Discussion in 'Lighting Equipment' started by charissa_ramirez, Aug 2, 2007.

  1. i am thinking of buying my first monolight kit (or light of some sort). what
    are the criterias to consider in choosing a good one? i want to use it in
    portrait photography. thanks!
  2. Enough power (320watt-seconds maximum is for me a bare minimum) and the ability to reduce power by around 45- 5 stops. Good support and inexpensive parts. In short: (if you are in the USA or Canada)
  3. Look for one that allows you to change the modeling lamp to 500w. Most 'amateur' strobes
    have very weak modeling lamps. If you use any kind of light modifier (umbrella, softbox,
    grid, diffusion, etc.) you may have difficulty focusing on your subject. Even with the 500w
    bulb in my Profoto heads, i sometimes have trouble using AF....

    I would recommend a separate pack+head setup, though....
  4. You don't need a 500 watt modeling light. 250 watt is however is very nice. But 500 watts? Thats nuts. But fan cooling is also necessary to have if you are planning on using a softbox

    "Even with the 500w bulb in my Profoto heads, i sometimes have trouble using AF...."

    That's a lack of contrast in the subject problem and no matter how much light you pour on it if there is no contrasting edge for the AF to find you'll have difficulty using AF.
  5. Never heard of a modeling lamp larger than 250 watt but I agree that anything less than about 150 watts is next to worthless. But AF? Why would you be using autofocus in a studio situation? When shooting portraits in the studio, I find it much easier to manually focus on the eyes and be done with it. Maybe if you're shooting kids moving around, but for an adult seated on a posing stool and camera on a tripod, AF is more likely to focus on the background by mistake than to help.
  6. how about flash duration, recycling time, power control, flash variability, etc.? what do you think of this? Photogenic StudioMax III Pro Kit ..or this? Flashpoint II 1220 someone suggested dynalite unihead 550. i've been googling it but no success. thanks!
  7. The calumet travelites are fantastic, and although not cheap, are a fantastic value for the money. they last for years, and are blow torches. they have a 350ws (i think) and the 750ws.
  8. Ellis,
    I speak from a bit of experience. I don't see anything in your portfolio that indicates you
    have More knowledge on the subject. "Nuts?" Whatever.

    Thanks for the lesson on AF and subject contrast. Of course, you only addressed half the
    equation. If your modeling lamp is too dim, having to pass through some TuffSpun and a
    grid, it really doesn't matter how many edges you can find. There's no 'contrast' in the

    Profoto has flash heads that accept up to 500w bulbs. I recently saw them on their website
    - on the Acute models, they offer one head with a 250 and another with a 500. I'm still
    using old Pro6 and 7 packs, so i imagine they still offer that option on the current high-
    end line.

    What is your budget? As for manufacturers/brands, the order in which i would recommend
    strobe equipment is as follows:
    Profoto / Broncolor / Elinchrom / Speedo, Balcar, and Dynalite / and then the rest of the
    stuff: Alien Bees / Photogenic / WhiteLightning....
  9. thanks!

    budget? don't really have much. i don't want to spend more than $500.

    what do you guys think of this?
  10. Charissa, I think you'll find a better value with an Alien Bees kit. They're rock-solid consistent in regards to output, very tolerant of voltage differences in line supplies, they're less expensive than most other brands, and I can tell you from first-hand experience that their customer service is second to NONE. A complete kit with an AB1600 (640 true Ws, available 150W modeling lamp, 5-stop power range), a 10' stand, 48" shoot-through umbrella and a monolight carrying bag can be had for under $450 INCLUDING shipping. The B1600 also has a shorter flash duration than the Flashpoint (1/1600sec vs. 1/1000sec), more adjustment range (full-1/32 power vs. full-1/8), weighs less (3.7lbs vs. 5.25lbs) and is 6" shorter (9" vs. 15").

    I've bought two of the AB800 lights, and also added a White Lightning X1600 recently, which is every bit as good as the Alien Bees lights and then some. If you want to step up to the White Lightning unit (5 years warranty vs. 2 years for Alien Bees, 7-stop adjustment range from full-1/128, audible fault alarms, extruded aluminum housing) an X1600 with the same starter kit is around $550 including shipping.
  11. Take a look at this article on choosing studio lights. It'll help you narrow down some of your questions.
    With a $500 budget, you're going to have to make some serious compromises between the various "features": power, reliability, recycle times, duty cycles, etc.

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