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Thread: Questions about Monolights:

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    Senior Member bob williams's Avatar
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    Questions about Monolights:

    Over the past few months I have been getting interested in monolight strobes. Although I have done quite a bit of reading and spec comparison, I find myself confused more often than not. To begin with, I started out looking at output of various models and comparing them to my speed lights, specifically my 580 exII. So now, I have a few questions, but first some background info:

    I am most interested in outdoor use. Though none of the strobes I have looked at have the fast flash durations I need for Hummingbird Photography, I am thinking they may be more useful (powerful) for other outdoor applications--i.e. being able to use an umbrella/beauty dish etc without having it three feet from my subject/s-----Most of my subjects would be birds, pets, wildlife and occasional people photos----note, I don't mind running a long cord for power or even using a generator if neccessary.

    1. The 580 ex II has a guide number of 190 when set to 105mm, this seems to be about the same output as a 400 watt/sec monolight----but there are large variances in the guide numbers between different brands and different models of monolights when they are all advertising 400 Watt/s----What am I missing?, Is there a better way to judge power output for monolights.

    2. The less expensive monolights like Impact and Sunpak seem to offer similar features as the more expensive lights---so what's the catch----what should I look out for in the less expensive lights---or--what should I be willing to pay for in the more expensive lights?

    3. Finally, what are some good/reputable brand names when talking monolights, but ones that won't break the bank?

    Thanks for any info you can provide.

    Bob
    Bob

  2. #2
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    I cannot answer most of your questions but I am pretty sure they will not have a short enough flash duration for your hummingbird shots...I have done some reading on these in the past.

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    Administrator Sean Setters's Avatar
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    I will try to remember to respond when I get home. Responding at length on my phone just doesn't seem enjoyable. ;-)

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    Senior Member bob williams's Avatar
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    No, I didn' t plan on using them for H-Birds, Just other outdoor stuff
    Bob

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    Senior Member bob williams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sean Setters View Post
    I will try to remember to respond when I get home. Responding at length on my phone just doesn't seem enjoyable. ;-)
    LOL, No I wouldn't think so, Thanks Sean
    Bob

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    I think Paul Buff has the flash duration listed on his white lightnings. Something like 1/300, 1/600, and 1/1100 at full power. When talking about Mr. Buff and his stuff, they usually want to upgrade to at least the next model though. I do remember that junk lights aren't consistent in rated white balance.. or output for that matter.
    Words get in the way of what I meant to say.

  7. #7
    Senior Member bob williams's Avatar
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    I do remember that junk lights aren't consistent in rated white balance.. or output for that matter.
    That's what I was noticing in the user reviews of some of the less expensive lights
    Bob

  8. #8
    Administrator Sean Setters's Avatar
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    My replies:

    1) I wouldn't say that a 580EX II is as powerful as a 400 watt monolight. I use 600 watt monolights all the time (at usually 1/2 power or less), and my 580EX's output doesn't come that close.

    2) There are certainly cheap monos, but you don't usually get things like a) color consistency, b) wide assortment of modifiers (although there are speed rings), c) ruggedness, or d) great customer service. While Paul C. Buff's monos before the Einstein suffer a bit from color consistency issues, it isn't terrible. I've owned an Ultra 600, Ultrazap 1600s, an X2400 and an X1600. The very slight color variations (which most of the time go unnoticed) have never mattered to me (and I'm usually using 2-3 monos per shoot).

    3) For me, I love Paul C. Buff monolights. In fact, I have to pay more when buying from them because their facility is in TN (so I have to pay sales tax). That has never stopped me. For the money you pay, in my opinion, you simply can't get better products.

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    Senior Member neuroanatomist's Avatar
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    +1 on the PCB Einstein - have one, love it, considering a second (and one of Mark's PowerMC2s if I decide to get one, assuming one is available).

  10. #10
    Senior Member Mark Elberson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by neuroanatomist View Post
    +1 on the PCB Einstein - have one, love it, considering a second (and one of Mark's PowerMC2s if I decide to get one, assuming one is available).
    Have four and love them! I would not hesitate to own an AlienBee or a White Lightning either though. The fluctuations in Kelvin in the AlienBee line are quoted to be around 200 degrees. That's really not that big of a deal. The spec on the Einstein is about 50 degrees.

    David Hobby over at www.strobist.com estimates the 580EX to be at around 60 watt seconds. The reason why the 580 has a guide number of 190 is because it's measured at its tightest zoom of 105mm. The standard reflector on an AlienBee has a spread of about 80 degrees which is probably much closer to 24mm of zoom on a 580. The fastest duration on an Einstein though is 1/13,000 which can easily be beat by a 580. 1/13,000 isn't too shabby though :-)
    Last edited by Mark Elberson; 04-29-2012 at 11:50 PM.

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