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Thread: LED strobes?

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    LED strobes?

    My hunt for travel strobes continue. The Elinchrome D-Lite 4 looks ok, and a new, upcoming version has added a cooling fan to the package. But then I found these:

    http://www.ekasilp.com/ample.html

    They are LED strobes, up to 300W each, and extremely compact, and they are even manufactured here in Thailand, so I'm visiting the showroom at the factory next week.

    But... does anybody have experience with LED strobes? Any disadvantages that I should know about (and that I'm sure the manufacturer wouldn't dream of mentioning). My normal studio strobes come from the same company btw., and they do the job they are supposed to do, so no problems there.

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    Senior Member Lars's Avatar
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    Re: LED strobes?

    The link is a bit confusing, it mentions LED modeling lamp but does not mention what tech the actual flash uses.
    Monochrome: http://mochro.com

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: LED strobes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lars Vinberg View Post
    The link is a bit confusing, it mentions LED modeling lamp but does not mention what tech the actual flash uses.
    You are right. My reading abilities are rather questionable
    On the other hand: they probably wouldn't be able to make them that small, and that form factor, if they had been conventional strobes, so my question remains the same

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    Senior Member Lars's Avatar
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    Re: LED strobes?

    Yep those strobes are indeed very compact.

    A problem with LED-based lighting is the spectrum. Unmodified LED light is very narrow in its spectrum. 5500K daylight temp can be created by using three monochrome R/G/B light sources in the correct proportions but would give very bad light quality with three spikes at red/green/blue, so temp says little about quality.

    If you visit the manufacturer, try to find out about spectral distribution of the flash as well as the modeling light.
    Monochrome: http://mochro.com

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: LED strobes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lars Vinberg View Post
    Yep those strobes are indeed very compact.

    A problem with LED-based lighting is the spectrum. Unmodified LED light is very narrow in its spectrum. 5500K daylight temp can be created by using three monochrome R/G/B light sources in the correct proportions but would give very bad light quality with three spikes at red/green/blue, so temp says little about quality.

    If you visit the manufacturer, try to find out about spectral distribution of the flash as well as the modeling light.
    Will do. Thank you.

  6. #6
    kitty
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    Re: LED strobes?

    My experience with this company is bad.
    Bad quality, bad service.
    Check and test carefully before you buy.

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: LED strobes?

    Quote Originally Posted by kitty View Post
    My experience with this company is bad.
    Bad quality, bad service.
    Check and test carefully before you buy.
    I have. I've used their larger strobes for two years already. Even here in Thailand, their reputation is only so so, but the only problem I've had (a malfunctioning IR sensor) was rectified within days. I have much more problems getting spare parts for high quality, foreign products, like extra batteries for my Metz..

  8. #8
    ddk
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    Re: LED strobes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    My hunt for travel strobes continue. The Elinchrome D-Lite 4 looks ok, and a new, upcoming version has added a cooling fan to the package. But then I found these:

    http://www.ekasilp.com/ample.html

    They are LED strobes, up to 300W each, and extremely compact, and they are even manufactured here in Thailand, so I'm visiting the showroom at the factory next week.

    But... does anybody have experience with LED strobes? Any disadvantages that I should know about (and that I'm sure the manufacturer wouldn't dream of mentioning). My normal studio strobes come from the same company btw., and they do the job they are supposed to do, so no problems there.
    First, I'll echo the same concern of others; made in TH, arrrgghhh noooooooooo!

    I've never seen LED strobes in anything but some flash lights or disco lights, none of which was really usable for photography. You can probably use their modeling light for continuous lighting, just don't know how effective they'll be with any kind of modifier. I don't see why you want to bother with them when there are real alternatives from reputable companies and why not another Metz or some Nikon flash if its only travel lighting?

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: LED strobes?

    Quote Originally Posted by ddk View Post
    I've never seen LED strobes in anything but some flash lights or disco lights, none of which was really usable for photography. You can probably use their modeling light for continuous lighting, just don't know how effective they'll be with any kind of modifier. I don't see why you want to bother with them when there are real alternatives from reputable companies and why not another Metz or some Nikon flash if its only travel lighting?
    If I'm going to have enough light using Metz or Nikon, it will cost a fortune. The problem with Metz is also the distributor (who distributes Elinchrome as well). New products is not a problem, but spare parts for discontinued models is. This is nothing new here in Thailand (same thing with Olympus and my E-1, which can't be repaired here; no spare parts), and only very few distributors offer proper after sales service. Luckily, Fuji is one of those who do

    The problem I run into is when doing on-location shoots outside Bangkok. In theory, I could rent gear at the destination, but knowing the culture in this part of the world, I would never trust the equipment to be in place, as specified and actually working when I arrive. So, I have to carry stuff, and strobes should preferably be small enough to fit in a maximum sized carry-on bag, together with two camera bodies and three-four lenses. I've checked the sizes, and it's possible... just.

    Two or three of the large Metz (I have one), with some kind of soft box, would have been fine, but they cost around $1,000 each, and the distributor doesn't even stock extra batteries (or at least they didn't the last time I checked), and I would need a few. The next assignment will be product shots, which in this case means 50-150 shots per hour, 6-8 hours per day for two days. That's a lot of batteries.

    I'll visit Ekasilp next week, and see what they come up with. If I don't find it encouraging, the small Elinchromes is probably the solution (if I can get them. Two shops that I checked yesterday were sold out, and didn't know when the next batch will be in.), but I would have to leave the 80-200 at home

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: LED strobes?

    Quote Originally Posted by ddk View Post
    First, I'll echo the same concern of others; made in TH, arrrgghhh noooooooooo!
    Like Nikon?

    Oh, and btw., I suspect the D-Lites are made in China

  11. #11
    ddk
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    Re: LED strobes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    Like Nikon?

    Oh, and btw., I suspect the D-Lites are made in China
    You know what I'm talking about, I'm sure that Nikon QC is on a different level that a local company, but to be honest, I haven't bought any of their made in TH products either. Its a prejudice born from 14 years of living and manufacturing there. But Thai food, hey the best in the world!

    China is a very different story, its already established itself as a quality production center for many different electronics brands.

  12. #12
    ddk
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    Re: LED strobes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post

    The problem I run into is when doing on-location shoots outside Bangkok. In theory, I could rent gear at the destination, but knowing the culture in this part of the world, I would never trust the equipment to be in place, as specified and actually working when I arrive. So, I have to carry stuff, and strobes should preferably be small enough to fit in a maximum sized carry-on bag, together with two camera bodies and three-four lenses. I've checked the sizes, and it's possible... just.

    Two or three of the large Metz (I have one), with some kind of soft box, would have been fine, but they cost around $1,000 each, and the distributor doesn't even stock extra batteries (or at least they didn't the last time I checked), and I would need a few. The next assignment will be product shots, which in this case means 50-150 shots per hour, 6-8 hours per day for two days. That's a lot of batteries.

    I'll visit Ekasilp next week, and see what they come up with. If I don't find it encouraging, the small Elinchromes is probably the solution (if I can get them. Two shops that I checked yesterday were sold out, and didn't know when the next batch will be in.), but I would have to leave the 80-200 at home
    I'm not sure what you're shooting when you say location, is it interiors? models? fashion? The difference in power between the large (75) and smaller (54/58 or Sb-800) flash units isn't enough to even think about, moving the light a foot closer to the subject would be the maximum difference between the two. There's plenty of used SB-800s around, specially in HK now that will suffice and do a grand job in place of the expensive metz 70 series at a fraction of the price.

    Now I'm wondering what the hell you're shooting, 50-150 product shots per hour sounds more like a movie, what is it that you can setup and shoot in 20 seconds?

    Honestly I think that your best bet is hot lights, you can't match their combination of power, weight, price, simplicity and dependability with any strobes. $1000 gets you a pair of budget strobes at best while you can get a whole, high quality tungsten package for that money. I use them a lot more often than strobes and often wonder why I even own the strobes. Get yourself 3 or 4 Lowells of various outputs with the desired modifiers and you'll be done, I promise that you'll love them!

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: LED strobes?

    Quote Originally Posted by ddk View Post
    I'm not sure what you're shooting when you say location, is it interiors? models? fashion? The difference in power between the large (75) and smaller (54/58 or Sb-800) flash units isn't enough to even think about, moving the light a foot closer to the subject would be the maximum difference between the two. There's plenty of used SB-800s around, specially in HK now that will suffice and do a grand job in place of the expensive metz 70 series at a fraction of the price.

    Now I'm wondering what the hell you're shooting, 50-150 product shots per hour sounds more like a movie, what is it that you can setup and shoot in 20 seconds?

    Honestly I think that your best bet is hot lights, you can't match their combination of power, weight, price, simplicity and dependability with any strobes. $1000 gets you a pair of budget strobes at best while you can get a whole, high quality tungsten package for that money. I use them a lot more often than strobes and often wonder why I even own the strobes. Get yourself 3 or 4 Lowells of various outputs with the desired modifiers and you'll be done, I promise that you'll love them!
    The 50-150 per hour shoots are furniture on white background. Each piece is done with 10-20 different angles etc. (front, perspective, side, back up, back down, with and without ottoman etc.), and there's a team of 4-5 people moving them around and carrying in and out the pieces constantly. It's boring as MaMa, but brings some money to the box, and gives me the opportunity to do some shots from the production as well, which is what I really like

    Since it has to bee done at an improvised studio at the premises of the factories, due to size, number of products, corrections, changes etc., it means travelling around, and it means a lot of light. In theory, I could forget about the background, since that will be removed anyway, but these guys are usually in a hurry, so if the Photoshop work can be made easier and faster, that's a big advantage. The shots I did yesterday are probably being printed as posters or banners somewhere at your side of the Pacific already.

    Have you checked that your recliner doesn't have a tag saying "Made in Thailand"? It might fall apart any minute, you know

    I might have a look at hot-lights, since they are smaller as well as cheaper, but I worry about the heat. If it's too hot, the guys who carry the stuff will start sweating, making stains on the leather, and...

    For production shots, and some other on-location work, SB800s would probably be much better. I will look into that as well, and see what kind of modifiers etc. are available. I know there's a Malaysian firm making some rather neat solutions for small flashes. The advantage with Metz though, is that they are system independent. Do I want to be tied up with Nikon?

    Would I be able to shoot two sofas with SB800s? How many would I need?

  14. #14
    ddk
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    Re: LED strobes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    The 50-150 per hour shoots are furniture on white background. Each piece is done with 10-20 different angles etc. (front, perspective, side, back up, back down, with and without ottoman etc.), and there's a team of 4-5 people moving them around and carrying in and out the pieces constantly. It's boring as MaMa, but brings some money to the box, and gives me the opportunity to do some shots from the production as well, which is what I really like

    Since it has to bee done at an improvised studio at the premises of the factories, due to size, number of products, corrections, changes etc., it means travelling around, and it means a lot of light. In theory, I could forget about the background, since that will be removed anyway, but these guys are usually in a hurry, so if the Photoshop work can be made easier and faster, that's a big advantage. The shots I did yesterday are probably being printed as posters or banners somewhere at your side of the Pacific already.

    I might have a look at hot-lights, since they are smaller as well as cheaper, but I worry about the heat. If it's too hot, the guys who carry the stuff will start sweating, making stains on the leather, and...

    For production shots, and some other on-location work, SB800s would probably be much better. I will look into that as well, and see what kind of modifiers etc. are available. I know there's a Malaysian firm making some rather neat solutions for small flashes. The advantage with Metz though, is that they are system independent. Do I want to be tied up with Nikon?

    Would I be able to shoot two sofas with SB800s? How many would I need?
    I understand your dilemma better now, you're probably going to need at least 4 or 5 but better off with 6 or more, also under this scenario you don't need Metz or Nikon flashes, any old brand with a few slave triggers would do. The only reason I even mentioned the SB-800 was because I thought that you needed all the remote and TTL capabilities.

    Still, I think that you'd be better served with continuous lighting, there are plenty of cold systems out there too with all kinds of modifiers if you're worried about halogens. I saw a system of extremely portable daylight fluorescent lighting system that wasn't crazy cost either, I'll try to find the brochure if I can and send you a link.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    .
    Have you checked that your recliner doesn't have a tag saying "Made in Thailand"? It might fall apart any minute, you know
    That's assuming that it would recline to begin with!

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    Re: LED strobes?

    Quote Originally Posted by ddk View Post
    I understand your dilemma better now, you're probably going to need at least 4 or 5 but better off with 6 or more, ...
    You are spot on. I'm just going through some test shots from yesterday, and it's clear that I need at least four at the front/top and two on the background. A matter that complicates it all, is that the shadows will shift with the angles of the pieces, so I need flexibility as well

  16. #16
    ddk
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    Re: LED strobes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    You are spot on. I'm just going through some test shots from yesterday, and it's clear that I need at least four at the front/top and two on the background. A matter that complicates it all, is that the shadows will shift with the angles of the pieces, so I need flexibility as well
    I did a shoot of a rug and furniture showroom last August and I understand your problem well. The small flashes are out if for nothing else but lack of modeling lights. To set up 6-8 of them for this kind of shoot is hell. You're not going to get away with less than 4 studio strobes either and that's weight and space, and head aches when cheap lights go down, because they will, specially when you travel with them. Take a look at the halogens, they're very fast to set up, what you see is basically what you get and you don't have to worry about anything going wrong, besides you can easily carry 8-10 of them in a bag and use tripods or clamps.

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    Senior Member edwardkaraa's Avatar
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    Re: LED strobes?

    The ekasilp model seem to be just regular strobes with led modelling light. How much is it?
    M262 ZM 25/2.8 35/1.4 50/2 85/2

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: LED strobes?

    Quote Originally Posted by edwardkaraa View Post
    The ekasilp model seem to be just regular strobes with led modelling light. How much is it?
    Edward,
    I paid 8,800 Baht each for the Advance 300 model, very light and compact with some sort of built in soft filter that worked relatively well. The strobes worked as expected, but the LED modeling lights are too weak unless on full power. I'll suggest to Ekasilp to change that. I could fit two of those plus two tiny 100W strobes that I bought at Foto Thailand a few years ago, in the biggest ThinkTank backpack (ThinkTank Addicted, bought it at Foto Thailand for a terrible price ) together with two bodies, the 80-200, 17-50, a couple of primes as well as all batteries chargers, a netbook etc.

    The total weight of the bag was 15 kilos, and it just fits into the overhead compartment of the Thai Airways Airbuses (A300 and A330). Tripod, stands, cables etc. went in a separate bag that I checked in, around 10 kilos.

    I really needed one or two more strobes more for the job I did last week, but I got away with it OK, so no worries for now. If I change to Pentax (50-135 instead of the monster 80-200), I'll be able to fit one more strobe in the bag

    All in all, I'm rather happy with the service I received at Ekasilp. Very friendly people. There's also a battery unit available for the Advance strobes. Contact me if you need more information.
    Last edited by Jorgen Udvang; 15th June 2009 at 03:52.

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    Senior Member edwardkaraa's Avatar
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    Re: LED strobes?

    Thanks for the info, Jorgen. I will pay them a visit soon.
    M262 ZM 25/2.8 35/1.4 50/2 85/2

  20. #20
    aprillove20
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    Re: LED strobes?

    what is it that you can setup and shoot in 20 seconds?

  21. #21
    Super Duper
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    Re: LED strobes?

    The title caught my attention.

    I think LED flashes (strobes,...) are the future. Xenon tubes' days are numbered.

    The only LED flash that I know of is the ones in cell phone (cams).

  22. #22
    europanorama
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    Re: LED strobes?

    cadet is a model name from elinchrome. i have found it in ekasilps program.
    the best flashlight are barebulbs in large reflectors. i was using flashcubes or similar one-time use bulbs inside a foba-reflector(30 diameter x 20cm deep). foba is a normal light-system.
    even and soft ligth from 1m to 5m with no additional diffusor.
    are you really using 4/3 olympus e1 for commercial work? i didnt see good enlargements larger than 30x40cm. with improved sensors 4/3 has impressive future.

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