LumoPro LP180 flash review - Photo Jottings

LumoPro LP180 flash review

Well, I thought it was about time for another aftermarket flash review, here are others that I’ve done.   So far, I’ve had zero luck with aftermarket flashes holding up to demanding use, but this LumoPro LP180 caught my attention as the Strobist is raving about it so often.  US street price is about $199, that’s probably less than what you’d pay for a used factory model from Canon, Nikon etc.  But here’s the catch; it’s manual use only, that means you have to set the flash power and zoom length yourself.

If you’re a wedding or street photographer, I’d skip this unit and pay extra for the automated features of a top line factory flash.  The LumoPro LP180 is for people that like to travel light, and have time to properly set up the flashes for interiors, Real Estate, interior design, products and maybe lifestyle shoots.

In the box you get the Flash, a fabric case, two Rosco gel packs, a 31″ (.79m) long 3.5mm sync cord and printed manual.

What’s great about the LumoPro LP180 is that is syncs four different ways.  You can use the hotshoe, a 3.5mm miniphone cord (1/8″ mono), a screw lock PC,  and optical slave mode.

Build quality is very good, similar to factory flashes from Canon, Nikon and Sony etc.

Comes with a two year warranty (original owner) when purchases through an authorized LumoPro dealer.

The feature set is good, but all manual use means there are few bells and whistles.  I did mention the sync ports, but also there is a Canon style high voltage port (Quantum cables can be used with Turbo battery) for really fast recycle rates, however, I get 2.5 second full power recycles with 2400mAh eneloops, and that lasts for 10 or 15 pops before slowing down, so unless you really like to rattle off a bunch of flashes in a row, you probably won’t need anything faster. There is an over-heat indicator that shows up on the LCD when it gets hot, and at that point the unit will slow down, but will not just shut down completely. I haven’t tested that out, so beware.

Canon Style slide lock mount on hotshoe.  Works good.

Setting the power level is very easy, just push the push the + – buttons, once for each 1/3 stop.  Unfortunately, there are no options for half or full stop settings, that should be changed in a firmware update.  The zoom length can be changed by pressing the side buttons, you do not have to press ‘set’ to switch over from power levels to zoom unless you don’t have two seconds to spare.

Another feature is the optical slave mode, it’s very sensitive and works great.  When it detects another flash, it goes off, even at longer distances indoors, but outdoors it’s not very useful unless you have your manually tripped flash pointed at the LumoPro slave sensor.  You can use different slave settings to get by the red eye pre flashes from pop up camera flashes, that way if fires at the right time, not just at the first flash.  S1 is for first flash, S2 through S10 is for the number of pre flashes, set it for however many your camera’s flash is putting out.

Has a 1/4-20 female mount on the side of the flash head (see first pic in gallery) so you can mount it to a light stand without a hotshoe adapter.

Printed manual:  Gives you all the info you need, and then some: see last picture in gallery of page in manual directing you to a webpage from the Strobist.  This is an April fools day gag post, I can’t believe they printed that!  Also lots of cutesy funny sayings throughout.  I think it makes the manufacturer look unprofessional.  Fire the idiot who approved this manual.

I’ve been using this flash for about six months as of this post, and so far it has performed great poorly.  (right after this review two of the three flashes failed, so typical aftermarket flash reliability).  I use it everyday, and probably fire off around 500 pops a week.  I recently purchased two more units, which are replacing my factory made units (not anymore).  One thing I haven’t tested yet is the survivability after a fall; like a light stand falling over or the flash falling from an overhead shelf.  Factory units seem to be able to handle a very hard fall, from six feet (2m) on to tile or concrete without much of a problem.  Unfortunately, I’ll eventually find out how the LumoPros hold up!!  A great flash at a great price.

Buyer beware.  If you don’t use a flash much, and need these sync options, then you might try one out for awhile.

Product shots.

  • Box and contents, not shown, the stand.
  • Back of flash.
  • Battery compartment.
  • Front of flash
  • Wide angle diffuser, and reflector.
  • HV port, Screw lock PC port, 3.5mm Miniphone (1/8" mono) port and USB port for firmware updates.
  • Directing you to a gag web post. See link in article.

Flash specs.

 Flash Model  Lumopro LP180.
 Owner’s manual  Printed, 11 pages.
 Price  Street price approximately US $199.
 Tested on  Sony A7R, but it doesn’t matter, it’s manual use only.
 In the box  Flash, Fabric flash case, assorted gels, sync cord, plastic hotshoe stand with 1/4-20 metal insert and owner’s manual.
 Build quality  Very good.
 Weather sealing  None.
 Hotshoe style  ISO Standard.
 Guide number  Listed as 110′ or around 56m depending on zoom.  The Strobist claims about 60ws.
 Guide number accuracy  Seems right.
 Stated color temperature  Not stated, but around 5600k or 5700k.
 LCD monitor  1.5″ x 3/4″ or 38mm x 20mm.  Green back lite; stays on for about 16 sec after adjustments.  Easy to see straight on, farther off center it becomes hard to see.  All the  basic info, and has over-heat indicator at top right.
 Lights and switches  A red ‘ready’ lite on the front and back, (after firing, turns to blue on front just before red), and a green ‘slave’ light on the front.
 Power source  4 AA batteries.
 Recycle time  Manual states around 4 seconds with throw away batteries, but with Sanyo eneloops 2400mAh I’m getting around 2.5 seconds between full power pops!  It doesn’t seem to slow down much after 10 or 15 pops.  1/2 power pops take about 1.5 seconds to recycle, 1/4 power is instantaneous for  about 5 pops.
 Flash duration rating  Not rated.
 Power saving function  Yes, sleeps automatically after 20 minutes of non use, and shuts down after 3 hrs after sleep mode.  Can turn this feature on or off.
 Adjustable power levels  Yes, 1/1 through 1/128 in 1/3 stop increments, not adjustable for half or full stops.  It wraps around past the end on both power and zoom.
 Wide angle diffuser type  Plastic pull out.  Covers 14mm.  Must be pushed in completely when stored, otherwise flash will still read 14mm, and will not allow changes.
 Bounce card and reflector plate  Yes, white pull out card.
 Bounce positions  -7°, 0°, 45°, 60°, 75°, 90°.
 Swivel positions  360 totalRight and left: 0°, 60°, 75°, 90°, 120°, 150°, 180°.
 Zoom Positions  14mm with diffuser down, 24mm, 28mm,  35mm, 50mm, 70mm, 80mm and 105mm.
 Zoom type  Motorized, internal.
 Auto format zoom  No.  You must calculate the crop factor of your sensor, 2.0x Micro Four thirds, 1.5x Sony Pentax Nikon, or 1.6 Canon to get the right coverage.
 AF assist beam  No.
 Custom functions  Sleep, flash ready tone and LCD light, all on/off.
 Connections  Hotshoe, 3.5mm (1/8″) miniphone port, screw lock PC port, and optical slave.  Also has a Canon style high voltage port for even faster recycle times.  USB port for firmware updates.
 White balance info  No
 Modeling flash  No
 Multi-flash emission  No
 High speed sync  No
 Wireless ability  Slave works great, and has several options for pre flashes on other cameras.
 Red eye reduction  No
 Dimensions  8″ long, 2″ deep, and about 2 3/4″ wide.  203mm long, 52mm deep, and 70mm wide.
 Weight  15oz (428g) empty, or 19.3oz or (547g) with batteries.
 Operating temp  Below 100° Fahrenheit.
 Quirks  Gel slot is not very good.  Cut size must be perfect or you’ll either get the gel against the lens, possibly burning it in, or bulging out, allowing ungelled light to get past the flash lens.
 Notes  Comes with two Rosco gel packs, one is for color correction; orange, blue, and green etc, the other has neutral density (1, and 1/2 stop) and many colors.
 Good for  Manual flash control freaks, like interior photographers.
 Not good for  People wanting automated features.
 Recommended  Highly recommended for people wanting a solid, high powered flash unit for manual use.
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