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FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
Thread started 05 Apr 2012 (Thursday) 15:41
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New to Monos, need experienced advice

 
Pearlallica
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Apr 05, 2012 15:41 |  #1

I'm ready to throw in the towel on the idea of upgrading from a simple strobist speedlight system to a more powerful monolight system. I'm overwhelmed by the sheer amount of addons and costs to just get started. I need a little redirecting because my heads spinning .

I know that a nice, portable, monolight system will give me results that will help me stand out from the competition. That is what's keeping me attached to the idea still...

I feel really confident that the elinchrom ranger quadra is the right system for me (already own a full set of skyport receivers and a trigger).

I'm willing to part with $2k - maybe 2.5k.... cash.... maybe... but I'm afraid it won't be enough to get me started after all of the add-ons, tax, shipping.... :confused:

To stay in the budget, I'm liking the single battery/pack/S-Head combo instead of the two-light set. But if I'm doing lighting the pro route, I've got to add in a sekonic meter, right? It really doesn't help that there are SO many models at vastly different price points! :mad:

Then there is the matter of being outdoors, and being keen as to which light stand and modifier that can safely be used outdoors. (already victim to two falling stands/umbrellas resulting in two broken speedlights). Hate sandbags, but want a sturdy solution that won't result in embarrassment, non-professionalism and broken equipment.

I'm ready to go softbox, but I only want to bring ONE to weddings that can be universally used for several portrait scenarios. (I would likely purchase another light kit down the road when the budget loosened). I understand there are other pieces to the puzzle still, such as speed rings (did I even say that right?). Yeah, n00b here! :p

Just when I think that I've reached the end of the road, then I have to factor in a rolling bag, and some sort of storage/protection for the light/battery. Surely there are further items that I haven't considered as well...

I'm overwhelmed. If someone wants to help bring me down to earth that would be great. My cure for this head-spinning might be to pop for a new L prime and keeping playing the old speedlight game. But I really do want to crush the local competition and I know I'm going to have to 'grow up' eventually if I truly want to stand out.


jonathan @ tlcphoto.com (external link) - pro wedding and portrait photog
5d2 5d3 50L 16-35 70-200 ElinchromRX600 580EX 600EX VIV285

  
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Zansho
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Apr 05, 2012 16:06 |  #2

Stands - I'd look into some C-stands, with sandbags. Yes, they're heavier, but that's sort of the point. You want weight to keep your lights from falling over.

As for the light meter, it would certainly help. The histogram will help you in that regard as well, but in all honesty, a light meter is really one of the best tools for measuring light output.

As for what I use, and I considered many things before I started shopping for new lights to upgrade from a Calumet Genesis 300B, is I wanted speed, power, portability, and location use, and fairly easy to get modifiers. I eventually settled on Alien Bee Einsteins (3 of them) to go along with several vagabond minis. The modifiers I bought? Fotodiox Octoboxes, stripboxes, and 28inch beauty dish - all were under $100.00 each. The other thing I liked about the the Einstein is the fact I can freeze action with high speed sync using the TT1/TT5/AC9 combo from pocketwizard, and the digital back panel along with color consistency (they're NOT profoto level color consistency, but they're consistent 'enough').

I considered Dynalite Jackrabbits, Quadra, and a couple of other lights - most were just either too expensive, or just not portable enough. To give you an idea of how portable the Einstein is, this is me working out of my Think Tank Retrospective bag - housed one einstein, vagabond, 1D Mark IIN with a 24-70 2.8 attached, and cybersyncs. All I had to carry was the PLM, lightstand, and sandbag. ONE BAG.

IMAGE: http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7240/6882314468_4a764861d2_b.jpg

http://www.michaeljsam​aripa.com (external link) creating beautiful images for myself, my clients, and the world. Shooting with a mix of Canon, Fuji, and Sony.

  
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Pearlallica
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Apr 05, 2012 16:27 |  #3

Zansho wrote in post #14216045 (external link)
Before we can help you with that, what areas do you feel your speedlites aren't up to snuff that you want a strobe to do? Besides the obvious power difference, it seems you're somewhat still married to the idea of portability.

The obvious reason - yes, power. An especially important factor when shooting here in the north where you need to balance bright, snowy landscapes with shaded subjects, as an example.

And.. if I'd like to get into studio portraiture, I'd like to at least to base system like that from Elinchrom to build upon.

I think the dizzying array of modifiers, stands, and other accessories is what has me doubting if the costs will stack too high. I want, no, NEED, a quality and durable kit that will get me through the day and hold up to outdoor use while being usable in as many portrait scenarios as I can cram in. A sort of one-size-fits all solution which I can build on in the future.


jonathan @ tlcphoto.com (external link) - pro wedding and portrait photog
5d2 5d3 50L 16-35 70-200 ElinchromRX600 580EX 600EX VIV285

  
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Pearlallica
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Apr 05, 2012 16:59 |  #4

Thanks, Zansho, for the perspective!

(I fear my long-windedness may have kept the rest of the POTN crowd at length)

I'm glad you brought up the Einsteins because it was the first light I was considering. I'm not sure what to expect in terms of compatability with my skyports. PWs would just bloat my bill if using up to four lights (mixed with my speedlights when needed)

Would you say your octobox is top quality? I remember searching 'octobox' at B&H just two years ago and they sold just one for about 800 bucks. The prices and brands seem to be all over the place now. From your photo, they appear a little intimidating for wedding shoots without having an assistant.


jonathan @ tlcphoto.com (external link) - pro wedding and portrait photog
5d2 5d3 50L 16-35 70-200 ElinchromRX600 580EX 600EX VIV285

  
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Zansho
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Apr 05, 2012 17:22 |  #5

The Fotodiox Octoboxes are actually a pleasant surprise - they're not something you'd expect to withstand years and years of abuse, but for 50 bucks, I don't expect it to do so.

Here's a few examples of what I mean:

http://www.amazon.com …TF8&qid=1333664​290&sr=8-3 (external link)

http://www.amazon.com …TF8&qid=1333664​360&sr=8-2 (external link)

http://www.amazon.com …TF8&qid=1333664​396&sr=1-1 (external link)


For under 100 bucks each, they're almost disposable. Here's a review from a photographer who loves them, Kirk Tuck, and is a commercial photographer here in Austin - and he's well regarded.

http://visualsciencela​b.blogspot.com …diox-amazes-me-again.html (external link)


In all honesty, you can sell your skyports, and buy into the Alien Bees Cyber Commander (which allows you to control your lights from your camera) or just buy the Cybersync sets and trigger your lights that way.

As for what I have in my lights, it's a simple PLM umbrella - which is very very nice, as it folds down into an umbrella, but you can put a diffuser material over it to mimic a softbox, or you can open it out to create some really specular light. It's not intimidating at all, it's a GREAT modifier, and at like 60 bucks, it's CHEAP. My personal philosophy now is to be light, lean, and mean :D.

http://www.paulcbuff.c​om/plm.php (external link)


http://www.michaeljsam​aripa.com (external link) creating beautiful images for myself, my clients, and the world. Shooting with a mix of Canon, Fuji, and Sony.

  
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Pearlallica
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Apr 05, 2012 21:11 |  #6

awesome resources. thanks for putting the time into sharing these. Invaluable information that has certainly swayed my decision process and showed me real value can be had if you look in the right places.


jonathan @ tlcphoto.com (external link) - pro wedding and portrait photog
5d2 5d3 50L 16-35 70-200 ElinchromRX600 580EX 600EX VIV285

  
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K.C.
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Apr 05, 2012 23:01 |  #7

There are so many options on the market and many of them are very good. But if you ask the question you asked here where there are lot of fans of one particular brand it's pretty obvious that you're going to get the responses that you can read above my post.

Move to another forum, say one populated by people who make their entire living off photography, and you won't find the same recommendations. You will find a much broader range of suggestions.

It should be fairly obvious, go to the FORD forum and ask what car to buy, the recommendations will be predictable.

Just my opinion based on 30+ years working and teaching in the profession.




  
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SylvesterPotter
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Apr 06, 2012 12:43 |  #8

For simple shoots like the one below...I use PCB Large Octa on an Avenger C-stand, and an AB-800...and cybersync triggers...15lb sand bag....very simple set-up creates great results all the time...
I say start simple then build as you find-out what you need.

IMAGE: http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7146/6853747597_c601656876_b.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …lvesterpotter/6​853747597/  (external link)
Lauren Lane (external link) by Sylvester Potter (external link), on Flickr

www.SylvesterPotter.co​m (external link)

  
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Pearlallica
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Apr 10, 2012 17:14 |  #9

We recently purchased our first new truck - an F-150. I'm extremely biased now when it comes to vehicles, so I can appreciate the comparison. ;)

I recently bought into the hype of the newly released 5D3 and have put 99% of my chips towards a new 5D3 camera body. I'm just a short chip away from actually ordering. I've been playing with my strobes more than usual and I'm feeling that, though they are under-powered and recycle quite slowly, I will focus on more powerful lights next season. I think the choice for lights would be much easier if having a reliable, full time assistant were in the cards. Without that help, I feel they are just too cumbersome at the moment given the time restrictions and quick pace of wedding portraits.

I have certainly banked the information I've gathered by the helpful contributors of this thread and will certainly use it when I inevitably look at lights down the road. I wouldn't be surprised if go the Elinchrom route as it seems to feel like a good fit for me.

K.C. wrote in post #14217963 (external link)
There are so many options on the market and many of them are very good. But if you ask the question you asked here where there are lot of fans of one particular brand it's pretty obvious that you're going to get the responses that you can read above my post.

Move to another forum, say one populated by people who make their entire living off photography, and you won't find the same recommendations. You will find a much broader range of suggestions.

It should be fairly obvious, go to the FORD forum and ask what car to buy, the recommendations will be predictable.

Just my opinion based on 30+ years working and teaching in the profession.


jonathan @ tlcphoto.com (external link) - pro wedding and portrait photog
5d2 5d3 50L 16-35 70-200 ElinchromRX600 580EX 600EX VIV285

  
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Pearlallica
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Apr 10, 2012 17:16 |  #10

Extremely impressive results. That octa is blasting a lot of soft light. Looks like sunlight without the hard edges. Overall, a lovely portrait.

SylvesterPotter wrote in post #14220758 (external link)
For simple shoots like the one below...I use PCB Large Octa on an Avenger C-stand, and an AB-800...and cybersync triggers...15lb sand bag....very simple set-up creates great results all the time...
I say start simple then build as you find-out what you need.

QUOTED IMAGE
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …lvesterpotter/6​853747597/  (external link)
Lauren Lane (external link) by Sylvester Potter (external link), on Flickr


jonathan @ tlcphoto.com (external link) - pro wedding and portrait photog
5d2 5d3 50L 16-35 70-200 ElinchromRX600 580EX 600EX VIV285

  
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