Is The New Godox QT600II The Best Studio Light To Freeze Action?
About The Author
Max Bridge is a London-based product photographer who operates under the name Square Mountain. Within his product photography, Max strives to encapsulate characteristics of either the brand or product. This may be done by incorporating any number of things including; fish tanks, powder, liquid, light painting or minimal and elegant lighting. Whatever it may be, Max’s aim is to communicate a message to the viewer.
As a regular writer for SLR Lounge, Max is also passionate about passing on his knowledge to fellow photographers. He firmly believes that, with the right amount of effort, anyone can create work they are proud of, and he feels privileged to help people accomplish this.
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Studio lights with the ability to freeze action are often expensive. If you’re fortunate enough to live in a country which Paul C Buff will ship to, then you’re in luck. They’re generally considered reliable and good for freezing action while being quite reasonably priced. For the majority of the world, however, we’ve been stuck. You can either shell out thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, and opt for Broncolor or Profoto (that’s the dream), use Speedlights, or pay the very high import fees (at least in the UK) to get your hands on some Paul C Buff Einstein’s. But wait, Godox recently released the QT600II with a minimum flash duration of 1/28984 t.01! This could be interesting. Let’s find out.
What Flash Duration Do You Need To Freeze Action?
Surprisingly enough, the answer to this question will depend on who you ask. It will also heavily depend upon what it is you are photographing. I have heard people say that flash durations up to 1/9000 t.01 are necessary for freezing very fast moving liquids. Want to freeze a bullet? I don’t even know what speed you need there. For people (dancers for instance), you’ll probably need something in the region of 1/2000th – 1/4000th depending on their movement, although I must admit I have not done this myself.
Generally speaking, for product photography involving splashes you’ll be ok 95% of the time at around 1/5000th. On the odd occasion, you may need something a little faster. As a general rule then, if we want a studio light that will freeze 99% of things, then we want to aim for around 1/9000th. A studio light with a t.01 around that should be fine for most of your needs.
Explanation Of Testing Environment
Having taken delivery of the Godox QT600II, I immediately set about testing it. There have been reports of not so great color consistency, and I wanted to see if a) these were true and b) if there could be any kind of workaround.
To test the flash duration, I photographed a very fast moving fan which only the quickest of flash durations could freeze. As I do not own an oscilloscope, I decided the compare the results with a few Speedlights to get a rough idea if Godox’s claimed flash durations could be correct.
To test the color temperate, I photographed a gray card which was surrounded by black foam core to try and mitigate the possibility of any other light contaminating the results. The resulting photos were then corrected in LR and the Kelvin compared. All tests were carried out in a darkened room.
Flash duration Results For Yongnuo 560 IV
I have tried to upload relatively large images for all flash duration tests so you guys can see for yourself. The images have been compressed a little otherwise this page would take an hour to load!
As you can see, by 1/16th power the text begins to become frozen. Once the flash is at it’s minimum power of 1/128th, the text is almost completely frozen. You may not be able to see, but in my full quality version it’s still evident that the grooves in the tape are not 100% frozen
Flash duration Results For Godox TT600
As I was in testing mode, I thought I might as well test my newly acquired Godox TT600 Speedlights. The results were almost identical to the Yongnuo with virtually no discernible difference across the action freezing range (1/8th – 1/128th). According to a test conducted by Andy Gock, which you can find here, the YN 560 has a minimum flash duration of 1/23041 t.01. The Godox is stated to go down to 1/20000th t.01. Using these results as a benchmark, we can now, with some confidence, confirm as to whether the unbelievably fast flash duration claims of the Godox QT600II hold true.
Flash duration Results For Lencarta SuperFast
Another popular choice amongst product photographers on the Photigy Facebook page for freezing action is the Lencrata Superfast range of studio lights. The Lencarta’s are stated to have flash durations right down to 1/20000th t.01. If that is the case, then they are an excellent option. Sadly, the results I recorded do not match up to these claims. In fact, having also tested the fan in natural light with shutter speeds of 1/8000th, the Lencarta only just beats that. Without an oscilloscope, I cannot give a precise figure, but they don’t come close to the 1/20000th t.01 stopping power of the Speedlights.
Flash duration Results For Godox QT600II
Finally, on to the Godox QT600II. The first thing which may strike you as you look at the photo above may be the odd blue color; I’ll cover that later. In terms of flash duration, my relatively simple test has confirmed the claimed flash duration of 1/28984 t.01; as much as is possible using these simple methods. If you look at the lowest power settings of the Godox you’ll see that it surpasses the Speedlights and completely freezes the text. The grooves on the camera tape are also almost 100% sharp. Fantastic! Or is it?
Colour Temperature Test Of the Godox QT600II
Now we get to the not so good part. If you read the numbers above you’ll see that from maximum power to minimum the total recorded Kelvin shift was 3300K! In other words, completely and utterly useless. But hang on, let’s be fair. If we’re trying to freeze action, then we probably won’t have any lights at full power. The range from 1/4 to 1/128 is still 2700 Kelvin.
Okay. How about we severely limit our power range? After all, one could use some ND Gels to adjust power output. If we only use 1/4 to 1/8th power, then the color shift drops to only 300k. That’s not too bad. Alternatively, you could work between 1/8th and 1/6th, where the shift rises to 700k, that’s not too good but maybe you could live with it?
The above couple paragraphs were essentially a rundown of my thinking as I was testing. I REALLY wanted these lights to work. So, having decided that maybe I could live with using one or two power settings and modifying the lights with gels, I decided to test the color consistency between shots. This is crucial now. If the consistency between shots at say 1/8th or 1/16th is not good enough then the lights would be completely useless for freezing motion.
To test this, I took 10 shots of the gray card at each power setting, then color corrected the ten shots. The range was calculated by subtracting the largest result with the smallest, simple. As you’ll note the results were very respectable up until 1/32nd where everything completely fell apart. I was recording Kelvin shifts of over 1100K between photos! I got a pretty stable result at 1/128th power but the exposure varied by over 1 stop and hence was completely useless.
Final Thoughts – Is the Godox QT600II A Worthwhile Purchase?
I am currently on the hunt for the best studio lights within my budget which can freeze action. As such, the results of this test were important to me, and I am very sad to say that I cannot get behind the Godox QT600II. The color consistency in SPEED mode across the entire power range was so bad that you would be limited to using only one power setting, 1/16th and below. Granted, my results for the Godox in COLOUR mode were far far better, excellent in fact, but the whole point of this is to bring action stopping flash durations within a reasonable budget.
One Godox studio light currently costs £450. When you consider that (in the UK) one could import Einstein’s for roughly £560 each the argument for these lights becomes almost pointless. Having to only work with one power setting in SPEED mode is a massive inconvenience. Not only that but the Einsteins have a better color consistency across their entire power range. I honestly wish it were not the case, but I can in no way recommend these lights.
What about the Lencarta Superfast series? This one is a little tricky. Given the reports of users on Photigy I can say that they are adequate to freeze action. From my tests, while not being able to give a precise figure I can say that the minimum flash duration is above 1/8000th. However, I have also heard negative reports concerning the power consistency which I can unfortunately also confirm. I did not go to the same, table creating, lengths as I did for the Godox QT600II but I took many test shots and saw quite big fluctuations between pops.
In summary, if you need studio lights with action stopping flash durations and respectable color consistency at a reasonable price. The Paul C Buff Einstein’s are still king of the hill. On the other hand, if you can live without 1/10th stop adjustments, something I cannot, then perhaps take a look at the Godox AD600.
If you’re interested in learning product photography, then be sure to check out all of the education on offer in the Photigy store. The courses can take you from product photography amateur to pro, take a look here. If you have the budget, I fully recommend either a Pro club or Studio basics membership. Both are excellent options for those serious about product photography.