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Alternative to Quantum Flashes

hkulahkula Member
edited May 2013 in flash & lighting
I am interested in getting more powerful flashes for my Nikon system for on location portrait photography.
Does anyone know if there are any such flashes that in addition to manual mode ... support the Nikon TTL system. Power range of 150 w/s or more.


  • You may wish to look at the Cheetah Lights. No TTL though.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited May 2013
    I own the Cheetah lights CL-180 @ 153ws. Using Nikon system.

    1] VERY Simple to use [no ttl BUT you control the light from camera position which you would still be fine tuning in TTL anyway which is still being influenced by zooming in/out or perspective change but with manual still the precise output of power each and every time]

    2] Look like the Quantums, and I have measured them at full power against my Quantums and from 3m to 6m the Cheetahs give juuuust over 1/3rd stop brighter. 4ths stop to be precise.

    3] Battery Power. Phenomenal. Full battery you get over 900 full power pops.
    I have used mine (AS shipped, fully charged and no top ups] on 3 weddings, 1 engagement, 1 birthday party, 4 model shoots, and numerous tests prior, during and after before I went down to 1 bar and recharged.

    4] The battery does not appear to leak charge like my Quantum and having to 'top up' each time. Plus, turning on the Cheetah is a single quick push, not having to hold down until it lights up like my Quantum lights.

    5] One of the best things, they are NOT camera specific, same unit with transmitter runs on Canon/Nikon (and others). Since the Transmitter has a single pin [no TTL] when on hotshoe transmits to receiver.

    6] Receiver is USB style, plugs right into the side of the flash head, no messy cables, or plates, etc. needed to be used to hold/use the receiver.

    7] Transmitter is sooooo simple to operate, Power Up/Down by merely pushing buttons Left down, Right Up. No pushing buttons then rotating like speedlights.

    8] If you already own Quantums, you can use most accessories, battery, diffusers on the flash head as spares, extras.

    9] The Cheetah CL-180 also has a hotshoe mount, so, can mount on any camera and for power all you do is rotate a dial on back of flash, no pushing button still, just the dial.

    10] Want to run a speedlight on camera and Cheetah off camera, yep, can do. Cheetah also has PC Sync Port and 3.5mm MiniPhone jack to plug into side of head and you can attach your PocketWizards to it and have a PW via PC Sync into side of your camera. I have tested this and works brilliantly. Will also work with other transmitters apparently. You need to see which.

    11] For my final point and it's the BIG one. Price. You can get the Flash, Battery, Transmitter/Receiver Combo for $749US, and for the new Quantum Turbo 3x Battery alone is around $649 anyway.


    Oh, there is a new model the CL-360, which will have twice the power rated 300+ws and I have those on order since I was a 'special customer' (bought lots of stuff prior) and the expected shipping date for anyone is around middle July 2013, might be worth waiting for.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    I just saw that the Cheetah is now on sale for $669.95, and the normal retail was $704.95 which is around $45 itself less than around 4 weeks ago.

  • hkulahkula Member
    Thank you for the feedback. The Cheetah's sound like a good option.
  • hkulahkula Member
    Just ordered the Cheetah Light Combo.
    Trev - What accessories did you order with yours? Also how do you protect the bulb during transportation?
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited May 2013
    Well, with the Cheetah, since it takes a lot of Quantum's accessories and I already had the Quantum and a Norman 19" softbox which fits directly into the head I did not order those direct fitting softboxes; I also have some other diffusers from Quantums which will fit.

    I did get these though:





    But I think in hindsight instead of the Speed Pro Bracket and the Beauty Dish set I would have ordered this:


    which fits directly into the head of the Cheetah Flash, but not as stable maybe in windy conditions as the Speed Pro Brkt and the Aluminium Beauty Dish.

    I have yet to use the Speed Pro Bracket/Alum Beauty Dish combo, since I have not have a chance apart from some tests but I most definitely will once I get my new CL-360 beauty since I then for sure will overpower the sun.

    You will be stunned with the sheer simplicity of the Cheetah, did you do your own review searching though, so you are comfortable in the knowledge it's best for you. I mean it was an absolutely 'no brainer' for me personally and 2 of my friends both of whom have also now ordered the new CL-360s as well.

    As for the bulb, well don't forget it comes with the 5" diffuser dish so I have it all mounted on a CheetahStand and it stays permanently on it.

    I put the stand/light into the back of my car with a split seat lying flat down [Subaru Forester] so it comes from the boot [or trunk in US] into the rear seat compartment with the head slightly angled forward and as it lays on its 'back' the bulb is protected.

    You could just wrap a towel around the head of the flash and put in car, but that's how I carried the similarly designed Quantums for years, and I still have the same bulbs which I started with over 5 years ago as well as a spare permanently in back of car.
  • hkulahkula Member
    Trev, Many Thanks for the detailed feedback. Yes I have done some extensive research and I definitely feel that the Cheetah CL -180 is for me. It will definitely complement my Nikon Speed lights and Bowens Strobes. Initially I was leaning towards the Quantum T5D-R however the CL-180's appear to be a better value for the $ and features.
  • Trev,

    How powerful is the cheetah C-180 to overpower the sun?
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited June 2013
    It will probably be on a par of around using say f16-f18 depends on how close you can get the flash to subject. [as opposed to ISO 100; 250th; f11 for correct full sun exposure]

    But it depends on 'how overpowered' you want to be.

    Put it this way, it's twice the power of a single speedlite and you can overpower [within limits] the sun with 2 speedlites.

    If you wanted say, to have a 1 - 1_1/2 stops under ambient, ie: f16-f18 I have done a test @ f18 wanting to overpower the background really to look very darkish and I had flash with reflector and a diffuser [that come with it] about 6ft [2m] away and it worked fine with 2/3rds of a stop of flash power under full 1/1.

    I was 1/2+.03 power on flash.

    It's probably better if you were to go for the Cheetah CL-360 coming out in July which is double the power [around $800 **guessing** for the combo].

    But yes, I certainly can overpower it but you do need to be reasonably close and if using a softbox which will spread/diffuse the light further it would need full power and reasonably close to subject.

    With the pre-order invite I got for the CL-360 the shipping date is 15th June was latest update and I should have it around end of June [in Australia], hoping in time for an end of June wedding I have, unfortunately not in time for the next 2 coming up but once I get it and test I shall let you know my views on it.

    Edit: Remember you are governed by sync speed so you do need the smaller apertures in conjunction with shutter of 200/250th second.
  • Thanks Trev for your answer, which leads me to wait for the CL-360, considering that this will have twice the power of the CL-180.

    Also I'll wait for your opinion on the CL-360, after you try it.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    I should, with luck, have a pre-order CL-360 to play with towards the end of June, but it won't be available to the general public until around 15th of July apparently.

    Edward, of Cheetah Stand has sent special invites out to people who have purchased the CL-180 previously, so once I do get it I most certainly will give my opinion.

    Should be a blast.
  • TrevTrev Moderator

    I now have the Cheetah CL-360 light, awesome.

    It's a little heavier and somehow even better build than the 180s which I thought were really good.

    The head also seems smoother to click up with a firmer click feel and also more of them.

    The best part, it comes ready with a hotshoe mount, but, there is also a blank bottom faceplate in the box, so you can undo the 4 screws holding the hotshoe mount, and replace it with the blank bottom so it will fit really snugly and firmly with no weight straining on the smaller hotshoe mount, and will fit to the quick release plate of a ball head where I will attach it, never going to use it on my camera.

    Power, in the write up of the CL-180 link above at the bottom there is a small segment on the 360 vs 180 and it says 1 stop more light.

    However, when I measured it with a Light Meter (Sekonic 358L) on:

    100 ISO; 250th; at around 5.5 meters (about 18ft) I got f9 on the 180 and f16 on the 360 which equates to 1 2/3rd stops more light. [f9, f10, f11, f13, f14, f16]

    This was with the normal 5 inch reflector and 1 single diffuser in it [comes with 2 diffusers]. With diffuser removed it was only 1/3rd stop difference on both the 180 & 360 lights, not a great deal at all.

    Surprisingly, with both lights precisely side by side at full power the difference between just the 360 by itself and the combo was only around 2/3rds.

    Remember, all this was at 5.5 meters, so in a softbox at around 3 meters or less, heaps of grunt.

    Not much else to say.

  • Thanks for your help Trev,

    I now believe that my decision is between Cheetah 360 and AlienBees B1600 with Vagabond battery pack.

    Based on your experience, what you recommend me?

  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited June 2013
    It depends on where you are going to be using the flash the most.

    If in studio/home situation I probably would use the AlienBee it's 600Ws and you could use AC instead of battery, but if you think you would be outside/location more then I'd go Cheetah, for portability, etc. It's built very good and it's similar shape, slightly bigger than an SB910 Nikon Speedlite so probably better to handle.

    AB also has modelling light and comes with the cord for AC, no extra to buy.

    I must state I do not have an AlienBee set so cannot comment in any way on performance, etc. but, if I had not come across the Cheetah down the track I would have got the Einstein 640W flash with Vagabond personally.
  • I think I will be equally in both situations: home/studio and outside/location and also agree with you that Einstein-Vagabond should be better than AlienBees-Vagabond, although the latter is more expensive.
  • hkulahkula Member
    Trev, Just wondering if you had a chance to further test out the Cheetah CL-360.
    1. What is recycle time at full & half power?
    2. Do all CL-180 accessories fit?
    3. I'm pretty sure it's a different Flash Tube.
    4. Any overheating problems?
    How durable do you think the umbrella mounting system is on the CL-180 and CL-360? Do you think it could support a 60" or larger umbrella??
    I currently have the CL-180 and I am considering buying either another CL-180 or CL-360.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited June 2013
    Hi hkula,

    1] Recycle time is around 3.5 seconds full power; 1/2 power, around 2 seconds; lower than that starting at 1/4 power it's so close to instant not funny and any less again, it's instantaneously, as fast as I can press the test or shutter it's fired and ready to shoot again.

    Shooting on D3s in full machine gun it will fire every time at 1/8th power no misses

    Coming out in mid July is the 2 to 1 reducer cable, if you don't run any extra lights from same battery, you plug in the 2 cable connectors into the battery, it reduces down to the one end where you then plug in the battery cable and that's supposed to be going to reduce the recycling time by almost half according to the write-ups I have seen.

    Cannot verify as don't have one currently.

    2] Fittings: Yes, all the same; 360 head a bit bigger but the fitting/opening same, I've swapped reflectors around, the small 19" softbox which I use for Quantum head fits both 180 & 360 and anything else I already had for Quantum fits no problem.

    Note: As a side note with the 5" reflector supplied with it, and you have the diffuser ring and discs, don't try to fit the diffuser ring/disc when the main reflector is in the flash head, it's a really snug fit so take out the reflector dish from the head, fit diffuser/disc/gels on it then replace reflector back in head otherwise you will be straining the head. The first time I just went to remove my diffuser I realised very quickly not to pull/push at it when in the flash head as it may damage something.

    3] Bulbs: Don't know, I would presume so, but something you'd have to check with Cheetah Stand.

    4] Heating: Nope, and I flogged mine yesterday at a wedding, but not many at full power pops, well not consecutively as fast as I could recycle and fire anyway.

    5] Umbrella mounting. Don't know, did not get the umbrella accessory, I would think you'd need to be getting the Speed Bracket Pro with the right speedring to mount anything that large personally.

    I think it would support the 40" lightweight brolly fairly easily, but wind would be a consideration so even though I have the Speed Pro bracket, I don't have a large brolly to suit that at the moment.

    Re getting another, I would if getting any more go for the 360 personally, no question.

  • hkulahkula Member
    Trev, Thanks for your detailed feedback.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Trev said: 3] Bulbs: (180-360 are they different?) Don't know, I would presume so, but something you'd have to check with Cheetah Stand.
    Confirmed the 180-360 bulbs are *not* the same, so if spares needed and you have both 180/360 lights you need bulb for each.

    Thanks for link Neil.

  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Here is a link for pre-order of the CL-360.

    Pre-ordering starts on 15th July, Delivery expected on 28th July 2013

  • hkulahkula Member
    How is the battery life on the Cheetah 360 compared to the 180?
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited July 2013
    Same battery for both flashes. Both batteries identical.


    As to life using 360 compared to 180, don't fully know.
    I have shot 3 full weddings with 360 and have 3 blue lights out of 4 still showing, but borderline flickering to 2, so that in itself is awesome.

    Obviously I was nowhere near full power for 2 of them and only yesterday, shooting against bright daylight on a deck in full shade for ceremony (sunlight sky water background), I had 2 lights set up popping close to full @ 1/2+0.3 stops of light on each and shooting at 100 ISO, 200th, f11 set back around 6+m [20ft approx.] since chairs, guests and closest I could get.

    With the life of 900+ full power pops for 180, even if that halved for 360 (which it would not IMO, should think more), getting over 450 full power pops with 360 it would need to be wickedly dark/dingy or using flash against full sun a lot of the time to use that amount of power.

    All in all extremely happy. I also use the 180 for backlit/rimlit or to open up shadows in background like trees, shrubs, gardens.

    Weekend before last shooting against full sun, 360 to light up couple but had the 180 set lower down on stand shooting on moss covered rocks on water's edge to light them up since sun casting shadows on them. Worked great [still to edit pics]

  • Just wondering if anyone has had any success with HSS and Nikon Camera's using the Cheetah CL-180 and / or CL-360 flashes?
    From what I understand HSS is not currently supported for Nikon camera's.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Correct, at the moment only for Canon bodies, but it's supposed to be in the pipeline.

    Cells-II Transmitter supports Cheetah Lights (180/360 & Canon V850 Flash) with Canon 5DII, 5D, 7D, 60D and most pre 5DII Canon camers to support CheetahSync (High speed Sync) up to 1/8000 sec or camera's highest speed.

  • Thank you for your response.
    Has anyone tried any of the PW radios to see if they might work on HSS with the CL-180 or CL-360 flashes?
  • BlackiceParisBlackiceParis Member
    edited February 2014
    Hi to all. I am a new member working in Paris France, mostly with a Nikon D800 and I intend to purchase 2x Godox Cheetah CL-180 to replace my "slow" SB910 Speedlights flashs.
    I just wonder if anyone can tell me, a year after its presentation on the market, if this product is a reliable item, and if there are any major "flaws" with it?
    Many thanks in advance for your answers.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited February 2014
    I've had sets since its inception, all fine, I am a huge advocate of them. (not associated with the owner/store by any means, just love the product)

    But I would spring for the CL-360, double the power again and you can certainly benefit from it.

    I also own sets of them, and if they had of been around first up, definitely would have gotten them.

    Since both sets come with a 'hotshoe' foot, only the 360 comes with an adapter plate to take off the hotshoe mount and the plate has the 1/4" screw hole for mounting onto a ballhead or light stand.

    No flaws. Trigger each time.

    Hint: Buy the '2 to 1 Reducer Cable' with each set, the battery has two outlets to power 2 items, I got the 2-1 reducer, plug each end into the battery and it reduces to 1 outlet where you plug the Cheetah Light into, that will almost give you 1/2 recycling time again. It definitely works for sure. I use them permanently.
  • BlackiceParisBlackiceParis Member
    edited February 2014
    Thanks Trev for the information. Seems that Godox produces good stuff. I already possess 2 x PB-820 and a LP-750 all working perfectly so far, except for one PB-820 that was replaced under guaranty because it did not wanted to start when pressing the button!
    But I was wondering if Godox was able to handle as well the lighting components. You confirm it. So I will look as you suggest for the 360, even though it is more expensive...
    As I am asked more and more for "live" or portraits in action, what I am really looking for (apart from light color and stability) is a very fast recycling time. I hate to miss interesting portrait "expressions" because the flash does not blow properly when asked.
    Is the recycling time identical for a CL-180 compared to a CL-360?
    Again Trev, many thanks for the valuable info you shared.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited February 2014
    Recycling times do vary a little, takes a fraction longer for 360 to recycle to full power then the 180, but, it's not often you are needing the full power of the 360 anyway, rarely for me and I am working in bright sunlight a lot being in Australia.

    The 360 gives a full stop more power than the 180, which is pretty impressive.

    However, as I said above, get the 2-1 reducer cord and it cuts the recycling time by 45%.


    At 1/4 power of the 360, it's almost instantaneous and I can put my shutter to high and fire around 10fps and the light keep up with me.

  • So Trev you are from Australia…! This is truly an international site!
    You are right about the power of flashes. I also have 2 larger studio flashes 600WS with soft-boxes, that I mostly use between 1 and 2 on a range of 1 to 6!
    Regarding the CL360 I will also get the 2-1 reducer as it is really very cheap too!

    Trev, do you know by any chance if High Speed Flash works with the remote Godox FT-16 Flash Trigger with Nikon, because I read on some selling sites that it does only work with Canon for the moment? And Godox site is not very explicit on the subject too…
    Have a great day.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Canon HSS only, *not* Nikon at this stage, apparently it's coming.

    I am keen to get that CellsII when it comes out for Nikon, that will make life perfect especially for wedding photography when I need to balance sync/aperture/bright sunlight.
  • BlackiceParisBlackiceParis Member
    edited February 2014
    Trev, thanks for the response.
    Another point: did you find any clamp to help fixing the PB960 on the strobe stand? I actually use gaffer tape to do so with the PB820, but it is not really satisfactory. Nor is to use the shoulder strap on the stand's, because the battery bounces around. I need something on which I could count on when I move the stand. Any idea?
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited February 2014
    Yep. All at CheetahStand.

    BATTERY HOOK for lightstand/tripod, slot to slide the battery clip over and into the clamp, it moves freely but cannot come out unless you move the clip on battery out a bit and slide off the clamp's bar the battery hangs on.

    Only $26.95.

  • BlackiceParisBlackiceParis Member
    edited February 2014
    Thanks Trev. Precious info.
    Looks we are going to have a wonderful sunny day in Paris, but cold 1°C….
    Wish you a great day.

    PS.: it looks that CheetahStand does not sell to international buyers anymore… I sent them a message, we will see.
  • TrevTrev Moderator

    He sells to me because I am a good repeat customer, I let him know when I want to buy something and he 'opens' up Australia to me for a period of time so I can place the order.

    Depends on where one is I suppose, he may send to Paris/France, wait until he emails back.

    I think it's because he is so busy selling to US/Canada and maybe needs to get supplies all the time that he does not think it's viable to sell international, I don't know.
  • Hi again Trev. I just received a positive answer from Cheetahstand, except that they charge me for Paris, twice the price of the clamps for the shipping costs, making then 2 clamps for +$110. This is really too much for 2 clamps even if they are great.
    So after my last message to them, I just received another proposal at $26,90 instead of $56,90.
    I just check with them the conditions and will probably purchase the item. What a story for 2 clamps….ha…ha…ha!!!
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    It would have been the shipping costs, but if you are getting a large order of light, battery, trigger combo and clamps makes it cheaper in bulk.

    I have ordered stuff from B&H also that I just could not get in Australia, and the shipping costs were 3 times the price of the item, but I needed it so had to do the deal.
  • Done, I finally finished the deal with Edward Tang from CheetahStand! I just hope it will not take too long to reach me over here in Paris. I will let you know. A bientot!
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Probably take around 5-7 days, it takes around 7-10 for Australia.

    Glad it was sorted.
  • Hi to all.
    I have just just received this afternoon and used tonight my 2 Godox AD-360 (+2xPB960) with my pocket wizard on a corporate shooting in a boat on the river Seine: wonderful, reliable, great light, all manual... a dream. I just hope it will last like this for a long time. The product seems of great quality, heavy and precise to articulate. Looks professional enough to me!
    Now I cannot wait to receive the Godox FT-16 trigger and the clamps. What a change compared to the Nikon SB-910!!! But strangely enough, I needed to use the SB-910 (+ Godox PB-820) directly on the camera shoe at a certain time and for the first time, it seamed that the flash was working without any failure despite a high rate shooting....(???) Emulation...?
    I think that the Nikon flash works better on the camera shoe than on a stand with trigger. It probably uses better the resources of the TTL to lower energy consumption... Anyway I don't know. I just had a great shooting time tonight.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited February 2014
    Wow, that was fast delivery.

    Glad you enjoyed shooting the lights. It will be even better when you use the trigger/receiver made for the 360's so you can change power from camera.

    Now, if you still wanted to use on camera flash, but wanted to also trigger and control the 360's power from camera position, you need this:


    Put your flash on camera, have a bracket under camera of some sort, and put the PC Sync Plug into camera's PC port, mount the FT-16_360-TRIGGER on the hotshoe and you now have the best of 3 worlds.

    On Camera
    Off Camera
    Control from Camera
  • Again Trev, many many thanks for your precious information and experience sharing.
    As a reminiscence of my press photographer past, I use the flash on camera when I follow an event, now such as a corporate diner or cocktail when the light is very low... so this is true I need some punctual additional light, but just as a fill in! But your item is a great solution for larger spaces.
    In fact, I finally ordered the 2 Godox flash at the last minute in France. As we are in a (legal) SALE period over here and as the price proposed for 2 weeks buy a famous French site was only 19 euros higher than Hong Kong one (Incredible price, only happen once!) with a 24h delivery and including a French guaranty I did it!

    I just ordered the trigger and clamps outside the country!

    The only thing I am now looking for is a adapted and protected bag to carry in full security the 2 flashs and batteries. I know many possibilities such as pelican cases, but I am looking for something less "cumbersome". So if someone has an idea, feel free.

    Best regards.
    A bientot.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited February 2014
    Press Photographer, :).

    We have a somewhat similar background, I worked for a newspaper, Pre-Press Production department, designing/building advertisements, a *lot* of photo editing in Photoshop (started with Photoshop 3 - Not CS3) and had 40+ years in the paper. Photoshop obviously came later around 18 years ago now, and with lots of desktop publication programs like Quark XPress, InDesign, Adobe Acrobat, Coral Draw, Illustrator, and such.

    Cases, nope, I mounted the lights on CHEETAH LIGHT STANDS [collapsible] and they stay there permanently.

  • Funny Trev the similarity in our backgrounds indeed. I stopped the Press activity completely 3 years ago as it was not lucrative anymore and was less and less so! I mainly work now for companies which is a much more interesting, creative and profitable business to my point of view.
    I really need a transportation bag as I travel from place to place on my scooter in Paris, and guess what it rains often over here... It will be difficult and hazardous to carry my flashes on the stand. Although my camera bag (Lowepro flipside 500AW) is big, I always carry 2 cameras and at least 3 lenses which means taht there is not much place left for those BIG new flashes... By the way it reminds me that I should also purchase the bulb protection... You just enter one finger in this Godox system and the whole arm goes into it...
    I go back to my editing. Best regards. A bientot.
  • keano12keano12 Member
    edited March 2015
    Hi Trev,
    I want to purchase the 360 but don't want to be limited to small speedlite boxes. The
    Looks sturdy, will these hold most Bowen softboxes? 60x24". I was told it could hold a 60" octo
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Hi Keano,

    I have the Speed-Pro-Bracket myself, and I have put a 48" Octo on it, but in house, not outdoors, and I think it would support the 60" easily enough but cannot guarantee that as I don't have that size.


  • I just looked on Amazon and thes flashes can be found under the Neewer and Godox brand. They are much cheaper now than last year. I found a complete 360 outfit with battery pack and remote trigger for 400 on Amazon.

    These units are put aboard a cargo ship in a shipping container where the temperature is not controlled. The problem with that is the lithium battery pack may not survive and thats what happened with the 4 Amazon negative reviews on the 360. The ship might have been moving through a hot area at the time or the container was on top with the sun hitting it. Lithium doesnt do well stored over 85 degrees as owners of the Nissan Leaf have found out in Arizona.

    If you can get one with a good pack, its an excellent deal. Since no one will recell the packs you need to buy new and the packs are now at a great price too.
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