web analytics
logo

Rovelight – Adorama’s Russian Roulette Transmitter

UPDATE 9-21-16 

Adorama’s Flashpoint XPLOR 600 TTL Review

June 22 2015

It’s always so sad to have promising new gear not live up to its potential. I have now used my Rovelights on three separate commercial shoots. In all three I have been very disappointed with the performance of their radio transmission. I should say that I purchased these lights for on location shooting specifically when I need High Speed Sync to freeze action in high ambient light. I use the CellsII-C transmitter along with the OEM Rove’s for HSS. And yes, before you ask I’ve tested the Roves with and without the CellsII-C to ensure it is NOT the CellsII-C issue.

Example 1 – Line of sight, 35 feet from Rove

I was hired to photograph a ballet company in and around the Dallas/Fort Worth area. I had tested the Roves with the OEM transmitter combined with a CellsII-C HSS trigger for my Canon 1DX. In testing the Roves performed well, but I had NOT tested them outside of a studio. On location I found that after about 40-50 firings the trigger would only fire sporadically and in some cases not firing as many as 20 times in a row.

The ballet set up. As you can see plenty of line of sight for this shot.

The ballet set up. As you can see plenty of line of sight for this shot.

This is the frustration I felt during the session. My concern is always the talent and keeping them engaged. Not an easy task when I've selected gear that won't function. Shame on me.

This is the frustration I felt during the session. My concern is always the talent and keeping them engaged. Not an easy task when I’ve selected gear that won’t function. Shame on me. 1/4000th f4.0 ISO 320

Lucked out as both Roves fired this time.

Lucked out as both Roves fired this time. 1/4000th f4.5 ISO 320

Rear Rove which was to illuminate smoke and as a rear light failed to fire. 1/800th f4.0 ISO 200

Rear Rove which was to illuminate smoke and as a rear light failed to fire. 1/800th f4.0 ISO 200

Replaced the rear Rove with the Streaklight 360. As you can see even though the same sculpture blocked the 360 it fired unlike the Rove in the same position using a CellsII-C trigger. 1/800th f4.0 ISO 200

Replaced the rear Rove with the Streaklight 360. As you can see even though the same sculpture blocked the 360 it fired unlike the Rove in the same position using a CellsII-C trigger. 1/800th f4.0 ISO 200

Example 2 – Line of sight, 25 feet from Rove to camera

I was asked to photograph a dancer at dawn at a location in San Francisco at low tide on the shoreline. Again I had tested the units outdoors and found that if I replaced the CR2023 battery they seemed to fire well. But as my session on the beach progressed, they began to misfire again. In this case I replaced the Roves with some AD360 bare bulb flash units I had brought along as backup strobes. Because I was shooting at dawn my need for a full 600ws of power was not needed.

As you can see the Rove failed to fire.

As you can see the Rove failed to fire.

Substituted a Streaklight 360 to complete the shot.

Substituted a Streaklight 360 to complete the shot.

Example 3 – Line of sight, 15 feet from Rove to camera (NDA no image for this one)

I had read that pressing the small ‘reset’ button in the transmitter battery compartment would be the holy grail of solutions and sure enough it seemed to quell my transmitter issues. But just in case I brought along my tried and true Einsteins and Vagabond minis as backups. They have NEVER failed me…EVER. It’s a darn good thing I did, because as before the Rove’s started misfiring missing as many flashes as before.

My lesson?! SHAME ON ME for doing this not once, not twice but three times! So just before I sent my units back to Adorama for a refund I opted to try something to see if my Phottix Odin transmitter/receivers would solve the issue.

Phottix Odin receiver attached to the sync port of the Rove. Bullet proof firing. You can see the tree/wall in the background I used to test the combination.

Phottix Odin receiver attached to the sync port of the Rove. Bullet proof firing. You can see the tree/wall in the background I used to test the combination.

Below is my little test:

I placed the Rove about 110 feet from my shooting location and behind a tree. I have found that organic matter interferes with radio signals much more than concrete and even reinforced concrete. Water, fiber and bark is a real signal killer. Using my 1DX with a 70-200 and the Rove with its stock reflector pointed at a wall with stippled shadows would clearly show me if the strobe would fire. I first used my Phottix Odins and shot at 1/500th to 1/8000th at f2.8 ISO 50 with a Canon 1DX and my 70-200 lens at 200mm. I ran the same test substituting the Odin with the OEM Rove trigger. You can see the results below…

Rovelight with Odin Trigger/Receiver

1/500th f2.8 ISO 50 200mm Canon 1DX with Odin trigger/receiver

1/500th f2.8 ISO 50
200mm Canon 1DX with Odin trigger/receiver

1/1000th f2.8 ISO 50 200mm Canon 1DX with Odin trigger/receiver

1/1000th f2.8 ISO 50
200mm Canon 1DX with Odin trigger/receiver

1/2000th f2.8 ISO 50 200mm Canon 1DX with Odin trigger/receiver

1/2000th f2.8 ISO 50
200mm Canon 1DX with Odin trigger/receiver

1/4000th f2.8 ISO 50 200mm Canon 1DX with Odin trigger/receiver

1/4000th f2.8 ISO 50
200mm Canon 1DX with Odin trigger/receiver

1/8000th f2.8 ISO 50 200mm Canon 1DX with Odin trigger/receiver

1/8000th f2.8 ISO 50
200mm Canon 1DX with Odin trigger/receiver

Rovelight with OEM Trigger and built in receiver

1/500th f2.8 ISO 50 200mm Canon 1DX with Rovelight trigger/receiver. No signal received by the Rovelight

1/500th f2.8 ISO 50
200mm Canon 1DX with Rovelight trigger/receiver. No signal received by the Rovelight

1/1000th f2.8 ISO 50 200mm Canon 1DX with Rovelight trigger/receiver. No signal received by the Rovelight

1/1000th f2.8 ISO 50
200mm Canon 1DX with Rovelight trigger/receiver. No signal received by the Rovelight

1/2000th f2.8 ISO 50 200mm Canon 1DX with Rovelight trigger/receiver. No signal received by the Rovelight

1/2000th f2.8 ISO 50
200mm Canon 1DX with Rovelight trigger/receiver. No signal received by the Rovelight

1/4000th f2.8 ISO 50 200mm Canon 1DX with Rovelight trigger/receiver. No signal received by the Rovelight

1/4000th f2.8 ISO 50
200mm Canon 1DX with Rovelight trigger/receiver. No signal received by the Rovelight

1/8000th f2.8 ISO 50 200mm Canon 1DX with Rovelight trigger/receiver. No signal received by the Rovelight

1/8000th f2.8 ISO 50
200mm Canon 1DX with Rovelight trigger/receiver. No signal received by the Rovelight

I have no idea if the absolutely abysmal results of the Rove’s OEM trigger/receiver performance is due to the trigger itself or the internal receiver of the Rove. Doesn’t really matter though does it? Yes I can continue to use the Roves combined with my Odins for bullet proof firing. But what about being able to keep the Rove’s OEM transmitter in my pocket to change power settings, turn on/off the modeling light? Well in a word in my testing scenario you CAN’T. If the Rove can’t receive the transmission NOTHING can be controlled. Sure I can walk over to the Rove and adjust it from its rear panel. But the reality is I SHOULD NOT HAVE TO DO THAT. Why? Well because it’s advertised as a remote controlled monolight. Imagine having a remote control garage door opener except the remote unit won’t open the door consistently! Makes no sense at all.

Here are the things I love about the Rovelight:

  • Price
  • Battery Life
  • Weight
  • Watt Second performance
  • HSS capability

Here’s what I hate:

  • Radio response….simply does not work consistently whether you have line of sight or not.

Now some of you may have great luck with the Roves. Good for you! I’ve read that some of the ‘newer’ units have ‘better’ triggers. I have two and one was purchased just last month, the other back in March 2015. In a word, they both suck at receiving signals on a CONSISTENT basis. I’m a commercial shooter and any inconsistency in gear not working is just not acceptable. Is the price point, battery life and power worth keeping them if you have to buy third party triggers? Only each buyer can decide that for themselves. But for me no matter what the cost I expect gear to work as listed and advertised. If Adorama can fix the radio signal issues then yes, it’s a fantastic value. And Adorama if you’re going to fix it you may add a digital read out on the trigger as well. How Adorama handles this fix (if they feel it needs to be fixed) will be interesting. Will they supply users of bad triggers new ones? If not then the Rove’s reputation not to mention Adorama’s will be hit and miss.

My final thought is if you plan on using these lights stock, meaning using the OEM trigger/receiver assembly, best of luck to you. I’ll never subject myself or my clients to equipment that won’t work. And unlike the real Russian Roulette I want this sucker to fire EVERY time!

21 thoughts on “Rovelight – Adorama’s Russian Roulette Transmitter”

  1. Hi Mark

    Thank you for your feedback, although we were deeply concerned to read that this was your experience. (My daughter is a dancer, so I understand completely about the need for reliable gear that guarantees capturing an image with split-second timing!)

    I do hope you will give us the opportunity to allow us to help repair your perception of our Adorama Flashpoint brand. We care tremendously about your experience with our products and our customer service, and take great pride and work very hard on delivering you the ULTIMATE in quality, creativity and customer service. It pains us to learn that you have had a less then satisfying experience with your Rovelight remote.

    I assure you that you will be taken care of; I have forwarded your comments to our Flashpoint Brand Manager, Shua Klein, and he will reach out to you to help remedy your situation.

    Please feel free to contact me at any time if you have any questions or needs. We are here to help and to make sure that your experience with Adorama camera is a fantastic one.

    Thank you and take care.

    Helen Oster
    Adorama Camera
    helen@adorama.com

    • Thank you Helen. I have been in contact with Shua, he’s a good fella. I would LOVE for the Roves to work reliably and believe if you fix the transmitter problem it will be a great light for pros and non pros. Thanks for reaching out and I hope you all resolve the issue quickly and effectively. I specialize in dance so I’m happy to know your daughter is a dancer. It’s a very precise craft to capture them at their apex and excellent gear makes that possible, for as you stated it’s split second timing.

  2. Did you consider, that you might have a faulty Rovelight trigger, since you cannot adjust the power remotely?
    Also, your Odin setup looks different, from what I use with the Flashpoint 360:
    http://flashhavoc.com/godox-v850-witstro-radio-trigger-alternatives/
    Scroll down to the Odin setup.
    I don’t have the Rovelight, I have (for Nikon) Cells II, Flashpoint 360, FT16, Odin, and they work without a problem so far, except for the fact, that @ 1/4000th and up, the exposure is not too even, which might or might not be visible.

    Markus

    • I have no need to use the Odin with the 360s as they fire reliably. I have two TRS Rovelight triggers, both malfunction equally.

  3. Mark, has there been any resolution to your problem ? I am concerned because yours is the most detail and persistent report of trigger failure. I planned to buy this light local (there is a distributor in my country) but here we have not 3-4 week return policy, its a pay and no return. So I need to get the choice right or its going to be painful. This is going to sound really really stupid, when it does not fire did you try using the test button to trigger the rove ? (on the chance the issue is a bad link up from trigger to camera hot shoe. I assumed when you mentioned that when it stops working, it is total that the linkage is lost between the trigger to the lights. Were the lights checked to see if the receivers were at fault or inconsistent ? It is very interesting point you raise about water being a stronger rf signal than steel or concrete. It sort of similar to phone signals and blue tooth reception with water.

    • Yes I have tried the test button, new batteries, pressing the reset button, etc. To no avail with any luck in resolving the transmitter’s crummy range/operation. Also it appears many others use only one Rovelight. I use two regularly. Having to carry one trigger for each light or using a pen to switch the little dip switches on one controller to adjust each light’s power settings is ridiculous. I’m currently trying to have Adorama accept my returns since I’m at the end of my rope with the transmitter’s failure. IF/WHEN they redesign the transmitters to work CONSISTENTLY and add a digital read out on the FUNCTIONAL transmitter they will have an excellent system. Until then I’ll pass because in my world gear has to work. And for those who ask what I expect for the price? For the units to work, that’s all. I just received my Priolite 1000ws HotSync strobe. Yes, it’s almost five times the cost of the Rovelight, but it functions well and can be used with a Pentax 645Z in HSS. To date the only light capable of doing so with a medium format camera. If I were trying to buy a portable light in the same price category as the Rovelight, I would seriously look at the Phottix Indra 500 TTL. Yes it’s a pack/head system, but in my view a much better choice than the Roves.

  4. Great article. I also had trouble with the trigger. So for you get HSS, you set it and the power amount on the strobe itself and just use the Odin to trigger it? I guess I could do the same with the Yongnuo trigger than too. I agree with your comment on the Einstein by the way. Has never failed me.

    • I believe any third party trigger will be fine with the Roves. I used the Odins before returning both Roves for a refund and they proved to be bulletproof. But I don’t believe in keeping a product that can’t be reliably controlled with the OEM trigger. The Odins took care of the triggering issue, but not the power adjustment factor. I tend to adjust power all of the time on the fly and because the OEM Rove trigger is so horrible, it just didn’t work for my needs. I intended to use these on location and so often I place the lights high or away from me and having to interrupt my workflow to compensate for poor triggers is just not acceptable.

  5. Hey Mark, this was the best review i have seen so far, i didn’t really know what all the fuss was at first. It’s really unfortunate you had to go through all that. I am based in Africa and thinking of getting one for now. But i just keep on feeling stuck in the middle. I really like the strobe. and believe it would help me. I am thinking of getting one towards the end of the month. And i read somewhere that they are releasing new triggers. What do you think the chances are of misfiring would be with the version 2.?

    I am just hoping the one i purchase will come with a newer trigger as i have not heard from Adorama yet.

    Happy Shooting!!

      • Mark, great review and portfolio. Do you know if new Rovelights are now shipping with the updated triggers or anyone who is using one that I could contact for feedback? I contacted Adorama but haven’t heard back. Once the trigger issue is resolved these units seem just about perfect for the powerful, portable, lighting setup I am looking for. I have looked into Einsteins and other setups but truly love the simplicity of the battery pack in the head, adding only 1.5lbs above an Einstein head while the Einstein with Vagabond mini setup is two pounds heavier overall. Any input you have about the new triggers is much appreciated. Thanks

        • Noah, I have not tested the new v2 transmitters and have no plans to do so. I would have gladly done so had Adorama supplied me with a unit to test. I returned both of my Rovelights because the v1 version of the transmitter was so poor. Unlike most I used these on location, not in studio and not having a consistent firing trigger along with the ability to consistently adjust the flash levels was just not acceptable. The lights are great, batteries last a long time and the color temp remains relatively stable. I have gone the Priolite route because I use a Pentax 645Z for my publicity work and to date they are the only manufacturer of HSS triggers for Pentax. I also use my lights on a boom arm so the weight for me is of concern with the Roves. But using them on normal stands is great. Best of luck.

  6. Mark, just want to say that your reviews and responses to questions are a breath of fresh air. I am going to be testing
    mine this weekend, and plan on putting it thru the grinder so to speak. The digital read out on the transmitter would be common sense you would think, but, we get what we pay for. I look forward to reading more reviews and wish you well. Wayne Steele Photography

    • Thank you Wayne. I have ceased posting on forums simply because I find them counter productive, but continue to post information to my own blog. I am investigating Godox’s new AD600BM unit and will post my impressions once they’re done. Take care.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *