Why not just buy a monobloc?

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by Alpha, Jul 17, 2010.

  1. Alpha

    Alpha Troll Extraordinaire

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    "Why not just buy a monobloc, you ask? Well, for one thing, it is easy to gang up small flashes. But it is a little more difficult to hack a monobloc into key, fill and background lights. Different folks, different workflows."

    This came from a Strobist article (Strobist: Lastolite Triflash Sync: Triple Threat) about an upcoming product that allows you to mount three flashes to it and trigger them simultaneously.

    I am willing to admit that the so-called "strobist" setups can be appropriate for some types of shoots, and can produce fine results. However, the above quote is a lot of crap.

    Why not just buy a monobloc, you ask? Well, for one thing, it's easy to gang up small flashes. OK. And that answers the question how? Why buy a cooking range, you ask? Well, for one thing, it's easy to arrange some individual gas or electric burners from the hardware store on your counter-top.

    But it is a little more difficult to hack a monobloc into key, fill and background lights. Ah, I see. So after I've spend $150 on this tri-flash device or spent some measure of time duct-taping or bungie-cording several flashes together in order to make them fire simultaneously, I can dismantle it and use them separately. Great. Perhaps if I were photographing a hamster could I use three SB-28's or 285's as key, fill, and background. Really? What background area are you sufficiently lighting with a single speedlight? And yes, it is true that you cannot hack a monobloc into three separate lights. That's what pack setups are for (and do this with much more finesse, I might add).

    Is anything possible with enough money, time, ingenuity, and duct-tape? Probably. Do the "strobist" setups have their place? Sure. But the idea that they are an appropriate substitute for a monobloc or pack & head is disingenuous at best. Why not simply describe the genuine advantages and appropriate uses for these setups, you ask? I don't know.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2010
  2. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Yeah....so the three-hotshoe flash bracket in the article is anticipated to retail for $149 in the USA, once it becomes available. Here's a good, close-up photo of it Flickr Photo Download: BracketFront.jpg

    So, $149 plus $445 each for three speedlights...like three Canon 580 EX-II units...only $1,484 for three low-powered speedlights and a bracket to hold all three....wow....for that kind of money, one could buy a small studio's worth of used Speedotron gear, with 7,11.5,22 inch reflectors, soft boxes, four flash heads, and a 2,4000 watt-second power pack, light stands, umbrellas, and a pure sine wave inverter from Innovatronix that could run the entire set off the grid.

    Or, three nice Alien Bee monolights.

    I understand where Hobby is coming from with the Strobist thing, but once you staret needing thtee speedlights ganged together, it's time to start looking at much more logical systems, especially when $445 buys you puny Guide Numbers. There's an old saying: "Just because you *can* do something, doesn't mean you *should*." I mean crap, I could build a house addition out of recycled soda bottles filled with mud and held together with chicken wire...I saw it done in South America...but I'd rather buy lumber, plywood, and siding.
     
  3. eric-holmes

    eric-holmes No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Perhaps off topic, but still involving monolights. Are there any lights that you don't have to plug into a wall and that you don't have to buy a battery pack for that costs more than the light itself?
     
  4. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Do a web search on DC powered monolights, and you'll find a few choices. Calumet has just introduced a new battery that's $189 if my memory serves me, for their Genesis monolights. Paterson has some DC powered lights. SP Systems makes the Excalibur monolights, and has for more than a decade, and those have a $113 battery. There are others as well.

    If you want a really powerful battery-powered flash, the Sunpak 622 Super Pro is still available as new old stock for around $200-$249 or so,and it has the same actual power as many "400 watt-second" flash units, due to the very effective reflector in the Zoom Head. It is the most powerful handle-mount flash ever made. It runs off of 4 C-cell batteries, or a Quantum battery, and can fill up a large 60-inch umbrella or a 36x48 inch softbox.

    A Speedotron Brown LIne D202 offers 200 real watt-seconds, 2 outlets, Symmetrical/Asymmetrical power distribution, and uses low-cost Brown Line flash heads, and can be had on eBay with one 400 watt-second head for around $149 most of the time. It's small and weighs 7 lbs or so, and can be hooked to a sine wave inverter and run all day long.
     
  5. Alpha

    Alpha Troll Extraordinaire

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    I've used the 622 Supers a number of times and they are indeed powerful. But if you want to make full use of the system they require an awful lot of upkeep, and I find the batteries a pain in the ass. For a fraction of the price, you could buy 544's, of which I own several. You lose just over half a stop compared to the 622's, but they're much more manageable in size and take AA's.
     
  6. Alpha

    Alpha Troll Extraordinaire

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    It sounds like you're describing a monolight with a battery built into the housing. In that case, the answer to your question is no.
     
  7. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    Don't know if they are still around and what their cost would be, but you might want to check Norman. Once upon a time, they were the "norm" in battery operated strobes.
     
  8. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    I had made the same calculation as Derrel when I first read about the 2-flash units bracket and I just shook my head, lol.

    I agree with you Alpha. The strobist does have its place but not in my life :lmao:
     
  9. Tasmaster

    Tasmaster TPF Noob!

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    I believe that bracket is meant as an accessory for people who already play around with lots of speedlights. It does sound a little like Hobby recommends this as a substitute to monoblocs, but in the past he had advocated the use of monoblocs several times. I think the point he was trying to make is that if you need to use three speedlights in this specific way, that bracket is the best way to do it.
     
  10. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    :thumbup:


    Plus three small flashes could be purchased for $360, making the total price $510, not the outrageous $1,400 that Darrel quoted. I don't know anyone that would specifically purchase 3 top of the line Canon speed lights to use with a bracket that was mainly aimed at small manual flashes
     
  11. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    PROFESSIONALS often use quality flash units instead of Chinese cheapies that always seem to have trouble with firing, or going to sleep, or malfunctioning.

    People who want to use HIGH-SPEED FLASH SYNCH will want to buy manufacturer flashes, not piece of chit Chinese knock-offs that do not synch at high shutter speeds.

    People like Dave Black, here shown ganging up EIGHT Nikon top of the line flashes...
    Dave Black Photography - Sports Photography Worldwide

    NEWBIES often think they need name-brand flashes, since they want reliable flashes that actually work with their camera system's built-in wireless triggering systems and TTL exposure control...many newbies simply do what they see, and David Hobby shows the $150 multi-flash bracket rigged with three Nikon speedlights, retail price something like $1425 to $1460...

    JoeMcNally shows setups using $1,500 worth of Nikon speedlights, or more, in The Hotshoe Diaries. People tend to buy what they see the experts using. In Alpha's OP, he links to the Strobist blog, where Mr. Hobby shows this setup with Nikon flashes http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4078/4793908272_07e6a20b11_m.jpg

    Who says this bracket is "mainly aimed at small manual flashes". It is SHOWN on the Strobist blog in use with expensive, automatic, wireless-trigger-equipped, High Speed SYnch-capable Nikon speedlights, and it's priced at $150. It's not exactly aimed at the ghetto flash user...
     
  12. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    They're cheaper because they don't have the features. Why purchase something that's obviously a bad fit for what your intended purpose is. It's like purchasing a pack and head system when you need a very spread out setup.

    If you've ever actually taken time to read the strobist blog, you'd see that DH test and uses a multitude of different types of strobes. In fact, he was an advocate of buying cheaper used SB-28's until the prices in the used market started going up. You'd know that if you did a bit of research instead of just assuming so you could try and prove a point.

    Now, if you take a moment to stop and use a little bit of comon sense, you'll see several things that make that bracket a pointless buy for some one that's not use small manual flashes. If you're using speedlights and controlling them via a camera's TTL function, then you're wasting your money. There is other brackets out there that do not include hot shoes and sync ports. It uses hot shoes. A person with a mono light or a pack and head system would have no use for it.

    And if you've actually looked at the product, it only has one pin for firing, so even if there was a way to send the info through with a trigger that was compatible with TTL, like a Pocket Wizard or Radio Popper, it wouldn't work with only one pin.

    That makes the bracket pointless for anyone that wants to use it for anything besides small manual flashes that can fit into a hot shoe.

    Regardless of how much you want to believe that you're superior to everyone and everyone else is an idiot in comparison, I can assure you that it's not true.
     

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