Alien Bee Power VS Speedlight Power

Started Jun 30, 2011 | Discussions thread
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patrickhall
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Alien Bee Power VS Speedlight Power
Jun 30, 2011

I'm planning on doing a shoot that requires me to overpower the sun as much as possible. I usually don't aim for this sort of thing but I have something pretty cool in mind that requires more power than I usually do on my shoots.

Right now I own about 6 SB-800 flashes and 3 or 4 Nikon 80DX flashes which are actually the same power as the SB-800s....so I already have the speedlights covered.

I also have an Alien Bee Ringflash which on their website says it's about 320 watts at full power. This is the only AB light I have to compare with my speedlights.

I've been doing a few tests to see if on location it is worth going with a larger Alien Bee monoblock or to just use my Speedlights. What has shocked me in my prelim tests is that an SB800 at 1/1 power and zoomed in to 105mm is exactly the same power as the AB Ring Flash at full power from the same distance. Since the watts/second on the ABR800 is the same as the AB800 it appears to me that 1 SB800 is the same power as an AB800 flash at 320 Ws according to their website. Maybe I'm missing something because the monoblock will have a reflector where the Ring Flash is less directional and therefore maybe a little less powerful side by side....but it can't be by much.

So it appears that buying the most powerful AB flash, the White Lightning 3200 (1320 ws), is only 2 stops above the AB800 (320 ws). If this math is correct then it seems like 4 SB800s at full power would be the same power as 1 WL3200 at full power.

This just doesn't seem right to me so if someone can explain this better I would appreciate it. Maybe these monoblocks really aren't that much more powerful than the speedlights.....one single light is a bit easier to manage than a bracket with 4 SB800s but then again I already own the SB800s so I can use them right now. What do you guys think?

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