I haven’t been posting much here on POTN recently but did want to bring a new piece of flash gear to the attention of POTN’ers. If a powerful, bare bulb, remotely-controllable, non-TTL flash sounds interesting, read on.
Let’s get the disclaimer out of the way first: I’ve been working with Edward Tang of CheetahStand as a beta tester of his new CL-180 flash for the better part of a year now. I have absolutely no financial involvement with this product whatsoever and do not stand to profit from it in any way. Edward is a friend and I help him out with product development and testing every so often purely as a friend. As this flash can be viewed as a successor to the greatly missed “Sunpak 120J, I thought the soon-to-be available Cheetah Light CL-180 might be of interest to forum readers.
So what we have here is a shoe-mountable flash unit somewhat larger than a Nikon SB-910 or Canon 600EX. The Cheetah CL-180 is rated at a bit over 150Ws of power; slightly more than a Quantum QFlash. It’s a bare bulb unit as mentioned above and is able to accept a variety of head-mounted accessories which includes a standard 5” reflector, two types of snoot, folding 19” octabox/beauty dish, and a cleverly designed umbrella holder with dedicated reflector. It is also compatible with virtually all existing Quantum/Lumedyne mount accessories. The only exceptions I’ve encountered are the Lumedyne snoot and the Lumedyne ANEC mount adapter. The diameter of these two accessories is fractionally too large for the CL-180.
An additional potentially attractive accessory which I was unable to test is the Cells II transmitter. The Cells II enables high speed sync with Canon cameras.
Here's the flash with radio receiver and umbrella mount, battery pack, and transmitter:
Power output of the flash can be varied from 1:1 down to 1:128 in third stops using the rotating dial on the back of the unit. A focus assist lamp and audible recycle alert are also provided.
The accessory of greatest interest would have to be the radio transceiver set. The small receiver plugs into the side of the flash while the transmitter sits in the camera hotshoe. The transmitter can control various flash functions but, most noteworthy, is its ability to control flash power. The current flash power setting can be seen on the transmitter’s backlit LCD screen. Range is very good. The flash triggered reliably at unobstructed distances in excess of 500 feet during beta testing. Of course, multiple groups and multiple channels are supported.
This is a view of the flash from the back. Here it has the optional umbrella holder and reflector mounted:
Power for the CL-180 is provided by an external 4500mAh lithium-ion power pack. The pack has two power outlets and a removable battery cartridge. In my testing, a fully charged pack provided over 800 full power pops. Full power recycle time is approximately 2-1/2 seconds. With the appropriate cables (Quantum compatible cables will work) Nikon and Canon flash units can also be powered by the battery pack as can Quantum flash units.
The preceding should not be taken as a review. It’s intended as a product announcement. That said, I will add that the test units functioned flawlessly throughout the long beta test period. I believe Cheetah will have the CL-180 and accessories available some time later in February.