People will tell you to write about what you know. However, what you know about might not be that interesting. This is a case of that. This will not be that interesting for most of you.
However, for the potential professional amateur photographers out there that are trying to get a leg up on using their 70 dollar knock off speed light to capture portraits and headshots, this review and overview will show you that investing a little money will give you a chance to go a long way and create amazing content.
This was my life, I was so excited to have any sort of external flash, and I could trigger it remotely, that was so cool!
But, the light was only good for about 3 stops of light. While that is fine for most settings, I found myself lacking in darker settings or when I wanted to do any sort of crazy portraits and shoots that needed to use a more closed apature and needed a LOT more light than what nature could provide, let alone that little speedlite.
(Side note about my speedlite, I will be reviewing it’s performance over the past 3 years, boy does that fall apart easily.)
The search was on
I started looking into what the “real” professionals use. I hit up my friend Damian Battinelli and said, “WHAT THE HELL DO YOU USE TO MAKE SUCH PRETTY PICTURES” (yes in all caps, that’s what friends do in text, yell). He showed me his gear he used for his amazing portraits. (Insert portrait crediting Damian)
My heart sank, he didn’t use just 1 Profoto B1, but 2.
Sure, it has everything that people want, insanely fast refresh speeds, 9 Stops of Range, and everyone knows Profoto. It’s the Mac Daddy of all mono lights, but the price, oh the price. It killed me that it was over $2k for ONE let alone getting 2. I had already made the investment to a “real” camera in the Canon 7d MkII and I couldn’t fathom spending any sort of money at the time for lights that cost 4 times the camera body I had. Especially because I was bringing home about $500 a month doing before and after photography for a general contractor I had befriended.
So I started to do a LOT of research and set myself a budget.
But I didn’t want to go cheap in product, I wanted value for what I was paying for. I wanted to be a professional amatuer, just on a budget.
Even $1,000 was an insane investment for me, that was 2 months of photography salary at the time. I had a full time job at the time too, but that money was meant for bills and non photography items.
The Cheapest Isn’t Always the Best, But it’s Tempting
So, I did what every other professional amateur does after seeing a million options for a mono light, start with the champion of cheap, Neewer. I saw the 100 dollar price tag and looked at the design and was excited about this 400w Mono Light from them but then I started looking at what it did, and it was literally just a 400w speedlite, and then the next offering from them wasn’t too much better 700w with the Trigger included for under 200!
But the problems still persisted with that light, sure it had 6 stops of exposure now, double that of my speedlite, but didn’t support high speed shooting (max of 1/250), had weird reviews saying the refresh speeds were much slower than listed, and didn’t support TTL sync.
I was told of many different lights out there, but then, thanks to Damian being an ear to me, asked about Interfit, because I saw that B&H had a sale on it, a really good sale. The S1 and S1a had been out for just a little bit at a pricetag of $1250 and $750, but there had been a huge set of sales B&H and here I thought I was getting a great deal.
$599 for an Interfit light, I didn’t care that it was the S1a (or so I thought), I just wanted to have a great mono light to do studio portraits and headshots as long as I had power. You see, the only difference between the S1 and S1a was this, The S1 had a lithium ion battery plus AC and the S1a only had an AC hookup. Whatever, I was excited to save $150 on a great light that had gotten a seal of approval from a trusted source, had a ton of great reviews.
Then I started looking, and to my surprise, I was actually buying the S1. The one that had the capabilities to be mobile, with a Lithium Ion Battery that was rated for easily 350 shots at full 8.0 stop exposure at 500w max power.
It had everything I wanted, TTL, HSS, A battery (I didn’t realize how much I wanted that until I really thought about the possiblities), a receiver with a range of over 300 feet (you have no idea how important that is yet, even I don’t know how important that is, but I have been playing with range lately),
The Interfit S1 was my choice, with the remote trigger, and a 28 inch Impact Beauty Dish and I had a bunch of impact light stands, but you can go with whatever you’re comfortable carrying your light on.
So, now that we have the backstory, let’s get to our overview and then eventually review of this wonderful light. Yes I said wonderful, yes I recommend it. But it has flaws, some minor, some really glaring and we will get to that at a later time.
Direct from Interfit’s Website:
The S1 is the first high-tech TTL HSS monolight to include intelligent TTL and HSS technology in a battery-powered monolight with an included International Multi-Voltage AC Power adapter in one complete package.
- Through The Lens Metering in TTL Mode uses the S1’s entire 9-stop power range (500W – 1.9Ws) and is automatically calculated in 1/10th stop increments, and allows for ± 3 stops of exposure compensation
- Manual Mode utilizes the entire 9-stop power range, controllable in 1/10th stop increments
- High-Speed Sync in Manual Mode at up to 1/8000th of a second shutter speed using the top 3 stops of the power range (10.0 – 8.0) and is manually adjustable in 1/10-stop increments
- Included International Multi-Voltage AC Adapter that can power the unit with or without the battery in place, maximizing battery health longevity
- Integrated and exchangeable lithium-ion battery is flush with the flash body, offers a 350 full power flash capacity and allows for wire-free and rapid setup and repositioning of lights when power outlets encumber workflow or are not an option at a shoot
- Color Accurate to within ±100 Kelvin using high-tech insulated-gate bipolar transistor (IGBT) technology
- Short Flash Duration for freezing action and sports motion between 1/500th of a second to 1/11000th without compromising color consistency, using IGBT technology.
- Integrated Wireless System with remote TTL flash exposure compensation and manual power control in three groups from camera position using the S1 Remotes for Canon, Nikon, or Sony (sold separately)
- Frosted Glass Dome softens and disperses light evenly through large and small light modifiers alike, from large octaboxes to small beauty dishes and reflectors while protecting the user-replaceable flash tube.
- Aluminum Construction with an attractive matte finish gives the unit greater heat dispersion, durability and weight-to-rigidity efficiency
- Firmware Upgradeable via Micro USB Port for future fixes and features
- Bowens® S-Type Mount is compatible with a large scope of adapter rings and modifiers such as softboxes, reflectors, and grids
And the tech specs Interfit’s Website as well:
9-Stops (500Ws – 1.9Ws)
Recycle Time at Full Power:
1/500 – 1/11,000 (max-min power)
5700K +/- 100K
Interfit TTL Remote for Canon
Interfit TTL Remote for Nikon
Interfit TTL Remote for Sony
Interfit Manual Remote for all cameras
Manual, TTL (Canon/Nikon/Sony), HSS
Maximum Flash Sync Speed:
1/250sec. in standard sync mode, 1/8000sec. in high-speed sync mode
350 full power flashes
Battery Recharge Time:
Flash Ready Indicator:
LED and switchable audible
13.4” × 9.1” × 5.1”
Examples of this light in action: