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  1. #1

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    Help choosing between strobe VS continuous lighting with RB67 (film-strobe fears)

    I'm making a return to photography and film and I need a little help choosing between continuous lighting and strobes. I'll be getting an RB-67 as a lighter and cheaper to feed alternative to my 4x5. I'd love to get some strobes so that my sitters (and myself!) don't need to deal with the heat coming off 500W continuous heads and enjoy the benefits of not needing to filter tungsten, however I have no experience with using strobes and feel a little frightened at not getting the instant-feedback with film. Obviously people have been using them for decades so they've got to work well but I have a few fears and uncertainties around them.

    My first question is what is the best way to hook them up to the camera? I'd like to avoid the expense of pocket wizards but I'm kind of a klutz and I'm sure that I'd be tripping over long sync cords. In addition, how would you connect multiple units together to be triggered at the same time? I also mentioned not being sure what the end result will look like; a flash meter and the modeling lamps will help but it's not the same as actually seeing the results. Is there any way around this?

    For those who use hot lights, particularly when photographing people, how do you mitigate the effects of the heat in an enclosed space? I've also found very little information on using continuous lighting in the context of still photography instead of video, could you direct me to some resources around that? I got a copy of the "Professional Portrait Lightings" book mentioned a few threads down which was a lot of help with understanding classic style lighting but I don't want to mess with trying to balance fluorescent tubes to colour film!

    Thanks for the help, it's great to be back on APUG!

    - Justin

  2. #2
    tomalophicon's Avatar
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    With studio strobes you can sync one to the camera and then sync the rest to the main strobe. Or just use one light.
    Fuji instant films are available which are the right size for the RB and you can get common Polaroid holders for them. No problems there. So you can get quick feedback.

  3. #3
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    Firstly, hooking up the things to an RB is your choice between the new age remotes and the long cables. Not sure if anybody would have much to add there. You can always just go a cable until you decide you may want the fancy cordless triggers later.

    Secondly, get a decent light meter. Your choice. I use an older minolta autometer IVf, its fine (does cord and non-chord as well as ambient and reflected with the accessory piece)

    I've only ever used hot light in reasonably large studio's. If they got too warm, we'd put on a fan. But I only used them seldomly and only for product/set up (non-people related) shots. You can get soft boxes and other light shaping accessories made to cope with the more intense heat from them from various manufacturers. Comparing that to strobes, well... it depends on what you want out of it.

    Im going to eventually buy my own strobes too. Depending what you need them to do, there's a reasonably vast array from any of the big names (broncolor/bowens/elinchrom) to others. Wether you can get by with a small entry level kit is very dependant on what you need it to do. You never mentioned what specifically you need it for. If your doing small sets in a studio, you may not need a million jules from the big dollar manufactures. But then if your taking them on location doing reasonably large fashion sets, you'll need battery packs etc etc all adding dearly to cost. And not to mention the choice between mono lights and generators which can be vastly different in cost too. I'd suggest starting with mono lights, wether you need the battery pack (could add like a grand to price) is depending on the above.

    Bowens have good priced starter kits with their mono lights. If your like me though, the added cost of the battery for location is essential. But you can't go wrong. Go have a look around around the bowens site for example. Depending what's available in your area, you may have more choices, but as a side comment, I'd suggest buying from a company with good product support if your about to spend some good dollars on equipment.

    Studio lights rule. There's no going back. You could even hire some for a day/weekend to come to terms with them first too. I hope that helped... a tiny bit. Im sure other's will have many other things to suggest.

  4. #4

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    I guess I should mention what I'm using them for! It'll be mostly shoots involving 1, occasionally 2 people until I have a better grasp of lighting and some still life stuff. I was thinking about starting with one head in the range 400-600W/s to start with from a well-regarded manufacture so that any accessories I buy will fit other heads I eventually get. I'll probably spring for a power pack at some point but I have a pretty tight budget so all of my shooting will be in my home or at someone else's. It's pretty bewildering looking through all the choices at the multi-manufacturer online catalog of B&H! I definitely have a lot of research to do.

    tomalphicon, is that the Fuji Instax stuff and the RB Polaroid backs that take the 100 and 600 series film? That would great, it's a LOT cheaper than the impossibleproject film!

  5. #5
    tomalophicon's Avatar
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  6. #6
    Danielle's Avatar
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    There's also some studio lighting tutorials on youtube. BowensTV, accessible through their site too has a few, as much as they are also kind of advertisements for their gear. And without trying to be an ad myself, bowens also has adapters to fit light shapers from other manufacturers. Bowens is what I'll likely buy myself in the future. Mono lights are probably the most cost efficient across the board, as much as I'd also desire power packs long term.

    If you do decide on tungsten hot lights, be sure to get tungsten film too. But strobes are a LOT more powerful and I think useful.

  7. #7
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    With risking getting shot down in flames, I suggest that working with digital AND film in the studio will be the best start. Use the digital (if you have one) as your polaroid. As for your question, Strobes is what I would choose (and did choose).

    Just a couple things from my experience, cables are the cheap option and with most monoblocks, you should only need one (optical slaves will fire the other strobes), BUT are a PITA. I was always getting the cable caught, which would dislodge and then deform the plug on the cable. A bit of duct tape to ensure that they are in the socket does wonders OR get cables with a threaded nut.
    Obviously, the best option is to use a remote trigger. You can get triggers far cheaper then the Pocket Wizards, but they will not be as reliable (I.E., the ones I have seem to mis-fire every so often). With digital, that's not really a problem, but with film can become a pain.

    I also back up Danielle's post. Make sure you get the strobes that are right for the environment you are shooting in. If all you are doing is a garage, don't buy 1500Ws units, rather look at something around the 500 or even 300Ws size. I have a set of el-cheapo ebay units, rated at around 300Ws. They hardly ever see a setting above 1/16th of full power when used in my garage. But, if you intend to light up bigger area's, consider going with more powerful strobes.

    If you go for cheapies, consider what features they have. How adjustable is the power? What light modifiers can they take? The cheaper units I bought take the Bowens 'S' mount light modifiers. They are also infinitely adjustable down to 1/32 of full power. Some of the even cheaper units can only take their own light modifiers or you must use the clunky four screw 'fits all' type accessories. Some of them are also only adjustable buy a couple of levels, which makes it a pain.

    And yes, get a decent light meter! Even with using the pixel burner as a Polaroid, a light meter will help getting that base setting closer to start of with and will also help when it comes to measuring ratio's, ect.
    Last edited by hoffy; 12-19-2011 at 03:16 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  8. #8
    Danielle's Avatar
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    Hoffy has a good point, its just that I didn't suggest it because this is an analog site and I didn't want to get flamed as well . Digifail is a fantastic polaroid to test your lighting with if nothing else, doesn't of course mean you escape a decent light meter though. It does mean that you won't potentially burn good film, especially 5x4 film.

    As said above, there are cheapies. I wouldn't get 'cheapies' if you want to do this long term. A good decent branded system with a decent set of light modifiers will be a lot better long term as well as being a system you can build on. However the choice is there.

  9. #9
    hoffy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Danielle View Post
    Hoffy has a good point, its just that I didn't suggest it because this is an analog site and I didn't want to get flamed as well . Digifail is a fantastic polaroid to test your lighting with if nothing else, doesn't of course mean you escape a decent light meter though. It does mean that you won't potentially burn good film, especially 5x4 film.

    As said above, there are cheapies. I wouldn't get 'cheapies' if you want to do this long term. A good decent branded system with a decent set of light modifiers will be a lot better long term as well as being a system you can build on. However the choice is there.
    While I seem to lean to the cheaper systems, I am not going to disagree with you here! The cheap strobes that I have do me fine, for the limited usage they get (probably once every 3 to 6 months). For me, it was rather hard to justify the price of a starter Bowens or Elincrome kit, simply because my usage is purely for my own enjoyment.

    That being said, I have noticed that after 8 years, the seller has disappeared off of ebay, which means (probably) no support. If I get a failure, I will more then likely look at a named brand.

    If you think that this is going to be a regular part of your photography, invest in a name brand now!

  10. #10
    Danielle's Avatar
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    Yup exactly. Depends on your usage and requirements.

    As you would have picked up in my posts and likely read inbetween the lines, a studio strobe set for me personally, won't just be for my enjoyment. It will be an adaptation of helping me pump up my bank account. But if its for your own personal enjoyment, oh yeah, why put a mortgage on your home for this stuff?

    @ WriterOfLight, research now. Nail it down to what you need to get the job done. You can get so lost in the sea of this gear and it all starts to look like a blur after a while otherwise (a big white blur... LOL). And keep asking people, as we've probably all done. And remember, a failed shot is something you learn from.

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