I got the opportunity to test the Voeloon 331EX flash. Now most of the time I test manufactures flagship most powerful flashes. I will be testing the flagship Voeloon v760 also so you will get that type of review coming up. Please understand this is a smaller compact speed light. Even though its small it is still a well worth it lash. I normal walk around with a large speed light on my camera when I have my Canon 60D without the battery grip on it almost seems over bearing. It swing around violently. What is neat with this speed light is it is smaller and more compact while still producing great results. Now this is not necessarily the best speed light if you are going shooting with high ceilings at weddings. However for general use as the average every day photographer this may be for you.
One thing that is neat with this speed light is that it has a built in LED video light like the Pixel Mago I tested earlier. This is very cool especially when I want to quickly get a video of the kids in a low light environment.. This gives more versatility to the flash. More to come on this later.
What comes in the box:
– Voeloon 331EX flash
– Flash soft pouch
– Flash stand
– Warranty card
– Flash pamplet
Lets get down to the features..
-This is a TTL flash the canon version is E-TTL II..
– HSS 1/8000
– LED Lamp
– Can be master and slave for Nikon and Canon systems..
– GN of 30 at 100iso and 50mm.. GN: 23 at 100iso and 24mm
– Manual zoom 24-50mm
– Recycle time of 2 seconds with Ni-MH batteries
– S1/FS optical slave
– Dot-Matrix Back lit LCD.
– Rear and Front Curtain sync.
– Exposure compensation and exposure lock local and wireless
– Ready beep, and custom memory
– Metal shoe with canon style locking mechanism..
– Over heat protection
– Wireless indicator light
This seems like pretty much the standard ttl flash list plus a few more niceties that many brand name flashes don’t have like F1 and F2, and ready beeps.. I like both of theses so you can easily add them into existing flash setups. Now days I almost demand those features in new flashes.. F1 and F2 slaves when testing the Pixel Mago I basically indicated to be valuable this is a must in today’s market. They listened and added it later in firmware.
The following table shows the full specifications together with Speedlights.net test results for the 2 mid-range speedlite offers from Canon: 320EX vs. 430EX II.
|Guide number spec
(35mm, ISO 100, in meters)
|Flash duration spec
|Recycle time spec
|2.3 sec||3.0 sec alkaline, 2.0 sec NiMH|
|Manual power settings||No Manual settings||1/1 – 1/2 – 1/4 – 1/8 – 1/16 – 1/32 – 1/64 in 1/3 stop increments|
|PC sync port||no||no|
|Optical slave||no||Yes F1/F2|
|Other trigger||Canon wireless TTL slave mode||Canon wireless E-TTL Master/Slave mode *Canon version of flash*Nikon wireless i-TTL Master/Slave mode *Nikon version of the flash*|
|Standby mode||configurable (C.Fn-01)||configurable (Normal, Short. Long, off)|
|Swivel flash head||-180 to +90 degrees||-180 to +90 degrees|
|Flash head tilt||0 to +90 degrees||0 to +90 degrees|
|Manual zoom head||24 + 50||24 + 50|
|Auto zoom||24 + 50 (no auto zoom, manual slideout)||24 + 50 (no auto zoom, manual slideout)|
|Bounce card / 2nd reflector||no / no||no / no|
|Flash foot material, type||metal, standard ISO (Canon)||metal, standard ISO (Canon)|
|Batteries used||4 x AA||4 x AA|
|External power source||no||no|
|i-TTL||na||yes *Nikon version*|
|CLS wireless slave||na||yes *Nikon version*|
|CLS wireless master||na||yes *Nikon version*|
|E-TTL(II)||yes||yes *Canon version*|
|E-TTL(II) wireless slave||yes||yes *Canon version*|
|E-TTL(II) wireless master||no||yes *Canon version*|
|AF assist beam||yes (flash tube / LED in live view)||yes (flast tube or LED video light)|
|Stroboscopic mode||no||Yes 1-90 times 1hz-199hz switches to 25times starts droping times from 90 after 5hz.. Max times at 199hz is 25.|
|Exposure compensation on the flash||no||-3 to +3 EV|
|Sensor size detection||no||no|
|High speed sync||yes||yes|
When I got the package it came in a nice box. It was well padded and packed. The flash came with a full well written manual, a warranty card similar to what you get with old canon equipment and lenses. It comes with a flash stand and soft flash pouch for protection and travel. The flash is neat.. I am use to a large flash so it is kind of cool to have a more compact and flexible flash. This is something easy to throw in a smaller bag or fitting into your pocket while still having the options to be able to provide full use and much of the same features in larger flashes. I think I will be using this often for every day average use. It is a flash you can just throw in your pocket or bag grab your camera and go take pictures.
Build quality and Physical comparisons:
The build quality on the flash is very good for third party flashes. It has none to very very little play when squeezing it unlike my YN568EX which has a decent amount of play. It looks well polished.. Looks to basically be biased off the Canon 320EX design. There are however some differences. Mainly theses differences include that the 331EX has quite a few more features. What is noticeable by just looking at the flash is that the Canon 320EX has a manual switch settings on the back of the flash. The Voeloon 331EX has a full LCD interface with intuitive controls and a dot matrix LCD screen.
Using this speed light is nice. It is one of the first ones I go in grab because of its size. I thought a purfict time to test would be the rush of kids opening up thier Christmas presents. I only braught the Voeloon 331EX and the v760 with me on my trip out of town. No other flashes. The Voeloon 331EX by default when trying to focus lights its LED light up illuminating the subject so focus can be obtained. It worked pretty well much less annoying than with the built-in popup flash that pulses like a 1970s disco on drugs when it is trying to obtain focus..
It is easy to quickly adjust the FEC when needed on the back of the flash of course you can do this on the camera also. All you have to do is hit right or left on the buttons to increase or decrease the FEC in 1/3 stops.. It is very intuitive and easy.
TTL exposure and use:
TTL-E meetering seems to be quite accurate. Like many other flashes I use bounce mainly as expected like with others I had to add +.3-+1 exposure compensation to around for the changing bounce. However this is normal and I even need to do it on my Canon 580EXII.. I used it for fast moving christmas photos of kids to test its flexibility in the craziness.
Focus assist light:
The focus assist light normally for bigger speed lights is a ir light or for like popup flashes you have the pulse of light to gain focus. The 331EX gives two options. You can choose style rapid pulse of flash to gain focus, or you can chose the default option of the led video lite lighting up the subject to obtain focus. This in my opinion is better than the pulse of flashing light. However the or light with focus patterns of larger speed lights in my opinion is a less distracting and better option in use.
Remote shutter release:
One interesting feature I noticed was the ability to use the flash as a remote IR shutter trigger with compatible cameras. This is kinda cool for those that do not already have a trigger. However it is just a single trigger you do not have the option of a 2 second delay like canons standard IR trigger.
What is really cool is instead of using the locking dial that most third party flashes. The 331EX uses a locking lever. This looks to be well made and very very similar to the Canon version. I really like locking leavers. They are much better than having to tighten the dial never knowing of its tight enough..
The LCD screen seems clear and easy to read. Visibility though starts to suffer if looking at it from more than a 45 degree angle from any direction. So don’t expect to be able to read it when your looking up at it from directly below unless it is tilted toward you.
Flash Head Zoom:
The flash head has two positions wide and telephoto. Those are set at 24mm and 50mm. Because of its size there is no auto focus motor in the flash it seems. so you have to manually slide it in and out. Most of the time I bounce and stay at 24mm so not to big of a deal with me.
Tilt head ans swivel:
A must have for me in the flash is the ability to tilt and swivel the head. With this flash I am able to angle it and bounce off the walls and roof around me to get the lighting effect I need. The rotation is 270 degrees and 90 degrees up and down. This is standard for a mid range flash and well welcome feature.
F1 and F2 slave:
A feature that basically I have come to expect in flashes and actually if reviewing flashes that do not have slave options. I point this out as a must now days to manufacturers. F1 means it fires on the initial flash.. This means that if you are using other manual flashes this is the option you use. If using TTL flashes set it to F2 so the optical slave will ignore the ttl pre flash and fires upon the main flash.
TTL master and Slave:
One really cool feature is the ability to either control or be a slave to canons E-TTL IR flash system. Most third party flashes will allow you to be slave but being the master is a big positive. Having the master control on this small of a flash package is good. I got to try this out while taking pictures of my Nieces at christmas. It worked really well. You can set the flash on camera to emit or not emit to the scene. Also all the in camera menus work correctly it seems. So you can managed the master functions either through the flash control menu, or from the flash its self.
In Multi Flash mode you can control the number of pulses and the flash frequency. This is very handy if you are doing things like trying to capture an object multiple times at different points in a frame. The lower the power the more pulses you can get in of course. It seems pretty easy to setup.
One feature that many brand name flashes do not have but off brand flashes do is a ready beep. This is very important to me during a shoot because I know when the flash is ready to fire again with out having to be looking. When you are sitting there taking photos of your client quickly you do not have the time to be distracted looking for the ready light to change.. With a ready beep you can keep your view focused on the subject through the viewfinder to get the best photos possible.
One feature that is pretty cool and I have not seen on any other flash besides the Pixel Mago that has the LED light built in. It is a cool addition to use in a pinch. However like the Mago you can not have the LED light and the Flash at the same time. So it is not suitable for use as a modeling light in say a softbox. In practice this light is handy for normal use. I used it getting video of my kids opening presents on christmas and you could drastically see a difference in with the light and without it. It is definitely useful. Don’t expect a very powerful light but it serves the purpose.
For the price and size this flash is a good value.. It is very much feature packed and easy to use.. It was definitely model after the Canon 320EX however they have majorly improved upon it the desing. It is a very featured packed flash far exceeding the feature set in the Canon 320EX flash. They have added a whole new control interface and a LCD interface. The build quality is actually on par with the Canon flashes I have. I am decently impressed with this flash and it is a perfect all around flash for mid range use. Now I would not go and shoot a wedding with this flash because of the midrange power of it. However for every day use of pictures I need it is perfect light weight and useful.
-Manual power Levels.
-Cactus V6 and YN622C flash trigger compatibility. *Note make sure and update the Cactus V6 to latest firmware and use Canon 320EX profile
-Mid range power
-No IR focus assist in lue of LED or pulse focus assist
-Manual zoom adjustment
Where to buy:
You can find the 331EX on Amazon and Ebay most ship from china.. Prices ranged from 148$ – 168$ US