Thinking to get a studio flash. I feel the decision should be between Alien Bees B800 (800 Ws) or B1600 (1600 Ws) and Elinchrom digital 3000 Ws. The same will be used for my studio, portrait and products, as well as to carry around to customers home. Monolight is, I think too heavy.
Anyone with experience with these flashes and a little bit of time.
Thanks a lot
I really don't think those WS numbers are right. Also all the alien bees are monolights. Isn't the Elinchrom much more expensive then the other choices?
I prefer monolights. Always have always will. No messing with a bunch of cords running back to power packs. Easy to control. If one goes down you still can use the others. If the power pack goes down on a pack and heads kit, you're screwed.
Power packs are pretty heavy so I think 3 monolights in kit would be about the same as a powerpack and 3 heads.
I believe Alien Bees are monolights and Elinchrome also has monolights and I think they have pack and heads. Alien Bees are low on the scale and Elinchrome are pretty high up, money wise, although I hear Alien Bees have great customer service.
One thing to check for on monolights is that the number that they are, is very often not the Watt Second number.
I use 600ws (Photogenic) for portraits and it's fine. 600ws in an umbrella as fill at 12-15 feet is only around F5.6.
If doing groups or large format 1600ws is probably necessary.
When buying them you could start with a 1600ws monolight, then get a couple of 800ws and then even smaller ones for backgound or hair.
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Alien Bees are so small that I did not realise it is monolite. Thanks, and it is just around 30% price of elinchrom monolite for nearly the same Ws. Great customer service is something confusible to me. Is that means they fails again and again and just get quick repear? Or might be I am wrong and reliability of Alien Bees is not behind elinchrom.
I really can't say.
I've used Photogenic lights for 30 year and never ever had a problem and have only ever replaced a modeling light. I have 6 monolights that are 10-15 years old.
Alien Bees started out as a "starter" set of lights. Very inexpensive compared to almost all others. When people had problems they always reported that they sent them in and got them back very fast.
I have no idea if they break down more than any other light or not. One thing about strobes is that they have consistant output. Meaning will F8 be F8 consistantly. One would suspect that more expensive lights would probably be better in that regard or have faster recycle times or some reason for the extra cost.
That being said, I compared my Photogenics to Broncolor lights for a day, firing them off maybe a hundred times and they were just as good. So who knows.
The other thing to consider is how much they will be used. Some studios shoot every day and a lot of shots per day. Others shoot a couple times a week for a couple of hours. These two scenarios may need different qualities in their lights. If you shoot less often, maybe lesser price lights will do extremely well for you.
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For me, two issues sent me in the direction of Speedo Blackline.
In all my years assisting, I'd never seen a Speedo pack fail on a job or cause anyone any harm (like blow up, catch fire, etc.) If you have reasonable backups (tubes, model lamps), you can make it through the job.
2. Availability of rental accessories
Odd reflectors, specialty heads, etc...the rental houses in NY, Chicago, LA have always been ready to give me anything in the Speedo line.
It's heavy stuff, but very robust, and when something does fail it's been relatively cheap to fix. All of the above also holds true (in my experience) for Norman, and to a lesser extent Dynalite. Norman is more popular on the westcoast than the eastcoast, but still the rental support is there almost everywhere I've tried.
Also, the resale value in Speedo is consistent. If you buy gear and it's not for you, in my experience you can get out of it what you put into it.
I didn't do a ton of flash work, but as the need increased I wanted to buy some units, mostly to get out the hassle of having to pick up and return rental units. I chose Alien Bees, hoping that they would be good enough and last long enough to get me by, until I could afford something better. That was 4 years ago. They have turned out to be really durable and consistent. To say I am pleased, is an understatement.
They do not have the heft and feel of metal units, and I now understand the difference between polycarbonate, and plastic. The heads themselves are pretty tough. I have used other systems, and the bees accessories are not at the same level as more expensive offerings.
If you are on a budget, the bees are fantastic value, and have delivered more than I expected. Are they on a par with Speedotron, or Elinchrome? No.
While we're talking about flashes, I keep seeing, on ebay, these flash units that are basically a bulb that you can screw into a normal light socket (or so it looks). They are pretty cheap compared to monolights, but since I've never used anything in the way of studio lighting (monolights, hotlights, or whatever) I'm not sure if they're even worth the small cash they'd cost. As far as I could see they will just plug right into the wall and away you go (but I could be wrong).
Has anyone had any experience with them? are they worth even bothering with?
I have a couple, and they are useful in conjunction with a more powerful system as accent lights, or to make practicals (lamps in a shot) light up.
Originally Posted by AeisLugh
They are not very powerful by themselves (50ws claimed, I think. Keep in mind that many lower end products play fast and loose when rating outputs.) and the ones I have are optical slave only, meaning they will only trigger from the pulse from another flash that is synced to the shutter.
The bees seem to have output equal to their claim BTW.
The ones I've been seeing actually have the ability to link up to the camera via a sync cable. Hell, Henry's has a kit, brand new, for 150 bucks ("flash" stand, and umbrella reflector). I'm been contemplating it for months now, I'm just afraid to pay the money out for it and find out it's crap. Of course, the absense of a modelling light is a real drawback
Originally Posted by JBrunner