How often do you wish for lower strobe power ?

Discussion in 'Lighting Equipment' started by WAngell, Nov 5, 2018.

  1. I've currently 2 Einstein's, 2 DB800's and 1 DB400. It seems about 1 in 5 shoots I've wished for a DB200 (1.25ws) or even a DB100 or two. In some cases moving a light back lowers the power easily but in others it's a bit more of a pain. I was doing a shoot with someone holding a candelabra the other day and simply couldn't turn down low enough. Moving the light back was a problem both for space and it changed the lightl considerably (7" reflector w/ 10° grid).

    I should have gone in search of my ND gel but that's it's own pain to cut and get on with no spill. And then keep replacing when it fades.

    I should play w/ the modeling lights more so that I can use them in these situations but they do put out a different light than the strobe and models respond differently under them.
  2. Fine mesh will cut down the light and not fade. Or maybe you could use a little speedlight with a cardboard snoot for situations like these? A cheap YN560 iii has optical triggering for synch with other strobes or on-camera digital TTL, and can be turned down to 1/128th power IIRC.
  3. AJG


    If you use a LiteMod instead of a regular 7" reflector then using gels is easy along with a honeycomb. I know what you mean about power levels--even the battery powered Vivitar 285's that I use at times for fill can put out too much light at 1/16, so I cut a set of ND gels in varying strengths to fit in the filter slot for these. I haven't found them to fade that quickly, YMMV.
  4. Often. As mentioned, moving the light back is one option. For power pack systems, e.g. Speedotron, a “dump strobe” can be used to drain energy from the main light.

    Also use small aperture and slow film/low ISO. Some aesthetic things will change, this may or may not be acceptable.
  5. I use 1-, 2-, and 3-stop neutral density gel to get those low light levels when needed.
    Wilmarco Imaging likes this.
  6. I know that this isn't REALLY an answer, but this is how I justify having 5 different Norman power packs with different total power levels...admittedly three of them are 2000 w/s, but one of those three has a global trim that will let me knock it down to 1/16 or so.

    I've used the "dummy strobe" trick my fair share of times too.
  7. Not as often as I used to wish for lower power. When I used my Courtenay Solaflash studio flashes I wished for lower power settings more often than I wished for more power. They only had 1/1 and 1/2. I later got some that also had 1/4...

    I now use more modern Elinchrom flashes which go down to 8.2 Ws and they can be dampened even more by using a deflector. When even that is too much, I get a Speedlight and put it in an Elinchrom mount. I can turn my Nikon Speedlights down even more. And at such low power levels recycle time and battery drain are non-issues.

    I know the entry level Elinchrom D-Lite RX One has gained some popularity among professional photographers since it goes down to 6 Ws and is cheap, it takes most of Elinchrom’s modifiers (its mount does not support the weight of the biggest direct modifiers) and it works with the Skyport system for remote power management.
  8. Thanks all. Good solutions.

    Ideally all lights s/b on the same trigger/control system (Buff Cybercommander, Phottix Odin, etc.). One of the advantages of these systems is allowing quick adjustments to lighting levels, particularly instruments that are less than easy to reach for adjustment. (And, while models were once understanding of the need to run around to adjust things, many today are accustomed to adjustments being made very quickly from the shooting position.) I'd love to see an industry standard for trigger/control that would allow easier mixing & matching (and provide for some entrepreneurship in the industry) but won't hold my breath.

    Scrim (mesh) can soften the light too much. When you want a hard light at a low level I think the only options are ND gel (but a pain to setup and can fade quickly) or a lower powered light source. Similar for moving a light back, as said above it does change the aesthetics. Many times these are not enough to make a difference but sometimes they are (and in my most recent case I'd have to have knocked down a wall to move a light back any farther).

    I've thought dozens of times about ordering a LiteMod kit but have been too cheap to do it and have been using much less expensive snoots and barn doors (that have actually worked quite well). Ordered a kit after reading your comment. Should have done this a long time ago and likely saved myself some frustration. Still a fading problem but much easier to deal with.
  9. - Well, a simple metal aperture in front of the reflector would cut down and actually harden the character of the light.

    In ye olden dayes, there were spotlights with an iris mechanism built into them.

    Partially reflecting metallised foils are more resistant to fading too.

    A more high-tech method of control might be to use a polariser in front of a speedlight and a crossed polariser over the lens. Rotating the lens filter would give camera control over the effective intensity of that particular light.
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2018
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