Killing 2 birds with one stone in lighting

Joined
Sep 4, 2009
Messages
108
Location
Illinois
Hello everyone,
Been thinking about studio work and perhaps some event shooting. My comments below are based on the fact that I am not sure how far I will go, so my idea is this.

2 or 3 SB900 and all related accessories for studio work. Use same set up for event and on location shooting with perhaps minor modifications, thus perhaps doing that 2 birds with one stone thing.

I know studio strobes offer more power but then are not that portable, or perhaps just bite the bullet and get some strobes?

So for now, is my newbie thinking ok?

Cheers,
Chris
 
Joined
Apr 3, 2006
Messages
5,608
Location
Texas
One argument is that the SB-900 costs about $500 each. Certainly there are less expensive choices, but Alienbees B400 studio lights cost $225 each, and are twice as powerful, and accept modifiers like softboxes and grids vastly better. Seems not a negligible difference.

If you need TTL, then the speedlights are the only answer.

If you need portability (read that as battery operation), the speedlights can work. Studio lights are not as portable, however there are battery powered inverters for the Alienbees too ($300 class).

See http://www.scantips.com/lights/vs.html
 
Joined
Sep 4, 2009
Messages
108
Location
Illinois
Hi and thanks for your time,

In simple terms, how do SB900's compare in power to the 400?

To get it right, studio is one set up and field is another set up.

What about like Quantoms flash guns, would that work?

Beyond Nikon/Cannon flashes there are no other strobes that work in TTL mode,
Is that correct?

Cheers,
Chris
 
Joined
Apr 3, 2006
Messages
5,608
Location
Texas
In simple terms, how do SB900's compare in power to the 400?
When individually placed in the same umbrella, the B400 will be a good stop stronger, which is double power. There is also the B800 which is 4x power, and B1600 which is 8x power (of the SB-900) - all less expensive than the SB-900.

You can zoom the bare speedlight longer, to concentrate its light into a narrow beam, and the light in that narrow beam becomes stronger. Of course, you can also put a more narrow reflector on the studio light to concentrate its beam, and it also becomes stronger. When covering a similar area, the B400 will always be twice as strong (one stop).

To get it right, studio is one set up and field is another set up.

What about like Quantoms flash guns, would that work?
Sorry, I have not used Quantum flashes. They can be stronger, as strong as the B400, but their price is not low.

Beyond Nikon/Cannon flashes there are no other strobes that work in TTL mode,
Is that correct?
There are some other brands of speedlights with models which claim compatibility with the Nikon iTTL system, in some degree. Some only on the hot shoe, some provide their own wireless system, and I think some claim compatibility with the Nikon Commander. I have not used those to know more. IMO, the question is "Why?". It seems not a main stream solution.

But in studio lights, yes, correct, all are manual, none are TTL.
 
Joined
May 8, 2005
Messages
4,638
Location
Orlando, FL
Probably the best combination of power and portability is the Elinchrom Quadra. Not a cheap solution, however, weighing in at $2,000+ for a 2-light set . . . but very cool. And no TTL of course.

In the end, there is a place for all systems discussed above - which is why I ended up owning most of them . . . Portability and (sometimes) TTL are great, but often there is no substitute for power. You can create that by adding more Speedlights but this gets expensive in a hurry. I like my Quantum for its quality of light and the additional stop of power it gives me over the SB800/900, but I am more and more turning to the PCB Einstein (640 w/s) and their new Mini-Lithium battery pack for outdoor location work.
 
Joined
Feb 6, 2009
Messages
818
Location
Texas!
Based on positive first-hand experience, I've repeatedly recommended the Metz brand of shoe-mount strobes. The 48-50 units are approximately equivalent to the Nikon SB-600/700, and the 58 is, imo, an "SB-800 on steroids."

They are highly compatible with the Nikon iTTL system; the 48 & 50 as a remote, and the 58 as a commander and remote. Metz strobes are high-quality, durable, and cost effective.

Having said that, if I were buying from scratch in today's market, the PCB Einsteins would by my choice for value in new electronic flash lighting, and if I were choosing between _any_ shoe-mount i-TTL flash and the Einsteins, these AC-powered units would win hands-down. If you need light off the grid, add one or more Vagabonds. The only exception (for me) would be event photography requiring on-camera flash - then I'd go with the Metz unit(s).

btw, I have no affiliation (other than as a satisfied customer) with any mfr mentioned above.
 
Joined
Sep 4, 2009
Messages
108
Location
Illinois
Sorry for not hanging around here for a whie, got busy at work.

I can see there is no real happy middle road with lights. Looks like studio is studio and event shooting is portability. This also explains why most have closets full of lights.

There are systems which fit my bill but at this point I am not ready to dump few thousand dollars just for heads, but on the other hand I am not also willing to go with the cheapest, been there, done it and I know the long term price.

I am thinking of Einstens or White Lighting, they also supply light modifiers.
If I do go with one of the above, how do I make sure that light modifiers made by other major brands will fit?

Cheers,
Chris
 
Joined
Apr 3, 2006
Messages
5,608
Location
Texas
If I do go with one of the above, how do I make sure that light modifiers made by other major brands will fit?
Not a trivial problem. You will need a speed ring to fit the light's mounting, which will accept the other softbox.

A speed ring is the adapter between softbox and and light. It is also the building foundation base of the softbox - the softbox is assembled on it, but it has to fit the light too.

For effect, here is the concept of speedrings:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/buy/Speed-Rings/ci/1381/N/4289244476

For effect, here is a Photoflex chart of their speed rings to fit their softboxes to various brands of lights. Their softboxes are sold without a speed ring, but a speed ring is necessary.
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/FrameWork/charts/photoflexStrobe.html


Alienbees/White Lightning include their own speed ring with all of their modifiers. They also used to list the speed ring separately too, for $35, to be used for other brands of softboxes (on their lights). It seems to have disappeared now... Bewilders me... Perhaps because they only sell the folding softboxes now, perhaps speed rings are no longer interchangeable ?? Probably true that anyone buying Alienbees softboxes are using Alienbees lights... Still, I would expect them to continue to make the speed ring be available, for other uses.

Umbrellas don't need speed rings. However, umbrella shaft diameter can be a factor, for example, Elinchrom uses 7mm and all others use 8mm shaft diameter.
 
Joined
Apr 19, 2007
Messages
1,747
Location
San Diego
Forget TTL mode, shoot in manual and free your self from expensive flashes that over heat, lack power, and take forever to recycle. It is nice to have a SB800 or 2. But that is where it should end.
 
Joined
Mar 31, 2007
Messages
792
Location
Middle Tennessee
I think it is kinda like buying tools for the tool box.

Snap-on has items that are EXTREMELY expensive, but only they will get the specific
job done, other wise you have to modify something to make do...

And then you have to replace what you modified.
Then you find the one you modified is not as good. and you spent the tool
price twice, where as the snap-on would have saved you time, trouble and
money!

(For example, the 36MM socket and long 3/4 drive breakover bar to use on
the gland nut of a Volkswagen beetle engine. Very expensive, but never
broken. Several DIY things got trashed before I bought the Snap-on items!)

I say all of that to illustrate that you should get the right tool for the job,
period.

I do not feel it is right for me to tell you what to do or which system to buy.

Most of us start small and grow from there. I sure did, and it has taken
several years to get my kit together.

I was once told that one needs to know "exactly" how each item they have
behaves and what they will do before adding additional items.

I try to follow that advice, but I find I am always wanting something new.

So, I would say to you, "Start somewhere & grow from there!"

I personally have an entire hive of (6) Alienbee's, modifiers, and
Speedlights.

Each system does exactly what I need it to do. And I am comfortable
enough with my kit, to know which to use at any given scene, and also
have learned how to make each system work best for what I need to
return with. I trust that makes sense?

Here are a couple of examples of the different systems in action...

SB600 into a 42 inch silvered umbrella, I added a little vignette in post...
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

DRB_6191_1
by danbroadrick, on Flickr

And here is one with an AB1600 into a AB 86 inch PLM Umbrella...
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

DRB_2278 by danbroadrick, on Flickr

PLEASE check out some of my other images on FlickR for more examples.
 
Joined
Oct 17, 2007
Messages
23,982
Location
Orland Park, Illinois
I recently purchased some Einsteins. I think they will offer a versatile solution for my flash needs.

They are suitable for a studio set up. But, I also bought the Vagabond Mini battery so that I can use the Einsteins anywhere.

I can also have an assistant hold an Einstein at the end of a stick (paint pole with Kacey adapter), and that allows me to shoot outdoors with the Vagabond.

Glenn
 
Joined
May 8, 2005
Messages
4,638
Location
Orlando, FL
The Einstein-Vagabond Mini combo is an excellent solution for location photography. I have a PocketWizard MC2 inbound which will enable me to change the Einstein's power levels from the camera position, which will really help for location work.
 
Joined
Oct 17, 2007
Messages
23,982
Location
Orland Park, Illinois
The Einstein-Vagabond Mini combo is an excellent solution for location photography. I have a PocketWizard MC2 inbound which will enable me to change the Einstein's power levels from the camera position, which will really help for location work.
I went with the Cyber Commander which allows me to adjust power levels from the camera as well as take meter readings of each light individually when the unit is removed from the camera. I've been very pleased with the ease and accuracy if the system.

Glenn
 
Joined
Jan 14, 2011
Messages
141
Location
Shepherdsturd, WV
Bees & a power source could be your best option.

3 x B800 = $840
Innovatronix Tronix Explorer XT = $430

That's $1270 for three lights and a battery. The SB-900 is $510 on B&H, so it would cost $1530 for three. The Bees would give you a more powerful light and an on location shooting solution for when you don't have an outlet.

After using both the Vagabond II and the Tronix Explorer, I went with the Tronix. It's a little more expensive, but it's built better, imo, and it's s sturdier solution.
 
Joined
Jan 25, 2009
Messages
1,496
Forget TTL mode, shoot in manual and free your self from expensive flashes that over heat, lack power, and take forever to recycle. It is nice to have a SB800 or 2. But that is where it should end.
I'll agree with this. I have several TTL shoe mounts (SB-800), the Quantum system, and a studio head and pack system. When I'm outside, in a dynamic situation (when I have a helper holding the shoe-mount on a monopod), I almost use manual power settings because of the consistency of exposures.

I would get the Bees (and their inverter power source), and really learn how to uses them.
 
Joined
Apr 19, 2007
Messages
1,747
Location
San Diego
I went with the Cyber Commander which allows me to adjust power levels from the camera as well as take meter readings of each light individually when the unit is removed from the camera. I've been very pleased with the ease and accuracy if the system.

Glenn
Glenn that sounds like a sweet setup, I feel like I'm in ice ages with my x1600's on C-Stand / boom. I need to lower the boom to change power settings. I thought about adding a third light but for now I gave up on the idea. I did order the Mini last week, I'm looking forward to it. I did read that a new power pack is coming out to replace the more powerful Vagabond II.
 
Joined
May 8, 2005
Messages
4,638
Location
Orlando, FL
Just got the Pocketwizard Power MC2. It is VERY cool. Remote power control of the Einstein over 10 stops via your camera's exposure compensation. Very clever!
 
Joined
Apr 19, 2007
Messages
1,747
Location
San Diego
I'll agree with this. I have several TTL shoe mounts (SB-800), the Quantum system, and a studio head and pack system. When I'm outside, in a dynamic situation (when I have a helper holding the shoe-mount on a monopod), I almost use manual power settings because of the consistency of exposures.

I would get the Bees (and their inverter power source), and really learn how to uses them.
For outside work I know only use 1 light, x1600 and power pack with a beauty dish and perhaps a 30 degree grid. At my house I use 2 lights and a reflector. I do have 2 SB800's which I only use during dusk on a 24" softbox and the other with Honel grid, that is If I want to travel light or at any events. The x1600 can over power the sun at Noon and I can also drop it to 1/4 power for inside work with out worrying about colour shifts that Alien Bees supposedly are plagued with. The other thing that I like about White Lightning line is they are super sturdy, they are made out of metal. I think the extra $ are justified for the added features and built.
 
Joined
Sep 4, 2009
Messages
108
Location
Illinois
Thanks for all of your replies,
Ok, for studio type and then some I am thinking of 2 x x800 or 2 x x1600 or 1 of each.

But now I have a comment and a question.
We all know all OEM promote their primary products but in many cases they also promote and sell other accessories that perhaps are not always that good. By nature I like to stay with one, am not a big fan of mixing, matching, workarounds and re inventing. I do know at times there is no other option but that.

So for x1600 or x800 do I consider their line of modifiers or do I look at co like Lastolite, Wescott and others.

Cheers,
Chris
 
Links on this page may be to our affiliates. Sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
Nikon Cafe is a fan site and not associated with Nikon Corporation.
Forum post reactions by Twemoji: https://github.com/twitter/twemoji
Copyright © 2005-2019 Amin Forums, LLC
Top Bottom