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Higher End Lighting?
Old 12-17-2004, 11:40 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I've read just about every single post for the last several months, with the exception of the off topic posts. With that said, I am well aware of the budget lighting possibilites, so my question is what will spending more money allow one to do. I know it is not the equipment but the photographer that makes an awsome picture but I also know a pro billiards player can run the table easier with a pool cue than he can with a broom stick. Is there a great advantage in 2400 vs 1200 watts, 250 watt porportional modeling, 8 stop range .1 stop control. My greatest concern with lights is being able to see shadows with the modeling lights. The artistic side of me believes what's not illuminated is just as important as what is illuminated. I'm thinking of the Profoto D4, is it worth the money. Earning back it's price would not be a contributing factor. My car is 20 years old but a guy has to have priorities. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smirk.gif[/img]
Ken
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Re: Higher End Lighting?
Old 12-18-2004, 01:06 AM   #2 (permalink)
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[ QUOTE ]
so my question is what will spending more money allow one to do.

[/ QUOTE ]

Well, at the very least, spending money on quality lighting equipment should let you sleep better at night [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img] if you've got an important shoot scheduled the next day. I don't think you'll find anyone that's going to willingly put up the overall quality and reliability of professional-grade lights versus some of the low end things that are out there.

Flexibility is what you're geting with the variable output units. If you're using a power pack type system, and the packs are all close to you, then you might be able to control everything from your shooting position. There's at least one monolight system that'll do the same, via a remote control wire (Paul Buff), and that lets you adjust things from the point where it'll do you the most good. And with a system approach, your modeling light ratios will be predictable so you will, indeed, see where your lighting is going, and where it's not.

Additionally, a system approach will let you share accessories, which may or may not be a factor for you. Though you don't seem to be on a strict budget, there's no use throwing money away if you don't need to.

Soe people swear by the pro powerpack lights... some prefer the monolight approach. Whichever you wind up going with, consider the situation that you can always dial down the power.. but there's very little way to boost the output past the max, so getting a system with more power output may not be so important most days, but those couple of days when it is, you'll be glad you did.

I know a couple of folks who have gone the Profoto route, and they seem to be very happy with their choice. I'm in the monolight group, myself.

G'luck!

Wayne
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Re: Higher End Lighting?
Old 12-18-2004, 10:41 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks Wayne
That's some helpful information. Throwing away money is exactly what I'm trying to avoid. I'm patient so if there is value in waiting and saving money to go with higher end equipment thats the route I usually take. I waited to buy the 1ds canon and I'm glad I did, now I just have to decide on what lighting route to take. I'm assuming even with 250 watt modeling light's one would still have to be shooting in an area with pretty low ambient lighting to see the highlights and shadows. Mostly I'm looking for reasons that would support higher end equipment so I dont end up regretting a budget lighting purchase later. I bought a smaller 7hp snow blower and every time we get more than 8 inches of snow I regret that decision.
Ken
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Re: Higher End Lighting?
Old 12-18-2004, 10:47 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I can't speak intelligently about the profoto product because I've not worked with it, but I can say that I've worked with just about everything else. I've used both mono and pack systems by broncolor which is a good price and quality comparison to the profoto, or so I hear. I made a choice quite some time ago to go with speedotron's black line of systems after a lot of tinkering with different systems. In my opinion, the important things to look for are color corrected flash tubes, power scalability and the ability to take some abuse. The broncolor and profoto systems seem nice for some extra toys like built in slaves and being able to change the "ready sound" on the packs... OOOOooooo, aaaaahhhhh... :P

In my opinion research the speedotron systems nice and hard. The only advantage to the profoto systems is short burst times to "stop" the motion for fashion shooters. The same thing can be accomplished with the speedotron system by choosing the quad heads though. Happy hunting. Hope this helps.

-Craig


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Re: Higher End Lighting?
Old 12-18-2004, 10:57 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks Craig
I will check out the Speedotrons and broncolors. Freezing action will come up from time to time. Freezing backlit water drops come to mind.
Ken
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Re: Higher End Lighting?
Old 12-18-2004, 11:06 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Water drops should freeze well with either systems at less than full power. The strobes increase the output with a longer burst time above certain levels. The quad head on for speedtron will give you the shortest times though because there are four tubes at 600ws each for a total capacity of 2400ws in that head. It takes the burst time from about 1/4000 down to about 1/15000 of a second which is quick enough for everything but the rifle bullet through the apple shot! But that's OK, everyone has seen that shot anyway. You can still do the neddle popping the balloon shot though!

-Craig

You can look up my number on my website if you want to chat.

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Re: Higher End Lighting?
Old 12-18-2004, 11:09 AM   #7 (permalink)
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You always want the maximum power you can afford.
Not because you will always use it, but because it's there when you
need it. And those times will come. When they do come, those extra
dollars you spent will be well worth it.
As far as being able to see shadows with the modeling lights, power
will not make that much of a difference.
Master your light meter and do test strips of various exposures on
different film stock or digital settings and you will be set for life.
It cost about a half days work and less than $50.00 to get your equipment
fully calibrated for your work.
Don't let a few more dollars now force you to spend many more dollars in the future. Nip future issues in the bud today so you can have fun tomorrow.

Greg.

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Re: Higher End Lighting?
Old 12-18-2004, 11:20 AM   #8 (permalink)
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One critisizm I've heard of the cheaper lights is that the color temperature of the flash changes with the power output. Some claim it's as much as several hundred Kelvin. If this is true, I'd expect a more expensive system to have consistent flash color throughout the power range.

More power can be helpful depending on the accessories you're using. I was recently shooting through a 10 deg. grid and a dark green gel and had to use just about all the power my 320 w/s light had just to get f5.6 out of it. That was the first time I felt limited at all by my lights. The lesson being that certain accessories eat up a ton of your power, and it would have been nice to have something in reserve.

I guess if I'm spending the kind of cash that the high end systems cost, the things I'd be looking for would be: consistent flash color, very fast recycle times at full power, consistent output on every flash, very short flash duration (for freezing motion), absolute reliability, availability of any and every type of light modifier I could possibly dream of and they all need to be extremely easy to set up and remove, all connectors and switches and controls need to be of high quality and unlikely to break or wear out or become easily damaged even with repeated use and abuse.

That would be a start. That's a lot to ask, but some of the higher-end systems cost thousands upon thousands of dollars, which is a bunch to ask of me. Last thing is if I were to have some sort of failure with the system, there'd better be a service guy waiting at the door before I even begin to cuss. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]
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Re: Higher End Lighting?
Old 12-18-2004, 11:24 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I have not used Profoto since about 1989 and even then my experience was quite limited. But with that said, as with most tools the main advantage of buying "higher end" is in flexibility, the flexibility of being able to adapt to differing situations. Way back, my personal choice was Novatron. Unfortunately I am beginning to experience problems with them, after only a quarter century of heavy use. (Maybe I'll complain to Novatron about that!) They traveled with me and performed completely reliably while I did commercial work. They worked with no problems at all in lighting everything from small product to groups of 6 or 7 people. My Novatron powerpack had only two power settings, full and half strength, with two more on the heads. I found that to be more than adequate. They are not the brightest lights available, but easily allowed me to do anything I needed to do.

Yeah, the 100 watt modeling lights are sort of dim, but I keep ambiant light low while shooting and they work. I'm rarely surprised by sneaky shadows. They have allowd me to 'see' glare when shooting a lot of oil paintings and other artwork and so forth. Brighter would be better but again, they work.

Someone asked me recently if I planned on getting a new car. I asked them why I should? The purpose of a car is to get me from here to there and back again and my 95 Saturn does it quite well, both reliably and comfortably.

As for the snow blower problem and 8 inches of snow; move. That's what I did. I lived in CO many years ago for a winter and a half. The second time I had to prob for my car with a broom handle, I moved. Now I don't need a snow blower at all!

My place
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Re: Higher End Lighting?
Old 12-18-2004, 11:58 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Thanks Doug
I appreciate the reply. Having more information increases my chances of making an informed decision. Your recommendation of moving away from snow suits me just fine. I'm afraid the Mrs and kids might not be to happy moving though.
I have a swimming pool that I used to keep thawed all year long though and thought it would be really cool to get a shot of a bikini clad model in high heals running the snow blower through a foot of fresh snow with the swimming pool steaming in the back ground. If anyone want to pay my natural gas bill we can make that shoot happen. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cool.gif[/img]
Ken
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