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FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
Thread started 19 May 2018 (Saturday) 02:10
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/Finally/ buying a strobe - what to get?

 
TridenTBoy
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May 19, 2018 02:10 |  #1

Alright, I don't have specifics about what I am going to be shooting except that it'll be portraits. It could be a shot of a family (less common) or someone who wants to get a more model-esque headshot or more generic commercial headshots or some kind of full body profile shot. I think a large portion of these will be shot outdoors and using the flash to balance outdoor light since I can't be expected to hold up a some panel to diffuse light and also have a reflector to fill light in on the subject. Thus, a flash off camera.

Anyway, I'm thinking of getting some version of a Godox AD600. But now I'm trying to figure out what accessories to go with it like light stand, light modifiers, and whatever else I may need (such as gels?). Any suggestions? Softbox and beauty dish come to mind. Not sure of sizing or what kind I should get though. Thinking octobox instead of softbox but I don't know if the octobox is a better catch light. I guess it depends on personal preference since a softbox looks more like a window in terms of catchlight.




  
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sincity
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May 19, 2018 05:03 |  #2

People have certain preferences on boxes, so may I suggest borrowing a box from fellow photographer before committing. Every photographer have a stash of items that they don't use, so ask if you may use it.

As for must-haves... I would aim for a sturdy light stand, since you don't want the wind to catch it and knock it down. Some people may sandbag it, but tent stakes and a 550 cord works wonders as well.




  
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TridenTBoy
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May 19, 2018 23:41 |  #3

Any specifics on what brand or model of stands and such?




  
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Osa713
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Post edited 10 months ago by Osa713.
     
May 20, 2018 01:07 |  #4

C-stands are the best for outdoor and indoor use, the versatility is great for booming a light or using it the traditional way. Have a look at the flashpoint brand from Adorama, great value for the price.

As far as modifiers go this can be a rabbit hole, start very cheap with the godox
Brand of modifiers to figure out what suits your style best in terms of usability, construction and desired results; and then buy the upgraded version from manufacturers like glow or a step up Westcott.


LIGHT>LENS>BODY

  
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F2Bthere
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May 20, 2018 02:16 |  #5

It sounds like you plan to shoot outdoors without an assistant. Even a solid stand with sandbags can go over with less breeze than you might expect.

The suggestions about getting a solid stand are a good starting point. Solid means made of steel, not aluminum. Sandbags or staking down, as suggested, also a very good idea. C-stands work on flat ground. A c-stand with a moveable leg if terrain isn't flat. Some like wheels outdoors, others don't. If you like them, there are some solid options.

Umbrellas are the most like sails and to be avoided if you might face even a slight breeze with no assistant. Softboxes are better than umbrellas but still can be an issue with a breeze. Metal reflectors are more resistant.


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RPCrowe
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Post edited 10 months ago by RPCrowe. (5 edits in all)
     
May 20, 2018 10:32 |  #6

The Godox, Flashpoint, etc. (These are all the same just rebranded) line of lights and accessories is great because of the interchangeability and price point.

You will need a radio trigger. I use the Flashpoint X-1 Transmitter/Receiver with my AD360 TTL flash but, if I were to buy again, I would probably opt for the R2 pro unit...

https://www.amazon.com …ywords=r2+pro+t​ransmitter (external link)

A sturdy "C" stand is a necessity with sand bags to prevent blowing over in the wind. I would use pea gravel to fill the sandbags rather than sand. If the sand leaks, it can cause problems with your gear. Pea gravel would cause no such problems.

I am waiting for a Godox AD S-7 Beauty Dish/Octabox to arrive. I think that this might do very well for my outdoor portraiture with my AD360 TTL flash. However, you would want another unit for your 600 Flash.

https://www.amazon.com …ords=godox+s7+b​eauty+dish (external link)

There is always a need for compromise between the largest modifiers which produce the softest light and a smaller modifier which will have less of a chance of blowing over in the wind.

A folding reflector is an inexpensive accessory which might be handy to have for outdoor portraiture. There are many types on the market but, this is a pretty good compromise regarding size.

https://www.amazon.com …otography+refle​ctor&psc=1 (external link)

You can have an assistant hold the reflector or even have your subject hold it. Having the stand attached to he reflector is asking or it to b blown over in the slightest wind...


See my images at http://rpcrowe.smugmug​.com/ (external link)

  
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TridenTBoy
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May 20, 2018 13:46 |  #7

F2Bthere wrote in post #18628795 (external link)
It sounds like you plan to shoot outdoors without an assistant. Even a solid stand with sandbags can go over with less breeze than you might expect.

The suggestions about getting a solid stand are a good starting point. Solid means made of steel, not aluminum. Sandbags or staking down, as suggested, also a very good idea. C-stands work on flat ground. A c-stand with a moveable leg if terrain isn't flat. Some like wheels outdoors, others don't. If you like them, there are some solid options.

Umbrellas are the most like sails and to be avoided if you might face even a slight breeze with no assistant. Softboxes are better than umbrellas but still can be an issue with a breeze. Metal reflectors are more resistant.

Okay. I'll look into C-stands. Any suggestions on which to look at? It seems Matthews is the brand to beat. I get the appeal for a $150+ steel light stand but I am wondering if it's 100% necessary. I'll set a craigslist alert for "Matthews" in photog to see if I find any good deals but I am just wondering.

I'll always be traveling with this gear and so I'd like it to be relatively fast and easy to setup, teardown, and carry around.




  
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MalVeauX
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Post edited 10 months ago by MalVeauX.
     
May 20, 2018 15:55 |  #8

TridenTBoy wrote in post #18629100 (external link)
Okay. I'll look into C-stands. Any suggestions on which to look at? It seems Matthews is the brand to beat. I get the appeal for a $150+ steel light stand but I am wondering if it's 100% necessary. I'll set a craigslist alert for "Matthews" in photog to see if I find any good deals but I am just wondering.

I'll always be traveling with this gear and so I'd like it to be relatively fast and easy to setup, teardown, and carry around.

You're going to want a cart with wheels to haul stuff. It's heavy. It will get real heavy when you have to lug it. Work smart, not hard with this.

When using big modifiers outside with no assistant, stability will be more important than anything because a gust will send your light to the ground. It will happen, it's not if, it's just when. This will easily destroy a modifier, and could be deadly to your light(s). So while looking at an expensive, heavy, steel c-stand is a put off, remember, it's the life line between your stuff being where it should be, and laying on the ground. A 48"~60" octa, umbrealla, etc, will catch a ton of wind and it will go to the ground, even weighted down. They're literal wind sails. Some smaller modifiers will stand up better in wind, like reflectors and beauty dishes. You can weight it down and bungee it down. Whatever it takes to keep it stable. And this is where the cart comes in, to haul around rock-filled bags and a heavy steel stand.

Now, you can get away with non-c-stand tripod/boom stands. There are heavy duty ones. They're ok upright, but the moment you go off-axis or off-center with a modifier, the moment arm is really long and the amount of weight it's actually having to support, and torque, goes up a lot (think of it like a lever). This is why steel c-stands are used often, as they're far more rigid than a heavy duty "hollow aluminum" stand. Cheetah Boom has a great light but good strength tripod boom stand. I use one with a 6lb light no problem. But I bungee-stake that thing into the ground. And when I'm on a hard surface, I weight it down (I use bottles of water instead of rocks in bags). Still though, when I use my 60" softlighter II, it's a windsail, and even if it doesn't get gusted over, it will turn on axis sometimes and move my light direction in some good wind. I just use my 10" reflector or my 28" beauty dish when conditions don't allow my bigger softer light sources.

If you change your mind about the AD600, take a look at the AD200's instead. They're so flexible, simple, lighter weight, and still do the job as fill/blend/ETTL&HSS in full sun at close range. Get the 600WS AD600 if you need to beat down sun with more distance of course. But if you're not looking to do that specifically, the AD200's are excellent alternatives that are still more powerful than speedlites and give you some lighter/smaller options for portability and weight.

I do 90% of my portrait stuff outside in the elements. I of course started with big modifiers. Over time, I far more often am using smaller modifiers at close distance instead. I rarely have help or an assistant, so I have to keep it simple and far more durable. All too often I tear things up just moving things from A to Z for a session, because it's all soft and easy to break (modifiers). These days, as much as I love my 60"+ modifiers, they're just such a chore to use outside in the gentle breezes and so fragile compared to metal modifiers; so these days I love taking my all metal 10" reflector or all metal single-piece 28" beauty dish. They can take torture, and my session's lighting isn't over if it falls or if I drop it, or if I throw it in my trunk. I can't do the same kind of lighting as I can with my 60" softlighter or my 48" octa, but again, running around outside without an assistant with the weather against you, I'd rather not constantly fear when the lighting is going to hit the ground. Thing is, you can beat the sun and do gorgeous fill light with a smaller reflector (like a 10"~16"). Fill light is softer anyways. My favorite modifier is my 10" fireball. I can beat the sun at 12 feet with that on a 600Ws, and it still produces fairly soft light if I set it as fill.

So my suggestion is keep your stand heavy duty. Weigh it down big time. Move this stuff with a cart, no bags over your shoulders. And finally, instead of going for a wind sail, consider smaller durable modifiers that are more favorable to outdoor conditions; remember you're more often doing fill light for ambient+strobefill, you don't need the big modifiers to accomplish that. While a huge 60" looks super amazing soft as fill up close, you truly need someone to hold it, to be able to do it reliably and not just gamble the "when" for when it hits the ground in a gust.

Note, the Cheetah Boom I use is not "heavy duty." But, with smaller modifiers, it's a fast, light alternative to needing heavy big stands like c-stands. I don't recommend it over a c-stand. Just as another option depending on what direction you go.

+++++++++++++++
+++++++++++++++

Some examples:

The 60" Softlighter II on a Cheetah boom. This is a wind sail. But I love how soft it is. I just have it upright, close to the subject(s), it's big enough to cover a group, and I can still battle the sun with the 600Ws, especially as fill. With a big modifier, I can even be front of it and it's ok. Makes for getting close shots much easier. I have this weighted down with water bottles, but I also stayed right on it, because it would still hit the ground fast (and it tried several times). And I'm using a 35 F2 in their faces to be able to get very close to keep that modifier close and I was in front of the modifier, the light just spilled around me onto them as fill (people do this with huge 7 foot parabolics for the same reason). This is just not durable. I stopped using it outdoor unless I have mom as an assistant, because it will just be on the ground with a gust no matter what.

IMAGE: https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4528/24555040388_2a383bd283_c.jpg
IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/DpR1​2j  (external link) DSCF9044 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

But big and close gives you soft glow:

IMAGE: https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4545/38370335576_a4ca0f928a_c.jpg
IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/21sD​ZXW  (external link) IMG_9310 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

Here's a metal 28" beauty dish. I use this on a boom and also as a hand-held (which I just hold with a mono-stand as a fulcrum and angle it at close range). This can take a beating. I can drop it even. Granted, don't want to. But, it can take compression and dings in the trunk moving from place to place. It's not that heavy. It still is fairly large at 28" and can produce soft or hard light depending on how you use it. I like it for contrasty lighting style. And I can get close with it, and use a speedlite, and still battle the sun with ETTL & HSS at F1.2, not even needing a 600Ws:

IMAGE: https://farm1.staticflickr.com/961/26862130287_a9c4036e8e_c.jpg
IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/GVHr​tn  (external link) 20180426_193656 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

Results of filling up to sunset level ambient, with F1.2, ETTL & HSS from a mere speedlite in the beauty dish at close range:

IMAGE: https://farm1.staticflickr.com/971/40831445935_86f9d3c1a1_c.jpg
IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/25d8​Qka  (external link) DSCF8797 copy (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

And here's the 10" reflector. I like this thing. It's efficient and cheap, while still rather flexible. I can beat the sun at 12 feet with this, and my 600Ws. So I can work in nearly any light with it which is great. It has 65 degree spread, so I can get a group with it, or I can tighten it up and put a spot light on someone if I want. Or I can back it up and provide a fireball of fill, or key, in nearly any light. It handles wind no problem. I hoist this up with my 600Ws way up in the air on the Cheetah and I don't worry about wind. It just doesn't catch wind like big modifiers. But it still provides good lighting options on scene and it's so much easier to position, move, be portable, etc, while being durable.

IMAGE: https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4430/37154156392_f01d857fe5_c.jpg
IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/YBbL​gj  (external link) Setup_09192017 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

Dropped ambient, shot at full key exposure with the light from far away for that spotlight look.

IMAGE: https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4424/36488923724_1fe4439e28_c.jpg
IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/XApg​Ly  (external link) IMG_8437 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

Have fun!

Keep it simple!

Fooling with gear on location is bad for everyone.

Very best,

My Flickr (external link) :: My Astrobin (external link)

  
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F2Bthere
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May 20, 2018 19:14 |  #9

TridenTBoy wrote in post #18629100 (external link)
I get the appeal for a $150+ steel light stand but I am wondering if it's 100% necessary. I'll set a craigslist alert for "Matthews" in photog to see if I find any good deals but I am just wondering.

I'll always be traveling with this gear and so I'd like it to be relatively fast and easy to setup, teardown, and carry around.

Two observations:

1. C stands keep their value. It is hard to get a good deal used. But this also means you can get most of your money back. Aluminum stands are much harder to sell used :).

2. We have given you a strong suggestion to get heavy stands. Is it "100% necessary"? Of course not. Do what you want.

Some photographers use lighter stands outdoors. But most of them have someone to hold them. Of those who don't, most of them have lost a light or, worse, had it land on someone or something. Of those without that experience, it's just a matter of time. :)


C&C always welcomed...
On my images, of course, and on my words as well--as long as it's constructive :).
https://www.instagram.​com/storyinpictures_co​m/ (external link)

  
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owenegan
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May 21, 2018 01:32 as a reply to  @ MalVeauX's post |  #10

Thanks for the informative post.

Anyone have a cart recommendation?

Owen.




  
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May 21, 2018 04:33 |  #11

https://photography-on-the.net …/showthread.php​?p=8053972


Past Equipment | My Personal Gallery (external link) My Business Gallery (external link)

  
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simonbarker
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May 21, 2018 14:10 |  #12

F2Bthere wrote in post #18629258 (external link)
Two observations:

1. C stands keep their value. It is hard to get a good deal used. But this also means you can get most of your money back. Aluminum stands are much harder to sell used :).

2. We have given you a strong suggestion to get heavy stands. Is it "100% necessary"? Of course not. Do what you want.

Some photographers use lighter stands outdoors. But most of them have someone to hold them. Of those who don't, most of them have lost a light or, worse, had it land on someone or something. Of those without that experience, it's just a matter of time. :)

You'll lose more money on the C stand because it's so much more expensive, they'll last longer because they're sturdier and because they're so expensive there's a good market for them used but buy them because they're the right tool not because you're worried about resale.

For someone buying their first flash I would not recommend a c stand, makes perfect sense if they intend to add the appropriate grip equipment or for the added weight etc but for most use I'd aim more for something like a Manfrotto 004 but they're not exactly cheap these days either.




  
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sincity
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May 21, 2018 15:38 |  #13

Some more food for thought on the stands.. You can get away with lighter/cheaper stands if the strobe is lightweight. IE.. Shoe strobes on stands are light,since there isn't a lot of weight up on top versus a PCB WL3200X, which is similar to a brick on a stick. So you might have to gauge the stands against the system you intend to use..

Also one way to save money is to use those rolling luggage from the travel store versus getting a dedicated roller camera case.. https://fstoppers.com …0-rolling-camera-bag-3128 (external link) Or just modify an existing system for your lighting..

IMAGE: https://saycheese800.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/awp_9420-41031.jpg



  
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May 21, 2018 16:05 as a reply to  @ sincity's post |  #14

Is that a baby stroller for a strobe? First of its kind for sure.


LIGHT>LENS>BODY

  
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TridenTBoy
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Post edited 10 months ago by TridenTBoy.
     
May 21, 2018 22:47 |  #15

Alright. I'll look into steel stands. Probably a Matthews 10.5' stand. Double riser 40". Shiny steel. I'll see if I can get it on greentoe for a discount... Rather not pay $160 for a stand.

Btw, does the spring part really matter much? Air cushioned seemed useful but Matthews are spring or no spring. Seems most think spring isn't that useful.




  
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