Phottix Indra 500 TTL
A test review of the Phottix Indra 500 TTL Flash kit from a wedding photographers point of view.
by Paul Baybut - Manchester wedding | Fashion | Portrait photographer
My Wedding photography often requires me to use off camera flash when natural light is inadequate for the quality of image I am after therefore an off camera flash kit that suits all my needs is required for this. Initially I look for something that is easy to handle, lightweight and quick to set up, for the fast paced wedding environment this is essential. It must be compact enough in build for convenience on location allowing me to quickly move from room to room and amongst wedding guests at indoor wedding venues without causing too much of a calamity. Powerful outdoors for photographing the Bride and Groom shooting into direct sunlight and with High Speed sync capability. The Phottix Indra 500 Flash has all this and more with the added bonus of being TTL capable with Canon and Nikon cameras, yes it is exciting kit but let me backtrack a little first. In brief it is a sturdy piece of equipment with all round solid construction of both head and parts that handle very smoothly indeed. The head can hold all my modifiers both Bowens S fit and Elinchrom with ease and had no problem with an Elinchrom 120cm softbox or my 21 Inch Bowens beauty dish with grid attached. Although it has an S fit Bowens mount with umbrella adapter ready for your Bowens softboxes it also easily holds Elinchrom modifiers too with the simple use of an adapter ring. The battery pack is sleek in design and has dual power ports for two lights which are well sealed against moderate rain. The sockets are quick and easy to use in conjunction with the high quality cable that comes with the unit. Actually there are very few buttons to press on the pack itself as everything you need is located on the rear of the head with a large and easy to read LED screen. You can control all these settings with the Odin trigger (sold separately) or with the Mittros Plus speedlight attached directly onto your camera's hotshoe. I chose the latter method as I like to throw in some fill flash or bounce flash at the same time, very useful for highlighting a dark foreground if need be. So some stats for the Indra, 500 Ws of power from 1/128 to full power over an 8-stop range with a recycling time of 0.1 to 2 seconds which translates to 0.1 to 1 second using an optional AC adapter. I quite liked the TTL control with the Phottix Mittros speedlight or the optional Odin 4 transmitter of +/- 3 EV and an 8-stop range in manual mode. The high speed sync goes up to 1/8000 sec and for fast action flash shots, durations of 1/15,000 sec are possible on reduced power settings . There are second curtain sync and stroboscopic modes too, plus a flash bracketing function. A USB port allows you to update the firmware as and when it evolves. Guidelines state that a 5 hour charge of the battery will give you 360-400 full power shots and at minimum power literally thousands though I have found that the unit fully charges in less than 2.5 hours. The Indra comes with a smart and comfortable carry case with all instructions supplied on a USB stick. I hate reading manuals myself, so the clear, simple instructions viewed on my computer screen were a breath of fresh air and after switching the Odin trigger over from Nikon to Canon and mounting the Mittros Plus to my canon 5D Mark III I was all set up in under 10 minutes.
First test was outdoors in a rape seed field conveniently located 5 minutes from my front door at the rear of my baby girls nursery and as rain was forecast this was actually my plan B and we shot for just a couple of hours in the afternoon on an overcast and then slightly moody cloud kind of day. My assistant had no problem holding the pack and flash head on a Lastolite 70-176cm Extending handle. TTL performance was very good although I prefer to shoot in manual mode myself most of the time, I can see this function being very useful for wedding photographers in those 'rush rush' situations. The Phottix Mittros+ worked well highlighting the foreground in the yellow field whilst controlling the Phottix Indra 500 camera left.
Rape seed field test shots: Canon 5D Mark III with Canon 85mm lens at 1/1250, F3.2, ISO 100
Flash on half power.
My second test shoot was taken indoors at a private swimming pool with a glass roof and windows on a bright sunny day.
Again great performance using the Phottix Indra 500 for key light fill controlled by the Phottix Mittos speedlight on camera hotshoe as trigger and also using another Phottix Mittros for rim lighting of the model.
Indoor swimming pool bikini model test shots: Canon 5D Mark III with Canon 135mm lens at 1/125, F9, ISO 100
Flash varying from full to half and 1/32 power
Third test was a Bridal style night shoot outdoors in the city
Image above: Canon 5D Mark III with Canon 24mm lens at 1/200, F4, ISO 500
Image below: Canon 5D Mark III with Canon 50mm lens at 1/50, F2.8, ISO 320 Image above: Canon 5D Mark III with Canon 50mm lens at 1/50, F2.8, ISO 320
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Manchester Wedding photographer - London wedding photographer Paul Baybut