I am just getting into fashion and model shooting and was looking for a decent strobe kit. I have seen things like this on eBay:
Can anyone give me some advice?
#1. "RE: New Lighting Setup" | In response to Reply # 0kj_fi Nikonian since 18th Jul 2007Sat 03-Nov-12 01:13 PM
I'm surprised that nobody has replied to your mail yet. Although I have pretty good strobes (Profoto), I don't have much experience on using them. Nevertheless, I can still give you my humble opinions.
First of all, somebody might tell you to be cautious when buying something from ebay; you don't know what it really is. Especially, when the vendor name is not mentioned in the title.
Second, the first package says "total of 410 W" which, in addition of being an inaccurate statement, sounds a bit deceptive and at the low end of power for strobes. It actually means 2 x 205 Ws (watt-seconds). Depending on your shooting setup, you may run out of power with those. Usually, entry-level strobe sets start from 2 x 250 Ws; can you trust the seller in this case? Of course, the power is not the only factor, you need to think about light shaping tools as well; how far or wide are you going to distribute the light, etc.
Third, you might think what tools you can attach to the strobes, does the system support radio triggering (using cables is so yesterday), etc. How well are the stands made; do they tip over easily, are they tall enough?
Fourth, you may be happier in future if you select a better brand from the beginning (not in version 2.0). There are many reputable vendors; stick to them. For example, Elinchrome and many other "good brands" have nice entry level sets. You really don't want to buy some cheap stuff which falls into parts or does not serve you well for years.
Fifth, check out some reviews about well-known strobes and you'll quickly learn what you might want to expect from a set and how much you like to pay for it. Be warned that after reading reviews you may begin to want more and better, though!
As I said, I have a Profoto set. 2 x 500 Ws costs about 2300 € but these are among the best.
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#2. "RE: New Lighting Setup" | In response to Reply # 0Slohand1 Charter MemberSat 03-Nov-12 02:36 PM
I totally agree with Kari on the sound advice that he has offered. I originally had a set of Dyna-Light 1000WS Strobes which worked very well for me but they were outdated - so I began during some research and settled on a set of Profoto 500WS Strobes.
I'm glad that I took the time to do the research and am very pleased with my strobes. My studio work has improved threefold and the set is so easy and quick to set up that it has cut my workflow in terms of set-up and post processing, and most important is that my clients are satisfied with the outcome.
Hope this helps,
#3. "RE: New Lighting Setup" | In response to Reply # 0HBB Charter MemberSat 03-Nov-12 11:31 PM | edited Mon 05-Nov-12 02:27 PM by HBB
Welcome to Nikonians. I hope your time with us will be rewarding.
You have already received excellent advice from Kari and Marty.
A few additional points to consider:
Your links included two strobe systems and one continuous or "Hot Light" system. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
Hot light systems are less expensive, and you get an exact impression of highlight and shadow detail while composing the shot with the model. On the other hand, hot light systems produce a lot of heat which can get uncomfortable for model and photographer. The higher the Wattage bulb used, the greater the heat produced.
Strobe light systems are more expensive. They typically offer a power level range of five to seven stops or so. Most come with a modeling light of 50 to 75 Watts or so which is used to check highlight and shadow detail while setting up the shot. On some models, the modeling light will track the power level setting of the strobe.
Watt Seconds (WS) Strobe light systems come in a large range of WS ratings, from 150 WS or so to 1,200 WS and higher. They will have a range of five to seven stops or so in power levels.
Consider the size of your studio before selecting strobes at a given power level. A pair of 1.200 WS strobes in a small to medium sized studio may be overkill. At the lowest power level, say 7 stops down from 1,200 WS, you are still at 9.4 WS which may be too much for the size of the room. In this case, the only choice is to move the strobe farther away from the subject which may not be possible given the studio dimensions. A 300 WS strobe with a seven stop range will bring you down to 2.3 WS, two stops less than 9.4, which may be more manageable, particularly when you are working with low light levels.
Exact WS to Guide Number (GN) comparisons are not usually given, due to the large number of light modifiers used with strobes: different reflectors, soft boxes, grids, dishes, shoot through//reflective umbrellas, etc. The light modifiers used with strobes absorb light and will thus affect the amount of light reaching the subject.
Repeatability specifications are another consideration. High end units will guarantee 1/10th stop power level accuracy, and +/- 40 to 50 degrees Kelvin color temperature. Lower end units cannot offer this accuracy, and color temperature may drift over the power level range enough to be noticeable.
Cost As Kari and Marty have indicated, you get what you pay for with strobes. The Profoto systems they use are among the best. Several Nikonian members report good results with the Paul C.Best products.
Hope this helps a bit.
Let us know what you decide.
Edited to correct WS calculation typos. Used wrong constant ... Senior Moment! Sorry for any confusion.
Memo to self: Engage brain before shifting fingers into gear.
HBB in Phoenix, Arizona
Nikonian Team Member
Photography is a journey with no conceivable destination.
#4. "RE: New Lighting Setup" | In response to Reply # 0hujiie Nikonian since 10th Apr 2009Sun 04-Nov-12 02:19 AM
I would recommend you to check products (mono light) of Paul C Buff.
Many photographers use their systems and it has decent reputations, though it is not high end solutions like Profoto systems.
The latest one "Einstein" has good reviews.
True Wattseconds: 640 Ws max. at full power; 2.5 Ws min. at 1/256 power
Lumenseconds: 28,000 Ls at full power
Power Variability: 9 f-stops (full to 1/256 power)
Modeling Lamp: 250 Watt, 120VAC bayonet-style quartz bulb
I use a pair of their older systems of "White Lighting 1600X" (660Ws) with Pocket Wizard Flex TT5, AC9, AC3 and Sekonic L358 with RT-32CTL for remote triggering along with 47" foldable octabox and 42" shooting through white umbrellas on C stands. I also combine with SB900's too if the shoots require more than 2 lights.
If the budget is tight, you can get "Alien bees" series with a large shooting through white umbrellas.