Slovenian electronics maker Elektrona has announced Flash Feeder Compact, a powerful AC inverter system for studio strobes thatís built into a hard plastic waterproof case (similar to a Pelican case).
The Flash Feeder Compact is comprised of a pure sine wave AC inverter, user-swappable sealed lead acid battery, 10-step battery life indicator and power receptacle (both 220V/50Hz and 115V/60Hz models are planned). It's not a flash power pack per se, but rather a portable source of AC power, similar in function to Dyna-Lite's XP1100 AC.
The Flash Feeder Compact can be charged with the included worldwide AC charger, or from a car cigarette lighter or other 12V/24V DC power source. Its circuitry prevents over-charging and over-discharging.
The company has not released compatibility, battery life or recycle time specifications for the Flash Feeder Compact, except to say that they should be similar to or the same as their current Flash Feeder 2.
That AC inverter and battery combo, which is shipping now, is capable of powering a wide variety of both monobloc and pack+head strobes; the company was supplying test data at Photokina 2004 for studio flash units from Balcar, Bowens, Broncolor, Dyna-Lite, Elinchrom, Hensel, Multiblitz, Norman, Profoto, Richter, Sun Star and Visatec, while the Elektrona web site also mentions Comet and Speedotron as being among the compatible brands.
Recycling times are promised to be similar to when a strobe is powered from an AC wall receptacle, with a healthy number of flash pops per charge for strobes whose maximum output is up to about 1200w/s.
For example, a data sheet from Elektrona claims that the existing Flash Feeder 2 is capable of powering the Elinchrom Style 600 S 600w/s monobloc for 436 full power pops (this includes an unknown number of pops after the low battery warning light illuminated), with a recycling time of 1.3 seconds. Note that the faster-recycling 220V European version of this strobe was tested; the 110V North American version takes longer to recycle whether run off an inverter or from an AC wall receptacle.
Strobes up to 6400w/s have been used with the Flash Feeder 2, though we were told by Elektrona staff that not all strobes that powerful will function with their products. And the number of full power pops will be extremely low too.
The Flash Feeder Compact is expected to provide comparable performance to the Flash Feeder 2, but the upcoming unit adds a couple of twists: its battery can easily be swapped out for a fresh one mid-shoot, while Elektrona is also developing the Feeder Battery Case, a separate Pelican case-style unit that contains only one large battery, not an AC inverter and battery together. The Feeder Battery Case connects directly to the Flash Feeder Compact using a short cable, utilizing its inverter but the combined batteries of both cases for extended battery life. And finally, the Flash Feeder Compact can be connected to an external power source such as a car battery for increased capacity as well.
The Flash Feeder Compact and Feeder Battery Case are slated to ship in the spring of 2005; the list price for the Flash Feeder Compact is expected to be similar to that of the Flash Feeder 2 now, which is Ä1295 (about US$1590 at the time of writing). The street price will likely be lower. After scanning pro photo retailer web sites in North America and Europe, we're inclined to think that Elektrona's products are not yet widely distributed.
For more information on the Flash Feeder 2, see the Elektrona web site; for information on the upcoming Flash Feeder Compact and Feeder Battery Case, contact the company directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.