi bi-voltage strobes.

You can compare these numbers to those of the Innovatronix Explorer Mini here.

Robert
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Hermes
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Aug 02, 2011 15:48 |  #2

Nice work Rob.

Welcome back. Good to see your time away from here wasn't wasted (well.. not in the conventional sense anyway:D)

The number of pops are impressive, the defective unit is slightly worrying. Do you think the VML is worth taking a chance on - especially for those of us not in the customer service range?




  
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TMR ­ Design
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Aug 02, 2011 15:51 |  #3

Hermes wrote in post #12865210 (external link)
Nice work Rob.

Welcome back. Good to see your time away from here wasn't wasted (well.. not in the conventional sense anyway:D)

The number of pops are impressive, the defective unit is slightly worrying. Do you think the VML is worth taking a chance on - especially for those of us not in the customer service range?

Hi Nick. Thanks. I was very busy while away.

Honestly, if I wasn't in the US I wouldn't buy a VML.


Robert
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spaztastic
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Aug 02, 2011 16:16 |  #4

Good test Rob.

I purchased 2 of them for each Einstein. I havent looked back to my Vag II since.




  
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dmward
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Aug 02, 2011 17:03 |  #5

TMR Design wrote in post #12865238 (external link)
Hi Nick. Thanks. I was very busy while away.

Honestly, if I wasn't in the US I wouldn't buy a VML.

I am inclined to agree with Rob that unless you have BUFF lights you are better off getting a power pack that is designed to work with multiple vendor's equipment.

I think the VML is perfect with the Einstein 640. I hang them on the light stand and fire away.

If I had Elinchrom lights I would be much more inclined to get the Tronix pack. I think its inverter may accept a heavier load. The small Lith battery is nice but not as important as the bi-voltage verified inverter.


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hawk911
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Aug 02, 2011 17:05 |  #6

well, that makes my decision easy


HAWK Photography Gallery (external link) FB Fan page (external link)|_My gear: 5d3, 70D & 40D (all gripped), 580exII, 550ex, Canon 24-70 L & 85 f1.8, 50mm f1.4; Tamron 70-200 SP Di VC, Canon 18-55, Sigma 1.4xtc; Elinchrom Whore, Skyport triggers, Speedotron BD and Kacey Grid, Vagabond minis

  
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dmward
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Aug 02, 2011 17:15 |  #7

Geoff, I can loan you a VML to test with one of your D-Lites, but I think you also have some BXs right? If so, I'd go with the Tronix. Its not that much more expensive and you then have a unit that will work with everything.


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Hermes
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Aug 02, 2011 17:18 |  #8

dmward wrote in post #12865567 (external link)
I am inclined to agree with Rob that unless you have BUFF lights you are better off getting a power pack that is designed to work with multiple vendor's equipment.

I think the VML is perfect with the Einstein 640. I hang them on the light stand and fire away.

If I had Elinchrom lights I would be much more inclined to get the Tronix pack. I think its inverter may accept a heavier load. The small Lith battery is nice but not as important as the bi-voltage verified inverter.

None of my Elinchroms are bi-voltage and the RXs Rob tested seem to be getting more pops for their wattage than the Einsteins which is made made me think they'd be an ideal combo.

If they're likely to break though I'll steer clear. Great customer service isn't enough when there's an ocean in the middle.




  
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hawk911
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Aug 02, 2011 17:30 |  #9

David, I have the Tronix XT, but was hoping for a lighter version when I don't have a mule along. I love the BX now, and rarely use the Dlites for anything but studio


HAWK Photography Gallery (external link) FB Fan page (external link)|_My gear: 5d3, 70D & 40D (all gripped), 580exII, 550ex, Canon 24-70 L & 85 f1.8, 50mm f1.4; Tamron 70-200 SP Di VC, Canon 18-55, Sigma 1.4xtc; Elinchrom Whore, Skyport triggers, Speedotron BD and Kacey Grid, Vagabond minis

  
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Muggsly
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Aug 02, 2011 17:30 |  #10

Thanks for the info although I have yet to use that many pops in a days worth of shooting glad to know I have a ton to spare.


Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography. - George Eastman
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TMR ­ Design
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Aug 02, 2011 17:32 |  #11

Hermes wrote in post #12865626 (external link)
None of my Elinchroms are bi-voltage and the RXs Rob tested seem to be getting more pops for their wattage than the Einsteins which is made made me think they'd be an ideal combo.

If they're likely to break though I'll steer clear. Great customer service isn't enough when there's an ocean in the middle.

I don't know that I would say they're likely to break but thew great customer service is with respect to taking care of problems and they are a lot of them, otherwise we wouldn't keep hearing about the awesome customer service. That's not a knock. It's just what is so obvious and based on that, I would not want to be in your position when (or if) you have a dead battery or a dead inverter, etc.

You'll spend more time and money shipping or getting it serviced than it's worth. At least that's how I see it.

I absolutely see the attraction to the VML because of battery life but other than that I was far from impressed with build and design. The charging port and associated connector have MUCH to be desired and if I owned one I'd probably be doing a modification to install a proper port that didn't have exposed wires with no strain relief.

Good product with lots of room for improvement.


Robert
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Aug 02, 2011 17:55 as a reply to  @ TMR Design's post |  #12

Here are some videos I did comparing various recycle times.

Paul C. Buff Vagabond Mini Lithium: Recycle Times - Comparing AC Wall Outlet to VML (external link)

Innovatronix Explorer Mini & Paul C. Buff Vagabond Mini Lithium: Recycle Time - PCB E640's (external link)

Paul C. Buff Vagabond Mini Lithium: Recycle Times Using Two Elinchrom 600RX's (external link)

Innovatronix Explorer Mini & Paul C. Buff Vagabond Mini Lithium: Recycle Time - Elinchrom 600RX's (external link)


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dmward
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Aug 02, 2011 18:35 |  #13

TMR Design wrote in post #12865697 (external link)
I don't know that I would say they're likely to break but thew great customer service is with respect to taking care of problems and they are a lot of them, otherwise we wouldn't keep hearing about the awesome customer service. That's not a knock. It's just what is so obvious and based on that, I would not want to be in your position when (or if) you have a dead battery or a dead inverter, etc.

You'll spend more time and money shipping or getting it serviced than it's worth. At least that's how I see it.

I absolutely see the attraction to the VML because of battery life but other than that I was far from impressed with build and design. The charging port and associated connector have MUCH to be desired and if I owned one I'd probably be doing a modification to install a proper port that didn't have exposed wires with no strain relief.

Good product with lots of room for improvement.


Rob's right about some aspects of the design being a bit "home made". I'll give PCB the benefit of the doubt and say its his attempt to get maximum functionality with minimal component expense.

They do work. And so far, with the exception of the bad battery that may have been from lack of use, all three of mine have been delivering as expected.


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Aug 02, 2011 19:12 |  #14

dmward wrote in post #12865966 (external link)
Rob's right about some aspects of the design being a bit "home made". I'll give PCB the benefit of the doubt and say its his attempt to get maximum functionality with minimal component expense.

They do work. And so far, with the exception of the bad battery that may have been from lack of use, all three of mine have been delivering as expected.

Bad battery from lack of use, David? They're not even a year old, are they?


...Leo

  
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TMR ­ Design
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Aug 02, 2011 19:18 as a reply to  @ PacAce's post |  #15

I think my pop tests killed it. ;)


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POP TESTS: Paul C. Buff Vagabond Mini Lithium and Assorted Strobes
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