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Help! Monolight Recommendations?
Old 08-06-2004, 09:07 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I'm in the market for a monlight kit. I often shoot locations where A/C is unavailable, so I have--and mostly use--2-550EXs and 2-420EXs (with an ST-E2 Infra-Red Xmitter on my 10D to fire them). I also have a pretty decent collection of stands, reflectors, unbrellas, panels, etc., and lots of hot lights and accessories (as I'm also a videographer). But I'm planning to do more studio still work soon, so I'm thinking I'll get a two or three light kit and probly some pocket wizards to fire them... unless someone knows some monolights i can fire with the canon st-e2 IR xmitter.

Norman? Britek? Alien Bees? Others? I dunno. And then there's how many watt seconds they should be...what kind of mix of power... and all kinds of other stuff. Geez, I'm bewildered.

Looking for recommendations based on actual experience with specific monolights. I'm not on a strictly economy-class budget, but I ain't a trust fund baby and i do work hard for my dough (even tho a lot of people don't seem to think shooting cameras aimed at mostly naked wimin is hard work) and I'd rather not overspend cuz there's SO MUCH OTHER STUFF i want packed in my bags and cases.
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Re: Help! Monolight Recommendations?
Old 08-06-2004, 09:21 PM   #2 (permalink)
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JTL gets a bad rap 'cause no one likes the low bidder, but they're affordable, rugged, and reliable. I drag two 200ws and one 300ws JTL Mobillite all over the place - weddings, in-home portraits, pet shows, santa shoots - and i've never had a problem with them in three years. - Tim
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Old 08-06-2004, 09:37 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I'd get the monolights made by Speedotron... they are 1000 WS and accept all the accessories of their Blackline series powerpacks if you graduate to a level where you need more power..you can use all the same accessories...and don't have to buy them twice... unfortunately, those weren't available when I was in your shoes.. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

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Re: Help! Monolight Recommendations?
Old 08-06-2004, 09:41 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks! JTL is, and has been, on my list... mostly due to pricing. In fact, I think I have one of their lights stowed away somewhere but haven't really used it cuz the pre-flash on my speedlites kept firing it prematurely from its optical sensor. But thanks for letting me know about their durability.

By the way, I think you should shoot with hot lights... maybe some 1Ks... cuz they'll double as room heaters since you're in Alaska and how freakin' cold does it get there?????

[img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cool.gif[/img]
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Re: Help! Monolight Recommendations?
Old 08-06-2004, 09:52 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Two thoughts -- cheap -- Alien Bees, mid-priced -- Dynalite. If you go to one of Rolando's workshops, the Dynalites become cheap.
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Re: Help! Monolight Recommendations?
Old 08-06-2004, 10:03 PM   #6 (permalink)
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The Dyna-Lite Uni-400JR monolights are reasonably priced, and the Jackrabbit batteries are reasonably compact and light weight.
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Re: Help! Monolight Recommendations?
Old 08-07-2004, 08:06 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I have 3 JTL lights and in less then a year two buttons that turn on and off the slave senser failed. But they still are working and have never let me down during a shoot.

Mike
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Re: Help! Monolight Recommendations?
Old 08-07-2004, 10:40 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Last weekend I assisted Chung Lee and found the next light that I will buy!! He uses a Hensel Porty 1200 with a 3' x 4' softbox on the front that creates the most beautiful light I have seen. The battery pack is fairly large, not something you would want to carry on your shoulder all day, but I had no problem with it at all in a shoot that spanned a whole day...just sit it on the ground when you're stationary. Highly recommended!!! It goes for around $2000 for the entire kit. Check it out. Chung posted an image on here earlier this week that was lit with this light.

Hope this helps!

Mitch
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Re: Help! Monolight Recommendations?
Old 08-07-2004, 11:54 PM   #9 (permalink)
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[ QUOTE ]
Looking for recommendations based on actual experience with specific monolights.

[/ QUOTE ]

Back in 1989, I bought a couple of Paul Buff White Lightning monolights, the Ultra 600's. Last weekend, I burnt out my first tube. In 15 years of use (granted, I'm not using them in a Sears portrait studio so they're not popping 100's of times every day) it's my first problem with them. I'd guess a bit more than the typical 250,000 flashes lifetime, and the other unit is still going strong. Oh, and Buff still has the tubes available for sale. How's that for support?

While the Ultras are no longer available new (there IS an active market for them going on Ebay, if you're interested in old stock and used units), the company is selling updated versions for about the same cost as the equivalent watt/seconds as 15 years ago. Buff has two versions of their current monolights, one of which is being discontinued when current stock is gone. You can see a comparison chart at http://white-lightning.com/allspecs.html

Buff also has their Vagabond battery/AC inverter system that will power the units, and from what I've heard from a couple of folks that are using them, they work very well.

Regarding your IR transmitter.. I'm not sure, but you might drop Buff a note to se whether their built in slave tripper is sensitive to the IR transmitter.

BTW, Buff is the same compnay that does the Alien Bees.. the less expensive mono's.

Good luck with your search!

Paul C Buff's White Lightning monolights
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