speed light, electronic flash, monolight????

Started Sep 6, 2011 | Discussions thread
nelsonal Senior Member • Posts: 2,464
Re: speed light, electronic flash, monolight????

This hits almost everything, the only thing I notice is: technically both speed lights and studio strobes are both monolights (with power and light in the same package), however the key difference is in how they are charged and discharged.

Most studio monolights, charge the capacitor different amounts based on how much power the unit is set. So if you set it to half power, the capaciter will be charged to half full. It's then fully discharged when triggered. This also means that when you turn a monolight down, it must be discharged and recharged to operate at the lower setting (monolights generally have a light which indicates the stored charge is above the set level).

Speedlights charge the capacitor but then have a circuit interrupting thyristor which cuts the flash off at less than full power. This means the remaining charge is available and the duration of the light is considerably shorter (when the flash is fired at lower power levels) at full power this isn't generally too much shorter than studio lights.

The difference is important in recharge times (which is why/one reason? speedlights get their name) and in high speed photography, where a low power speed light can produce exceedingly short duration flash (short enough to do some limited high speed photography).

At least one line of studio sized strobes (Einsteins) are built in the same manner as speedlights, which offers motion stopping discharge times.

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