Benjamin von Wong

The ultimate setup

Broncolor. A name that implies the ultimate in quality, reliability, functionality, style and yes… price. The Ferrari’s and Porsche’s of flashes – Like many other photographers, I’ve always admired them from afar, dreaming that one day I’d be able to own a set… so when Broncolor approached me asking them to be one of five Broncolor ambassadors part of the new GenNEXT program it was literally a dream come true!

First contact
My first contact with Broncolor took place at a trade show in Paris on November 2012. I had heard of them, but at that point in time, they were nothing more than a fancy name… one of luxury and quality that I never had the chance to really touch, see or experience.
I’ve always been curious about gadgets and gizmos so when I saw the Broncolor booth, I curiously scampered over and started poking and prodding the different packs and heads that they had on display. A friendly gentleman approached me, and asked if I needed help. Being typically blunt, I replied: “So… what’s so special about Broncolor?” Rather than brush me off or direct me to a brochure, he took the time to impress me with some crazy statistics on flash duration, refresh rates, stroboscopic capabilities, portability and the ability to independently control flash duration/color temperature/power outputs.

Mind whirling, a creative brainstorm ensued which led to me pulling out my iPad and sharing previous projects that I had worked on such as the Underwater Realm and my Pyro work with DAS.

Once the conversation ended, he handed me his business card saying that we should keep in touch. The name on the card was none other than Jacques Bron, CEO.

Gen NEXT
Fast forward almost two years, out of the blue I receive an email from Bron saying that they had been following my progress and liked the work that I was doing. They then proceeded to ask if I ever had the chance to get acquainted with their gear and if I would be interested in testing some of their stuff out.
Since last meeting them, I had upgraded from White Lightnings to the Einsteins to the Elinchrom Ranger Quadras… but I never had the opportunity to play with the Bron’s. Discussions ensued and soon my agent Suzy Johnston + Associates and Broncolor were in discussion about a new program they had in mind: Gen NEXT

The first question I received was: ” What do you know of Broncolor? ”
My response: (straightforward as always)
Well, from what I hear, your gear is absolutely phenomenal. Amazing quality, great performance, ultra-reliable and all that jazz… but it’s inaccessible, hard to rent and they’re expensive! Finally, we hardly hear about the brand. There’s barely, if any social media or marketing presence!
The reply: (and i paraphrase loosely based on memory…)
Excellent, because that’s what we’re trying to change with this program. We want emerging photographers to think about Broncolor as an exciting brand of lighting worth renting, trying and aspiring to own once they’ve given it a whirl.
The Gen NEXT program that we are building will focus on featuring some fantastic young photographers under the age of 30, active on social media that are doing great work to help build awareness for our brand. Would you be interested in being part of the program?

Making the decision
The offer was that Broncolor would be making a ton of gear available to me (because I had none), and request that I create awesome content on a monthly basis (exactly like what I was already doing).
Exciting as that seemed, my first concern was about my ability to maintain my freedom of speech. Consequently, the first question I asked was: “Can I say anything negative about your products?”
Dreading the answer since maintaining my honesty was worth more than any partnership offer, I was pleasantly surprised to hear them reply that I could say whatever I wanted and that honesty was exactly what they were looking for.
Me: What about using other brands of lighting?
“Go ahead, but we’ve never had a shooter use our gear and go back”.
Wow. Seriously? I’ve never heard of a company speak of their brand with such confidence.
And that was it, the decision was made.

Benjamin von Wong

The Experience
To be perfectly honest, I haven’t had enough time with it to do a complete review just yet of the Broncolor Move 1200L packs I received, but let’s just say that I didn’t know what I was missing out on. The ridiculously fast refresh rates, the ability to see flash duration directly on the LCD and having an extra 800 J of power output on a single pack are things that I never realized I wanted but just didn’t have.

Even more exciting, the Para 133 (that has now been christened The Flower) is absolutely unbelievable. Being able to get an extra stop and a half of light while fully focused (or equivalent power while fully unfocused) means that I can light an entire person up evenly in noon day sun. I’m usually pretty nonchalant about lighting modifiers, but this thing is just absolutely fantastic. You just really have to try it and you’ll see.

Benjamin von Wong

So is it all good?
Well, as always, there’s good and bad. I’ve definitely lost some mobility. The Moves despite being more powerful and symmetrically or asymmetrically powered (which means that both lights are fully independent, no ratios whatsoever, unlike the Ranger Quadras) are actually quite a bit larger and heavier than my Elinchroms. This means that I have to find a new solution to transport my gear around. I haven’t quite figured it out yet, but it definitely is something new for me to consider.
Similarly, the Para 133s are 1.1m folded at it’s smallest making them a massive modifier to drive around!! Don’t get me wrong, it’s absolutely worth carrying around but man… transporting that stuff is a huge pain especially when it involves scaling the walls of Jerusalem!

In Conclusion
New gear, new experiences. I do not expect my photography to become better as a result, but I do believe that this gear will change the way I work and think, and undoubtedly for the better. Photography isn’t just about the gear but about what you do with it and I’m really excited to share with you guys what I’ve done here in Israel over the last couple weeks with Kinetis.
Just like getting a Wacom tablet or an SSD drive for the first time, I have no doubts being adopted into the Broncolor brand will be a positive adventure! I hope you enjoyed the story and are as excited as I am!

Gen NEXT photographer Benjaminvon Wong

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