watts feet and fans?

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by eyeman85, Dec 11, 2009.

  1. eyeman85

    eyeman85 TPF Noob!

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    Im looking to get strobe lighting, and just double checking a few things. I am an action sports photographer/ studio photographer. Basically I need lights that are good for studio work of portraits, and outdoors where my subjects can be anywhere from 0-50 feet from the light source? Also, I probably not buy lights that don't have fans built in?

    SO, when reading a description about a light how do I determine all of this fancy ****? Thanks
     
  2. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Yeah, lights with built-in fans are not really all that great for use with pure sine wave inverters. Lights are typically specified by watt-seconds and Guide Number. Guide Number is usually specified in Feet, at ISO 100--in the USA, and is abbreviated GN. On speedlights, GN goes up rapidly as the head is zoomed to telephoto position, and drops as the beam spread angle is widened. Same thing with studio lights; a narrow-angle reflector will deliver a much higher GN than a wider-beam one like a 65 degree reflector.

    You MUST understand that many monolights have artificially-inflated names, that try to make the customer think he/she is getting a much higher-powered light than the true watt-seconds. If the manufacturer you are considering tries to talk about "effective watt-seconds", realize that you are getting a snow job, based on a 25-year old canard of dubious existence--in other words, a LOT of marketing-speak and FUD. The only real things you can consider are actual Guide Numbers, with specific reflectors. Most of the pack-and-head manufacturers deal in REAL watt-second ratings, while one common monolight seller talks excessively about "effective" watt-seconds, and acts as if the competition is from one manufacturer from back in the 1980's; this current flash re-seller's lights have patently deceptive names like "400" and "800" on units that are in no way comparable to the output of older-line brands 400 or 800 watt-second units.

    Speedotron, DynaLite, ProFoto, and Calumet make highly capable, professional lights with actual,real, trustworthy specifications. Many light units today are very cheezy, Chinese-made lights that are passed of as American made, but are merely assembled partially in the USA. Others are what they are,and make no bones about it. You can spend from $99 fo a 150 watt-second monolight to $700 for one of the same specification, and you can spend thousands of dollars on pack and head systems.

    In my opinion what you do NOT want are "digital" lights; they have a lot of issues with sine wave inverter operation on location. To get to the truth about lighting gear, you need to talk with somebody at a place like Calumet, or a lighting supply house. The web is full of people who absolutely love beginner-level equipment and will disparage the various pro systems, despite the many advantages "professional" lights have. if you think the Canon-Nikon wars are bad, wait until you get into lighting; it's an area rife with fanboyism.
     
  3. eyeman85

    eyeman85 TPF Noob!

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    Do you suggest mono lights or strobes?
     
  4. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    I prefer pack and head systems over monolights. Pack and head systems are much,much cheaper when you need lots of light through one head, or when you need lots of lights from one pack and one power outlet.

    I prefer Speedotron packs with six outlets and 2,400 watt-seconds of power. Those are available cheaply, used,and are workhorses. I also like the smaller Speedotron 400- and 800 watt-second power supplies. The Speedortron 405 is an excellent,small,lightweight, 3-outlet power pack that will run well off of the Innovatronix Tronix Explorer 1200 or Tronix Explorer XT pure sine wave inverter.

    Monolights seem nice,and they are; but what do you do when you need 1200 watt-seconds through one head, or two heads? Have you looked at the cost of two 1200 watt-second monolights? Not to mention the size and weight of them. Or how about the cost of three, 800-watt-second monolights? A 2400 w-s Speedotron pack and head system is actually less costly and more versatile.

    Speedotron's 103 head is small,light, and handles up to 2,400 watt-seconds thru its standard flash tube. Look for them on eBay for $50-$100 each. If tyoyu want a light head with a fan, but that has a variable, focusing beam spread, the Speedotron 202 VF (Variable Focusing) light unit is something you will not find in a monolight, unless its a Speedotron Force, but those are "digital" monolights, that force you to go with "their" portable power source, which costs more than many lighting packs!
     

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