ac strobes/monolights (strobists come in!)

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Sideburns, Dec 4, 2007.

  1. Sideburns

    Sideburns TPF Noob!

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    Ok, so I am once again asking...because it's closer to christmas...and I was having a convo with my photog teacher...

    I asked him if 160 watt-seconds would be enough...but he said I should probably go for around 300.

    Now...I dono exactly...but if any of you could help that'd be great.

    Lights would be approximately 6-8 feet from the model...maybe closer to 6...with softboxes most likely...

    Now...could I get away with two 160 watt-second lights, like this?
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/190509-REG/SP_Systems__Excalibur_3200_W_S_2.html

    Or should I go with a single 320 watt-second light like this?
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/429287-REG/SP_Systems__Excalibur_Lancerlight_320_Total.html
    and use a reflector to add fill?

    Could any of you more experienced with light give me ideas of what aperture/shutter speed combo I could get out of lights like that with the subject distance to the light at about 6-8 feet?

    Thank you so much if you can help me out...
     
  2. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    You could likely get by with it... as long as you take ONLY pictures of one person at a time. The moment you need to increase width or range, you start with the sacrifices. Higher ISO, more PPing, potential issues with unwanted shadows and more.

    Your practical limit would likely be 4-6 feet from the subject at most under ideal conditions with that power lighting.

    Under those conditions (ideal), you could play with anything between F/1.4 to F/8 at ISO 100 for best quality. Becuase of the low power output, reflectors would not be as effective either.

    Can you use it? Definately... however you are quite close to the maximum of this system's capacities from the get go and have little to no room for growth.

    An addage that I hear often in this field is... "buy your cameras as if to replace them once every 2 years. Buy your lighting equipment once to last you a lifetime".

    One thing I will mention... use strobes over "constant on" lighting. It uses way less power, generates WAY LESS heat and in general, parts last longer. QUality of light is a lot better too!

    Edit: You can likely increase range some small amount by going to umbrellas in this scenario to give you some small amount of increased lighting, but you sacrifice some of that famous softness that softboxes are famous for. If you can live with that, cool. I use a dual umbrella setup with 110V strobes and am very happy with it (going to add a 2nd SB-800 for portability) , but then again, in that realm, I am just a beginner.
     
  3. Sideburns

    Sideburns TPF Noob!

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    ok...

    Say I can swing two 320 watt-second lights...

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/190515-REG/SP_Systems__Excalibur_3200_2_Light.html

    They come with umbrellas...so that's what I'd use for starting...(i'm kinda broke).

    Would that be more workable? what could I get out of this setup considering ~8 feet from the model.

    I will mostly be doing 1 model. However, couples or 3somes (very close together/sexy kinda stuff probably)could happen...probably still considered one person if they're close enough ya?

    Would that be ok to use? I just bought today some makeshift reflectors...the car window reflector things...they're silver and really reflective...so hopefully they give a nice effect until I can afford a light disk.

    Strobists come and help!
     
  4. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Yes, with the 320s you are way better off than with the 150's...

    You would be pleasantly surprised but you can likely go up to 3-4 wide if you are really careful about stand/strobe placement.

    One point... what is the size of the umbrellas? 32-33"? 45"?

    I have 35 inches (strange, becuase I see only 32 or 33 everywhere), but I am ordering a pair of 45" after Christmas becuase they will diffuse light more and also spread it over a larger area, as well as being able to be used as kind of softbox in a shoot-through situation.

    I know I kinda keep adding to your plate, but if you can, get the 45" umbrellas and on top of that, make sure that they are both bounce and "shoot through", meaning that they have a black cover that is removeable. The price on Amazon is about 10 bucks more a piece per umbrellas versus the more ordinary ones. This is what I am ordering soon:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...TF8&coliid=I1VDWEGZQO5VYO&colid=39VWSI6QPLH2C

    I look forward to seeing some of your "strobist" pics!
     
  5. Sideburns

    Sideburns TPF Noob!

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    the kit comes with 45" umbrellas...reflective white though, not shoot-through with a removable cover. I can always get more later though...I just wanna get started. I'm just making sure my strobes are good, cause I can't afford to get the beefy ones some people can right now. maybe later, but I dont' see my budget going higher...if anything it'll keep getting lower as I eat, take my girlfriend out, and rent video games...lol.

    If I could get a second opinion that would help...maybe anyone who knows the math for what shutter speeds and apertures I could use with the light ~8' from the model. I jsut wanna be sure that I can have some play with my DOF...

    I'm thinking the 320s should be good for f11 or 16 or something...but I'm a noob...so...what do I know?

    Thanks for the help so far.
     
  6. bellavita64

    bellavita64 TPF Noob!

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    I'm new and still struggling with figuring out my strobes. Here is what I have learned so far.
    1. At the price range you are looking at, the lightstands will probably be on the flimsy side. As long as you don't plan on little munchkins or critters tearing around your studio area, the lack of sturdiness is not as critical. But plan on having to upgrade to beefier stands at some point. (Or you may eventually be switching to a rail support system?)
    2. There is no way to provide guidelines on aperture and shutter speeds, as the actual power output of lighting units varies from brand to brand. Do you have a flash meter? If not, you will need to get one to accurately meter your exposures.
    3. My lights are all Photogenics and the "user guide" that was shipped with them was pretty vague and useless. I was able to go to the company's website and download more detailed manuals.
    4. I concur with Jerry on strobes vs. continuous. For all of the same reasons, but especially because strobes are so much more FUN!

    Exoect to spend a good while pulling your hair out as you go thru the initial trial and error of learning to use your lighting. There will be lots of fine tuning (where I am still at) and it can be frustrating trying to nail correct exposures. Good luck!
     
  7. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I think I can reduce the hair pulling part in a few short minutes for our man...

    Go to YOUTUBE.com and do a search for photography and flash "how-to" vids. Visit and read the http://strobist.blogspot.com/ website.

    You do not need a light meter, though it does speed things up a little (a few seconds). The nice thing about digital is that we can chimp in between shots to see our results, but its not the "best" or "traditional" way.

    I was playing with "commercial" kind of pictures today a little... I limited myself to 1 single strobe on an umbrella and wanted to see what kind of results I could get. My mindset was... let's say I wanted to sell something on ebay or something, how would I take the picture?

    Here are the results, you tell me what you think.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Unexpected pleasant surprise on the 2nd pic. Look into the lens... the umbrella and strobe are clearly reflected. Interesting effect! :D

    Now in real life, if I was selling, I would dust off the items, but I looked at them and saw the dust and was curious as to if it would show in the pic or not, and it clearly did (I dusted my complete kit off right after this too!).

    Both pics were lightly touched up in the exposure area (added a 1/3rd of a stop) and I cropped them, but besides that are 100% untouched. I could have removed the exposure compensation factor by opening up the aperture one stop, or moving the umbrella a foot closer and a foot lower to the "subject".

    Some specs on the pics:
    Camera: Nikon D200
    Exposure: 0.004 sec (1/250)
    Aperture: f/8
    Focal Length: 50 mm
    ISO Speed: 100
     
  8. Sideburns

    Sideburns TPF Noob!

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    Oh, I've been going on strobist now for a while, but I can't say it's easy to find a guide to guide numbers...lol.

    Ironic, no?

    Anyways...thanks for the help so far. I like your shots jerry.

    I will not have anyone other than beauitful women in my "Studio" so little critters is not a concern...and travelling with be to a minimum...the stands will be fine for now. Thanks for mentioning it though.
     
  9. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Guide numbers, huh? Here you go.

    http://www.naturephotographers.net/articles0703/jm0703-1.html

    Thanks... they were not glamour shots or anything... lol.
     
  10. Sideburns

    Sideburns TPF Noob!

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    Hey man. It still shows skill. Maybe not with the ladies, but I'm sure you do fine there too. You do have some long lenses after all...ahaha.

    Thanks for the help. reading it now.
     
  11. JIP

    JIP No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Did you try Google?? I did and I got literally 14 million links http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=guide numbers even a few called "guide to guide numbers"
     
  12. Sideburns

    Sideburns TPF Noob!

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    according to the guide...I'd be using f11 at 10 feet for the 160 watt-second strobes, and f16 for the 320s...

    So....I would assume the 160 is pretty doable....

    but I'm going to try and get the 320s anyways...always good to overkill and be able to just dial down the power.

    Now I finally get the guide number thing. THANK YOU


    I did, but everything I found just confused me more. the link he provided was great.

    Also, I kept trying to figure out shutter speed...but I found a post on a forum about it..and now I understand how it works.

    I'm pumped to get my strobes now.
     

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is 160 watt strobe useless?

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is there a way i can reduce light or increase from my strobes which dont have a meter