Buying studio lights dilemma.

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by KhronoS, Feb 9, 2010.

  1. KhronoS

    KhronoS TPF Noob!

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    Hello guys. I didn't post for along time here, but I kept reading you. There's lot of info around here.

    So what's my problem? Well, I have 1500$ and by the end of this month I need to buy a 2 lights setup. I will also need a battery since I am going to shoot mostly outdoors. I tried to look for something good but in the 1500$ (+,- 200$) cap, so I ended up asking for your help.

    So this is what I need. So the accessories (like light stands, umbrellas, soft-boxes, etc) are irrelevant, so the 1500$ are strictly for flash heads and battery. I don't need wireless triggers because I have some skyports that I use with my 2 flashes. I need something in the range of 300W to 600W (preferable 600W) and a battery that can sustain both of the flash heads at half of their power. I mean if i have 2 lights of 600W i will need a 600W battery.

    What I am going to do with the lights? Mostly outside beauty/fashion/portrait shoots, but I will also use them in the studio. Many of the times i will try to overpower the sun, so the power will mater.

    I need something good, durable and consistent. I know I am picky and somewhat cheap, but I need something good, and that's the money I can invest at this time.

    Any ideas will be very welcomed. I hope you'll help me decide. Looking forward for your answer.

    Thanks guys.
    Constantin Chirila
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2010
  2. inTempus

    inTempus TPF Noob!

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    Well, for $1500 you can get some very nice gear from Alien Bees.

    AlienBees: Illuminating the Galaxy with Professional Photographic Lighting Equipment

    Two B800's will cost you $279.95 each (or two B1600's for $359.95 each)
    A beauty dish will cost you $79.95
    A Vagabond II battery will set you back $299
    Two stands will be $69.95 each

    If you get the B800's that's only $1079 spent which leaves you plenty of extra money for some other light modifers like grids, softboxes, etc.

    The bees are probably the most popular studio lights in the US and are backed by a no BS warranty. It's a great place to start and you can buy with confidence that what you're getting will work.

    There are other options out there for the price range you're working with but I can only speak from experience regarding the Bee's (I use them). I'll let others give you some opinions on other systems they may have experience with.
     
  3. Big Mike

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

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    Alien Bees won't ship to Romania.

    Check out the Elinchrom Ranger line of products.
    ELINCHROM
     
  4. inTempus

    inTempus TPF Noob!

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    I guess it helps for me not to assume everyone is in the US and to look at peoples locations under their name before responding. :D Sorry about that!
     
  5. KhronoS

    KhronoS TPF Noob!

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    Thank you guys for your response. I know it won't ship to Romania, but will not be a problem since I can have some buy them and ship them here.

    I was thinking of Alien Bees, but I wasn't sure if it's the right choice. Do you guys think that alien bees are good products? I mean can count on them to perform for a long time and without problems?

    I also thought of Elinchrom, but are bit more expensive then I can perform. A power pack starts at 1000$, which doesn't pack to much power and the next one costs 1700$ over my budget and this is just the battery. I also worked with Enlinchrom and i am pretty satisfied with them, but for now I can't afford them for now.

    And about alienbees anyone used the Zeus? I can quite understand what is the power of the flash head. That's what I hate from alienbees they are very confusing and inspires mistrust.
     
  6. inTempus

    inTempus TPF Noob!

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    The Zeus system is completely different than the Vagabond system. The Zeus system puts the controls for the lights on the power pack itself. The Vagabond system is nothing more than a battery pack and the controls stay on the light (or on the CyberCommander if you buy one). For what you're looking to do, and from a cost perspective, I would stick with the Vagabond.

    PCB has different product lines. He has the White Lightening line which is his "professional" line. He also has his Alien Bee line which is probably his most popular. They've now expanded the Bee line with the new Einsteins which promise to be very capable lights at under $500 a copy.

    I shoot with 5 other photogs that use Bee's and they all love them, myself included. I have no plans to buy another system even though something like Profoto is within my budget. My Bee's have been 100% reliable. But, if you do have a problem I don't know how the warranty works with out of country ownership. You might want to send PCB an email and get clarification on this.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2010
  7. gsgary

    gsgary Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    If you can afford the extra Elinchrom are far superior
     
  8. NateWagner

    NateWagner TPF Noob!

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    I don't know how all of it works (and you may already know) but I'm not sure how the outlets etc. will work with the AB's over there. I mean, they are probably built for the 110v receptacles, and with US plugs. Converters may work fine, I dunno.
     
  9. KhronoS

    KhronoS TPF Noob!

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    I understand now. Thanks.

    @gsgary
    I wish I can afford it.
    @NateWagner
    There are converters so there will be no problem.

    Anyway... are there any portable light setups worth mentioning other than alien bees and elinchrom?
     
  10. Big Mike

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

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  11. KhronoS

    KhronoS TPF Noob!

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    That's an interesting idea. Can this homemade battery sustain a 600W flash head?
     
  12. Big Mike

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

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    I'm not sure...I've only tried it with my B800 and some smaller lights.
    For more powerful lights, I'd probably go with a higher rated inverter and a much bigger battery. My intention with my set up, was to make something that was smaller and lighter than a Vagabond, to make it extremely portable.

    Have you considered using a generator? You would still need something like a Pure Sine Wave inverter to clean the power for the strobes though.
     

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