studio strobe vs. hotshoe strobe

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by goodoneian, Dec 2, 2008.

  1. goodoneian

    goodoneian TPF Noob!

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    i've been looking at the alienbees b400, b800, and b1600 and am kind of intrigued by them since they can connect to battery packs allowing them to be used on location. my current lighting set up usually is an sb80dx flash, which works well, but it lacks the power to be used outside during the mid-day sun i'm finding out. sometimes i have to be at my max synch speed (1/250th) and around f/10, and at full power my flash can't put out enough output to light my subject well.

    my question is if i were to get say a b800 and the vagabond power pack, would i be able to shoot at f/10 and above with power to spare? it would be a decent investment but in my eyes it'd be worth it.
     
  2. tsaraleksi

    tsaraleksi TPF Noob!

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    I don't have experience with the vagabond packs but I think it safe to assume that you would be able to shoot at f/10--> I shoot a f/11 with my AB heads, generally. To get specific numbers, just shoot the AlienBee people a call or post on their forums-- they are probably the most helpful company I've worked with. And don't forget to ask about the student discount (if I'm correctly assuming that you are indeed a student).
     
  3. Big Mike

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

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    There are a lot of factors...like what type of modifier you would be using...but for the most part, I'd say that yes, a studio light like a B800 would easily allow you to shoot at F11 with plenty of working distance. If power is a concern, you might look at something more powerful like the B1600.
     
  4. goodoneian

    goodoneian TPF Noob!

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    i think maybe calling them wouldn't be too bad of an idea actually.

    and mike, as far as modifiers go i'll most likely just be using a 45 inch umbrella (or larger if i ever get one) and a softbx
     
  5. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Why specifically F/10? You lose so much light and waste battery power for nothing, IMHO. Every stop down is halving the power needed. Just going from F/10 to F/7.1 I get the SAME exposure if I cut the power output in HALF. Using a AB400 (which is 160 W/s), and cutting in in half, you get about 80W/s.. which is a what a single SB-800 does at about 3/4 power!

    ... and then you discuss portability. It is kinda hard to envision a 20-25 pound battery being considered portable... lol

    Edit: If you are serious about getting monolights, I suggest you do a little research beforehand. Paul Buff himself admitted that there is noticeable colourcast effect on all their lights and they have no plans to address it. Their answer is... use them from 1/2 power on up. Below 1/2 power it starts to show, but is especially visible in the pics below 1/4 power and lower. I cannot recall the link, but I *think* it was VI (village idiot) that posted the link to a really long and detailed discussion about it?

    Anyways, I am sure you could google it and find out easily enough.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2008
  6. tsaraleksi

    tsaraleksi TPF Noob!

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    He wants to overcome daylight.
     
  7. goodoneian

    goodoneian TPF Noob!

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    for example on thanksgiving i was taking pictures of my sister, and outside it was pretty cloudy and over cast but the outside exposure was 1/250th second at f/8 i think, and my flash shot through an umbrella at full power had to be directly out of the frame which is a bit close for my liking. and i was between 17 and 35 mm the entire time. i would post an example, but i don't have access to my computer at the moment
     
  8. goodoneian

    goodoneian TPF Noob!

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    i also do skateboarding pictures every now and then since i enjoy skating and taking pictures of it, and for that i need a decent amount of depth of field which is hard to do with a single sb80dx at a safe distance
     
  9. Big Mike

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

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    I think the issue is with exposure, rather than DOF.

    When shooting in bright daylight with flash, you are limited* to your max sync speed. So keeping the shutter at 1/250...he might need to close the aperture down to F10, to get the exposure he wants. But of course, the smaller the aperture, the more flash power you need.

    I run into this problem quite a bit actually, my 430EX is sometimes short of power when competing with the sun.
     
  10. Big Mike

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

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    Also, if your flash can manually zoom, you can get more range out of it (when shooting at wider focal lengths).

    For example, if you are shooting at 35mm, you can set the zoom head to 105mm and it will throw the light farther...but of course, the flash won't cover as much area.
     
  11. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I understand better and I can see times when the big lights are needed, but there are ways around it to extend the effective usage range before I would consider monolights. He's not yet maxing out what he has.

    - Bounce the light instead of shoot through (worth an easy 1/2 stop or a little more)
    - As Mike mentioned, zoom the flash head out, another 1/4 to 1/2 stop or more.
    - Add a 2nd flash that's another stop as well.
    - shoot without an umbrella (yes it is harsher, but not unattractive light and in some cases it is more desirable), and thats another 1/2-3/4 stop.

    With just these 4 things, we went up an easy couple of stops. I did not see Goodoneian mention the need to light a 30 sq foot area, he mentioned 1 sister and a skateboarder where High speed FP flash could also do some nice things but range is cut (and his equipment has to be able to do it).

    I could also add that shooting is often better when not in bright sunlight conditions (afternoon or evening skateboarding shots look incredible), but of course I can understand the desire to shoot when he wants and not when conditions are better.

    I'm not dissing monolights, but maybe playing devils advocate (lol) a little in favor of the more portable battery powered strobes. I just cannot see myself hauling wires, monolights and batteries to a skateboard park for several hours.

    Thanks for the great exchanges, so far, BTW. :)
     
  12. Big Mike

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

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    Good point Jerry.

    I can't believe I forgot to mention this one...
    I'd actually say that it's worth more than that. I almost always shoot bare flash when outdoors like that. I'll maybe use an umbrella when it's just one model and I can get it close...but otherwise, bare flash gives you the most power and most efficient use of that power.

    Hot shoe flash units loose a lot of power/range when used with a modifier. As I understand it, this is because the lens on the flash head is basically a Fresnel lens, which directs the light into an efficient beam. When you stick an umbrella in front of that, it breaks the beam and you don't get the distance any more.

    A studio light, uses raw light power, so it still gets plenty of distance when used with umbrellas & soft boxes etc.
     

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