Ba Wang SL-150 Studio Flash

_6080645.jpgWhile you can’t really mess up too bad by buying inexpensive tungsten lights like the Dynaphos lights we have reviewed in the past, buying a flash system can cause you all kinds of grief if you buy a weak unit. The lack of decent specs makes buying an inexpensive unit purely a guessing game. If the unit doesn’t sync well or if it isn’t bright enough you have just wasted a chunk of change. Can the dirt cheap SL-150 be worth plunking down your hard earned pocket change? Let’s hook one up and check it out.

The SL-150 is a flash strobe (master/slave) system that can be triggered by either PC Sync or infrared, or optical sync. The SL-150 is equipped with a test button, on/off button, 75 watt modeling light, model light on/off, and variable power output. In the box you will get the strobe head, the power cord, a long PC Sync cord, and a manual. The strobe head has a built-in light stand clamp and integrated umbrella holder.

_6080683.jpgWe purchased the SL-150 from studio4less on eBay for $49.99, which just seemed like it was going to be too good to be true. A few days later the unit showed up, we powered it up, and tested the modeling light, fairly decent, but it is only 75 watts so we weren’t expecting much. We fired off a few photos but the unit would not flash using the optical flash. We next tried the PC Sync connector, nothing. Next we just tried the flash test button…nothing. We sent studio4less an email, and soon had the unit heading back. A few days later a replacement unit arrived that worked fine. Since the camera didn’t have a PC Sync connector, we used the Cactus PT-04 wireless flash trigger connected via PC Sync cable, this proved to be a really good combination. The PT-04 fired the SL-150 very reliably. The modeling light was sufficient for the auto focus to work well.

I am really tempted to simply scan the specs from the manual and post the image as it is about as useless as an old wart. Since it is actually rather humorous, I will include the text of the manual in parenthesis for your reading pleasure (Hint to manufacturer – we would be happy to rewrite your manuals in exchange for some free product!).

Model: SL-150
Power: 110v/60Hz
Output Power: 150ws
Guide Number (Index that glisten): 36GN
Recycle Time (Time of calling back): 0.5 – 3 seconds
Flash Time (Time of flash): 1/500 – 1/800
Light Dispersion (Angle to illumination): 55 degrees
Modeling Lamp: 50 watt
Color Temperature: 5500k +/- 200k
Flash Voltage (Touch off the voltage): 12v DC
Flash Methods (Touch off the way): PC Sync, Infrared, Optical, Test Button
Fuse: 5amp

For the test shots, we aimed the SL-150 up into a silver umbrella as a key light and snapped off a few. The light looked clean and consistent but was casting some harsh shadows. To balance the light, we put a hot shoe flash behind a shoot-thru umbrella and used an optical sync adapter to sync to the SL-150. This was much better but still casting a bit too much shadow so we simply dialed down the SL-150 until it was right where we wanted it.

Shot with only FL-150

Dual lights with FL-50 on full power

Dual lights with FL-50 on 1/4 power

For a flash that is only supposed to be 150ws, the SL-150 is certainly quite capable, it may not have the power of more powerful systems like even the entry level Alien Bee’s 800ws lights. Indoors, the SL-150 should be a fine entry level flash kit, outdoors it may not have the wattage you may need. For the price, you just can’t go wrong. If you are just starting out, consider the SL-150 to begin building your lit kit.

Features: 4
Quality: 3
Results: 4
Price: 5
Value: 5
Overall: 4.2

Now go out and start shooting!


Kerry Garrison lives in Castle Rock, Colorado with his wife and two dogs. With 10 years of experience shooting products and 5 years of experience in the wedding industry, Kerry brings a good deal of technical know-how and can explain topics in easy-to-understand terms.

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