Speedlite Vs Badger Unleashed

The next stage in any photographers journey is the manipulation of light, being able to control light especially when on the go adds huge possibilities and can make you stand out from the crowd.

Off camera flash is becoming more and more popular with professional photographers because of its versatility and a lot of clients will book because of the style it offers.  Most photographers when getting in to off camera flash rush out and by a speedlite because it’s the right thing to do, isn’t it? Choosing a speedlite can be a real minefield with both with costs and features being so varied.

As a professional photographer for over 15 years I have shot a huge variety of work. Over the last few years I noticed how little I will shoot with my speedlite attached to the hotshoe on my camera. I try to shoot with off camera flash as much as possible, this can be everything from corporate portraits to weddings as it gives complete creative control.

Taking this in to account I wanted to see what other portable lighting options are available for the price of a midrange branded speedlite but can offer the same features.

The Interfit Badger Unleashed seemed to tick all the boxes, so with the help of Interfit I was able to do a comparison with my existing Canon 430EXIII-RT Speedlite.

Badger Comparrision

So these lights have a lot in common but also some big differences, size and power being the main ones. The overall price is quite different as well, with the Canon coming in at £130 more than the Interfit Badger Unleashed. The main reason for this is the cost of the Canon remote being £239.99 which is almost the same as the flash itself! However there are third party remotes available for the Canon which could bring the cost down but I’ve not tried any of these so cannot advise.

So we had a great time shooting in and around Birmingham city centre and there are some great locations all within walking distance of each other!

We started off at the Custard factory in Digbeth, there is a huge Victorian railway bridge that is covered in world class graffiti so it was a fantastic place to start, also is was raining so it was good to be under cover.

The first test we looked at was TTL. For this we fixed the camera settings to f9, 1/200, iso500. These settings along with a 50mm prime would keep all the images nice and sharp and would not let the ambient light take over. We moved the flash units around our model to see how well they talked to the camera, and how much fine tuning it takes to get the exposure we wanted.  The natural light was quite flat and didn’t carry very well, this was due to the rain clouds and the fact we under a bridge! Both lights performed well and we got the desire exposure from both units, however the more powerful Badger unleashed didn’t need any adjustments whereas the Canon had to be turned up to +2 which slowed the recharge time down. I could have changed the camera settings to allow more ambient light and less flash when using the Canon but I wanted to see how both units coped.

The Video

Here are some raw and edited images taken by each unit, during the TTL test

So we packed up our kit bags and moved across the road to a brilliant venue called ‘The Bond company’. This canal side Victorian factory has be converted in to a superb conference and wedding location, surrounded by period features it really is somewhere you could shoot all day.

The following test was manual, this looked at how easy it is to control the flash units from the camera and the difference in the camera settings when trying to get similar exposures. The camera will be in full manual mode for this test and the settings will be changed as needed.

We got some very similar results from both the flash units and the camera settings weren’t as wildly different as I may have expected. However if I wanted to overpower the ambient light more or shoot at smaller apertures (f11+) the Canon would have struggled, so in the interest of fairness I used the flash more as a bright fill light rather than a main light (if that makes sense?). Both the remotes were great and controlled the flashes perfectly, I didn’t really have chance to test the Interfit Canon TTL remote to its claimed 100m range as there was not enough space, but it worked well at 30m. The only issue I had was the Canon remote was a little tricky to set up and I had to have a look on YouTube, but once it was synced it was great.

Here are some raw and edited images taken by each unit, during the manual test

Raw Image

 So our final location took us away from Digbeth and to a multi-story carpark on the outskirts of the city centre. Not quite as dramatic as the first two locations but it gave us some great views of the city centre and the sun came out!

Our last test was a look at HSS (high speed sync). This was a test of power, battery life and re-charge time. Both the units were put through their paces seeing how well they over powered bright sun light with high shutter speeds! As you can imagine this test was hugely one sided, the Unleashed with over 4 times the power of Canon and a dedicated Li-on battery took everything we could throw at it and didn’t miss a beat! The Canon did a good job all things considered and we got some similar images but shots were missed because of slow recharge time. The lack of power meant the unit had to be much closer to our model so I was unable to create the exact same images….and also the batteries ran out!

Here are some raw and edited images taken by each unit, during the HSS test

Pros and Cons

Canon Pros

– Small

– light

– easy to use

– great build quality

– Hotshoe mountable

Canon Cons

– Low power

– Slow re-charge time

– Runs on 4 AA Batteries

– Modifiers need third party adaptor

Unleashed Pros

– 250Ws of Power 

– Superfast recharge

– Rechargeable Li-On battery

– Built in S-mount and Pop up softbox ring, giving loads of modifier options

– Dedicated remotes for Canon, Sony, Nikon

Unleashed Cons

– Bigger than a speedlite, but still small enough for a kit bag

– Heavier than a speedlite, but not heavy for a studio light

– Doesn’t mount on the camera

This may have seemed to be a bit of a one sided comparison with the odds stacked against the Canon but that was never my intention. The Canon speedlite is a great all round hotshoe mounted flash, however this does mean it has it has limitations as an off camera flash because it can only be so powerful. I’m not saying throw away your speedlites and buy an Interfit Badger Unleashed but if you are planning on getting a portable studio flash that fits in a kit bag and can go where you go the unleashed opens a whole world of possibilities. 

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