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FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
Thread started 15 Dec 2017 (Friday) 18:33
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New Home Studio Advice?

 
Aks6674
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Dec 15, 2017 18:33 |  #1

Here's a familiar story: I'm setting up a small studio in big spare room, and getting into strobes for the first time. I'd like to avoid the 'tripod experience' that we've all had (buy cheap, break; buy better, find unsatisfying; buy Gitzo). With strobes, I'd rather just get something good enough and tough enough to start with.

That said, I can't afford both good AND new, so I'm probably going to be looking for some good second hand units. I'm seeing lots of budget strobes, a few way out of my price range, and somewhere closer to my budget I'm finding Alien Bees.

Anyone out there who's already done the cheap stuff, and now settled on something they like? Any advice is welcome.

Cheers!

Aaron




  
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simonbarker
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Dec 15, 2017 20:02 |  #2

The level of equipment does not matter, someone will want to get rid of it at some point but that's not much use if you need a specific piece of equipment quickly.

That being said, if your needs are modest then you can pretty much buy any major brand's products made in the last 15 years and be absolutely fine with it. Be it Bowens, Elinchrom, PCB, Hensel, Profoto, Broncolor, Godox or whoever.

So it's best to first establish what you actually need, I'm guessing you'll probably be fine with anything around 200-300Ws but what do you intend to shoot?




  
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Aks6674
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Dec 15, 2017 20:29 |  #3

Portraits, kids, and newborns to start. I'm expecting to do some outdoor stuff as well, but thinking I can get by with available light there for the most part - just concentrating on the indoors for now.




  
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MalVeauX
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Dec 15, 2017 20:38 |  #4

Heya,

On a budget, and wanting some good equipment, I'd look at Flashpoint Studio Series. Good quality, good consistency, inexpensive but powerful and again very decent lights for the money. Has built in R2 communication receiver, and optical slave. Get the Flashpoint rebrand so that you have warranty & support.

https://www.adorama.co​m/fplfs400b.html (external link)

Get some decent heavy duty boom capable light stands. I like the Cheetah Boom series for an inexpensive but good quality boom light stand.

Then consider some nice larger modifiers that are simple, like big umbrellas, or brolly boxes (48~60").

Play, practice and learn a while.

Very best,


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Aks6674
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Dec 16, 2017 05:47 |  #5

Thanks so much for taking the time to post, guys - I really appreciate it. I'm intrigued by those FP units - not seeing that kind of power for that price point anywhere else.

If you don't mind weighing in on this, it looks like I can get a pair of PCB 800s for @ 400 used but in great shape, or a pair of comparable power FP for about 200 new. I'd love to spend half the money, but am I getting what I pay for here?




  
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dmward
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Dec 16, 2017 08:41 |  #6

Aks6674 wrote in post #18519075 (external link)
Thanks so much for taking the time to post, guys - I really appreciate it. I'm intrigued by those FP units - not seeing that kind of power for that price point anywhere else.

If you don't mind weighing in on this, it looks like I can get a pair of PCB 800s for @ 400 used but in great shape, or a pair of comparable power FP for about 200 new. I'd love to spend half the money, but am I getting what I pay for here?

I've used AB lights in the past and they are great. The original ABs are voltage controlled power which impacts color and duration when shooting.

I've moved to the Godox (Adorama and Cheetahstand rebranded) battery powered lights and they are certainly comparable to AB. The only caveat to that is AB service for repairs.

If I were starting from scratch, I'd select a lighting system that offers on camera power control, option for battery and mains power units, option for TTL and a range of power offerings.

At the moment, based on my research and experience, that limits things to Godox and a couple of others. Godox being the most economical.

For home studio I'd get the AC units and the supplement them with battery units for outdoors.


David | Sharing my Insights, Knowledge & Experience (external link) | dmwfotos website (external link)

  
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Angmo
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Dec 16, 2017 09:31 |  #7

I’d avoid integrated battery units. Proprietary modular batteries are very expensive. They make pure profit off you.

I use Elinchrom Strobes. 8 of them. I use Paul C Buff VLX Battery inverters to get AC power outdoors. They will drive 2000 or 3000 ws (3 strobes per battery).

I do have one Eli battery pack. Way more expensive than a strobe and Buff Battery.

The *RX & ELC models and beyond are easily controllable from the new Skyport HS trigger or even an iPhone.


Nikons, Rolleiflexes, Elinchroms, Billinghams

  
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bobbyz
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Dec 16, 2017 10:42 |  #8

Make sure whatever you buy that it goes low enough in power. Indoors for what you need to shoot, you don't need that much power. 200ws is more than enough IMHO. AC powered is better but if you plan to shoot outdoors, having a battery option is also quite nice. I think PB VML works with other strobes also besides Alien Bees. I started with AB400s and AB800s and they worked quite nice for me. Mine were not bad even at very low power settings though WB did change. Einsteins were better in everything. Last yr I moved to Godox and I like them. I have Elinchroms monolights and I didn't see the benefits for the cost. Mount is not that great as made out to be, strobes still died over use and this is only indoors. They don't go low enough in the studio so I have to stick ND filters. I would prefer Profotos over Elinchrom.


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Angmo
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Post edited 4 months ago by Angmo.
     
Dec 16, 2017 12:41 |  #9

bobbyz wrote in post #18519235 (external link)
Make sure whatever you buy that it goes low enough in power. Indoors for what you need to shoot, you don't need that much power. 200ws is more than enough IMHO. AC powered is better but if you plan to shoot outdoors, having a battery option is also quite nice. I think PB VML works with other strobes also besides Alien Bees. I started with AB400s and AB800s and they worked quite nice for me. Mine were not bad even at very low power settings though WB did change. Einsteins were better in everything. Last yr I moved to Godox and I like them. I have Elinchroms monolights and I didn't see the benefits for the cost. Mount is not that great as made out to be, strobes still died over use and this is only indoors. They don't go low enough in the studio so I have to stick ND filters. I would prefer Profotos over Elinchrom.

I’ve had my Eli’s a long time. Some over 20 years. No failures, no issues. No breaks or repairs. Inside and on location. Never had an issue with the mounts. Third party mount adapters can be an issue though. But that’s not on Elinchrom though. Love the Modifiers. Profotos has an enclosed bulb which can preclude using some modifiers.

So everyone’s mileage varies. Something for everyone though. I do see the major manufacturers falling behind in features. But I shoot manual to get exactly the same exposures which rules out using TTL.

I do enjoy the new Eli Skyport HS Trigger. I’ve always hated those crappy old Skyport triggers. The new one, I can shoot HS out to 1/8000 depending on on the strobe. At least I don’t need to go out and spend dosh on a new strobe to go beyond 1/200 sync speeds. Now I just ignore sync and enjoy the day.

The strobe feature of the ELCs is cool along with group strobing of multiple strobes. I rarely use that though.


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simonbarker
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Dec 16, 2017 13:19 |  #10

bobbyz wrote in post #18519235 (external link)
Mount is not that great as made out to be

It's not a great mount but neither is it awful, I'd put Bowens above it and Profoto above either but in my experience it's only really been important when using a large or heavy modifier and in every other case you'll manage with whatever you have.

bobbyz wrote in post #18519235 (external link)
strobes still died over use and this is only indoors.

Random failures are random, this isn't something you should hold against any brand unless it's a design flaw to that range which I don't believe to be the case with anything Elinchrom has put out (that I'm aware of anyway).

bobbyz wrote in post #18519235 (external link)
They don't go low enough in the studio so I have to stick ND filters. I would prefer Profotos over Elinchrom.

Which models are you talking about? A D-lite RX 2 is 12-200 Ws, a Pro ELC HD is 7-500 Ws and a Profoto D1 500 is 8-500 Ws. A used D1 will cost you about as much as a Pro ELC HD but I wouldn't recommend them as a starting point because their performance carries a very high price tag.




  
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MalVeauX
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Dec 16, 2017 13:24 |  #11

Aks6674 wrote in post #18519075 (external link)
Thanks so much for taking the time to post, guys - I really appreciate it. I'm intrigued by those FP units - not seeing that kind of power for that price point anywhere else.

If you don't mind weighing in on this, it looks like I can get a pair of PCB 800s for @ 400 used but in great shape, or a pair of comparable power FP for about 200 new. I'd love to spend half the money, but am I getting what I pay for here?

The Flashpoint stuff is Godox rebrands, and the warranty/service is done state-side through Adorama. I'd get new ones over some used PCB anything. Plus the Flashpoints are Bowen's mount, universal. The PCB lights are going to be AB's mount, or umbrella, without adapting speedrings. Just another hastle. The AB's are a pretty old system. The new Flashpoints use R2 communication so you can have instant and easy wireless communication from the controller on your camera, no extra stuff, just simple and works great. Cheaper. Really good. Modeling lights, good controls, R2 and optical slave triggering. Universal bowen's mount. Just really great for the cost.

Very best,


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Aks6674
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Dec 16, 2017 14:44 as a reply to  @ MalVeauX's post |  #12

Thanks MalVeauX. One quick question on the FP link you posted earlier - it's a 400Ws light, and only gets down to 1/16th. For mostly indoor work, do you think it will be a problem?




  
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Lotto
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Dec 16, 2017 16:42 |  #13

I have that FP Studio 400 R2. With a double diffused softbox at 4 ft, iso100, I got about F4.5 with the strobe. So no problem for the typical studio settings, F5.6-F8 for portraits, and F11-13 for product shots.

To shoot at F2.8, I could move the strobe back a bit, or add another layer of diffusion.

For the F1.4 prime lens, I use other lights with HSS.


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MalVeauX
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Post edited 4 months ago by MalVeauX.
     
Dec 16, 2017 16:55 |  #14

Aks6674 wrote in post #18519411 (external link)
Thanks MalVeauX. One quick question on the FP link you posted earlier - it's a 400Ws light, and only gets down to 1/16th. For mostly indoor work, do you think it will be a problem?

Nope, you will not be shooting at F1.4 indoors. You'll probably be at F5.6~F8? And at base ISO. You'll find you need more power to fill a large modifier and power up through F8 at sync speeds. Especially with any distance between your modifier and your subject(s). You can always stop down the light by adding diffuser material to your modifier. It's easier to stop down light than it is to buy a 2nd light when you find out you don't have enough power for a project.

Something else to think about, the 400Ws is that at full power. It's output is lower as you drop the power down. At 1/2 power it's comparable to a 200Ws at full power. At 1/4 power is comparable to a 100ws at full power. At 1/8 power its comparable to a speedlite at full power. At 1/16 power, it's comparable to a speedlite at 1/2 power. Not exactly, but you get the idea. That output through a modifier will be even lower. Especially at F8 or F11 even. Mean while, if you only had a speedlite, or a lower power strobe, you'd be struggling at full power to have control and latitude with your exposure potential relative to distance to subject. Get the strongest output light you can. You can stop it down with material and modifiers. You cannot however crank up the power on something limited. I'd even argue for 600Ws, but the 400Ws is excellent for it's power/price ratio with R2 communication.

Very best,


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Angmo
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Dec 16, 2017 17:19 |  #15

MalVeauX wrote in post #18519530 (external link)
Nope, you will not be shooting at F1.4 indoors. You'll probably be at F5.6~F8? And at base ISO. You'll find you need more power to fill a large modifier and power up through F8 at sync speeds. Especially with any distance between your modifier and your subject(s). You can always stop down the light by adding diffuser material to your modifier. It's easier to stop down light than it is to buy a 2nd light when you find out you don't have enough power for a project.

Something else to think about, the 400Ws is that at full power. It's output is lower as you drop the power down. At 1/2 power it's comparable to a 200Ws at full power. At 1/4 power is comparable to a 100ws at full power. At 1/8 power its comparable to a speedlite at full power. At 1/16 power, it's comparable to a speedlite at 1/2 power. Not exactly, but you get the idea. That output through a modifier will be even lower. Especially at F8 or F11 even. Mean while, if you only had a speedlite, or a lower power strobe, you'd be struggling at full power to have control and latitude with your exposure potential relative to distance to subject. Get the strongest output light you can. You can stop it down with material and modifiers. You cannot however crank up the power on something limited. I'd even argue for 600Ws, but the 400Ws is excellent for it's power/price ratio with R2 communication.

Very best,

To gain shallow dof in studio, I do shoot 1.4-4.0 using HS. Outside’s not the only place.

My strobes in studio range between 550 to 1,100ws. No issues lowering strobe power even exposing normally 1/200 f8.

Old strobes didn’t have the range. New ones work just fine.


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