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FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
Thread started 08 Aug 2005 (Monday) 19:24
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Alien Bees vs Cheap-O- Britek Strobes

 
MadMesh
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Aug 08, 2005 19:24 |  #1
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After hours of researching strobe kits and systems... I was almost hell bent on getting a cheap set of Britek strobes from ebay. Even the people who have already purchased them, said they like them a lot and they worked well.





Im seeing only a moderate price difference between the 2 brands. And from what i hear, Alien Bees are a very "decent" brand. They also have more f/stop range, im guess this is a important feature when it comes to doing different effects with lighting and tuning to the light meter.





What i wanted to know, is i see SOO many different brand strobes on B&H, what are some other brands to give consideration to? What do the Pros use? Whats hot and whats NOT. What made me look at Alien Bees a little closer is the nice Radio Slave Kits they offer, everything is tunable from 1 cental remote, i found that very useful. (for things like events of weddings, where the venue needs to be strobed)



I see price ranges from like 1000 to 200 per strobe. Id really like some help from someone who knows monolights / strobes.





Another thing, What would 1 recommend as far as watt/seconds power for portrait photography and for photographing groups of about 5 people? Maby even going up to groups of about 7-8 people.

I know its always good to have a bigger strobe, since you can always turn DOWN the power... But i dont want to over do it if i dont have to =)

Strobes will also be used for product photography, people (portrait and family picts), along with anything else i can find a use for.

I appreicate you guys taking the time to look at my post, ill be looking foward to hearing from you.

MadMesh


Canon 20D w/ 18-55 Lens Kit, 6 gigs CF Cards
580ex & 420ex Flash, tripod, Canon case, tripod, various filters
Canon ELAN 7 & 14mm L Prime for Landscapes
50mm f/1.8, 70-200 IS L,
Canon White EF-S 10-22 L
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tim
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Aug 08, 2005 19:31 |  #2

Profoto's are meant to be about the best around, but the price reflects that. AlienBees are widely recommended here and on FM as great first strobes, and may be all you'll even need.


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MadMesh
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Aug 08, 2005 19:57 |  #3
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What about watt seconds in power for my application?

Any other brand recomendations Tim? Also, what about good radio slave devices and a good light meter to pair up with my 20D? (I do use the intermal meter in the camera for the bulk of my shots, but i know i NEED a meter for a strobe setup.)


Canon 20D w/ 18-55 Lens Kit, 6 gigs CF Cards
580ex & 420ex Flash, tripod, Canon case, tripod, various filters
Canon ELAN 7 & 14mm L Prime for Landscapes
50mm f/1.8, 70-200 IS L,
Canon White EF-S 10-22 L
IBM T40 Thinkpad
Apple Power Mac G5 w/ Photoshop CS, 2 Gigs Ram, 600 GIGs Storage, and a 20.1" Widescreen LCD to help thoes 8 megapixels shine. :evil:
1000 Gigs Rackmounted RAID server storage comming soon.

  
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SkipD
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Aug 08, 2005 20:12 |  #4

MadMesh - regarding the power level, how do you imagine using the flash units? That's rather important information to use in the decision making process. Small studio situations only? On-location with significant flash-to-subject distances (large group photos, for example)? Outdoors for fill? Large interior building shots?

As a minimum based on your first post, I would recommend a pair of the AlienBees B800 units. If you have thoughts of using them outdoors or for broader more distant coverage such as a class photo, I would go with B1600's.

There are also different diffusion accessories that you will want for the various types of uses such as umbrellas (of many designs) and softboxes (also with many different designs). I find that umbrellas (45" and 60" white, with removable black outer shells) work for most of what I do, though I want to get some softboxes in the future.

Good quality light stands are important. I don't think my Smith-Victor stands, though good for lightweight stands, will be appropriate for large softboxes.

There are many types of light modifiers that you might be interested in too - snoots, honeycomb grids, barndoors, reflectors, gels, filters, etc. All depends on what you need to do with the lighting.


Skip Douglas
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..... but still learning all the time.

  
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MadMesh
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Aug 08, 2005 23:04 |  #5
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It seems like a lot of people really recomend Alien Bees, It looks like they would also hold more resale value then the Britek brand. I was really looking for a cheap cheap set of strobes, but i think i have to re-think what im doing here =)

How important is the actual output level (in f/stops.. like the 1/32, 1/4th) adjustments. Why not just shoot each strobe at full power and meter accordingly?


Canon 20D w/ 18-55 Lens Kit, 6 gigs CF Cards
580ex & 420ex Flash, tripod, Canon case, tripod, various filters
Canon ELAN 7 & 14mm L Prime for Landscapes
50mm f/1.8, 70-200 IS L,
Canon White EF-S 10-22 L
IBM T40 Thinkpad
Apple Power Mac G5 w/ Photoshop CS, 2 Gigs Ram, 600 GIGs Storage, and a 20.1" Widescreen LCD to help thoes 8 megapixels shine. :evil:
1000 Gigs Rackmounted RAID server storage comming soon.

  
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tim
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Aug 08, 2005 23:21 as a reply to  @ MadMesh's post |  #6

MadMesh wrote:
Any other brand recomendations Tim? Also, what about good radio slave devices and a good light meter to pair up with my 20D? (I do use the intermal meter in the camera for the bulk of my shots, but i know i NEED a meter for a strobe setup.)

Trust me when I say you don't want my recommendations ;) There are people around here far more qualified to give advice than me.

Having said that, after doing a little research, for myself i'd buy 2-4 AlienBee 800s, some kind of a remote (not sure wired or wireless), and i've just purchased an Sekonic L358 meter.


Professional wedding photographer, solution architect and general technical guy with multiple Amazon Web Services certifications.
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MadMesh
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Aug 08, 2005 23:57 |  #7
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Sounds good guy, i think im convinced to spend the extra $$$ and buy the Alien Bees instead of the Britek brand off ebay.

Im also looking for different remote triggers, wireless or wired. Alien Bees has a nice wired remote for $100. You can connect 4 strobes with what looks like 4 wire phone cord.

The remote wireless version for 4 strobes is about $500. Id really like wireless, So im still looking for alternate options. Id still like to use a dedicated speedlight (580ex) with my strobe setup. (of course in manual mode)

So im going to need to make sure i can connect to wireless remote trigger along with my 580ex to my hotshoe. Im thinking of accomlishing this with a flash bracket.

Any idea how id hook all this crap up?


Canon 20D w/ 18-55 Lens Kit, 6 gigs CF Cards
580ex & 420ex Flash, tripod, Canon case, tripod, various filters
Canon ELAN 7 & 14mm L Prime for Landscapes
50mm f/1.8, 70-200 IS L,
Canon White EF-S 10-22 L
IBM T40 Thinkpad
Apple Power Mac G5 w/ Photoshop CS, 2 Gigs Ram, 600 GIGs Storage, and a 20.1" Widescreen LCD to help thoes 8 megapixels shine. :evil:
1000 Gigs Rackmounted RAID server storage comming soon.

  
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MadMesh
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Aug 08, 2005 23:59 |  #8
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Tim, do you do a lot of Master/Slave with your flash units? I see you have a 580 and a 550.

Are you also planning on using thoes Speedlights with your strobe setup?


Canon 20D w/ 18-55 Lens Kit, 6 gigs CF Cards
580ex & 420ex Flash, tripod, Canon case, tripod, various filters
Canon ELAN 7 & 14mm L Prime for Landscapes
50mm f/1.8, 70-200 IS L,
Canon White EF-S 10-22 L
IBM T40 Thinkpad
Apple Power Mac G5 w/ Photoshop CS, 2 Gigs Ram, 600 GIGs Storage, and a 20.1" Widescreen LCD to help thoes 8 megapixels shine. :evil:
1000 Gigs Rackmounted RAID server storage comming soon.

  
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Goondockjeff
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Aug 09, 2005 00:11 |  #9

I cant really speak for the other brands, as other than continuous lighting, the Bees are the only light I have owned. I run 2 b800's and one b400. Cant say one bad thing about them. Worth every penny of the $1400 I spent on them and the accessories I chose.


Canon 5d Mark II

  
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MadMesh
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Aug 09, 2005 00:24 |  #10
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Whats your typical application? Any outdoor shooting or realyl large objects like cars?

I have no idea if i should get the 800s or the bigger ones =/


Canon 20D w/ 18-55 Lens Kit, 6 gigs CF Cards
580ex & 420ex Flash, tripod, Canon case, tripod, various filters
Canon ELAN 7 & 14mm L Prime for Landscapes
50mm f/1.8, 70-200 IS L,
Canon White EF-S 10-22 L
IBM T40 Thinkpad
Apple Power Mac G5 w/ Photoshop CS, 2 Gigs Ram, 600 GIGs Storage, and a 20.1" Widescreen LCD to help thoes 8 megapixels shine. :evil:
1000 Gigs Rackmounted RAID server storage comming soon.

  
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Goondockjeff
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Aug 09, 2005 01:21 |  #11

The 800s, I have found, are more than I even need. Most cases I get away with just a 400 for fill and an 800 for primary when doing portraits. Works great for just about anything I would use it for. You can light up the entire front end of the average church with just two 800's when doing group shots too for weddings. If your doing cars, well, I would say ask forum member "Red" and his partner. They are working on a car/girl calender right now. If im not mistaken, in order to do the in the studio shots with the car and modle, they used more lights than yankee stadium! LOL.


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MadMesh
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Aug 09, 2005 03:24 |  #12
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good to hear!!! Thanks so much, I guess your right, instead of buying the bigger strobe, it might also be wise to have multiple small ones...

More lights and different angles.

Thanks!!!


Canon 20D w/ 18-55 Lens Kit, 6 gigs CF Cards
580ex & 420ex Flash, tripod, Canon case, tripod, various filters
Canon ELAN 7 & 14mm L Prime for Landscapes
50mm f/1.8, 70-200 IS L,
Canon White EF-S 10-22 L
IBM T40 Thinkpad
Apple Power Mac G5 w/ Photoshop CS, 2 Gigs Ram, 600 GIGs Storage, and a 20.1" Widescreen LCD to help thoes 8 megapixels shine. :evil:
1000 Gigs Rackmounted RAID server storage comming soon.

  
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tim
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Aug 09, 2005 05:11 as a reply to  @ MadMesh's post |  #13

MadMesh wrote:
Tim, do you do a lot of Master/Slave with your flash units? I see you have a 580 and a 550.

Are you also planning on using thoes Speedlights with your strobe setup?

I only got the 580 last night, so not so much yet ;) I might get an ST-E2, I want to have both flashes off camera.

I only used strobes for the first time an hour ago, I borrowed them from my club, but I love 'em. So much light, so much control. It's almost inevitable that I get some alienbees before too long. The only thing holding me back is that the only place I can use them is my lounge... and my flatmate doesn't really appreciate the rather bright flashing! It's almost inevitable though... plus shipping's really expensive - half as much as the cost of the lights :(


Professional wedding photographer, solution architect and general technical guy with multiple Amazon Web Services certifications.
Read all my FAQs (wedding, printing, lighting, books, etc)

  
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Gary_E
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Aug 09, 2005 05:19 as a reply to  @ MadMesh's post |  #14

MadMesh wrote:
The remote wireless version for 4 strobes is about $500. Id really like wireless, So im still looking for alternate options. Id still like to use a dedicated speedlight (580ex) with my strobe setup. (of course in manual mode)

if your units have a triggering device (mine do) that when one flash goes off all go off you can use pocket wizards and that would trigger one and any other flash that has a optical slave trigger.. you may even be able to find something aftermarket to trigger the little falshes if they dont have a built in optical slave.
you can also to a search on the net a find a wiring diagram to build one too..
thanks to scott berger for the heads up on the pocket wizards...


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Digital Rebel XT Canon 10-22, 17-40L, 50 1.4, 70-200, canon 580 ex, pocket wizard plus wirelss flash triggers , 4 bogen monolights, chromakey background and stands and a junky canon kit lens

  
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tim
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Aug 09, 2005 05:35 |  #15

Forgot to answer one of your question: no, I wouldn't plan to use the speedlights with the studio lights, though I can think of some situations where it might help. I'll most likely use a sync cord and rely on optical slaving in the other studio units, and perhaps do a little fill with the speedlights if I can't afford enough big strobes.


Professional wedding photographer, solution architect and general technical guy with multiple Amazon Web Services certifications.
Read all my FAQs (wedding, printing, lighting, books, etc)

  
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