How big of a Hive to get?

Dale & Stacy

TPF Noob!
Dec 7, 2007
Reaction score
Can others edit my Photos
Photos NOT OK to edit
I am looking at purchasing an Alien Bees Set-up for a home studio. I am looking to possibly develop this into a business venture at some point so I want to purchase the right stuff the first time. I would like to work up to Wedding, Senior, Children, and Family portraits.

Looking at the website

Which package would you purchase?

How many lights would you purchase?

Which lights would you purchase B400, B800 or B1600 ?

and in what combinations? or would you get all the same?

Which Accessories would you need / purchase?

I am new around this forum and would like to ask those of you with experience with the Alien Bees etc for a little advice.


I am using them in a home setup Currently I am running 1-B800 and 1-B1600. I went bigger than I needed but I have the power to take them off site and use them in large rooms.
I would Recomend the Large Foldable Softbox 32X40 And wireless triger if you do not have a sync connection on your cam.
Start with 2 Lights at the most, any more than that and it could be a bit much. Learn to master one light then add a second. Once you have that figured out you can add some more and accessories. Don't invest oo much in all the different Barn doors, snoots and other things untillyou know what you want them for.
I guess it depends on how serious you are. For me the $1600 package is a great way to get started and it seems like a very comprehensive package. I guess that's just me though if I get into it I will go all the way. When I got into weddings to start I invested $3500 and went from there. I guess I just don't like to go halfway and no I cannot afford it but I also did not want to jump into professional photography with amatuer gear.
Speedtrap has a good point about starting with a few lights and learning how to use them, before getting more. On the other hand, you get a bigger discount on the accessories, the more lights you buy.

I've got three AB lights, and I'd like to get a fourth. One for the main light, one for fill, one as a background light and one as a hair light/kicker. Of course, there are times when I could use a few more than that...but sometimes, one or two is enough.

The B800 is powerful enough for most home studio situations but as mentioned, you might want to use them in a large room at some point...and more power is almost never a bad thing. I've got two B800s and a B400.

As for accessories...I would recommend a large softbox for your main light...the bigger the better. You could go with a softbox for your fill light, but an umbrella will work well for that as well. You might want to consider some of the other accessories for other specific uses. I have the set of honeycomb grids, which allows me to make s sort of spot light. They have barn doors and other accessories that fit with an accessory housing...I don't have that yet...but it looks neat. I also bought the background 'shovel' and use it quite a bit.

I don't have their wireless trigger, but I use a wireless trigger that I bought on E-bay. It's so much nicer that using a cable attached to the camera.

The softbox I have, is the foldable type. It's easy to rig up and rig down...but the problem is that it doesn't fold flat so it takes up a lot of room. Most of my shooting is done it other people's homes...and the softbox takes up a lot of space in the back of my vehicle. The standard softbox takes longer to set up and rig down...but it folds away much smaller.

The 10 light stand works well with an umbrella...but it's a bit flimsy for a softbox. Compared to the 13 foot stand...the 10 foot stand looks like a toy. It costs a bit more, but the 'shock absorber' stands are pretty good...that way you don't have to worry about the lights dropping/falling down if the clamp is undone.
I think AB's are a ripoff. They're pretty solidly built, but their color temperature is inconsistent (if you don't believe me, try testing them out with a color meter). I also don't like the fact you have to purchase all accessories from them. The Hive, especially, is a ripoff. No wonder you need four of them when they're weighing in a 320 w/s a piece. You need one to put the 30x60" softbox on and the other three to light your subject lol.

Do yourself a favor and buy some real, consistent lights. I don't care if AB's feel like they're built well. I wouldn't buy a thing from a company that uses such blatantly deceptive advertising gimmicks as "effective watt seconds." You'd be much better off with something like an Elinchrom D-lite 4 kit for now. It's on sale here at Adorama for $900, and the rebate is here.

And to all those in the AB cult, you really ought to wise up and understand the limitations of your lights. Half of you don't even have any basis for comparison against other brands.
No matter what you buy, there will always be someone who calls you a hack and an amature b/c you don't use the lights they use or the camera they use, or this or that. Get the best you can afford and move up when you have the opportunity or when you realize the shortcomings of your gear. I currently have 2 800 bees and will be getting more in the future. I have never had a need to use them at full output capacity yet. You can buy the accessories either as a package with the lights or separately as you need them as you are already aware, you save more with the bigger package you get.
I never said that they made anyone a hack or an amateur. I simply said they were a ripoff. You call that $1700 AB kit affordable? I recommended a $900 kit that will suit someone in the OP's situation just as well until they figure out what they're doing.

And what on earth are you shooting that you're not using a 320w/s strobe at max power...macro? Perhaps you should turn them up. It might help eliminate all the unsightly shadows in your studio portraits.

What other brands have you shot with that qualify you to compare?

Most reactions