So this is by no means new advice, it is just a lesson I had to recently re-learn. Here at PhotoComment we get the opportunity to review a fair amount of products and to date – in my experiences – there has never been a serious issue with them. This time I was not so lucky. Hence the black frame above to illustrate this article.
I arrived at the school at 7am ready to set up and start shooting the preschoolers as they arrived in their fantasy or hero costumes. Despite the offer from a friend to take his lights as back up I opted to keep gear in my small car to a minimum with the two battery powered studio lights I had recently taken delivery of. This was not wise considering that Armani had recently had issues with the one unit when he was testing it but… well I figured it may have been the gear he uses. This is not intended as a brand bash, I have had more than one negative experience with flashes and strobes when I was shooting with the same brand as he is now using. I figured that if it was that light he had had to review that was an issue at least I had a second unit and could make due with that. Besides I know so many other guys using the same light that are over the moon they just have to be okay.
Not even halfway through the shoot things began to go wrong. The unit Armani had experienced issues with was taking for ever for the ready light to come on even with a fully charged pack and while the other unit’s ready light remained on it too was not firing for several minutes between ever 5-10 frame burst where it would work. It was a massive challenge.
I kicked myself for not listening to my gut and taking the back up lights that were offered to me. Why did I think the advice I give to photographers all the time would not apply to me? I have spent nearly two weeks editing those images trying to brighten the shadows cause when the one light would fire without the other etc. Earlier today I photographed the few kids who were absent on the day of the main shoot. I used those lights from my mate, even though they are over a decade old they worked like a dream and have saved me a lot of time in editing. So my plea to anyone thinking of getting a new camera, lens etc to use on a shoot even a few days away, dont do it, stick to what you know will work.
It turns out that there seems to be an issue on the batch of lights we got to review and it is being looked into. We have chosen not to publish the brand so as to not cause panic and alarm while they check the extent of the issue and size of the batch from which our units came from.