There are a number of portable strobe systems on the market, ranging from several thousand dollars to as low as about $500. True portable strobe systems are “pack-and-head” type systems, where the capacitors, battery, and power supply all reside in a separate pack, leaving the head itself, small and lightweight. These differ from Speedlights in that they can put out between 400-650 Watt-seconds of power, whereas a Speedlight can only manage about the equivalent of 50-80 Watt-seconds (a direct comparison is difficult due to the way power is measured in a strobe, vs. a typical Speedlight).
One of the most popular portable strobe systems among pro shooters are the Elinchrom Ranger Quadra series; however, at a starting price of $2,123 for a single head and Li-ion battery pack, the Elinchrom units come at a premium price point. B+H’s house-branded, Impact LiteTrek 4.0 is a 400Ws portable strobe system which currently sells at a discounted price of only $549, and includes a 7.2 amp-hour, Li-ion battery. However a new import-product on the market, the Godox XEnergizer sells for only $533, and looks very interesting, and is basically marketed as a poor man’s Ranger Quadra. The manufacturer rates it at 600Ws, and appears to be one of the best values today in a powerful, portable strobe system. If you’ve been considering a Ranger Quadra, you may want to look into this unit first.
The first thing I look at when considering any battery-powered lighting system is the cost of replacement batteries (though sometimes the OEM battery is difficult to identify/source). I also look at the total amp-hour rating as a rough estimate of capacity. Note that certain OEM replacements can often be significantly less expensive than buying the flash manufacturer’s re-branded battery. Here’s some battery replacement costs for some common portable strobe inverter/battery packs:
Portable DC flash replacement batteries:
• Godox XEnergizer: LiFePO4; 12.8V; 8 amp-hours: $179.
• Elinchrom Ranger Quadra: Li-ion;; $374.99
• Impact LiteTrek: Li-ion; 12V; 7.2 amp-hours: $174.95.
• Bowens TravelPak [for Bowens Gemini strobes only]: SLA; Yuasa NP7-12 [OEM replacement]; 12V; 7.2 amp-hours: $15.
Phottix Indra500 TTL AC/battery-powered monolight:
Phottix’ press release
• Min./max. power: 4Ws-500Ws.
• Power range: 8 stops.
• Recycle time: 1.0 sec. when powered by AC power pack.
• Recycle time: 2.0 sec. when powered by battery pack.
• Mount: Bowens S-type.
• Moderate weight: 4.6 lbs.
• Built-in Phottix Odin RF receiver.
• Built-in Canon and Nikon TTL compatibility when used with Phottix transmitters.
• t=0.1 value = 1/250th-1/15,000th.
• LCD display auto-rotates when inverted.
• Fairly pricey at $1,199, but costs far less than Profoto B1, Ranger Quadra.
godox xenergizer RS600R:
About half the price of the Phottix Indra500 TTL, read the Xenrgizer mini-review here.