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FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
Thread started 27 Sep 2016 (Tuesday) 16:28
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Help choosing first monolight setup

 
davidmtml
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Sep 27, 2016 16:28 |  #1

Hey all,

I've been in the wedding photography biz for about 5 years now. I shoot almost all natural light, with the exception of the reception which I usually light with two speedlights in opposite corners of the room. This setup has worked great for me over the years. I also have a few umbrellas and a softbox that I have used occassionally on my speedlights.

However, I've got a couple weddings coming up this winter that are going to be indoors and after dark. I am going to need to do a lot of my photos inside using external light sources. While I'm sure I could get by with the speedlights, I am wanting to get into a decent monolight setup as well. I would LIKE to spend under $1,000 (including at least one battery pack, light stands, and a few modifiers), but could go slightly over if needed. I know the Alienbees/Einsteins/Wh​ite Lightnings are all well regarded, but will certainly be at the very top of my budget. I have also looked a little at the Cowboy Studio and Flashpoint strobes as a lower cost option. Below are some of my requirements (I think).

1. Be able to overpower the sun if I so choose
2. Be able to trigger with my Yongnuo 622s.
3. Be able to use HSS using my 622s.
4. I have 4 lightstands, but I don't think any of them are up to the task of larger monolights/larger modifiers, so I would like some recommendations on the best deals for tough/affordable lightstands.

Thank you for your help!!




  
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MalVeauX
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Post edited over 2 years ago by MalVeauX. (3 edits in all)
     
Sep 27, 2016 20:46 |  #2

Heya,

1. Overpowering the sun requires you to have a lot of power or be very very close to the subject, generally a 360~600ws light will be needed for this to have any kind of distance between your light and the subject with a modifier and be able to beat down the sun at the worst time of day. In the morning and evening it's easier with less power. But I would suggest that this starts in the 300+ ws range, and really, 600ws is a good thing to have if you plan on doing couples with a big modifier and want to actually beat down the sun. This costs more of course, but that's just how it is. A single light to do this would be 1/3rd to 1/2 of your budget. Especially if you want it portable with a battery (internal or external). Also you'd have to consider if you want pulse HSS, hypersync or TTL options, etc.

2. YN622's can trigger anything you can plug them into via pc sync cables, so you're good for almost anything here except lights that lack pc sync ports.

3. Again this is light specific, also, not all lights are really HSS, some are just long burn and some are pulse, you have to really do research to know what matters to you and which will do what you need from it. You also should consider TTL if you're in this price range too as it's become available lightly.

4. A good light stand also costs quite a bit, 1/10th to 1/20th of your budget easy.

Also, what kind of support do you want for your lights (ie, warranty)? It may matter to you compared to just getting some lights that are basically a purchase and if they die you're stuck, versus having a store where you are (USA at least) to call, deal with, do warranty with, etc (for example, Adorama or another company, versus buying on Ebay from China, etc, to save a buck).

You also need to consider that not all lights use the same mounts for modifiers (like AlienBees, some Flashpoint, etc), as they have their own modifier mount types, which makes you buy into that mount type or to use adapters. There are more universal mount types (bowen's & umbrella type) that keep you a little more free to get modifiers that will fit more things as you change gear over time. I would also work this into your equation so you're not rebuying modifiers later on which can really crank up costs if you swap out lights later.

I think $1,000 is a bit too modest for a bullet proof setup to take to weddings (I would want a backup, on top of the this). Even some good 360 Monolights with battery packs are going to run $300~350 easy, each, and good stands to hold them will add to cost, plus modifiers. That already saturates your budget completely depending on the modifiers. It also depends on how compact you want things. And again, I would always have a backup to this for a wedding or any other serious even that cannot be re-done.

++++

As for lights, the latest Godox stuff are good. Adorama's flashpoint line often is just one of these lights, rebranded, and supported here in the USA. I actually use several different lines of Flashpoint from Adorama from the 600ws portable battery strobes (Rovelight 600B) to their budget series strobes (which I use for indoor studio stuff to avoid batteries when doing product shots). They have some great Strobes, including the Flashpoint 360 monolight with its battery pack, which is probably the range you're looking to be in for size, portability, weight, and output.

I started out with Bowens mounts for my big modifiers, but over the years, I've migrated back to umbrella style mounting modifiers so that it can be light, simple, portable, collapsible, etc, and work with literally everything. I really like umbrellas (brolly box softbox umbrella style softboxes from Godox/Neewer; and things like the Photek Softlighter II (big and soft), and big PCB umbrellas for bounce reflection). I use them with my speedlites and even my 600ws strobes.

Here's some examples from Flashpoint (Adorama rebranded strobes):

Flashpoint Streaklight 360 - Portable HSS capable strobe, great for locations
http://www.adorama.com​/fplfsl360k1.html (external link)

Flashpoint M series - 600ws strobe, can add a battery pack. Lots of power. Good strobe.
http://www.adorama.com​/fp1220.html (external link)

Flashpoint EXPLOR - 600ws, HSS, TTL, with battery. Ultimate location strobe.
http://www.adorama.com​/fplfx600tbc.html (external link)

Adorama Boom (I use one similar, holds my 600ws, but mine is a Cheetah))
http://www.adorama.com​/ltbak.html (external link)

++++

Otherwise, look at Cheetah too. They're also rebrands. But you go to them for the service too.

http://www.cheetahstan​d.com/ (external link)

Very best,


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FarmerTed1971
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Sep 27, 2016 20:50 |  #3

Buy the Bees or save more coin. And don't buy shitty stands.


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archfotos
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Sep 27, 2016 20:51 |  #4

I would look at Paul Buff's lights, not sure about all your criteria but very reliable strobes for a fair price


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davidmtml
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Sep 28, 2016 13:56 |  #5

Thanks all,

Malveaux, I had looked at the Flashpoint flashes prior to making this post, but I was slightly deterred by their proprietary modifiers. Now, since I obviously don't have anything existing, and don't need a ton of modifiers, this probably isn't a huge issue. But...it is always nice to use a more universal standard.

I have also looked at the Mettle flashes (which seem to usually be sold by Cowboy Studios). From what I have read, they are the exact same flashes as the flashpoint, but with the Bowen mount. Both of the brands are certainly attractive to me due to their lower cost (about $340 for a 600 w/s flash and battery pack). I could get into two lights with two batteries for $680, leaving me over $300 for stands/ a couple modifiers. And actually I have a number of regular white umbrellas I have used with my speedlights that it sounds like I could also maybe use with the monos.




  
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FarmerTed1971
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Sep 28, 2016 14:03 |  #6

How is their customer service of something goes wrong? Do you have to physically adjust the light on the unit?

The new Digi-Bees work with the Cyber Commander. Paul Buff customer service is top notch.

Not really trying to sway your decision I just want you to be aware of everything you're getting into so you can make an informed purchase with your hard earned cash.


Getting better at this - Fuji Xt-2 - Fuji X-Pro2 - Laowa 9mm - 18-55 - 23/35/50/90 f2 WR - 50-140 - flickr (external link) - www.scottaticephoto.co​m (external link)

  
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MalVeauX
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Post edited over 2 years ago by MalVeauX. (2 edits in all)
     
Sep 28, 2016 14:16 |  #7

davidmtml wrote in post #18142895 (external link)
Thanks all,

Malveaux, I had looked at the Flashpoint flashes prior to making this post, but I was slightly deterred by their proprietary modifiers. Now, since I obviously don't have anything existing, and don't need a ton of modifiers, this probably isn't a huge issue. But...it is always nice to use a more universal standard.

I have also looked at the Mettle flashes (which seem to usually be sold by Cowboy Studios). From what I have read, they are the exact same flashes as the flashpoint, but with the Bowen mount. Both of the brands are certainly attractive to me due to their lower cost (about $340 for a 600 w/s flash and battery pack). I could get into two lights with two batteries for $680, leaving me over $300 for stands/ a couple modifiers. And actually I have a number of regular white umbrellas I have used with my speedlights that it sounds like I could also maybe use with the monos.

Yeap, that's why you have to really pay attention to mounts. I'm all umbrella mount style now on my modifiers, even though I started out with all Bowens to be universal. I found I just liked lighter, more portable modifiers and I appreciate the umbrella style more for this compared to big heavy speed rings. Just my preference. You have to try stuff to know what works for you.

Note, the 600Ws+battery pack at $340 a piece is very close to the cost of a Rovelight 600. The Rovelight gives you hypersync as an option, lithium battery, very portable, no cables. Comes in Bowens mount too. Flashpoint Rovelight 600B. Take a look. It's purely portable.

++

Also be mindful, you're scaling up to heavy lights & heavy stands. This is more weight. Larger stuff. If doing a wedding it's more to carry, more to move, more weight. Always worth considering if the size and weight is worth it for your work flow, especially if you're solo or if you have an assistant, etc.

Speedlites are powerful enough for indoor stuff if you're bouncing. With a few of them (3, 4, 5 or 6?) you can literally put them on light stands all over the place to get light at every angle (can probably do it with as little as 3 in a triangle). Or you could use some to bounce off the ceiling or walls if close enough, and then a few for side lights. All bare flash too, set as fill basically. The benefit to a wired monolight is the lack of batteries, and the potential for higher output, but for a venue you still need more than one or two lights indoors or you'll have a dark area. Requires very good planning of location to get the light in places you need it to be so that you're not just getting a dark face from one angle all the time.

If using a dual monolight setup that is big & heavy with a ton of output, kind of need to know where you're using that in advance if indoor/outdoor.

All things worth considering.

Very best,


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Sep 28, 2016 14:35 |  #8

https://photography-on-the.net …read.php?t=1466​803&page=1

Recent thread discussing some relevant stuff.

I'm a big fan of the godox / cheetah 360 plenty of power, plenty portable, and not so big they make your stand top heavy.


PSA: The above post may contain sarcasm, reply at your own risk | Not in gear database: Auto Sears 50mm 2.0 / 3x CL-360, Nikon SB-28, SunPak auto 322 D, Minolta 20

  
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Sep 28, 2016 16:01 |  #9

I do not believe in buying cheap gear, especially when money is being exchanged. I am a big fan of the Profoto Acute system and own an Acute2 kit and 300ws monolight. You should be able to find two 600ws lights for $1000. and get everything on your list.


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Sep 28, 2016 17:30 |  #10

tcphoto1 wrote in post #18142969 (external link)
I do not believe in buying cheap gear, especially when money is being exchanged. I am a big fan of the Profoto Acute system and own an Acute2 kit and 300ws monolight. You should be able to find two 600ws lights for $1000. and get everything on your list.

for the type of work you do (which is nice) i don't doubt that ProFoto could be considered appropriate. For event photography i think most would consider it money down the drain.


PSA: The above post may contain sarcasm, reply at your own risk | Not in gear database: Auto Sears 50mm 2.0 / 3x CL-360, Nikon SB-28, SunPak auto 322 D, Minolta 20

  
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Sep 29, 2016 07:00 |  #11

tcphoto1 wrote in post #18142969 (external link)
I do not believe in buying cheap gear, especially when money is being exchanged. I am a big fan of the Profoto Acute system and own an Acute2 kit and 300ws monolight. You should be able to find two 600ws lights for $1000. and get everything on your list.

Love the photos from your web site. Very impressive.


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artsf
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Sep 29, 2016 08:53 |  #12

I would recommend Flashpoint 620m and 320m. I use 320m and Alien Bees. I am very inpressed with Flashpoint's build quality, its ability to HSS using yongnuo 622 system and inexpensive, compact battery pack. The only issue might be is the unique flashpoint mount, Adorama sells speedring for it which should work with many softboxes but not all - can't use it with Wesctott rapidbox. Overall, Flashpoint system is quite a bit cheaper than Alien bees and Adorama also sells reasobly priced high quality softboxes ubder its Glow brand. I think you should be able to build a system under 1k using with this brand.




  
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Sep 29, 2016 10:01 |  #13

If your going to use them run and gun style stay away from the Flashpoint 620/320/1220m series. I have 3 of them and they are heavy and honestly the batteries they come with are crap. If you do go that route you'll need a Vagabond Mini or other battery pack. I have a Rovelight as well that I love but I rarely take it outside.
I'd personally get the CL-360 or Xplor-600 series of lights. A couple of godox brackets and your in business with your old modifiers.


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davidmtml
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Post edited over 2 years ago by davidmtml.
     
Sep 29, 2016 10:06 |  #14

Thanks again all,

Just in reference to the Rovelight...I did take a look at these, and they seem fantastic. However, it seems strange to me that you don't even have the option to plug it in to the wall. If it offered that, I would think it would be a slam dunk for me. Then again, with the battery capacity to do 400 shots at full-power, there isn't many times I would run into a problem...

This might be a dumb question, but does the flash power vs. battery life stay pretty linear throughout? As in, if the battery lasts for 400 full power shots, will it last for 800 1/2 power, 1600 1/4 power etc.? I obviously know it's not exact, but how close is it?




  
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Sep 29, 2016 10:28 as a reply to  @ davidmtml's post |  #15

Seems pretty darn close.


PSA: The above post may contain sarcasm, reply at your own risk | Not in gear database: Auto Sears 50mm 2.0 / 3x CL-360, Nikon SB-28, SunPak auto 322 D, Minolta 20

  
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Help choosing first monolight setup
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