Recently, a few photographers I know have been raving about Neewer’s gear. So, when given the opportunity to review their new Q4 Strobe Flash and its QPro wireless trigger, I jumped at the chance. Here’s why it far exceeded my expectations.
A long time ago, I had a few bits and pieces made by Neewer in my equipment cupboard. It was all right, but I hadn’t been so impressed with it that it would be a brand I sought out. But with the proliferation of cheap, low-quality equipment on the market now, it seems to have upped its game. Consequently, some superior accessories at great prices are now appearing from the brand. The Q4 Strobe and the QPro Wireless Triggers fit into that category.
First Impressions of the Newer Q4 Strobe
On unboxing and assembling the flash head unit, it was evident that this was a very well-built, solid piece of equipment. It arrives in a robust nylon carrying case with wide webbing handles. The flash is housed inside, supported by a molded, expanded polystyrene box and lid.
Inside the case is the flash unit with a reflector, lithium battery, bulb, power adaptor, and power cord, plus an adaptor for attaching the lamp to a flash stand.
The flash unit itself is very robust. The casing frame is made from a very strong polycarbonate and an ABS-Polycarbonate alloy. I was hard pushed to tell whether it was made from aluminum. The front plate has a metal Bowens mount. There’s also a metal carrying handle at the top of the flash unit.
The bulb is stored separately and needs fitting; after aligning a red dot on the bulb and one on the main unit, it just pushes firmly into place. Similarly, the battery needs to be slotted into the unit and charged.
The rear of the flash has an LCD display and various control buttons: Menu, Mode, Settings, modeling lamp, HSS (High-Speed Sync), and group/channel selection. There’s also an adjustment dial. On one side there is a 3.5mm sync port and a USB-C port for firmware updates. The other side has the housing for the Lithium battery to slide in. On top is an optical receiver for using the flash as a slave and the carrying handle, Then, on the bottom, the standard ¼-20 UNC threaded socket, so it can be mounted in most tripods, and there are the vents for the cooling fan.
The light stand adaptor, confusingly called the top handle in the instruction manual, is also well made. The angle locking nut allows the flash head to be tilted. When releasing it, changing the vertical tilt of the flash still requires some pressure, and there is a firm click as it steps between the different angles, so there is no chance of the head just flopping downwards, like some cheap adaptors are prone to do.
First Impressions of the Newer QPro Trigger
There are wireless triggers available for Nikon, Sony, and Canon. Those who read my articles will be aware that I shoot with an OM-1, and sadly, as yet, there is no trigger for Micro Four Thirds. However, I was able to use a sync cable from my camera to a Nikon wireless trigger to fire it; I fitted a hotshoe adaptor between the flash and the camera, so no unwanted contacts were made. I also called upon my friend, William, who uses a Sony a7R III, to try the Sony trigger.
Like the Q4, the QPro trigger is again well made. It fits to the hotshoe and is tilted upward at an angle, making it easy to see when mounted on the camera. It has an array of buttons: five for changing the channel/group, and four function buttons, plus menu, mode, and test buttons. There is also an adjustment dial. It linked to the Q4 flash with no issue.
There’s a possibility to set the trigger and flash to five groups (M/A/B/C/E) and 32 channels, and they are easily connected together.
A Real-World Test of the Q4 Flash and QPro Trigger in the Field
Because this is a flash designed for outdoor use, I wanted to test it outdoors. However, it was a bright but extremely windy day when I first put it through its paces. So, William and I walked to the local woods for a bit of shelter to try it out.
First, I attached it to one of my larger studio light stands. The handle stand adaptor connected firmly to both the stand and the flash, and I was not at all worried about it falling off as I walked. It balanced well on that stand for carrying.
I also had with me a large 120 cm Neewer Parabolic Quick Release Soft Box. I was pleased to note that I could walk with the entire setup, including my camera, a third of a mile from my house to the trees without discomfort.
The Parabolic Soft Box requires a little bit of strength to assemble, and I found it much easier to fit the flash to the box than the box to the flash. Of course, it required the removal of the reflector dish first, which was easily achieved; modifiers are released by pressing a button on the front of the flash unit. The softbox fitted firmly to the flash with no signs of slackness.
We tried various configurations of the flash with the softbox’s Velcro-attached two diffusers and honeycomb, which fastened and removed relatively easily. I have other softboxes that are far more difficult to reconfigure.
Switching the flash unit on requires pressing the power button, then unlocking the unit using the dial. This dual action prevents accidentally turning the flash on and subsequent wastage of the battery; if you don’t unlock the unit, it turns itself off after a few seconds.
Once switched on, it is possible to control the flash’s power from the trigger. The flash works with through the lens (TTL) metering, although I prefer using flashes manually, and with the sync cable that was what I was doing. Meanwhile, William used TTL.
In use, the flash is impressive. It has a respectable guide number of 72 with the reflector dish fitted, although slightly less as a bare bulb, and the flash is 400 W. This meant it was powerful enough to illuminate William and me when we were modeling for each other, even when reducing the shutter and aperture down to darken the background under the trees. That was despite it being a bright summer’s day. The results using the various modifiers were pleasing too, although using both the internal and external diffusers in the softbox did reduce the amount of light significantly. That was expected, but something to consider when using this.
The modeling light is bright, and even in daylight, I could see the difference between it being switched on and off.
The trigger operates on a frequency of 2.4 GHz and can fire the flash at a distance of 328 feet (100 meters). I tested it in my house, which has solid brick and stone walls, and it worked consistently with the flash upstairs and the trigger down at the far end of the building. That was impressive, as I have cell phone blackspots in my house.
The recharge time between flashes is almost instantaneous.
Full Specifications of the Q4 Outdoor Strobe Flash
- Power: 400 Ws
- Flash Duration: 1/209 s to 1/10,989 s
- Recycling Time: Approx. 0.01-1.2 s
- Power Output: 9 steps: 1/256-1/1
- Flash Modes: M/Multi (Wireless Off), TTL/M/MUTIL (receiver unit of radio transmission)
- Optical Slave Flash: S1/S2
- Delay Flash: 0.01-30 s
- Stroboscopic Flash: Provided (up to 100 times, 100 Hz)
- Sync Modes: HSS (up to 1/8,000 s), first/second curtain sync
- Full Power Flash: 400
- Modeling Lamp (LED): 30 W 5,600 K, CRI or 95+
- Color Temperature: 5600 +/- 200 K
- Flash Exposure Compensation (FEC): Manual
- FEB: +/-3 stops in 1/3 stops increments
- Wireless 2.4G Q System: 32 Channels, 5 Groups (A, B, C, D, E), 2.4 GHz
- Transmission Range: 328 feet (100 m)
Wireless ID: In order to avoid interference, you can change the wireless transmission channel and wireless ID of the master and slave unit and make them consistent before triggering.
- Power Supply: Lithium Battery (included) / DC Adapter (included)
- Energy Saving: The flash can be set to automatically power off without operation for 30-120 minutes.
- Trigger Modes: 2.4G, S1/S2, 3.5mm Synchronous Cord, Flash Test Lead
- Rechargeable Li-ion Battery: 21.6 V, 60.48 Wh (2,800 mAh)
- Masking Function: Yes
- Built-in Silent Fan: Yes
- Built-in Buzzer: Yes
- Display Flash Duration: Yes
- Battery Power Indication: Yes
- Display: Dot Matrix Screen
- Strobe Size: 7.3'' x 8.3'' x 2.2'' / 18.5 x 21.2 x 5.5 cm
- Net Weight with Battery (no flash tube or reflector): 4.4 lbs (1.98 kg)
- Gross Weight: 5 lbs (2.25 kg)
- Package Contents: Q4 Flash Strobe, Modeling Lamp, Standard Reflector, Lithium Battery, Handle, Power Adapter, Power Cord (US Plug), Carrying Case
- QPro Wireless Trigger and Parabolic Softbox available separately
What I Liked and What Could Be Improved
Neewer has clearly grown over the last ten years from a company producing low-cost, not particularly high-quality accessories to one that is producing some great kit. This is a superb flash unit and a deserved winner of the iF Design Award 2023. Similarly, the QPro triggers and the softbox really come up to the mark.
Things I Liked
- Ease of Use: I am one for not reading the instructions, and I figured out how to use it without doing so. However, I do advise reading the comprehensive instructions manual, which is far better than most gear manuals I have.
- Robustness: the build quality of all the parts I tested is excellent.
- Weight: the flash weighs a reasonable 4.96 lbs (2.25 kg) with the bulb and battery connected.
- Design: the flash, trigger, and softbox all look and function like pro-end gear.
- Battery life: despite extensive use, the 2,800 mAh battery was still ¾ charged at the end of the hour-long shoot; it’s rated for 400 flashes at full power, so far more at reduced power.
- Flash Power and Features: It has a respectable guide number of 72, which means it would light a subject at 72 meters at f/1. The distance halves with each stop. So, f/1.4 = 36 meters from the flash to the subject, f/2 = 18 meters to the subject, f/2.8 = 9 meters to the subject, f/4 = 4.5 meters to the subject, f/5.6 = 2.25 meters to the subject. There are some more powerful (far more expensive) flash units out there, and many less powerful too. But this was beyond sufficient for anything I would use it for.
- More importantly, though, it can reduce the flash power up to nine stops to 1/256th full power, which is an important feature for any flash work. It also has flash exposure compensation from:3 to +3 stops in 1/3 steps. Furthermore, the recycling time is amazingly fast.
- It also has High Speed Sync (HSS) capabilities up to 1/8,000th of a second shutter speed and a flash delay from 0.01 seconds to 30 seconds. There is first- and second-curtain compatibility.
- Connectivity: a fabulous long-distance wireless control between the flash and the QPro Wireless Trigger.
- The 30-watt modeling light: it is bright.
What I Think Could Be Improved
- There was a lot of single-use plastic packaging that could be reduced and replaced with cardboard. Pleasingly, Neewer assures me this will change to all recyclable packaging with the next mass production.
- The nylon case's expanded polystyrene inner is not great. However, I have seen pictures of the new case with foam inserts that will be supplied with the new production and it looks far superior.
- It would be great to see a Micro Four Thirds version of the trigger.
- The battery level indicator button is tiny.
In Conclusion: My Final Thoughts on the Neewer Q4 Strobe Flash, QPro Trigger, and Parabolic Softbox
This is a fabulous system, especially considering the price tag. I have some more expensive, albeit older, studio flash heads that don’t match up to this in terms of performance.
As I said at the start, I was surprised at how good this gear is. The design has been clearly thought through. Combining the exceptional build quality and the functionality make it far better than I expected for its price. Yes, there are more powerful flashes out there, but many of these hold a premium price three or more times the cost of the Q4.
It’s portable and quick to set up and use, so perfect for outdoor shoots. I can see this appealing to the wedding and on-location portrait photographers, plus pet and vehicle enthusiasts.
Because it’s built for the outdoors doesn’t mean it can’t be used inside. I can see some small studios using this system too, as it will save trailing power cables. Hobbyists and enthusiasts who want to use a good quality flash large flash would do well with this gear too.
I can highly recommend the flash and the triggers. At the time of writing, the Q4 Flash was currently only available for preorder on the Neewer website but will no doubt be available from other retailers on its release this month. The triggers are already available, as are their softboxes.