Upload & Sell: Off
I use the Para 88 with a modified Briese light setup. The focus tube is Briese, same with the flash tube and flash head adaptation. This feeds into a Broncolor Scoro S 1600 pack.
In the stock form, the Para 88 is in a class by itself. Very nice character of light and ideal for small studios. The para 88, imo, stands head and shoulders for ease of setup against it's larger brothers, the para 170 / 177 and the para 220 / 222. Very light weight, very fast setup and no crank needed. There are videos showing the larger paras needing spline and cable replacements that have had lots of usage. I do believe it's a 4 hour repair job - not my kind of thing. I have yet to see a para 88 mechanism break, but then again, it's a fairly new piece. With the Briese, if anything breaks, it's very easily fixed. Carbon fiber rods for the support rods and if one snaps, it's a 5 minute repair job max.
For my larger para setup, I use the Briese Focus 180. Exceptional. Much lighter in weight than the Para 170 / 177 and much faster to setup than the bron. Also, the Briese only requires a lighter duty stand due to the weight savings. Remember that the Briese only has the focus tube and the flash tube being suspended - you're probably talking a max of 2 to 3 pounds. With the broncolor, you might be dangling the 6 to 8 pound flash heads at the end of their focus rails, plus the rails weight substantially more than the Briese focus tube. Definitely an uneasy front heavy feeling. The broncolor para 170/177 is offset from center for the units purchased in the United States to prevent Briese from suing them for patent infringement, that of the centered light source, or so broncolor claims.
The profoto large umbrellas are completely different in function, number of segments and rail design. The "adjustable" rail is actually fixed segments - you can't vary the length smoothly as you can only add a fixed amount of length when you want to adjust the spacing of the light source from the center of the umbrella. Also, much less number of segments than the 24 that Bron and Briese have.
Para 88 full kit with profoto adapter is around $4400 to $4500. Briese Focus 85 umbrella, umbrella alone is about $4500. You still have to buy the flash tube, focus tube, stand mount holder, flash head and the flash pack. Flash tube is around $1000 to $2000 depending on which one you get. Focus tube is also around $1000. Stand mount is a couple of grand if I remember correctly. Flash head and flash pack - very expensive. You're looking at $10,000 to $15,000 easily for a full rig. I personally don't like the Briese flash heads or their flash packs. They can design a excellent parabolic umbrella, but their electronics need quite a bit of work. That's why I use the modded version with the Broncolor Scoro S. Simply the fastest pack with regards to t.1 times at the higher power levels. Yes, much faster than the Einstein packs, but that's a huge price differential.
PLB Einstein does 1/580th of a sec, t.1 at 640 ws. The Broncolor Scoro S, at 600 ws speed mode, does this in 1/6000th of a sec as measured with a t.1 Broncolor FCM meter. You can also use a photodiode hooked up to a oscilloscope that has store and capture ability. Just read out the times from the 10 percent mark leading and trailing edges of the waveform.
But yes, para 88 can be overpriced but it depends on the clients that you photograph. If you're doing high end work with the prices to match, it is worth looking into.
Probably the ultimate combo for outdoor fashion shoots would be the para 88 and the new Broncolor MOVE L 1200 pack. Just outstanding.
Hope this info helps.