Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Godox SDi250 Studio Strobe Review

What's in the Box?

  1. One 250w/s Godox SDi250 Smart Studio Flash
  2. One Sync Cord, One (1) Power Cord
  3. One Modeling Light
  4. One Instruction Manual


    • Durable Aluminum Housing
    • High Power in Compact Size
    • Buzz Function
    • One Fire Anti-Preflash System
    • Precise LED Power Display
    • Multiple Auto-self Protections

Max Power(ws)
Guide Number(ISO100)
Flash Power Variation
8 steps
Recycle Time
Modelling Lamp(w)
75W (adjustable)
Color Temperature
Trigger Mode
Test buttonSync cordFlash triggerSlave
Operating voltage
220V/50Hz or 100V~120V/60Hz
Flash Duration
Triggering Voltage
5A(220V); 8A(100V~120V)
(Source: Godox Photo Equipment Co., Ltd) 

Godox has the Smart Studio Strobe in 250w/s and 300w/s models, the 250SDI and 300SDI respectively. They are also sold under the names, Blazzeo, Neewer, and Cowboy Studio.

I bought three Godox 250SDIs for less than $300. One 250SDI is equal to the power of an Alien Bee 400 for the same price as a Yongnuo speed light! If you want extra power you can try the bigger brother, the SDI300, which is about half a stop more powerful than the SDI250. There is also the smaller 160w/s SD strobe which appears to fit into the same product lineup but is not the exact same series.

I have been using them for about five months an the quality is good and I have had no problems with any of the three 250SDI units I own. (2014-11 UPDATE: The sync port on two of my three units has stopped functioning, making them only useable in slave mode. A considerable nuisance and a letdown considering they are just over a year old)

I use them mostly with 80 cm brolly boxes, but I have used one in my 180 cm parabolic umbrella and it filled it perfectly (I used to need three speedlights to fill this umbrella).

The light fittings themselves will fit onto any standard light stand, and have a hole for an umbrella. The flash heads are daylight-balanced at 5600 K, so the color is accurate so long as you have white balanced. With a guide number of 48m (98.5ft) at ISO 100 I find that I need to back up the lighting quite a bit in even to shoot at large apertures like F8.  

The flash head has a stated recycling time of 0.5 to 2 seconds. It seems to be a bit longer when used at maximum output, but I have not timed it to check the exact time. Even at the lowest power setting they seem to recharge slower than my Yongnuo YN560s, which was disappointing as I expected AC powered strobes to be significantly better in this regard. Although comparing it to similarly priced options this isn’t bad, but won’t cut it for fast-paced shoots. If speed is a priority for you, then there are better (read: more expensive) options. There is a buzz function to tell you when the unit is ready to fire again.
The range of power is rated at five or six stops. It seems to be closer to four stops. The power level is adjusted by a dial which has a "LED Precise Power Display." The blue LED bars are useful for reference in a dark studio but are anything but "precise."

The LED power indicators are not quite linear and appear to be in increments of between quarter and half stops.
It can be triggered by a sync cord or optical trigger (slave mode). I have tried both methods and both work perfectly. I use Phottix Strato II triggers to trigger with the sync cord. The Slave 2 anti-preflash setting allows it to be used with flashes that have preflash as it only fires on the second flash.
My main problem with them is they only have a 75W modeling lamp, which is useless if there is even a little ambient light. This may not be a problem for some people, but for me, modeling lights is one of the reasons I chose to change from speedlights to studio strobes.
It does not have cooling fan, but I wouldn't expect lights at this price point to come with fans. I haven't had any problems with units overheating even when enclosed in a brolly box (note that I generally do not use the almost worthless modeling light).
The light casing is well built and is all aluminum with a bakelite plastic stand mount. So it is relatively strong and sturdy but still lightweight.

Overall, I can agree with the Godox's statement that the quality, reliability, and durability of the SDi250 is perfectly adequate for non-demanding portrait, fashion, wedding art, advertisement photography, shooting video, etc.
I plan on buying one or two of the 160w/s versions too as there are times 250w/s is too much power indoors. I will also try out the Godox beauty dishes with these and let you know how well they work.



Sunday, January 26, 2014

Actor Headshots: Preparing for the shoot

General Advice for preparing for headshot session

  • Bring complete outfit changes suitable for different looks.
  • Avoid bold patterns that may distract from your face. Plain colors and fine textures work best.
  • You should feel comfortable in the clothes.
  • Clothes should complement your skin tone and eye color.
    1. Caucasian or light-skinned: Avoid solid white shirts
    2. Medium or dark skin and brown eyes: Most colors would be OK, but avoid colors that closely match your skin tone
    3. Fair skin and blue eyes: Wear blues, pinks, and grays
    4. Green eyes: Wear browns, greens, and oranges
    5. Bright red usually doesn’t work for anybody

·         To relax, feel free to bring in your mp3 player with your favorite tunes.

One week before your headshot session

  • Have your preferred beauty treatments done—haircut, hair color, eyebrows, tanning, etc.—so the treatments look fresh but natural
  • Male actors: if you want pictures with and without facial hair, start growing your beard before the shoot. You can shave during the session if you want to include a shaved look

Seventy-two hours before your headshot shoot

  • Stay out of the sun
  • Drink lots of water
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes, and salty foods
  • Moisturize
  • Get a good night's sleep

The day of your headshot shoot

  • Ensure your outfits are clean and ironed
  • If you’re using a makeup artist, come to the shoot with nothing besides moisturizer on your face


  • Women: Your daily makeup is not the same as the makeup you’ll wear for a shoot. A professional Makeup artist is recommended. A professional MUA knows how to make you look your best on camera.
  • Men: Men usually don’t need much makeup. Minimal makeup like a little powder to eliminate shine is usually sufficient.


  • Actor headshots are meant to look natural, so a hair stylist is not as important as a makeup artist
  • A hairstylist helps your hair look its best for the shoot, but your hair should look the same as when you go for auditions

Clothing for Theatrical vs. Commercial Headshots

Clothing Suggestions for Theatrical Headshots

  • Dressier, upscale clothes in darker colors
  • For women: stretchy tops, sweaters, velvet, satin, scoop necks, spaghetti strap, tank tops, v-necks, as well as business suits and other professional clothing.
  • For men: Dress shirts, crew necks, textured sweaters, v-necks, turtle necks, suits and blazers.
  • Contrast can be created by layering a T-shirt, collared shirt, and/or jacket

Clothing Suggestions for Commercial Headshots

  • Casual clothes in lighter and brighter colors
  • Contrast can be created by layering light and dark clothes
  • For women: T-shirts, tank tops, sweater sets, denim/leather jackets, textured sweaters
  • For men: T-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts, work shirts, polo shirts, denim/leather jackets, textured sweaters