AlienBees ?

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by butterflygirl, Jul 9, 2007.

  1. butterflygirl

    butterflygirl TPF Noob!

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    So I'm looking to set up my studio - FINALLY. I have enough money but I'm really not all that schooled on lighting set up etc. I've really only been doing on location work for myself and working weddings as an assistant for a local photographer.

    I went on AlienBees because it seems that everyone recommends them - I was looking at their packages and I have enough money for the top package - about $1,600 - but do I really all of that stuff? It comes with four flash units, a giant soft box, a clear and white umbrella, three stands, a wireless remote, bags and honeycomb grids.

    I would love to experiment with it of course. I just wondered what people thought. The next package down is $700 and comes with 2 flash units, two stands, clear and white umbrellas, and flash triggers.

    Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions?

    Thanks so much! I need all the help I can get!
     
  2. Johnboy2978

    Johnboy2978 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Having the deluxe package would certainly be nice and you could have all the tools at your disposal even if you didn't use all of it in every shoot. Only you can answer if you really need all of that or if your money is better spent with a couple of strobes and a nice softbox or other modifiers. I can tell you that AB equipment tend to hold their value pretty well on Ebay if you decide to get the gold package and then later sell off some of it.

    I currently have 1 AB800 strobe but plan to add a few more in the future. I wanted to start small and let my jobs pay for the equipment as I grew. I've been spending the money on cameras and lenses though instead of lighting. My next purchase though will probably be another 800 and maybe 400. I think that will be more than enough for my needs.
     
  3. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Mnnnuuuuuuhhhhhgnh POWER!!!

    Up to you of course, but strobes are like clothes- if you have too many you can always get rid of some but if you don't have enough- you're just naked.

    If you run 2 softboxes and hair light and and a background light, that's 4.

    Seems to me like the difference between n f2.8 and an f3.5, both are good, one's better.

    mike
     
  4. Digital Matt

    Digital Matt alter ego: Analog Matt

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    You should buy the equipment 1 light at a time and learn to use them. If you buy that huge package, you'll be overwhelmed, and not even use it all anyway. Learning to get a great portrait with 1 light and 1 reflector will go a long way to you understanding studio flash photography, and creating the type of portraits you want. Then you can decide what equipment you want, based on what you've learned, and what you need.
     
  5. Johnboy2978

    Johnboy2978 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Another reason I started w/ only one strobe. It's not as easy to get it right as I originally thought. I see that you have more experience than I had when I bought it, so I decided to leave that part out.
     
  6. notelliot

    notelliot TPF Noob!

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    i've got two b800's with softboxes, and i love them. the 1600's would be great to have, very versatile. if you've got the cash, these are (in my opinion) the best starter flashes you could get.
     
  7. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    There is no right or wrong here. A creative photographer can get fantastic results with nothing more than a window...and a whole array of lights won't do any good if you don't know what you are doing.

    I first went as cheaply as possible and bought a single light AB800 (from Alienbee) and a white/blk umbrella. I used that for my main light and used hot-shoe flashes, (either off camera or on) as my fill and background lights. I sometimes used something as a reflector...but found that to be cumbersome.
    I often ended up doing a fair bit of work on the backgrounds in post production.

    Just last week, I finally rounded out my kit. I got another B800 with a softbox, this will be my main, and my other B800 will be my fill. I also got a B400 for a background light. I got the small background stand, the set of honeycombs and a set of color gels. I also got the shovel head deflector.

    This gives me a main (key) light, a fill light and a background light. That's pretty basic. I would like to add another light that could be a miscellaneous light or a kicker (hair) light. Additional lights could also be used for miscellaneous scenarios. A high end fashion shoot might have 20 lights at one time...so you can go as big as you think you need to...but you can get great results with a simple set up if you are so inclined.

    As for the wireless accesories...might be neat but it's not necessary. I got a cheap one on E-bay but I need a battery to see if it will work.

    Do you have a flash meter? That is something I would recommend. With digital, you can guess & test but a meter is still a good tool to have.
     
  8. butterflygirl

    butterflygirl TPF Noob!

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    Thanks you guys! Very insightful! I guess I'll have to think some more about it. It's a big step for me and a long time saving! But I'm so excited! :)

    And oh yes - I have thought of a flash meter! That's on my list as well. A definite necessity!
     
  9. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    With all due respect, if you want to 'get it right' with more than one strobe and you aren't that experienced buy a book, a flash meter, a tape measure and a notebook.

    Try to reproduce the examples in the book and use the flash meter to make sure the ratios are on the money, measure the strobe to subject distance and take notes. If you are diligent with the measuring- both with the meter and the tape measure- then inside of a week you should be up to speed. It's not nearly as hard as setting off a firework and hitting the moon with it. :)

    mike
     
  10. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I'll just add that Alienbee (Paul C. Buff Company) is a great company to deal with. Their service is great and I've heard that if you have any problems, (I haven't), they will do their best to rectify it right away. Their shipping/packaging is very good as well. I'm in Canada and I called to see what options they have for Canadian shipping. I used UPS Worldwide Saver and it took about 24 hours from when I called to when I had the stuff in my hands.

    Paul C. Buff also has the White Lighting line of lights, which are a little more high end than the Bees.
     
  11. butterflygirl

    butterflygirl TPF Noob!

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    I kind of figured that also - I am very good at learning how to use equipment (not to toot my own horn or anything :lol:), plus I already have the offer of the photog's I work for as well as a friend who's also in the photog business to help me practice when I do get my set up.

    I've been working in studio as an assistant - granted, not as much as weddings, but enough that I feel comfortable with studio set up or I wouldn't probably be getting one. AlienBees is a little different than the ones they have, but I'm sure it's not so different that I couldn't figure it out.

    I'm just debating whether I should go all out and spend the dough, or just get two lights and buy a back light and hair light later.
     
  12. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I, knowing me, would go ahead and get the whole kit. You can always find something else to spend the money on which makes it all the harder to get what you really need.

    Think of it as an investment and it gets easier to justify the expense.

    mike
     

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