2 Alienbee 800's, stands, umbrellas, backdrops. Am I out of my mind?

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by keith204, Sep 3, 2008.

  1. keith204

    keith204 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Coming up I have a few portrait shoots. All of the sudden there are several people wanting family portraits, and a corporation that's made the INC 500 list that wants me to do executive photos.

    I have photo money saved up for the "new" 5D, but with these opportunities, I am thinking my money would be better spent on some good equipment for on-location portraits.

    Here is what I'm currently looking into:
    • Alienbee 800's kit $750 shipped - http://www.alienbees.com/digi.html - (extra $110 to upgrade to 800s). Includes 2 umbrellas, stands, cases, and sync cords.
    • Portable backdrop kit - ~$99 from Adorama, etc
    • Backdrops - what's the best way to get good professional solid-color ones like in stock photos? (greens, blues, greys)
    • Softbox - benefits over umbrellas? Do I really have to spend $250+ for a softbox!?

    If you could give any advice that would be great. How much would this equip benefit me?
     
  2. William Petruzzo

    William Petruzzo TPF Noob!

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    I shoot all my on-location studio stuff with two Alienbees 800's. They're really excellent lights, but clunky if you don't get a set of Pocket Wizards to control them. I often find that I'd like a third light for hair or catch purposes. The AB 400 would be sufficient for that.

    As far as backdrops are concerned, if you go the fabric rout, you'll be fighting wrinkles until you're blue in the face. I eventually bought some backdrop paper on a roll. It's cheaper, but way more forgiving in terms of delivering really polished backgrounds.

    As for the softbox, it's my number one favorite piece of studio equipment. It smooths light out like no umbrella will. I would definitely recommend you purchase one. The one from Alienbees is cheap and works, but it's a pain in the butt to set up and take down. If you spend more, you're likely to get one that's easier to assemble.

    In a nutshell, the lights are great. Paper backgrounds the easiest to shoot. And definitely buy a nice big softbox.
     
  3. keith204

    keith204 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    How do I know which softbox will hook up to the alienbee 800?
     
  4. William Petruzzo

    William Petruzzo TPF Noob!

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    That's a pretty good question. The first studio lights I bought were were the alienbees and I still use them. I've used friends lights before, but I'm only well acquainted with the alienbees ones. I guess I just figured there was some kind of standard. Maybe there's not.

    However, apparently alienbees has released some new foldable softboxes that promise to be easy to set up. Of course, I wouldn't be able to vouch for them, but the rest of their promises have been well kept, so I'd be apt to believe them.
     
  5. sabbath999

    sabbath999 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Let me know how it works out... I am going to get lights one of these days.
     
  6. keith204

    keith204 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    [​IMG]

    Here's my list so far... man that's expensive. What would you do different?
     
  7. Johnboy2978

    Johnboy2978 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I really think for the $ you can't go wrong with alien bees. Others will disagree, but you could also spend $30k+ on Briese studio light, and in the end, the "average" customer won't see the difference in the prints if you know what you're doing. I would add a wireless flash trigger to that. Most of the softboxes with A/B require the heavy duty lightstand which I think you added?
     
  8. keith204

    keith204 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The wireless flash triggers in there are in the list as "skyports" - as in, the cheaper alternative to pocekt wizards. Is this what you are talking about?
     
  9. Johnboy2978

    Johnboy2978 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    sorry, overlooked it.
     
  10. keith204

    keith204 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    uh oh, the lightstands I have picked out so far are the 10ft ones for $39 each. The 13 foot ones are the "Heavy duty" stands, for $69 each.
     
  11. SpeedTrap

    SpeedTrap TPF Noob!

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    Ok, I use AB, so here is my opinion,
    The 800’s will work fine for what you need, but forget the bags, they are ok, but you can get a Rubbermaid style container to put them in with the cords, just wrap them in your backdrop. I have been doing that for a few years.
    The skyports work fine, but unless you need longer range, and I have never needed it, there are less expensive triggers, or heaven forbid, you run a sync cable(Every AB ships with one).
    Get the large collapsible soft box, it is easy to use and gives great light.
    As for the stands, get at least one of the heavy 13 ft stands; they are much more stable with the soft box on.
     
  12. keith204

    keith204 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Good advice.

    I modified my cart to include 1 10ft stand, and 1 13ft HD stand. Also, I dumped an 800 and added a 1600. I get called for on-location events every once-in-awhile (ex:Christmas party for foster kids last year) and these are usually huge rooms where the flexibility of a brighter light for room fill could help.

    Well, I'll probably order tomorrow morning first thing. AB gives a student discount (woohoo!) so if I call in and prove to them I'm a student, that's 10% off the entire order.

    Thanks for the help! Let me know if you have any other advice. Thanks!
     

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