Buy couple of 600EXs or set of set of monolights ...

Started Mar 10, 2013 | Discussions thread
Teila Day
Veteran MemberPosts: 3,273
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Generally speaking, Ditch the speed lights and get "real" lights! :)
In reply to mike cooper, Mar 11, 2013

I say that somewhat playfully, but at the same time I'm making a point.  in my opinion there just isn't a replacement for a good set of studio strobes, and screwing around with battery sapping, pricey speedlights gets to the point of being utterly ridiculous unless you have a special purpose usage where using monolights or strobes+pack isn't practical.

I have multiple speedlights that I bought nearly 10 years ago (still running strong) and I used the Nikon "creative lighting system" and all that fiddling around with controlling various flash units, etc... which was great for shooting on rocky outcroppings in the ocean, but for anything else?  Phooey!  Total waste of time you'll likely conclude once you start using a good set of studio strobes.

Pros:  The speed lights are great when I want to tape or velcro a light to a high ceiling or wall around the corner and triggered via radio xnsmitter, or just needing a little bit of remote light while shooting on location, etc., but other than "special use", I think they're generally a huge waste of time for studio use!

Con:  Not as versatile as studio lighting (modifiers); not as powerful (can be huge disappointments when shooting outdoors, or in studio with soft box + lens stopped down, in addition to sucking up battery power faster than a cat can drink a bowl of sweet milk);  You can use battery packs (e.g. Quantum) but are you going to buy a battery pack for each strobe, because that is financially nuts.

If you're just messing around and want to do the speed light "strobist" thing, then rock on, but if you're setting up a studio for the purpose of making money-  ditch the flashes and get a proper set of studio strobes that are commensurate to what type of subject matter that you intend to shoot most.

** Do NOT scrimp on power!  What sounds like a lot of power at first, might wind up being being barely enough to add some fill, let alone having enough power to create a good dose of colour pop!, once you add a modifier, stop your lens down, increase your shutter speed...  all while shooting outdoors in the afternoon light.

When I purchased a Canon years ago (5D2) I didn't even bother with the Canon flash units and recommend buying equipment that can be used across the board, whether you're shooting a Nikon, Canon, Hasselblad or Phase.  I usually use a large Metz 76-5 on the Canon w/out modifier, but easily can take it to our Nikons or whatever medium format body I'm using at the time.  eTTL works great on the Canon, but most of the time I hand meter whatever I'm shooting when on a job.   I probably won't buy another light from a camera manufacturer again, though we've had excellent experiences with our Nikon lights!  Today it's all about being able to get the most usage from your gear, not being shackled by proprietary equipment.  $650 for a light I can't use on other camera brands?  I'll pass.

Shooting a family of nine people and their pets with a 200 or 300mm lens, in the woods with fall colours abound, but want some the colours to pop! a bit?  ... rent a high power strobe and compare it to your speed light(s) and see what equipment proves best for yourusage...  my money is on the studio strobes assuming that you're engaging in portraiture, fashion, glamour, seniors,  

Best in photography to everyone!

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