Upload & Sell: Off
| p.1 #1 · Moving up to strobes, input wanted for fist kit! |
So I’ve finally decided to make the jump to strobes. I’ve set myself a budget of around ~$3,600 and here’s what I’ve come up with. Values marked with * indicate items that will be bought off of FM's B&S and their average selling price, values marked with ** reflect PCB's 10% student discount:
2x Einstein E640 ($900)**
2x Vagabond Mini Lithium ($435)**
580EX II (already owned)
2x PW Flex TT5 w/ AC5 Soft Shield ($300, bought)*
PW AC3 ZoneController ($50, bought)*
2x PW PowerMC2 ($180)**
Mounting and Stands:
Avenger C Stand ($100)*
Avenger A420 Wheeled Stand (owned)
Avenger D600 Mini Boom (owned)
Avenger D200 + 20” Extension Grip Arm (owned)
2x Manfrotto Basic Lightstands (owned)
2x VML Bracket ($90)
2x Manfrotto Super Clamp ($50)
Modifiers and Accessories:
64" Soft Silver PLM w/ White Front Diffusion Fabric ($60)**
50” Westcott Apollo JS ($170, bought)
28” Mola Setti BD, white ($590)
24” Cheetah Qbox (owned)
20 degree grid for speedlights (owned)
Mola Opal Diffusion Glass + Stabilizing Ring ($120)
Kacey Adapter for Mola to PCB ($45)
Sekonic L-358 ($200, bought)*
Impact 5-in-1 42x72" Reflector ($95)
Flashpoint 42" Reflector silver/gold (owned)
B+W 77mm Kaesemann MRC Slim CPL ($140, bought)*
B+W 77mm 0.6 ND MRC ($90)
Cheetah 24" Qbox
Cheetah 16" Silver BD (selling)
20 degree grid for speedlights
White shoot-through umbrella
2x Manfrotto Basic Lightstands
Avenger D200 + 20” Extension Grip Arm
Flashpoint 42" reflector silver/gold
When I first started planning an upgrade to strobes the first question I asked was, “how can I make my life easier?” One of the main ways to achieve this was upgrading to a triggering solution that supported remote control of both strobes and speedlights. Back in March a friend of mine gave me a really good deal on an X1600, A420 and D600. Having borrowed, and liked, that setup before I jumped on the deal and the JrX’s were the obvious choice.
However, Radiopopper JrX’s rarely come up for sale and when they do they weren’t appreciably cheaper than new. Flex TT5’s, on the other hand, can be readily found for a substantial discount. I had always been intrigued by the ControlTL system, but had been put off by the high cost. On a whim I ran the numbers on the Flex’s and was surprised that the differences were marginal:
E640 x 2 ($900)** + MC2 x 2 ($180)** + TT1 ($110)* = $1,190
X1600 x 2 ($630)* + AC9 x 2 ($100)* + TT5 x 2 ($300)* + TT1 ($110)* = $1,130
X1600 x 2 ($630)* + JrX Studio Kit ($170) + JrX Studio Receiver ($100) = $900
When I started researching them in greater depth the advantages for my style of shooting became increasingly apparent. Given my initial goal of remote power control this reduced my options down to two choices: The Einstein with the PowerMC2 and the Elinchrom RX with the PowerST4.
For how I plan to use hypersync the Einsteins are having your cake and eating it. At full power they’re relatively slow, with a t.5 duration of 1/2000th of a second. The Quadra S heads, in comparison, are 1/1150th with one and 1/2250th with two. The Quadra A’s are 1/2300th and 1/4310th respectively. The Einsteins have the advantage of the slower duration S heads at full power for use with hypersync, plus the action-stopping shorter duration of the A heads at conventional shutter speeds.
Given they are half the cost, the battery packs are half the weight and the constant color mode the Einsteins are a pretty clear win for me. There are significant advantages of the Elinchrom system, but none of those advantages will necessarily translate into better images for me.
Planned Trigger Uses:
There are several reasons behind wanting the ControlTL. First is the ability to change the light power from camera. Having two E640’s as key/fill and a speedlight as a rim is about as complicated of a setup as I plan on using and being able to adjust all three individually from camera will be a huge convenience.
Second, I love using the 24” Qbox as a mobile one-light setup. The box folds down like a reflector and everything fits in a tiny carrying bag. Often times I enlist someone to hold the modifier, rather than use a light stand, but inexperienced hands typically fail to keep the modifier a constant distance from the subject. Full TTL should hopefully prevent the blown highlights when the softbox gets too close.
Third, the 5D2’s pitiful sync time makes working outdoors a bit of a hassle. Gaining a 1/3rd stop or two of clean sync will make a big difference as I’d rather push the shutter speed than run a denser ND. Rob Gailbrath’s tests show clean sync up until 1/250th of a second with a Dynalite 4080SP bi-tube head and a 5D2. I wasn’t able to find the t0.5 time for the head, but it’s intended for sports shooters and advertises a fast flash duration. Even if I can only get a clean 1/200th, that will be still an improvement over the 1/160th I currently get.
Finally, I would be using hypersync as fill light at high shutter speeds. Granted you lose a couple stops and won’t get even frame coverage, but this application will be metered off of ambient with the strobes as fill only. Being able to shoot 1/800th-1/1250th and still get some off camera fill would be great for shooting motocross.
The 64” PLM will be used almost exclusively for groups and fill light since its incredible efficiency will make it a boon for outdoor fill. That being said I do not like the look of the PLM as a key light, so it will only be used in situations where light coverage and quantity takes precedence over light quality.
The 50” Westcott Apollo JS wasn’t initially on my purchase list, but softboxes are my favorite modifier and the $170 sale price was way too good to pass up. Although designed for speedlights, the shallow profile of the Einstein allows it to easily fit inside. It sets up like an umbrella and the two main disadvantages, the flash being inaccessible and limited tilt angle, are addressed by the MC2 and mounting it on a boom arm. I love the featherability of softboxes and the look of a large box close to the subject so this will be my go-to light for indoor shooting.
The next logical step down from the 50” softbox would be a 28” softbox. This role will be occupied by the Mola Setti instead and I plan on using it for all location shoots involving one or two subjects. The increased resistance to wind and simplicity of the setup (nothing to assemble) is what sold me on the idea of a BD for location shooting. The extra size, which should make for better full body coverage, is what sold me on the Setti. Indoors, I feel that an un-socked BD can be a little unflattering, but for models it’s a stunning look.
Since my profession has taken me away from home for a while, and I don’t have access to my gear, a lot of this is theory crafting. Any input from your personal experiences with such gear is appreciated. Even if I don’t change my mind I spend a considerable amount of time researching options suggested—I spent two full days of research considering the Profoto D1’s upon a recommendation. Let me know if I’m missing something, if something won’t work the way I think it will, if there are better options or even just to confirm some of my choices. Thanks for reading!
Edited on Sep 01, 2012 at 05:41 PM · View previous versions