Mon 20-Aug-12 01:47 AM | edited Mon 20-Aug-12 01:49 AM by chanrahan
I'm thinking of purchasing the Westcott Apollo softbox to use with my Speedlights. However, since the speedlights are actually mounted inside of this soft box, does this mean that I won't be able to use Nikon CLS to trigger/control the flashes? Would I have to use a radio trigger system instead?
I use the Lastolite ezybox (http://www.lastolite.us/medium-ezybox-softbox-2-x2); It's more expensive, but the speedlight mounts outside the box and it's easy to set up. I also have the P. C. Buff radio transmitters and receivers, made in USA and work very well (no CTL, manual only).
Thanks for your response. Does the Lastolite softbox allow you to use more than one Speedlight?
I'd like to use higher (f8 and smaller) when doing some portraits, and I'm afraid that a single Speedlight won't be powerful enough to overcome smaller apertures. I'm hesistent to switch to studio lights because the portable ones are expensive. On the other hand, If I use Speedlights, I could end up spending more for radio triggers. I hadn't considered the P. C. Buff triggers, so thanks for the recommendation there.
Chris, Hi, I also have the 24"x24" Lastolite EZBox Softbox. Unfortunately, you can only mount one shoe mount flash to the softbox. Curious, why would you want to shoot portraits in such a small aperture? Do you want a large depth of field? I tend to shoot portraits (individuals) F/2.8 or F/4. I have my auto focus point on the individual eye that's closest to the camera. Most portrait photographers adhere to that rule.
Thanks for taking the time to read and reply. Like you, I set my focus point on the eye of the subject of my portraits. I do a lot of "portable studio" work, where I bring my lighting equipment with me, which is why I like Speedlights. But I want to use a big softbox and I want to use the light from the softbox to override the ambient light, since the ambient is usually terrible office lighting. I've never had much luck with gels, so its easier to shoot at an aperture that takes the ambient light out of the lighting equation.
I'm afraid that a single Speedlight won't have enough power to drive a big softbox. I know that some people have used a double flash bracket in the Apollo to put multiple flashes in it to increase the output.
Eventually, I'd like to use a monolight to light the background of my portraits, especially if I start using portrait backgrounds. I don't know if a Speedlight has enough power to do something like that.
I like the FourSquare portable lighting system from Lightware Direct http://www.lightwaredirect.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Category_Code=FSK Dave Black introduced me to the FourSquare a few years ago when I was on a photo trek. It works great using Pocket Wizards hyper sync with Nikon speedlights when shooting outdoors in bright sun! CLS also is possible with the swivel adapter kit and leaving the rear flaps open when shooting outdoors. You can customize the system to your needs. In the field, I am able to mount the FourSquare system on my tripod. Tip: Speedlights punch out much more power when using manual vs. iTTL.
Chris, What if you turn the ambient light off? Or, turn the lights off in the shooting area and keep the hallway light on (if it's not affecting your white balance.) Another suggestion, you can leave the lights on while you set up for the portrait and then turn them off when you're ready to compose your shot. Do you shoot RAW or JPEG? Do you set a custom white balance? And, do you put your flash in manual or TTL?
Fri 24-Aug-12 03:22 AM | edited Fri 24-Aug-12 03:23 AM by chanrahan
Turning the lights of is sometimes a possibility, but many times I'm in a conference room or other room that doesn't have a window or any other source of light. When I can turn the lights off, I do. Turning them off when I compose doesn't help me, as I'm usually by myself (except for my subjects), so I'd have to cross a dark room after the lights go out. Not a good idea for a clutz like me.
I always shoot in RAW, and when I shoot with flashes indoors in a studio environment I always have the camera in manual, and usually have my lights in TTL, except for the background light. I use the histogram to add/remove flash compensation until I'm happy with the results.
>Turning the lights of is sometimes a possibility, but many >times I'm in a conference room or other room that doesn't have >a window or any other source of light. When I can turn the >lights off, I do. Turning them off when I compose doesn't >help me, as I'm usually by myself (except for my subjects), so >I'd have to cross a dark room after the lights go out. Not a >good idea for a clutz like me. Sorry if I confused you, I meant for you to turn the ambient lights off once you're ready to shoot your portrait. I understand, I keep a small flash light in my camera bag because I'm also klutzy. > >I always shoot in RAW, and when I shoot with flashes indoors >in a studio environment I always have the camera in manual, >and usually have my lights in TTL, except for the background >light. I use the histogram to add/remove flash compensation >until I'm happy with the results. Have you tried shooting with your strobes in manual?
1. Keeping a flashlight handy is a good idea, I'll add one to my bag.
2. I have shot with my strobes in manual, but I still use Nikon CLS to trigger them. Unfortunately because of the way that CLS works, the multiple flashes tend to confuse the flash meter. There are ways around this that have been discussed on this forum before. One way that I've used is to set the shutter speed on the camera to be 30 seconds or so, and set the camera to rear curtain sync. When the shutter is tripped, the camera will send a single flash to tell the remote flashes what power to use. Then a long pause followed by the flash to tell the remote speedlights to fire. The idea is to wait for the 1st flash to complete and set your flashmeter to record the 2nd flash. This works fine, but it is a real hassle to set up. I wish that someone made a flashmeter that understood CLS and would ignore the pre-flashes. I do like the results I get when I use manual flash/flashmeter but it is such a bother to use because of the CLS triggering that I usually don't do it.
It sounds like the Apollo Orb is the perfect fit for what you're looking to do. It's a 43" Octagonal Box with a recessed from that allows for the addition of our new Apollo Orb Grid which was just released. Great thing for your portraits and providing a round catch light.
Here are some other great things about the Orb:
i) Size: You can fit one, two, three or four speedlites in the unit with zero trouble. Plenty of room. Not to mentioned that you can house a mono strobe or even our biggest constant light, The Spiderlite TD6, if you needed too. This just isn't possible with the E-Z-Box.
2) Durability: We just up'd the game when it comes to portable modifiers and durability. There's a good chance the Orb you purchase will be built on our NEW fiberglass framework. This is a redesign that we're rolling out to the entire Apollo series as we speak. New redesigned product, more durable structure, same price.
3) Price: This is by the deal sealer. The NEW Redesigned Apollo Orb, an 8' light stand, and our metal tilter bracket is sold for $149.90. You can even pick-up the grid for an additional $69.90.
All of the mid-sized Apollos (28" Medium Box, 16x30 Strip) can be purchased be purchased at the same price. The other Apollos are also receiving a redesign with the fiberglass frame and the grids are already available.
Final note: Radio Triggers have come down drastically. Even the industry leader, Pocket Wizard, now sales the PW Plus III's for around $139/ea. That's cheaper than the original PLUS II's or the the Flex/Mini combos.
It can be done, but the moons have to align just right.
Here's the reason. To get a speedlite to work via line-of-sight or infrared the room's pretty much got to be pitch black and the Apollos have to be strategically placed. Even slaved -mono-strobes firing off of a light cell need to be positioned just right. In a room filled with ambient light or light coming in from a nearby window. The front diffusion panel turns into a white reflector. Therefor, shielding what's ever inside from receiving any communication from anything via line-of-sight.
In all of my experiences. Investing in a radio trigger system or purchasing extended sync cords provide more assurance of firing and less guess work.
I would agree with Brad that using the long remote cord is the best way to go. Syl Arena's book and website is full of examples for how to use this.
I have the Apollo box you are interested in. Another option, kind of cludgey, is to put one speedlight in the box on the hotshoe, in wireless TTL mode. Turn the body of the speedlight so that the IR eye faces the front of the softbox. Take another speedlight (if you have an extra) and place it so that it fires directly into the front of the softbox. You can position this speedlight so that it 'sees' the master flash from your camera mounted speedlight or the built-in pop-up flash (I have a D90). I have also read on the CLS forum on flickr that a mirror can work - your results may vary. I am a very inexperienced CLS user and can tell you this works, at least in an indoor environment.
This Apollo softbox (24x24)is a favorite of Zack Arias if that means anything to you, he does great work with his.
I've gone 100% Pocketwizards....yes, they are expensive...yes, there are other's which work well and do something similiar...
However, I'm just friggen amazed at the new TT1 / TT5 ITTL system...
With the AC3 Controller on the top of the TT1, you an control everything..
I got frustrated with the Nikon CLS system, due to how my strobes are used and set.
I too use only Lastolite's...Expensive ....yes, but, the work....like anything, I think you get what you pay for....
The Speedbox that opens and sets up in 60 seconds is very nice..
I own the 30x30, along with the Octabox 36" and Strip light box for my outdoor strobe stuff...This combined with a very cool toy....the FIREFLY Octabox, that opens in 30 seconds and set up in about a minute, works great....I have the 20" and it works..
The Westcott makes a very nice setup....not saying anything against it..just saying, the PW's are a very "nice" to have...when a strobe is placed out of line of site...
Mon 21-Jan-13 03:14 AM | edited Mon 21-Jan-13 03:16 AM by RicD
Yes, I am a bit late to this thread. I own the 28 inch Apollo having used it with a SB-28, SB-800, and AB-800 connected to their VML battery. Where light can bounce around then eventually enter the Apollo sending signals to the SB-800 CLS does well, yet sometimes at best it is hit or miss. CLS and Apollo outside forgetaboutit!
To me using a CLS in a light modifier outside is the same as attempting to make a pig fly. It frustrates us, pisses off the pig.
With my Apollo my solution is radio triggers, my choice is Paul C Buff CyberSync. They are as reliable as PW, yet considerably less expensive. Chose the radio trigger you like, they are a gazillion times more reliable CLS.
Canon for their new cameras now use radio frequency (RF) triggers. IR triggers are dying, and soon I hope Nikon will give up on IR going to RF triggers as well.
Here is another thought. Two or more SBs in a Apollo is more expensive than many studio strobes that produce goo-gobs more power. One SB-800 is more expensive than an a AlienBee-800. Okay, studio strobes are not as portable. Consider we are using the Apollo on a light stand with either a Speedlight or studio strobe portability is not an issue. My Apollo is most often used with a AlienBee-800 connected to their very small VML battery, and radio trigger. Now, I have the power, triggering reliability for hundreds of pops, much faster recycle time, portability, and convenience of the Apollo.
Speedlights in light modifiers is like pulling a semi with a VW Bug. Yes it can be accomplish successfully and with outstanding results. There are many reasons not to do it than why to do it. Again, the cost of a studio strobe is less than a new SB.