Alien Bees Ringflash VS. Nikon R1


No longer a newbie, moving up!
Jul 13, 2013
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Vancouver, Wa
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Should I get the Alien bees Ring flash or the Nikon R1 system....Both seem highly useable and well made. I know the Nikon get great marks but I have been reading up on the AB unit as well. The main differences as far as I can see are pretty obvious ones like size and style the AB unit is a ring flash whereas the Nikon is 2+ individual flashes. The AB can be used pretty well with some attachments as a main light from what I read but needs AC power, not sure on the Nikon's use for like portraits and such. I want one or the other but would like input from both sides if anyone has experience with the AB It would be great to hear from ya.
I've never used a true ring flash, but these shots were taken with the Nikon setup. I use it only for macro shooting. I'll also include a shot of the gear itself in case anyone's wondering.


I like the unit's versatility, independent control of the flash heads, and that I can add additional heads to the ring when needed. The only negative is that the heads use 2016/2017 Lithium batteries. AAs would have been nicer.

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yeah the alienbees unit is not at all designed to go walking around in the field. It doesn't even turn on without either being plugged into a wall outlet or into a giant multipound inverter battery pack with a fan and crap.

It is designed for studio work or stationary, well-set up outdoors work. Which could include macro, but if so, it would be all props and set up stuff like that, or close up product macro usually, or whatnot. Also for cool looking circular catch lights or other specialized portraiture stuff.
You'd probably want this giant 3.5 pound Vagabond Mini battery and sine wave inverter to power the Alien Bees ringflash unit. Paul C. Buff - Vagabond Mini Lithium

If you want a flash unit for fashion/portraiture, the Alien Bee makes some sense, I guess. Buff has some accessories that will turn the ringlflash into something marginally more useful, like their Moon Unit modifiers. The Nikon unit is for close-ups.
Sorry for not responding been busy with re-siding my house...thanks for the responses...I went with the R1 for the macro work...But also ended up throwing in the AB unit with my studio lighting purchase after reading a few write up on the off beat random stuff you can do with it I just wanna mess around with But as you all said it clearly is not for packing around...

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