Fstoppers Reviews the Broncolor Siros L 800Ws

Fstoppers Reviews the Broncolor Siros L 800Ws

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!

Build Quality

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.

The battery size compared to an iPhone 6S Plus

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.

Features

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.

Sample image shot at f/2.0, ISO 64 and 1/8,000s using the Siros L in HS mode.

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.

Sample image shot using the modelling lamp with a red gel as a kicker light. The Siros L was placed at about 4-6 feet away to give you an idea of the power the 25W will give you. The main light was a street light above the model.

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.

Price

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.

I used the Siros L outdoors, but a sand bag is a must have just as much as a dry and sunny environment. Forget about shooting in the rain, it's not meant for this kind of situation.

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
  • ECTC
  • HS
  • 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

Conclusion

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.

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44 Comments

Previous comments

and you can manipulate the settings from an iPad over their app. Which is quite convenient because I use the iPad anyway to capture.

Deirdre Ryan's picture

I'm in the market for a new system as my Dynalites are super old and if something major happens, they can't get the parts to repair them anymore :( I've been researching Profoto, Elinchrom, Broncolor, Bowens, and Hensel. I did look at the new Dynalites, and yes, they are a rebranded Rimlite, and they can service them here in NJ. But FINALLY it looks like Hensel is the the game with a head that is both battery and AC powered. Thanks Peter Muller for posting this link! I've used Hensels in the past and they are great!

We use Hensel all the time and are (mostly) happy with it. Their generators are sometimes a bit error prone. We still haven't figured out what is happening. But this can be our particular set.

But the Foris strobes are really a game changer when they perform like they should. They just moved the release date a few months unfortunately. But good things come to those who wait.

user-118962's picture

One of the other key points is power consistency and accuracy. I've got thousands of pops on Siros L, as well as other bron strobes. Every time a bron strobe pops, not only do you get the same colour of light every time, you get the same power. No other strobe offers that combination. And that's what you're paying for. Godox, PCB, even the newer Profoto stuff, just doesn't give you that consistency.

broncolor is for photographers who don't want to spend hours "fixing" in post. I get more camera time or family time, instead.

You had me wondering about the battery falling out. It's never happened to me so I checked my L and there's no issue if the battery is fully seated. If you don't have the battery completely engaged into the body, I can see how it could pop out. But if installed properly, it will stay in.

Joe Giacomet's picture

I've got a couple of Siros L 800's as well as other Bron lights and they're great.

The recycling speed could be improved in my opinion, 2.7s at full power is a little slow, although it speeds up pretty fast as you drop the power a stop. Also the umbrella mounting system is annoying, use a Big Umbrella and you put a nice scratch down the side of the unit, although it's vastly improved over the non L Siros', the umbrella system on that was terrible.

I get peoples points about cheaper systems, Bron is expensive. One of the benefits of Bron is that it's widely available as rental, so you can own a small / medium amount of kit and then top up with rental on big jobs. Here in the UK, all the decent rental houses (i'm not including calumet in that) only stock Pro or Bron so you need to use one of those systems.

Don't see how your battery dropped out btw, once it's locked into place it's secure. Also I don't get the comments about the triggering system being complicated, it's pretty straight forward to use! The lights themselves need a read of the manual but the RFS2.2 were very straight forward.

Sure they're expensive but all Bron stuff is. If I was shooting weddings or portraits I prob wouldn't get these but for ads / commercial work they're a brilliant addition to the kit.

Quentin Decaillet's picture

Regarding the battery, I cannot say more than what I stated in the article. The battery was indeed locked both times it popped out because both times the unit was on. But as I placed it upside down on the ground, it seems like the battery just didn't want to stay in. Perhaps due to the spring? I'm not sure… but even someone at Bron admitted they had heard of this issue from a few users.

The RFS 2.2 wasn't extremely complicated to use; I just think it's far from great or intuitive. I don't understand why it's only a transmitter and not a transceiver; I mean transmitters were great back in 2000. Being able to read the settings of the unit from the RFS would make things so much easier and faster. The way settings had to be changed were not the most user-friendly either. Try a Profoto Air TTL, and you'll see what I mean. Profoto did an outstanding job – except, again that's it's a transmitter only – and made something every brand tries to make complicated incredibly simple. The user guide is useless with the Profoto Air TTL, not so much the case with the Bron RFS 2.2 or the Elinchrom Skyport HS. The RFS 2.2 is not bad for a Godox product, but I just don't think it's up to Broncolor standards…

Joe Giacomet's picture

It is a transceiver btw. If you turn it on holding the test button you can change it into a receiver, as well as change other lesser used settings. I have 4 of them, as I use 3 of them with my Grafit packs that are non RFS as receivers. I agree the Air remote is better, the Pro Remotes just work. I don't use TTL myself, so never felt the need for it. Ultimately you are right the RFS2.2 works, but it could be a lot better. It's cheap though, the RFS2.1 units were so pricey.

Fair enough with the battery, I've only got experience with my two heads and 3 batteries, and they feel secure to me. if i was hanging it off truss, i'd prob tape it in from a safety point of view after reading this.

Felix Wu's picture

You are right about the broncolor remote being hopelessly designed. It's just bad. And I don't know about now but the our local rental house put all their batteries upside down when the remotes are not in use because....remotes cannot be turned off!

Juan Osorio's picture

I have 2 Siros 800 L units.
What I love about the Siros is exactly the opposite to what the writer of this article talks about.
First, the simplicity of the menus is what makes this unit to be so easy to work with. There is a dial at the center and when it is turned left to right or vice versa, it offers only 2 options beep on or off, wifi on or off, etc. I have rented in the past the Profoto B1, and I would say the Siros 800 L is much easier to use. The unit can be trigger with the traditional wireless trigger which is also the simplest and more minimalist trigger you can find; or with the newer RFS 2.2 which allow for HS. This unit is also very easy to figure out and it only costs $120 - $130 which is very inexpensive in comparison with the Profoto triggers.
It was also mentioned that the modeling light cannot be dimmed, but this is not the case. In fact, the modeling light's power can be proportional to the actual output or just constant to the maximum potency by holding for 2 seconds the MOD/ECO button on the left of the picture you can see on this review.

Why did I chose the Siros 800 L?

Basically, because I wanted to stop upgrading strobes. Once you buy a Siros 800 L, you know that you are not limited to just one type of photography. Color precision, speed, consistency and reliability are not going to be on your list of concerns. What if you are a portrait photographer and there is an opportunity to do a commercial work in which color has be to precise? What if you are working outdoors and 500-600 watts/sec are not enough to overpower the sun? What about if you decide to use a parabolic umbrella? What if you need to shoot an athlete outdoors and completely freeze motion, or a car or a motorcycle?

1. The main reason is the power. It is the only wireless monolight that allows you have such a huge range with 9 f-stops in ¹/₁₀ or full-stop intervals.
2. As Quentin Decaillet mentioned, the light is actually no covered on its sides by the metal case. This makes a huge difference in terms of amount of light that is actually distributed across your modifiers, specially if you are using a large modifier or a parabolic umbrella.
3. The color consistency of Broncolor is unrivaled; specially when you are shooting continuously at the fastest rate that the power settings allows you.
4. The recycling time is not just 2.7 seconds. This is only at maximum power. The technical specs from the Broncolor website state that the recycling times are 0.05 – 4.3 s in eco-mode and 0.03 – 2.7 s in normal mode. Because it is an 800 watts unit I rarely need to crank the power to 10 and I have never been in a situation in which the recycling time was slowing me down.
5. Another reason that is a more a continuation of the statement given in 4 is that the Broncolor App allows you to use your strobes unlike any other strobe I know in order to achieve ridiculous recycling times, speed and power.
You can place several strobes together in the same spot and program the App so each light is waiting on a queue and they fire in the order you program them. If you have 2 monolights you can cut the recycling time in half alternating between light 1 and light 2, but you can add many lights that will allow you to shoot at many frames per second even at full power. Imagine having 4, 5 or 6 monolights. By the time you finish the 6 shot the light 1 has been waiting ready for a while. Look at their tutorials on the Broncolor YouTube channel for more info ( there are several videos that explain how to use the App, but the video "bronControl - Creative Functions" will give you the big picture. The "Freemask function allows you to separate perfectly any subject from the background for later composing; and the sync sequence allows you to use maximum power for stroboscopic effects, not a fraction of it like it normally happens in these kind of situations.

About Siros L weather sealing and robustness:

I don't try to abuse my gear, but they are tools and I use them as such. I have used the 800L many times in less than ideal conditions... in conditions that I would not recommend others do. This past weekend I had a magazine shoot on White Fish Lake in Alberta. The temperatures were around -20C, with wind blowing snow into the lights at 15-30 km/hour. No problems to report. Shutter speeds ranged from 1/250 - 1/4000th of a second, with Pocket Wizard FlexTT5 Transceivers. The TT5s can be erratic at times, but generally they get the job done, so I don't expect to be ordering any RFS 2.2s anytime soon. I love my Siros Ls and the bronControl app is amazing!

BTW, It’s my thought that if you ever use exposure compensation with TTL lights (which I think most people do), you might as well be shooting manually. I never miss TTL when using the Siros Ls, even in rapidly changing ambient light and with fast moving subjects.

Robert Nurse's picture

I'm seriously looking at purchasing an 800. I've researched it ad nausea. You'll be able to shoot at high shutter speeds at any power level. I'll be able to connect a Canon ST-E-3-RT to the RFS 2.2 and trigger my Speedlites. Maybe not with HSS. But, still control. Best part about the Siros L: with its HiSync, you don't lose power by using pulses of light.

Nice review Quentin. Sort of a side question - how are you gelling your siros? I've been trying to figure out how to gel these guys for use in a softbox (ie shooting at sunset). Thanks!

Mike Irving's picture

All this craftsmanship in a strobe , and NO TTL. Im staying with Profoto... even Godox 600 pro has TTL.