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Thread: Speedlights and spread

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    Speedlights and spread

    Hi,

    I've been using speedlights more at weddings bounced off the hall ceilings to boost ambient in the way that I have in the past used my AB's and also to compliment them. Leaving recycle times for the moment - the spread is nowhere near as good or as strong as with a strobe. Not sure how to describe it exactly but I can light up an entire hall with 2 strobes but the speedlights only seem to light up a small part and that is with both bounced in the same way, same hall, etc. It's also seemingly not connected to power. The light bounces but in a far too focused way for the spread from the bounce on that dancefloor to be as comprehensive as when using a strobe. The strobes will light up the room, the speedlights seem to do little more than provide accent.

    When a 580II is in slave mode it defaults to 24mm. I've tried it both at 24mm (less power) and 50mm but it doesn't seem to improve the spread of the light or the slight reflector spill that I like when bouncing a strobe at an angle.

    Is there any way to improve that spread, any way to get the light out of that fresnel in a reflector type of shape of light? It would really improve my ability to use the speedlights more, especially when I'm running with very little time to otherwise set up strobes.

    Although there are plenty of solutions out there such as Quantam, Lumedyne, Norman, Quadra, etc. I already own enough speedlights that I wouldn't need to spend more (always good in this economy) and am looking for as much KISS and multi task equipment as possible.

    I've been doing a bit of internet research. I've found 3 different solutions though I'll be very happy to hear of more!

    1) DIY solution using a regular strobe reflector. Couple of problems with this. A flash head is not designed to hold that kind of weight and you apparently have to use a stofen to bounce the light into the reflector, I'm not sure how much power that will kill. I'm also against DIY solutions for wedding work, I prefer something made for the job after years of learning that DIY and stressful high powered shooting just doesn't go together.

    2) Lightsphere with foil on the inside or sprayed silver inside. I'm not sure how well this would shape the light, it's relatively narrow and the light might just go out without hitting the sides. Also due to the size I'm also not sure about the dispertion of heat. A friend knows a wedding shooter who does this with his speedlights and has managed to discolour all his flash heads due to overheating and he never shoots at over 1/4 power. I suppose vents could be cut in the sides to help disperse the heat.

    3) Prokit reflector. Expensive for what it is, looks flimsy, just how well will it shape the light? Also uses a stofen type adaptor, just how much power will I be losing?

    Your thoughts would be most valuable.
    Last edited by Ben Rubinstein; 11th January 2010 at 09:35.
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

    Website: http://www.timelessjewishart.com

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    Re: Speedlights and spread

    Ben, I am assuming you have the 580EXs on stands ... right?

    When I have to "light up a room" I use strobes with ball globe modifiers and jack the stands up towards the ceiling.

    They make a globe modifier for speedlights, but I don't know how well they would solve your issue ... however, I guarantee the spread will happen as much as possible with a speedlight. I just don't know if any regular speedlight has enough w/s to do the job you want done ... I guess it depends on the room size, ambient levels, and ISO you are using ... coupled with dragging the shutter.

    I'm going to get one of these myself to use as a background light when shooting formals in those cave like churches. Because it's a globe, hopefully it'll also provide a bit of rim light on the subjects from behind and separate the group from the background a little more.

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc....html#features

    Im currently using a pair of Bare Bulb speedlights and will add a 3rd one for the backgrounds with this globe modifier. Mine are old Hasselblad D40s and the background light will be a 120J. Bare-Bulb rules!

    I carry it all in a Light Caddy with everything all connected and ready to go.

    http://www.thelightcaddy.com/order.html

    -Marc`

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    Re: Speedlights and spread

    Hi Marc,

    A friend of mine (actually competitor but we're all good friends in my area) uses a globe on a Lumedyne. Problem with it is that it sends light absolutely everywhere, you start getting some weird shadows, multi shadows, etc. He demonstrated using it to me in the hall when he was shooting my sisters wedding (I was taking the night off) and after discussing it with him, it went back in the bag and he tells me that he's not used it since! I assume you're not having that problem.

    The problem as you say is one of w/s coupled with handling the spread efficiently. In a hall I can up the iso without a problem but then I'm controlling the light less as I get an overbright and directionless ambient light. So I can up the iso to get more power out of the speedlights while upping the shutter speed to push the ambient back down again to the level I want it. Of course at some point you run out of X-sync so it has to be finely balanced.

    I've emailed ProKit asking them for samples of the light using their reflector vs a regular flash and also for figures of light loss using the reflector. I'm hoping they get back to me. This week I'm also going to hopefully test out the Lightsphere covered in foil concept if I can find a room large enough for the test to be meaningful.

    My problem is this. I have 3 speedlights. One goes on camera. The other two are backup and also do outdoor off camera lighting using wireless ETTL. I have to carry those anyway and use them at each wedding I shoot. On top of that I have 3 strobes which I also have to carry and use at each wedding. If I were to start using something like the Sunpaks or Quantams then I would just be replacing the strobes but I would still be carrying two different lighting systems to each wedding. I'm trying to work out if by buying one extra speedlight, I can use one system only, whether I'm outdoors, indoors, portraiture, the hall, etc, etc.

    I know an experienced shooter like yourself would say 'in that case screw the speedlights' but I'm kinda married to TTL flash and love having wireless TTL flash with hi-sync for use at a wedding.

    Now I suppose that a Quantam system would do that, give me wireless TTL controllable from the camera and also double as strobes. It's a very expensive solution though and I hate the idea of a quantam on camera nevermind the packs that I'm trying to lose as well, oh and I shoot bounced from on camera, not easy to do that with a bare bulb.

    My main problems are controlling that light into a reflector type beam and getting enough power out of it to provide the light I want without making the ambient too bright, either for control of the light or just too bright compared to what it looked like at the time.
    Last edited by Ben Rubinstein; 15th January 2010 at 00:37.
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    Re: Speedlights and spread

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Rubinstein View Post
    Hi Marc,

    A friend of mine (actually competitor but we're all good friends in my area) uses a globe on a Lumedyne. Problem with it is that it sends light absolutely everywhere, you start getting some weird shadows, multi shadows, etc. He demonstrated using it to me in the hall when he was shooting my sisters wedding (I was taking the night off) and after discussing it with him, it went back in the bag and he tells me that he's not used it since! I assume you're not having that problem.

    The problem as you say is one of w/s coupled with handling the spread efficiently. In a hall I can up the iso without a problem but then I'm controlling the light less as I get an overbright and directionless ambient light. So I can up the iso to get more power out of the speedlights while upping the shutter speed to push the ambient back down again to the level I want it. Of course at some point you run out of X-sync so it has to be finely balanced.

    I've emailed ProKit asking them for samples of the light using their reflector vs a regular flash and also for figures of light loss using the reflector. I'm hoping they get back to me. This week I'm also going to hopefully test out the Lightsphere covered in foil concept if I can find a room large enough for the test to be meaningful.

    My problem is this. I have 3 speedlights. One goes on camera. The other two are backup and also do outdoor off camera lighting using wireless ETTL. I have to carry those anyway and use them at each wedding I shoot. On top of that I have 3 strobes which I also have to carry and use at each wedding. If I were to start using something like the Sunpaks or Quantams then I would just be replacing the strobes but I would still be carrying two different lighting systems to each wedding. I'm trying to work out if by buying one extra speedlight, I can use one system only, whether I'm outdoors, indoors, portraiture, the hall, etc, etc.

    I know an experienced shooter like yourself would say 'in that case screw the speedlights' but I'm kinda married to TTL flash and love having wireless TTL flash with hi-sync for use at a wedding.

    Now I suppose that a Quantam system would do that, give me wireless TTL controllable from the camera and also double as strobes. It's a very expensive solution though and I hate the idea of a quantam on camera nevermind the packs that I'm trying to lose as well, oh and I shoot bounced from on camera, not easy to do that with a bare bulb.

    My main problems are controlling that light into a reflector type beam and getting enough power out of it to provide the light I want without making the ambient too bright, either for control of the light or just too bright compared to what it looked like at the time.
    No I don't have that problem with the globe modifier ... at least not on the mono-heads. I haven't tried a speed-light version yet which will be a considerably smaller source of light. But for $40. it's worth a try.

    The globe has to be used correctly just like any modifier The trick (as I mentioned) is to get it up high aimed at the ceiling ... and the spread does the rest. There is still some spill light coming directly from the bottom half of the globe but it mixes with the bounce.

    I have two large Profoto globes, one is a bit clearer than the other ... with more light transmission than the other which is a softer milk-glass white. I often use them in adjacent rooms hidden behind a plant or piece of furniture down low for mood light ... or up high in a corner where the camera can't see it to provide very even light throughout a room in the distance.

    My plan is to use a bare bulb 120J as my 3rd speed light on a short stand behind groups about 1/2 or 3/4 way between the background alter and the group to open up the background and provide back light for the group ... the 120J has a ratio wheel so I can easily adjust based on distance. The Hassey D40s have zero controls ... but I already owned them plus have clip-on Quantum Turbo Cs for both, so I use modifiers and distance to subject to alter key and fill. Besides, I always have to use full output anyway just to get a decent f stop.

    Bare bulb isn't used RAW since is it omni-directional ... Quantum makes a ton of modifiers for Bare Bulb which all fit the D40 and 120J speed lights. The secret is the Parabolic reflectors which really intensify the light in a circular manner which make them perfect for ribless umbrellas. Another favorite is the Quantum wide angle reflector which can be bought in either silver or gold ... I use the gold the most like during sunsets and in heavy tungsten ambient. If the globe doesn't work the way I am envisioning, I'll just use one of those to W/A light the backgrounds.

    When I have the money for assistants my favorite is still using monos ... my favorite kit is the 500 w/s Hensels which allows me to alter the strobe ratios right from the camera with their Strobe Wizard radio transmitter.

    I tried to use the Nikon SB900s for this type stuff to lessen the stuff to carry, but they were just to weak. The Bare Bulb speedlights provide about a stop to 1.5 stops more which is barely enough as it is. Never have been interested in TTL for this type stuff ... I'm too much of a control freak for TTL. Ratio control just doesn't work with the infrared transmitters because of distance issues ... but I've never used the new PW TTL radio system since the Nikon one wasn't available ... and now that I'm all Sony and Leica M9, it's not possible at all. However, I understand what you are trying to accomplish since taking this stuff is a big PITA.

    I just question if it's possible at all given the wimpy output of most speed lights ... unless you use two together. That thought occurred to me when trying to make the SB900s work for larger spaces. Paramount Cords makes all kinds of cool stuff for doing that ... like their dual mount Umbrella Bracket or directional Strobe Dolly.

    http://www.paramountcords.com/

    -Marc

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    Re: Speedlights and spread

    Lots to think about Marc! Thanks.
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

    Website: http://www.timelessjewishart.com

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    Re: Speedlights and spread

    OK, from a test seen here I see that my speedlights for the same angle of beam are about 2 stops less powerful than my AB800's.

    I don't have 2 stops more iso to give for typical wedding shooting for various reasons.

    I just got an email back from the prokit people saying that with their reflector and testing they are getting 1-1.5 stops more power from a speedlight than otherwise.

    That would even up the situation as I do have a further 1 stop of iso to use without overexposing the ambient while keeping under the X-Sync.

    Quantams are expensive. The Sunpaks aren't made any more, the speedlights are already in my bag and the idea of having a golf bag with all my lights already on stands and just taking that from location to location at weddings is extremely tempting!

    Have to admit that I'm already snowed under with recharging AA's at the end of weddings. I would be looking at increasing the 44 at present to 76. Not for the light hearted!

    Now if only the Quadra had faster recycle or (like the quantams) wasn't quite so expensive

    It seems to be very difficult to find a small, portable, battery powered strobe unit with a 1 second recycle time...
    Last edited by Ben Rubinstein; 16th January 2010 at 09:11.
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

    Website: http://www.timelessjewishart.com

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    Re: Speedlights and spread

    Ben, I'm very interested in your search on this subject as I also try to refine my wedding lighting kit. Probably boring anyone else to tears ...


    What kind of reflector is this Prokit model? More importantly what kind of light quality does it produce? I know the Magnum type reflectors like Profoto offers increases the f stop by 2X or so, but it does it by concentrating the light rather than producing the spread you are looking for.

    What w/s are those AB strobes? Seems like the difference between the strobe and on-camera flash unit should be greater.

    I'll tell you, that Golf Bag thing made a difference in how I thought about my lighting kit. I have two air cushioned stands that'll extent to 12 ' high, the speed lights are mounted on umbrella brackets and stay on the stands (they have Pocket Wizards attached using a PW Caddy, and the cord for the battery pack is left in place ... so it;s all just "plug and play"); two 60" ribless umbrellas, a smaller background stand .... a monopod with an umbrella bracket to use a smaller gold reflective umbrella for a warm hair light. The two Quantum Turbo Cs and Pocket Wizard transmitters go in two of the pockets ... I carry the chargers for them in case I want to beef them up for longer use. To keep everything from rattling around against each other while transporting it I use standard bungie cords. My only complaint on the Golf Bag is that the wheels should have been set apart wider
    to keep it from occasionally tipping to the side when rushing around from one location to another at a wedding.

    Were I you, I'd invest at least in the Quantum Turbo C batteries ... very small and very swift recycle with speed lights.

    Marc

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    Re: Speedlights and spread

    Hi,

    1) I've emailed them asking for the exact beam angle so I can calculate how they are working out their power ratings.

    2) My AB800's are a conservatively rated 320w/s, from years of using them I've never needed more for wedding work. I could use less lights with a more powerful unit but I like a 2-3 light setup for portrait work (at weddings where you need more of a one size fits all) and use 3 strobes in the hall.

    3) I've been playing with the golf bag idea since you first mentioned it here. Keep the lights always set up on stands, brollies slotted in, sandbags thrown in the bottom. Would make life much easier though I can see more stuff getting broken more easily than packed down in cases and bags. Not sure I care though, equipment that can't take that kind of treatment doesn't belong at weddings anyway and my gear is all well bashed and still putting in a days work! Question: Is the bag you have worth that much more than the golf bag it's made out of?

    4) I'm using the canon battery packs for several reasons. They're cheap, extremely light, don't kill the warranty, fit snugly on the light pole using the included pouch (I slip the belt loup down the pole) and it's a simple plug and play, I've used packs with fake battery cells before and really didn't like the system.

    I had a long talk over with my wife last night about the whole thing. She doesn't know anything about photography but is far more intelligent than I am and is always a good external sounding board. Her point was that as the speedlights are not made to do the job and I'm going to have to fudge the settings to make it work I'm going to be looking at burnt out units and more fustration if I try and use them as strobes. If I can't use them as seamlessly and easily I'll just be tearing my hair out instead. I think that it does tie in with what has been my biggest worry and what you brought up right at the beginning. They're just not made to do 'strobe' and don't have the juice to play in the same arena.

    After a lot of research I cannot find a small, light, portable battery powered system that can give me 300-400w/s worth of power with a 1 second recycle time to match what I have now with my AC powered strobes. I'm going to wait it out for the moment and see where I get.

    Still waiting for the prokit people to give me the figures on their reflector, it might still be a good investment for the speedlights I'm using anyway at a wedding.
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

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    Re: Speedlights and spread

    What I do think might make my life a lot easier is a pair of Innovatronix Explorer XT battery packs. I can't use the Alien Bee Vagabond packs with my 230V modified Alien Bees and Innovatronix assure me of a 1 second recycle time with their latest version of the Explorer XT (It also has more sophisticated recharging circuits so you no longer need to have it plugged in 24/7 when not in use). Not speedlights but the ability to use the strobes I already have with as fast a recycle and the portability. I wouldn't do it if I didn't use an assistant already but heck, if I'm paying him to shlep anyway....
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

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    Re: Speedlights and spread

    Actually Ben, I'm seriously thinking of just going with a pair of Norman 400 w/s kits with built-in Pocket Wizards. They are bare bulb and would provide 800 w/s in a really small kit. The batteries would fit in the pockets of the Light Caddy and the heads appear to be smaller than my current D40s with PWs attached.

    I'm really sick of thinking about all this, but it's important because I despise working on formals in photoshop when not using enough lighting power ... all the foreign ambient, cross shadows, and all that sort of nonsense. I'd use a pair of 600 w/s Profotos if it wasn't such a task to bring them with and set up ... even with a schleper.

    I'm not a classic posed type of wedding photographer ... but the formals are a fact of life, and better lighting not only looks better, it makes life a LOT easier in post.

    -Marc

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    Re: Speedlights and spread

    Ben:
    from alien bee vagabond II info:
    The system additionally includes a built-in global charger (for 100VAC to 260VAC charging), making it truly plug-and-play with no need for the user to disconnect or reconnect cables. NOTE: Vagabond II will operate 110V lights, but can be charged from any voltage from 95V to 265V.

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    Re: Speedlights and spread

    Thanks Jlm, that confirms what I thought, i.e. my converted alien bee lights (230V) cannot be run by the vagabond. It's not just a matter of charging them, the lights themselves are 230V.

    I have to say I do like the thought of a battery pack for working from though big, it can also do stuff like my laptop and charging my phone as I do a lot of location weddings. Heck I've got a wedding 3 hours out of town coming up with another wedding in town the next day. I can charge up my camera batteries and AA's, or at least start charging them - as I drive home. Thats more than useful. I was going to buy a further full set of AA's so that I would be able to catch some sleep rather than having to stay up swapping out AA's from when I got back home to starting the next job...

    I think I'm going to order them in a couple of days.
    Last edited by Ben Rubinstein; 19th January 2010 at 05:50.
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

    Website: http://www.timelessjewishart.com

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    Re: Speedlights and spread

    Actually Marc, when I started in the film days I used to use a couple of speedlights shooting into brollies for the formals. No battery packs, just the speedlights.

    Then I changed to digital and realised just how much variation between exposures I was getting due to the recycle time and also the less than perfect light spread which seemed to be exaspirated with digital. Until then I hadn't realised just how much the lab was tweaking, even just a 1/3 of a stop to give me even and consistent prints. With digital I was doing it myself and I hated every second of it. So I bought strobes. Now I take the full set of formals, apply one WB, apply any brightness tweak, apply to all and save as jpg.

    If there is anything that digital has taught us it's that consistency in exposure is worth its weight in gold at the 'pulling hair out in fustration while processing' stage.
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

    Website: http://www.timelessjewishart.com

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    Re: Speedlights and spread

    Thanks for share Valuable Information.

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    Re: Speedlights and spread

    I've ended up with the following setup for weddings and will be using it in action over the next two weeks for 3 weddings.

    Two 2nd generation, Innovatronix Explorer XT SE battery packs to power my strobes. Huge amounts of power and capacity and a 1 second recycle time.

    Two canon 580 mkII flashguns with battery packs and radiopoppers for radio controlled wireless ETTL, portability, etc.

    On camera flash on a Demb Bracket (I can send the light in any direction I could possibly imagine) using NiZn batteries for battery pack speed recycle times if not capacity. Can't wait to divorce myself from a battery pack on my belt.

    Some of the above I've been using for a while such as the Demb Bracket and the 580's with radiopoppers and packs, I'm hoping that all of these working together will give me all the portability and versatility I could ever need but without sacrificing power or recycle times, i.e. not crippling my shooting or lighting style. The only thing that actually cost me was the Innovatronix packs and the NiZn batteries so it has turned out to be the cheapest solution as well!

    I had a quandry about radio slaves to be honest. I hate the huge PW's (for use on camera when I'm using a flash as well) and the price is enough to make many balk given that I need 6 including backups. I spoke to a couple of friends including a 2nd hand dealer who warned me off the Elinchrom system very strongly. Radiopopper JX's are not suitable for the Europe frequencies. The Bowens system is an abomination of overpriced and unreliable junk. My ebay slaves worked well for many years but the problem was that the adaptor from their 1/4" plug to the 3.5mm sockets on my Alien Bees was extremely prone to snapping off in the socket or just unreliable. I bought a new bunch which plug into the power cable (no more changing batteries every wedding) and had an engineer solder new 3.5mm plugs onto each one. I know the system and frequency work well for me and for my usage, I've now, hopefully, added reliability to the weak points of the system. Didn't cost much either for 5 slaves and 2 triggers.

    All of this however is just talk. Those weddings will be the cruicible!
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

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    Re: Speedlights and spread

    And quite a crucible they turned out to be!

    Firstly the Innovatronix. Junk. The advertised specs are nothing short of barefaced lies. They advertise 1000 shots with a 300w/s unit at full power. Using my 320w/s units I got 230 over a period of 3 hours at a wedding then they died. Charged them up again and ran a test, I got 600 shots within an hour. Next wedding I got 420 shots at quarter power over 5 hours. In other words if you leave your strobe on then the power will be drained and fast. That is of course without using the modelling light.

    NiZN batteries. Hmm. Side by side a Canon 580ex with Nizn is only slightly faster to recycle than a 580exII with NiMH's. Using a CP-E3 or CP-E4 the recycle with NiMH's is noticeably faster. The Nizn's worked well for the first part of the weddings, fast enough not to need a battery pack and worked well. Once I hit the reception and dancing they were a joke. Firing fast made the flash very hot, they didn't recycle as fast as a battery pack losing me shots and the discharged ridiculously fast, like in 80-140 shots. Lost quite a few shots over 3 weddings to the batteries running down and not firing fast enough. Using a battery pack I shoot faster and the flash is cooler. More to the point though, it has the capacity to match that speed!

    The radio slaves were an unmitigated disaster, even more unreliable that the ebay ones I had used before. I'm shelling out and getting pocket wizards, stupidly expensive but it's costing me valuable time and patience getting consistent processing when the light isn't consistent shot to shot either due to the battery packs failing or these radio slaves not performing properly.

    I've worked out what was going wrong with my radiopopper PX's. They sent me 3 units all with different firmware. Only the 'legacy' P1 mode works, no doubt as the transmition is standard between the units. I don't mind using the P1 mode but it times out and goes to sleep with about 10 minutes of not using and if you don't wake it up then it costs a shot or two till it syncs again. I should send the units back to radiopopper but being in the US and them refusing to ship to the UK it's a pain in the tuches. I'll live with this limitation though for the reliability in wireless ETTL that I get!

    3 weddings, 3 new pieces of kit, 3 failures on kit. :
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

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    Re: Speedlights and spread

    I feel your pain-

    I think what you are running in to is that there is a line between the stuff that works and the stuff that works sometimes-and you don't want to be the photographer with stuff that works sometimes.

    I have watched the whole "strobist" thing unfold, a huge swell of enthusiasm on flickr for battery strobe, and it leaves my head shaking- I think many of these people have never actually been on a shoot and had to deal with things the way they really are-

    all of this kit-the hotshoes, umbrella stand adapters, AA recharging, funky ebay poppers, gets old really fast when you have assignments day over day, then have to go back and process 1000 images, fix what busted, and get ready for the next shoot.

    Simple is best-the stuff that was made to work together and made to last. I think if you are busy then you can not afford to get what works-something like a pair of profoto d1-airs with their on camera ratio slave, plus canon on camera for some ttl, or a trio of quantum strobes and their new slim battery- recharging 50 AA's sounds to me crazy-

    I'd sell the whole lot and move up- I think there is no reason to reinvent the wheel if you can avoid it.

  18. #18
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    Re: Speedlights and spread

    There is also the price of convenience though, on location during a wedding you need the least encumberance possible...
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    Re: Speedlights and spread

    Point is that you want small, portable and affordable. It's rare to find the combination of all three but one given is that wedding photography is not a big payer. At present I need to buy a 1Ds mkIII and pocket wizards. That alone will take me a year to pay off from my 'equipment fund'.

    A canon CP-E4 is smaller and lighter than the equivelent Quantam, a fraction of the price and I believe with more power and similar recycle. I have 3 of them. The price I pay is charging AA's.
    Last edited by Ben Rubinstein; 8th March 2010 at 04:24.
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    Re: Speedlights and spread

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Rubinstein View Post
    Point is that you want small, portable and affordable. It's rare to find the combination of all three but one given is that wedding photography is not a big payer. At present I need to buy a 1Ds mkIII and pocket wizards. That alone will take me a year to pay off from my 'equipment fund'.

    A canon CP-E4 is smaller and lighter than the equivelent Quantam, a fraction of the price and I believe with more power and similar recycle. I have 3 of them. The price I pay is charging AA's.
    Not sure I mentioned this to you before Ben, but what about using two Canon speed lights per umbrella or softbox?

    Paramount makes all the stuff to do this, especially for Canon ... including tri-mount strobe dolly and a Y cord to have a single Pocket Wizard firing both speed lights.

    http://www.paramountcords.com/Ycord4PW.asp

    -Marc

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    Re: Speedlights and spread

    doubling up is putting two 450 dollar flashes together to get maybe 200ws?

    900$? plus batteries and charger plus cables plus adapters....for 200ws is pretty expensive ws.

    You can get a used profoto compact plus 600ws for 700$.

    This is where the strobist logic breaks down rapidly.

    I have two of the cp-e2's and they are great, but only for what they are, which to me is fill at high iso or a portrait lighting for one or two people at moderate ISO. But if you want to shoot sharp or rapidly, or be able to actually see your modeling light as you are working so you don't have to chimp as much and can stay better connected to the subject, AC is really all there is.

    But what do I knowI'm bidding on sb-26's on ebay

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    Re: Speedlights and spread

    Quote Originally Posted by robertwright View Post
    doubling up is putting two 450 dollar flashes together to get maybe 200ws?

    900$? plus batteries and charger plus cables plus adapters....for 200ws is pretty expensive ws.

    You can get a used profoto compact plus 600ws for 700$.

    This is where the strobist logic breaks down rapidly.

    I have two of the cp-e2's and they are great, but only for what they are, which to me is fill at high iso or a portrait lighting for one or two people at moderate ISO. But if you want to shoot sharp or rapidly, or be able to actually see your modeling light as you are working so you don't have to chimp as much and can stay better connected to the subject, AC is really all there is.

    But what do I knowI'm bidding on sb-26's on ebay
    You are preaching to the converted Robert. I have a studio full of Profoto and Hensel lighting ... including 600 w/s Monos with built-in PWs I sometimes take to a wedding. But you are talking about a lot of stuff: 2 Monos, bigger stands, extension cords.

    The point is how much to schlep to a wedding. Ben is already taking at least two Canon flashes, maybe three. So, adding one or two more and a few Y cords for a two dual-light set-up is pretty minimal extra stuff to pack and lug around.

    Wedding shooters are under terrific pressure these days because business sucks and everyone with a Canon Rebel and kit lens is getting into shooting them for next to nothing. So hiring help to carry gear etc. is getting more difficult if you want to make any profit.

    Marc

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    Re: Speedlights and spread

    Hi,

    I use three strobes at each wedding, that would be six 580's plus the two I use as kicker lights plus the one on camera, total of 9 plus the necessary battery packs. That and the efficiency plus the ability to fire fast at full power, etc is what made me stick with strobes to be honest. The weddings I shoot expect rather more intricate lighting, especially for the formals and these weddings are pretty formal. The 40-60 family formals after the chupa usually take an hour and I'm expected to provide a backdrop and studio type lighting. I do of course use an assistant already, I cannot get my 20 foot backdrop up myself without rather a lot of swearing

    It's a shame the Innovatronix packs didn't work out. It seems that for the amount of hours and speed of shooting I need at a wedding - I'd have to pay big big money, money that is in no way justified by what I make at weddings, or just string the extension cables and tape them down with gaffer tape as I've done for the past 7 years or so. Oh well it was a nice dream.

    One thing that is more important than anything is being able to rely on your gear to give consistent results. Misfires, lack of power, lack of fast enough recycle, etc - it all costs just too much time at the processing end of things and no photographer enjoys sitting down and processing however crucial it may be to transmit the intention you had when shooting the photo.

    What I am enjoying is shooting with wireless ETTL, one flash off at 45 degrees and high (with brolly or without depending) and on camera as fill, looks great indoors and out and is fast to use with an assistant to hold the off camera light. Couldn't do it without the radiopoppers. Here is an example below:


    Marc's point about the business though is well made. My assistant at present is the best I've ever had, he knows the basics of photography so he has an instinct that my usual drones never had. He's pretty terrible at present photographically but he's improving fast and his dad is a millionaire, I knew from the start that he was apprenticing and he is buying expensive gear that I couldn't begin to afford. He will be serious competition in 5 years time. The competition in my town among Orthodox Jews (my market) has gone from just 3 photographers 7 years back to eight now at present, all of them competent eventhough us 3 are still at the top of the pile for the moment. Complaicency however in this business at this time would be more that utterly stupid.
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

    Website: http://www.timelessjewishart.com

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