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FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
Thread started 18 May 2017 (Thursday) 20:01
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Which lighting system?

 
kpjsy
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May 18, 2017 20:01 |  #1

With all the developments in the past few years, which lighting system would you go with today if you could start all over?

It seems like cameras and lenses, buying lighting equipment is a big commitment, so I would assume many people new-to-lighting would be curious what people would choose if they could start all over.

Would you still be interested in hot-shoe flashes?
or would skip to mid-level strobe offerings?
Perhaps particular brands have garnered your interest with their line up and you've seen ways to grow with their higher end models.


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tcphoto1
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May 18, 2017 20:15 |  #2

I bought my first Profoto Acute kit back in '96 and have never regretted it.


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F2Bthere
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May 18, 2017 21:36 |  #3

I think it's important to evaluate what your priorities are, because there are several great options.

Does your system need to be portable or studio based? How important is light weight and bulk? How much power do you need? What types of modifiers do you want to use with it? Can it be plugged in or do you need battery power? Is access to rental gear important? Does TTL matter? HSS? What triggering solution capabilities are important? How important is cost?

If you are in the US and access to rental gear is important, Profoto has an advantage. The connection system is quick, reliable and flexible (variable depth). Great reputation. I've had and seen a number of reliability issues, firmware problems, etc recently. Not sure if this is a trend or an anomaly. Historically they have been solid, but if I were considering investing in new gear today, I would get to the bottom of this question to know if there is a recent problem.

If you want more power and capability per ounce and per dollar, the Godox system is pretty dominant. The connection system is quite flexible. On camera speedlight and strobe systems can integrate seamlessly. Godox is also innovating in very useful ways much more quickly and thoughtfully than the other players. This system is already great and is most likely to stay ahead in innovation.

If battery powered and high powered portability are your priority, Elinchrom has a strong advantage (and you need to pay a LOT more for the next similarly powered--1200 WS--option). Elinchrom also has the best modifiers for my taste. Elinchrom has, arguably, the worst connecting method of any professional system :).

Broncolor...how much does it cost? If you have to ask, you can't afford it :).

Paul Buff low cost, lots of innovation in many ways, some interesting high speed capability which usually costs more but...serious reliability issues.

Bowens (also sold under Travellite by Calumet, etc) is a workhorse system and it's universal connection system is secure, certain and the most easily available. You can get modifiers set up for this system at any quality level or price point you wish. There are many other systems which use this connector, too.

I wouldn't say any of these are a bad choice and I know people whose judgement I respect who have gone with each choice. And, to a degree, you can adapt modifiers between systems.

In good hands, any of these systems will sing. In poor hands, it doesn't matter what you have :). There are differences in the quality of modifiers (I certainly have favorites), but it won't make or break the image either way. If you have a system you like and invest the time to learn to use it well, you will be happy.

Much of what you are paying for is reliability (across a number of measures), convenience, portability, power, compatibility and good design. In some environments, reputation will matter (some customers want the snob value). There are other measures and features, but those above dominate.

By design, I include how well it throws light--a small percentage of photographers will care a lot but most normal people and even normal photographers will neither notice nor care. As an example, Mola Beauty dishes do a better job than others to my eye. But unless you shoot them side by side, almost no one can tell and the photographer's skill counts for 95%, so at best you are bumping from an A to an A+ in the best hands ;).

Personally, the Paul Buff reliability issues would take it off my list.

Godox gets my vote as the best choice for maximum portability, great flexibility and low cost. Plus it adapts easily to Elinchrom and Mola modifiers and the bulb design lets it punch well over its weight, especially in parabola-like modifiers.

Elinchrom gets my vote for sheer power, fantastic design and modifiers.

I require battery power, portability, great modifiers and sometimes the ability to shoot against sun.

These are the right answers for me. The right answer for you depends on your priorities...


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On my images, of course, and on my words as well--as long as it's constructive :).
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Left ­ Handed ­ Brisket
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Post edited over 1 year ago by Left Handed Brisket.
     
May 18, 2017 21:39 |  #4

kpjsy wrote in post #18358047 (external link)
With all the developments in the past few years, which lighting system would you go with today if you could start all over?

It seems like cameras and lenses, buying lighting equipment is a big commitment, so I would assume many people new-to-lighting would be curious what people would choose if they could start all over.

Would you still be interested in hot-shoe flashes?
or would skip to mid-level strobe offerings?
Perhaps particular brands have garnered your interest with their line up and you've seen ways to grow with their higher end models.

I'm happy with godox/CL.

What did you choose?


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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Angmo
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May 18, 2017 22:36 |  #5

Phottix

But, as before, I love my Elinchroms...


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Phil ­ V
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May 19, 2017 00:36 |  #6

It's like asking 'what car', the question needs some more context, most photographers couldn't function without at least one speedlight, some of us need lots. Some need a full studio setup, many don't.

I need speedlights, portable studio and fixed studio kit (but I don't use any of it very often) so budget plays a part too.


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DavidNDC
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May 19, 2017 09:37 |  #7

I got tired of having a miss-matched system so I'm in the process of getting rid of all my Paul C. Buff White Lightning monolights along with most of my Canon and YONGNUO speedlights in favor of the Flashpoint gear. Just received an XPLOR 600 and Streaklight 360 setup yesterday, impressive stuff. Will be nice to have everything playing along nicely with their R2 radio system and not have to deal with a ton of AA Eneloop batteries.




  
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TeamSpeed
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May 19, 2017 10:00 |  #8

DavidNDC wrote in post #18358371 (external link)
I got tired of having a miss-matched system so I'm in the process of getting rid of all my Paul C. Buff White Lightning monolights along with most of my Canon and YONGNUO speedlights in favor of the Flashpoint gear. Just received an XPLOR 600 and Streaklight 360 setup yesterday, impressive stuff. Will be nice to have everything playing along nicely with their R2 radio system and not have to deal with a ton of AA Eneloop batteries.

Exactly what I am doing too. I have sold my Canon flashes, am getting rid of the YongNuo units (which are great really), and have moved to Streaklight/Godox units. I now have 2 AD360s, the XTR16 receivers, an X1C transmitter, and 2 685 Godox flashes. All via R2 wireless, and now I can move to an Xplor and AD200 lights in the future. I actually made back some money by doing this too, ie. I am spending less for this move than what I am receiving from the equipment I am selling.

The UI for the R2 systems though need a bit of work, I have found other wireless solutions to be a bit cleaner and easier to use.


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Temma
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May 19, 2017 10:46 |  #9

My first (and only) flash since I switched to digital in 2007(?) was a Sigma Sigma EF500 DG Super.

It's been great for general usage, including field macro.

Since I've started creating a serious studio macro rig and started doing focus stacking, I've decided to purchase a couple of wireless manual flashes suitable for repetitive exposures at low power. In all likelihood, I'll go with Godox/Flashpoint.

The Sigma will remain for non-studio use.




  
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nathancarter
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May 19, 2017 11:09 |  #10

DavidNDC wrote in post #18358371 (external link)
I got tired of having a miss-matched system so I'm in the process of getting rid of all my Paul C. Buff White Lightning monolights along with most of my Canon and YONGNUO speedlights in favor of the Flashpoint gear. Just received an XPLOR 600 and Streaklight 360 setup yesterday, impressive stuff. Will be nice to have everything playing along nicely with their R2 radio system and not have to deal with a ton of AA Eneloop batteries.

Kinda leaning the same way myself. Picked up a set of Flashpoint R2 stuff in January and been REALLY happy with it. My old Cactus triggers are sold, my 430EXII is for sale, and my Yongnuo YN560II workhorses are really beat-up, so I'll just keep them around for when I need more than three Speedlights.

I like my Elinchrom modifiers (totally in lurve with the Maxi-Lite) but am starting to outgrow the D-Lite 2it set that I got several years ago. The Skyport Eco is getting unreliable, and one of my flash heads took a spill in January :(

Might switch to Flashpoint/Godox for studio strobes too. F2Bthere's comment that they readily accept Elinchrom modifiers makes me pretty happy.


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Angmo
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Post edited over 1 year ago by Angmo. (4 edits in all)
     
May 19, 2017 11:49 |  #11

Ive been with Elinchrom since the 1990s. None have ever failed to fire or had any problems. I haven't been real gentle with them but they've all kept up and just don't fail.

The new Skyport HS trigger works with all of the strobes. I can shoot HS up to 1/8000 depending on the strobe. So it's nice to NOT have to get yet another strobe for these kinds of features.

I think I've collected all of Elinchrom's metal modifiers. Yep, that Maxi-Lite (Fireball) is outside with me everywhere.

I am saving up for a Broncolor Para though.

If I was starting from scratch though, I'd seriously consider Phottix or Elinchrom.


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jlafferty
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May 19, 2017 13:35 |  #12

I did start all over. Streaklight 360 TTL is for me the best in terms of cost, weight, size, modifier ecosystem and power output. HSS makes it incredible for my work. The S mount adapter is great. The Xplor 600 removes one limitation the Streaklights have which is the AC adapter. The only thing I've seen as an issue with them could be color temp consistency but it hasn't proved to be an issue for me.


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airbutchie
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Post edited over 1 year ago by airbutchie. (2 edits in all)
     
May 19, 2017 16:22 |  #13

If I had a re-do with lighting where $$$ wasn't really an issue, I think I'd jump directly to Profoto... But I think I'd still buy a couple of Speedlites as an added light source for event photography and such...

:)

My strobe history: 430EX's --> 580EXII's --> Alien Bee 1600's --> Profoto B1's


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dmward
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May 19, 2017 21:11 |  #14

As far as I can tell, from limited research, Godox X system is the only option that offers strobes ranging from sub-speedlite to 600Ws (1200 with remote head), all battery powered, all controlled by a single family of controllers for x-sync, HSS sync and TTL. With controllers for Sony, Canon, Nikon, and soon Fuji and 4/3. And, the lights when in slave mode TTL will change camera signaling on a shot-by-shot basis.

Cost effective too.


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MalVeauX
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May 19, 2017 21:39 |  #15

Hrm,

I started with manual speedlites. Then I went to a 600ws strobe. Then more speedlites.

If I were re-doing it all after learning what I know now, I would change a few things:

I would move to the R2 system (Godox) for my manual flashes (x3) & ETTL/HSS flash (x1) (for on camera).
I would replace my 600ws strobe (x1) with something with ETTL & HSS. It wasn't an option for me at the time.
Reason? Purely for convenience (referring to the strobe).

That said, I haven't traded up because my current fleet is doing the job fine and it's always easy to want what's new. I'm still using my YN 560III fleet, added the YN 685 for on-camera ETTL/HSS, and still using my Rovelight 600B to beat down the sun and YN622 transceivers and a Sekonic L478D.

Very best,


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