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Let's talk lights
Old 08-12-2006, 04:48 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I hope this is the right forum for this thread.

I know there are other sites with active discussions about lights and chosen the right brand but I thought that this site and members might have some interesting thoughts on the subject.

I am looking at upgrading my current Photogenics mono lights to something else that has more power and that are mobile. Why spend the money on a power pack system instead of mono lights?

So what is eveybody thoughts on this subject.
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Re: Let's talk lights
Old 08-12-2006, 04:56 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I have seven lights from Paul C. Buff, Whitelighting , Alien Bees from the original order all the way to having service work done has been a favorable experience. David C.
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Re: Let's talk lights
Old 08-12-2006, 05:07 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I have a 25-year-old Norman powerpack system ... and two Alien Bees. For in studio work, both are adaquate. The Bees give me variable power output, which I like. The old Normans have a lot more power, but no variable output, so I have to move them way back or throw material over the heads to reduce the power to balance with my Bees. If I wasn't given the Norman powerpack system by an old photographer friend, I'd have all monolights today! If you decide on monolights, there are many on the market that will do a good job and I'm sure many on this forum will offer their opinions. For me ... I love my Alien Bees!
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Re: Let's talk lights
Old 08-12-2006, 05:23 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Hello Guys & Gals,

I am planning to get more serious with my photography and want to set up a studio. I've been shooting my pictures usually outdoors so I don't have a very good experience in terms of studio lights. I was surfing the internet and compared a lot of brands. I find Alien bees in terms of specs and price a practical choice. Any suggestions regarding studio lighting equipment to start with?
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Re: Let's talk lights
Old 08-12-2006, 05:28 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Hey Joseph1275 --

Come on up to Dallas and I'll show you my "home studio" and a few other studios my friends have. That way you can see where to spend your money and what to avoid.

Check out my website at : www.martysphotography --- all the images of all the models were taken in my home studio (or outside).

As I mentioned earlier in tis thread ... I love Alien Bees.
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Re: Let's talk lights
Old 08-12-2006, 06:09 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Hey there.... Excellent Web site! I wish I still lived in Dallas so I could check out your set up. Really nice work. Brian
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Re: Let's talk lights
Old 08-12-2006, 06:14 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Hey Joseph... Before spending your hard-earned cash on a lighting setup, you should try to find a local photo store that rents equipment. Tell them that about what you want to shoot and your experience and they'll hook you up with an appropriate test rig.

Also, as Rolando G. recommends in his workshops - master one light's effects before adding another. So if you have a reflector or a mounted flash, experiment with it. By learning what you can't do with your current equipment, you'll be better able to gauge what you need to buy going forward.

Good luck...brian
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Re: Let's talk lights
Old 08-12-2006, 09:04 PM   #8 (permalink)
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The advantages of a pack and head system are as follows:

Power: You can get power packs that discharge as much as 9600 joules of energy. That is overkill for portraiture and the like, but can come in handy if you're lighting an automobile, industrial equipment, and other large objects.

Lighter heads: Strobe heads are lighter, often much lighter, than monolights. This puts less stress on your stands. Overall, there's less weight in the air, especially if you're booming something. Less weight makes for a safer environment. Depending on the manufacturer, the weight of a complete pack system can be lighter than a comparable number of monolights.

Single trigger source: Everything fires off of the pack. No worrying about slaves. If you want to go wireless you only have to buy a single receiver.

Single control source: All of your power and modelling light controls are right at the pack. No having to climb a ladder or lower a stand to change settings.

Battery power: The battery-powered pack systems are much more integrated and lighter than a comparable monolight system. Many pack systems recycle as quickly on battery as they do when plugged in.

The biggest advantage that I think monolights have over pack and head systems is redundancy. If you have three monolights and one dies, you still have two with which to shoot. If your pack dies, you're done until you get it repaired. You can, of course, buy a spare power pack to keep around as a spare, but that drives up the cost. However, 2 2400 joule power packs can be nice to throw at certain problems.

You can find monlight kits for less money than a pack and head kit. But I think this is due to the fact that you just don't find really cheap pack and head manufacturers. Most (but not all) packs are engineered to fire all day every day, week in and week out. When you find monolights that are built to be used the same way the price difference evaporates.

I have, at one time or another, used just about every major manufacturer's lights. And I will tell you that with lighting you get what you pay for. There are definate reasons that a 300J monolight from manufacturer A costs $300 and a 300J monolight from manufacturer B costs $700. The reasons may not be important to you, but in general the more expensive lights are much more consistent in power output at low power levels and vary much less in color temperature across their power range.

To the original poster: when you say that you want something that is mobile, what are you specifically looking to do?

-Chip
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Re: Let's talk lights
Old 08-13-2006, 02:58 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Marty,

I will love to give your studio a visit. Please give me your address and tel. number. I love your photos too..... excellent job! Kudos!
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Re: Let's talk lights
Old 08-13-2006, 03:00 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brianforbidden
Hey Joseph... Before spending your hard-earned cash on a lighting setup, you should try to find a local photo store that rents equipment. Tell them that about what you want to shoot and your experience and they'll hook you up with an appropriate test rig.
Also, as Rolando G. recommends in his workshops - master one light's effects before adding another. So if you have a reflector or a mounted flash, experiment with it. By learning what you can't do with your current equipment, you'll be better able to gauge what you need to buy going forward.
Good luck...brian
Brian,

Thank you for the input. Here in San Antonio I don't know if there's a company that rents photo equipment. I might follow Rolando G's advice by working and mastering one light's effect first. Really appreciate your help.
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