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Thread: Strobes to studio strobes---advice sought

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    Strobes to studio strobes---advice sought

    Hey AusPhotographers, I am hoping for your collective help.

    I read an interview somewhere online from a photographer that went from using normal hot-shoe flashes to using studio strobes. He said that he outgrew the flashes. He needed something that could nuke daylight at f12 or f14 in order to get the depth of field.

    This has always played in the back of my mind, and became quite apparent in a shoot I did a few weeks ago.

    What was happening is that I was missing the shot because of the flash recycle time.

    So. I know nothing about studio strobes. What to look for. Price. What light stands they need. What brands other togs use. Modelling lights. The different power options etc etc etc.

    I have heard of elinchrom and monoblock, but really know nothing about these. Not only do I know nothing, I don't even know where to start.

    I have skyport and pocketwizard remote triggers.

    So, what would you/do you recommend? What should I look for?

    Thanks!!

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    fist question is what do you plan to do with the heads mate ?? what kind of stuff are you doing ..??

    and elinchrom is a manufacturer, monobloc is term used to describe a flash head that has all controls built in to the unit.
    Hi Im Darren

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    Thanks bigdazzler, you just proved how little I know.

    This is not an immediate thing. Just that this situation has happened once, so I know it'll happen again. So I want to start thinking about things now.

    I would be using them on location to light set-up portrait shots where I need fast recycle times (faster than a flash anyhow), as well as power. Shooting either through an umbrella or softbox at some distance (3m or more), to overcome bright ambient light. I just can't wait 4-5 seconds for my flash units to recycle. Or longer as the batteries drain.

    Cheers,

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    What is your idea of "fast recycle times"? If you're shooting a big head at full power (to overpower ambient), running on a battery pack, you're still looking at a couple of seconds, worse if you've got more than one head on the same battery.

    The way strobes come into their own is the other point you eluded to, using modifiers such as softboxes and umbrellas, and the quality of light.

    It's really not going to be the cheapest thing in the world, you'll most likely need newer/sturdier light stands, which you're looking at ~$100 a pop for, and softboxes are quite expensive as well. Look on eBay for stuff, it's where I've got the majority of my gear from.

    Also, why are you using PW's and Skyports?

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    blighties right mate .. all flashes take a second or two to recycle, its just a fact of flash photography.

    I do a fair bit of the stuff youre describing, with speedlights and studio heads, and I dont find that recycle times bother me too much. Posed portraiture is not really a fast paced style of shooting. I find i kinda shoot, review, shoot review etc .. this gives the flashes time to charge up for the next shot.

    Another thing to consider is if doing locational stuff, if you start using big powerful floor packs and multiple heads all of a sudden your kit is not very portable and life begins to get tough unless you got an assistant to be your pack horse.

    My location setup is usually 2 x speedlights, 2 x pop up speedlight softboxes, and 2 x stands, with a set of trigger/receivers, a meter, and a set of reflectors. Thats it.

    A lot of the time you wont be able to completely kill the ambient, but sometimes you will. Dpends on a few things, time of day, how much light is in the sky, whether youre using scrims or gobos etc etc ..

    My biggest question is why do you need such fast recycle times shooting posed portraiture .. this is the beauty of the genre, you are in total control of everything, including the pace at which you work ..

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    more speedlights through the modifier at a lower power will help with recycle times.

    Try 6 speedlights @ 1/2 or 1/4 power, doesn't take long.

    No idea why you have 2 triggering systems. Sell one of them and use the money towards more speedlights

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    Thanks for all the replies.

    I also understand that new light stands and other accessories will be needed. I don't have an issue with this as long as I know what I am looking for. And am prepared for it. Not that I need it now, but I know someday I will.

    @littleblightie
    My idea of fast recycle times is 2 seconds or less. Does a studio head at half power have more punch than a 430exII at full power? If so, then you could use it at 1/2 or 1/4 power and it will recycle faster than a 430exII?

    And what if the heads are running off mains power? They recycle faster than on a battery pack?

    I'm happy to look at eBay, I just don't know what I am looking for. In terms of studio lights, that is.

    @bigdazzler
    I understand that all flashes take a second or two to recycle. It's when I am waiting 5, 6 or 8 seconds. And this will be the problem later on. I just know nothing about studio heads and don't even know where to start to learn about them.

    Posed portraiture is mostly not fast paced. But when you are setting up the shot and the position can only be held for a very limited time, I would like to get quite a few more shots than I am before 5 minutes is spent getting out, and then back into position.

    I also understand that the kit becomes less portable. However, this is a side effect of having the equipment for the type of shoot that I am after, where strobes just don't quite cut it.

    To give an example of why I am looking at fast recycle times. Here are some pics:

    and

    and

    The last being a composite of each individual letter. So, for these set-ups, particularly, the D and the A, the positions were not able to be held for very long at all. Not only that, it took quite a while to get into position, remove the ladders and clear the area. Even if I can get 4-5 shots in 10 seconds, this is better than 1 or 2.

    @ehor
    I have previously added more speed lights to one modifier, unfortunately for this shoot, I only had 4 lights with me. And realised my problem during the shoot.

    And to answer your other question, I have two triggering systems because I bought a set of skyports because the ebay triggers were completely unreliable. And 12 months later I bought the pocketwizards because of e-TTL. Weddings are now a cinch.

    I will sell one set when I am convinced that I will not need the other set as back up.

    Also, presuming that you can fire the studio strobes with either set of triggers?

    Thanks

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    So essentially I am looking for a monobloc? What type, brand, things to look out for would you recommend? And why?

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    Quote Originally Posted by bmxbandit View Post
    So essentially I am looking for a monobloc? What type, brand, things to look out for would you recommend? And why?
    The one thing that you haven't mentioned in your posts is price.
    Assuming that the credit card is healthy, my suggestion is to search the various well known manufacturers specification sheets to find the most powerful heads with the shortest recycle times.
    Try --
    Bowens
    Elinchrom

    Both those brands are handled by NGsystems ( AP site advertiser )

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    well fair enough then, now it makes much more sense .. thats not the kind of posed portraiture i was envisioning

    as Andrew said mate .. $$$$ is the only obstacle now, do some homework on differing specs. Elinchrom, Bowens, and Broncolor if youre really rich, are all great heads.
    Last edited by bigdazzler; 07-10-2009 at 9:17am.

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    Thanks guys.
    I'll look into those ones.

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    As someone else said, you can use multiple speedlights. If you're tryign to overpower the sun then you might need a few. Ive never actually tried to overpower the sun yet. You can even buy all sorts of fancy brackets to mount them side by side and squeeze moe than one into softboxes etc.

    Dont forget you can by external battery packs for your speedlights aswell. So Your recycle times will stay reasonable and you can shoot all day.

    These might be far cheaper alternatives than forking out for some heavy studio strobes and batterypacks.
    Brodie Butler (Perth, WA)
    Photographer / Filmmaker / Retoucher
    Canon & Elinchrom user

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    bmxbandit.
    I've moved on to strobes for daytime location work now.
    Using Alien Bees and Explorer XT powerpack.
    www.paulcbuff.com.au check 'em out.

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    hey ed.. is it a lot of difference compared to using speedlights?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Colourised View Post
    hey ed.. is it a lot of difference compared to using speedlights?
    Yeah very different. So much power on tap and the range of modifiers available for it is awesome. Especially the foldable softboxes.

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    would u think jumping for them AB400s be a wise move compared to getting more speedlights instead?

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    The problem I found with multiple flashes was when you need that much power they are all on 1/1 power. The recycle time gets annoying.

    For the price difference and what you're shooting I would go 110v B800 + Vagabond II. That will open up a whole new world for you.

    The Vagabond is pretty small, probably about a shoebox and a half big and can be recharged by 110/240v mains so you can still run the 110v head through mains via the Vagabond powerpack.

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    Does anyone have Pocketwizard MiniTT1 and FlexTT5's with a single speedlight and use Studio strobes at same time?

    how did you sync the Studio strobes?

    Can you still use the High Speed Sync? if you add the Studio strobes to the equation?

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