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Archive 2012 · Change lighting?
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Change lighting?

I've got an alien bees setup (400, 800, vagabond 1, chimera 2x3 soft box), but am thinking about selling and going all speed.ight. I don't do any studio work (though might get back into it) and think I like the lighter speed

Opinions? Any real reasons to or not to change?


Jan 11, 2012 at 05:03 AM
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Change lighting?

I think you summed it up pretty well: Speedlites are lighter and smaller.

You'll give up some power but gain some portability; you'll loose some large modifier capability but gain ETTL metering, camera-menu control (with version II Speedlites), and built-in (short range) remote control. (In case you didn't already know, the pop-up flash on your 7D can control up to three groups of Speedlites in Slave mode, if they're in moderately close line of sight.)

If you'll be shooting mostly in a studio setting, I'd keep the ABs; but if you'll be shooting mostly on locations, I'd go for the Speedlites.

Before you buy any gear, though, you might want to read this:


Jan 11, 2012 at 06:46 AM
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Change lighting?

I have both a set of four AB800s which I leave set-up in my home studio but use only occasionally for studio work and a pair of 580ex speedlights with small DIY modifiers I use for everything else. The decision to roll that way was for me based primarily on logistics: shooting alone and not wanting to shlep and set-up / tear-down a lot of gear.

The logistical pros/cons of using your current set-up vs. speedlights would depend largely on how you plan to use the speedlights: bracket and single OCF or on two light stands with your current modifiers.

When a fill light is planted on a stand on ground it's like throwing out the anchor of a boat, dictating were the camera must be to have the shots well filled. Changing camera position and maintaining the same lighting on a face requires moving two stands which is logistically cumbersome.

The primary advantage I see in speedlights is they are small and light enough to keep the fill source mounted over the camera on a bracket which makes centered fill wherever the camera goes a no brainer. I learned that approach 40 years ago working as assistant / second shooter for Monte Zucker who popularized the use of dual flash for wedding coverage with fill on the camera bracket and the key light on a rolling stand: a modified medical IV stand. I still that approach with my Canon 580ex flashes because having tried everything else over the years I haven't found a better balance of results and simple logistics, allowing me to use manual, ETTL and HSS with fingertip control over ratio and exposure. My single flash and backlit dual flash shots shots automatically have flattering "butterfly" modeling on the faces and my "short lit" dual flash shots are ideally filled. In addition to keeping the fill light moving in tandem with the roving camera automatically, Zucker's idea of putting the OCF on a compact rolling stand makes using two flashes single-handed for "run and gun"photo-journalistic lighting tasks like wedding receptions practical. See: http://photo.nova.org/CanonPracticalUsage/

So based on what has worked for me I suggest keeping your current gear AND buying speedlights tailoring them as two different lighting solutions: speedlights as your "run and gun" bracket-based-fill lighting solution and the studio gear available for situations for static shooting situations where the logistics of set-up/tear-down would be about the same regardless of which you used. Having both sets of tools there will be fewer situations where you find yourself trying to work around the physical limitations of your gear.

Edited on Jan 11, 2012 at 03:28 PM · View previous versions

Jan 11, 2012 at 01:01 PM
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Change lighting?

I am going the other way because I find job where I need more power. I started out with speedlights. I don't use ttl so I can get cheap flash with lots of power like the sb28 and the yn560.

I bought the AB800 about a month ago and I liked it so much that I just put the order in for the AB1600.

I agree with what cgardner said, keep both. Even though I have the ABs, I would never sell my speedlights because I still have use for them. If I am doing a single portraits at sunset, my speedlights are more than enough to do the job so why carry the AB head and the battery pack?

Jan 11, 2012 at 02:55 PM

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