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Equipment Selection…Again
Old 09-22-2010, 12:01 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I know this horse has been beat to death but I have my own set of problems with lighting choices.

I have used a friend’s Alien Bees strobes and believe I am ready to purchase my own studio strobes. No offense to Alien Bees users here, but I do not want to use them…for various reasons. I always try to buy quality items and try to get the best bang for my buck for the long hall. After scouring various photo forums and review websites for quite awhile, I have narrowed my choice down to Elinchrom and Hensel. Dyna-Lite seems appealing also. I would also include Profoto but it is simply too expensive for me. I have no studio…only space in my garage and eventually a spare room in the house. This may make location shots king in my world. My problem is there are no rental houses around here (Norfolk, Virginia Beach area) for me to try these brands out. I’m looking to purchase in the next six months or so. If I could, I would like to ask a few questions to the users of these brands.

Reliability: how reliable/rugged do you consider your equipment?

Availability: how available is your brand to order? For example, Hensel has a long waiting time for various items at B&H it seems, my preferred supplier. I’ve also used Adorama and Samy’s in the past. All three have given me great service.

Service: what is service like in the unlikely event your gear needs servicing? Is customer service helpful or hard to deal with? Is service readily available? Are parts expensive or just about the average price compared to other brands?

Hensel users: what brand of light modifiers do you use on your lights? I don’t think I need to ask that of the Elinchrom users.

In addition, I’m eventually also looking for location options with this equipment, such as eventually getting a Hensel Porty Premium or Elinchrom Ranger Speed RX AS. I think it makes sense to stay with one system/brand. I’m also thinking that a location option (where AC power would not be available) could possibly be using a Hensel Integra Pro Plus or Elinchrom Style 600RX monolight with a power unit such as the Innovatronix Explorer XT (SE). Starting out with one or two monolights would seem to be my first step, correct? If not, what would you do?

Also, I have enough “strobist” stuff so I already do plenty of “run and gun” photography.

Thanks for all the help…I do appreciate it!

Brian
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Re: Equipment Selection…Again
Old 09-22-2010, 03:14 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I'm in a similar situation with respect to flash systems. I was at a recent group shoot where everyone, and I mean everyone but me was using Alien Bees. I guess they are nice, but I couldn't tell that they were $300 to $700 nicer than the very cheap strobes I was using.

I'm leaning toward Bowens. They seem to be very rugged, and they also have a wider range of adjustments than the Hensels and Elinchromes. They also seem to have a wide range of modifiers, including a lot of options from third parties.

Along with Hensel and Elinchrome, I would be interested in hearing what you guys (and girls) think of Bowens.
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Re: Equipment Selection…Again
Old 09-22-2010, 04:41 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I have six Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 monolights. I use a combination of modifiers:

Hensel beauty dish
Westcott 7' Octobank
Westcott 12x36" Strip boxes
Photoflex Q39 3x4' Multidome
Photoflex 5' Octobank

You can see various images shot with these modifiers on my website, flickr, or Pbase galleries.
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Re: Equipment Selection…Again
Old 09-23-2010, 12:59 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple B View Post
I know this horse has been beat to death but I have my own set of problems with lighting choices.

I have used a friend’s Alien Bees strobes and believe I am ready to purchase my own studio strobes. No offense to Alien Bees users here, but I do not want to use them…for various reasons. I always try to buy quality items and try to get the best bang for my buck for the long hall. After scouring various photo forums and review websites for quite awhile, I have narrowed my choice down to Elinchrom and Hensel. Dyna-Lite seems appealing also. I would also include Profoto but it is simply too expensive for me. I have no studio…only space in my garage and eventually a spare room in the house. This may make location shots king in my world. My problem is there are no rental houses around here (Norfolk, Virginia Beach area) for me to try these brands out. I’m looking to purchase in the next six months or so. If I could, I would like to ask a few questions to the users of these brands.

Reliability: how reliable/rugged do you consider your equipment?

Availability: how available is your brand to order? For example, Hensel has a long waiting time for various items at B&H it seems, my preferred supplier. I’ve also used Adorama and Samy’s in the past. All three have given me great service.

Service: what is service like in the unlikely event your gear needs servicing? Is customer service helpful or hard to deal with? Is service readily available? Are parts expensive or just about the average price compared to other brands?

Hensel users: what brand of light modifiers do you use on your lights? I don’t think I need to ask that of the Elinchrom users.

In addition, I’m eventually also looking for location options with this equipment, such as eventually getting a Hensel Porty Premium or Elinchrom Ranger Speed RX AS. I think it makes sense to stay with one system/brand. I’m also thinking that a location option (where AC power would not be available) could possibly be using a Hensel Integra Pro Plus or Elinchrom Style 600RX monolight with a power unit such as the Innovatronix Explorer XT (SE). Starting out with one or two monolights would seem to be my first step, correct? If not, what would you do?

Also, I have enough “strobist” stuff so I already do plenty of “run and gun” photography.

Thanks for all the help…I do appreciate it!

Brian
Hey Brian, talk about a blast from the past, you and I are from the same area. I grew up in the Norfolk/Chesapeake area so I am sure you and I have things in common and certainly could swap some stories.

If you want to do a hands on of a particular set of lights on I suggest you go and talk with John Wilt. He is the Owner of Camera City/Quality Camera in your area and a good friend. He will not steer you wrong.

As far as which lights to choose you can ask ten different people and still get ten different answers but the long and the short of it is you use what works for you and what you can afford. You also have to determine what you will use them for and factor in room for growth so you don't outlive them in too short of a time. Also, don't make the mistake of overbuying lights just because someone else has a fancy set or because you think they will make you a better photographer. Fancy lights don't get the job done any better and lights will not make you a better photographer. You haven't posted any photos here and I couldn't find a web site for you which makes me believe you are just starting out so take your time and don't rush. There will be many opportunities for you to blow all of your money on photography goodies as you progress and grow.

For me, I am currently using the Photogenics StudioMax 320 Watt/sec lights and am very happy with them but there was a time when I used Britek lights and you will be hard pressed to find anyone who has anything good to say about them, if you can find someone who has even heard of them but they held up great for me. I used the heck out of them for five years, going through ten to twenty rolls of film a month for five years (do the math, that is a lot of flashes for any set of lights) and they never failed me in any way, shape, or form.

Also, don't be afraid of the store brand lights. B & H has a house brand light that has gotten some good reviews as does Calumet Camera so check them out.

Good luck and if you have any other questions let us know.
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Re: Equipment Selection…Again
Old 09-23-2010, 03:23 AM   #5 (permalink)
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For Steve... and others wondering about Bowens. I bought this for my first set of Strobes, and have been very happy with them...

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...R_3_Light.html

Douglas Carl
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