Chris Crisman Photography

Nature Conservancy: Escalante Gear – Dynalite XP-800

chris crisman dynalite xp800

As soon as our Escalante assignment for The Nature Conservancy booked, the first call I made was to our friends over at Dynalite. We knew they were working on an ultralight Battery & Sine Wave Inverter that could power their strobes and I couldn’t think of better terrain for a field test than hiking through southern Utah.

When I explained our shoot to our good buddy at the company Jim Morton, I remember asking what kind of advice he had for the type of field test we were about to put their battery unit through. His response was exactly what we were hoping for: “…nobody has ever done that before…” Perfect – time to take this piece of gear for a test drive. How did we fare? Keep reading to find out…

To take a step back, our need for a battery power was simple: it needed to be small, as lightweight as possible, and capable of powering our Dynalite strobe packs. Coming in at 14 lbs, the XP800 felt like a featherweight in comparison to the usual 7B that’s in our kit. This made it possible to throw the XP into a backpack with a 1000 w/s power pack and sling it over my shoulder for the miles and miles we put down on the ground in the back-country of Utah, turning me into a fully mobile human light stand.

chris crisman dynalite xp800

All joking aside, this unit allowed us to take strobe lights into a lot of places we could never consider bringing our full kit, or a generator for that matter. It may have been hellish performing a 1000ft “technical descent” (read: almost sheer cliff face) with the XP strapped to my back, but it would have been impossible with a generator.

As far as power output is concerned, the lightweight size comes with a slightly reduced output. In a perfect world, we would have been able to run 2000 w/s out of the unit, but that’s a bit of a dream with any battery powered piece of equipment. Pulling off shots at full power on our 1000 w/s pack, we were able to get a few hours out of the battery – almost exactly comparable to what a Profoto unit would deliver.

chris crisman dynalite xp800

It may be tough to see in the shot above, but the XP-800 is simply a Sine Wave Inverter (and battery) with 3 AC power plugs and surprisingly enough USB outlets as well – not that we had the need to, but we could have run low powered hot-lights, ran our MacBooks out in the field, or even whipped up smoothies in a blender mid-hike. Again, we were testing it’s ability to function as a portable strobe unit, not make tasty frozen beverages. I digress.

The biggest issue we ran into during the course of our shoot was simply that the AC outlets on the XP-800 had trouble holding onto the power cord from the pack. Almost any jostling (which we had a whole helluva lot of) would dislodge the connection and force us to stop and reset. Under more normal use, I see this as a non-issue for most shooters.

chris crisman dynalite xp800

All things considered, this is a light and powerful little unit – almost perfect for the field test we put it through. Now if we can only convince Dynalite to double the output and increase the battery size!

Want to learn more about this great piece of gear? Check out Dynalite’s website and the specifc product page for the XP-800. Any questions for us? let us know what you think below or @crismanphoto and /crismanphoto!

4 comments
  1. JB says: April 17, 20146:34 pm

    Not the sexiest things, but have you considered the paul c buff EINSTEIN units and their VAGABOND batteries? I don’t envy you carrying that, 14lbs plus the head plus a not-lightweight light stand. From the photos you post of yourself, you don’t seem THAT big. I guess you’re 160lbs of sinew and muscle ? :-))))))))

  2. Robert Luessen says: April 23, 20145:50 pm

    Hey JB, Vagabonds and Einstein lights may be lightweight, but they just don’t have the power output we need.

  3. shane says: May 8, 20145:18 pm

    14lbs isn’t too terrible! But that weight certainly adds up!
    Sweet that the xp-800 has outlets too, not just for the lights. Nothing beats a little boost of extra juice when you really need it.

    Or wait, it’s 14lbs for pack and head, or just the pack?!

    Thanks for sharing the BTS – Love these as much as the images made. That Nature Conservancy spot was fabulous, and when I read the article I was curious about the lighting!

  4. Robert Luessen says: May 9, 20143:11 pm

    Hey Shane, It’s 14lbs for just the XP unit, which is the battery. The pack probably adds another 7-10 lbs – It’s not too crazy.

    Thanks for the kind words about our work!

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