Most people can name a camera company, but lights? Unless you’re talking to a pro photographer, you will likely be greeted with a blank stare.
Lights are one of the most important (and most expensive) tools in a photographer’s bag, yet one of the most overlooked by non-photographers. After all, photography technically is about capturing light, and as much of it as possible. And when it comes to lighting, Switzerland-based Bron Elektronik (more commonly referred to as Broncolor) is one of the most respected names in the business. With their newest Siros 400 L and 800 L monolights, they’re again proving why that’s true.
With maximum output of either 400 or 800 watt-seconds, the Siros L combines studio power with on-location portability. Its sleek enclosure has no cables leading to a power pack or wall outlet. Instead, an interchangeable battery slides into the top of the unit, resting flush against the curved surface. The battery provides 440 full-power flashes in the Siros 400 L, or 220 in the 800 L, and can charge from naught to 100 percent in just 75 minutes.
While the 400 L is a respectable light, it’s the 800 L that’s really special. 800W/s is more than enough to “overpower the sun,” a common outdoor lighting technique used to add drama to photographs. It’s also just a mind-boggling amount of output to come from a light powered by a battery that fits in your hand. Plus, it’s the biggest advantage Broncolor has over its Swedish rival, Profoto, and that company’s portable B1 monolight, which tops out at 500W/s.
While still large compared to some lower-powered alternatives, the Siros L has a simple, elegant design. It offers a nine-stop power range for incredible flexibility, and, being a Broncolor, it promises consistent color temperature – flash after flash – no matter the power setting. Controlling the monolight is simple thanks to the BronControl App for iOS or Android, which lets photographers dial in power settings on multiple groups of lights over Wi-Fi. The lights can be triggered via cable or wirelessly with Broncolor’s transmitter.
All that power and control does not come cheap, however. The Siros 800 L retails for around $2,350. For comparison, a Profoto B1 is about $2,100, and, while not as powerful, it offers advanced features like high-speed sync and TTL compatibility for automatic exposure control.
Profesional photographers who need a powerful location light and a good tax write-off this year will be taking a hard look at the Siros L. For those who don’t need 800W/s, however, the Profoto B1 may be the better buy. And for the rest of us, we’re probably better off sticking with simpler, more affordable lighting solutions.