Jinbei MSN 400 vs HD 600 - freeze motion test

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Jinbei and have received nothing from them. I have bought both lights from a Chinese online distributer.

It is time to do a little comparison between to 2 types of studio strobes I am using, for it is always good to know the limitations of your gear so you know what you can and cannot do with it.

If anyone have been reading my posts as of late, they will know that I bought 3 Jinbei MSN 400 strobes, and also 2 battery powered Jinbei HD 600 strobes.

Now most have likely not heard of the brand Jinbei ( a.k.a Goldenshell) before in the West, but in China they are one of the biggest strobe manufacturers, and I have so far been very happy with the cost-performance ratio. Now Jinbei (like most other manufacturers) measure their strobes flash duration in t5 values. (If this is a strange new expression to you, first have a look at my previous post on t5 flash durations here

And as we will soon know, just because a certain number appears in the user manual and specification sheet, it may not actually fit with reality as the manufacturer might have tested under very favorable conditions etc just to be able to put that special "magic" number in the spec sheet and lure more customers to buy the product. And that is why we value real life reviews...

However, to compare 2 strobes I really need to judge both on a similar basis, so this is what I did... I had the camera on a tripod to always take the picture from the same distance, and the strobe on a light stand that did not move either. My subject had to be something that produces motion to test if the strobes could freeze that motion able to compare. But instead of finding a kid on a bicycle in the local park, I opted for something a little more boring, but consistent... a usb powered 120mm fan spinning at 800rpm. So motion without moving.

Both take the same light modifiers through the Bowens Mount, and both have the Jinbei TRS wireless control system built in, but here are the differences on paper:

  • MSN 400 are rated at 1/10.000sec (T5) flash duration @ 400 WS    
  • HD 600    are rated at 1/15.000sec (T5) flash duration @ 600 WS

(The new MSN 400 II are rated at 1/15.000sec)

As a result of the difference in power output, I have had to change f-stop to get approx. comparable exposure. Shutter was 1/160sec @ ISO50 for all test images.

(Memo to self: could really have used a light-meter here !)

The setup - 1x 120mm fan. 800rpm, camera and strobe in the same position.

The setup - 1x 120mm fan. 800rpm, camera and strobe in the same position.

Both strobes are built like speed-lights in the sense that the lower power output, the shorter the flash duration. the MSN 400 has a 300W Halogen modeling light where the HD 600 has a powerful 5W LED light, but neither was used during this test. 

Conclusion: I think both holds up nice until around 1/2 power when a little to my surprise the edge seems to go to the MSN 400.  Now again, lets keep in mind that it is a fan spinning at 800rpm, so both strobes are plenty fast enough to freeze normal motion, this is just to compare and see which strobe has the edge. And I have no problem with using either light for freezing most anything.  However! One thing became clear, white balance changed around 1/4 power for both strobes and became warm. I purposely made the test pictures B/W so the focus would be on the freeze motion as this was a "who is fastest?" test. But keep in mind that WB will need to be corrected once you hit 1/4 power and up to 1/1 power with these cheap lights. So remember to use a neutral grey card, or "color checker passport."

Hope you found this helpful.

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.