I've been looking at the Paterson Home Studio Kit this week, winner of the Digital Photo Gold Award. I've wanted to play with one for some time, but sales are strong so getting hold of a spare kit wasn't easy.
The actual Interfit EX150A kit includes 2 x 150W/s flash heads with 60w modelling lamps, a 21cm reflector, a 91cm white/translucent brolly, a 60cm soft box, 2 stands, 2 mains leads and 2 sync leads. These all fit neatly into a small cardboard box with a carrying handle.
The flash heads are very small and remind me of those very large torches that you can buy these days. Moulded out of plastic and covered in a black rubberised material they look and feel pretty robust. With a small flash tube (balanced to 5600K) and using a small ES 60w modelling lamp, everything looks in proportion. Accessories fit onto the heads via Paterson's twist on reflector and locking ring system unique to this kit.
All the main controls are on the rear panel, very simple really with only a mains socket, On/Off switches for flash and modelling and two white neon's, one for the ready light and one for the slave cell. A large black knob controls the power and proportional modelling light and there is a small red button just under the sync socket for flash test.
So what is the actual output like? Well the 150W/s heads have a guide number of 30 metres and can be adjusted from full to 1/8 th power. Recycling is a bit sluggish at 4 secs, but importantly they do recycle to full 100% power. The flash duration is 1/1500 th of a second at full power very respectable mainly because of the small diameter tube. Triggering is simple via the sync lead or built in slave cells, you can also buy an Infrared Trigger (INT411) as an accessory. For those of you wanting to use digital cameras, no problem as the trigger voltage of the heads is only 12V.
As for the instructions that come with the kit, like a lot of flash equipment on the market these days, the instructions for the Interfit EX150A kit are very basic, perhaps they are too basic given that this kit is aimed at the very beginner. However this criticism is a general one and not just aimed at Paterson. Looking at some of the questions I receive via the web site, I think that most manufacturers could improve their instruction books, making it easier for people to put together their kits, soft boxes and accessories.
This kit is incredible value at around £210 (please check for latest price) it really is amazing just how much flash equipment prices have fallen over the last few years. OK it is basic and designed for the absolute beginner who just wants to shoot home portraiture and still life. Bear in mind that the usual range of Interfit accessories will not fit the EX150A heads, so some applications will be a little limited. But, if after careful consideration you only want to do head and shoulders portrait work and some smallish still life and nothing else, then for £210 you can't really go wrong.