What's in the Box?
- One 250w/s Godox SDi250 Smart Studio Flash
- One Sync Cord, One (1) Power Cord
- One Modeling Light
- 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
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.