Bowens have always had a reputation for producing some of the best power packs in the business. In the mid 70's Bowens brought out the famous Quad system that ran in various forms until 1990. Quads packs were incredibly rugged and versatile with either two, three or four head sockets with powers ranging from 1500 to 6000 joules! They became the number one choice for many 'heavy weight' studio photographers of that period who used Quads to drive enormous soft boxes or 'fish fryers'.
In the 90's Bowens moved away from the Quad system, favouring smaller more compact generators like the Traveller, Estime and Equipe. But Bowens decided to bring back the famous Quad in 2004 when they reintroduced the QuadX 3000. Just over a year later they brought out its baby brother, the Quad 2400
The Bowens Quad 2400
The Quad 2400 is a great little studio pack that will run two Quad heads or Quad accessories including the Bowens Ring Flash and the Pro Spot. The output is from 37- 2400W/s or joules and has a 6-stop range, plenty of power for most studio applications. The power can be used through one single head or split through two heads in a number of ways, symmetrical or asymmetrical. This means that equal power can be delivered to two heads up to 1200j each, or the power can be split to create ratios between them.
The pack also features 'capacitor switching' a clever system that uses fewer capacitors at full power instead of using all the capacitors at reduced power. This system gives much greater colour consistency, in fact a colour shift of only 70K from 2400j to 600j the flash duration is 1/600th at 600j and 1/400th at 2400j.
The pack is comparatively small at 18cm W x 28cm D x 34cm H and only weighs 9.5kg. The controls on the top of the pack are simple to understand and are well laid out. Each of the two head sockets (A & B) has a power knob and LED display that shows the power setting from min to max, calibrated in Joules.
In between them is a knob that controls the Quad head modelling lamps. These can be set in three positions, Proportional with the power, Max 100% and Auto where the head with the most power has the higher modelling. You have the choice of setting the modelling lamps to either continuous or intermittent, on or off with the flash.
Just under the modelling lamp knob there is a green test button, and to either side and audible beep and built in slave cell and slave cell switch.
In the middle of the pack there is a master power knob that controls both the A & B sockets. This can be turned to control both heads together A/B, or to put all the power through just one socket A+B.
Under the large carrying handle there is a fast / slow switch to control the charging and recycling of the pack. Between the two head sockets there are two sync sockets, this is such a good idea because you can have both camera and flash meter plugged in at the same time. Instead of fuses, two separate 'breakers', one for modelling and one for charge protect the pack. In terms of trigger voltage, the Quad 2400 is only 6v, so no problem for digital users.
The QuadXFlash Head
The standard Bowens QuadX flash heads are compact and well designed, featuring a large rubber grip handle and the 'S' type accessory fitting. Each head can take a maximum of 3000 joules because high-speed flash tubes are fitted as standard. To protect the heads, Bowens have built in a 'soft start' circuit that dims the modelling lamps up and down instead of switching them onto maximum power.
The 650w halogen modelling lamps are incredibly bright and the whole flash tube assembly is covered with a tinted UV-balanced Pyrex dome for safety. The only control on the head is the modelling lamp on / off switch and head fuse.
Photographers buy packs for a number of reasons, not just for the extra power, but for the versatility too. Packs are very quick and easy to use any changes can be made from one set of controls instead of adjusting individual heads. More accessories can be used with power packs, very large soft boxes, for instance apart from the more specialist accessories including the Ring Flash and Pro Spot which I'll write more about later.
So if you are budding fashion photographer who wants to shoot with Ring Flash or a studio photographer who wants that extra power for product photography, then consider buying a pack / head system for your studio. As you can see they can offer more flexibility than individual heads are simple to operate and that extra power could be so useful.
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