Fstoppers Reviews the Phottix Indra500 TTL

Fstoppers Reviews the Phottix Indra500 TTL

After shooting flash for a handful of years, I have acquired a small arsenal of lights that are suited for different needs. I have the large studio lights that are great for overpowering the sun, small hot shoe flashes that have the ability to use features like TTL and high-speed sync, and then video lights that allow me to see exactly what my light is doing before I take an image. So when I saw that the Phottix Indra500 TTL could do all three, I was instantly intrigued.

At the heart of the Indra500 TTL, it is a 500W/s studio light that can run off either a battery pack or an AC adaptor. The flash itself is made of mostly metal, which gives it a rugged feel while still remaining nice and light. Like a lot of studio lights, this light runs off a battery pack or AC adaptor that connects to the light via a cable. This cable has a locking mechanism on the end that connects to the flash which makes it so the cable will not easily become loose and fall off.

At the front of the light you have the main light element as well as a built-in LED modeling lamp. The modeling lamp is adjustable and can give a decent amount of light, but it won't replace a high-powered video light when working in daylight. If you are working in dimly lit conditions though, it gives enough light that you could use the modeling lamp in a fair amount of conditions if you wanted. The light comes with a nice reflector that connects to the light via Bowens S-compatible mount, which allows you to lock modifiers into place and gives you access to a wide range of light modifiers.

Going to the back of the light you will see the main colored display along with all the buttons and switches you need to control the light. The display gives you a nice overview of the settings you would want to see during a shoot and shortcut buttons along with the green dial make changing setting on the fly quick and painless. The light also has a built-in set of receivers that can be individually selected in order to work with any of the Phottix transmitters they offer.

When choosing this light, I decided to go with the battery pack over the AC adaptor because I very rarely shoot in a studio type location. When first taking the light out of the box, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the battery was a decent amount smaller than the Vagabond Mini I was used to using.

The battery pack is also made of metal and feels a lot more sturdy. Like the Vagabond Mini, the battery itself is removable so that you can use multiple batteries during a shoot if you needed, but the locking mechanism on the Phottix is much better. As you can see from the above image, I eventually had to tape the battery onto the Vagabond because it would continuously slide off. This is partially due to a bad locking system and partially due to the fact that the battery has to constantly fight gravity. For the Phottix though, the battery is connected to the bottom of the pack with a side to side locking system instead of an up and down style.

Across the top of the pack you will see two outlets that allow you to power two lights simultaneously (any Indra light as well as the Phottix Mitros+ hot shoe light). These outlets also have a locking switch on them so that the cable cannot easily fall out. There is also a USB port that can be used to charge your phone and an on/off switch. This switch has two different ways of being set to on. The first way is standard and will result in a recycle time of 1.4 seconds when the light is at full power. The second way is high speed and will drop the recycle time to an even one second with a sacrifice to the number of flashes you can get per full battery.

While the overall build is nice and a very good quality, the thing that lets this light stand out from other lights is the ability to shoot TTL and high-speed sync like smaller hot shoe flashes. Because I’m constantly shooting in non-ideal times, this feature is an amazing asset. Not only does TTL make jumping from location to location a breeze, but the ability to shoot high-speed sync on a studio light is awesome. Normally when shooting studio lights outside and trying to kill the light from the sun, you have to shoot at your sync speed plus an aperture of maybe f/16. This is all well and good unless you are trying to shoot those nice shallow depth of field images that everyone loves. With high-speed sync, I now have the ability to shoot 1/4000 s and f/1.4 (the light can shoot at 1/8000 s, but my Nikon D750 cannot). While small hot shoe flashes have this same ability, they just don't have the power to keep up in these extremes. The below image shows a Phottix Mitros+ hot shoe flash (first image) against the Indra500 TTL (middle image). Both lights are at full power and about 13 feet away from the wall. Camera settings are 1/4000 s at f/8, ISO 100. The bottom image is the Indra at full power but with the camera set within its normal sync speed. Settings for this image are 1/250 s at f/16, ISO 100.

While the middle image is a bit underexposed, it gives a good example of what this light is capable of when dealing with higher shutter speeds. To put things into perspective, if I take the image from the hot shoe flash into Lightroom and raise the exposure until it matches the middle image from the Indra, I have to raise the exposure slider by plus two. If I wanted to get the same results using only hot shoe lights, because the light was already at full power, I would have to use three hot shoe lights to match the one Indra500.

Indra500 at full power from the back of the boat. Nikon D750 with 20mm f/1.8 at 1/1250 s, f/4, ISO 100.

What I Liked

  • 500W/s of TTL and high-speed sync
  • Solid build
  • Easy to use
  • Built-in receiver

What I Didn't Like

  • AC adaptor is a separate accessory
  • I wish the battery pack came with way to mount it to a stand

Conclusion

While this light might not get rid of the hassle of carrying around a larger light, it does add all the benefits you get from the the smaller hot shoe lights. The power and recycle times were more then enough for everything I threw its way. Add to that the ability to shoot high-speed sync and this light is definitely worth checking out.

Log in or register to post comments

30 Comments

Tyler Walters's picture

The main benefit -for me - in the Phottix system is the ability to use the Mitros speedlights and the Indra studio lights all from the same radio transmitter. I've owned a number of different set-ups and really like the ability to throw a speedlight on the background (or anywhere for that matter) and easily control the power/zoom/etc from the same hotshoe transmitter that is controlling my studio lights.

Jason Vinson's picture

Totally agree. It nice having one trigger that works with all my lights and that all of the lights have the receivers built in!

Paul Lara's picture

What is the price of this light?

Fritz Asuro's picture

I have been considering the Indra system too. It looks interesting and doesn't break the bank.

Zach Alan's picture

I started with the Indra 360 and just recently added the 500w to my arsenal. For the price, you can't beat the quality and sturdiness of the Indra.

Tor Ivan Boine's picture

sweet! Didn't think those existed! I've always just used the battery strap to tether it to the stand. This is way better.
But $77 wasn't that attractive :p

Jason Vinson's picture

Ya I have seen that. Just wish it came with it instead of being an additional item.

Jon Dize's picture

This appears to be a corded light? Not a cordless monolite? There are less expensive cordless/battery on-board monolites. I cannot imagine why I would buy this one if it is corded. I'd likely buy this one instead. https://bhpho.to/2hvOAoc

Denis Trudeau's picture

It seem a nice flash, did you get consistent color temp at several power setting?

jessepatterson's picture

I'd love to see a review comparing the Phottix 500, Godox AD600, & Profoto B1 lights.

jessepatterson's picture

I have the AD600 (Adorama's Version) and I haven't had any misfire issues at all. Your friend may have had a bad unit. I love seeing comparisons of gear I already own to see how they stack up.

Tomash Masojc's picture

AD600 withh TTL looks better for the price you pay and that you got :) also waiting for comparison

Joakim Drake's picture

Buyer beware: I bought this unit a year and a half ago and had severe color temperature issues when controlling the power from the remote from about 1/8 in power and lower.

If you set the head to completely manual I had no color issues, in fact it rivalled the Profoto B1 I ended up comparing it with, but that also requires you to walk over to the head and set the power by turning its knob.

I ended up returning the unit for a refund and switched to Profoto after this. You can read my review here where you'll find samples of how severe the color shifts are: http://www.joakimdrake.se/blog/profotob1vsindra500

If the reviewer had followed the example set by the review of the Godox AD600 on this site, I'm sure he'd have noticed this flaw.

Guy Daudelin's picture

I read your article about the white balance problems at low intensity and I'm wondering why there's not that many people reporting on this while doing reviews of the unit.

I'm really interested in the Indra 500LC version which, I think, is not going to have these problems since it is working on Canon RT/Laso wireless system and the RT system ain't using TTL to control flashes remotely.

Seems like nobody got their hands on the new units yet, can't find any reviews.

Joakim Drake's picture

Sometimes I wonder as well, but this could be a contributing factor:

- As soon as you enter HSS, you will most likely send 1/4 power or more through the unit which will not really affect color temp negatively.

- If you use it outside, you will most likely use a lot of power as well, which will lessen the effect of its bad color shifts.

If you use it in a studio or in darker locations however with larger aperture it will be hard to miss that you suddenly go from ~5k kelvin to ~7k kelvin with large tint shifts...

Jason Vinson's picture

This may be my issue, When I'm using this light its most always at a very high power and on location. Otherwise I'm using smaller hot shoe flashes.

Andrew Feller's picture

I've really been thinking about adding one of these since the now have a version that will work with Canons wireless system.

Bernard Lachaud's picture

I own two of these units ; indeed, on paper very nice specs sheet, but the color temperature issue is a major flaw. Huge reddish cast when HSS is used, extremely cyan / blueish cast when shot TTL at very low power.
You end up using it on manual power to cure the disease, set on the units, then what's the point using all the fancy TTL stuff... Huge disappointment.
I'm surprised there's no mention of this issue in the review.

Jason Vinson's picture

I'll have to test this out. I don't do any studio type work so have never noticed any type of color shifts. If I have I may have just thought the color was from ambient location lighting.

Daniel Dubois's picture

Jason, great review. Bernard and Joakim are spot on about the color shift. You can see samples of what I was getting with the Indra360 at: http://www.duboisphotogroup.com/phottix-indra360-review-part-ii/
The unit was also consistently overheating when in TTL mode. I REALLY wanted to like this strobe. On paper, it's nearly perfect and the Odin II controller is, for me, the best one on the market in terms of features and usability. Maybe Phottix will come out with a firmware update that will fix all of this. Fingers crossed.

Jason Vinson's picture

do you have the latest firmware? seems below that there was a firmware update that added a color accuracy mode. My Indra came with the latest firmware on it so may be why i dint see anything.

Daniel Dubois's picture

Yep. I'm running the latest firmware on the heads and the remote. The update did add a "Color" mode but I'm not sure it did much if you're using the head in TTL mode. I haven't tested it with the head in Manual mode and controlling the power from the strobe. But giving up the convenience of TTL and controlling the strobe from the Odin II remote seems like too high a price to pay for consistent color. I so hope they can fix this. Otherwise, it's a killer system.

jonathan thorpe's picture

Im actually sponsored by Phottix, there was a firmware update that may be able to fix the color issues:
http://journal.phottix.com/photo-accessory-news/v106-firmware-phottix-in...

Daniel Dubois's picture

Jonathan, thanks for the link. In my experience, the updated 1.06 firmware (or v1.09 for the Indra360) had little effect when using the lights with TTL even when the strobe was in "color" mode. It's possible the firmware made the color more stable when the head was set to manual mode but I'm guessing most people who buy this strobe are wanting to use the TTL capabilities and/or be able to manually control the power from the remote control. Both of those situations produce the color shift.

Joakim Drake's picture

Fw 1.06 doesn't help with the color issue on the Indra500 I'm afraid. When it was released I had high hopes but was severely disappointed. After that I returned the unit for a refund.

Travis Tank's picture

This was shot in Thailand with the Indra 500. I recommend it to any travel photographer.

xavier fort's picture

I bought the indra 500 and without much use, first it stopped working the battery and after a short while I tried to start it and it started to smoke.
I wanted to talk to people at phottix but no one answered.
I do not recommend it at all.

Don Atzberger's picture

Very late to the game here but this color shift problem may be resolved.

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/63157844