View Full Version : The Busy Bee w/ 2 B800, got any ideas. . . .
01-13-2009, 08:02 PM
I have dabbled for a few years with a rebel xt, 350D. With Christmas my husband bought me a new 40D. He thinks that I should try some portraiture. For that I think that, I should move some of my work inside. I'd love to do maternity, babies, children, and families. I have heard that the Alien Bee's are great. I was looking at the busy bee with 2 b800's, a shoot though umbrella, and a softbox. Has anyone had any experience with these? Anyone know about these at all? Thanks for any info.
01-13-2009, 08:19 PM
It's the "DigiBee" that you're discribing, except they're B400's. The "Busy Bee" has four B800's.
The B800's are my most often used flashes. I've never needed to use my B1600's on full power and most of the time the B800's are turned down. I did a product shoot Friday where we wanted a shallow depth of field. I was bouncing two B800's off walls & ceiling of my white room and in order to shoot at f/2 I had to bring the flash units down to 1/32nd power.
I'm not usually a fan of kits like this. If there's one thing in the kit that I won't use, it's probably cheaper to buy the items I want separately. Since these are "bare bulb" flashes (unlike hotshoe flashes which have their own built-in reflectors and lenses), I like to use softboxes instead of umbrellas. I like Alien Bees' foldable softboxes. The ones I use the most are the "large" ones, with a "medium" one for a hair light. Softboxes are a bit heavier than umbrellas so they require fairly sturdy light stands.
A tip about those AB softboxes (of any size): When dis-assembling them, just open the corner with the patent numbers on it. From within that corner, you can un-snap one corner of the inner baffle and directly reach the knob which tightens the whole thing together! Now when you want to re-assemble it, it's all together (but folded) and you have direct access to the tightening knob. This greatly speeds setup.
Note that you can build your own Alien Bees "package." When you buy your flash units, you receive a discount on accessories depending upon how many flashes you purchase.
Here’s how it works:
If you buy one light, you will get 5% off all of the accessories in your package.
If you buy two lights, you will get 10% off all of the accessories in your package.
If you buy three lights, you will get 15% off all of the accessories in your package.
If you buy four or more lights, you will get 20% off all of the accessories in your package.
I have their 4-channel wired remote which allows me to change the light output of any/all flash units from a single place. What made me decide to get this is the pain it is to climb up and adjust the output of a hair light. I attach a "poverty wizard" receiver to the wired remote station and trigger everything from the camera wirelessly.
A padded Pelican 1600 hard case nicely holds four Alien Bees flashes, all of the wiring including the wired remote and my radio remotes. A large tent bag holds three softboxes and a couple of other modifiers, and another large, sturdy bag holds four or five light stands and a boom (for the hair light, etc.). You'll want at least one assistant. lol
If you get studio flashes, I suspect that you may want a flash meter sometime soon. Until then, watch your histogram carefully. I saw in another post that you were going to try the tutorial on Monte Zucker's site. Go for it! Another wonderful source of examples and instruction is Titus' Lighting the Head Shot (http://www.photozo.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=30489).
You may also want a large reflector to act as your fill light (reflecting your main) so you can use the 2nd flash as a hair light or background light if you don't buy four flash units.
Usually a good place to start is to have the main light (the one that's not near the camera) provide twice the amount of light as the fill light. Your modeling lamps will enable you to see your results before you even fire a flash.
Practice your lighting on boxes or something so your human subects' patience isn't burnt out before you have the lighting right.
Have fun and show us your results!
01-20-2009, 06:58 PM
i was looking at the digibee myself should i upgrade them to b800s bruce or do you think the 400s will be good ? I want to be able to do full body shots not just head shots any help will be great
01-20-2009, 07:15 PM
Michael, years ago I used to buy the minimum level of something and then find it wasn't satisfactory and then I'd buy the middle grade and wish I'd bought something better. Having learned from that expensive procedure, I now tend towards overkill. I have 2 B800's and 2 B1600's. I use the B800's for most everything and rarely use them at full power (most of what I do looks best with a shallow depth of field). I've even had to use ND filter gels on the B1600's when using them for a 4-light portrait.
You would probably do just fine with a set of four B400's, but what about the rare time you're shooting a group of people at a reunion or something? You'd want plenty of light for a deep depth of field and you'd have to place your lights far away enough from your subjects that they gave good overall coverage. I'd go with the B-800's. As I mentioned above, I'd also build my own package. That's what I did when I got mine, and I didn't wind up with anything I didn't need.
Any of those units has a slider on the back giving you a step-less five stop range of power. They're terrific. Light weight, too, compared to the old studio flash units we used to use.
01-20-2009, 09:26 PM
thanks bruce im hoping to start doing some stuff for money who knows though
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