THE ALMIGHTY ALL-IN-ONE
Welcome to my review of the FlashQ Q20 camera flash. For those who have not heard of the Q20 yet, this is not just any regular Joe flash. It is a complete flash system with color gels, LED video light, and even wireless transceivers – All compacted into one package that fits into your pocket.
How cool is that!?
This is literally the Swiss army knife of camera flash. But given it’s size, how well will the Q20 satisfy a “heavy gunner” such as myself? How well will it perform? Let us find out in this review.
But before we start, let me do a quick shout-out to the guys at LightPix Labs for sending this neat gadget over for review. Do visit their website for more good stuff, links below.
One solid flash, but has some small parts that you might lose.
Flash, color gels, video light and wireless all-in-one.
Given the price and amount of features, this thing is a steal.
Lightweight and good for travel, but not much for professional work.
An impressive lightweight package that is good for travel.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
THE SPECS AND CONTENDERS
When it comes to a pocket-sized complete flash system, I think that the Q20 is the only one in the market now. But when it comes to pocket-sized portable flashes, I can only think of the Godox AD200.
A comparison between these two might not really make sense, but for the sake of completeness of this review, here goes.
|Price (USD)||$89 (Black), $95 (White)||About $300|
|Guide Number (at ISO 100)||20||52 (Flash), 60 (Bulb)|
|Weight (grams)||115 (Without batteries)||560 (With flash head and without batteries)|
|Dimensions||59(W) x 99(H) x 29(D) mm (with FlashQ transmitter attached)||168(W) x 75(H) x 50(D) mm (without flash head)|
|Wireless||2.4GHz low-power digital radio (FlashQ Receiver) inside Q20 main body||Godox 2.4G wireless X system|
|Recycle time (after full power output)||7 sec. by fresh alkaline batteries / 6 sec. by Ni-MH batteries||Up to 2.1 secs|
|Number of flashes||100 – 2000 flashes with fresh alkaline batteries||500 full power flashes on fully charged battery|
|Max. Sync Speed||1/250 sec||1/8000 sec|
So there you go. The Godox may be a much more heavy duty flash, but it is also 3 times the weight, size, and price.
Well, the FlashQ Q20 sure does not come in some expensive looking fancy glossy white box like some overpriced half-eaten apple. But everything you need is packed nicely inside a small brown box, that is the easiest way to describe the package.
Yes, it is not some lavish packaging. But as you can expect from a complete flash system, everything that you need is inside the Pandora’s box.
- Color Gels
- Detachable receiver unit
- Carrying pouch
- Instruction manual
Small, simple, elegant, functional and affordably priced. What else do you need? 🙂
BUILD & CONSTRUCT
The first thing that stood out to me was, one simple rectangular box. Yep, it may not be an uni-aluminum body with glossy piano black paint. But it does not feel cheap, and it is solid in hand.
Being an *ahem* experienced gadget breaker, my only concern with the Q20 is that the battery door is a tad bit on the flimsy side. That is going to break off on a few bad drops, but apart from that, everything else is built like a tank.
- The design is downright simple, and things are put where they should be – Flash head and LED lights in front, battery door by the side, and control panel at the back.
- While the flash head does swivel upwards 90°, a small bummer is that it does not turn side-wards.
- The battery door springs open, and is the only flimsy part. Takes 2 AA batteries.
- Control panel at the back may look intimidating, but it only took me 1 minute to figure it out. Without the instruction manual.
- The hot shoe mount/trigger is removable, although I don’t really like to do so – The small trigger is easy to lose.
- There is a standard tripod screw mount at the bottom of the flash unit, but I find this to be quite awkwardly positioned. Some small tripods might not be able to support the weight and topple over.
Technically, the Q20 is already a complete off-camera flash system by itself. Buying additional wireless triggers are completely optional, at $45 for a pair of transmitter/receiver, and $62 for a set of 1 transmitter and 2 receivers. But does it make sense to get more of these triggers?
For those who are new to off-camera flash, more triggers will allow you to have a bigger light setup. That is, one camera controlling 2 or more flashes.
Now, there are plenty of other wireless trigger manufacturers in this world – Metz, Phottix, Godox, YongNuo, Pocket Wizard, etc… So the question here is, what is so good and different about FlashQ triggers?
Specs wise, I really don’t find the FlashQ triggers to be much. A common 1/250 sync speed, no TTL (auto flash power), and I don’t quite like it using CR2032 lithium batteries. While it does last a long time, that lithium button battery is just not as common as AA or AAA batteries.
The redeeming factors of the FlashQ trigger are – small, portable, well built, and almost universal (works with Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Sony, Fuji, Pentax, etc…). Otherwise, for a price of slightly more than $45, I see myself getting a pair of YongNuo wireless triggers with high-speed sync and TTL.
Sorry to you guys at LightPix, I am just not digging the triggers. These are not made for heavy duty work, and I need heavy duty. But for those of you who just want some lightweight goodness – these triggers are perfect for you.
Now it is time to put the Q20 to the test. Unfortunately, I am beginning to like the flash, and I am not going to drop it nor set it on fire. This is just going to be a “normal test” to check the functionalities, and ease of use of the Q20.
TEST 1) ON-CAMERA FLASH
The Q20 mounted onto my Nikon DSLR without a hitch, and it worked buttery smooth. For the first test, I went against all the good teachings of using a flash. I did something that newbies usually do – A straight-on flash in-the-face.
Well, I was expecting an ugly over-exposed washed out white. The Q20 is a small flash unit after all, and good photographers should know that a small intense bare flash equates to bad over-exposed nuclear flash.
But I was pleasantly surprised with the result. Maybe the white background helped, but the Q20 does produce some decently good quality light.
TEST 2) LED LIGHT
Next test, the LED video light. As you can expect, the LED video lights are not as strong as the flash.
But they are still mighty decent, and way better than any smartphone LEDs. Do note that the LED light gets pretty hot over a period of time, and you do not want to grab the flash with your bare hands.
TEST 3) OFF-CAMERA FLASH
For the third test, I took the flash off the camera and put on the color gels.
Pretty cool, but how well does it do against a human? Since I don’t have a willing model, I kindly volunteered myself to model for myself.
For this shot, the flash is put high up to my left. Quite impressive, I must say. While the Q20 is not enough for full body shots, it actually did pretty well with portraits. But as something kept bugging me, I decided to push the Q20 to the limits – I put it inside a softbox, and into a more studio environment.
The first couple of shots actually turned out bad, and the tiny Q20 did not have enough juice to give out sufficient light. I only managed a decent shot on full power inside the softbox. The recycle time is horrible too, and it does not beep to indicate a full charge.
Well, I am not complaining. The Q20 is not made for studio work, and in fact, I am quite surprised that something this small even managed to squeeze out a decent shot. Plus, there were no misfires for the entire duration of the test, and it even works inside the softbox.
An all-in-one flash system that fits into your pocket. This is an interesting concept and product. I do think that LightPix Labs did a good job in bringing the Q20 together, but there are a few ways in which it could have been better.
While lightweight and compact, you can easily lose those mini triggers. Attaching a simple strap to it will lessen the chances of losing parts, but there are no slots for you to put them on. The flash unit also lacks a lot of accessories for professionals such as softbox, snoot, and grid.
But is this still a good flash?
Well, it is a good product, but the practicality still depends on your usage context. If you are looking to do some professional work with a lightweight flash, the Q20 lacks the power punch. Otherwise, the Q20 is an excellent choice if you are looking for an all-round lightweight travel companion.
Personally, I think that the Q20 does sufficiently well given its size. Plus, it’s a complete off-camera flash system that fits into your pocket! While it may not be perfect, I am definitely keeping this one for my future travels.
- A mighty decent all-in-one flash system.
- Affordable and well priced.
- Compact and lightweight, an excellent travel companion.
- Great overall battery life.
- Flash uses the common AA battery, which you can replace easily.
- Although manual only, the wireless is universal – works with Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Sony, Olympus, Fuji, etc…
- Not powerful enough for “heavy duty work”.
- Flash head does not swivel sideways.
- Manual flash only. Might not be good for beginners.
- Lacks flash accessories – Snoot, diffuser, bounce card, etc…
- Small triggers that you might lose.