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Studio Lights v Speedlights

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miptog
miptog  83532 forum posts United Kingdom61 Constructive Critique Points
8 May 2008 - 1:19 PM

There has been an increase in the use of Speedlights being used off camera and in softboxes, umbrellas etc as opposed to conventional studio strobes. Portability and ease of use are clear advantages, but was wondering how speedlights compare with conventional lighting.

I could get a introduction studio kit for say £200 - £300 and one speedlight is in the order of £200.

As I already have a speedlight, I have taken to using it with a shoot-through, but was really wondering how it compared with conventional lighting. The last few shots on my PF were taken with an SB600 in a shoot through or a large softbox.

What are your views?

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8 May 2008 - 1:19 PM

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cameracat
cameracat  108578 forum posts Norfolk Island61 Constructive Critique Points
8 May 2008 - 2:46 PM

Both types of lighting have advantages over each other as you say portability in favour of speedlights......!

Given a choice I will always use my studio lights in preferance to my SB800......Assuming I have access to a suitable power supply, Be that a portable pack or mains generator......!

For all other occasions where the studio lights are a No no.......The SB800 speedlight does the job......!

Having said that my studio lights can't match the SB800 for shutter speed sync capability........!

On the price issue, Get the best your budget will allow, This will save dissapointments, And produce better results.........Smile

Last Modified By cameracat at 8 May 2008 - 2:53 PM
BubbaG2000
8 May 2008 - 4:45 PM

You seem to have done very well with what you've got, and you certainly cannot argue with results. If you feel you can do better, and as Cameracat says, if you have the budget, then you might aswell go for something larger. I would advise trying one out first though.

Simon_P
Simon_P  8487 forum posts United Kingdom4 Constructive Critique Points
8 May 2008 - 5:09 PM

Anywhere that has power, studio lights without question, much more versatile for light shaping, yes you can get travel packs to power the lights anywhere, but with that and the lights, itís a lot of kit to drag about unless you have an assistant or pack mule.

Light weight, portability and powerless locations, speedlites without question, for a multi light setup its pretty expensive from scratch.

As already said, both have their pros and cons, studio lights generally a lot more powerful.

In darkness, shutter speed isnít really an issue and the flash duration makes the biggest difference as nothing is recorded during the darkness part of the capture so slow shutter speeds can be used and still get a sharp image, if there is a fair bit of ambient light though the high speed sync capability of some speedlites is a big plus.
No modeling lamp on a speedlight, that can be a bit of a hindrance in some situations.

cameracat
cameracat  108578 forum posts Norfolk Island61 Constructive Critique Points
8 May 2008 - 7:56 PM


Quote: itís a lot of kit to drag about unless you have an assistant or pack mule.

Totally agree with Simon on this, add to that some softboxes are a pain to set up....Though you can resort to brollies, Although these can be amusing if the location is outside & there is a decent breeze blowing.....Smile

You have seen Mary Poppins....I take it....Sad

Again as Simon pointed out, Not having a continuos modelling lamp with speedlights, Can be a disadvantage, Especially for the more creative stuff, Despite the modelling lamp function on some speedlights......It's just not quite the same as the real thing.....Sad

Last Modified By cameracat at 8 May 2008 - 7:57 PM
Simon_P
Simon_P  8487 forum posts United Kingdom4 Constructive Critique Points
8 May 2008 - 8:25 PM


Quote: you can resort to brollies, Although these can be amusing if the location is outside & there is a decent breeze blowing.....

You have seen Mary Poppins....I take it....

Mary Poppins Grin

Yes much fun especially up here in wind and rain land with lightweight kit, always pros and cons. Although an umbrella maybe an issue outside even with heavier studio kit

miptog
miptog  83532 forum posts United Kingdom61 Constructive Critique Points
8 May 2008 - 8:46 PM

Thanks guys, some interesting comments here. Seems a "horses for course" approach. Was wondering also how often is a speedlight used with a softbox (large or small)?

stuwhitt
stuwhitt  91357 forum posts United Kingdom
8 May 2008 - 10:02 PM

Linky Thing get your speedlight off your camera and start experimenting, the site I linked to has an free online course you can participate in called Lighting 102, its amazing at what can be achieved with a Speedlight and imagination.

Stu Smile

miptog
miptog  83532 forum posts United Kingdom61 Constructive Critique Points
8 May 2008 - 10:19 PM

Stu. Thanks for the links. Great site, and I have been trying some of their approaches. Was really interested in the views on Speedlights v Studio lighting, pros n cons, which has been partially mentioned above, and also if there is a view on speedlights becoming more prominent in use and replacing conventional studio lighting. Was also intrigued as to views on price of speedlights compared with studio lighting. For example 5 SB800 would be over a £1000, and thats without softboxes, light stands etc.

squodge
squodge  7123 forum posts
9 May 2008 - 4:28 AM


Quote: Was also intrigued as to views on price of speedlights compared with studio lighting. For example 5 SB800 would be over a £1000, and thats without softboxes, light stands etc.

Yeah, that's one of the negative points of the Speedlights approach - cost. I have three SB-800s. I invested in them because all my work is on-location: abandoned warehouses, people's homes, etc. I felt that a proper studio set-up would be a hindrance to my work, not least that I don't own a car.

I recently did a group shoot at a bar in Camden. One guy had studio lighting - the fact that he had a modelling light made a huge difference. The fact his trigger couldn't set-off one of his strobes 50% of the time was a big negative. He said it was 'normal' for infra-red to struggle in the dark.

In contrast, I used my three SB-800s... I struggled because of the lack of modelling lights - but in the end every single photo turned out fine, every SB-800 fired when expected. So it's mostly good news.

I now also have an SB-80DX and SB-28DX... I use the SB-28DX as the main flash on my D1H, and have the SB-80DX and three SB-800s on SU-4 mode. Everything is on Manual mode. That's five directional lights on tap Smile

~ squodge ~

miptog
miptog  83532 forum posts United Kingdom61 Constructive Critique Points
9 May 2008 - 4:46 PM


Quote: he had a modelling light made a huge difference.

Sqodge

How and in what way did modeling lights make a difference and how did the quality of lighting from the Studio lights compare with off-camera flash? Also, do you use your speedlights "bare" or diffuse them through umbrellas and softboxes.


Quote: That's five directional lights on tap..

Pretty impressive, and probably all fits within one bag.

Garry_Edwards

Really, there's no answer to this question. Both have advantages and disadvantages.

Hotshoe flashes are actually a more expensive option if, for example, you're going to use 3 or 4 SB-800s.

On the power question, most hotshoe flashes output a maximum of 60 Joules. This doesn't compare well with studio flashes, which typically range from 60-1200 J for monoblocks, more for generator flashes. Hotshoe flash manufacturers 'get around' the limited power by fitting mirror-like reflectors which direct a very harsh light forwards at a narrow angle. Because of this it's often difficult to get the flash to fill an umbrella, and they don't distribute the light evenly in a softbox, which relies on there being no reflector at all.
The modelling issue is another advantage of studio lights, but it's worth bearing in mind that the modelling lamp needs to be bright enough to actually show the effect that the flash will have. Some of the 'Ebay specials' only have 50 watt modelling lamps, which are useless. And, even with really bright modelling lamps, if they're used in a large softbox the room needs to be in virtual darkness for the effect to be seen.

The Strobist site linked to above is very useful, but I think they let themselves down by stating that hotshoe flashes are all that's needed - IMO that's nonsense.

zagpuss
zagpuss  6 England2 Constructive Critique Points
9 May 2008 - 5:46 PM

I already had a couple of Canon Speedlites which I now use for indoor studio images. Does anyone know if the 580EX/430EX can be adjusted manually rather than automatically by the camera's ETTL - and what ratio should the fill light be to the key?

Garry_Edwards

I also meant to mention that one of the problems with hotshoe flashes is that it's virtually impossible to modify them, other than with softboxes and umbrellas. And there's far more to lighting than diffusing the light - see my gallery for some examples of using hard lighting

miptog
miptog  83532 forum posts United Kingdom61 Constructive Critique Points
9 May 2008 - 6:03 PM


Quote: FWIW I LOVE my new D-Lites. I had considered getting a complex Speedlight setup, but once you start adding umbrellas, stands and softboxes you may as well have the studio heads?

I was debating should I get an SB800 or a Studio Light Kit, hence starting this thread.


Quote: You'd have no trouble carrying a D-Lite kit on a bus or train.

Yes, believe there are quite compact. Access to power is the issue of course.


Quote: Have you read Garry Edwards' lighting guide

Yes I have, its an informative read, and written in plain English too.


Quote: the room needs to be in virtual darkness

Still a novice with lighting, but have noticed that the darker the room the better effect and control I have. Is it generally a "good practice" to work in darkened rooms?

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