Tough decision - On location lighting, with power

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by Village Idiot, Sep 22, 2010.

  1. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    So I'm down to spend up to $3,000 for 2-3 lights that can be used with or without wall power and are at least 400w/s each. 400w/s may even be pushing it.

    So the search is on.

    Today I've been looking at elinchrom. They have the Quadra system, which looks promising, but I'm finding some problems with it. I think the biggest con is it essentially being a pack and head system, which isn't exactly perfect for what I want.

    I've also been browsing the Elinchrom 600RX's. There's a kit that comes with two 600w/s strobes and the skyports to remotely control them.

    Couple those with a Tronix Explorer XT for about $400 and that puts me a little over $2000.

    Any other ideas?
     
  2. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Speedotron will be your best bet in terms of pure power for the dollar spent. The Quadra system is very sexy-looking and all, but it is rather costly. I think you need to make absolutely,positively sure about the 600RX's (or any other flash units) actually working well with the Tronix Explorer or other sine wave inverter; some of the newer "digital" flash units will not work right with the sine wave inverters. I think 'some' Elinchrom lights will work,and others do not work right with the Tronix packs, but I'm not sure,exactly, which ones are old-style and which are the newer "digital" lights.


    Pack and head systems offer a lot of power that can be distributed in different ways, as well as offering the option of one head with a lot of power sent thru it. I do not know how much money you want to spend, or what flash durations you need, or what the priorities are (weight? precision control of light? large, 200-400-600-800-1200 amounts??) but if you want say only 2 or 3 heads at say 200 watt-seconds each, something older and lower-tech like Speedotron Brown Line D604 power pack and three SMALL and LIGHT flashheads like MW3U heads can be picked up for $450 on eBay quite regularly...an MW3U head is not much bigger than a fancy Quadra head, and can handle 400 w-s thru it with stanbdard tube, 1200 with a Quartz flash tube.

    In terms of size and weight together, combined, a D402 or D604 pack and three flash heads is about the same size as three,larger monolights, like the Calumet Travelite monolights.

    If you want SMALL, Speedotron's older D202 power pack is very small, offers 2 head outlets,and 200 watt-seconds with Speedotron is like 400 with "that Florida company's lights". D202's and a single MW3U head go for about $145 on eBay. Flashpoint monolights from Adorama--they have a NEW line of M-series monolightes that have optional $140 battery packs....might be worth checking into those, since the prices are VERY affordable--so affordable you could by two spares for a 3-light kit and have thousands of dollars left over.
     
  3. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Tronix says the 600RX is compatible and it's not generally not digital strobes that cause a problem, it's ones that do power switching.

    I see what the problem is now.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2010
  4. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    The Elinchrom Quadra is a pack and head system....so I am not sure what the issue is...the Quadra has separate heads and they plug into a pack...

    Have you ever even owned a pack and head system? They are not that bad, really.

    I dunno...I keep looking at those Flashpoint monolights and the price they get for them...somebody here did a review of them like 2 weeks ago, and was pretty happy with their 600 watt-second model...the DC battery they have developed is a good price.

    There's also the SP Studio Systems line of AC/DC monolights...they have been around for 15 years or so,and were one of the first AC/DC monolight makers, and I've talked to two location shooters who used them all over the place (mostly outdoors) and they were pretty happy with those. The drawback as I see it, is the high cost of the batteries for the SP Systems lights...the Quantum Turbo battery is pretty expensive, but then again, it can also be used to power speedlights.

    I dunno...for the amount of power the Quadra system gives you, you could buy better pack and head lights that would also be very versatile when used on AC power. The Quadra system is very sexy and all, but it costs a huge amount compared to some older, more-established lights that are not really designed as battery/location lights.

    Of course, the Quadra system looks very cool, and is neat...but it's still a "pack and head" system...the Calumet Travelite monolights look pretty spiffy,and have been proven for over 20 years...DynaLite has a nice battery pack called the JackRabbit,and if I am not mistaken DynaLite gear also has a tie-in with some of the Alien Bees equipment, which would make that a good cart to hitch to your horse.
     
  5. Scatterbrained

    Scatterbrained Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    What exactly are you looking to do?
    On a side note, I've watched a few videos of Joe McNally and he had a Ranger system outside shooting in through the windows, and when I say outside, I mean shooting from the sidewalk across the yard through the curtains (during the day) and lighting up an Irish pub. That is bad ass if you ask me. Outside of that I have no personal experience to add to this thread as I've only worked with Alien Bees and hotshoe flash guns. After watching those tutorials though I am secretly lusting for a set. :drool:
     
  6. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Call the people at Calumet Photo and ask for a sales consultation. They probably sell more flash systems to more people than any other single store in the USA.
     
  7. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I've used a Speedotron system running off a Vagabond before. Infact, we have the Speedotron brown line system hooked up as well as an Alien Bee.

    The problem is, that when it comes to shooting cars, the cables are going to be too limiting. There comes a point where your only available power control is moving the strobe farther from the object. What happens when your strobes have to be 30' away from each other to regulate the power? With monolights, you can get longer extension cords and that's cheap.

    And then if you're using multiple packs that aren't battery powered, your going to have several packs, the heads, and a battery to have to worry about instead of just monolights and a battery.

    This is going to be used for a mix between portraiture and auto photography mainly.

    I like the portability and the power the ranger offers, but at $2,500 for one light, it's a bit much. That's getting into profoto range.
     
  8. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Head extension cables are affordable...but not as low-cost as longer extension cords.

    If one needs minute, miniscule adjustment of power, the Brown Line strobes are not very good...Black Line can give you minute click-stop adjustments ranging from like 400 watt-seconds down to 27 watt-seconds on a 400 w-s pack through just one head, with anywhere between 54 and 580-some power possible power combinations, depending on if it's a 400 or a 2,4000 w-s pack.

    The Tronix Explorer 1200 can actually power a 2,400 watt-second Black Line pack...but it's like working on batteries....oh,wait,it IS a battery! The 405 pack smokes on the little Tronix 1200!

    I think the critical factors vary so much,it's hard to know,exactly, where the best mix of price, size,weight, Guide Number output, coarse adjustability, and fine adjustability, speed, reflectors..beauty dishes...affordable speed rings...grids...barn doors...head cooling, etc,etc comes in... as far as MAXIMUM bang for buck on AC power, the Speedotron 2403 packs are unrivalled..they are like $500 used, power up to six heads per pack,and used 103 fan-free heads are very cheap, so you can run with cheap, fan-free heads off of AC power...but the doggone packs weigh 28 pounds...

    I dunno...one pack that powers four heads is pretty easy to transport...I really like the 7 pound Speedotron 405 Black Line pack...it's as small as a White Lightning, but it can power 1,2,or 3 flash heads, and they're very small and cheap. I've always found 55 feet of cable to be ample. Again, Black Line packs have minute, click-stopped power output control, plus Combine/Isolate and Asymmetrical/Symmetrical power control--but Brown Line has very,very primitive power control without the Tri-Level control and or a Y-cable.

    I dunno, the $3,000 price tag could buy you a lot of nice lighting gear if you shop wisely. But at the higher end, the prices are pretty high. I dunno...so much lighting gear, so many different options...weight...versatility,durability...professional appearance...rental availability of specialty accessories..security of the attachment mount...etc,etc.

    Calumet's full-line catalog is nice to have to look thru and comb for specs/prices/ideas.
     

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