Alien bee 800 modeling lamp

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by SabrinaO, Nov 4, 2010.

  1. SabrinaO
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    SabrinaO New Member

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    What is the point of the modeling lamp? Is it so we can meter the light? Does the modeling lamp put out the same power as the strobe when it goes off...turning off when the strobe goes off? Please help... i just got my AB today. A little in over my head!
  2. Buckster
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    Buckster Well-Known Member

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    The modeling lamp allows you to see where the light and shadow will fall when the strobe goes off, how soft the transition looks, etc., giving you the ability to sculpt the light around your subject as you see fit before you start firing.

    It doesn't put out the amount of light the strobe does, and probably doesn't have the same color temperature either.
  3. SabrinaO
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    SabrinaO New Member

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    Thank you for your help! Does the modeling lamp turn off when the strobe fires?
  4. Big Mike
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    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member

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    Thats right, the modeling light is to help you visualize the light before the shot.
    The light is much, much less powerful than the flash bulb so you can't meter it.
  5. SabrinaO
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    SabrinaO New Member

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    Thanks... but :x:x!! Meters cost so much... I was hoping i can meter off this. :lol:
  6. Big Mike
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    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member

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    You can set the modeling light to turn off while the strobe recycles; that way you cab easily know when the strobe is ready to fire again. You can also set the modeling light to track the power setting of the strobe.

    I'm sure that all of this is in the manual.
  7. SabrinaO
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    SabrinaO New Member

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    Ok thanks! I'm happy im getting QUICK responses from you all... i appreciate it! Much better than DPS :lol:
  8. Derrel
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    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Every single thing Buckster says is spot-on. Most people should just stop reading right there, where he left it.

    There is however an old-school method where you figure out the best-looking exposure of an 18 percent gray card, or a color patch chart, or your typical subjects by shooting pictures of them using the flash unit and noting the exact f/stop and ISO that gives a good result using your STANDARD shutter synch speed, which used to be 1/60 second, but today is more likely 1/160 to 1/250. Then, once the ideal flash exposure for a particular aperture and ISO is figured out, you place a metering target in the subject position, and take a light meter reading at the same ISO and f/stop, and compute the difference between the right FLASH-lighted exposure, and the modeling light exposure. This is called computing the "offset" value between the full-output of the flash unit, and the full, highest-power of the modeling lights.

    This is a very old, roundabout method, but it DOES give one the ability to sort of measure the lighting that the flashes will produce, based upon using a continuous light meter or a camera's in-built meter to measure the strength of the modeling light. Unfortunately, this method has limitations.
    BUT, it was better than nothing back in the days of slide film and no flash meters...today with digital cameras, this method is not nearly as critical to know.

    The key is that when metering the modeling lights, you need to use the same ISO and the same SHUTTER speed as the flash will use every single time, and vary the f/stop ring to determine the exposure. If one needs to ask why the shutter speed must always be the same when measuring continuous lights, then this information is way over one's head...
  9. Big Mike
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    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member

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    It's a different type of metering. Your camera meters ambient light, not flash. To meter the strobe, you need a flash meter and yes the are expensive.

    You can still use your strobe, you will just need to figure out the exposure another way.

    Put the camer in manual mode. Put the shutter speed to 1/125 and then use the aperture to change the flash exposure inthe photo. There is more to it but that's the general idea.
  10. KmH
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    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish

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  11. SabrinaO
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    SabrinaO New Member

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    Yeah i know. I was hoping the modeling lamp put out the same light as the strobe so i can meter off the modeling lamp.
  12. SabrinaO
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    SabrinaO New Member

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    what f/stop should i put the strobe to? Or does that depend on my lighting/subject/effects/situation...?
  13. Big Mike
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    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member

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    The strobe doesn't have F stops...it has a power scale from Full Power, down to 1/32.
    And yes, it will depend on different things.

    I'd suggest starting with something like this;
    Camera in manual, shutter speed at 1/125, ISO at 100, aperture at F8.
    Flash at 1/4 power, about 6 feet from your subject.

    Try that and see what you get. I'd suggest learning to read the histogram on the camera, rather than just looking at the photo on the screen.

    If the photo is too dark, you can open the aperture (lower F number), increase the ISO (not recommended), increase the power on the strobe or move the strobe closer to your subject.
    If the photo is too bright, you can stop down the aperture (smaller F number), decrease the power of the flash or move the light back.
    The shutter speed does not affect the exposure from the strobe, as long as you keep it at or under the max sync speed of your camera (probably 1/200)

    Using the trial & error method, you should be able to find exposure settings that work for you, without using a flash meter.

    However, if you add more strobe lights. You will want to know/set the ratio between lights and that is where a flash meter really comes in handy. Well, it's really handy when using only one light too.
  14. msuggs
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    msuggs New Member

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    One question I have is can the modeling light on the AB's be use as a continuous light source? I imagine it would at least be as bright as some of those cheapo units or maybe useful in some limited circumstances.
  15. 2WheelPhoto
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    2WheelPhoto New Member

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    My Elinchrom modeling light is plenty bright enough for hand held pics if I set the cam to ISO 1600, and set the WB close to perfect. It takes great pics off the modeling light. Why I tried something so silly I dunno but I did and was amazed it worked.
  16. Big Mike
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    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member

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    Sure, it can work. Just remember that it's a regular light bulb socket, I think the rated limit is 150 or 200 watts.

    It could be useful when you have the camera on a tripod and the subject isn't moving. But if you need to freeze the movement of camera or subject, you'll end up shooting at a fairly high ISO to get fast enough shutter speeds.
  17. 2WheelPhoto
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    2WheelPhoto New Member

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    YUP, the high ISO is why I said I don't know why I tried something so silly, with a real flash one on/off button away but i had to see it [​IMG]
  18. unpopular
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    For what it's worth, I sold my meter long ago. It's way easier just to guess and then fine tune. If you are a professional with clients who need to be places and you can't be fiddling around, you might want a meter, but otherwise, just use the histogram and preview in camera.
  19. Johnboy2978
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    Johnboy2978 Well-Known Member

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    You can use the trial and error method, but be patient. When I got my first AB strobe, I used the guide numbers and figured out roughly the settings at 4 or 5 different aperture settings and distance from the subject. If you just have 1 light, set it at about half power and set your camera to f/8 and 1/180. Leave the strobe about 10 feet from the subject, the height just above their head and pointing at them at about a 45°. Take a shot and check the image and the histogram. Leave the camera settings alone and vary only the strobe output. You should be able to zero in after a few shots. If you have more than 1 strobe it will take longer. This is where a light meter will drastically cut down your time and allow you to take a quick shot, adjust and you're ready to go. Patience. Don't get frustrated.
  20. unpopular
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    unpopular Well-Known Member

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    It is super easy to get frustrated, but I am finding it's getting more intuitive...

    Speaking of which. I think I'm going to set something up now.

    ETA: Also I learned in college that when you're finished using modelling lights it's a good idea to turn off the modelling light, but leave the unit on in such a way that the fan stay running. This allows the bulb to cool off a bit faster so that it lasts longer.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2011

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