What do you get with NICE strobes?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by andrewdoeshair, Jan 29, 2019.

  1. andrewdoeshair

    andrewdoeshair No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Hi! Long time no post. I miss you all. Anyways, as the title asks, what should I expect if I were to get some nicer lights vs entry level lights?

    Last year or the year before, after gathering advice from members here, I purchased an entry level studio flash setup (I think I spent $200 for two units, but I pretty much only use one for a key light then a speed light with a mailing tube taped to it for my rim/hair light). I’ve been able to have a lot of fun with them, and have been able to learn a bit about using different modifiers, but I’m currently faced with a dilemma. Basically, I sold some gear I didn’t need and I’m sitting on a little bit of cash (roughly a grand) and since it doesn’t feel like hard earned money I’m willing to spend it on negligible improvements to my images and/or great improvements to my work flow.

    I shoot with (one of my two) 5Diii bodies, usually tethered to my MacBook Pro. For lenses I use an 85mm F1.2L ii, a 100mm F2.8L Macro, a 135mm F2, or a 70-200mm F2.8L IS ii... I basically wanted to point all of that gear out to say, my cheap lights are my weak link, there isn’t a lens or body that I really need (maybe something wider and stabilized for video stuff sometimes). So back to the question— what could I expect if I bought a $1,000 strobe (or mono light or whatever the proper terminology is) coming from my previous entry level light? Will it recycle faster? Will it weigh less (I imagine it would probably weigh more)? Does it get brighter? Will it give me more precision while dialing in the power? Can they be more portrable at that price? Any and all advice is appreciated. Thank you!!


    A thing I did with the cheap lights recently
    779E84E6-5FC5-415B-B68F-2C2DFA1BEFC4.jpeg


     
  2. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    The two biggest things you get with higher end lights are consistency and durability. I use Speedotron lights, mainly Brown line series for their portability. They are all steel, built like a brick ****house, the bulbs put out 5550K each time, every time, irrespective of the output. The best part is, bought used, they're cheap. $500USD will get you 3-4 lights, power supply, stands...
     
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  3. andrewdoeshair

    andrewdoeshair No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    That was easy! Thank you so much!!
     
  4. andrewdoeshair

    andrewdoeshair No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Anyone have opinions on alien bees?
     
  5. Don Kondra

    Don Kondra Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I have 4 x B1600's, had one fail in six or seven years (?). Sent it back and paid the $50 repair.

    Once you reach a certain power level, say 400 w/s it comes down to your creativity with light modifiers and reflectors.

    The power level sliders didn't take long to get used to and the CyberSync receiver/transmitters have worked flawlessly for me.

    My biggest softbox is 4' x 6' and it hasn't fallen off, yet :)

    Cheers, Don
     
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  6. ac12

    ac12 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Pack vs. Monolight is an ongoing debate. There are pros and cons to both.

    A practical logistical issue is AC power.
    - A pack (such as Speedorton) has a single charging unit in the pack.
    - A monolight (such as Alien Bee) has a charging unit in each light. 4 lights = 4 charging units.
    The question and issue here is, will the multiple monolights all charging at the same time, pop the circuit breaker? If it does, you cannot use that many monolights at the same time, you have to remove one monolight, then repeat the test, until the breaker does not pop.
    What that means is, I can run a pack with 4 heads, but I may not be able to run 4 monolights.
    These 4 lights are: key, fill, background and hair lights. Depending on your style, you may or may not use 4 lights.
    This is an issue when using an existing room that has only ONE 15 amp electrical circuit, that has to power everything in that room. This is typical for home setups.

    From what I have seen in my brief look, monolights have a wider adjustable power range than packs.

    Is all your work in your studio, or do you do on-site work?
    I would use a pack or monolight setup in a studio, but a portable battery powered setup for on-site work.
    So I personally have 2 complete systems;
    #1 a pack setup for my home studio (Speedotron)
    #2 a battery powered flash setup for going portable and not having to be near an AC outlet.
    Note there are battery options for some studio strobes to go portable away from AC power.
    - An inverter to power the AC monolight or pack. Not all will work off inverters.
    - A monolight that has an optional battery pack.
     
  7. Braineack

    Braineack Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    in 2019, I'd be looking at strobe with built in power supplies and radio controls.

    All of my strobes and speedlights work on the same wireless system and require nothing more but being turned on to use/adjust them.
     
  8. JBPhotog

    JBPhotog No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    This really depends on if you do any location work where mains power is or could be an issue along with mixed ambient light and the possible need for TTL or HSS. Pack and heads are the traditional studio kings but new battery powered units are taking their bite out of this domain lately. One also needs to look at flash duration and recycle times to balance out what their needs are. If by your example you shoot mostly studio portraiture then flash duration is not all that important but recycle times may be.

    I'd suggest you do a pro con list with your requirements, that could help point you in the right direction.
     
  9. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Yup, they're great. Good quality, excellent customer service. I had an issue with one modeling light, they sent me a free replacement, no other issues. Paired them with the Cyber Commander and have never looked back.

    With 4 lights on a 20 amp circuit have never had an issue. For location they sell a powered pack, but I either use a 2000 watt pure sine wave inverter on my truck, or use a small inverter/generator.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2019
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  10. mrca

    mrca No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Smoke, I agree whole heartedly. I have 5 einsteins and 2 cybercommanders( one a backup) On constant color, flat line color, on speed, will go down to 1/13,500 second duration. Huge power range from 640 watt seconds and adjust down to 2.5 ws so can shoot at wide open. Case made of lexan, the stuff they make the visors on crash helmets. Bullet proof. The cyber commander lets you turn on/off lights, control not only power of flash but also the 250 watt modeling lights enabling you to power up the modeling lights to adjust pupil size. All from camera. For folks that don't have a meter, the cyber commander has one built in that records the setting. I have both the original 18 lb orange battery pack, multi tasks as a sand bag and the 5 lb battery pack that can easily be carried over the shoulder or clamped to a stand. Customer service is stellar. I have run into problems with the 4th light on a 15 amp circuit so always have plenty of extension cords or just use a battery.
     
  11. andrewdoeshair

    andrewdoeshair No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I ended up getting some of those honey badger lights from Interfit. I know they’re not the biggest most powerful lights, but for what I’m doing (shoulders-up portraits in a small studio) they’re actually just about perfect.
    I looked pretty seriously into a pair of alien bees (DigiBee 800’s) but after throwing in the necessary extras to control them remotely, my entire budget was eaten up, and that was without modifiers. While looking for a used set of the DigiBees, I stumbled across the honey badgers. They just ended up being soooooo much more of a better fit and bigger deal for me. They’re basically a rip off of the digi bees but with built in receivers, a frosted dome over the flash tube, and (most importantly to me) a Bowen’s mount. I was able to get a pair of them, plus a new reflector with barn doors and gels, and the remote for about half of my overall budget. I’m now considering getting one of the portable power supplies (Interfit Nomad).

    Very happy with the purchase. I haven’t been able to put them to use on a model yet, but I was able to fart around for two minutes taking selfies with them this morning.
    F191C1D0-2D8D-4647-B218-7E51F5846721.jpeg
     
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