White Lightning X1600 vs. X800

Oct 5, 2007
Newtown, PA
I just picked up a used WL X1600 and an older Ultra 600 for a song. I'm looking to round out the kit with another "X" series strobe, but I'm a little unsure what size I should go for. My gut tells me I don't generally need a lot of power and go with the X800, but the X1600 can be dialed down one extra stop and I'm wondering does that actually let me take an X1600 down to X800 or lower levels or does it perform poorly at the basement settings? Used pricing is so close to the same for both it's really a performance issue.

AFIK the 800 and 1600 use the same flash bulb, so assuming the internal circuitry is similar I would expect similar performance, color temp, etc.

But I'd love to hear from people that have experience with them.

Apr 3, 2006
The idea is this:

Any large flash (like 640 watt seconds) is big, but big is necessarily slow (relatively long flash duration). Also, the more you turn them down, the slower they get (1/32 power will be about twice as slow, any of them). White Lightning posts these flash duration specification at the various power levels.

Small flashes (like 160 watt seconds) are smaller, and are therefore much faster performing. Just a simple fact of electronics (capacitor discharge time).

So the X1600 is special, in that it has the 1/4 power switch. The unit has four large capacitors for full power (to be big), and it has this switch to switch out all but one of the four capacitors (to achieve 1/4 power). Then it becomes a small fast flash, instead of a big slow flash turned down even slower. Basically (electronically), the X1600 is both a Alienbees B400 and a B1600 unit, built into the one more robust White Lightning case, and these are switch selectable.

The X800 does not have that feature. It will always use two capacitors at any level. The switch means the X1600 can be either one stop stronger than the X800, or it can be one stop less (via this 1/4 power switch).

Again, the idea is much more elegant than the simple 1/4 power level. It is the difference in having a very fast small flash for most uses, but when you actually need it, you can get the big slow flash. But the X1600 is less expensive than buying the both of the two Alienbees power levels.

The whole idea is that it does NOT perform poorly at the lower levels. The idea is that it performs more excellently then. Study the duration specs at the various modes and levels, and it should be very clear.

WL Specs - t.5

X800 full power - 1/3300 second duration

X1600 1/4 power mode at its full power (smaller) - 1/6000 second duration (fast)

X1600 full power (bigger) - 1/1800 second duration (slow)

X1600 full power mode, turned down to 1/32 power - 1/900 second duration (even slower)

Power is power, but speed is speed.
Oct 5, 2007
Newtown, PA
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #3
Wayne, thank you for the reply. Sorry it took me so long to get back to this thread. Your technical description of how the circuit works is excellent, thank you. I was wondering if that is how they accomplished that task. Simple, brilliant, and technically logical; all monoblock lights should have such a feature.

Thank you for pointing out the time factor. For the type of shooting I expect to use these for, studio model and static objects, the flash duration should not be an issue. I will not be using these for action or sports.

Just for kicks after I made this thread I did a little unscientific testing. From about 10-12 feet with the reflector (indoors, small room) I was getting around f/45 @ full power. At minimum power and about 2 feet, I was getting about f/5.6 +1/2-f/8. That's with the reflector! I threw on a shoot through white umbrella and shot 2 feet from the umbrella surface... about f/1.4! Just amazing range. Since most of us will always be shooting through some type of modifier I couldn't imagine needing much less light than f/1.4 @ 2 feet from a studio light. And if I really do ever find myself in a need to go below that, well a speedlight is still more than overkill.

I did wind up ordering a 2nd X1600 from B&H's used department. Since doing that test I'm actually considering sending it back for an X2400. With that much room on the bottom end of these lights I think I'd find the extra 400ws up top much more useful than a mono that can shoot f/1.4 :tongue:

What a great set of lights for the money I can only imagine the Einsteins are even cooler, but the price was beyond right for this kit so I'm more than happy.

Thanks again!

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