Friday, January 31, 2014

Off Camera Studio Lighting and SpeedLites + Accessories

      1. Bulb Monolights (Hot Lights)

       A. Paul C Buff Einstein

      A very powerful and flexible monolight rated at 640 watt seconds. Featuring full wireless control through a variety of wireless products such as Sekonic 478-DR, Cyber Commander  and a few others. The power output levels of the flash and the modeling light are fully independent of each other can be adjusted individually. The Kelvin rating (color temperature) of the light is tuneable without needing to use color gels.

A digital touch screen allows complete adjustment of all the functions of the light, some buyers have commented that the touch screen is a little clumsy and may prevent rapid setup but none mention any regrets over their purchase of this unit.
It would be nice if this unit had a tablet or PC interface allowing you to tie in with your preferred tethering program so you could calibrate entire groups of these lights if you had them in a few clicks. This model also features updatable firmware. On the top of this unit is a modular socket for a P.W. (Pocket Wizard) or other type of compatible transceiver allowing remote triggering and configuration of this unit. The Einstein is without a doubt one of the best units for value and features on the market currently at 480 dollars.

   B: Profoto Mono Light
       The D1 Air 1000 is a 1 kilowatt second made by Profoto, its configurable by PC/MAC tethering methods. Wireless triggering, assuming it works with generic triggering signals however I can't find any proof it is compatible with anything other than profoto transmitters. There is a B1 Air 500 model that made its debut on the market in dec of 2013, but no Nikon compatibility exists. Profoto promises to make it available to nikon users this year I think. Profoto items are VERY expensive compared to many of their competitors however they seem to have a very solid reputation if that's any consolation.

   C. Impact MonoLights
        Impact makes a variety of bulb based lighting solutions, some of them of them reasonably priced in the 200-400 dollar range.

   2. LED Mono Lights

       Ikan appears to be the largest supplier of LED lighting for studio use that I can find.
 The 2 biggest advantages of LED lights is their low power consumption and that they produce little or no heat at all compared to their bulb based counter parts. Other considerations such as small form factor, reduced weight, and long service life. They offer perks like tunable Kelvin ratings, digital control, battery packs for on location lighting and wireless operation. Tuneable light output reduces or eliminates the need to gel your lights to get consistent output. You might be able to fix it in post by but why make your life any harder than you have to, better to get it as close to how it should be as you can before that step happens.
Prices for LED lights with this feature set range from 400 to over 1000 dollars per a unit.

3. Speed Lights

   A. Nikon
       Nikon makes some really damn nice flash units, the SB-910 should fix the rather idiotic overheating issues with the SB-900 unit. The menu system and the size of the unit make it overly complex to use compared to some of the smaller units such as the SB-600, SB-700. The SB-910 is purported to have the strongest amount of watt-seconds of output for an on camera flash of all the units currently available. The 900 and 910 were very expensive, so if budget is priority #1 for you, consider something by Yongnuo or Sunpack (A japanese company).

   B. Yongnuo (Pronounced Yong New-O)
       The 560 and the 565 are the latest Iterations produced by this Honk Kong based company (at the time of this writing) who have evolved their product line very rapidly in a 3-4 year period. They have no U.S. distributors that I know of and their primary method of sale is through Ebay. The prices are very reasonable compared to their big name competitors. They range from 50-130 dollars a unit.

   C. Sigma
        Sigma I have no knowledge of their flash products but they seem ok.
    D. Speed Light Battery Pack
        There are lots of external battery packs but the Li-Ion battery packs are the best available. The item I link to here is just an example. (They are rechargeable.)

(There were lots more lighting solutions I could mention but far too many for me to cover)

Disclaimers: I receive no remuneration for mentioning products here, all products and their respective trademarks are property of the aforementioned companies in this article. 

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