Godox AD360 & PB960 Battery Pack Flash Review

In Photography, Reviews, Words by Ben9 Comments

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Finally, a great value location flash: The Godox AD360 Witstro Review – Ben Evans

I’ve been reviewing the Godox AD360 flash with its PB960 Battery pack and a whole range of modifiers for the past month. You may not have heard of it yet but it’s been rebranded by companies such as Calumet, Lencarta and Neewer. In short; I love it. Here’s why…

Great Light on Location

As photographers, we are writing with light. Nature provides quite a lot for us to work with. But sometimes, and increasingly often as we improve our photography, we want more. Many photographers hold on to the ‘purity’ of natural light, dabbling occasionally with reflectors. Flash is nasty, they believe, and makes the pictures harsh and artificial. Well, like a lot of things, it’s how you use it; and it’s no mistake that the majority of the best photographers in the world use flashes in their work – from master portrait artist Gregory Heisler to amazing wildlife photographer Tim Flach.

But the challenge, and as David Hobby would have it, the command, is to get the flash off the camera. This is easy enough in the studio where photographers have been using AC-powered strobes for years. But on-location, photographers have been limited to irritating, underpowered flashes meant to be used on-camera or much larger, and considerably more expensive flashes with a separate battery pack.

The Godox AD360, and it’s smaller sibling the AD180, use a small, light battery pack to supply thousands of flashes from a bare-bulb for far better lighting quality. They give us the ability to use large, beautiful light modifiers on location. This allows us to create beautifully artistic light on demand that has previously been impractical/impossible to do at the price. This was exciting to me, and the user reviews spoke glowingly about these new flashes, so I had to try them out for myself. This is what I found.

Excellent Build Quality

godox-ad360-witstro-3608-2The first thing that you’ll notice about this flash is just how well it’s made. You can get an impression of this from the pictures, but it feels amazing in the hand. In fact, it feels far more solid than the top-end Nikon SB900 and I can imagine it lasting for decades.

Trying to quantify this sense of solidity, I’d point to the weight, which at 780g is hefty but not heavy. Judging by the this flash, Godox must have invested considerable amounts of money in the moulds, design and high quality materials.

For example, the buttons have the right amount of pressure and feel great. The wheel to change the flash power Is superb; rotating smoothly but with no vertical ‘give’. The head can be repositioned by holding a button and moving it; this feels much smoother than any other flash I’ve used and locks securely when the button is released.

The bulb can be pointed straight up and anywhere else down to -15 degrees from horizontal – a slight tilt down that rests the head on the flash body. I found that using the beauty dish with the flash head at -15 degrees at high powers actually made the dish sing a bit; good fun.

Horizontally, the flash head will rotate from 0 to 270 degrees. In practice this means from directly backwards all the way round to almost the same position on the right hand side. There are a few markings at set degrees (e.g. 30,45,60 and 75).

The Godox AD360 has a mount for light modifiers that fit around the bulb, which is protected with a glass sleeve with a hole in the top for cooling. Modifiers are secured using a screw fitting on the side. This is secured so it won’t fall off by accident. It seems well made and was fine with thick gloves.

There are three sockets on the flash; one for the power cable, one female USB for the radio receiver and a third with both the traditional flash sync and the newer 3.5mm jacks. All three have a rubber cover that’s marked with an indented label. These covers are attached by a small rubber cord secured within the flash. Perhaps after several years use these may be pulled off accidentally so it’s good to see that the cord is only for security and that the covers fit snugly so could be replaced.

The flash has a CE marking to indicate that it meets all the European directives such as safety, health and environmental protection, and the RoHS marking which restricts use of six hazardous materials in the manufacturing. There are also a couple of QC (Quality Control) passes, both as a sticker on the flash and a card in the box. There are also warnings on the cables and on the flash (don’t touch the flash tube when it’s hot!) and the supplied manual has full instructions and cautions. All reassuring to see.

Among the cautions is a note about weatherproofing; apparently it’s doesn’t have any. ‘Always keep this product from rain or dampness to avoid fire or electric shock’. Neither does the power pack, ‘This product is not water resistant. Please keep it away from rain, snow or humidity’. Not one to take clear, rational safety advice from engineers at face value, I tested the flash in light drizzle using a plastic bag and duct tape. Not advisable, but it didn’t set fire or electrocute me. I probably wouldn’t use it in a monsoon though.

The bulb itself is impressive, but because it’s glass, I’d not like to drop the flash onto it. Godox make a rigid aluminium protection cap to cover the bulb but it’s an optional extra. Bulbs are user-replaceable.

The Features

Godox-ad360-flash-pixapro-silver-umbrella_IMG3678-2-964x662The Godox AD360 is the antithesis to the sophisticated Nikon SB910. There are no menus. There is no TTL (through the lens) exposure control; everything is manual. The Nikon communicates with the camera to give you information about the distance your flash will be effective for the aperture you’ve chosen. The AD360 does not.

But the AD360 is much better in use. The Nikon has to have a huge LCD and multiple menus with combination button pushes. The Nikon LCD isn’t clear in use; the Godox AD360 has a shorter, bright blue LCD that’s really easy to read because the power level is displayed bigger.

There are only six buttons on the flash. The on/off button, which is instant-on and doesn’t need to be held down. The ‘Test’ button to fire the flash, which glows red when it’s ready. The ‘Buzz’, which turns the beeps on and off, the ‘MF lamp’, which I’ll deal with in a bit, and the Mode and Set buttons. The Set button allows you to alter the values in RPT mode. When pressed at the same time as the Mode button, it enables the High Speed Sync mode which allows you to synchronise the flash up to 1/8000s (to darken ambient light and/or use larger apertures than would otherwise be possible).

There are also only four modes. M for manual – you decide the power of the flash, just like a studio strobe. I use my flashes off-camera so this is ideal. That said, TTL flash can be useful if your flash will live on-camera. Next is S1 mode; a standard optical slave that will trigger the flash when it sees another flash. I actually used this when I was teaching a workshop with forty people; they were all able to use the same flash just by triggering it with the built-in flash on their camera; and admirably, recycle times were fast enough that no-one missed a shot, nor did it overheat.

S2 mode ignores the pre-flash from a TTL flash; in practice this means that if the normal S1 slave mode isn’t working with your camera flash, S2 probably will. Both slave modes worked well inside, but definitely struggled with sunlight outside. In fact, it doesn’t work at all when it’s really bright, even at close range; this was disappointing.

Finally, there’s a RPT or repeat/stroboscopic mode too. Nikon has the same. It allows you to set the number of flashes for each exposure and the frequency (Hz). Honestly, I have never seen much use for this stroboscopic flash. Sure, it’s good to have ‘just in case’ but it’s very specialist. Perhaps sports, action and maybe macro photographers could post some images in the comments?

Beyond the optical slave and wired ways to trigger the Godox AD360, it’s possible to use a radio trigger; as I did most of the time. Godox makes a set (FT16) with a transmitter for the camera and a separate receiver module. This uses the USB port and sticks out of the flash. It’s small, and doesn’t require any batteries but obviously it would be preferable to have it built-in. The FT16 transmits at 433mhz, which apparently isn’t as good as 2.4ghz. That said, I’ve not had a single misfire and the range seems great. They’re FCC and CE approved too so you can use them everywhere.

Best for me is the ability to control the flash directly from the transmitter – this is great to adjust the power of a light inside a softbox or high on a light stand. There’s also the ability to set multiple channels of flashes – useful for switching quickly between different lighting setups or avoiding interference when there are lots of other photographers around. My complaint is that the transmitter doesn’t do high speed sync. Until Godox fix this, it is worth considering other brands of trigger – though check that they can still control the flash. The flash itself is fine with high-speed-sync so it’s a shame that the trigger hasn’t been updated yet.

One thing I don’t like about the Godox AD360 is the MF Lamp – the auto-focus assist light. Nikon’s SB900 projects a bright red pattern that really helps the auto-focus in low light conditions. The Godox has two anaemic red LEDs that are practically useless. If your subject has a ‘phone, the screen will provide more light on their face to focus with.

This is disappointing as AF assist lights can be useful. Considering the very powerful, small torches that are available, and of course the flashlight on the iPhone, it ought to be possible to power a brighter light from that amazing battery.

godox ad360 flash reviewThe flash also doesn’t have a modelling light. This I can understand because of the design, but it’s still a feature that I missed on occasion. Most hotshoe flashes don’t have a modelling light either, but this light functions very well as a studio strobe so it’s a feature I’ve come to expect. Moreover, it’s possible to use a good quality modelling light for video. The battery clearly has plenty of capacity so it would be great if there were a video-light available that could also double as an auto-focus assist lamp.

It’s possible to mount this beast on a camera; like a Great Dane mating with a Golden Retriever, but is inadvisable because of its size, especially with modifiers. Some camera hotshoes won’t be able to cope if it gets knocked and may break. There’s a screw to clamp it to a hotshoe but no locking pin. This is sturdy enough to make use of the vast array of lighting modifiers and brackets that cater to the hotshoe flash. There’s a little shoe to stand the flash up on with a 1/4” screw thread but this really requires that the flash is really locked down onto it.

Sensibly, Godox also supply a separate base for the flash. This has a ridged bottom and a 1/4” screw thread like the bottom of your camera. It’s secured with four screws and feels very firmly attached. I changed to this soon after I received the flash and used it off-camera the vast majority of the time. This makes using modifiers feel much sturdier.

So the flash does its job very well at the expense of a few useful features that we’ve become accustomed to; and omits more features that only serve to clutter up other flashes. Personally I prefer the no-nonsense approach as it makes the flash very easy to use and probably more reliable (though I’ve not had it long enough yet to confirm the latter).

The Amazing PB960 Lithium Battery

godox-ad360-battery-power-propac-pb960_IMG3662-2Two years after World War II, the AA battery we know today was born. Most flashes use several. But they’re not fit for purpose; they don’t last long enough for a full photoshoot, so you need to carry several sets of spares. I bought 32 cells to one event – what a pain!

Step in the Godox PB960 Battery pack. It weighs about half a kilo; less than a Nikon D600 and about the same as Nikon SB900. It’s in two parts which lock together. The top part has two sockets, the power button and indicator LEDS. The bottom bit is a 4,500mAH 11.1v battery; you can carry several of these as spares. You can charge them directly in three hours with the supplied AC adaptor.

Flashes with a separate power pack are nothing new. What makes this different is the capacity compared to the weight and size. It clips very firmly on a belt, and also has a well designed, comfortable strap with buckles on both sides. It’s easy to forget about in use.

Some larger power packs from competing flashes make claims about water resistance. The PB960 does not; you’re told to keep it dry. For a location flash, I’d rather it were built to be weatherproof. I’ve used it several times in the rain anyway, but kept it in a plastic bag (it doesn’t seem to get too hot).

The battery connects to the flash with a coiled cable that’s about the length of your arm (unless you’re six years old). The cable is good quality and the length is just right if you’re using the flash on-camera or hand-held. The connection is the normal 5pin DIN connection that’s compatible with, for example, Quantum packs.

However, I used the camera off-camera on a light stand quite a lot, and found the cable to be too short for this. It would be better to have the battery pack at the bottom of the light stand to keep the centre of gravity low. Godox make a 5 meter extension cable but I think 3 meters would be enough for most situations.

The great thing about the battery pack is that it can be used with many different flashes. For example, it will give you about 1,800 flashes at full power with a Nikon SB900 or Canon 580 with the appropriate cable – and with a recycle time of one second!

Much to my delight, Godox also make a USB adaptor. I’ve not seen this before, so kudos to Godox for this. This one accessory says a lot about the new Chinese approach to manufacturing; practical, good value, and innovative. Apple’s iOS7 has shortened the battery life on my iPhone and iPad so it’s great to be able to charge them on location.

And how does it power the AD360 itself? Very well. In fact it can power two of them with no drop in recycle times. And if you’re a one-light photographer, Godox also makes a 2-to-1 adaptor that combines both outputs for super-fast recycle times.

I tested the recycle times with a fully charged PB960 battery pack and the Godox AD360 flash on 1/1 full power. It takes about 4.5 seconds for the ready beep to sound after it’s fired, and less than 2.5 seconds with the 2-to-1 cable. I’ve only used full power a couple of times on location when I needed to overpower the midday sun or with a 180cm umbrella.

Recycle times are even faster for normal usage; ½ power took 2.5 seconds without the 2-to-1 cable, ¼ power took one second and anything else was pretty much immediate. I used the flash at 1/16 power or less most of the time and was able to actually use the camera in drive mode and the flash lit every frame. It recycles in 0.05s at 1/128 power; very quick!

Recycle times haven’t bothered me too much as I rarely shoot fashion runways nor do I do paparazzi pictures but it was great that I don’t even have to consider them with this flash for normal use. In fact there’s a 1-to-2 adaptor that allows you to connect two flashes to a single output; so you could power four flashes from one battery pack.

Far more impressive for me however was the sheer battery life of this beast. It’s incredible! Godox quote 450 full power flashes from a single battery, but it’s quite rare to use full power so you can expect thousands of flashes in actual use.

This is very important. Photography can be an art, and the artistic ‘flow state’ is easily blocked. Changing the batteries on my normal flashes was always an unwelcome interruption, and despite all the other information on the Nikon SB900, there is bizarrely no battery meter; so I also had to anticipate when they might run out; Well, no more! I used the PB960 pack for several days worth of professional shoots and never had to think about it. The power pack has four blue LEDs to show you how much charge is left; but three LEDs were still glowing after those photoshoots!

There are also two red LEDs that tell you that power is being drawn from each of the two sockets. The power button is part of the fascia so shouldn’t let water/dust in. Far better than my other flashes, it’s instantaneous; no holding it down or fiddling with a tiny switch – just one press and its ready to go.

For photographers on expeditions or extended travel, this battery pack is a must have. The spare cells are great value, small and light; so you can pack several and have enough for a very long trip.

I’m excited to see what else this battery can serve for. The batteries in my Nikon last a pitiful amount of time when I’m making videos; perhaps it’s possible to make an adaptor to solve this using the PB960 pack? What else could it be used for?

So for the size and weight, this battery pack is just incredible. So fast, such a large capacity and great value. I tend to judge my equipment by how well it ‘gets out of the way’ when I’m in the zone; I’m happy to report that this battery pack really does that very well.

Lots of Power

off-camera-flash_6446And the AD360 flash turns this battery into a magnificent lighting kit. Looking at the flash itself, it would be easy to think that the flash has its own internal batteries too. The bulk is a powerful capacitor and you’ll need to attach the battery pack to turn the flash on.

The Godox AD360 has a true guide number of 80m(eters) with its standard, detachable reflector, which gives an equivalent coverage of a 28mm lens on full-frame. Normal hotshoe flashes have fresnel lenses zoomed all the way in so their guide numbers are exaggerated for normal use.

The Godox AD360 gives 307ws of power and the AD180 gives about 150ws of power. The best Nikon or Canon flashes give between 60-80ws.

The normal hotshoe flashes work pretty well when used on-camera to light people a few meters from the camera, or as a bounce flash using a low white ceiling.

I ran into issues when I used these flashes off-camera with larger modifiers, or for bouncing off darker surfaces that were farther from the camera.

The lack of power meant I had to use higher ISO sensitivities with more noise, or wider apertures with a depth of field that was too shallow.

With this beast, I have had more than enough power, even with huge lighting modifiers like the new Pixapro 180cm silver umbrella.

This amount of light power has allowed me to get around the low sync speed of dSLRs (between 1/160 and 1/250s normally). It’s possible to use this flash to overpower the bright midday sun – something I couldn’t do with my normal flashes.

The Godox AD360 also has a high speed sync option. This allows you to use shutter speeds that are much faster than the actual sync speed of your camera up to 1/8000s. In practice this gives you the ability to darken the ambient lighting, or use a wider aperture on a sunny day. This, and the great high ISO capabilities of modern cameras, mean that more powerful flashes are rarely required.

The flash has a full seven stop range, adjustable in thirds of a stop. The flash duration is 1/300s at full power, but because it’s IGBT controlled, lower powers have much shorter durations; only 1/10,000th of a second at 1/128th power.

Again, messing about with lower powered flashes like my Nikon SB900 always left me frustrated, messing about with the equipment. The Godox AD360 allows me to put the lights where I want them instead of having to crowd them in too close. It also gives me freedom to use a lower ISO sensitivity for better image quality, and to choose the aperture I want.

Because the flash isn’t normally straining itself at full power, it doesn’t overheat and shut down right when I need it, as my Nikon SB900 did, all the time. The Godox AD360 has overheat protection too, but allows 75 continuous full power flashes, or 300 at 1/8 power. Mine hasn’t missed a shot yet.

If you need even more power, you’ll have to look at some of the bigger, heavier, more expensive flash systems. Profoto in particular make amazing flashes with more power, and the Lencarta Safari is another great value option with more power. However, the batteries for these flashes weigh a lot more and take up more space; I personally prefer my gear to be lighter so I actually feel happy bringing it on shoots.

If you’re photographing in the studio exclusively, you’re probably be better off with a mains-powered studio strobe. They’re usually more powerful and will recycle faster too. I bought a Bowens 500ws strobe a few years ago and it’s great. However, it’s too bulky to carry about and it’s a pain to have to be plugged in.

I mainly photograph people, and have found the Godox AD360 to be the right compromise between size/weight and power/recycle times for me, and I would think almost all of my students as well. It’s always lovely to find a bit of gear that just works!

Amazing Barebulb Light Quality

fashion-models-group-portrait-photographer8117-EdOf course the AD360 doesn’t look like a normal hotshoe flash. It’s got a huge bulb sticking out! This ‘bare-bulb’ design makes a big difference to the quality of the light, opening up possibilities that aren’t possible otherwise.

The bulb itself is easily user-replaceable like a proper studio strobe and unlike a hotshoe flash. The mount is a standard lumedyne as used by Quantum and a discontinued Sunpak bare-bulb flash.

A bare bulb is a bit like a candle, shining light in all directions. This makes it excellent for lighting interiors for real-estate photography. If you’re using it behind a subject as a rim light, it will also illuminate the area around them too, resulting in a more natural light.

For me, the best thing about the bare-bulb AD360, was finally being able to use my beauty dishes on location. Hotshoe flashes use fresnel lenses in front of the flash tube to project the light forward in a beam. This doesn’t do well in beauty dishes at all. But with the Godox, I can position the bulb inside the dish and get a beautiful, even light.

Godox actually make their own beauty dish – more on that later – but I’ve had best results using the flash with a new Pixapro white beauty dish with a grid; it’s huge – 70cm! Therefore the extra power is very useful, and allows me to use this incredible light modifier on bright, sunny days.

I used a bracket to mount the beauty dish on a light stand so that it didn’t strain the flash itself. I don’t think Godox makes these brackets, but you can find them on eBay. Mine is a Bowens fit. This is ideal to use with softboxes meant for studio flashes too. Unlike hotshoe flashes, which give hotspots and uneven lighting, the bare-bulb gives an excellent light.

I also used a 180cm silver umbrella with this flash; something I’d not be able to do with a hotshoe flash without a bare-bulb and power to spare. This is a huge modifier and gives an excellent light that most photographers won’t have. It’s soft but directional, and makes a great fill light or accent to blend with the ambient where you want natural looking lighting with an edge.

You should also be able to use these lights with Broncolor’s parabolic reflectors. These lighting modifiers give a particularly special light – but do cost thousands. The huge Pixapro umbrella is one of the best ways to get a huge, impressive light source that’s lightweight and easy to carry but for an incredible price. Profoto have also recently released a range of umbrellas that would also work well with this bare-bulb flash.

Again, Godox actually make an umbrella mount for the flash, but I’d rather not strain it with larger modifiers, especially outdoors on windy days. I use and fully recommend the Manfrotto 026 umbrella mount; it’s very solid and does the job well.

Hotshoe flashes are very well designed if you’re using them on-camera as a direct light on your subjects (please don’t!) as they project a roughly rectangular light. If they’re used off-camera, this can sometimes be less convenient. The standard 28mm reflector for the AD360 projects a nice circle of light. Two translucent diffusers are included, and a honeycomb grid is available as an optional extra.

godox-ad360-flash-reviewGeorge Hurrell, Damien Lovegrove and Terry o’Neil, all real masters of lighting, have used Hollywood style fresnel lights to amazing effect. These are the big Arri lights you think of when you think about movie lighting. Some options exist to adapt studio strobes to use these fresnel lenses to give a distinct look to the picture. No-one makes them for these portable bare-bulb flashes yet, but doing so shouldn’t be too difficult – and my order’s waiting when they do!

Hopefully we will start to see Godox and also third-party manufacturers creating additional lighting modifiers to take advantage of the Godox AD360’s bare-bulb. Already SMDV has two good-looking hexagonal softboxes available for the system – haven’t tested these yet but they look well made. I’d like to see an equivalent to Elinchrom’s Deep Octa and to Broncolor’s Para 88.

The colour temperature of the light is consistent too; 5600k as standard with a maximum deviation of 200k. I haven’t noticed any colour casts in any images so this is great.

The Witstro System

Happily, Godox have already seen fit to create a whole system around the AD360 and AD180 flashes; the Witstro system. And unlike many competitors, their accessories are great value.

The modifiers mount directly onto the flash head with a simple metal tube that fits around the bulb and is clamped in place by twisting the lock on the side to tighten a rubber pad. They wiggle a bit, but it seems secure. This mount is compatible with several other manufacturers too.

Which is on there the most? The protection cap! Strangely no included with the flash, this aluminium cap fits over the bulb to protect it in transport. It’s a must-have; and you could store a spare bulb in another one.

My favourite lighting modifier is their mini beauty dish. It’s about a foot in diameter (30.5cm to be precise) and comes with a honeycomb grid and a diffuser. The dish itself is silver and is well made. Love the light that this produces; and it’s even possible to use it on-camera! I can see it getting a lot of use by portrait and fashion photographers; and I actually used it to photograph the Pentax K3.

It used to be said that the Chinese manufacturers see a Western product and copy it. Well Godox is really overhauling this stereotype. This light apparently took more than a month to design in collaboration with Edward Tang. Not only have several Western companies rebranded this flash, but they’ve also created lots of innovative accessories.

godox-ad360-witstro-flash-review-IMG3628-2The multi-functional softbox is quite a treat for photographers working on location. I used to have a Lastolite pop-up softbox for my Nikon SB900 mounted on a monopod. It was quite a contraption! This multi-functional softbox is much, much better. It packs up much smaller and gives a better quality of light; more even and more customisable. It consists of an umbrella like reflector, a fold-up honeycomb grid, a diffuser and an aluminium dish. These can be added or taken off until you get the light you need. I can see this being used by travel and wedding photographers as their go-to modifier, strapped to the side of a bag.

They also make a mushroom-looking thing. This allows you to soften the hard shadows that you would otherwise get by using the flash as a bare-bulb with no lighting modifier. It’s very useful for lighting interiors, and also works very well for macro photography. Sometimes there’s not enough space to use a softbox on your ‘light-stick’ (your flash mounted on a monopod!) and this is a good option. Attention to detail; it has slits so the heat can dissipate.

I’ve mentioned the 2-to-1 cable that allows you to use both battery outputs for one flash for faster recycling and also the 1-to-2 cable that allows you to power two flashes from out output. Godox also make a 5 meter extension cable and there are cables available for other flashes.

There’s a coloured filter set available for the standard reflector. These are four plastic discs with a diffused finish. They’re probably great for creative effects such as coloured backlighting or to colour a background; but I’d much rather have standard tungsten gels to balance the flash with indoor lighting. Hopefully they’ll make some soon. It would also be great to have a polarised disc to use for cross-polarised flash photography.

As well as the standard reflector, which is supplied with your flash, they also make a wide-angle umbrella reflector. This comes with a plastic umbrella mount that screws into the 1/4” socket on the side of the head. Great, practical design is apparent in two slits on the flash and two indentations on the piece that keep it firm in use. I always like to see details like this. The reflector has a hole for the umbrella handle to go through to keep the bulb close to the centre for even lighting.

Godox make a 37” diameter white translucent umbrella that folds up to just over 15”. I’d hesitate to use larger umbrellas in the wind to avoid straining the flash. At 290g, it’s a very small, lightweight modifier for a softer light source.

There’s also a pair of snoots; one cylinder that’s the same as the flash protection cap but with the top cut off and replaced with a removable honeycomb grid, and another conical snoot that looks altogether more serious; and gives a much tighter spotlight.

There’s no telephoto reflector available yet, so the built-in fresnel lens of a hotshoe flash may be a better option at the moment. Hopefully this is addressed soon.

Godox also make light stands, and they’ve created a pole to be used like the aforementioned ‘light-stick’. It only weighs 320 grams and extends from half a meter to more than a meter and a half. It will allow you to boom your light higher than your subject. I’ve not actually got one of these so can’t comment further. It would be nice to see a smaller ‘handle’ to hold the flash with.

One thing I’m really missing is a case or holster for the flash. Godox supply a good quality soft bag, but this isn’t useful when you’re photographing. The Nikon flash has an excellent belt pouch that I can stow the flash in when I’m not using it. I’ve ordered a fitting that will use the 1/4” socket on the flash head (this is the same size as the hole in the bottom of your camera) so I can try using it with the Black Rapid quick-release belt system.

It’s great to have a really well thought out kit available, designed by the same manufacturers, and practically useful for photographers. It makes the flashes that much more versatile and I’m looking forward to seeing which future options emerge for the Witstro system.

Get One!

I loved the light my studio strobes produced but was always limited by the size, weight and reliance on AC power, so they stayed indoors. I loved my hotshoe flashes for their portability but hated the compromise with low power, slow recycle times, hotspots with the light, and faced a constant battle with the batteries. The Godox AD360 gives me the best of both; amazing light quality on location without having to carry too much. I’ve tested it, checked it, used it professionally and it’s been amazing. The bulbs are user-replaceable and its really well made so I can imagine it lasting for many years of practical use. I’d previously advised all of my students to get the bargain Yongnuo 560iii flash. Now, I think the Godox will be better in the long-term.

That Godox have supported the system with their own light modifiers, and that it can be used with much larger light modifiers too because of its bare-bulb design, makes it an excellent system to invest in. I hope that Godox are listening and give us a video-light that uses the same battery pack (and a cable to power the camera too, please!). I’m also enthusiastic that more manufacturers will see the potential and create their own light modifiers as SMDV have done – a fresnel lens reflectors and a parabolic reflector are both top of the list.

It’s a shame that the flash doesn’t have a modelling/video light – those LEDs for the auto-focus assist lamp are pretty useless. I never use TTL metering for off-camera flash so that’s not a concern but it might be for you. It’s also unfortunate to have to use third-party options to make the most of the high-speed sync that the Godox AD360 is capable of, or to find brackets that allow the use of larger modifiers like my 70cm Pixapro beauty dish or bigger softboxes. Hopefully Godox options are on the way.

I predict that you will start to see this flash a lot. The branding may be different, as already at least five companies have staked their reputation on it and put their name on it. Godox makes them all; they are huge in China having dramatically changed their philosophy to one of innovation and quality – and they are the one to watch in the West now. I’d previously been impressed by Elincrom’s Quadra RX which has slightly more power but is heavier, bulkier and a lot more expensive. And oh yes, I haven’t mentioned the price of the Godox AD360 and Witstro accessories. Have a look for yourself and compare it to any other similar option; might be surprising!

In Short

+ Beautiful bare-bulb light quality

+ Incredible battery life

+ Excellent build quality

+ Small & lightweight relative to power output

+ Fast recycle times without overhearing

+ Great value + cheap accessories

 

– Pathetic auto-focus light

– Have to get another brand of radio trigger to use high speed sync

– Have to use Godox’ trigger to adjust power remotely

– No built-in radio receiver

– Optical slave doesn’t work at all when it’s too bright

– No modelling/video light

Further Reading:

Here’s the Godox AD360/ Wistro system/ Cheetahstand etc Facebook group to share photos and advice – https://www.facebook.com/GodoxWitstro

Here’s a great review with some studio product photos of the AD180, the AD360’s little sister – http://flashhavoc.com/cheetah-cl180-godox-ad180-review/