Looking for strobes for Senior Pics

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by AlexColeman, Oct 25, 2009.

  1. AlexColeman

    AlexColeman TPF Noob!

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    I am looking at purchasing studio strobes for mobile senior photography. This is what I am thinking of now,
    1500 about for budget.
     
  2. Big Mike

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

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    Are you sure about the ring flash?
     
  3. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    I'e gotta' to chime in against the ring flash too...I think that must be one of Paul's better-promoted gimmicks. And the parabolic reflector umbrellas Paul's pushing--have you actually seen the light those new monster umbrellas put out? I have seen a still photo comparison of them vs the real Octabox outdoors, and I have seen Paul Ricard's video test of the new PCB parabolic umbrella vs. the Elinchrom Octabox; currently he's got a report up saying that they are working on the new parabolic umbrellas NEW Paul C. Buff Products

    Seriously, the new parabolics they have look, well, they don;t look good. They throw a huge swath of light out there,and not in what I would characterize as a good way, with finesse; one of the samples I saw was a house lighted up from 40 feet away using one of the larger models. You read that right--a HOUSE.

    For $1,500 I would really consider going a different way, entirely. His Vagabond II generator seems inferior to the Tronix Explorer XT in specifications and performance; the Explorer has two 115-volt outlets, and a better battery system, but Paul hypes his products better than almost anybody else, constantly stressing how quickly they'll repair the stuff that breaks down--and that's the issue...PCB gear seems to suffer a lot of break downs compared with Speedotron or Calumet or Elinchrom lighting gear. These new parabolic umbrellas--still working on them to refine them,yet still selling them at the same time...the last 2 years they've been promising the world, yet delivering less and less,and then cancelling entire product lines. With a $1,500 budget, I''d say buy into a brand of professional lighting gear as opposed to hobbyist gear. And forget his umbrellas entirely; buy Westcott or Photoflex or Lastolite or Photek or Speedotron umbrellas--something that has been on the market for a decade (or more!) and tested thoroughly, by pros, not hobbyists.
     
  4. inTempus

    inTempus TPF Noob!

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    While there are other options when buying studio lights, I can tell you from first hand experience that AB products are neither poorly made nor unreliable. I've dropped my lights off stands, lugged them around unprotected in my Jeep to countless locations, and generally used the crap out of them and can only say one thing: I love them.

    There are LOTS of happy Bee customers, they far out number the dissatisfied users I've found in my internet travels. If you have a question about the quality or abilities of Bee lights, ask an owner.

    Here's a link to a thread that's jam packed with hundreds of very happy Bee owners, complete with lots of pics.

    Alien Bees users check in! - Canon Digital Photography Forums

    The Vagabond II is also extremely popular, there is a HUGE following of users. Are there other options out there? Sure. But for me, I have found the Vagabond to work flawlessly with my AB lights and have absolutely no complaints. I usually have 3 lights with me, so 1 or 2 plugs on the unit itself doesn't matter to me. I still use an extension cord with a 4 head outlet.

    I also don't see the AB no BS warranty as a bad thing. While I've never needed it, it's nice to know that if something does happen with a phone call a new unit is in the mail immediately.

    Shop around, see what you can get for the money. But know that if you decide on AB lights you won't be disappointed.
     
  5. Sw1tchFX

    Sw1tchFX TPF Noob!

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    Agreed 100%
     
  6. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    I knew the Alien Bee defense would come up from a happy 'Bee customer.
    A-B customers are almost cult-like in their devotion to their newfound religion.
    In the thread inTempus referred to above, the post filled with happy A-B owners, Post #10 was hilarious; in it the responder wrote only, "Looks like the start of an AB CJ". Hilarious! :lol:

    Alien Bees are marketed directly to lighting beginners and part-time shooters. The "quality" they display is evident upon comparison with professional-grade gear. There are many happy A-B customers, I realize,and most of them are beginners with their first set of lights, with zero basis for comparison with other products that are made to a much higher standard.

    I'm suggesting that with a $1,500 budget, I would not buy Alien Bee lighting gear,and certainly would not buy a large,new, still-in-refinement umbrella.

    Here's a post where a the Bees' shortcomings are discussed by a guy with experience with A-B, ProFoto,and Speedotron strobes,and who shoots a lot of the same types of modeling stuff inTempus shoots.

    Flickr: Discussing I have said "bye bye" to the Bees..... in Studio Lighting On A Budget or Not.
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2009
  7. inTempus

    inTempus TPF Noob!

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    Yeah, those pesky happy customers. :)

    Unfortunately, there are lots of non-beginners in that thread that happily use Bee's too. If you care to sort through the 200 some odd pages off posts you'll find them and their work. It's quite impressive. There are also plenty of people that use Bee's for a living (run into them regularly on Model Mayhem) and do so quite contently.

    How did the Bee's get this cult following? By saying happy customers such as myself are cultists is to imply we're mindless zombies who don't know any better. I don't think that's a fair assessment and honestly it's a little insulting.

    I respect your opinion a lot Derrel, I really do. But we're going to have to disagree about the quality of Bee lights.

    I've read several tests of various lights including Bee's and have found that while Bee's rarely come in #1 against their European counterparts, they always fare quite well.

    Here's a fairly technical report of Bee's. This is a PDF file you can download, but here's a summary of the results:

    They are very good lights and are a good value for their cost. That's why they're so popular. You don't gain such popularity with a crappy product.

    I wouldn't buy the parabolic umbrella either, I've not commented on it purposely.
     
  8. AlexColeman

    AlexColeman TPF Noob!

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    I see alot of bee bashing, any better option? I could go up to 2k, maybe profoto?
     
  9. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    The web is filled with Alien Bees customers who are happy with their first set of lights. Alien Bees have decent output consistency shot-to-shot. Big deal--that's like saying an electronically timed shutter is accurate. That's a given. Nikon's D40 is the world's largest-selling SLR camera, ever. More D40's are in use than ANY other single lens reflex camera ever made.

    If all you've owned is a Nikon D40, you'd probably be pretty happy with it, and would say that it is built really well. Walmart is America's number one retailer. McDonald's is the world's most popular restaurant chain. The 18-55 kit lens is the world's single best-selling lens. Alien Bees are the world's most popular low-cost flash system. Who can argue with all the happy customers? One easy way to popularity is by making a low-cost product and marketing the **** out of it. Alien Bees have taken that strategy.

    Call around to a professional photo store within your working area and see what brand of studio strobes they have for rent. Chances are it will be ProFoto or Speedotron, or maybe both. There's a reason many people buy Canon L-glass. And Nikon gold-ringed, f/2.8 glass. Buy into a system that's good enough to be rented out. In terms of value Speedotron would be number one, followed closely by Norman, Elinchrom, DynaLite, Photogenic,and with ProFoto and Broncolor being perhaps the best, but also the most expensive. Rental gear is often Speedotron and or ProFoto, simply because those are wide, deep, proven "pro" systems with proven durability and no need for frequent or even infrequent warranty repair work, which costs the rental outlets money.
     
  10. AlexColeman

    AlexColeman TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the thoughtful replies. The consensus is Profoto, or Speedotron, I believe.

    Any suggestions for a 0-60 kit for portraiture, within these brands, under 2.5k?
     
  11. inTempus

    inTempus TPF Noob!

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    One of the largest (at least well known) online rental joints, LensRentals.com, rents Bee's:
    LensRentals.com - Rent a Strobe Accessory - Alien Bee softbox

    Apparently they're rugged enough for them to not only rent them but ship them over and over again. Hardly what I would call TLC treatment.

    There are other places that rent them too.
    Sacramento Photography Equipment Rental
    Fort Lauderdale Wedding Photography Studio Rental - Adept Wedding Photography

    Do I think they're as good as Prophoto or others? No, I never said they were. But the charge they're basically useless and so cheaply made they can't even withstand the rigors of rental use is completely absurd.

    Alex, there's no point in me keeping the Bee bashing going by posting responses to the unfounded charges. If you want to drop the coin on higher end lighting gear, you will be quite content with it I'm sure. But don't think that by buying Bee's you're getting useless crap that only a utter novice who doesn't know any better would find useful. There are plenty of shooters out there with more experience that any of us posting in this thread who find them to be quite useful.
     
  12. AlexColeman

    AlexColeman TPF Noob!

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    Alright.

    Any Brand of lights for my above requirements?
     

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