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Woo! Help me spend $! (need opinions on light setups)

Discussion in 'General flash photography, lighting, and technique' started by Merkin, Jul 27, 2009.

  1. Merkin

    Merkin Guest

    Hello all, I am weighing the pros and cons of three options for a lighting setup. I am planning on purchasing three lights (stands, umbrellas, etc are a given), and I am trying to decide between the following setups:

    3 Alien Bees studio strobes, with a power pack for use outside

    1 SB 900, 2 SB 600s

    3 Vivitar Zoom Thyristors

    I am looking for a good balance between indoor use and outdoor use. At the moment, I will be doing more outdoor stuff, but as time goes on, I will be doing more indoor work. Regardless of which direction I go, I plan on using a radio trigger at least from my camera to my main flash. I know the Bees would be a pain to set up outside and aren't nearly as versatile, but they would be much better for indoor stuff down the road. I like the On-Camera control over the Nikons, but they are quite expensive, especially when you factor in the cost of non-rechargeable batteries. The Vivitars are pretty much the cheap and cheerful option. Is there any way to power the Vivitars on AC power when you are inside? As far as I know, this can't be done with the Nikons.

    What are your thoughts? Go with the most powerful option (the Bees)? The most convenient to operate option (the Nikons?) The cheapest option (the Vivitars)? Why?

    Thanks in advance for your time and advice.

    ETA: Also, is there any reason why you can't mix optical slave triggers and radio triggers, i.e. controlling your main with a radio trigger and then just using optical slaves for the other flashes?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2009
  2. IsamuM

    IsamuM Not-quite- Moderator

    Jan 11, 2009
    Tokyo, Japan
    You don't mention how much you want to spend :smile: , but you might find Elinchrom's new Ranger Quadra interesting since it is made for both indoor and outdoor use. The video on the following page will give you a bit more information on the capabilities:


    The above set includes a radio trigger and controls, but if you insist on three lights, then you'll have to pick up another flash head and battery pack which will probably bring you to over $3000.

    This should be very possible indoors, but optical slaves become problematic in sunshine.
  3. timataeo

    timataeo Guest

    just my 2 cents. I would go alien bee and pocket wizards.
  4. Wileec

    Wileec Guest

    I have a mix of Aliens and Nikon speedlights, with radio triggers for both from Alien Bee. It gives me plenty of options - for inside and outside. Nikon CLS is okay for smaller inside shoots, but can be less reliable outside, as has already been pointed out. Also, depending on what you are trying to use the light for, outside, natural light can be a lot to compete with, so though the Bees may be more hassle to setup, they may also have the juice you need. You didn't state what you are going to be using them for, so it's tough to provide more direct comment.
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