Studio Strobes vs Speedlites (in the studio)

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by TobascoJackson, Aug 8, 2010.

  1. TobascoJackson

    TobascoJackson TPF Noob!

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    Hey all—

    I have kind of a question. But it's not just a quick, Yahoo Answers type question. It's going to take some debating I think to help me decide.

    In short, I'll be setting up a studio within a year or two. Like, dedicated building for it and everything. And I'm having trouble deciding between getting studio strobes that plug into the wall, or just doing the entire thing with 580EX II's and 430 EX II's. So far here's my pros/cons list for flashes rather than studio lights:

    Pros:
    -Lighter
    -(possibly) less expensive
    -Much more portable (could set up a temporary studio on location outdoors if I needed to)
    -Won't end up with redundant gear if I end up buying flashes anyway

    Cons:
    -No modeling light (my biggest worry)
    -Batteries may start to get annoying
    -Not as much power
    -Haven't confirmed that there's an easy way to connect speedlites into softboxes.

    What say you?
     
  2. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    My preference if quality is the main factor, is "real studio lighting gear". For portability, speedlights are hard to beat on weight. The cost however of speedlights has become two to even three or three and a half times greater than lower-price monolights, which deliver more power, modeling lights, and better control, with more accessories and more mounting ease than speedlights. I did a blog post on this very subject. Friday, August 18, 2006--Multi-Speedlights or Studio Lights? Derrel's Photography Blog: Multi-Speedlights or Studio Lights? A couple three or five hundred words.
     
  3. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I say if you're going to have a studio, get studio lights. Speedlights are a great field or emergency solution, but there's NO WAY they're going to be up to the challenge of daily use in the studio. You've already mentioned that adding light modifiers (and don't forget umbrellas, snoots, diffusers, barn-doors, etc) is a pain, batteries? Well, you'd soon chew through the price of external power packs, but at the end of the day, they just don't have enough light.

    If you're going to limit yourself to taking passport and ID photos, well, sure, they'd work, but if you're going to be doing any serious work, especially with moving subjects, you'll be going through speedlights like crazy. One of the big advantages to good studio lights, aside from greater and infinitly variable power, is that the flash-tubes are easily replaceable.

    Start shopping - I would expect to spend at LEAST $450 per light (including stand & modifiers) for decent studio lights, and you can easily go north of $1000, BUT like most things, you get what you pay for, and an investment now will continue to pay off for years to come.
     
  4. TobascoJackson

    TobascoJackson TPF Noob!

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    Sounds like monolights are the way to go. Thanks for the blog post and advice, everyone. :)
     
  5. Alpha

    Alpha Troll Extraordinaire

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    You could also invest in a system like Lumedyne, if you're concerned about portability. They're sort of the ultimate super lightweight studio/location hybrid. Pack lighting is a clear choice over monolights if you want to even try to bring your stuff on location.
     
  6. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    What speedlights are you using?

    You can get a manual light with a receiver for under $200. I'd never rock a $100 monolight.
     
  7. Scatterbrained

    Scatterbrained Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Studio lighting is the only real way to go. You can still put together a set of monolights and have portability. Looking at costs you could get an Alien Bee B400 for $225 vs. $440 for a 580EXII. Once you add the extra $100 or so for the battery pack that you'll need to get a decent recycle time on the Speedlight and you're just throwing money away. There are plenty of photographers who have monolight or pack light setups that they carry on location without issues. If you want to truly be flexible you can buy both. I keep a flash cold shoe as well as radio triggers in my camera bag whenever I go out "just in case", but have the ability to pack up my monolights and take them on location should the need arise.
     
  8. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Monolights and pack and head systems don't even come close to the portability of a speedlight when you absolutely need it.

    And there is no point in buying a 580EX II unless you need the weather sealing or TTL operation. If you're using radio triggers, a simple manual speed light for $100-$150 will more than suffice.
     
  9. Scatterbrained

    Scatterbrained Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    No one said they were easier to move around, but you will get better light. I carry a remote trigger set up for my flash when I'm out walking around "just in case" I see something that I want to shoot and need to get the light right. On the flip side, you simply can't get the kind of light output from a flashgun that you can get from a dedicated studio light. The OP is talking about setting up a studio with speedlights vs dedicated studio gear. If you are doing a planned location shoot there would be no reason not to bring the studio lights. You're already bringing the stands/reflectors/modifiers etc, at that point it's just a matter of bringing a light or two and a power pack. Optimally, he should find a way to set up his studio and then have some cheap manual only flashguns for location work, but that isn't what he was asking.
     

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