Monday, 10 August 2015

PIXAPRO ® PowerGenerator 800 First Impressions

When I first started trading as Tim Vasvi Photography, the first investment I made was lighting equipment which I carefully selected after much research. I wanted a robust studio lighting solution which was easily transportable as I would be doing home based photo shoots. I also wanted an option to use the lights on location which was an option available via the Profoto BatPac. The only problem was the price point which was the only stumbling block on that front.

Fast forward to the present and I came across the PIXAPRO ® PowerGenerator 800, which appeared to be, in every aspect a viable solution for powering my Profoto D1’s on location. The spec sheet looked impressive, but the deal breaker was how surprisingly affordable it was. So shortly after stumbling across this find, I was placing my order with the guys over at Essential Photo.

The unit arrived the following day and the first thing that struck me was just how light the unit was. Weighing in at a touch over 8KG including charger and Carry Case that it comes in, it was a lot lighter than I was anticipating it to be. The build quality feels sturdy and the handle on the top of the unit makes carrying it around an absolute breeze. The top of the unit has 3 multi-socket AC outlets capable of taking any of the various plugs from the UK and European countries. You also find 3 USB sockets with various Amp ratings for charging your portable devices such as mobile phones and tablets. It’s worth noting that the unit is only capable of outputting power to either the USB or AC Sockets at once, so it’s an either or scenario, but that shouldn't be much of an issue.

First thing I did when the unit was arrived was plug one of my D1 500’s into the unit to see how it performed. The Profoto units have a dedicated ‘Battery Mode’ for use with power packs such as the PowerGenerator 800, so I enabled this first as it lowers the voltage draw on the battery pack when recharging the capacitors. Recycle times were fast when on the lowest power output and maintained this throughout the power range. When popping at full power you hear the Fan unit in the PowerGenerator 800 spinning up which is to be expected to keep the unit cool.

A quick comparison test followed, D1 500 plugged into the PowerGenerator 800, and the other into the mains, and the difference in recycling times was minimal to say the least at a fraction of a second if even that. Even with the two D1 500 heads connected to the unit, recycling times appeared to be the same as only having one connected. Now the primary testing had been done, it was onto the field test.

I arranged a shoot with a friend of mine to bring his BMW Z4M Coupe out for a location shoot. This was exciting for me as I have had my Profoto gear for a few years now and have never gotten the chance to use them on location. So into the boot went the lighting gear and the PowerGenerator 800 and off we went. On location setting up was a breeze, remove the unit from its carry case and the PowerGenerator 800 was ready to show what it could do.

A total of 160 shots were taken on the shoot which lasted around 90 minutes with the majority of the shots taken with the strobes firing over half the power and a fair amount being close to full power. Recycle times remained consistent and they never skipped a beat. The D1 monoblocks also use cooling fans which are constantly running. I was unsure as to whether these would draw more power or not, but it seems this was not an issue as the PowerGenerator 800 still had plenty of life left in the battery when we had to wrap up the shoot due to incoming rain.

All in all, this seems like a good value purchase so far. With the unit retailing at £649.99 over at at time of writing, it’s pretty hard to find a solution which offers the same level of power output and longevity at such an affordable price point. In the upcoming weeks I will be using the PowerGenerator 800 on some more shoots including a multi-car automotive shoot, after which I will be writing a complete review of the unit. So far, early signs are positive and I am confident that I made the right decision when I picked this product. 

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