high-output studio strobe power-packs

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by TheFlyingCamera, Sep 14, 2007.

  1. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    I'm looking into my options for high-output studio flash units. I'm interested in which units are the most efficient, so that they really do put out something resembling what their watt-seconds suggest they do. For example, I know that the Speedotron BlackLine 48xx series has a guide number 50% higher than the 24xx series. Does anyone know where I can go to get this information consistently, to make an informed decision about lighting equipment? It seems like most manufacturers don't want to put out comparable information so you can't shop their equipment on meaningful comparisons.
     
  2. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    In general, there isn't very much consistent information about this sort of thing across brands, and of course, Watt-seconds doesn't translate into guide numbers in any consistent way, since you have the factors of the efficiency of the head and the reflector or diffuser to consider, and these differ from one brand to another. Best to consider the Watt-seconds as a rough guide to the kinds of things you can do with one pack or another. You can generally assume that twice as much power in Watt-seconds will give you twice as much light from the same head made by the same manufacturer, just not from one manufacturer to another.

    I use Normans myself, but Speedotron BlackLine are reliable units. If I were buying new today, I'd probably be thinking Elinchrom. They are very efficient units that allow for a lot of control.

    Do you have a Calumet or similar place in DC where you can rent lighting and try out a few different systems?
     
  3. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    In DC we have Penn Camera, which has Profoto (most likely out of my purchase budget), and Elinchrom, but they only have a lightweight Elinchrom outfit (1100 ws). They've also got Bowens, but their Bowens set isn't even as powerful as my existing Travelites. The nearest Calumet store to me is Philadelphia.
     
  4. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    So Scott why do you need the horse power.

    The best solution is to get heads designed for sports photography to get the most bang for the buck. These are more expensive, but worth it if you need maximum power with the shortest flash duration.

    Me, I simply own 6 Dyna-Liite power packs to pump up the volume when needed. Back in my day to USA Today we used Speedotrons with quad-sports heads to light an arena.

    Call me and let me know what you are planning to do with maxi power. Speedotrons are big and heavy.
     
  5. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    I'm looking for the major horsepower to use in conjunction with shooting wetplate and/or daguerrotypes. Coating my own dry plates was bad enough- they're around ISO 1, and even with my 750ws monolights at full power, I was getting f4 or so. I would have had to do multiple pops to get to f8, considering the lens on the studio camera only goes to f5, and I didn't have enough depth of field on my still life.

    My other option would be to go with some high-output fluorescents to get the UV needed for the antique processes, so my subjects aren't trying to sit still for more than 30 seconds at a time.
     
  6. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    That could complicate things. Studio strobes often have UV filtered tubes (to avoid problems like fluorescence with fabrics that contain certain brighteners), so you'll want to make sure that you have tubes that aren't UV filtered, and then you'll want to experiment to determine the Guide Number for a particular process.
     
  7. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    IIRC Speedotron charges extra for UV coated bulbs. $10? I forget.

    Wouldn't multiple heads firing in the same direction work? I don't fully remember how light adds up but I think shooting two 2400ws heads at one target is similar to using one 4800ws head.

    OTOH if it's still life why not do multiple pops?
     
  8. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Still life will be the exception, not the rule. I certainly can do multiple packs/heads together, it would just make for a more compact setup to have one unit rather than two or three.
     
  9. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    Since you are looking for maximum power the only place to look is Broncolor. They have units which will put our much more true power than any other brand. They are expensive, but worth it.
     
  10. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    Why not a big, powerful HMI light? Yes your subject must sit for 10 to 15 seconds, but everyone had to do that in the 19th century.

    Don't forget to soften the light with a shoot through scrim.

    Broncolor makes such nice stuff that I can't afford.
     
  11. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    looks like I'll just have to start saving my pennies, and shooting more photo jobs to cobble together the scratch to get a Broncolor set.
     
  12. TheFlyingCamera

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    In the interim, I can probably get a decent fluorescent set that will have more output - I saw a Bowens light unit that has a total of 270 watts of output that might do the job, and costs a fraction of what the Broncolor set runs.
     
  13. RobertP

    RobertP Subscriber

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    Most wet platers are using banks of fluorescents. They claim to work better with the wet plate process . Check out the wet plate collodion forum. There are a lot of posts there and some really nice work being done with fluoro's. The color temp is right for wet plate, is how I understand it.
     
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  15. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    You can find the packs for little enough money.. at least the 3200ws packs - but the heads are BRUTALLY expensive. Personally - I'd recommend a 4800ws speedo kit. the pack will run you around $500-700 and the heads will be about $150 each up to 2400ws (maybe up to $300 for a 4800ws head). Whereas the bron heads will be $600-700 each for the cheapest ones... the high wattage heads will run you over $1000 each. This is all talking used, of course!
     
  16. Nokton48

    Nokton48 Subscriber

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    I have a couple of old 6000 watt-second Broncolor powerpacks, which run off 220V. Put through the appropriate Broncolor hazylight/head, it's plenty of light for just about any project.

    And I didn't pay that much for all of it :smile:
     
  17. Bandicoot

    Bandicoot Member

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    For wet plate I'd look at fluorescent too. However, in flash I've always been very happy with Elinchrom: I have some monoblocks for 'out and about' use, but when I need power in the studio or for a large interior on LF the packs have plenty. I use a little 1,000 Ws pack, three 4,000 Ws packs, and one of the very nice digital asymmetric 3,000 Ws packs, and doubt I'll ever need more light than that - and I can hire easily if I do.

    Each of these packs will take up to three heads, so I have a lot of flexibility with this set up.

    Two of the 4,000 Ws packs can be cabled into a single X8 head. The X8 isn't quite as near to being a point source as the X6 with its more cunningly folded twin tubes, but the X8 is still a small source (smaller than the Speedotron four tube head). This gives a lot of light from a small source, or a very bright softbox. Also, because the X6 is newer, you may find a used X8 head for not that much money.

    If I was starting out and had no limits at all on my budget I'd look at Broncolor, Profoto, and Strobex as well as Elinchrom, but I'm not sure that I wouldn't end up choosing Elinchrom anyway: reliable, powerful, controllable and very good service. Excellent range of reflectors and heads, including third party heads by Bacht et al. (Though I would like a Strobex swimming pool...)



    Peter
     
  18. John Tonai

    John Tonai Member

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    You can also order Profotos without UV coated tubes. You might also check with other companies. Many times you can order heads with non-UV coated tubes, but they might not list it in the catalog. Just have a dealer check with the reps.

    BTW, the primary reason for using fluorescent lights with the collodion is that they put out a lot of UV light and most people don't want to gamble buying high priced strobes (with non-UV coated tubes). Years ago, I got a non-UV coated head for my old Profoto 5. I used it for daguerreotypes. Based on a somewhat similar spectral sensitivity, it should work for collodion.
     
  19. RobertP

    RobertP Subscriber

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    For 125.00 you can get a Fotodiox bank that holds 16 30 watt spiral bulbs. It has a switch that will allows you to switch off half if you like. It has the same intensity of a 1800 watt fresnel. Plus you can buy the soft box that has an inner and outer baffle for it. I just bought three of them for wet plate. I'll let you know how they work out as soon as I get a chance to try them. I think I paid more for the bulbs than I did the light. The light is built surprisingly strong and the housing is metal. The soft box is 24 x24"....http://www.apug.org/forums/attachme...ment.php?attachmentid=8539&stc=1&d=1189821474http://www.apug.org/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=8542&stc=1&d=1189821888
     

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  20. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Anyone besides me remember the old Ascor system where you could daisy chain umpteen capacitor banks & dump it through the single "Sunlight" head 96,000WS?
     
  21. RobertP

    RobertP Subscriber

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    The UV that is required for wet plate makes the fluoro's so attractive. I compared my 1500 Mole- Richardson fresnels to the light output of the Fotodiox. And the light output is pretty close. The Moles may be a little more intense. But the fluorescents are so much cooler by leaps and bounds. So the advantage of moving them closer to the subject/model is a nice feature. I figure at this price it is not going to cost much to see the results using these banks even if I'm the guinea pig for it. I've risked a lot more for a lot less in my time.
     
  22. wilsonneal

    wilsonneal Member

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    My two cents:

    I own a Speedo 4800 pack, and started using Speedo 30 years ago. This current kit that I have was a pack and a 106 head for about $500 on the 'bay. It looks like hell but it works just the way it should. It's required no maintenance or repair in the three years I've had it. That's really why I bought it, I knew it was cheap, reliable and lots of used heads and accessories are available. And, in a 4x6 softbox I work with very small apertures with that 106 head at full power.

    That being said, I think if the fluorescent light is rich in UV, and you need UV for wet plate, I'd build a big bank of them for not a lot of money and build a stand for it.

    Lastly, what about Kino-flo? I see those for sale Used from time to time and as I recall there are other wet plate shooters using them.

    N
     
  23. Early Riser

    Early Riser Subscriber

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    I had a set of those with 12 condensers, put out a huge amount of power and would freeze motion but the bang they made when they fired used to scare the dog (and everyone else).

    I'm not too familiar with wet plate process but one should investigate the reciprocity response to short duration light that wet plate has and see if electronic flash is the best choice of light source. HMI and daylight flourescent might be the best choices.
     
  24. kjsphoto

    kjsphoto Subscriber

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    Scott look at the Paul Bluff white lighting strobes.
     
  25. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    I've done some digging around to try and find out what kind/size units Jerry Spagnoli used for his studio dags that he did with Chuck Close. I'd ask him directly but he doesn't seem to have an email contact on the web, and I haven't seen any articles that discuss the technical side to the daguerrotype work in any depth.
     
  26. RobertP

    RobertP Subscriber

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    If money was no object. I'd opt for the Mole-Richardson Molescent Biax 4 fluorescents with the omni mount. They only weigh 10lb. and they don't take up much room. 3 or 4 of those would do the trick. Mole lights are very well built.