Got another Einstein, the good the bad the ugly.
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cineski
Registered: Oct 22, 2004
Total Posts: 4222
Country: United States

So I broke down and bought another Einstein strobe. Had several of these before and decided to sell all and rent Profoto for a while for many reasons. As it turns out, it's better to have one Einstein laying around for smaller gigs instead of forking over a hundred bucks for a rental for those small gigs. It's been nice having the strobe and the lithium Vagabond is nice although at full power the recycle is loooong. But it's more than solid enough for small gigs and the bigger stuff I'll still rent Profoto. However, I really wish there was a viable option to remote control the output of the strobes, since the main purpose of me getting these is for small gigs that are sometimes small enough for me to not have an assistant. Buff's radio slave system for this is horrible (personal experience) and not set worthy. Although I like plug and play for my sets because I like to concentrate on photographing. There's the Pocketwizard version but it's maxed out to 3 strobes and 6 stops of power adjustment. No thanks. Any other options I'm not seeing?

I bought several light mods and I don't know if it's just the fact that I've been using Profoto w/ Chimera but a few have left me shaking my head and a few are very nice. First the good, I got a medium sized PLM, soft silver interior with diffusion and I have to say, this is a fantastic mod that I will definitely be getting the large and small size in the future. Just a stellar light mod with an odd mount that makes me a bit nervous (we are talking Paul Buff so this is the norm ;-). I'm using the speed ring attachment and it just mounts to the umbrella with a single screw. That's a heck of a lot of fulcrum power landing on that one little screw.

I got a 35" folding octobox with fabric grid which I ended up mounting once and just sold it last night. Not a light mod for me. First, it's very heavy and bulky when broken down, and it's makes the strobe top heavy enough when in use to make me nervous. Definitely unlike my Chimeras which fold down to almost nothing and weigh very little when up top a light stand. Second, the fabric grid for the octobox, which is advertised as 40 degree, is basically worthless. I'd say it's more like 120 degree spread and doesn't give any form of control. The grid has just too wide of squares and the way it mounts onto the octobox is time consuming. Too bad because it's actually a well built unit.

The next thing is the 7" reflector with grids. I don't know why I don't remember it being this way, but the light output from the 7" reflector is bad. Really bad. I was shooting a wide shot of a model in a window and wanted to add some drama to the scene with a 30 degree splash of light on the model's face. It ended up the light quality from the reflector was all over the place, almost looking like a (spelling edit ;-) cucaloris was in front of the strobe. Is there anything that can be done to the reflector to help the light quality? Or is it the reflective metal behind the strobe's bulb that's causing this to happen? I guess I can just put some diffusion between the two.... I'd love to hear thoughts on this.

To combat the reflector's bad light, I think I'm going to just use an xx small softbox with fabric grids (which I don't really want to do for cost reasons). Will also look at Chimera/Photoflex Octa's to go along with my Chimera Super Pros but dang it's $$$ with a grid.



kenyee
Registered: Jul 08, 2008
Total Posts: 1528
Country: United States

cineski wrote:
The next thing is the 7" reflector with grids. I don't know why I don't remember it being this way, but the light output from the 7" reflector is bad.


Are you using the grid when you said the light is like a cucoloris? I'm assuming you mean it's not a smooth round area when you say "light quality is bad" which is pretty vague

For remote control, the other thing you can do if you can live w/ an AB1600 is use the Radiopoppers....



sleibrand
Registered: Mar 28, 2005
Total Posts: 918
Country: United States

Are you using 7" reflectors (straight sides) or the newer 8.5" reflectors (curved sides)? I can't really articulate why but I do like the light quality of the 8.5's better. I haven't used them often but don't remember noticing uneven lighting - did you check to see if it was the grid?

I agree about the PLM's - the large silver is really nice. I have a v1 which was the umbrella mount. I cut the shaft to a manageable length and am very happy with that. I have some smaller v2's but don't care for the speedring mounts - I mount them like umbrellas too.

The Cyber Commander is a pain to use IMO. I use it to control the hair light but it's never quick or easy to get an adjustment. All the other lights I just walk over to the light and adjust directly. I did like their wired solution and used it for quite a while but I don't believe it works with the Einsteins.



Dave Jr
Registered: Nov 09, 2004
Total Posts: 2958
Country: United States

If the cyber Commander had a dedicated power up and down button, I would like it much more. As it is, it is very fidgety to change the power.



Waki
Registered: Jan 02, 2012
Total Posts: 221
Country: United States

I wound up buying used Profoto lights but was very close to going with Einsteins. While looking into them, I was told the recommended reflector is the 8.5 one.

Can't help on the cyber commander problem. I don't like it either. I just adjust my lights manually and use a PW III to trigger them. I'm thinking of adding a few AIR capable lights and might use the unit to adjust power but will still just trigger with a PW.



cineski
Registered: Oct 22, 2004
Total Posts: 4222
Country: United States

Sorry for being vague ;-). When I say bad, I mean the light mod is creating an adverse affect than what is desired. It would be like putting a beauty dish on and for some reason that particular beauty dish (again, realize this is pretend) made the light look like an Elinchrom. If your intention was to get light from a beauty dish that looked like a beauty dish, then the light quality would be poor. When using a 7" reflector, I don't want light looking like I put a cookie in front of it unless I actually put one in front of it. It should be even and hard.

And frankly, I'd be surprised if the grid was causing a problem but I'll check this out. To comment on the 8.5" reflector vs the 7", I'm curious about the 8.5" but I'm not looking forward to an 8.5" piece of aluminum rolling around my gear. Heck, the 7" is big enough ;-)!

kenyee wrote:
cineski wrote:
The next thing is the 7" reflector with grids. I don't know why I don't remember it being this way, but the light output from the 7" reflector is bad.


Are you using the grid when you said the light is like a cucoloris? I'm assuming you mean it's not a smooth round area when you say "light quality is bad" which is pretty vague

For remote control, the other thing you can do if you can live w/ an AB1600 is use the Radiopoppers....



rico
Registered: Jul 13, 2003
Total Posts: 3864
Country: United States

No PCB experience, but the cookie effect can be caused by bare bulb interacting with the reflector design. The Profoto Narrow Beam reflector, for example, is both parabolic and mirrorlike in finish, with the result that the cover glass is imaged at the destination. This isn't a problem with the standard frosted cover, but clear cover (or no cover) would definitely generate a mottled light distribution. Besides dumping PCB forever, a possible solution is to refinish the reflector interior with paint: matt silver, white gloss, etc.



kenyee
Registered: Jul 08, 2008
Total Posts: 1528
Country: United States

cineski wrote:
When using a 7" reflector, I don't want light looking like I put a cookie in front of it unless I actually put one in front of it. It should be even and hard.
And frankly, I'd be surprised if the grid was causing a problem but I'll check this out.


ok...sounds like
A) you're using a gridded 7" reflector
B) the output against an object is mottled/blotchy instead of being even

Are you using the soft dome on the bulb? I'd echo what rico said because I haven't seen that out of the 7" reflector.

I'd also consider looking at the 8.5" reflector just because it was designed to be mostly parabolic so you have a spot effect...the 7" reflector was designed to have a more even falloff because PCB didn't like the spot effect. Take the PCB 7" one and compare it to your Profoto ones...it should be pretty obvious why it does what it does...basic physics...

You also might want to look for an old Balcar faceted reflector...I've been trying to find one of these in decent condition for a while...they were popular in Europe where Balcar is from, but not many made it to the US. It has very even output for a 7" reflector.



John Skinner
Registered: May 31, 2007
Total Posts: 718
Country: Canada

Just to qualify.. I have a full set of ProFoto 8a airs here, they have their uses, and I do use them. Just not as often as the PCB E640s.

In as much as your issue. I too ran into this issue (almost to the 'T').

The switch over to the 8.5" did it for me (ya, now I have both) and I slip the smaller grid into the 8.5" hole. I know, it's sounds goofy but it took care of my issues, maybe yours also.

And to the commenter regarding the CyberCommander being fidgety. If you use this piece of kit daily. It becomes second nature. I use mine to not only adjust, but trigger, and it really IS a time saver.



cineski
Registered: Oct 22, 2004
Total Posts: 4222
Country: United States

Kenyee, yes I'm using the soft dome. As for the 7" grid, I've used them a bunch in the past with White Lightnings and I've not encountered this before. This was my first time using them on an Einstein. John, I'll have to try the 8.5". Sucks to not have 4 full grid options. The 7" grids fit the 8.5?! Weird.

I wonder what coating the inside of the 7" with black would do? Then it would just act as a spill kill and let the bare bulb do the lighting. What the heck kind of material or spray would work to coat it with?



sleibrand
Registered: Mar 28, 2005
Total Posts: 918
Country: United States

Waki wrote:
...
Can't help on the cyber commander problem. I don't like it either. I just adjust my lights manually and use a PW III to trigger them.


Actually the cybersync transmitter and receiver work very well for me. It's just the Cyber Commander that's difficult for me to use. For the CSR's and CST, you just need to make sure they're all on the same channel and it works great.



mill4570
Registered: Jul 27, 2005
Total Posts: 975
Country: United States

I use both the PCB system and the Pocket Wizard system with my Einsteins. The Cyber Commander does many things and can be a bit of a challenge, but after half a dozen sessions I found it very friendly to use. The thing it does not do is give % of flash, and it is more difficult to read in bright sun. Indoors, I use the PCB CC system. Outdoors, I use the Pocket Wizard system.

The introduction of the Mini has me using the E640 more than speedlites, outdoors.

YMMV,
Richard K.



jzucker
Registered: Jan 07, 2002
Total Posts: 2511
Country: United States

i hated the cyber commander and using it outdoors in bright sunlight was useless. They need to redesign it or come out with a cheaper, non-led version like the elinchrom skyport.



cineski
Registered: Oct 22, 2004
Total Posts: 4222
Country: United States

I could never get the cyber commander to work. Perfect example of an engineer designing something for artists ;-). Yes, a redesign would be very beneficial with zero doodads and just simple adjustment knobs for 4-6 strobes.

Question on the pocket wizard units for the Einstein. It says 6 stops of adjustment. Is this from full power down or low power up? Or can it be either? If it could be either that would be something worth getting because there are some jobs where I'm on the low end of the power spectrum and others where I'm hovering at the top.



mill4570
Registered: Jul 27, 2005
Total Posts: 975
Country: United States

I agree the CC is not perfect, but it works for me in a studio environment. The design allows for use in the hot shoe but many users, myself included, use it off camera to adjust lights, and use the smaller transmitter to trigger the lights. I believe this feature dictated how big the final size would be. I would have preferred a much larger unit (L758 size) and maybe control of 8 lights as opposed to 16, but the other features of the CC I find very handy.

As for the PW system, the 6 stop is -3 to +3, with zero at 3 stops down from full power. If you need to reduce the lights further, you can use the flash EC on your camera. This is not a problem for me because I use the E640/ PW system typically in bright sun. The PW utility has several options you may or may not find useful such as power tracking, and the ability to set a base ISO and aperture for the -3 stop starting point.

Richard K.



kenyee
Registered: Jul 08, 2008
Total Posts: 1528
Country: United States

cineski wrote:
Question on the pocket wizard units for the Einstein. It says 6 stops of adjustment. Is this from full power down or low power up? Or can it be either?.


Either...you have to configure it from the computer.

The CC isn't bad once you get used to it. When you have Einsteins all set up, all you do is use the left joystick for power adjustment and the right joystick to test fire to measure. If you want some handholding, PM me...



jzucker
Registered: Jan 07, 2002
Total Posts: 2511
Country: United States

kenyee wrote:
cineski wrote:
Question on the pocket wizard units for the Einstein. It says 6 stops of adjustment. Is this from full power down or low power up? Or can it be either?.


Either...you have to configure it from the computer.

The CC isn't bad once you get used to it. When you have Einsteins all set up, all you do is use the left joystick for power adjustment and the right joystick to test fire to measure. If you want some handholding, PM me...


again, on location in bright sunlight is the killer.



bills_pix
Registered: Nov 19, 2012
Total Posts: 17
Country: Canada

There is a new pdf manual for download for the CC that is much clearer. Yes it is a bit fiddly but after a couple of sessions I find it very easy to use.



jzucker
Registered: Jan 07, 2002
Total Posts: 2511
Country: United States

bills_pix wrote:
There is a new pdf manual for download for the CC that is much clearer. Yes it is a bit fiddly but after a couple of sessions I find it very easy to use.


I also find it easy to use but it's still got some issues. One thing that's a very poor design is to have the test button also be the button to switch menu screens. So many times when I want to do a test reading, I end up switching to the setup screen and activating whatever was last selected on that screen. Dumb...The test button should be a dedicated button.

However, I love the einsteins.

Question for you guys...Is there an easy way to turn off a light from the CC? I was doing a 4 light shoot today and decided to turn off two of the lights. When I went to adjust the power, the CC turned them back on!

Yes, I could create a group and only fire that group but is there another faster way?



kenyee
Registered: Jul 08, 2008
Total Posts: 1528
Country: United States

jzucker wrote:
Question for you guys...Is there an easy way to turn off a light from the CC? I was doing a 4 light shoot today and decided to turn off two of the lights. When I went to adjust the power, the CC turned them back on!


Have a special saved memory w/ only two lights on (I use one memory for all lights off too).
Besides that, no...simplest thing is to just pull the power cord or receiver on the strobe...it's a lot faster than fiddling w/ buttons on the CC...



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