Interesting find re using speedlights as strobes
I spent the whole afternoon today trying to work out off camera flash for both indoors and as fill outdoors using the Wireless ETTL system in leu of PW actually being reliable or Radio Poppers ever fulfilling their promise to bring out EU versions.
Anyway, what I did realise is just how powerful those speedlights are when I was shooting fill in midday sun outdoors through a brolly.
It got me thinking so I went back inside and ran a quick test. I didn't have my Alien Bee B800 (320ws) with me and I was with a friend but I took his Bowens 500 and dialed it down to approx the same power erring on the side of more power to the strobe. Set up a simple brolly and metered. Then replaced the strobe with a 550ex (the old one) and fired at max power. This is the bit that floored me. 2/3 of a stop difference - period.
Now this makes no difference at all if you are shooting in a studio, however for location work a 550ex with a radio slave plugged in (you can use manual wireless but I wouldn't trust it) gives me almost the same power using bounce or brollies as a 320ws strobe! Someone is going to mention recycle times but with a CP-E3/4 the recycle from full pop is under a second, same as with my strobes.
For weddings I need a lot of external lighting. I need it for family groups, portraiture (during the winter), lighting up the hall (my clients don't go in for candle lit) and general kicker or bounce lights used for fill, extra fill, backlights, etc. At present I'm using 3 AB800 strobes and a 580II off camera to compliment my on camera. On location that means 3 strobes with the accompanying bags, cables, gaffer tape, etc, etc. If I could buy up a couple of older but still very potent 550ex's I could cut my location kit and more importantly the accompanying faffing around and cables, to almost negligeable. An added bonus is that each of these lights will be backup for my on camera flash.
Yes I will probably lose a stop of light. But shooting at iso 200 instead of my usual portraiture 100 is a non issue with my 5D's at all, I could go up to iso 400 without noticing it. The other big deals are the millions of AA's that will need to be charged. Methinks that quantams would make more sense for easier charging between jobs with multiple battery packs than the cheaper canon units.
Anyway, thoughts please.
Pic my friend took of me this afternoon, one bare light off the to the left side providing fill to the backlighting and a flash on camera with a 1:4 ratio. We went back and did it later with the light higher and with a brolly stuck on it and no on camera fill. Results were even better (shadows) but I looked worse!
We did a lot of working with wireless ETTL, worked out how to get consistent triggering in midday sun including this backlighting. Was incredibly instructive.
Last edited by Ben Rubinstein; 22nd March 2009 at 09:32.
Re: Interesting find re using speedlights as strobes
Hmm, was just reading up on the Al Jacobs site that these speedlight units are not good with built up heat from use. At a usual wedding in the space of an hour for family groups and portraits I will have shot some 200-250 full power pops per flash unit. Not sure they are designed to do that...
Last edited by Ben Rubinstein; 22nd March 2009 at 11:21.
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