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The Photokina Files – New Siros Monolight from Broncolor

I just got back from a week in Cologne Germany at the MASSIVE Photokina photo expo. Now I’m a trade show veteran, but the sheer scale of this 7 day show is unbelievable. No wonder manufacturers wait to release their newest products until this big gathering of visual creatives, every two years. If you’ve been anywhere near the internet I’m sure you’ve heard about the new cameras, software (Capture One 8), lenses (Tamron 15-30mm), and lights (Broncolor Siros) that were announced. As a professional photographer, lighting is one of the skill sets that I hang my hat on, so I was curious to check out the new strobes and share them with you.

Theres a new monolight on the block! The Broncolor Siros.

So wait… whats a monolight? Well it’s a strobe light that you plug directly into a wall outlet. Versus a pack-and-head strobe, where you plug a light head into a power pack then plug that pack into the wall. I like monolights for how self-contained and compact they are. Think of speedlight on steroids, only you need to plug these in. Monolights are also more affordable than their often more powerful pack-and-head system big brothers.

Now Broncolor is know for making some of the fastest, most powerful, and color accurate pack-and-head lighting systems that money can buy… and you pay for what you get, sometimes a lot. So when I heard about these monolights being announced I had to check them out. A more compact and affordable lighting option from one of the best names in biz? Yes please!

Quick Highlights

  • Built In Wi-Fi w/ bronControl App
  • Fast Flash Duration to Freeze Motion
  • HyperSync Supported with Built-In PocketWizard
  • Compact Design and Solid Build

Design & Interface

At first glance the Broncolor Siros just looks sharp. Good design is something inherent to Broncolor. Just as all Apple products look cool, so do these new Broncolor strobes.A handle, mount and umbrella mount are all built in. The staff at the booth even demoed how the handle doubles as a floor stand, so that you don’t need a tiny light stand to setup a low fill-light. It looks like they designed two different reflectors as well. One for umbrellas and the other as a zoom, to focus the light and to accept different grid spots for maximum control.

The interface is incredibly tactile and easy to pick and use instantly. There’s a rotary dial on the back that quickly lets you scroll through different options then you simply press the dial to select. The intensity of your dial spin also lets you quickly adjust the flash in full 1-Stop increments or more precisely in 1/10-Stop increments.

Power & Speed

Power is a big thing when considering a monolight. After all one of the biggest reasons to step up from the small flash arena is for more power. Siros announced two different options here, a 400J and an 800J strobe. So depending on your subject or location you will have plenty of power at your disposal in the studio, and enough to venture outdoors to compete with daylight even!

The second consideration is speed and Siros has options to best hit you here as well. And yes light has it’s own speed too, it’s referred to as flash duration. If you photograph moving subjects you will want to freeze them with fast light, just as you’d use a fast shutter speed to freeze motion in natural light. In the past cheaper monolights only produced slow light that led to blurred edges if the subject moved a lot. To get faster light you needed to buy a more expensive pack-and-head system. Well is seems like everything Broncolor makes is speedy, even their monolights. They offer a standard version and a “S” version for speed, which produces those short flash durations.

Control & Beyond

Once you begin using a light of any kind that is not attached directly on top of your camera you’ll need someway to trigger it in each shot. With a strobe like this you’d hope to be able to do a little more that as well. Whats convenient about controlling the Siros is that it has options for built in wireless receivers. You can control the power output and trigger it with the Broncolor RFS 2.1 commander. This is to be expected though. You can also get the option with PocketWizard compatibility built in. This is great for people like myself with a ton of old PocketWizards lying around. On top of triggering you can control power output, and utilize HyperSync. This is huge! As HyperSync allows you to finally synchronize your strobe and flash at speeds beyond your camera’s usual x-sync speed of around 1/200 sec. (This allows you to minimize ambient blur and use those wide open apertures of f2.8 and beyond). Broncolor flat out built in and supports PocketWizard triggering and the HyperSync that comes with it. This is an awesome move on their part as they could have just gone the standard corporate route of only embedding their proprietary trigger system. Bravo guys!

Did I mention they have Wi-Fi built in too? Nowadays there’s an app for everything, including your studio lighting! With the new bronControl app you can connect the Siros to a Wi-Fi network and control all of the basic functions from your phone or iPad. I can see this coming in really handy when you need to adjust the power on a strobe light 13′ in the air on a large boom.

Decisions Decisions

  • 400J or 800J
  • Standard or Speed S Variations
  • Broncolor RFS 2.1 or PocketWizard

With all of the options available right away with the announcement thankfully they put together a few kits to get you started. On paper and in my hands I was very impressed with the new Siros and Im excited to see what Broncolor can do in this sector. I can’t wait to get a couple myself, to shoot with and review. Keep an eye out for that post once these puppies start shipping!

Erik Valind is a full-time professional photographer living in NYC, who specializes in commercial lifestyle photography and environmental portraiture.

To find out more about Eriks work, click HERE.

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