The Flashpoint Xplor 300 Pro TTL R2 ($499) is a go-anywhere flash with automatic TTL exposure support for today’s most popular camera systems, and manual operation for any model with a hot shoe. It works well, and is sized small enough to stow in a camera backpack. It’s worth considering if you’re looking for more power than an on-camera flash provides.
Battery Power for Cord-Free Operation
The Xplor 300 Pro TTL R2 is designed for use on the go. It’s small and light enough to fit into a bag (3.8 by 3.4 by 7.5 inches, 3.1 pounds), and while it’s something you’ll want to mount on a light stand or tripod, setup and breakdown are simple matters.
Along with the light, you get a cap to protect its flash tube during transport, a light stand mount, a battery, and a charger. Everything is housed in a zippered carrying case. I carried the light sans case—it’s absolutely backpack-friendly.
It’s not all-weather, though, so you’ll need to limit outdoor shoots to fair conditions. The composite housing feels quite sturdy, and has vents for cooling. There’s a standard tripod thread on the bottom, but the design is a little too tight to support a quick release plate—the outer wall of the battery compartment gets in the way.
The battery pops in and out of the rear quickly, and is rated for up to 320 full-power flashes per charge. On-the-go charging isn’t an option, but if you’re working an all-day wedding and want a spare, an extra WB300P battery is priced at $69.
The Flashpoint brand is an imprint of New York-based retailer Adorama. Godox sells the same light as the AD300Pro—aside from the brand name and packaging, there are no differences. I used the same wireless trigger to fire the Xplor 300 Pro and a Godox V1 flash.
Flashes like the V1 don’t offer the same level of power as the Xplor 300, though. It’s capable of 300Ws at its highest power, nearly four times that of the 76Ws V1 flash. With more power comes more flexibility—you can use the flash to fill in shadows under bright, harsh sun, or opt to soften and spread out light using an umbrella softbox, or other modifier.
High-speed sync is also an option. The Xplor 300 can sync at 1/8,000-second in its High Speed Sync mode, assuming your camera’s shutter can fire that quickly. I tested HSS with the Sony a7R IV and it worked fine. It does reduce power output—the flash has to fire for a bit longer in order to ensure that it matches the exposure. If you need more power, Flashpoint also sells the Xplor 600 Pro TTL with twice the power for $899.
The light ships with a compact reflector, but you can swap it out for other modifiers. There are two larger reflectors available, as well as a snoot. Flashpoint sells its own series of modifiers, including larger reflectors, a snoot, and softbox, and barn doors. The included stand has a mounting point for umbrellas, and you can also get an adapter ring to use modifiers based on the Bowens system, one of the most popular and universally used.
Radio, Optical, and Wired Triggers
There are a few different ways for your camera to fire the Xplor 300. It has a 3.5mm port for a wired sync, located under a flap on the rear right side. The flap also covers a USB-C port—it’s used for firmware updates.
R2 Pro Mark II
Most photographers are going to use the light with a radio trigger. I used the R2 Pro Mark II, a $69 add-on. It’s one accessory you’ll need to match up to your camera system—it’s sold for Canon, Fujifilm, Micro Four Thirds, Nikon, Pentax, and Sony systems. It supports automatic exposure (TTL) or manual control, and is powered by two AA batteries. I’d qualify it as a necessary add-on.
It mounts right on your camera and has plenty of control buttons, as well as a backlit screen. It also includes Bluetooth, adding the ability to fire control lights with the Flashpoint R2 smartphone app, available for Android and iOS. I set it up with my iPhone and was happy to see the remote’s features on a big, touch interface. From a practical standpoint, the smartphone app doesn’t do anything that you can’t do on the R2 Pro Mark II itself.
There are non-TTL transmitters that work, too. I also tried the light with the $24.95 R2 Single Pin Transceiver. It’ll work with any camera with a hot shoe with a center firing pin, from old film models to the modern Nikon Z 7 that I tested it with. It’s also powered by two AAs, and while its functions are a lot more basic than the R2 Pro Mark II, it lets you adjust power remotely, independently for up to five groups of lights.
Optical control is also an option, though you’ll lose TTL capability, and likewise you’ll need to use the on-light controls to set power and the like.
Setup Could Be Simpler
If there’s an area of frustration, it’s in setup. The Xplor 300 has an on-screen panel to display menus and text. It’s the old alarm clock style, with cutout windows forming words and letters, so you’re really out of luck when configuring the flash, unless you’ve got the manual handy.
Many functions are available via direct button presses, thankfully. The GR/CH button cycles through the active flash groups with one press, and a long press is used to set the wireless channel (something you won’t need to change often, but may need to be set if you encounter any radio interference).
Mode is set via a single button press, and if you opt for Manual rather than TTL, you’ll set power via a rear control wheel or your on-camera remote. Manual settings are available from 1/256 power all the way up to full power, and there’s also a Multi mode that fires off multiple shots in quick succession, a stroboscopic effect.
You also get a modeling lamp, activated by the light bulb icon. Its power is adjustable too—you’ll need to long press to set it. You’re also able to adjust its temperature, from a warm 3000K to a cool 6000K, a plus if you’re recording video as well as stills and want to match the ambient environment.
Natural light (left) versus Flashpoint Xplor 300 Pro TTL R2 illumination (right)
It’s when you need to need to dive into the main menu, accessible via the three-line button, that things quickly get esoteric. There are eight other settings available here, some of which you’ll want to set once and forget, and you’ll absolutely need to refer to the manual to decipher the options.
Some are more useful than others. F1, for example, toggles an audible beep to go along with the flash. You may want this extra confirmation when working where extra noise isn’t a problem, but if you’re in an area where you need to be quiet, you’ll want to turn it off. Others, like F7, the ID Setting, is one you’ll only need to set to ensure that your flash and wireless remote can communicate properly.
We should note that, while Flashpoint is still using the antiquated, insensitive terms Master and Slave in documentation, they are not printed anywhere on the light itself. There have been recent calls for manufacturers to move away from the loaded language. A representative from Flashpoint tells PCMag that future releases will drop the terminology, in favor of Transmitter and Receiver.
It’s a welcome change, not just from a social standpoint, but from one of clarity. Photographers have lived their entire lives understanding the basics of radio transmission—from car stereos to television sets. Thinking about remote lights in terms of transmitters and receivers makes sense.
A Useful Light, for Less
The Flashpoint Xplor 300 Pro TTL R2 is a useful, portable light for photographers looking for the convenience of battery power, and a light that delivers more power than on-camera flashes. It supports automatic TTL metering—with the right transmitter—and stows pretty easily in a gear bag.
It gets there for $500, less than a third of the cost of the name-brand Profoto B10 ($1,695). The Profoto light is a bit slicker, with much clearer menus, integrated Bluetooth connectivity to sync with smartphone cameras, and a diffuser for generally softer light. But it’s hard to argue that it’s $1,200 better than the Xplor 300 Pro, especially when you consider the cost of accessories as well. Profoto’s TTL trigger is priced at $429, a lot higher than the $70 you’ll pay for one from Flashpoint (or OEM manufacturer Godox).
Flashpoint sells bigger lights, smaller flashes, and loads of modifiers as well. You should certainly keep the entire system in mind when shopping for a light. With the Xplor 300 Pro TTL R2, you’ve got room to to add more powerful lights down the road as needed. It might be priced affordably, but it’s made well and performs admirably—it’s by no means a knock-off, and reminds us that budget doesn’t have to go hand-in-hand with quality.