Street Portraits with the Godox V1


The Godox V1 is a new round head flash very similar to (some would say a blatant copy of) the Profoto A1 (but a third of the price). Coupled with a Godox XPro trigger this combination promises to be a great portable flash system for creating location portraits without having to cart around heavy battery packs or several metres of extension cables.

Godox make both the flash unit and the remote trigger for a range of manufacturers cameras including, most recently, Fujifilm. I recently bought a pair of these for my Fujifilm X-T3 as a replacement for my Cactus RF60 flashes and V6 wireless triggers. Cactus were very good but like most flash guns relied on using AA batteries meaning I had to cart around lots of spares. All the reviews seem to indicate that the life of the Li-ion battery is very good (Godox claim 480 shots from one charge on full power).

You can read lots of reviews of the Godox V1 on the web and I don’t intend to repeat anything you can find there. Instead I thought I’d try out the flash on a couple of real world shoots and give my initial thoughts on this system. Here are the images from two shoots around the Digbeth area of Birmingham (famous for its street art).

The first shoot is with a male model called Dan. We went on my now well trodden phot-walk starting at the Custard Factory and onto the canal that goes through Digbeth. Here are the results of that shoot (click an image to start a slide show and get a larger version).

The second shoot was with Kym, a heavily tattooed model who I thought would be great to set against some of the graffiti around Digbeth.

In each case I used the Godox V1 off-camera on a Manfrotto light stand with the spherical diffuser head (part of the accessory kit that optionally comes with the V1). I was using it to provide some fill-in as both days I shot the sun was quite strong and overhead so I needed to fill-in some of the shadow areas.

So here goes with my first impressions of the Godox V1?

  1. Don’t be fooled into thinking that because the Godox V1 is a third of the price of the Profoto A1 its a cheap Chinese rip-off. On the first outing I dropped the V1 on the canal tow-path, probably from a height of around a metre and it was completely unscathed and carried on working perfectly. The flash feels very sturdy, the head rotates smoothly with no looseness whatsoever.
  2. It’s very powerful (for a flash gun). Godox rate it at 76 Ws at full power. That’s just under half the 200Ws of one of my Elinchrom mains powered flashes. Under the conditions I was shooting I never found myself needing more than half the power.
  3. I love the movement that you get from the head. It rotates and tilts meaning you can pretty much cover all angles. I’ve not used it seriously as an on-camera flash yet but from a quick play around it looks like its going to be great for event photography using bounce flash.
  4. Neither of these shoots (for which I took around 150 shots) even dropped the battery below three bars so I’m fairly confident the claims of the manufacturer for battery life are accurate.
  5. The accessory kit which not only contains the round half-globe diffuser but a range of snoots, barn doors and gels is a great optional addition I’d recommend you get. The accessories come in a nice carrying case which, together with the flash unit and trigger fit perfectly into me Lowepro m-Trekker BP 150 backpack.
  6. Like all flash-trigger combos the display and controls take some getting used to. The display is large and clear but the operation is not entirely intuitive. I’m sure I’ll get used to that though.

All in all the Godox V1 flash and Xpro Trigger are a great addition to my kit which I fully recommend. I’m looking forward to using it at my upcoming fashion shoot later this month.

 

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