I'm a wedding photographer looking to purchase an Alien Bee but I need some advice on which one to get; 400, 800 or 1600.
I need a strobe for two main purposes, for reception in order to light the hall. I would use it to bounce the light off of ceiling as well as wall. The size of halls are various sizes, would one of Alien Bee be sufficient and which one? Is anyone using this setup for lighting up the reception venues? Any other ideas or suggestions?
The second purpose of AB would be to use the same one in a photo booth where a quick recycle time is needed. How do white lightning strobes compare to Alien Bees? Is it worth to spend a bit more for more power? One last thing, I have a D600 so I can push the ISO quite high in response to lower power output from the strobes and quicker recycle times.
In my somewhat limited studio experience, I discovered that there is no "one size fits all" strobe that will work in all situations.
For a very large hall, where you can bounce the light off the ceiling, a more powerfull unit may be required, e.g., 800 WS or 1,600 WS. These units may be overkill for the small studio or booth settings, as you may not be able to dial the power level down far enough to be useful, even at smallest apertures and lowest possible ISO figures.
A few years ago, I purchased four relatively inexpensive 300 WS units that can be used successfully in smaller venues.
Depending on brand and relative cost, studio units will usually recycle fairly rapidly, even at full power. Check the specs before making your final decision.
Perhaps some of our professional wedding photographers will offer more detailed advice.
HBB in Phoenix, Arizona Nikonian Team Member
Photography is a journey with no conceivable destination.
I second the "Einstein 640" strobes I use Three of them. I have used them for many national adds. You cant go wrong with the bee 800 it is cheaper and works good. But the Einstein has a lot more consistency with color and power output. The Einstein can also work like a speed light and has a action setting or color. Two bee 800's would work great at any wedding if you no what you are doing and have the right modifiers. Get the white Paul buff beauty dish with cover, It works just like a good soft box and is cheap. All Paul buff light modifiers good IMO. If you do use other brand modifiers like I do. You will need to get a speed ring for them to put on the strobes . Good luck the two bee 800,s or Einsteins have plenty of power to do the job with good modifiers !
Derek, I'm a staunch proponent of Paul Buff's 640 Joule "Einstein 640" strobes. I have four of them, together with a wide selection of PCB's accessories, and cannot rate them highly enough. My advice is to get at least two.
FWIW, I also have an ABR800 - which is superb, especially for "Q&D" product type shots.
Sat 23-Mar-13 02:46 PM | edited Sat 23-Mar-13 03:11 PM by PeterBeckett
Hi Scott, I watched the pre-release information from PCB about the Einstein as it evolved. I held back from ordering any studio strobes until Einsteins became available. It turned out to be a very wise wait! The last strobes I owned were Speedotron, in the 1980s. Boy! How things have changed!!!
FWIW, due to having several Pocket Wizard devices, I bought their wireless controllers for Einsteins (AC-3 + MC-2 names come to mind, but I could be wrong), with a FlexTT5(plus the AC-3(?) on the camera. However, I encountered all sorts of troubles, including an inability to use Sekonic L758-DR with the setup. I also didn't like the very limited control offered by the PW AC-3(?). Therefore, I sent back the MC-2s and the AC-3 but kept the FlexTT5. I bought PCB CyberSync components instead.
My arrangement for over a year has been to have the FlexTT5 on the camera, with a PCB CST on top of the FlexTT5 (which is set to receive a PW signal from the L-758DR). Each Einstein has a CSXCV receiver and the ABR800 has a CSRB+ for when I need to use it along with the Einsteins. I carry both the L-758DR and a CyberSymc "Commander" in my pocket. Thus, I am able to TOTALLY control all aspects of the strobes remotely(individually, or using arbitrary groupings) AND test fire them using the meter. It all works PERFECTLY.
Edited to add: Yes, I do know that the PCB CyberSync Commander has a very usable flashmeter built-in. However, I prefer my L-758DR. In comparisons which I made shortly after arriving at the configuration described above, the Commander and Sekonic exposure readings matched very well!
I wonder how they would work with the L-478DR and PW adapters. THe L-478DR is sweet since it sets the levels and the camera just triggers the system.
It is a little handicapped yet. You have to turn groups on individually to meter them individually. Then you have to turn all groups on to get an overall reading. Supposedly Sekonic is going to get it working as suggested, in that one triggering fires groups in sequence, reporting each groups aperture as well as the overall aperture.
Still, it is very nice with the CTL units. I just set the on camera transmitter to trigger only and the meter does the rest. Now I have C2 set to trigger only and hypersync set to 1/800 sec. That mode is used with my meter or flash set to manual full power for outdoor fill at up to 1/600s.
Scott Chapin Powder Springs, GA, USA Nikonians Team Member
Scott, If you're saying that the L-478DR is going to be able to control all aspects of PCB strobes having PW receivers, then that would be AWESOME. However, if it's going to offer no more control than the AC-3, I don't see why they'd even bother!
Nevertheless, I am very interested in knowing how well it works out.
No, it won't give 1/10 stop precision over a 9 stop range. It gives you 1/3stop precision over a 6 stop range, just as CLS would. The advantage over the AC3 is that you can adjust all the flashes from the subject position to nail your exposure and lighting ratio without trial and error or chimping. Then too, CLS meters the flashes individually and not collectively.
Don't get me wrong. If I had a studio, I probably wouldn't even bother with PocketWizard. I would get the Einsteins with the CyberController.....no doubt. I'm a huge PCB fan.
Scott Chapin Powder Springs, GA, USA Nikonians Team Member
I have WL 1600s and use with PW remote (Flex 5 / AC 9 /AC 3) on D800e (used to be D700). The difference b/w AB and WL are: (1) Built quality WL is sturdier and heavier (2) 2 mode setting in 1600 and 3200 WL full power and 1/8 power with 8 stops change v.s. 6 stops on AB.
Einstein and WL / AB 1600 are the similar output power and if I were to buy the unit now, I would get Einstein without any doubts but it was not available when I got my WL. I use this in a small studio / large studio / desktop (as replacement of speedlight) / location- I must say I use more than my SB900s in off camera manual setting .
I have 2x Einsteins and 2xAB800. The Einsteins have the little PCB triggers in them and one of the AB800s has a CyberSync+ . I control these three lights with the PCB Cyber Commander which works great. It has 1/10 adjustments throughout the range of the strobes, it can turn the lights on and off, control the modeling lights and has a great built in light meter. The light meter works remarkably well and I find it very accurate once I calibrated it to my camera.
If I was to buy more lights, I would go with Einsteins.
check out david zisers blog digitalprotalk. he uses two quantum td5r on lightstands at either end of a room at 1/16 power with a fill flash on camera at iso 1600. you dont need a lot of light power to get a great lighting exposure. I have the alien bee 1600 for studio use and have never set it above 1/8 power. I bought it for it great even ligthing when used with the accessory plum umbrellas.
Tue 16-Apr-13 05:22 AM | edited Tue 16-Apr-13 05:25 AM by DinoCardelli
I own 3 800's and one 400 and a ring flash from PCB....great products..
I like the PW tt1/tt5 system with the AC3 controller....this combined with AC9 for the strobes allows for complete control of the strobe system....
I originally bought the TT1/TT5 system for my Nikon SB600, 900 and 910 system as I wasn't crazy about the CLS system...witht he PW's, it sits on top of the camera, and you just click to adjust with the CLS, you gotta drive down on the menu...and, with RF no line of sight needed...
I have used the CLS extensively and it's a great backup for the Nikons...
The PW's are expensive, but, they work....I have the PB cycber cync system as a back up and they work fine with the triggers, etc.; however, you have to manually change the power on the back of the AB.....
Go to pocketwizards.com and the demos they show, work exactly as in real life.
you can go to my professional gallery and see some work in the food photography as well as the pets, all done with AB's.....my website is : cardellicreatives.com