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Archive 2012 · Help with a lighting purchase

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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Help with a lighting purchase


I posted recently about how I'm a video guy who needed to take more photos and so was looking to analyse how my fav photographer, Ellen Von Unwerth, took some of her shots. The advice was great, and most suggested it was a simple Profoto white beauty dish (http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1171760), perhaps an Arri ambient light helping but the BD providing the 'look'.

I'm looking now to get myself the gear I need and wanted to get some advice, please.

I've been looking at a few options - firstly spending a lot and going Profoto, the Ellinchrom Quadra RX or an Einstein with perhaps a Mola Demi.

However, it's hard for me to judge what the smart move is, so I thought I'd ask for some advice if I may please, as I said, I know video/continuous, but not really strobes so any advice would be welcomed.

To go Profoto is expensive and as at least initially, whilst I learn the ropes, I'll be not necessarily earning with the stills, it's a strong outlay.

That being said, I use Arri lights when I do video stuff b/c they're the reliable standard, I can rent them anywhere, I can use any wherever I am and get the same results etc. I'm therefore pondering whether it's worth going Profoto simply as it's learning on gear I can learn, know, rent, use, wherever I am and get consistent results, so it becomes a big outlay not to 'invest' (hate that word heh) in the future.

If my research shows, the Profoto heads aren't super expensive, but the power supply is the thing that'll kill you.

The Ellinchrom Quadra set seems decent too, not quite as good as Profoto but half the price for a set inc power. Downsides are it's still a big outlay and would I be itching to upgrade having blown my load on something still costly?

The Einsteins seems the real alternative to Profoto in the sense that I can get a light, a vagabond mini and a BD for a relatively inexpensive (comparatively) outlay. So I'm tempted for this b/c it'll mean I can essentially learn on something good but not too pricey, and when I'm earning I can slowly upgrade to the 'standard' gear like Profoto stuff.

Obviously the upsides of Profoto, esp having consistent results with consistent gear, wherever I am, whatever I do, can't be said for the Einsteins b/c they are more of a niche product. Ergo I risk learning on a product I might not use long-term. I suppose ultimately it doesn't matter if you learn to drive on Diesel or Petrol, it's still driving the damn car!

But yeah, what do peeps think I should buy? As I said, I'm looking to recreate Ellen's style in photos, that direct but glamorous beauty dish feel as in the above link, so I don't need a whole set, one light should do.

For me it seems really down to whether it's wise to go small on the Einsteins, learn, get good etc, then upgrade in time. Or whether I should do my learning on the standard, go Profoto, and know I can hit that wherever I am.

Any thoughts/advice would be welcomed, thanks!

Dec 31, 2012 at 04:16 PM
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Help with a lighting purchase

I often hear of people avoiding Profoto due to initial sticker-shock. But I think if you shop carefully you may find that the investment is really not that much higher than other brands. For instance, both the D1 monolights and Acute 2 pack systems can be quite affordable and use the same modifiers, as well as offering the same color consistency, etc. I've used the Acute 2 packs for years, in addition to D4 pack and battery units. I cannot speak highly enough about them. Often you can find excellent specials on pricing, usually in the form of free head with kit. Or looking for good, clean used gear can save a lot of money. One feature that no other brand can even touch, is the mounting collar of Profoto. That alone is worth the weight in gold to me. Rock solid, even in strong winds, and extremely fast to change modifiers. May not seem that important right now, but in use on a busy shoot, that feature really comes into play. The others you mention are all excellent products and would likely serve you very well. But personally I believe in investing up front and sticking with that product long term. At least for me, that has proven the best path.

Dec 31, 2012 at 05:26 PM
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Help with a lighting purchase

First, what are you comparing exactly - monolights (you mention Einstein) or pack&heads (Profoto and the Quadra)? Next, the Quadra is a low weight camera companion (400Ws) with suiting, tiny heads - mechanically not comparable to a Profoto head.
And...you state that the Profoto heads aren't super expensive. I checked the UK price: Pro head 1150 + 20%VAT, ProB 600+20%VAT. So you'd get one Einstein plus accessory for the price of just a Profoto head!
I'd say, go with Einsteins (plus external battery supply) unless there are specific Profoto reflectors you want to use. The Magnum? There's a LongThrow (oops...the idiotic English subsidiary call it Long Through...).
To your point "wherever I am, whatever I do": well, when I'm out on location / renting I use whatever I get - be it Profoto or Bron. The practical differences are too marginal to be mentioned (IMO).

Dec 31, 2012 at 05:40 PM
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Help with a lighting purchase

I agree on your point if it's a commercial business with daily (hard wear) usage and deductible expenses. I'm not sure if andrew00 falls into this category.

Dec 31, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Michael White
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Help with a lighting purchase

I'm not sure I'm understanding but here is How I would and do go about trying to replicate the look you are desiring

1). Get a willing subject, one that is willing to sit for days on end while you learn to write with light.
A) subject of choice for me is a manique head so you can pose it and it will not move while you setup you basic lights

2) get a basic light setup. I use several speedlites plus modifiers.
A) beauty dish. Mine is from the Strobies line ans is a 16" silver that attaches using the Bowen speed rings I also have a soft box and several metal reflector 11" & 7". Plus barndoors for shaping the light

3) get everything just like you'll need with the profoto stuff and learn to set up the lights one by one striving for you final outcome once you done as much as you can in camera take it into Lightroom and or photoshop to complete it

Jan 01, 2013 at 10:29 AM

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