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Archive 2012 · Old Norman studio set-up : anything I need to know befor...
  
 
wrightm
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Old Norman studio set-up : anything I need to know before purchasing used kit?


Hello,
I am putting together a Norman studio lighting kit...P2000 pack and LH2400 heads...I know these were high end professional years ago but have seen a lot on used blocks nowadays. I'm thinking that these are still amazing lighting kits for a low price, but befor I invest a lot of money into all of the accessories and such, is there anything I need to know about old norman units that I should consider before jumping in head first?

Oh and another question...these heads are all used and from rental departments. I just ran across a post about concern over color temperature shift on older strobes.
Is this something I should be concerned about? Would a simple grey card or WB solve this problem? I will have 4 different heads from different lighting rigs.
thanks,
Micah



Apr 27, 2012 at 07:52 PM
Micky Bill
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Old Norman studio set-up : anything I need to know before purchasing used kit?


The three things that will be left after the interplanetary battles are Keith Richards, Hostess Twinkies and Norman strobes.

Yes all the heads will be different color temperature. Enough to make an impact on your pictures? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on the age of the flash tube, if it is a UV coated tube, the modifiers you use will have a minor effect but for the most part it won't make a huge difference in most situations, for most people.
When switching power output with the big black switch there are 2 schools of thought. The first is to turn off the main power and dump the flash. Wait 15 seconds and switch the power ratio/output, and turn it back on. The other way is to only switch power when the full recharged light is on. I forget which way Norman suggests. Either way at some time the pack will arc and make a SNAP! noise. usually not dangerous. And at another time you will blow up a capacitor, loud BANG! a few sparks and some smoke, hopefully not fire...
When you flip the power switch be quick about it, getting caught in the middle of the switch when the power is on is not good



Apr 27, 2012 at 08:29 PM
wrightm
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Old Norman studio set-up : anything I need to know before purchasing used kit?


HAHA..THANKS FOR THE REply.....i understand why you say there will always be normans around haha...they are everywhere.
I hope that people are just upgrading to more lightweight gear and not ditching all of the normans because they are that outdated. it seems like it is still a great lighting system?

So I was also looking for a way to sync two norman packs...I have the cord sync for one and I was thinking of getting the little slave trigger that fires when it senses another flash go off. Seems the simplest and cheapest way to sync. Someday I will go for the radio triggers, but for now, just want to play around with and not put more money than I have to into it.
So do you know what I would look for or where I would find this little flash trigger? I see loads of similar ones for hot shoe sync; but cannot find one that plugs into the sync on the norman studio head (can't find one with the two prongs). Does this have a techincal name to it that I am missing?

Thanks for the help!



Apr 28, 2012 at 02:45 AM
Micky Bill
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Old Norman studio set-up : anything I need to know before purchasing used kit?


http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/50450-REG/Speedotron_23510_Optical_Slave_Tripper.html

These are what I used to have. They work well with the Normans.



Apr 28, 2012 at 03:09 AM
cwebster
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Old Norman studio set-up : anything I need to know before purchasing used kit?


The name for that connector is "household" Your Norman strobes have "household" sync connectors. They can be found in any photo lighting catalog under that name.

<Chas>



Apr 28, 2012 at 05:44 AM
PShizzy
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Old Norman studio set-up : anything I need to know before purchasing used kit?


They're also referred to as blade, maybe that's a euro thing?

Look at some P800D packs, they're smaller and cheaper, offer some great flexibility, and were compatible with the lights that the P2000D uses. Two heads on an 800 can go as low as 100ws. Also nice because you can roll with that instead of the P2000D for shoots that don't require massive amounts of light.

If you ever have to go hardwire, make sure to have a Wein SafeSync.



Apr 28, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Micky Bill
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Old Norman studio set-up : anything I need to know before purchasing used kit?


The recommendation for 800 WS packs is a good one. Most of the time shooting digital and in todays style you don't need as much light as in the film days. I had 4 x 2000 WS units and as they break I don't repair them as unless you are shooting at f32 or large sets 2000 nad 2400 is overkill for many people...I have a couple hensel 1200 portys that are easy to dial down the power.


Apr 29, 2012 at 10:24 PM
wrightm
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Old Norman studio set-up : anything I need to know before purchasing used kit?


thanks for the advice guys!!...how many people actually use the Wein SafeSync...I have heard of it, but never has anyone mentioned that they use them...of course it would be wise; but if a norman blows, does it actually damage the camera?...is it a very rare occurance? How many photographs use these?
thanks



May 01, 2012 at 05:19 AM
Micky Bill
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Old Norman studio set-up : anything I need to know before purchasing used kit?


It's not the capacitor blowing it is the trigger voltage, the safe sync is a good thing to protect your camera. digital cameras are more sensitive than an old Nikon F2 or 3 or 4..I burned out a few Hasselblad pc connections using sync cords.
If you use a pocket wizard or other wireless sync you don't need a safe sync but it you 'hardwire' by using a sync cord plugged into your camera you to be safe use a s safe sync.



May 01, 2012 at 06:46 AM
PShizzy
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Old Norman studio set-up : anything I need to know before purchasing used kit?


That's right, you don't need a safe sync for Pocket Wizard stuff, but other wireless triggers may not have that voltage capacity. Also, in the event your triggers don't work, having a safe sync means you can safely trigger via hardwire. Not having one and losing wireless means gambling. Not worth it to me in the long run.


May 01, 2012 at 07:15 AM
 

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R.H. Johnson
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Old Norman studio set-up : anything I need to know before purchasing used kit?


http://dpanswers.com/roztr/volt_finder.php

1. what camera are you using? the above link you will find very useful.

2. custom white balance will eliminate any color cast in your flash system.

3. most Canon late model cameras (not all) can operate up to 250V on the PC terminal. look in your camera's manual for the PC terminal voltage specification.

4. i currently use Norman P2000X, P800D, P800 strobe system with 40D, 5D, and 5D MKII. the only problem i have is the P2000D supplies too much light for the size of my studio and forces me to stop down too much. in most instances i end up using the 800 power packs,



May 02, 2012 at 02:30 AM
wrightm
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Old Norman studio set-up : anything I need to know before purchasing used kit?


Yeah, I find the same thing with the P2000..too much, so I'm going to rely on the 800 and use the 2000 for outdoors....

So I thought about the sync safe and if I am going to spend $40 on a sync safe, I might as well start looking into a more usable radio slave...

Again I'm trying to go as cheap as possible. I was thinking of syncing my two packs with the optical trigger, but a cheap one of those is about $10 and also needs a $12 sync chord that will plug into the power pack and then into the optical slave...

I found some cheap radio triggers from Calumet and MPEX for $65-$75...Calumet seems better but the MPEX looked to have a few more features for a bit cheaper.
-
http://mpex.com/cactus-v5-radio-slave-set.html

-http://www.calumetphoto.com/eng/product/calumet_pro_series_2_4ghz_4_channel_wireless_trigger_kit_optimized_for_canon_flash_systems/cf0090

Does anyone have experience with either of these? They don't have TTL; but from what I have found, I am going to need to spend at least over $200 for anything that is going to have TTL (someday I will get there). It would be nice to have, but I figure I'll see how much I actually use the lighting first.

I know they are both cheap and rinky dink comparked to a $250+ pocketwizzard kit...but for the basics, it seems like it will do the job just fine.

So I was thinking of having a radio trigger from camera to power pack and then on the other power pack, I would have my current sync cord attached to a $10 optical trigger...think that would give me a little more freedom of movement and keep my camera protected for only around $75....



May 02, 2012 at 02:47 AM
Micky Bill
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Old Norman studio set-up : anything I need to know before purchasing used kit?


TTL doesn't work with studio strobes like Normans. Small speed lights like the ones made by canon and Nikon use the ttl and the new fangled ttl remotes


May 02, 2012 at 05:55 AM
wrightm
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Old Norman studio set-up : anything I need to know before purchasing used kit?


thanks for the info...yeah, I was aware that the strobes would not need TTL; but I saw cheap radio trigger sets out there (2 triggers) for $180 at the low end....so I figured I might as well go with the $70 set-up if I wasn't going to get TTL either way.
I'd love to have TTL to use with both my Normans and speedlights...someday...For the time being I'll use the non-ttl with a manual vivitar and save a few dollars



May 02, 2012 at 06:16 AM
cgardner
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Old Norman studio set-up : anything I need to know before purchasing used kit?


A basic difference between pack/head and monolights, and why the latter replaced the former is the fact you and put a monolight at whatever distance which produces the best character of light with the modifier you are using then to get the desired ratio and exposure adjust the power from 0-100%. The older pack /head units work via banks of capacitor with the output of the banks divided between the heads. That gives you less independent control over the power of each head beyond the switching banks. That's not a show-stopper but it will at times will require changing ratio and exposure via light distance and aperture choices which might not be ideal for the lighting you are trying to create.

For example if you have two equal lights with identical modifiers and put both 8ft from the subject, one centered as fill and the other at 45 to the nose when they overlap they will create a 2:1 ratio:

H:S
1:1 even fill at 8ft.
1:0 overlapping key light at 8ft.
===
2:1 reflected overlapping ratio you'll see.

What f/stop you wind up shooting at will be a function of the power setting (how many banks are used to fire the lights) and modifiers. To get a 3:1 ratio with the same set-up you'd need to change the distance of the key light, moving it "1-stop" closer. Given the way the inverse-square law works that would require moving it to about 5-1/2 feet:

H:S
1:1 even fill at 8ft.
2:0 overlapping key light at 6 ft. now 2x brighter (incident) than fill.
===
3:1 reflected overlapping ratio you'll see.

That type of gear works quite well for a task like studio portraits for yearbooks and other situations where you repeatedly use the same ratio and lighting patterns. There as a NJ photographer named Joe Zeltsman who attached his fill light heads (he used several) to the ceiling of his studio and bounced them off the back wall for a wrap around skylight fill effect. Then all he needed to do is always keep his key light/modifier the same distance to the nose of the subject with whatever pattern he needed and he'd get a perfect 3:1 ratio and the same exposure session-to-session.

If that's the type of shooting you have in mind then the pack/head gear will work out for you. There are work arounds. For example you can add a .15 ND filter over a light head to cut its output by 1/2 stop or add a piece of screen wire over it to cut it in half. But if you are anticipating situations where you'll want more independent control over each light and not be limited by the length of the power pack cord for placement the pack/head gear, while cheap, won't be the best long term value. You'll pay in frustration what you save in dollars.

Another consideration, especially with older gear, is redundancy. If all your eggs are in one basket with a pack/head system and if you blow a cap you are SOL. If you can find someone to repair it it will be expensive. By comparison if your AB800 dies you can buy a new one for $280 (you can afford to have a spare or switch from a 3 light to 2 slight strategy until you get it repaired for $50.

Just food for thought. The cheapest solution in the short run isn't always the best or cheapest over the long haul. I have 4 AB800. A few years ago a lighting strike killed all of them and the wired remote connecting them. The cost to repair everything? $208.






May 02, 2012 at 01:38 PM
wrightm
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Old Norman studio set-up : anything I need to know before purchasing used kit?


hey, thanks for the details!! yeah, i agree the AB might have been the best option in the long term; but I already had a few bits of norman gear that I wanted to get up and running...so it was cheaper just to get a few bits for that set-up. I really just wanted to get it going...but once I got it going...I really enjoyed it and wanted to make the kit better...so I added a bit here and there and slowly the money that I put into the set-up got more and more. I'm sure it's a common occurrence. You buy a canon body and one lens, and then another lens; and then all of a sudden you are canon for life.
I played with all of those lighting rations years ago and am looking forward to playing around with those again. It has been a long time so thank for the refresher! I'm doing some baby portraiture tomorrow; so will put those into effect!
Cheers,
M



May 02, 2012 at 04:58 PM
cgardner
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Old Norman studio set-up : anything I need to know before purchasing used kit?


WIth two identical light you can control power with distance. A memory trick I learned years ago for ratios is to set key and fill at distances which have the same intervals as f/stops: 22, 16, 11, 8, 5.6, 4.

If you take a single light and move it in that way from 22 - 16- 11 feet the brightness changes by one f/stop, give or take variables like spill fill off the ceiling. If you use any of the following combinations for Fill:Key distance you wind up with a 3:1 ratio with exposure one stop different:

16':11'
11':8'
8':5.6'
5.6':4'

That's how I learned to shoot weddings with one flash for fill on a bracket and the other off camera on the stand. Shoot at 11' the slave would go at 8'. For a tighter shot move to 8', slide the slave into 5.6' to maintain the 3:1 ratio and close the lens one f/stop to keep the exposure the same. That was necessary back in the day because the flash only had one power level. But it only works when the lights are direct or have similar modifiers like identical umbrellas or SBs. It may seem complicated but it quickly became instinctive and was far more consistent and predictable than today's ETTL flash exposure.






May 02, 2012 at 06:19 PM
wrightm
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Old Norman studio set-up : anything I need to know before purchasing used kit?


quick question...if I only have one background light, one fill light, and a main light....and 1 softbox and 1 white unbrella....which should I put the softbox on for the most diffused portrait of a 1 year old?



May 02, 2012 at 06:40 PM
wrightm
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Old Norman studio set-up : anything I need to know before purchasing used kit?


I'm thinking the main light and closest light should have the softbox and the one back behind the camera would have the unbrella....any recommendation on best lighting schemes on a baby? seems most of the time it is pretty much flat lighting, not many shadows, and a bit overexposed?


May 02, 2012 at 06:41 PM
cgardner
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Old Norman studio set-up : anything I need to know before purchasing used kit?


wrightm wrote:
quick question...if I only have one background light, one fill light, and a main light....and 1 softbox and 1 white unbrella....which should I put the softbox on for the most diffused portrait of a 1 year old?


The problem with kids that age is they can't follow verbal instructions or hold poses. So that argues against any lighting strategies where the key light is off to one side because that requires precise orientation of nose to light to produce a flattering pattern (facing the light) vs a face half in shadow ( turned away from the light).

While not creating the most dramatic lighting the most risk averse strategy is a centered key light. That way if the kid is facing the camera, turns right or left you don't get a face half in shadow. To make the kid look young, safe and happy you'll want light vs. dark shadows. If you are shooting in a small white room with a low ceiling often just using a modifier like a white umbrella without a cover will suffice. You'll get a forward direct "key" lighting vector from the source and as much or more light will bounce off the walls in all directions as "spill" fill.

By comparison if you where to use a small SB in the same centered position over the camera as the umbrella as "key" light you'd get a similar highlight pattern on the face but there wouldn't be as much "spill" fill so the shadows will be darker, to the point where you'd need to add a separate fill source, ideally centered and chin level.

Here's a set-up like that I've used and the results:







I mount key and fill on the same stand with the fill attached with a super clamp and extension arm. The camera goes next to the stand between the lights, higher than eye level looking down at the top of the nose. If you get the light and facial angle right the sides of the nose are modeled symmetrically with shadow but the shadow falling under the nose gets hidden from view by the nose. That of course depends on the shape of the tip of the nose. The reflectors are placed slightly behind and to the sides as "kicker" accents.

















I set the ratio by eye but the lights wind up about equal in incident strength which numerically produces a 2:1 reflected ratio. But with that strategy 90% of the subject is highlighted and most of the shadows fall in places which aren't noticed.





May 02, 2012 at 10:09 PM
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