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I'm sure that this has been posted a million times but the ones I've seen don't answer the question fully, apols if I missed it.
I'm about to buy some lights (hurrah!) the majority of my work so far has been available light (concerts and other photo-journalistic assignments) or using on (or cabled but slightly off) camera strobe, so it's a new thing for me.
There's been a huge amount of news and attention around strobism lately, and it seems to very much be the darling of the Internet right now, but is it hype or is it well worth looking into. Here's my reasoning:
Let's assume for a moment that I want a 2 light setup, from scratch... strobing I would buy something like PW FlexTT5 @ £235, Canon EX580II @ £365 which is £600 total x 2 = £1200 (note I've not included a MiniTT1 trigger @ £210) with trigger would bring it to about £1400
On the other hand I could buy something like an Elincrom Quadra 2 head kit @ about £1500 with everything that the strobe setup has incl trigger and carry case.
I specifically chose the Quadra, not because it's the best/worst/average or anything else, but because the portability is comparable to the Strobe kit I mentioned, in order to head off all of the "portability difference" arguments. I suspect that £1500 will buy me a 2 head kit from several reasonable manufacturers on less portable kits. I'm trying to compare oranges to oranges here, so I'm not looking at used kit or eBay specials.
So back to the question in the title.... is all the strobing talk right now hype, or can it legitimately go head to head with the bigger lights at a similar price?? Is there anyone out there can help me decide where best to invest my cash?
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If you haven't already, I'd really suggest having a look at Joe McNally's work. Some of the stuff he manages to pull off with a handful (or less) of speedlights is quite amazing.
I just read his book "Hot Shoe Diaries" and it certainly opens up your eyes to what is possible. It's a Nikon-centred book, but the ideas are sound regardless of the brand used. Well worth a read.
There's also the Strobist member group on here, as well as the other obvious one elsewhere
For me, it's all about the awesomeness, but that's mostly down to sneaky placements of small lights. And I've been known to trip over a few cables in my time.
I highly recommend you pay the strobist site a visit.
Loads of gear on there and plenty of good advise.
Why don't you start out cheap and see if you like it. For just under £150 you can have a two flash set up with wireless triggers, light stands, brackets and umbrellas if you look hard enough! With Yugano(?) flash heads selling at £37 each, you cant help but try, so cheap!! Its all manual so you have to have some idea of what your doing. I've just ordered a load of gear, really liked going the cheap strobist route as its so mobile! I can almost walk a whole studio out into a field, onto a beach or up a mountain by myself!! Obviously you cant light many people or large objects with off camera flash (unless you have 100 heads!), but I'm only thinking of portraits and head shots here. If you want anymore info, message me....
Another thing, Pocket Wizard are amazing but if your not planing on being miles from the heads you want to trigger, you can go a lot cheaper!!
If i had the budget you are talking about it would be a set elichroms or bowens with battery packs. At present i use 2 vivitar285's and two canon speedlites through chinese triggers and am happy enough with what i get for this basic set up.
Quote: Why don't you start out cheap and see if you like it. For just under £150 you can have a two flash set up with wireless triggers, light stands, brackets and umbrellas if you look hard enough! With Yugano(?) flash heads selling at £37 each, you cant help but try, so cheap!! Its all manual so you have to have some idea of what your doing. I've just ordered a load of gear, really liked going the cheap strobist route as its so mobile! I can almost walk a whole studio out into a field, onto a beach or up a mountain by myself!! Obviously you cant light many people or large objects with off camera flash (unless you have 100 heads!), but I'm only thinking of portraits and head shots here. If you want anymore info, message me....
Thanks Paul, I was actually just looking at this starving student setup that I found pointed out on the Strobist blog that some pointed me at in an earlier post.... http://www.mpex.com/page.htm?PG=STROBIST2XKITS which just goes to show what you can get for your money I guess. Let's assume I wanted to go down this cheaper route.... I use top quality lenses on a Canon body, and I already own a Canon EX580 (not the II), what would you recommend as a trigger system and second strobe, given that I want to spend as little as possible, because if I'm gonna spend large chunks of cashola then I want it to go towards my final choice of kit. Obviously I don't minfd buying decent stands because I'll need them regardless of what I get, but I don't want to be spending £350 on a head as a try out.
Consultant, I'm using PT-04 (ebay China!) trigger/recievers which seems to work fine at the monment. Just remember I'm not working far from the heads I'm using! For flash heads, I have a Canon 580ex II and two YongNuo YN460 MKII's. They are great flashes for the price, although optical slave is **** and power output is nowhere near the 580! I use the 580 to light backgrounds or hard side light and the two other flashes on subject. Its all about playing!! My piece of advice, you probably wont use this gear as much as you think, so don't spend to much! Like you said by decent triggers and stands to use in the future if you want, you'll probably end up buying 240v studio heads anyway!
P.s. buy refelective brollies, not white or shoot through but good silver reflective brollies. They make the most of the small amount of power you have!
The Yongnuo triggers are also impressive. I have the CTP301P which have excellent range and are pretty reliable. Tho the RF 601's are better (they came out just after I bought). Why not start to see what you can do with a single light source ? Just get creative and you will learn far more.
I use Canon 540EZ, Vivtar 285 & Nikon SB26 flash guns with ebay triggers. The whole lot cost less than £200. As long as the flash guns can be used in manual mode, thats fine.
They are not replacement for studio lighting. Its cheap and very portable. They can be set up quickly in places you can not use studio type light without expensive portable power pack. I would recommend you to give it a go and join a local Strobist group on Flickr. Its great fun doing group shoots with like minded people.
Plenty of 2nd hand 550ex's for £150 or so from dealers.
Phottix Tetra triggers are good for the money. There should be a review of them on this site very soon.
Another vote for the PT-04s from me. I'm not saying you can't get better if money is no object but for the cost they're great value if you're just starting out with multiple off-camera flash. If you search around you can get kits with one transmitter and two or three receivers.
I've been impressed with the Yongnuo CTP301's tho they have just updated to RF601's the range is excellent and I've had no misfires (well after I replaced the poor Chinese batteries). Pretty well built too.
But for the money any of the Chinese eBays should be OK.
I use the Yongnuo RF-602 triggers, v/good for the money, no misfires and great range. To save money, look at Sigma, Vivitar, sunpak etc flashes as well, after all as on photographer who i can't recall says 'a flash is a flash is a flash'
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