View Full Version : Another quick gear review

January 18th, 2010, 05:04 PM
Promised these after Christmas but ive been so busy actually putting them to work, I havent had a chance to even get them reviewed! Slowly though, I am becoming more and more of a Paul C. Buff equipment whore so here is my shameless shout out to them and a quick review of a couple new pieces of their gear.

We will start off with the Paul C. Buff Vagabond II.


Ive forced myself to stop shooting in the studio and start getting "out there" and making creative uses of the world around me. Street corners, parking lots, scenic backdrops...basically anywhere that will force me to look outside of the normal and do something a little different. But there in lies the problem: Supplying power to your studio lights! Speedlights are fine and dandy and a real life saver more often than not but when your shooting in bright daylight or find yourself in a situation where you need more light, the easiest solution is to just use larger, more powerful lights.

Which is where the Vagabond II comes in. This awesome little bag contains a pure sine wave inverter and a sealed lead acid battery allowing you to power multiple studio lights anywhere, anytime. The inverter it uses is different from most. Most inverters use a "modified sine wave" which is murder on any sensitive electronics. The "pure sine wave" these produce is identical, or better than the power you get from an outlet inside your home.

Whats inside the bag:

Very simple, very easy to use. Plug your lights in, flip the switch and start shooting! The switch has three positions; Fast, Slow and Off. The fast position gives you the fastest light recycle time but depletes your battery faster. The slow, increases your recycle times but gives you more shots per battery charge. The fast setting is approximately twice as fast as the slow. A single AB800 at full power recharges in about 1 second plugged into a home outlet. On the fast setting, its roughly the same, perhaps about a half of a second slower. The slow setting, again with the same light and power takes about 2-3 seconds for a full charge. At a location shoot I used two AB800's and shot mostly in the 1/2 to full power range with the inverter set to fast and even after 300+ shots, I still had plenty of battery left. So even on the fast setting, its probably more than enough battery life than one would need unless using a ton of lights and shooting full power. The black, two prong charge port can be seen in the photo. You plug your charging cable in that, then plug it into your house outlet and it recharges. Recharge times seem to be fairly quick. Ive yet to kill the battery completely but it usually is fully recharges inside of an hour or two. But if you do run out of power and need more, you can lift off the orange cover and hook the unit up to any car battery and keep shooting.

Pretty slick and so far, HIGHLY recommended!

Second up is Paul C. Buff's CyberSyncs...


Lets face it...wires SUCK! Have the ability to fire your flashes via a wireless means is worth its weight in gold! I bought a set of the Cactus triggers you see all over for about 40-50 bucks. I quickly discovered that these things were crap, pure and simple. When you were close(10 feet or so) to the receiver, it would fire about 9 out of 10 times. But start throwing a lot of objects into the mix or a little more distance and I was lucky if i could get a 50-60% fire rate. They got worse and worse as time went on so I got rid of them and went in search for another option. For a casual user, these are probably fine but as an aspiring professional, i needed something more reliable as clients dont want to be sitting there watching me pound the crap out of these things in frustration trying to get them to work.

So it left me a few options...Radio Poppers, Skyports, Pocket Wizards, and a few others. What sold me on these was not only price but the fact that they included ALL the necessary cables to fire every flash i own. The comparable Radio Poppers did not and i would have had to buy another cable to fire speedlights and the Pocket Wizards are very EXPENSIVE.

Attached on the side of a B800...

The construction quality on them is very nice. They feel sturdy, durable and well built. My only complaint about them is that the battery doors can be a little bit of a pain in the butt to get open but not really a big deal. The range of these things is incredible though! At 10 feet...100% reliability...50 feet, 100%...100 feet, 100%...200 feet, 100%...400 feet, 100%. I couldnt go much further than that because I was losing sight of the flash...but even under heavy cover, inside buildings, cars, etc, they always fired 100%, every single time which in my book, gives them a gold star!

If your looking for a quality wireless trigger at a reasonable price, these definitely deserve a look!

January 19th, 2010, 04:02 PM
I absolutely LOVE my CyberSyncs! I was looking at getting Pocket Wizards but for what one PW cost I was able to get 2 receivers and a transmitter from Paul C. Buff.

January 19th, 2010, 04:10 PM
I absolutely LOVE my CyberSyncs! I was looking at getting Pocket Wizards but for what one PW cost I was able to get 2 receivers and a transmitter from Paul C. Buff.

My thoughts exactly.

I know Pocket Wizards have been the professional standard for a while now but ive yet to read a bad review on the CyberSyncs and the price was considerably more attractive! Im going to order up two more receivers next week.

Im 1500+ shots into mine and batteries are still going strong...my Cactus triggers would have had oh, 2, maybe 3 battery changes in that time at about 10 bucks per set. :rolleyes:

January 19th, 2010, 04:26 PM
I think Radio Poppers are the new big thing. Tejada swears by them at least.

January 19th, 2010, 04:30 PM
They are since they rolled out their JrX line...but again, they are fairly new to the scene and almost as expensive as the CyberSyncs but dont include cables to fire speedlights(1/8 mono to pc). The JrX would have been my next choice though but i hear mixed feelings on them because they are so new.