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Thread: What lights should I buy?

  1. #1
    Cooke, Heliar, Petzval...yeah
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    What lights should I buy?

    Yesterday, I was watching World Series in a Common room (I just can't believe Rockies got swept) and couple guys popped in to test AlienBees B800. He had 4 of them with softboxes. Personally, I was impressed by the setup. They tested medium format and I had a chance to test it as well and I was satisfied what I saw.

    But the question is: Will be something like this sufficient for 4x5, or 8x10? I'm more interested in continuous lightning, with a strobe options.

    Is there any other systems I should consider? I plan to invest around 2500-3000 bucks.

    Thanks.
    Peter Hruby
    www.peterhruby.ca

  2. #2

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    Re: What lights should I buy?

    This is a big and complex question. But first, realize that the larger the format, the more power (usually measured in watt-seconds) you're going to need. And the need increases exponentially as your format size increases. By which I mean that 8x10 wants a lot of strobe power...
    so, find a good book or two on photographic lighting, and figure out what you want to light. (portraits? table-top closeups? interiors? hockey arenas?), Then the answers will begin to come.

  3. #3

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    Re: What lights should I buy?

    White lightning, also made by Paul Buff, have stronger modelling lights, and are somewhat more rugged than Alien Bees. On the White Lightning website there is a list of the output of the models with various light modifiers.

    Speedotron may be a better value than monolights, especially for 8x10, where you will need lots of joules.

  4. #4
    Cooke, Heliar, Petzval...yeah
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    Re: What lights should I buy?

    Mark I have few books about lightning. I red them, now I'm more looking into what you guys have and why. There are B1600 as well, I was considering them more that 800's.

    Let's say, most of my lightning from the subject and subject distance won't be further than let's say 15 meter/ 45 feet?

    Ron,
    I'll look into website. Thanks.
    Peter Hruby
    www.peterhruby.ca

  5. #5

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    Re: What lights should I buy?

    There is a big difference, too, between continous lighting and strobe.

    Most people are much better off with strobe lighting rather than continous. However continous (hot) lighting is agood choice for some. If you are doing video, for example, you don't have much option except continous lighting.

    I prefer to buy good quality used equipment rather than new - as long as it is priced reasonably. Usually about 60% to 70% of new price. But for your first kit, assuming you don't have a lot of experience, new may be a good option.

    Probably best to borrow some lights and test/learn a bit before you buy. Or rent for a weekend.

    Best,
    Michael

  6. #6
    Moderator Ralph Barker's Avatar
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    Re: What lights should I buy?

    I use White Lightning X3200s as my main lights for all formats up to 8x10, and for people and tabletop-like stuff. At full power, they put out enough light to get into the f/32-f/45 range with the standard reflectors, a stop or two less with softboxes. But, I often need supplemental lighting for fine focusing the 4x5 or 8x10 - even with the 250W modeling light in the X3200s.

    The Alien Bees are really intended for situations where wider f-stops can be used, and for lighter-duty applications, I think. But, with a battery pack, they're also nice for on-location shoots as fill.

  7. #7

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    Re: What lights should I buy?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sampson View Post
    ...the larger the format, the more power (usually measured in watt-seconds) you're going to need. And the need increases exponentially as your format size increases. By which I mean that 8x10 wants a lot of strobe power...
    Okay...someone please explain this to me, because it doesn't make any sense to me. I think that the amount of light needed is more dependent on the subject matter, the chosen f/stop, and perhaps the lens' angle of coverage...not the size of the film.

    For example, if I set up a subject lit with natural light and it's metered at ISO 100, f/8 @ 1/100sec (or any given exposure for that matter), the same exposure works for 35mm, medium format, 4x5, etc. I don't think it matters what format I use, I'm going to meter and expose it the same. So why is it any different with strobes? It's the same amount of light irregardless of the camera size.
    Mike Boden

    www.mikeboden.com
    Instagram: @mikebodenphoto

  8. #8
    Moderator Ralph Barker's Avatar
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    Re: What lights should I buy?

    The comment might not have been phrased as accurately as it might have been. It's really a matter of the desired DOF, which changes with format based on using longer lenses to get the same "perspective".

  9. #9

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    Re: What lights should I buy?

    I use 3 AB800's and the power is JUST enough for 35mm work whether shooting weddings or product stuff. For LF don't think of anything but 1600's.

  10. #10

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    Re: What lights should I buy?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ralph Barker View Post
    The comment might not have been phrased as accurately as it might have been. It's really a matter of the desired DOF, which changes with format based on using longer lenses to get the same "perspective".
    So what you're saying is that to maintain the same perspective on the larger format, you have to use a longer lens. As a result, at the same give f/stop, the DOF decreases. So in order to maintain the DOF, you have to stop down, thus requiring more light. Now I understand. Thanks for the info.
    Mike Boden

    www.mikeboden.com
    Instagram: @mikebodenphoto

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