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Alien Bees 400 and 800 users...
Old 10-08-2004, 11:14 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Ok, i know this subject has been covered a lot but after doing months of searching and reviewing i have yet to be able to decide between the two.[img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/confused.gif[/img]
Maybe if i describe how i'll be using them someone can help me decide.
I'm shooting digital (10D).
Shoot 99.9% glamour / nude.
Small studio ( 18' x 20').

I want a 3 light set-up for now and was considering 2 800's and a 400 for backlight. I will be using large Chimera softboxes with gels and filters.
My main concern with the 800's is that i want to know that i can still shoot with a large aperture (2.8 or so) without having to move the lights 10 or 12' from the model?
Or, could i get all 400's and be satisfied with power output to shoot up to f11 or so if i like with the big light banks and gels?
If you need more input then just let me know. I am just tired of beating my brain over this and really need some help deciding.
Thanks in advance,
Zack
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Re: Alien Bees 400 and 800 users...
Old 10-08-2004, 11:47 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Well, it's hard to know if you'll be able to get down to 2.8 or not. It kind of depends on how much power your softbox with use up. My guess is that you'd have a hard time getting down to 2.8 with a b800. However, I use my b400 as a main all the time with the AB 47" octabox, and I can get 2.8 just by pulling the box a few feet away (not 10 or 12).

On the other hand, honeycomb filters and gells eat up a ton of power, so a b800 would probably serve better with these accessories.

I'd say there's not much risk in buying the wrong thing. AB will take anything back for 60 days after purchase. I returned one of my b400s after about a month because I wanted a b800 and they were happy to exchange. After the 60 days expires, you can upgrade any light to a larger size for two years after purchase and only pay the difference in price plus $25. So my suggestion would be to buy the smaller ones and see if it's enough. The b400s are lighter and recharge faster anyway. If they're not enough, switch 'em out for bigger ones. No big deal.

Don't stress out. It's friday. No stress on fridays. Go buy you some lights!
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Re: Alien Bees 400 and 800 users...
Old 10-08-2004, 12:05 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Maybe you've seen it but if not, take a look at their Technical Specifications for guidance. I'm kinda in the same boat, looking to outfit a 13' x 23' studio. I'm leaning towards the AB800s, for I'll also want to use them for location shoots. I'm expecting to shoot f/8 or f/11. You can play with a faster shutter speed to allow you to open the aperture. I'd also like to hear anyone's hands-on experience with the ABs in a small studio.

Off-topic: the model in your website's Artistic Nude section is simply beautiful [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cool.gif[/img] It's nice to be reminded that there are still quality girls in my native Mississippi (born/raised in Greenville). The girls in Hawaii ain't that bad either! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/tongue.gif[/img]

EDIT: On the Technical Spec page given earlier, look at the bottom of the table. It gives typical f-stops for various light modifiers. LarryAB's a lucky guy. Living in Nashville, he can just drive down the road to pick up his lights. Shipping to Hawaii is the PITS!
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Re: Alien Bees 400 and 800 users...
Old 10-08-2004, 12:40 PM   #4 (permalink)
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It is a lot easier to compensate for too much power by using a neutral density filter than it is to compensate for not having enough power. If you find you have too much power just buy some ND filters for your light to cut the output.
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Re: Alien Bees 400 and 800 users...
Old 10-08-2004, 02:38 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I would get the 800's...my camera room is 16x24 and my 800s have a large and a medium octabox on them. I rarely use them over 1/4 power except on location and love them. when looking at power always buy up then filter or gel down.

Michael
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Re: Alien Bees 400 and 800 users...
Old 10-08-2004, 04:23 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I use 2 AB 800s in a very tight studio (8x20 feet). I shoot at f/8 & f/11. Could shoot at f/5.6. I meter at ISO 100 & shoot 160 Porta. I use a medium photoflex soft box with white walls and diffuser pannel, about 2 or 3 feet from subject for main light. This works well for me. With all that said, The Alien Bee company told me that the bottum end of the 400 & 800 lights were the same. So I went with the 800s because the price was only a little more.
I have never tried the 400s so I can't comment on their performance. I have used my AB 800 on location and they are fine, but I do have two old Multiblitz lights that will give me a little more power. The AB 800 is a great light and is low voltage for digital cameras flash sinc. That's all I have to say about that. Ken.
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Re: Alien Bees 400 and 800 users...
Old 10-08-2004, 05:31 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Take it from me. I bought an 800 and a 400. Should have spent the extra 50 bucks and got another 800 instead.

The next time I order some I will be getting more 800's. Don't think I need to go to the 1600's though.



MJ
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Re: Alien Bees 400 and 800 users...
Old 10-08-2004, 08:43 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Zack, Thanks for starting this discussion. I think that this has finally ended MY quandry as well...I need two more light sets for the studio and all this input has just pushed me over the edge on what I am going to do. ....excellent topic..Ralph
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Re: Alien Bees 400 and 800 users...
Old 10-09-2004, 12:52 PM   #9 (permalink)
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LarryAB, thanks for the detailed reply. I'm thinking serious of getting the 400's and upgrade if need be.

Flphoto, i'm not sure what you mean by the 800 and the 400 having the same bottom end. Please explain.

Brother7, thanks for the compliments. There are still a few lookers in the magnolia state. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]
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Re: Alien Bees 400 and 800 users...
Old 10-09-2004, 03:25 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Zack,

you could take a closer look at the White Lightning 1600. It has two power settings for FULL and 1/4 power so you get 400WS and 1600WS in one strobe by simple pushing a button. Each powersetting has a 7stop adjustment range. I bought one several weeks ago because I wanted to be able to do studio work (1/4 and powered down if necessary) and location in bright sunlight conditions. I am not very experienced with strobe lights yet so take it with a grain of salt but the spec's looked great, seems like its a very flexible strobe setting.
..and by the way, I had to find out that the WL1600 is pretty tough too. It survied a crash onto concrete (parking lot at Austin Supershoot) when my 7' lightstand was blown over by the wind. No damages !!!

..just food for thought..
Robert
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