If you are a wedding and portrait photographer and are shooting exclusively with available light you will eventually run into a brick wall if you do not at least have some knowledge of flash or strobes.
Depending on where you shoot and your style, you may get away without additional lighting for 90% of the time.
Perhaps because of this you do not want to put the time and expense into adding artificial light into your repertoire for that 10% of use.
What if you could have a light that could take a lot of the guesswork out of the equation and was one of the most inexpensive solutions on the market and manufactured by a well known, reputable brand?
Perhaps you are well versed in strobe photography but are frustrated by the customer service of your current brand should the item break, but unwilling to invest in one of the high end lighting solutions.
No matter the situation, you should definitely consider the Westcott FJ400 400Ws Strobe.
The venerable lighting company has certainly created an every-man strobe solution for all.
They’ve even managed at least one revolutionary feature that none of the others have which I will describe in the Other Features section below.
If you want an all in one solution that is ready to go out of the box, then the FJ400 Strobe 1-Light Backpack Kit with FJ-X2m Universal Wireless Trigger and Rapid Box Switch Octa-S will have you up and running with one bundled purchase.
Let’s take a closer look.
Table of Contents
Westcott FJ400 Strobe Specs
- Universal trigger compatible with most major camera brands.
- Inexpensive price.
- Clean and legible interface.
- Consistent light quality.
- A remarkably long lasting battery.
- Great compatibility with many modifiers including other brands.
- Slightly larger and bulkier than competitors.
- Plastic molding doesn’t inspire confidence in build quality
- Maximum Power – 400 Ws
- Flash Duration – 1/19,000 Sec
- Color Temperature – 5500K ± 150K
- Flash Modes – Hi-Speed Sync, Second-Curtain Sync, Stroboscopic
- Exposure Control – TTL, Manual
- Reflector – 5.5″ / 13.97 cm Changeable
- Accessory Fitting – Bowens S Type (adapters available for Profoto and more)
- Sync Type – Button, Cable, Radio
- Wireless Channels / Groups – 16 / 6
The Westcott FJ400 400Ws Strobe feels solid although it’s definitely made out of hard plastic and not metal.
I don’t think it would suffer much from a fall into the grass, but hard concrete would definitely do some damage I believe.
The diffusion dome doubles as a protector for the bulb should wind have its way during your shoot.
This strobe comes with a 1 year warranty and one of it’s many advantages over the Godox system is that FJ Westcott customer service is but a phone call away, and is known to be reputable should you need servicing.
Size & Handling
The Westcott FJ400 400Ws Strobe with AC/DC Battery is not heavy in hand, but it is not a lightweight lighting unit either.
I could not find an official weight from the company, but it feels bigger and heavier than both the Profoto B10 and Godox AD 400 Pro.
I took it on this particular shoot by myself without an assistant and had no problems moving it about for the 60 minutes we were out.
While I used the relatively compact Rapid Box Switch Octa-S soft box attached, I don’t think using much bigger modifiers would hinder the unit in anyway.
I fired off a few burst to capture Lia with just the right smile and found that light quality was pleasing and consistent from shot to shot with quick recycling time.
I shot this particular series of portrait in manual mode using the FJ-X2m Universal Wireless Flash Trigger.
High speed sync worked flawlessly, enabling me to shoot at high shutter speeds to darken the background while filling my subject with beautiful light.
I never once encountered the dreaded black bars of flash and shutter not syncing properly.
The Rapid Box Switch Octa-S soft box is what I would consider a run and gun type of light modifier but it softened the light wonderfully.
I can only imagine that a larger modifier such as the Rapid Box Switch Octa-L would soften that light up even more for portraits such as these.
The Westcott FJ400 400Ws Strobe with AC/DC Battery has a convenient battery power indicator on the back.
With the press of a button you will know whether or not changing of the battery or plugging into a wall outlet via the AC Power Adapter and Cord is needed.
The battery supplied with this unit is rated for 480+ flashes at full power, meaning you could definitely shoot an entire wedding day with this light.
If you are doing an all day long school portrait session for example, you could use this strobe while plugged into the wall.
If overpowering the sun is needed, the Westcott FJ400 400Ws Strobe with AC/DC Battery can handle this task mightily.
I usually would shoot this type of portrait with the included FJ400 Magnetic Reflector attached but forgot and left on the Rapid Switch Octa-S soft box. I still had plenty of power even at F/16.
The revolutionary feature that distinguishes the Westcott FJ400 400Ws Strobe with AC/DC Battery from other strobes on the market is the ability of the FJ-X2m Universal Wireless Flash Trigger to work with so many different camera brands.
As of this writing it is the only wireless trigger that is compatible with many Canon, Canon R, Nikon, Fuji, Olympus and Lumix systems.
It will also work with Sony with the FJ-X2m Adapter for Sony Cameras. Please take a look at the FJ Westcott product page for the complete list.
For me, it worked with complete TTL and HSS with my Panasonic Lumix S1 and Olympus OMD Em1 II camera bodies.
When attached to my Nikon D5, it worked in manual mode and high speed sync also worked fine.
However, TTL mode resulted in over exposure and came to find that the Nikon D5 was not on the list of compatible cameras. I usually run my lighting in manual mode anyway, so no deal breaker on this.
I imagine firmware updates will be available for the strobe as well as this trigger. Perhaps compatibility with additional camera bodies will be added.
The FJ-X2m Universal Wireless Flash Trigger can also be tilted into various positions from flat to upright, another unique feature.
I don’t find the menu interface quite as intuitive as my Profoto B10, but I had no problems accessing and changing settings without looking at paperwork.
You could definitely unbox the Westcott FJ400 400Ws Strobe with AC/DC Battery and start using it right away although I always recommend reading through your user manual on any purchase.
The screen on the Westcott FJ400 400Ws Strobe with AC/DC Battery is very legible and easy on the eyes and the accompanying wireless trigger is the same.
It has a very modern look to it although it is not a touch screen.
Value for Money
Until the release of the Westcott FJ400 400Ws Strobe with AC/DC Battery, your choices in quality strobes were the high dollar options from Profoto, Broncholor, etc. with their superior customer service
At the other end of the scale, there were the budget friendly Godox systems that often leave you with no where to turn should something go wrong and confusing menus.
FJ Westcott has released a professional strobe that manages to beat all competitors in price, but yet still provides the peace of mind of great customer service from a longstanding lighting manufacturer.
It’s incredible value as is, but add to that the ability to attach modifiers from other brands via inexpensive adapters such as the included Switch Insert.
If you are starting from scratch get a bundled discount by purchasing the FJ400 Strobe 1-Light Backpack Kit with FJ-X2m Universal Wireless Trigger and Rapid Box Switch Octa-S along with the lighting unit itself, all in one bundle.
Westcott FJ400 Review | Conclusion
As I stated at the beginning of this review, if you are a natural light photographer only, sooner or later you will need to add a strobe to overcome a situation.
The Westcott FJ400 is a high quality, inexpensive solution for beautiful, natural looking flash.
Simply put it on TTL and more than likely you will not to do much tweaking at all.
For those of you who shot multiple brand camera systems like me, there is no need to buy a separate wireless trigger for each camera.
I highly recommend this powerful strobe for enthusiast and pros alike. FJ Westcott (makers of the Ice Light and more) really hit it out of the park with this off camera light.