speedlight vs monolight or both?


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Feb 4, 2016
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oklahoma city, ok
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so i have been currently using 3 speedlights with umbrellas or softboxes for my garage studio and looking for some advancment. i will be doing alot of kid photos so movement is a issue at times. i currently have 1 430exii and 2 yongnuo 565exii and have been great using the on camera trigger off the canon 60d built in wireless. i was looking at purchasing the 2 60in convertible umbrellas that zack arias praises so much. originally i was going to purchase 2 more yongnuo 600ex rt with a double brkt system to use 2 per umbrella. now i am looking at the westcott strobelight 150 and the the interfit exd200 but im stuck on which way to go. i also thought about using the speedlight and mono together but read sync issues with the 2 firing together. i do have some yongnuo 603 rf wireless triggers but then looking at the pocketwizard plus x... so many choices and now im just confused with options and more options. help!!!
If you want to get into budget strobes, which are definitely better suited to studio work then speedlights, I would suggest you look at Adorama's line of Flashpoint monolights (assuming you are in the US; no location is indicated in your profile). They are reputed to be some of the best cost vs quality, and Adorama provides good service and warranty. Using speedlights & monolights together is NOT ideal, and while doubling, even trippling speedlights will work, it's cumbersome and expensive, and when you look at the Flashpoint 320 kit, you can get a 150ws monolight, stand and umbrella for <$140!

I would shy away from the 60" umbrellas for child shooting. IMO, they're simply not needed. You're not likely going to be trying to create soft, dreamy Vogue-esque lighting for a six year old. Plain old 36-43" brollys will work just fine, and take up a LOT less space.
The thing about doubling up a flash, is that you only get one more stop worth of light (twice as much light is one stop)....so it hardly seems worth the expense and the trouble, when you could simply buy a light that is more powerful.

Syncing the lights shouldn't be a problem. You can use optical triggers (monolights have built in optical triggers).

I use both off-camera flash and studio monolights. I typically use the flash when outdoors or on-the-go, but I prefer to use the monolights when I have the time & space to set them up and plug them in.

I did try to use them together, but I quickly gave up on that. They work well enough, but the issue was recycle time. The monolights (on AC power) recycle almost instantly. Flashes (on AA batteries) on the other hand, take longer to recycle...and when you need to fire the camera repeatedly in short succession, it really sucks when some of your lights don't fire.

When shooting kids, especially small ones, you sometimes need to fire quickly. They might cry and pout for 20 minutes, then for smile for 20 seconds. So you really don't want to be waiting for your lights to recycle just when the kid is finally smiling. That's why I prefer monolights.
I have 4 or 5 speedlights.
If I get more into portraiture my goal would be to go to strobes as they have many more diffuser options. Once you get away from umbrellas which flash the entire area you can do a lot more with creative lighting. I found myself creating "light blockers" in front of the umbrellas (I actually use brollies which is a bounce umbrella with a top diffuser such as Amazon.com : PBL 43in Photo Softbox Umbrella Reflective : Shoot Through Umbrella : Camera & Photo) which were strips of black paper to shape the light the way I wanted too which is what the better diffusers are designed like.

But I wanted to look into the more specific diffusers , tall and not wide diffusers and other options (I've stacked lights/umbrellas to accomplish this). There's brackets that you can get for speedlights to support the larger diffusers. But then with the larger diffusers you look at multi-speedlights to light them which increases the cost dramatically (multiple speedlights and batteries, bracket vs one strobe.

Thus my next strategy was going with the Adorama 2nd tier strobes. Then I'd be on the way to the better diffusers.

So if I get into more portraiture in the future my first step would be to get into strobes and slowly build up the diffuser options that I have instead of a flash through umbrella.

Sound like that is the step you want to take but are unsure of.
I'd say go to strobes. Then your diffuser options open up tremendously.
Thanks for the awesome feedback and keep it comming. I'm really leaning hard in the strobe direction but light modifiers are new to me and I know nothing about brolly boxes but will investigate. Would 2 monolight be enough, or buy 1 more powerful light instead of 2 rated at 200? Currently I have 2 speedlights for my 2 front lights and 1 hanging in the ceiling firing into a pass through umbrella for a hairlight and kill shadows. I will look at other options and or brands just want the best for my time and money
I was looking at this entry kit
Flashpoint 3 LS

but this one offers a few more soft box and barn door
Flashpoint 3 LS

If you go here you can see the various sizes and shapes of soft boxes
Softboxes | Buy, Compare & Review | Adorama

look at these Glow Beauty Dish Comparison | Adorama.com

but softboxes connect to a frame. You just have to make sure that the softbox is compatible with that frame or you can get the compatible coupler thing.

I'm sure a pro can step in and give much better examples.
But when you want to really control lighting this is the way to go.
More lights of lower power will almost always be more useful than one of higher power.
i ordered 3 of the flashpoint 320m monolights, i liked all the features they have for the price which were $50 less than what i was originally looking at. i thought about the digital dg400 but rather have manual controls instead of a circuit board to give me issues later on. i like the fact that i can upgrade to a power pack which the others did not. i also like the dump feature when changing output. i ended up getting all for $255, i bought 2 new and they had one used in excellent condition for $55 and has a 180 day warranty. as far as modifiers im doing my homework but i can use my existing octagon softboxes or umbrellas unitl i decide.
You can't go wrong with the Flashpoint 320M, great choice!
Got the new lights in today and are a solid build, totally happy with the purchase. Now just to try the bad boys out

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