Alien bees b800 vs 580ex ii for indoor portraits

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by avigil1533, Sep 6, 2011.

  1. avigil1533
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    avigil1533 New Member

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    Ready to buy my next investment . Deciding bw ab 800 or starting with the 580ex ii for indoor portraits of babies and people . Evenually would like to buy both. Shooting with canon 7d on canvas and muslin. Ab continous or strobe .
  2. MissCream
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    MissCream New Member

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    Ab's come in continuous?
  3. kundalini
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    kundalini Well-Known Member

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    No. Well, not the last time I checked.... about two minutes ago.

    OP, if you have the space and do not need to be portable without too much trouble, I'd vote for AB's. I got the White Lightning and couldn't be happier.
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  4. BuS_RiDeR
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    BuS_RiDeR Well-Known Member

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  5. Village Idiot
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    They have a modeling light if that's what the OP if referring to.

    A 580EX II is great in that fact that it's portable and if you're somewhere you need a quick light, you can toss it on the camera and point it at the ceiling.

    Tough decision.
  6. Rosshole
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    Rosshole New Member

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    Do you have any kind of hot shoe flash right now?
  7. KmH
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    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish

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    The 580EX II only has a fraction of the power the AB800 (320 w/s) has.

    The specs for the 580EX II: guide number (GN) - 190 (at ISO 100, feet) / 58 (meters); flash head at 105mm zoom setting. (The GN defines how powerful a speedlight is.)
    Some flashes, like the 589EX II, have the capability to "zoom with the camera" and concentrate their light into a narrow beam for use with a telephoto lens. Since the light from the flash is more concentrated, this increases the guide number artificially, which is what Canon is doing by quoting the GN with the flash head zoomed to 105 mm.

    The 580EX II at full power produces approximately 75-90 w/s.

    In other words the GN will be lower if the flash head is zoomed to only 50 mm.
  8. Big Mike
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    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member

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    To sum up what has been mentioned already...

    The AB is a studio strobe, and as such, it needs to be plugged into AC power. The 580EX is a hot-shoe flash, and as such, it runs on AA batteries. So if you plan on using your gear 'in the field', it's easier with a hot-shoe flash. But, I should also mention that you can use a studio strobe anywhere, with the addition of a portable battery pack.

    The AB, like most studio strobes, does have a continuous modeling light. That is basically a regular bulb that you can use to see where the light it fall. It's not normally something that you use for light in your photos. When taking photos, you trigger the strobe (flash) bulb.
    The 580EX does have a modeling light feature, where it pulses the flash for a few seconds...but it's annoying and it eats batteries.

    The AB has a lot more lighting power. But you have to consider the lighting modifiers as well. For example, if you just fire the 580 as a bare flash, the light output (in a small area) is actually pretty close to what you would get from the AB (with reflector dish). This is because the 580 has a zoom flash head and the front is something similar to a Fresnel lens which forms the light into a beam.
    But if you want nice soft portrait light, then you will want to use something like an umbrella or a softbox. You can use either of those things with the hot-shoe flash or the studio strobe, but the studio strobe will give you a lot more power with the modifier.

    One benefit of the 580EX, is that it is a hot-shoe flash and it can be put onto the camera for portable lighting. It can also be triggered wirelessly as an off-camera flash, by the 7D's built-in flash. In this wireless set up, you can retain E-TTL (auto) flash metering. So the camera/flash can determine the required settings automatically.
    The studio strobe, on the other hand, requires manual flash control....so you would need to determine the power and exposure settings yourself. It's a bit of learning curve, but it's not that hard once you figure it out. A hand-held flash meter can come in very handy.
  9. BuS_RiDeR
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    BuS_RiDeR Well-Known Member

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    Yes... But the 580EX new... is about the same price or more in some cases than a 400ws strobe... But if you can get one or two used... That is a good deal. But not as powerful. The 580EX ii at full manual power probably roughly 60 -70 watt-seconds. No where near the power of a "true" strobe... But as stated. They are portable and small....
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2011
  10. jaykilgore
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    jaykilgore New Member

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    Forget the hotshoe flash, get a strobe. Doing studio work the modeling lamp will prove invaluable to you. Besides that, attaching a 22" beauty dish to the hot shoe flash may pose problems ;)
  11. Village Idiot
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    Village Idiot Well-Known Member

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    Until you need to shoot away from a power source and more than a mile from your vehicle. Then you need batteries which are generally not light and the equipment gets heavy.

    And Kacey Enterprises makes a bracket so you can attach multiple speedlights to a 22" beauty dish, so I don't see how that would pose much of a problem.

    There's issues with either setup unless you look at something like an Elinchrom Quadra, but then you're paying over $2,000 for a shared 400w/s between two lights. Best thing to do is have a speedlight setup and a more powerful setup, but that's out of the OP's budget.

    Since they're saying they're shooting inside, a cheap monolight or a monolight kit would do, but if they discover that they want to venture outdoors, then what?
  12. jaykilgore
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    jaykilgore New Member

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    I've never shot outdoors with a hotshoe flash and I don't think my work suffers one bit from not having it. The poster said he's shooting indoor studio so I'm trying to figure out where this outdoor situation is coming from?

    When I read the op's post it says
    Or did I miss something?

    And FYI, I have a 320watt strobe that is battery operated and light weight. You CAN get those things from Kacey but why spend extra money? I STRONGLY disagree with the recommendation of getting a "cheap" monolight. As soon as the op is serious about shooting indoors, the cheap monolight will be more of a problem and they will end up getting a quality kit. I learned the hard way when I went from Britek to Alienbees. Both served a purpose but neither are good for serious shooting. Can they be used? Yes for sure, my first 5 published images were shot with Britek 120watt strobes, but it didn't make my job any easier!
  13. avigil1533
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    avigil1533 New Member

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    Thanks everyone for your experience and comments, i have decided to buy the 580ex ii. Now what size softbox is appropriate .
  14. kundalini
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    kundalini Well-Known Member

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    Sorry to ask a stoopid question, but shouldn't your most recent question today have been a part of the decision process as to which lighting arrangement you ultimately decided upon? Maybe I'm just confused. So in the interim, I would probably suggest a 15" or 24" square softbox to start off with. My favorite is the Lastolite, but there are other vendors to choose from.
  15. MissCream
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    MissCream New Member

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    Softboxes are more suited for strobes (not that you can't get them for other flashes). If you want to start a studio you need to go with the strobes and not the speed lights.

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