Broncolor is often referred as the top high-end flash manufacturer. Their units are all assembled by hand in Switzerland, and the Siros L is no exception to the rule. However, the latest addition to their product line is much cheaper than their other battery-powered flash, and it’s a monobloc unit, just like the Profoto B1. I had the opportunity to use one for a few weeks to give you my impressions!
The Siros L is building on the Siros and Siros S design. It’s similar in many aspects but with one significant difference found in the form of a battery. I tried the 800Ws version, the most powerful currently available, and the first thing that struck me was its hefty 8.2lbs. However, there is a smaller 400Ws unit, which is 1.5lbs lighter, and it’s much closer to the B1 in size. Being used to less powerful units such as the Elinchrom ELB 400 and Profoto B1, the weight of the device was quite surprising but additional power always to the detriment of weight!
The unit felt very much like a studio strobe with its openings on the tops to let the air flow and avoid any overheating issue. Thus it’s in no way a weather sealed flash, and I wouldn’t describe the Siros L as rugged or sturdy enough to go outdoors in bad weather conditions. The unit looks absolutely stunning, that’s a fact, but, unfortunately, the outside coating is easily scratched, and the whole design is based on a studio strobe with just an added battery. It’s a beautiful product but one you must handle with care, especially given its price, and not something you’ll take with you on your craziest adventures.
The battery is another reason not to throw the Siros L around like a cheap hot shoe flash. Placed on top of the device, it’s not really apparent except for its release buttons on each side. It matches the design, it’s small and light, however, if you place the unit upside down on the floor, the battery will be likely to pop out. It happened to me when using the flash as a fill light from below… Not the most practical thing when the battery comes out in the middle of a shoot. But when the Siros L is used on a light stand or laid on the ground on its handle, the battery stays on with no issue at all.
On a better note, the Siros L form factor may look like a Profoto B1 with a recessed flash tube. However, it’s just the default reflector making it look like so. When the reflector is taken off, the tube is fully apparent and not recessed anymore! Why is it so important? Well, for the best quality of light when using modifiers, a non-recessed tube is preferred. The spread of light is wider and thus more diffused. With modifiers such as a para or a beauty dish, it’s simply a must! Try and use a Profoto B1 with a deep umbrella, and then with another unit such as the Broncolor Siros L or any Elinchrom Quadra heads, and you might be surprised by the result! Non-recessed tubes do make quite a bit of difference.
This is where the Broncolor Siros L actually shines: 800Ws, t0.1 of 1/4,400s at minimum power and 1/250s at full power, 2.7s to charge at full power, 220 full power flashes per charge, and a power setting that can be tweaked in 1/10th of a stop over nine full f-stops. Looking at just these specs, it looks very much like a Profoto B1 with more power. The recycling time is longer, but that’s because it’s close to double the power. The 400Ws unit is faster than the B1. So what does make the Siros L stand out?
Well, Broncolor included some of the technologies found in their most exclusive products such as the Scoro S – a $14,000 pack – into the Siros L! Yes, you read that right, for a little over $2,000 you can access high-end technologies in a very portable unit. Apparently, it was Broncolor’s goal: provide their clients with a smaller and lighter unit, but also one for people who want to get into their system with something a bit more affordable than their packs but without sacrificing the light quality Bron is known for.
The first technology the Siros L inherits from the Scoro line is the cut-off system which enables rapid flash sequences with up to 50 flashes per second. Probably not something everyone is going to use on an everyday basis, but it’s always nice to have. It may turn out to be an interesting feature for people shooting in bursts, such as action, fashion, or some still life photographers.
Then we find the patented ECTC technology, probably the best known of them all. ECTC stands for enhanced color temperature control. It’s the only system available on the market that guarantees the color balance won’t shift more than +/-50K across the whole power range. So you can use multiple units, without having to worry about color inconsistencies. Still life, commercial, and fashion photographers will surely love this! And retouchers as well.
Not only does the Siros L carry electronics that makes it an almost a pocket-sized Scoro S, but it also comes with its own new feature: HS. It will let you sync your camera up to 1/8,000s! Don’t mix it up with HSS; it’s not the same though – for more details, please read my comparison between HSS and Hi-Sync. Broncolor HS is comparable to Elinchrom’s Hi-Sync and works extremely well. The use of HS is limited to a certain power range as the Siros L flash duration is too fast past a certain setting. So you can go down to 4.0 on a scale of 10, 10 being full power. At the same time, using HS at an extremely low power doesn’t make much sense as the unit’s flash duration below 4.0 power is short enough to freeze movement anyways. I found the implementation of HS incredibly easy to use, there is only one setting to activate, and it simply works! No need to worry about the head like it’s the case with Elinchrom or about the power loss like with HSS on Profoto, Godox, and the likes. I’d almost dare say, it’s as easy as Profoto HSS to set up, but with the power performances that can be obtained with Elinchrom Hi-Sync. The only downside to the Broncolor HS system is the transmitter. The RFS 2.2 is required to use HS and I must say it’s not the most user-friendly device I’ve used. It gets the job done, but a quick read of the user guide and some practice will be necessary before getting the hang of it. But don’t worry, more details regarding the Broncolor RFS 2.2 and HS are coming soon in a separate article.
Talking about fancy features, I regret the unit doesn’t have TTL. I know some people are going to say that Broncolor is a professional brand and as such, TTL should not be found on their products. Yet I’d have to disagree. When TTL is implemented like on Profoto units, it’s extremely useful to speed things up when shooting on location – first shot in TTL, switch to manual and adjust from there. Hopefully, it’s something that will either be implemented with a firmware update if possible or in future iterations of the Siros.
One last thing I’d like to mention in the features section is the modeling lamp which is a 25W LED balanced at 3000K. It’s interesting to see they didn’t go for a daylight balance, but it’s not an issue as it can always be adjusted using gels. What I do regret though is that it’s not more powerful and dimmable. Furthermore, the Siros L seems to have a temperamental cooling system. When I first received the unit, I switched it on to navigate all the menus and options available, then suddenly the fan kicked in! Even though I had not triggered a single flash or switched on the modeling lamp yet, the fan was making noise. While it’s not extremely noisy, it’s still enough to make sound recording a pain when shooting video. So if you plan on using this unit as a video lamp as well, forget about it, it’s purely for photography.
Navigating the Menus
Nowadays, nearly all flashes have very similar specs. We come to a point where there aren’t many features to be added anymore, at least none that could truly benefit any photographer’s work. The issue is how do you know if a $2,000 Broncolor Siros L is a better choice than a $600 Godox unit? At three times the price, one should be able to notice a difference! First, and foremost, it should be technologically superior. I believe if color is paramount to your work, then the Siros L is clearly the best choice. Second, there is the ease of use. An expensive unit should be easy to navigate and use.
The Broncolor Siros L required a bit of adaptation on my side to understand the menu on the unit itself, but once I got a grasp of it, it made perfect sense and was extremely easy to use. I wish the screen were a bit larger with more info as most options were abbreviations and some details such as flash duration were not available. Granted, for people who need more information, there is the BronControl App, available for both Android and iOS. It works extremely well, it’s fast, and it can prove to be useful when working with multiple light sources or to adjust any settings more quickly than with the RFS transmitter: no need to move anymore, you control everything right from your smartphone or tablet. Furthermore, the app is free, it’s not a costly add-on.
So all in all, the menus and options are well designed and makes the unit quite easy to use. But… because nothing can be perfect, the RFS 2.2 transmitter felt like it didn’t belong with the Siros L or the BronControl app. Like said above, I’ll come back to this in a separate article because the RFS 2.2 is not required per say to use the Siros L unless you want to use HS. For now, I’ll just say that it’s probably the less intuitive trigger I have ever used and I think it’s a shame for a brand like Broncolor. The Swiss flash manufacturer seems to put so much effort into designing products and an app that both look great and work efficiently, but then, probably, to cut down on some R&D time and cost to catch up with other brands, they went to Godox for the trigger. While Godox has some neat products, I don’t find their user interface to be the best on the market and clearly not one that looks high end. Hopefully, within the next few years, Broncolor will come up with a transmitter that is as easy to use as their app! Then the Siros L system would truly shine and could put the B1 in the shade. But for now, I just think the RFS 2.2 is holding back the Siros system.
The 400Ws is priced at $2,050, while the 800Ws is a little under $2,350, placing them at just about the same price as the Profoto B1. I guess the question on everyone’s lips is: should I buy the Broncolor Siros L?
To me the answer seems quite clear:
If you are a Broncolor user, you’ve already invested heavily in their light modifiers, and you are only looking for something cheaper to grow your kit or for something portable that can be used on location, then it’s a no-brainer.
If you don’t own any Broncolor equipment, but you want to get into the system even though you cannot justify investing thousands of dollars into your gear, for now, the Siros L is a perfect choice. It’s the cheapest Broncolor unit right now if you need a battery-powered flash. Otherwise, the Siros or Siros S will do just fine.
If you are just looking for a portable flash that you can use outdoors, and don’t care about the brand, then, you may want to consider other options, unless you need the 800Ws or the color consistency offered by the ECTC technology. To me, the Siros L is more of a studio strobe that can be used on location than a strobe designed for outdoor environments.
As you can understand it ultimately boils down to getting into the Broncolor system or not. The Swiss flash manufacturer has one of the largest range of modifiers in the industry, and the Siros L is compatible with pretty much all of them. It may be a tiny bit heavy for some of them such as the paras if you use it on a daily basis, but nonetheless, it opens a whole new world of possibilities.
What I Liked
- Non-recessed tube
- Access to the full range of Broncolor modifiers
- BronControl App
- Nine f-stop power range
What Could Be Improved
- Poor transmitter design
- Build quality is good enough for studio use, but a sturdier and weather-sealed unit for outdoors would be fantastic – but I guess that’s why the Move L is still on the market and why I’m currently reviewing it for you guys
- No LCD screen on the back of the strobe
- No TTL
Broncolor put quite a bit of effort into the design of the Siros range. Keep in mind the units are assembled by hand in Switzerland, and that’s costly. Seeing them being competitive with other brands that manufacture in China is astounding! I believe the Siros L has its place on the market, especially the 800Ws version – something Profoto is currently missing. Though I wish the Siros L 400Ws were a bit cheaper than the Profoto B1, and the 800Ws at about the same price. It would make it so much more competitive and attractive!
Still, it’s an excellent way for younger photographers to access Broncolor quality without breaking the bank. It’s not as rugged and refined as a Move L or Scoro S, but I guess the price difference exists for a reason. I’m now looking forward to testing the Move L in depth, see how it actually compares and if the price difference can be justified as a user. So stay tuned for more Broncolor reviews, as there will be quite a few coming soon.
Do any of you own a Siros L? Or is it on your gear wishlist? Is it missing something in your opinion or did Broncolor get everything right? If you recently bought a new strobe, why did you consider it? I’d love to hear your thoughts about this strobe with it in the comments below.