Monolight Power Question


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Dec 28, 2010
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I am looking to get more into studio based photography using monolights so I have a question in regards to power. I am looking to purchase a four light set up but I am not sure what I need in regards to power. I want to able to scale and not have to upgrade down the road. I am looking at the Bowens Gemini Pro series which leads me to my question. Does it make better sense to buy 4 x 1000w monolights or a mix between 250, 500, 750, and 1000. Obviously I do not need 4000w for studio work however the 1000w heads allow the power to be adjusted from 15w to 1000w. Personally I think this gives me a greater range of options. I might not need the power but I have it if I did need it, I cant get more power out of a 250w unit but can get less power out of a 1000w unit. I am asking if my thinking makes sense and is sound. The price difference between the 500w and 1000w units is about $300, so for me it is worth it economically. Just making sure it is sound technically. Any input would be great.
Are you talking about constant lights (Watts) or strobes (Watt seconds)?
A 500 watt continuous light takes 1 second to deliver all 500 watts. In 1/100 of a second the 500W constant light only delivers 5W.

A 500 watt-second strobe light delivers all the watts of power it is set to in a fraction of a second. So, in addition to power output, the duration of the flash the light can produce is also an important specification to consider.

Yes, you would use lights with different power outputs. A snooted hair light does not to be as powerful as your main light.

However, it is better to turn down the power output, than to have to little power output to start with.
I shoot with all 700w/s Strobes, I found them to be a good balance of power and performance.
I would get all your lights the same it saves hassle when doing setups or buying flash tubes. By going with the 1000w/s strobes you can adjust them to what you need and not worry about not having enough power.

One other thing is if you use a higher power monolight and only shoot them at half power the cycle more quickly than using a lower power and fully discharge them with each shot.
The power of your strobes really should be influenced by what you intend to be shooting and what size modifiers you will be using. If you're going to use some really large boxes or octa's you'll definitely want more power. I would vote for having uniformly powered strobes though. If you want to balance the light on the right and left you'd have to sacrifice 2 lights on one of the sides if you're shooting close to full power.

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