Hahnel are well known for their camera accessories, flash triggers remotes and batteries, now they’ve launched into the lighting sector with the Modus 600RT, an advanced hot shoe flashgun that features the power of Hahnal’s Extreme battery and Viper wireless trigger range. This combo has arrived as the Hahnel Modus 600RT Wireless kit.
Hahnel Modus 600RT Wireless kit Review: Features
The Modus 600RT offers an impressive Guide number of 60 (m ISO100 @200mm), a powerful rechargeable battery which enables over 500 full power flashes per charge, and full compatibility with the Viper wireless flash system.
It’s been built to appeal to the strobists who love to use lightweight flashguns to create sophisticated lighting set-ups, and as such the Modus 600RT packs in the features. Functions include Master or Slave, built in digital 2.4GHz wireless, it’s compatible with 3rd party as well as Hahnel triggers, offers 1.5 sec recycle times, Multi flash mode for strobe effects, TTL, full manual, 1/8000 high-speed sync and USB for firmware updates.
The Viper is an equally impressive piece of kit and as well as working wirelessly with the Modus 600RT can also be used with other Viper units. It features the ability to control three separate groups of flashguns and uses a 2.4GHz wireless frequency that works up to 100m.
In our review we’ve looked at the Canon version of the Modus 600RT, along with the Viper TTL, these two units arrive in attractive kit which offers everything you need to get started, bar the camera.
Hahnel Modus 600RT Wireless kit Review: In the box
Hahnel have really gone to town with the presentation of the Modus 600RT and Viper TTL Wireless Kit. They arrive in an attractive cardboard presentation case with the flashgun, wireless trigger, cables and instruction manual all laid out neatly inside.
There is something distinctly modern about the presentation of the equipment but it’s not all style, in an unusual twist for a modern release there’s a paper manual underneath the flashgun.
The manual itself might not be large but it’s packed with information covering all of the features, which means you can sit have a cuppa and by the time you get to the last sip you’ll have a really good understanding of how the system works.
I know that there is some resistance against reading a manual, but personally when kit lands on my desk flicking through a manual is always a good way to get a clear understanding of how the kit works, and also highlights any features that you might miss if you charge in, in bullish fashion.
Obviously a paper manual doesn’t improve the way that a piece of kit works, but what it does do is give you a clear quick insight into understanding the equipment you’ve just bought and this manual is very clear and quick to use.
The kit consist of two distinct parts the Modus 600RT and the Viper TTL. The 600RT features the Hahnel Extreme battery also included in the box and the Viper two of non rechargeable Mignon AA’s to get you started. Firstly lets take a look at the Modus 600RT.
Modus 600RT and Viper TTL Review: Build and handling
The Modus 600RT doesn’t break new ground when it comes to design and looks and follows most of the usual design principles of any other modern flash, although the overall build quality is above other flash guns in this price range.
As with most advanced flashguns there are quite a few buttons on the back. It takes a little time to figure out what each one does as these buttons aren’t clearly marked with their function. The reason for this is that some of the button functions change depending on the selected mode.
Instead the label for the button appears along the bottom of the screen on the back of the flash. This actually all makes sense once you get used to it.
Here a quick referral to the manual quickly highlights exactly what each button does and how to find your way around the flash. The large clear screen on the back enables you to see which options you have selected.
When it comes to the head this rotates further than most hot shoe flashes with a complete 360 degree rotation and 90-degree tilt. Built-in to the head are a wide angle diffuser and bounce-card, pretty standard stuff.
On the side you’ll find two rubber flaps that once open reveal the USB port. This enables the flash to be updated if a new firmware is released. Under the other flap is a sync cord jack.
On the opposite side is the battery door… Open this and you have the slot that contains the Extreme rechargeable battery that supplies the power. This battery is one of the key features of the flash as Hahnel’s batteries are as good as they get and knowing that this flash is powered by one gives me the confidence that on a shoot it’s unlikely to let meu down.
The power of this battery means that it has far more clout than the usual array of 4 X AA batteries, and as such the re-cycle times are vastly improved. This battery is removable so if you do burn through those 500 full power flashes then a fresh Li-ion battery can be popped in.
The flash features all of the usual modes including slave, optical slave and master and these can all be quickly selected using the buttons on the back of the flashgun. On the front of the flash is the large wireless transceiver that’s required for the Master and Slave modes.
Looking at the hot shoe and you can see that it’s of the Canon type, Hahnel have also also launched a Sony and Nikon version.
Alongside the new Modus 600RT flash is the Viper TTL which enables you to either use the cameras TTL to control the power of the flash, as if it were on camera, or you can control it manually using the buttons and dial on the Viper unit.
The unit is made out of a decent hard wearing plastic and features solid buttons that give the Viper a real quality feel. Power is supplied through to the Viper by means of two AA batteries which are held in the cavity on the base of the unit.
On the side you have the on / off button, then on top you have four buttons A, B and C as well as the test button button. On the back you have a screen along with the dial that enables you to switch between channels and settings.
This style of button layout enables far more than just selecting which flashgun group you wish to operate, as once a group is selected you can then use the dial on the back of the Viper unit to adjust the power of that 600RT flash group.
This is where the flash system really come into its own, the Viper and Modus 600RT are fully integrated, meaning that with the viper attached to your camera’s hot shoe you can then group multiple 600RT flashes together and operate them from the comfort of the viper attached to your camera.
Hahnel Modus 600RT Wireless kit Review: In use
Setting up The Viper and Modus 600RT to work together is straightforward especially with use of the manual, all that’s needed is to pair the two devices together and this is done by holding down the test button on the Viper and then switching the unit on.
Then on the Modus just hold down the left function button again switch the unit on and again it will let you know that it’s ready for pairing. Once done switch both off and on again and you’re done.
Each additional flash unit can then be connected in a similar way using this DCM (Digital Channel Matching), and this means that the whole system is compatible with other Hahnel DCM enabled units.
Once everything is set and connected you can then start to use the flash. The Modus 600RT isn’t a generic flash but rather tied into the system for which you have bought it, this means that the TTL will work either by connecting to the camera’s flash metering system through the Viper or alternatively attaching the flash directly to the hot-shoe.
In TTL mode there is little difference between the Modus RT600 and a high end branded flash, flash compensation can easily be dialled in and the bounce card and diffuser both has the desired effect.
A nice touch is the 360 degree rotating head which although it might seem like a small thing makes using the flash when bouncing light that much easier.
The dimensions of the head are not too dissimilar to the branded version and all Lastolite / Manfrotto light diffusers that I tried fitted perfectly. I’ll have the MagMod’s arriving soon and will give these a test but I’m pretty sure they’ll fit perfectly.
The big selling point for the Modus 600RT is to use the flash off camera wirelessly and with the Viper this all works perfectly.
The ability to control the flash from the Viper increases the function and ease of use of the flash, and if you add further flashes in groups then again this added flexibility over the control is a huge advantage.
Hahnel Modus 600RT Wireless kit Review: Verdict
The Modus 600RT and Viper Kit is exceptionally well thought through in both design and function. From the outset opening the box to reading through the manual you can really see the companies experience and expertise in producing quality photographic kit.
The big selling points of the Modus 600RT and Viper are their wireless connectivity, Hahnel claim 100m working distance and in clear line of sight this does appear true. What I do know is that in test the flash and receiver didn’t miss a beat. A couple of dull shots when I was a little speedy on the shutter button, but still that recycle time far exceeded what I’m used to when using hot-shoe flash at a maximum of 2 seconds,
The only real downside that I can see with this flash gun is that if your battery does run down then there is no option to simply replace the power source with standard AA batteries, but then after a few outings with the Modus 600RT you’ll get to learn how long that battery will last, in my case longer than the shoot, and if you’ll need to pack another battery.
The best part of the deal is the price, at present this ranges from around £269 up which is one of the best deals on lighting and one not to be missed.
If you’re in the market for a new flashgun then you really can’t go wrong with the Modus 600RT and Viper TTL.