Quantum Qflash Trio QF8

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The Quantum Instruments Qflash Trio QF8C TTL shoe mount flash is designed to be used in the hot-shoe of the camera. Unlike most other shoe mount flash units, the Trio is designed for sustained rapid firing. For this, it is very popular with wedding photograhers.

The units are powered by an Turbo external power pack (not included in the basic kit) that keeps the heat dissipated by the batteries outside the unit itself. Also, Quantum batteries are much larger and runs much cooler than the AA cells used in most portable units. If you need to fire a highly portable flash unit machine gun style, without having it shutting down on you from overheating, Quantum is currently the only game in town. The downside of this that it adds bulk and cost to the system.

Given the cost of this unit, the mechanical construction is not impressive. It is large and heavy, but it is also made of plastic. It has an old-fashioned locking collar and it is difficult to make the Trio sit tight in the camera's hot-shoe.

Qflash units have their own system for wireless TTL control. This uses radio for signalling and is called FreeXWire. The Trio has a built-in FreeXWire tranceiver, and can be used either on-camera on as a master to off-camera Qflash units, or off-camera. When used off-camera, it can be controlled by radio by an on-camera Trio or by an on-camera Qflash Pilot commander unit (QF9C for Canon or QF9N for Nikon). The FreeXWire commander is compatible with the camera's TTL logic, but will not control non-Quantum remotes.

There is also a slightly cheaper model of the Qflash Trio, called “Basic”, without the built-in FreeXWire tranceiver.

The Qflash system uses parabolic reflectors for clean, even light spread, and the reflectors are removable for bare-bulb lighting. Some believe that this delivers a better quality of light than the harsh light from the Fresnel lens used by zoom head flash units.

Quantum uses watt-seconds (w/s) to indicate how powerful a flash unit is. As I use guide number (ISO 100/meter) throughout this series, I've computed guide numbers for the units to facilitate comparisons with other brands. However, in a highly modular system such as Quantum's, the guide numbers will change depending upon how you configure the unit (e.g. what reflector you fit, and what power pack you use). The guidenumbers listed below should only be interpreted as a rough estimate, giving a typical configuration.


For dedicated flash systems: Canon, Nikon.
Swivel & tilt: -180° to +180° swivel, -7° to +90° tilt.
Exposure modes: TTL, Varipower.
Manual settings: 1/1 to 1/32 in 1/3 EV steps (16 steps).
Wireless modes: Master, Remote (dedicated).
Features: Overheat protection.
Batteries: Turbo.
Field upgradable: via USB.
Dimensions: 146 x 165 x 82 mm, 567 g.
Guide number (ISO 100, meter): 48.

Price: USD 875 (new, w/o tax).
Introduced: no data.

For a detailed explanation of the above specifications, see the guide.

[Image of Quantum Qflash Trio QF8.]


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Brand profile

Key info

Established: 1975
HQ: Hauppauge, NY, USA
Web: US

Quantum Instruments Inc. is a manufacturer of professional photographic equipment founded in 1975. It is located in Hauppauge, Long Island, NY, USA. Their main product is a very flexible (and expensive) modular flash system that include flash units, interchangeable reflectors, external power packs, wireless controls and more.

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