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Thread: Help me pick a 400ws portable

  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    Nov 2007
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    Help me pick a 400ws portable

    Hi guys, I'm looking for a 400ws battery powered portable light on a tight budged. Current options on the table are:

    Norman 400b
    Pros: about $375-$400 used. Least expensive option. Durable. Plenty of modifiers including a high output reflector and a glass dome. Available for rental locally when I need more of them. Seem to be pretty efficient and put out more light than some other 400ws options. Easy to service if needed.
    Cons: Longish flash duration, recycle is very slow (IME not the claimed 3 seconds), no fan can lead to over heating on a hot day (in fairness, the models, my assistant and I were overheating too).

    Alienbee or Whitelightning 800 + VML
    Pros: Available with warranty. Good reputation for service. Can be upgraded to higher power if needed. Cyber commander. Can pair with a beauty dish.
    Cons: Weight, durability (comparing AB to Norman), questions of flash consistency.

    Dynalite Uni JR + VML
    Pros: Durable, Dynalite quality
    Cons: Cost, weight

    While the total system weight is about the same for each of these (I think about 7 lb. or a bit less), with the Norman nearly all that weight is on the stand as the head weighs about a pound.

    These will be used to shoot all manner of things from cars to portraits, often in less than ideal conditions (wind, light rain, dust).

    I have no personal experience with Alien Bees. I have heard issues about color accuracy and consistency, which I have concerns about. IME the Normans are very color consistent, but flash output can vary significantly. I have never used the Uni JR., but I am making the assumption that it is up to typical Dynalite standards. I am also assuming that it will pair with the VML (not all Dynalites do) as the Dynalite Jackrabbit battery is junk.

    I asked a similar question once before, but I have no interest in making my own battery packs, and I have since learned that weight is more important that I thought and I need more lights but at lower power than I originally thought.

    I am not really looking at the Quadra due to cost and (perceived) durability.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Dec 2007
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    Re: Help me pick a 400ws portable

    If you get the norman test the battery and make sure it is up to snuff sam dasaga can rebuild batteries and diagnose any troubles quickly and fairly cheaply. Never used the buff stuff except the mini lithium nice battery

  3. #3
    Senior Member David Schneider's Avatar
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    Aug 2010
    New Jersey, USA
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    Re: Help me pick a 400ws portable

    I have a Norman 400B for sale, $375 including shipping. Just came back from Dasaga (all it needed was a fuse). I just don't use it enough and need to clear out gear.

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