Paul C. Buff Einstein's... Durability/Longevity?

Started Apr 4, 2013 | Discussions
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kb2zuz Veteran Member • Posts: 3,201
Paul C. Buff Einstein's... Durability/Longevity?

I'm curious how much abuse the Einstein lights can take. They look great on paper, but I work in a relatively high production setting... needing to take a few hundred photos over the course of an 8 hr day, 5 days a week, every week.

I'm familiar with White Lightening  Those things are workhorses that you can't kill, but I'm curious with the more Alien-Bees style body, does that mean it's less made for such abuse? Basically I'm asking is a $500 monolight with good color consistency too good to be true?

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\~K

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Lawrence Keeney
Lawrence Keeney Veteran Member • Posts: 6,642
Re: Paul C. Buff Einstein's... Durability/Longevity?
1

While my Einstein is relatively new, I have owned quite a few (8 all toghether) AB400 and AB800s for about 10-12 years. I do a lot on on-location shooting and constantly just throw them (in their carrying  bags) the trunk of my car. The are loaded and unloaded many times for each shoot.

I have also shipped these across country for different shoots.

I have had then hit hard enough to bend the metal reflector, but have never had a problem with the actual units.

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zanderlane
zanderlane Junior Member • Posts: 48
Re: Paul C. Buff Einstein's... Durability/Longevity?
2

...well, all I can tell you is that while shooting in windy conditions in the mojave, I had an einstein with a 22' metal speedo beauty dish hoisted about 12 feet up on a big stand go down hard - the metal BD got dinged pretty good, I lost a couple of the strobe's retaining fingers, but with some gaffe tape helping hold the dish on, the thing kept right on firing like a trooper - that was the day I became a true believer in "Buff's Stuff is Tough!"

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Mark A. Small
Mark A. Small Contributing Member • Posts: 595
Re: Paul C. Buff Einstein's... Durability/Longevity?
2

I've had b800s for years.  I shoot dance and when I use them I often have them fire 1500 to 3000 times in any single shoot.  Every time one of those flashes has begun to fail (they have never completely quit) I have sent them in and I don't think I have ever paid more than $35 to get them fixed and reconditioned.  They come back good as new.

I just bought an Einstein and it feels better made than my B800s.

I wouldn't worry about durability or longevity - put that energy into making art!

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John Deerfield Senior Member • Posts: 2,567
Re: Paul C. Buff Einstein's... Durability/Longevity?
1

In terms of constantly firing a flash all day long, I would say they are at least equal to the White Lightning. In terms of build quality, they are OK, but they are no White Lightning. The WL is built like a tank. The Einstein represents a great value for the money that until it's release was only available in pricier strobes. If you move into those pricier strobes, you get the combination of light and build quality along with a wider array of light modifiers. Many if which, most of us don't need.

historianx Senior Member • Posts: 2,342
Re: Paul C. Buff Einstein's... Durability/Longevity?
1

Mark A. Small wrote:

I've had b800s for years.  I shoot dance and when I use them I often have them fire 1500 to 3000 times in any single shoot.  Every time one of those flashes has begun to fail (they have never completely quit) I have sent them in and I don't think I have ever paid more than $35 to get them fixed and reconditioned.  They come back good as new.

I just bought an Einstein and it feels better made than my B800s.

I wouldn't worry about durability or longevity - put that energy into making art!

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its all about creating a place you can be yourself, and in an instant, allowing me to capture you as art...
www.markandrewimages.com

What ^ said.  You can't go wrong with Buff stuff, because few companies stand behind their products and go that extra mile for outstanding customer service like they do.   So rest assured if your Einstein develops problems, PCB will make sure you are happy.

For example I ordered a 86" white PLM 'brolly and when I received it it had a small tear on a seam.  The next day I called PCB, and not only did they promptly send a replacement, they let me keep the defective one, which I repaired with a small piece of white fabric tape!  Two white 86" PLMS for the price of one!

Also, another consideration: PCB gear really holds their value well on the used market.  So if you get an Einstein, and not happy with it, you'll get pretty close to all yr. $$ back on the resale market.

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2LIGHT New Member • Posts: 4
Re: Paul C. Buff Einstein's... Durability/Longevity?
1

I am pleased to read the comments you guys are posting about the PCB equipment , I am a Nikon shooter with lots of mini strobes and all the pocket wizard goodies , but I would like more punch outside for fill light , I have been considering the vagabond mini and a Einstein e640 , this thread makes me a little more confident of buying them , was weighing the white lightning vs the E-stein...but the display on the E-stein is so cool especially when using the AC3 on top of the camera , any thoughts here on the Vagabond mini ?

Steve.

Lawrence Keeney
Lawrence Keeney Veteran Member • Posts: 6,642
Re: Paul C. Buff Einstein's... Durability/Longevity?
1

2LIGHT wrote:

I am pleased to read the comments you guys are posting about the PCB equipment , I am a Nikon shooter with lots of mini strobes and all the pocket wizard goodies , but I would like more punch outside for fill light , I have been considering the vagabond mini and a Einstein e640 , this thread makes me a little more confident of buying them , was weighing the white lightning vs the E-stein...but the display on the E-stein is so cool especially when using the AC3 on top of the camera , any thoughts here on the Vagabond mini ?

Steve.

I have both of the original versions of the Vagabond, and I bought the Mini about 6 months, or so, ago and I love it.

I still take my other Vagabonds with me to on-location shoots as backups,  but I have never had to use them. All I can say is the Mini is GREAT!

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2LIGHT New Member • Posts: 4
Re: Paul C. Buff Einstein's... Durability/Longevity?

Lawrence,

thanks for the reply , I am glad you are pleased , I think I will order them tomorrow , this combination wont see continuous use for me  , but occasional , so with what I read about PCB and CS issues and good reviews as I read around , its a no brainer ...I will comment on  them as I check them out.

kb2zuz OP Veteran Member • Posts: 3,201
Re: Paul C. Buff Einstein's... Durability/Longevity?

Mark A. Small wrote:

I've had b800s for years.  I shoot dance and when I use them I often have them fire 1500 to 3000 times in any single shoot.  Every time one of those flashes has begun to fail (they have never completely quit) I have sent them in and I don't think I have ever paid more than $35 to get them fixed and reconditioned.  They come back good as new.

Thank you, this is very good to know.

I just bought an Einstein and it feels better made than my B800s.

I wouldn't worry about durability or longevity - put that energy into making art!

This isn't for making art. This is for documenting art, so it's going to be high production. Generally I recommend using Brocolors but but even with those I've blown the caps off of their lower end packs a number of times. Before I recommend this cheaper product to someone else who does not have our budget, I want know that I'm not recommend something that can't handle several thousands of pops.

Thank you, again.

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\~K

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kb2zuz OP Veteran Member • Posts: 3,201
Re: Paul C. Buff Einstein's... Durability/Longevity?
1

Good to know. I know the WL's were built like a tank and are better if you're going to treat them poorly and knock the stands over. I'm just more concerned with just wear from firing.

Thanks.

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\~K

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DecibelPhoto Contributing Member • Posts: 791
suprised by all the positive comments...
1

I guess I'm the only one, but I would say that these lights have TERRIBLE durability.

I own 3 units, all had to go in for repairs within the first 2 months of light usage.  2 had the speed ring mount fail, one just stopped flashing.  2 have also had issues with the modelling light overheating and turning off when used at full wattage (I believe that they now ship with lower wattage bulbs).

All were still under warranty, and were fixed for free, but it made for long periods of time where I couldn't shoot.

I quickly decided to upgrade to Profoto, and haven't had even a single problem since.  I also never had a single problem with the Hensel monolights I used for 6 years before that.  I decided to keep the Einsteins for high-speed work.

Recently I took out an Einstein to use on a second set (this is likely the second time I've used it since the last repair), and found out that one unit wasn't firing consistently.  Time to send it in for repair again.

From my experience, these lights have great specs, but poor functionality and terrible reliability.  If they were your only light set that you rely on for work, I would buy 2 lights for every light you need (I've actually had 2 fail on a single job before).

jimfoto New Member • Posts: 4
Re: Paul C. Buff Einstein's... Durability/Longevity?

One of my two white lightnings stopped working after 4 years of moderate use (beeping and shrieking when a CSR+ is plugged in) and I shipped it back for repair. 2 weeks and $45 later, plus shipping, it still has the same problem, which I found out about while on a job, late at night 2 hours from home with almost 500 people standing around waiting for my to hook up a synch cord. I've always been a believer but when a repair isn't done and it costs me my reputation I have to rethink using Paul C. Buff as my studio lights.

jimfoto New Member • Posts: 4
Re: suprised by all the positive comments...
1

You're not alone, only mine came back unrepaired which I found out about while on a job.

antares103 Senior Member • Posts: 1,053
Re: suprised by all the positive comments...

jimfoto wrote:

You're not alone, only mine came back unrepaired which I found out about while on a job.

That is why I test everything (lights, lenses, cameras, memory cards, etc) when new out of the box and whenever I get something back from repair. And if possible, before a shoot, but I can't always do that.

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Ted Wilson Senior Member • Posts: 1,035
Re: suprised by all the positive comments...

I have a couple of the Zeus packs and I had to send one in for repair and they asked if the connectors in the cable for the head were burned. I checked and took photos to show they were not. They asked me to send the head in as well for repair.

The pack came back fine, but the head had burned connectors when it came back. I sent it back and they repaired it, but it was annoying. Other than that the repair dept has been really good.

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Grend Forum Member • Posts: 76
Re: Paul C. Buff Einstein's... Durability/Longevity?

I've had four Einsteins in my studio for the past 2 years, and use them daily.  So far, every unit has gone in for 1-2 repairs each at some point.  IMHO, they're not built for longevity.

However, for my purposes, the company more than makes up for it with their low prices and excellent, and reasonably priced service.  It's more cost-effective for me to run these lights and just factor in a yearly $50 "maintenance" cost than go with Profoto or similar.  The added upside is that my units come back sometimes with factory upgrades to their latest specs such as the new metal reinforced mounting blocks.

Plus, when you consider the level of functionality you have with the cyber commander system, it's really hard to complain about the bang-for-buck value.

Bottom line is that if I were starting from scratch, I'd still go Einstein/cyber commander.  I'm looking over the fence to see the latest developments from companies such as Godox, but so far the Buff system still makes the most sense for my business by a wide margin.

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