Ever needed an AC outlet in the middle of nowhere to juice up your high powered flash to fill a scene tip to tip with sun balanced light? Ever got depressed cause you need to light a 15ft wide area with sun equalizing F11 light at ISO 100, then realized that your tricked out hot shoe flashes just cant do it… now you cry because you have (3) 640 watt monster strobes back in your studio that you wish you could have brought with you! Look no further… here comes the Innovatronix Tronix Explorer XT! This is what we call “on demand” power!
This tool isn’t Innovatronix’s first foray into the portable power biz. They’re earlier masterpiece the Innovatronix Tronix Explorer 1200 (See review of the original model) was a darn right blessing of a tool! It went head to head with the Alien Bees Vagabond and left a great taste in many photographers mouthes about finally being able to bring studio flash on-location! The Tronix Explorer XT will be coming in at only $349.00! Call it the big brother of the original $249.00 Tronix Explorer 1200. This tool is designed for larger studios and more robust use. It’ll be on sale around the final week of January 2008!
Whats different this time?
- Doubled power rating than that of Explorer 1200 (From 150watts to 325watts)
- 1200w watt peak, recommended up to 2400ws and gives much faster
- It has 2 12V/7Ah batteries
- It has provision for an external battery back (with automatic switch over) so that you don’t need to replace the battery on field, all you need to do is to connect the external battery pack to the power supply! A feature that alone make it a monster! Run out of juice… just connect the battery pack and continue to make your money!!!
Here’s how its physically different from the original Tronix Explorer 1200 model… NOT MUCH! But notice the blue input port… its for an additional external battery!!!
Whats the same?
- Autovolt charging voltage (input) – which means you can plug it in from 100-240V sources in any country in the world.
- LED/sound (beep) indicators (when the unit turns on it beeps and when the unit is out of power it beeps then shuts off)
- Overload protection (my biggest concern)
- Car battery charger
At, 15inches long, 5.6inches wide and 7.2 inches high the Explorer XT isnt much larger than the original Tronix Explorer 1200! Hey, the build of this thing just says Hulk written all over it!
Since the introduction of the first model, the Tronix Explorer 1200 I’ve had only 1 serious question. Can/Does the unit protect its user from electrical shock? A simple email to Innovatronix cleared my conscious!
Heres what was said:
“As for the grounding, the make of the Explorers (1200 and XT) is different
from other products. The metal enclosure in itself is already a grounding. We
have a metal casing on the Explorer. When this metal case is in contact to
the soil, it acts as ground. The Explorer also designed its output to be
totally isolated and floating with respect to ground. And hence, a rod for
grounding is not that necessary.” – Official Innovatronix Representative
Would the unit be safer with a grounding rod? Of course. But how do you ground if your on concrete in the middle of a on a sidewalk? How do you ground in the middle of a Church during a wedding before the reception starts? The same way everyone else does. Buy a Ground Fault Circuit Iinterrupter like the “Shockbuster” from Home Depot!
Now… enough of the technical waste! When I’m looking for a way to do something creative, many times it requires me to totally abandon the comfort of the garage “G Studio” and go to some strange place with no AC outlets within reach or some far off place in “Lala-Wahh-Haa-Ha” Land! This makes me ask only one question about such promises of “take your flashes with you.” DOES IT REALLY PERFORM? For my first test I wanted to see if it could handle my low power strobes’ quick recycle speed.
I’m pleased to report that not only did it handle the quick one second recycle times of my El Cheapo Britek BB-200 full power strikes but it asked for more! After 30 quick snaps I asked myself how to I turn up the heat in this little test run…. Add a stronger flash to it!
Next I plugged in my El Cheapo Britek HS-2000 440 watt strobe along with my BB-200 and let em both rip at full power! (Totaling 640 watts.) Its safe to say that after intentionally even trying to injure the Tronix Explorer XT by: 1.) Running the modeling lamp on the HS-2000, 2.) Setting it out of its double protective (non-electrical conductive nylon case) directly onto RAIN MOISTENED SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA BACKYARD SOIL, and 3.) Firing the unit some 300 times every 1 second… the unit is still alive and well! By the way… my kid gave up on me at shot 39! :)
- When you need power for strobes and you don’t have an outlet the Explorer XT delivers… even with higher capacity and much more speed than the original model…
- The build quality is tougher than an M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank!!!
- The unit can double as a weight for your light stands against the wind…
- When the unit makes contact with the ground it actually grounds itself…
- When using the unit with its non-electrical conductive nylon case it serves as 1 an easier way to carry the unit as well as an additional layer of protection from shock…
- The ability to use an external battery pack if your main unit runs out or too low mid session is just plain icing on the cake and will benefit any pro shooting outdoors all day!
- Costs $1000 less than other high profile competitors!
- Some digital flashes are not compatible with the Explorer XT Compatibility List
- Modeling Lights severely deplete the unit as they are constant drain devices
- At 18lbs, the Explorer XT is more Big Black Hulk than I want it to be!
- The carrying bag does not have a set of wheels! (Hint – Hint Innovatronix!:)
- Unit must remain plugged in when not in use at all times in order to maintain optimum battery condition. What does this mean in the real world? Have a significant power outage and your on-location photo session and your power unit are both in trouble! – This by far is the only major downside to all SLA (Sealed Lead Acid) battery technology, but until a better technology is in our hands… this is one drawback that we’ll have to live with!
- With Innovatronix being based in the Philippines and may throw some people off because the unit would have to be shipped half way round the globe and back for total service.
Now, here are some images of another field test with it!
With Paul C. Buff Inc. and Innovatronix quietly battling for consumers’ attention on the “portable strobe power” front I’m glad to report that both companies offer EFFECTIVE, RELIABLE, and EASY TO USE solutions! I’m greatly impressed with the Tronix Explorer XT though not with its: weight, inherent “unit must remain plugged in while not in use to maintain optimum battery condition” (something the technology requires) and incompatibility with some digital strobes. However, its design is mammoth strong! It packs a heaping helping of electricity to keep your wallets large and your creativity even larger! Its simple plug and play operation is everything a photographer could ask for. The safety features are reassuring (great to know I wont easily die from a random 100 million volt shock!). The expansion option for the External Battery Pack makes the Explorer XT go above and beyond “just another power source”. I can now easily see a pro out with 2 Explorer XT’s and (2) 1200 watt strobes lighting up a car for a national Ad… Just laughing at how much money they saved and how great the product is! Great job Innovatronix! Now if you can just make me a version of the bag with wheels I would be forced to call it near perfect!
Lastly, how do you select which system if to get (between the original Tronix Explorer 1200 and the New Tronix Explorer XT)? Simple, if your a smaller studio that needs to power up 1200 watts (think 3 Alien Bees B800’s which would total 960 true watt seconds) this system is great for you. If your a larger studio that needs to power up say, 2 Alienbee Zeus systems for the (2) 1250 watt monster flashes for some outdoor “Lightsabre-Fest” the Tronix Explorer XT is your knight in shining armor! Also, I’m happy to report that the guys over at Innovatronix assure me that the original Explorer 1200 isnt going to be discontinued anytime soon which means that for $249 its just a steal! Thanks Innovatronix, you’ve once again made it possible to do things with my photography that I never dreamed of!
NOTE: You can find a list of compatible strobes at the Innovatronix website at www.innovatronix.com
UPDATE: By the time this goes is published, Innovatronix will have a pre-ordering page available. Heres the link.