Which Alien Bees set-up should I start off with?

Discussion in 'Lighting Equipment' started by carlosmiller, Sep 17, 2007.

  1. I am a photojournalist who has only used flash or natural light in the past. Now that I am moving into shooting weddings and models, I want to buy an Alien Bee light set-up.
    My familiarity with these types of lights is nil. I basically want lights that I can carry with me in the car for location shoots, whether it be a wedding or a model shoot.
    So I know I definitely need to buy a Vagabond Portable Power system.
    I am just not sure which of the Alien Bee packages I should buy.
    My first inclination is buy the Digital Bee, but then I started reading a lot of good feedback on the Ring Bee, so now I'm wondering if I should buy the Ring Bee along with the Background Bee.
    Or should I just get the Beginning Bee along with the Background Bee?
    I want to spend the least amount of money, but I don't want to buy something, then realize in the middle of a photo shoot that I should have purchased something else.
    I know questions like this are asked a thousand times, but I'm hoping somebody will see my needs and be able to help me make a decision. All suggestions will be appreciated.
  2. I'd start withAB 1600s. it is easy to find yourself i nthe middleo fa shoot wit hnot enough light and you can always dial them down. I would not start off with more than two heads.

    Many people don't seem enamored with Alien Bees stands so You might want to look at Lowell KS stands or Bogen/Manfrotto stands.

    You'll also need a flash meter and Sekonic is your best bet there. I also like the fact that many Sekonic flash meters now come with a 32 channel Pocketwizard trigger built in. Being a photojournalist you know about the importance of reliability and for that reason I think Pocketwizard is the way to go for wireless triggering of lights and cameras.

    The only Alien Bees/White Lightning /Zeus Lighting modifiers I have experience with are the Moon Unit softboxes for the ABR800 and Zeus Ringmaster. Good light quality. I also like Chimera for softboxes (light quality, good materials and durable construction) and Photek Goodlighter II umbrellas.
  3. i'm looking into getting some alien bees here soon. i was going to get the digi package with the ab1600's and the vagabond II. i will be using it for portraits as well as snowboarding photos. are the wireless triggers that unreliable. if i decide to go with the pw i'm going to end spending 800 on those alone. is it really worht it
  4. I've never used the Alien Bees wireless system so I can't comment on how reliable or unreliable they are. I have years of experience with the LPA Design Pocketwizards (And before that Quantum /GVI Radio Slaves and before that Tekno Hawks) so I feel very comfortable commenting on their reliability.
  5. I'd start withAB 1600s. it is easy to find yourself i nthe middleo fa shoot wit hnot enough light and you can always dial them down. I would not start off with more than two heads.
    Be cautious, though -- you can only dial them down across an (I think) 5-stop range. So, depending on your needs, an AB 1600 dialed back as far as it goes might still be too much power. I know a few people who have complained that they wish they'd bought at least one AB 400 in addition to their higher-powered strobes. And enough people run into this issue that Alien Bees will actually "downgrade" the electronics of an AB 800/1600 to make them into AB 400s for $25.
    If it was me, I'd probably buy the Digi Bee package with AB 1600s, and then buy one extra AB 400 head. But that depends on your budget.
    Ring Flashes produce a very specific look that some people like, but that specific look is about all they do. So to me, a couple of strobes and a softbox/umbrella/etc. would be a lot more versatile. You can always add a ring flash later if you decide you need it.
    -- Tammy
  6. man, go with the ab800 kit and then get the reflector.. .then get another ab800 later for background work. then later get the vagabond II power inverter for portability.
  7. Alien Bee's are great for what they do. I own a few heads myself and really like their reliability. Add the pocketwizards to trigger them with and you're in for a great photoshoot. I may one day upgrade to a more professional level light. For now the bee's meet all my expectations.

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