View Full Version : Speedlites or studio strobes?
04-04-2008, 01:04 PM
Just looking for some opinions, since I don't have the money to go either route here, but...
I've been thinking that it would be nice to have some studio strobes, even some cheapies, to get better lighting for portraits of my girls. Of course, this would also help with portraits of other people, keeping me from being limited to "location" shoots only.
My thought now though, do I spend the few hundred $ on strobes, or do I put the money toward a 580EX Speedlite? I already have a 420EX and a 430EX, so I would be able to do a 3 light setup. This might be nice for a little more portability too.
A lot of strobe kits come with stands and umbrellas, which I wouldn't get with the Speedlite setup, without spending even more money. A softbox setup would appear to be easier with the strobes too.
Okay, now I'm ready for opinions, thoughts, recommendations, etc.
Which setup would provide better lighting? More consistent lighting?
Portability is not a huge issue, but I certainly would not want a set that I couldn't move easily if I had to.
What is the best setup, balancing cost, quality and ease of use? (This is where the opinion really comes in.)
Thank you for your input. Don't be afraid to recommend brands and models of strobes if you have a preference.
04-04-2008, 01:50 PM
Craig, first of all let me tell you that if you keep changing avatars you'll drive me crazy :poke:
Well, I'm not expert in light setup, but I feel that if you already have a 430 and a 420, it would be nice to get a 580EX. The 580EX will allow you to remotely trigger the other 2 flashes, so you can have a good light for your subject (2 lights) and you can use the third one for background.
I have a 580EX II and a 430EX and I am happy with them. I never used studio lights, though.
Here's a good reading that might help you while some expert fellow member helps you out a little more. Its a very good reading, I recommend you to read it all ;)
04-04-2008, 02:16 PM
My daughter took another decent pic of me, so, after getting her permission, I used it. Besides, driving you crazy is just an added bonus.
Thanks for the link. I've bookmarked it so I can read it more thoroughly later. Most of it seems to be what I already know, having sold, and worked with, Canon flashes for the last 7 years. I think that, cost not being a consideration, I would set myself up with both full systems, Speedlites and strobes.
04-04-2008, 02:42 PM
Craig, IMO you'd get a lot more use out of a few 580EX's or a 580EX and one or two 430EX's than studio units. The dedicated, hotshoe flash units are much quicker to set up and can be used for candids, too. To me, family candids tell much more about the people than posed studio shots.
I have a pretty full setup of Alien Bees studio lighting including several softboxes of various sizes and shapes, proportionate modeling lamps, reflectors, lightstands and a boom plus a wired master/remote setup so I don't have to climb a ladder to adjust my hairlight. I've never used it for family shots... not even for my eldest granddaughter's senior portaits (http://brucephilpott.com/ally/). (those bottom two were hastily lit with 580EX's and reflectors).
I use mostly available light, but sometimes I want a bit of "kicker" light from beyond a subject to separate them from the background (like this) (http://www.photozo.com/album/showphoto.php?photo=110211&ppuser=8736)and it's really easy to put a little battery powered hotshoe flash in position and get the job done. In my example, a studio flash would've required that I run an extension cord and put up a lightstand or superclamp. All I did is stick the 580EX where I wanted it and I fired it with my ST-E2 (although I could've used a 580EX on camera - set to not fire - to trigger a remote 430EX).
This Christmas card shot (http://www.photozo.com/album/showphoto.php?photo=137248&ppuser=8736) was lit with just one 580EX. It was mounted on-camera and pointed at the ceiling with a Stofen diffuser on it. You'll get a lot of use out of the Stofen for bounce light which will take away that "flash" look.
As much as I enjoy photographing my family, my studio lighting gear never comes home with me from work.
04-04-2008, 03:05 PM
...It was mounted on-camera and pointed at the ceiling with a Stofen diffuser on it.
Bruce, can I ask you why? Why you use the Sto-Fen diffuser when using ceiling bounce flash ? The ceiling don't diffuse the light by itself ? Its nice how I keep learning day after day :-D
04-04-2008, 03:37 PM
Yes, the ceiling or wall I point the un-diffuesed flash at will bounce the light (remember the ping pong ball analogy?), but I want the light to go from the Stofen to all four walls and ceiling and anything else that'll reflect the light (white carpet?). Then the secondary reflections will combine with all of those to give the most diffused light.
If I throw my ping pong ball straight at the ceiling it'll hit the subjects from one direction. The secondary reflections won't bounce all over as much as if they'd been sent from the flash through the Stofen.
Similarly, I don't use the Stofen when I have no chance of bouncing my flash (its only purpose). To do so would just reduce the light output. If I'm photographing friends on the beach at night, for instance (with no other lights around), I'll take the Stofen off and point directly at my subjects.
If I want to get really creative in that beach situation, I'll position a remote main (slave) flash on a light stand (or have an assistant point it for me) and use my on-camera 580EX as the fill (master). That would yield the best results.
Here's a shot (http://www.photozo.com/album/showphoto.php?photo=92555&ppuser=8736)using two 580EX's in a dark cave (no other light and no bounce possible off the dark cave walls). The main flash is fired into an umbrella, camera right. A Stofen wouldn't have helped here.
Did my mixed metaphor make any sense? lol
04-05-2008, 01:48 AM
Yes Bruce, many thanks for your reply and metaphors ;)
Its a joy to read your explanations, I'm sure all fellow members have the same opinion.
I have the Sto-Fen for the 430EX, it does not fit the 580EX II. What I've done is a kind of diffuser to mount on the flash, similar to this one (http://super.nova.org/DPR/DIY01/), but made with thick vinyl, velcro and staples. Its working fine so far, but its casting some shadows under the model's chin, I will work on that to see what I can do.
Well, I dont want to hijack Craig's thread anymore, thanks for all your tips and advises, Bruce.
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