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Author Topic: Looking for Lighting Advice  (Read 1991 times)

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WarrenPrice

« on: November 10, 2011, 16:17 »
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Actually, I've decided on the Brand; just looking for advice on Which one to get first.
My neighbor has thousands of dollars tied up in Alien Bee lighting.  She has graciously let me use the entire system.  I'm trying to decide which ONE to buy first. 
I think I have settled on the AB800 with the smaller octagon-shaped soft box.  The AB1600 is a WOW, but don't think that I will EVER need that much power.  I very seldom photograph people but might get more ambitious with some soft lighting?

I can't afford to go crazy with dedicated speed lights.  I plan to use the 800 with my existing speed lights.  Part of my confusion comes from using both Canon and Nikon cameras. I have the SB600 for the Nikon and an old Vivitar 283 that I trigger with a peanut slave.  I don't have a dedicated flash for the Canon (T2i)  --- yet. 

I'm figuring my total expense at less than $500.  Can I get an Amen -- or would you suggest a better use for $500?

Thanks,


« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2011, 18:53 »
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I got started with Alien Bees.  Just sold off a couple of my lights after buying a couple of Paul Buff's new Einstein strobes.  The Bees will do you just fine, although if you just want to play, I'd suggest getting a couple of eBay specials.  A pro friend of mine (who also shoots with Alien Bees) bought a pair of el cheapo lights via eBay; the whole kit with soft boxes, stands, triggers and other random stuff came to about $300.  Not great lights, but they work well enough.  They're also small enough to fit in a carry-on bag if you are flying.  And if one of them dies or gets broken, well, a replacement will be pretty darn cheap.  I have a set for times I don't want to take my Einsteins.

Here's a link to the kit I bought on eBay.  Definitely good enough to produce stock-worthy images.

« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2011, 21:37 »
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I've got nothing but junk - and really DANGEROUS junk off ebay that could start a fire.  I've also bought Camerons from my guy at the local store.  Outgrew them right away.  I bought AB's about 4 years ago and have not needed an upgrade, have had no mechanical problems.  One of the best purchases I've made.  You may not need the 1600's, but I bet you will wish you had them the few times you need more power.

« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2011, 22:13 »
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I've bought a ton of lighting equipment on eBay (mostly from Cowboy Studios) and have never had a single problem.

I take that back... one of my strobes suddenly quit working. When I looked, I saw that I had physically broken the flash tube. I bought another (for cheap) and soldered it in and never another problem.

Just my experience and 2 cents.

WarrenPrice

« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2011, 11:27 »
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Thanks for all the input.  Having had my hands on the Alien Bees, I've pretty much determined to go with them.  I really would like the extra power of the AB1600 and the larger Octagon-shaped soft box.  It would be especially good for blowing out the background and for lighting larger scenes. 
Maybe I will wait until the money is there for that setup.  I could probably get more for less on eBay ... but...
I've heard a lot of good about Paul Buff's service and support.  My neighbor raves about it too.  You get what you pay for?

I'm getting too old to wait.  I can't really afford to go with the 1600 ... yet.  The Finance Minister (my wife) has already approved the budget for the 800 -- for Christmas.

I'm currently using my neighbor's AB800 as my main light and filling in with an AB400.  If I buy th AB800, maybe I will get the 1600 later -- instead of the AB400???

I'm so indecisive.   ::)

jbarber873

« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2011, 11:57 »
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  About the power. I have a bunch of comet 2500ws units, and with digital, i almost never dial them over 800, and this is studio work AWD. The only nice thing about having the extra power is that you can use it inefficiently- that is, bounce it, shoot through diffusers, feather it off. You can get some dramatic and realistic light effects that way. Not that they would be accepted in microstock ( "poor or uneven lighting") :) The only light that is useless is the one you don't have, so if the smaller light is right for the budget, get that and shoot. Also, if you buy used equipment, you can get a great deal, but you should factor in new flash tubes and modeling lights just in case.

traveler1116

« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2011, 12:16 »
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Where are you located I have a few extra bee's I might be willing to sell at a good price.  Send me a sitemail if you want.

WarrenPrice

« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2011, 14:42 »
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I'm in Central Texas.  I'll likely buy new but if you are nearby, let me know what you are selling.

traveler1116

« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2011, 16:00 »
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I'm in VA but I have a couple extra lights maybe 1 or 2 of the AB400s and AB800s.  If you do get new stuff they give a discount for accessories when you buy the lights, I think 5% off for every light you get.  The lights I'd be getting rid of I got used and the fans make a loud noise when warming up but calm down after a minute or so, they would be cheaper but who knows how long the bulbs or fan has left they look like a little older models.

« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2011, 17:12 »
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  About the power. I have a bunch of comet 2500ws units, and with digital, i almost never dial them over 800, and this is studio work AWD. The only nice thing about having the extra power is that you can use it inefficiently- that is, bounce it, shoot through diffusers, feather it off. You can get some dramatic and realistic light effects that way. Not that they would be accepted in microstock ( "poor or uneven lighting") :) The only light that is useless is the one you don't have, so if the smaller light is right for the budget, get that and shoot. Also, if you buy used equipment, you can get a great deal, but you should factor in new flash tubes and modeling lights just in case.

I have AB800s too and I can't ever remember even using them at full power. I think you made a wise choice, Warren. They aren't the best or most expensive, but they aren't cheap crap either. I think you will be happy, especially since you've had a chance to work with them.

« Reply #10 on: November 12, 2011, 09:12 »
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usually what watts of light one should starts from?

anyone got a recommend of set up?

someone suggested me get one good light to start with..and add up others..

usually a light, a softbox/umbrella and the stand is a set right?

WarrenPrice

« Reply #11 on: November 12, 2011, 12:15 »
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Using one light requires some thought and planning.  I remember a photography class in which I was required to shoot a "commercial" image with one light.  That was nearly 40 years ago and it is still embedded in my memory.  It turned into a major "post processing" project -- burn and dodge.   ::)

If you are good with reflectors and gobos (homemade, of course) one light works, especially if you combine that light with natural light (controlled natural light).

I've been very stingy with any "unnecessary" expense since venturing into microstock.  It's finally time, I think.   :P

PhotoDuneMicrostock Insider

 

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