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Gear Talk => Lighting => Topic started by: Wildfire on February 21, 2013, 02:53:33 PM

Title: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: Wildfire on February 21, 2013, 02:53:33 PM
So I'm trying to decide what kind of lighting gear to buy in the near future. Currently, I shoot with a 430EX on-camera and some cheap manual flashes triggered wirelessly by radio, but I want to move into wireless TTL OR monolight strobes. I realize that each of these systems has advantages and disadvantages -- I feel that I would benefit from the advantages of both, but purchasing both systems is out of the question due to the cost. I would be shooting on-location portraits and weddings with this gear.

600EX RT advantages:
1) Built-in wireless transceiver
2) Portability
3) High-speed sync
4) ETTL

The main reason I would choose the Canon RT system over 3rd-party speedlites is point #1: no longer do I have to worry about charging dozens of batteries just to use two speedlites, or trying to figure out whether the problem is with my flash or the radio triggers when troubleshooting during a shoot -- everything is in one self-contained unit.

As for point #2: I can fit 2 or 3 of these speedlites in my bag with my camera... I don't have to worry about packing strobes in a separate bag.

Point #3: I'd like to do more shooting in bright sunlight. I'm using a 6D right now which has a terrible sync speed of 1/180 (I've shot at 1/200 with no problem without HSS but I would still prefer a higher sync) so HSS could prove to be a real advantage for me.

Point #4: I'd be able to hotshoe mount the speedlites and use them for bounce flash, which is something I already do pretty frequently with my 430EX. In addition, I might find that I like having wireless ETTL ratio control and use that instead of manual.


AlienBee advantages:
1) Power
2) Recycle time
3) Price
4) Modifiers

Point #1: You can never have enough flash power.

Point #2: Although I haven't had too much of an issue with speedlite recycle times, instant flash recycle times definitely won't hurt.

Point #3: For the price of just two 600EX RTs I could buy four ABs and a Vagabond. WTF is with that price, Canon?

Point #4: Really liking the Paul Buff modifiers. They're inexpensive and seem to work great with the ABs.


So what do you guys think? It looks like I spent a lot of time trying to justify going with the Canon system whereas the ABs are a no-brainer at the price point. Honestly, if I do go with the Canon system I am going to wait for them to release some RT slaves first so I would only have to buy one 600EX... 480EX RT anyone?
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: RLPhoto on February 21, 2013, 05:55:57 PM
If you get Einsteins, You could pull off lighting effects that Broncolor and Profoto will turn up their noses at.
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: neuroanatomist on February 21, 2013, 06:27:02 PM
You mention shooting in bright sun. If you want to add fill light, the Speedlites are fine.  If you want to shoot portraits and overpower the sun to fully control the light, monolights are the way to go.  Outdoor portraits usually benefit from wide aperture lenses, but when you add flash into that mix, HSS doesn't have enough power except for fill, so to use fast apertures you have to use ND filters to knock the shutter speed down to Xsync, and again, not enough power from a Speedlite.  Of course, you can gang 3-4 Speedlites inside each modifier - that would give enough power.  But it's not really a cost-effective solution.
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: Chris Burch on February 21, 2013, 06:41:58 PM
Going to throw you a curve ball and tell you to go with both with a slight modification.  I've have a set strobes for years and they certainly have their place depending on the type of shooting you're doing.  I usually only use them at home in a studio setup but have taken them on location for portrait shoots and use them for station setups like step-and-repeat.  In these cases the benefits you mentioned are all very applicable, but you overlooked the presence of modeling lights, which are really nice to have in certain situations.  I currently have 3 Paul Buff Einsteins with a variety of modifiers.  You're definitely on the right track with the Buff gear as far as bang for buck and quality.  They are also a lot more portable than you might think.  I have a single hard suit-case (maybe 25" tall) that hold 3 Einsteins, 3 Vagabond minis, 3 extra batteries, 2 types reflectors sets and various accessories.  All I need to go with it is a bag with stands and umbrellas or other modifiers, which you would need with the speedlights anyway.

All of that said, I still decided to expand my speedlight capability last year to have 4 remotes plus an on-camera speedlight for event shooting and on-location portraits.  The portability is huge for me, but the speedlights also offer a wider range of uses.  You can substitute the speedlights for most strobe lighting applications if you can deal with the loss of power and lack of modeling lights.  However, you'll find a lot more uses for the speedlights because of their size and the fact that you're more likely to have them with you.  If you're shooting interiors, the speedlights can be hidden throughout indoor spaces to add light.  If you're shooting portraits, you can use speedlights alone or in combination with strobes or even ambient lighting.  You can do a lot of creative outdoor with with a fully portable and lightweight solution.  My favorite application, however, is using speedlights to provide supplemental room lighting for large event spaces.  I can deploy up to 4 speedlights around a room to beef up or replace ambient lighting.  These produce very pleasing layers of lighting that set the images apart from a single on-camera flash.   Don't underestimate the power of speedlights either.  Here is a shot of a huge 3-story hall lit up with 4 speedlights:


I wouldn't want to part with either solution, so the next question is how to make all of it affordable.  The AlienBee route is already about as affordable as it gets, so I suggest you get 2 ABs and a set of stands and modifiers (at least get umbrellas, which are quite affordable).  Fortunately, you don't need to stick with the expensive Canon solution to build out a robust and reliable speedlight solution.  I already had 3 580EXIIs with the 600EX-RT came out.  I bought a 600 hoping to get improved eTTL performance (was marginally better) and then was left with the decision to buy up to 4 more for remote lights at a huge premium or come up with a way to make my existing 580s work.  After a lot of research I invested in a set of Phottix Stratos II triggers ($90 for a trans/recv pair or $55 for recv only).  With those triggers it doesn't matter what speedlights I am using, so I can go for a cheap option like a YungNuo YN-560II (same power as a 580 or 600 but only costs $73/ea).  My current setup is a single 600 on my camera for front lighting, with a set of 3 580s and 1 YN-560 for remote lighting.  The YN speedlight performs flawlessly and you can't tell it apart from the 580s.  You do give up some functionality like remote eTTL (which I have yet to find a situation where I would actually use it) and you are adding extra gear with batteries for the triggers.  The Stratos do "pass-through eTTL", so the on-camera flash still get all of the eTTL functionality, just none of the remotes can communicate like that.  On the upside, the Stratos triggers have a 500ft range which is way better than the 600's 100ft range.  For the photos in the link about, I would have been beyond the range of the 600s.  The 600 wireless solution is actually more complicated by the way.  You'll have to page through settings and make sure everything is communicating and it sometimes needs to be reset.  With basic triggers like the Stratos, you just plug in, pick a channel and you're done -- more gear, but fewer options to worry about.  You should keep in mind that with the AlienBee solution, you're going to need triggers anyway -- the Stratos work great for strobes, too.  It sounds like you already have a set of speedlights, in which case, I would only question your motivation to use a wireless eTTL solution, especially considering the cost. 

My advice would be to get an AlienBee solution and maintain a speedlight solution with low-cost options and remotes triggers.  That by far gives you the most options and pro-level capability.
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: TrumpetPower! on February 21, 2013, 07:39:07 PM
The only significant real-world advantage to me of a hotshoe-mounted flash is that...well...you can mount it to your hotshoe.

As soon as you take that flash off the hotshoe, it loses its single most important advantage and takes on almost all the disadvantages of studio lights. And you're still saddled with all the very significant disadvantages of a hotshoe flash -- its very wimpy power, its astronomical cost, the hell of using it with any modifier other than a small and cheesy umbrella, and so on.

For me, a hotshoe flash is only for situations where it's going to stay mounted to the camera, and even then it's really just for bounce flash. If I was going to use it straight on, I might as well whip out the iPhone -- the end result will be just as ugly.

If I'm going to go to the bother of setting up stands and softboxes and what-not, I'm damned well not going to put up with the nonsense of an overpriced, underpowered toy at the heart of all that effort. An Einstein and a Vagabond, compared with the light stand and the softbox / parabolic reflector / whatever, isn't adding significantly more to the bulk and weight at that point. And the Cyber Commander is such an awesome remote control system that I really couldn't care about messing with on-camera menus.

So, that's my advice. Get the hotshoe flash if you'll actually use it primarily in the camera's hotshoe, and get real strobes for the stuff that won't be mounted to a hotshoe.

Right tool for the job and all that. A sledgehammer and a claw hammer are both hammers and, I suppose, at some vague level, theoretically interchangeable. But you'd be nuts to try to bust up a concrete pad with a claw hammer and even more insane to try to frame a house with a sledge.

Cheers,

b&

Cheers,

b&
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: Wildfire on February 21, 2013, 07:47:07 PM
Thanks for the replies, guys, that really helps!

I am already using the Phottix Strato IIs, with my 430EX II in the pass-through for on-camera fill/bounce and a bunch of YN560s as the main lights) and have found them to be great triggers! I was thinking maybe the 600EX RT system would make things easier, but Chris has reminded me that there's really nothing I can't accomplish with my current setup that I could with the 600s... and the price just isn't worth the small benefit.

With that in mind, I will probably just sell the 430 and replace it with a 580EX II and continue using my manual speedlite setup while saving $$$ for some AB/Einstein strobes in the future.

Really liked your example pic as well, Chris... the hall looks like it was lit that way to begin with! May I ask where you placed the speedlites? :)
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: neuroanatomist on February 21, 2013, 07:48:04 PM
Ok, then what the hell am I supposed to do with this ball peen hammer?!?   :P
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: FunPhotons on February 21, 2013, 07:56:49 PM
You mention shooting in bright sun. If you want to add fill light, the Speedlites are fine.  If you want to shoot portraits and overpower the sun to fully control the light, monolights are the way to go.  Outdoor portraits usually benefit from wide aperture lenses, but when you add flash into that mix, HSS doesn't have enough power except for fill, so to use fast apertures you have to use ND filters to knock the shutter speed down to Xsync, and again, not enough power from a Speedlite.  Of course, you can gang 3-4 Speedlites inside each modifier - that would give enough power.  But it's not really a cost-effective solution.

Syl Arena uses HSS with 580's (now 600's) to knock down the sun. He lives in a sun drenched area like me so that is his solution to control the outdoor light. I haven't experimented a lot with that myself so haven't verified, but he's got the technique extensively documented in his books.

He's also a fan of ganging speedlites, but I'm pretty sure he uses the technique without that.
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: TrumpetPower! on February 21, 2013, 08:15:45 PM
Ok, then what the hell am I supposed to do with this ball peen hammer?!?   :P

They work great on somebody with a few screws loose...if you know what I mean....

b&
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: awinphoto on February 21, 2013, 08:53:31 PM
Now, do keep in mind, if you go by pure full Guide Number, the 600 is stronger (when fully zoomed and in optimum conditions) than the 800 w/s strobes, but the 1600 w/s are more powerful.  Also, you get a bigger, wider light source at that high power than the 600, which only gets it's peak power at full zoom and full power, so in essence you only get the full 58meter guide number at an 100mm lens wide area... not that much.  You may lose high speed sync, and you may lose strobo/multi flash and radio sync, but heck, you can get multiple flashes for the price of one 600. 
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: Drizzt321 on February 21, 2013, 09:20:13 PM
Also be aware that the 600-RT's don't have complete bells and whistles in wireless ETTL that you can get with some 3rd party RF triggers these days. Such as you can't adjust the manual power of individual speedlites off camera, you can only use group ratios to adjust the power of the off-camera speedlites.

Not saying it won't meet your needs, but be sure to read 100% of the manual on the 600-RT's to know what they can, and can't, do via RF. Not saying you can get more out of the Alien Bee's/Einstein monolights, but it's always good to be an informed consumer.
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: PhotographAdventure on February 21, 2013, 11:50:24 PM
I have both systems.  From my experience, I prefer to have the portability of the 580s or 600s.  I shoot mainly weddings and on-location portraits.  And the light load makes me thankful I'm not carting around my ABs.  For that I would need an assistant.  If I could afford an assistant for all shoots, then yes, I'd prefer the power of the ABs as it gives you full control of the lighting situation.

As for weddings, there's more opportunities for ABs, but I generally just quickly setup my 600s at the reception and be done with it.
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: cayenne on February 22, 2013, 01:40:01 PM
So I'm trying to decide what kind of lighting gear to buy in the near future. Currently, I shoot with a 430EX on-camera and some cheap manual flashes triggered wirelessly by radio, but I want to move into wireless TTL OR monolight strobes. I realize that each of these systems has advantages and disadvantages -- I feel that I would benefit from the advantages of both, but purchasing both systems is out of the question due to the cost. I would be shooting on-location portraits and weddings with this gear.

600EX RT advantages:
1) Built-in wireless transceiver
2) Portability
3) High-speed sync
4) ETTL

The main reason I would choose the Canon RT system over 3rd-party speedlites is point #1: no longer do I have to worry about charging dozens of batteries just to use two speedlites, or trying to figure out whether the problem is with my flash or the radio triggers when troubleshooting during a shoot -- everything is in one self-contained unit.

As for point #2: I can fit 2 or 3 of these speedlites in my bag with my camera... I don't have to worry about packing strobes in a separate bag.

Point #3: I'd like to do more shooting in bright sunlight. I'm using a 6D right now which has a terrible sync speed of 1/180 (I've shot at 1/200 with no problem without HSS but I would still prefer a higher sync) so HSS could prove to be a real advantage for me.

Point #4: I'd be able to hotshoe mount the speedlites and use them for bounce flash, which is something I already do pretty frequently with my 430EX. In addition, I might find that I like having wireless ETTL ratio control and use that instead of manual.


AlienBee advantages:
1) Power
2) Recycle time
3) Price
4) Modifiers

Point #1: You can never have enough flash power.

Point #2: Although I haven't had too much of an issue with speedlite recycle times, instant flash recycle times definitely won't hurt.

Point #3: For the price of just two 600EX RTs I could buy four ABs and a Vagabond. WTF is with that price, Canon?

Point #4: Really liking the Paul Buff modifiers. They're inexpensive and seem to work great with the ABs.


So what do you guys think? It looks like I spent a lot of time trying to justify going with the Canon system whereas the ABs are a no-brainer at the price point. Honestly, if I do go with the Canon system I am going to wait for them to release some RT slaves first so I would only have to buy one 600EX... 480EX RT anyone?

What all of AB stuff are you thinking about here? Model numbers? What's the cost you're looking at?
I've heard of AB stuff, but don't know much about it...sounds interesting, but I'd not know what a noob to them would be buying...can you fill in a bit more detail please?
:)

Thanx!

cayenne
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: RMC33 on February 22, 2013, 09:46:14 PM
The only significant real-world advantage to me of a hotshoe-mounted flash is that...well...you can mount it to your hotshoe.

As soon as you take that flash off the hotshoe, it loses its single most important advantage and takes on almost all the disadvantages of studio lights. And you're still saddled with all the very significant disadvantages of a hotshoe flash -- its very wimpy power, its astronomical cost, the hell of using it with any modifier other than a small and cheesy umbrella, and so on.

For me, a hotshoe flash is only for situations where it's going to stay mounted to the camera, and even then it's really just for bounce flash. If I was going to use it straight on, I might as well whip out the iPhone -- the end result will be just as ugly.

If I'm going to go to the bother of setting up stands and softboxes and what-not, I'm damned well not going to put up with the nonsense of an overpriced, underpowered toy at the heart of all that effort. An Einstein and a Vagabond, compared with the light stand and the softbox / parabolic reflector / whatever, isn't adding significantly more to the bulk and weight at that point. And the Cyber Commander is such an awesome remote control system that I really couldn't care about messing with on-camera menus.

So, that's my advice. Get the hotshoe flash if you'll actually use it primarily in the camera's hotshoe, and get real strobes for the stuff that won't be mounted to a hotshoe.

Right tool for the job and all that. A sledgehammer and a claw hammer are both hammers and, I suppose, at some vague level, theoretically interchangeable. But you'd be nuts to try to bust up a concrete pad with a claw hammer and even more insane to try to frame a house with a sledge.

Cheers,

b&

Cheers,

b&

While I agree with most of this, Taking a speedlite off camera, mounted to a monopod (easier to hold then in hand) in either wired or wireless can be amazing for event lighting, providing wonderful fill flash. I do this with a 15" Lastolite and 8" Lastolite soft boxes with great success in areas with ceilings that are too high to bounce, outside and even in my attempts at studio work which I am slowly learning.
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: jonathan7007 on February 24, 2013, 02:13:45 AM
RMC33,
Are you hand-holding the lights you describe -- while shooting with the other hand? Or is an assistant carrying the lights by a monopod/pole while another on-camera flash and radio triggers both?

I want to do multi-light event work, so was visualizing your arrangement. The hard part is covering the cost of the two-legged light stand out of the fee if the customer has been price-sensitive.

jonathan7007
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: RMC33 on February 24, 2013, 02:36:50 AM
RMC33,
Are you hand-holding the lights you describe -- while shooting with the other hand? Or is an assistant carrying the lights by a monopod/pole while another on-camera flash and radio triggers both?

I want to do multi-light event work, so was visualizing your arrangement. The hard part is covering the cost of the two-legged light stand out of the fee if the customer has been price-sensitive.

jonathan7007

I hold the monopod in my left hand and shoot right. I use a 600 EX-RT with a Sto-fen + 8" lastolite soft box (I have a 24 as well). I trigger with a ST E3 RT. Depending I can toss a Gel in too.
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: TrumpetPower! on February 24, 2013, 10:02:19 AM
RMC33,
Are you hand-holding the lights you describe -- while shooting with the other hand? Or is an assistant carrying the lights by a monopod/pole while another on-camera flash and radio triggers both?

I want to do multi-light event work, so was visualizing your arrangement. The hard part is covering the cost of the two-legged light stand out of the fee if the customer has been price-sensitive.

jonathan7007

I'd say that Eric Schwabel has that all figured out:

http://www.petapixel.com/2011/09/05/human-light-suit-a-one-man-band-style-mobile-photo-studio/ (http://www.petapixel.com/2011/09/05/human-light-suit-a-one-man-band-style-mobile-photo-studio/)

Cheers,

b&
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: RMC33 on February 24, 2013, 10:10:03 AM
RMC33,
Are you hand-holding the lights you describe -- while shooting with the other hand? Or is an assistant carrying the lights by a monopod/pole while another on-camera flash and radio triggers both?

I want to do multi-light event work, so was visualizing your arrangement. The hard part is covering the cost of the two-legged light stand out of the fee if the customer has been price-sensitive.

jonathan7007

I'd say that Eric Schwabel has that all figured out:

http://www.petapixel.com/2011/09/05/human-light-suit-a-one-man-band-style-mobile-photo-studio/ (http://www.petapixel.com/2011/09/05/human-light-suit-a-one-man-band-style-mobile-photo-studio/)

Cheers,

b&

Saw him last year while I was at the burn. Great Setup.
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: jonathan7007 on February 24, 2013, 02:10:52 PM
so two-legged lightstand  (photographer) and wheeled cart, support bicycle, wild rig visually... priceless. Wouldn't that be a hoot at a wedding? You'd run over a child for sure. Wearing next-to-nothing would add to the expressions you'd get from the guests.

(Would have arranged the light boxes differently to make the light fall off on one side but the dedication, energy and planning are fantastic. Just a lighting taste issue.)

Thank you for the link!  Some seriously good ideas there.

jonathan7007
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: Nikolay on March 07, 2013, 03:27:19 PM
All of my lighting consists of Canon speedlights/flashes, and all of my lighting work so far it's been done with the same system. I don't know about the Alien Bee, but I'm a bit disappointed that Canon take so long to came up with such a wonderful system like the  600EX-RT and the ST-E3-RT. Now if you decide to upgrade all of your pocket wizards and older model Canon flashes will cost you a fortune, as the ST-E3-RT wont work with any older model than the 600EX-RT.
Alien Bee is a very good system too and is not that chunky like some other professional lighting kits, and their battery packs are not very expensive.
I don't know if you came across this lights they also look to be good for the price tag.
http://www.paulcbuff.com/e640.php (http://www.paulcbuff.com/e640.php)

Thanks.
Nik.
http://mirchevphotography.com/ (http://mirchevphotography.com/)

 
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: Chuck Alaimo on March 07, 2013, 04:06:31 PM
So I'm trying to decide what kind of lighting gear to buy in the near future. Currently, I shoot with a 430EX on-camera and some cheap manual flashes triggered wirelessly by radio, but I want to move into wireless TTL OR monolight strobes. I realize that each of these systems has advantages and disadvantages -- I feel that I would benefit from the advantages of both, but purchasing both systems is out of the question due to the cost. I would be shooting on-location portraits and weddings with this gear.

600EX RT advantages:
1) Built-in wireless transceiver
2) Portability
3) High-speed sync
4) ETTL

The main reason I would choose the Canon RT system over 3rd-party speedlites is point #1: no longer do I have to worry about charging dozens of batteries just to use two speedlites, or trying to figure out whether the problem is with my flash or the radio triggers when troubleshooting during a shoot -- everything is in one self-contained unit.

As for point #2: I can fit 2 or 3 of these speedlites in my bag with my camera... I don't have to worry about packing strobes in a separate bag.

Point #3: I'd like to do more shooting in bright sunlight. I'm using a 6D right now which has a terrible sync speed of 1/180 (I've shot at 1/200 with no problem without HSS but I would still prefer a higher sync) so HSS could prove to be a real advantage for me.

Point #4: I'd be able to hotshoe mount the speedlites and use them for bounce flash, which is something I already do pretty frequently with my 430EX. In addition, I might find that I like having wireless ETTL ratio control and use that instead of manual.


AlienBee advantages:
1) Power
2) Recycle time
3) Price
4) Modifiers

Point #1: You can never have enough flash power.

Point #2: Although I haven't had too much of an issue with speedlite recycle times, instant flash recycle times definitely won't hurt.

Point #3: For the price of just two 600EX RTs I could buy four ABs and a Vagabond. WTF is with that price, Canon?

Point #4: Really liking the Paul Buff modifiers. They're inexpensive and seem to work great with the ABs.


So what do you guys think? It looks like I spent a lot of time trying to justify going with the Canon system whereas the ABs are a no-brainer at the price point. Honestly, if I do go with the Canon system I am going to wait for them to release some RT slaves first so I would only have to buy one 600EX... 480EX RT anyone?

hmmmm...  It really depends on what and where you are shooting.  Right now I am rolling with a set of 2 alien bee 800's, and 3 speedlights (580ex2, 430 ex and 430ex2).  I find that the bees are the best for controlled environs.  But, all that goes out the window for outdoor work.  If I am doing location portrait work, I am generally on the move quite a bit...and to use the bee's it would just become tiresome.  So speedlights are the quick and dirty way to do it. 

As to moving to the 600 series...I just don't see the real benefit in it for the cost.  Sure a few things become easier, but, I have not had much issue with cheap triggers and manual setting on the speedlights.  I am using the cactus v5 triggers for the past year.  I really thought I'd need to replace them, but they are actually quite tough!  (had one on a stand with umbrella, just enough wind to send it flying...the to hotshoe ripped off, but other than that, it transmits just fine.  So that one is my on cam unit only now.  For $35 a pop, I can't say they've failed me.  The only issue i have with them is that the power switch is easy to nudge in the bag, so I have to replace batteries more often than I'd like).
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: TrumpetPower! on March 07, 2013, 04:37:44 PM
I don't know if you came across this lights they also look to be good for the price tag.
http://www.paulcbuff.com/e640.php (http://www.paulcbuff.com/e640.php)

I've got four Einsteins. They're awesome. You can have them when you pry them from my cold, dead fingers.

But the Alien Bees are damned good as well, and more than a superlative match for the 80/20 rule.

Save the portability factor and ability to do TTL metering, anything Paul C Buff makes absolutely and completely blows away anything and everything that Canon makes, and even their flagship Einstein flashes are cheaper than the Canon 580 / 600 models.

Cheers,

b&
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: cayenne on March 08, 2013, 05:14:24 PM
I don't know if you came across this lights they also look to be good for the price tag.
http://www.paulcbuff.com/e640.php (http://www.paulcbuff.com/e640.php)

I've got four Einsteins. They're awesome. You can have them when you pry them from my cold, dead fingers.

But the Alien Bees are damned good as well, and more than a superlative match for the 80/20 rule.

Save the portability factor and ability to do TTL metering, anything Paul C Buff makes absolutely and completely blows away anything and everything that Canon makes, and even their flagship Einstein flashes are cheaper than the Canon 580 / 600 models.

Cheers,

b&

On the top of those Einsteins....looks like an antenna.

Are these things wireless (radio) ready?

C
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: neuroanatomist on March 08, 2013, 05:48:28 PM
On the top of those Einsteins....looks like an antenna.

Are these things wireless (radio) ready?

You're seeing the knob used to tighten an umbrella in place.  But, there's a connection socket on top which accepts a Buff CyberSync receiver or a PocketWizard PowerMC2 (I have the latter).
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: TrumpetPower! on March 08, 2013, 07:55:02 PM
On the top of those Einsteins....looks like an antenna.

Are these things wireless (radio) ready?

You're seeing the knob used to tighten an umbrella in place.  But, there's a connection socket on top which accepts a Buff CyberSync receiver or a PocketWizard PowerMC2 (I have the latter).

And, to answer the inevitable question...the CyberSync system is awesome, though I've never personally compared it with what PocketWizard offers. But, with the CyberSync, you get full control of everything in 1/10 stop increments, including flashes of different power, modeling lamps, third-party triggering, as many channels and groups and what-not as you could want, multiple setups to save, the works.

Cheers,

b&
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: cayenne on March 09, 2013, 01:44:26 PM
On the top of those Einsteins....looks like an antenna.

Are these things wireless (radio) ready?

You're seeing the knob used to tighten an umbrella in place.  But, there's a connection socket on top which accepts a Buff CyberSync receiver or a PocketWizard PowerMC2 (I have the latter).

And, to answer the inevitable question...the CyberSync system is awesome, though I've never personally compared it with what PocketWizard offers. But, with the CyberSync, you get full control of everything in 1/10 stop increments, including flashes of different power, modeling lamps, third-party triggering, as many channels and groups and what-not as you could want, multiple setups to save, the works.

Cheers,

b&


Will this work with one of the new Canon radio controllers like the 600EX-RT, or I think the other is the ST-E3-RT?

cayenne
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: Wildfire on March 09, 2013, 03:50:36 PM
Will this work with one of the new Canon radio controllers like the 600EX-RT, or I think the other is the ST-E3-RT?

No, CyberSync won't work with the Canon RT system. No 3rd party radio system does, and I suspect there won't be one for a while, if ever.

However, I have seen some people use a Canon 580EX II flash in TTL mode on camera, and they velcroed the Cyber Commander to their 580 and plugged in to the camera's PC port. The camera would trigger the 580 through the hotshoe and the Alien Bee's/Einsteins from the PC port, and still use the Cyber Commander to remotely control power of the strobes.

And yes, the antenna on top of the Einsteins in the pictures on the Paul Buff site are the Cyber Sync receivers, but they don't come with the Einsteins and you have to buy them separately. (~$20)
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: V8Beast on March 23, 2013, 08:12:03 PM
A great benefit of the clean high ISO ability of modern cameras that rarely gets discussed is how far they allow you to push the output of a Speedlite. It takes a lot of juice to light up a car, but at ISO 800 - 1600 it can be done, even stopped down to f/8 or f/11.

(http://i1132.photobucket.com/albums/m567/BBNotch/Odin/_L3C8157_zpsbdb89952.jpg)

(http://i1132.photobucket.com/albums/m567/BBNotch/Henehan_01_zpsaa0f991a.jpg)

(http://i1132.photobucket.com/albums/m567/BBNotch/_L3C8490_zps9631db07.jpg)

(http://i1132.photobucket.com/albums/m567/BBNotch/_L3C8525_zps2b3659c4.jpg)


The big catch, however, is that when used in such a fashion, Speedlites give off some nasty, disgusting light. They're a PITA to use for shots like this, and are extremely finicky in terms of getting your angles just right. If not, you get hot spots galore. 

Aside from the output advantage, IMHO monolights yield a much more pleasing light quality with far superior fall-off characteristics. They're much more forgiving if your light positioning isn't spot on, too.

As for differences in power, this was shot with two 550EX's at ISO 800 at f/8. I was very difficult to light the rear quarter-panel without the front fender being dark, and vice-versa.

(http://i1132.photobucket.com/albums/m567/BBNotch/Dodge07.jpg)

I took a similar shot of the car with some AB800s, and the additional power allowed stopping down to f/11 at ISO 400 with the monolights in the 1/2 to 3/4 power range. More importantly, the light quality is sooooo much better with the monolights.

It's not to say that Speedlites are junk. In fact, I use them far more often than monolights. Even so, just because you can make them work, through sheer will power, in situations they aren't well suited for doesn't mean they're the ideal tool for the job in those situations.
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: jonathan7007 on March 23, 2013, 10:52:30 PM
I keep reaching toward my wallet when I read about Paul Buff gear. And then I think, "You have those two Norman packs and sets of heads..." and I try to be sane and practical: avoid buying yet another kind of equipment ($$$$).

It's just the 1000 foot extension cord that's hard to carry. <grin>

(No one ever made a battery pack that will drive these old Norman packs, and generators are just too much noise, fumes, gas cans, Ugh.)

So maybe there's an Einstein or Bee in my future.
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: Wildfire on March 25, 2013, 05:01:39 PM
Well, I've made my decision.

Was shooting some dancers in a theater yesterday after their performance. Had three speedlights set up, and the main light (430EX II) failed. I did bring tons of extra batteries and had two extra speedlights as a backup but there was simply no time to troubleshoot, so I just decided to wing it with the 2 lights I already had set up.

The resulting photos are acceptable and the client will like them but I am unhappy with them. The first few shots before the speedlight failed look exactly how I envisioned the whole shoot and are completely amazing.

And the whole time I was shooting I saw these electrical outlets everywhere. They were all over the stage, they were all over the walls, and I wished I'd had AlienBees instead of speedlights -- they were the right tool for the job.
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: Margot on March 30, 2016, 12:04:23 PM
Hello there...I realize that this is almost 3 years later, but I saw this post and was blown away by the difference in the two photos.
• Ambient only:  http://www.chrisburch.com/Portfolio/posts/i-Gd4vV3x/0/L/CMB_6137-L.jpg
• With Speedlights:  http://www.chrisburch.com/Portfolio/posts/i-gdF5wcJ/0/L/CMB_6136-L.jpg

If I may ask, where/how did you position the speedlites [and what were they]? I'm assuming in the corners, bounced straight up, without modifiers, but would love to know if that's not right. Although I do see a flash top right, looks like it's pointed straight out into the room...

This was really an awesome demonstration of speedlight power—I do love the portability and convenience of speedlights on location. I will be shooting interiors for the first time [usually do commercial training photography] and have been noodling around with bounced speedlights just out of frame.

Thanks so much!

Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: Chris Burch on May 12, 2016, 07:39:57 PM
If I may ask, where/how did you position the speedlites [and what were they]? I'm assuming in the corners, bounced straight up, without modifiers, but would love to know if that's not right. Although I do see a flash top right, looks like it's pointed straight out into the room...

I put the 4 speedlights on stands on the second floor in as much of the corners as I could get.  All were facing down without modifiers sorting of pointing to the center of the room.  I usually either have the zoom set at 50 or sometime 35 degrees.  I keep the power at 1/8th or below and usually shoot at 3200 ISO, which looks quite good on the 1DX.  I've tried this with a few modifiers, but never really like the results as much, plus some will light up the ceiling like crazy.  I've used this setup with as much as 10 speedlights to cover a large convention center floor.  I should also mention my on-camera speedlight has a Demb Flip-it on top, so I get both ceiling bounce, plus a lot of forward light, too.
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: CanonFanBoy on July 06, 2016, 06:16:34 PM
Going to throw you a curve ball and tell you to go with both with a slight modification.  I've have a set strobes for years and they certainly have their place depending on the type of shooting you're doing.  I usually only use them at home in a studio setup but have taken them on location for portrait shoots and use them for station setups like step-and-repeat.  In these cases the benefits you mentioned are all very applicable, but you overlooked the presence of modeling lights, which are really nice to have in certain situations.  I currently have 3 Paul Buff Einsteins with a variety of modifiers.  You're definitely on the right track with the Buff gear as far as bang for buck and quality.  They are also a lot more portable than you might think.  I have a single hard suit-case (maybe 25" tall) that hold 3 Einsteins, 3 Vagabond minis, 3 extra batteries, 2 types reflectors sets and various accessories.  All I need to go with it is a bag with stands and umbrellas or other modifiers, which you would need with the speedlights anyway.

All of that said, I still decided to expand my speedlight capability last year to have 4 remotes plus an on-camera speedlight for event shooting and on-location portraits.  The portability is huge for me, but the speedlights also offer a wider range of uses.  You can substitute the speedlights for most strobe lighting applications if you can deal with the loss of power and lack of modeling lights.  However, you'll find a lot more uses for the speedlights because of their size and the fact that you're more likely to have them with you.  If you're shooting interiors, the speedlights can be hidden throughout indoor spaces to add light.  If you're shooting portraits, you can use speedlights alone or in combination with strobes or even ambient lighting.  You can do a lot of creative outdoor with with a fully portable and lightweight solution.  My favorite application, however, is using speedlights to provide supplemental room lighting for large event spaces.  I can deploy up to 4 speedlights around a room to beef up or replace ambient lighting.  These produce very pleasing layers of lighting that set the images apart from a single on-camera flash.   Don't underestimate the power of speedlights either.  Here is a shot of a huge 3-story hall lit up with 4 speedlights:

  • Ambient only:  http://www.chrisburch.com/Portfolio/posts/i-Gd4vV3x/0/L/CMB_6137-L.jpg (http://www.chrisburch.com/Portfolio/posts/i-Gd4vV3x/0/L/CMB_6137-L.jpg)
  • With Speedlights:  http://www.chrisburch.com/Portfolio/posts/i-gdF5wcJ/0/L/CMB_6136-L.jpg (http://www.chrisburch.com/Portfolio/posts/i-gdF5wcJ/0/L/CMB_6136-L.jpg)

I wouldn't want to part with either solution, so the next question is how to make all of it affordable.  The AlienBee route is already about as affordable as it gets, so I suggest you get 2 ABs and a set of stands and modifiers (at least get umbrellas, which are quite affordable).  Fortunately, you don't need to stick with the expensive Canon solution to build out a robust and reliable speedlight solution.  I already had 3 580EXIIs with the 600EX-RT came out.  I bought a 600 hoping to get improved eTTL performance (was marginally better) and then was left with the decision to buy up to 4 more for remote lights at a huge premium or come up with a way to make my existing 580s work.  After a lot of research I invested in a set of Phottix Stratos II triggers ($90 for a trans/recv pair or $55 for recv only).  With those triggers it doesn't matter what speedlights I am using, so I can go for a cheap option like a YungNuo YN-560II (same power as a 580 or 600 but only costs $73/ea).  My current setup is a single 600 on my camera for front lighting, with a set of 3 580s and 1 YN-560 for remote lighting.  The YN speedlight performs flawlessly and you can't tell it apart from the 580s.  You do give up some functionality like remote eTTL (which I have yet to find a situation where I would actually use it) and you are adding extra gear with batteries for the triggers.  The Stratos do "pass-through eTTL", so the on-camera flash still get all of the eTTL functionality, just none of the remotes can communicate like that.  On the upside, the Stratos triggers have a 500ft range which is way better than the 600's 100ft range.  For the photos in the link about, I would have been beyond the range of the 600s.  The 600 wireless solution is actually more complicated by the way.  You'll have to page through settings and make sure everything is communicating and it sometimes needs to be reset.  With basic triggers like the Stratos, you just plug in, pick a channel and you're done -- more gear, but fewer options to worry about.  You should keep in mind that with the AlienBee solution, you're going to need triggers anyway -- the Stratos work great for strobes, too.  It sounds like you already have a set of speedlights, in which case, I would only question your motivation to use a wireless eTTL solution, especially considering the cost. 

My advice would be to get an AlienBee solution and maintain a speedlight solution with low-cost options and remotes triggers.  That by far gives you the most options and pro-level capability.

Maybe I should appreciate my speedlites more. :)
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: werunhsv on July 06, 2016, 11:11:15 PM
Just got my new 600EX II-Rt and noticed in manual mode the flash is the same brightness in 1/1 and 1/128, what gives? Anyone else have this issue?

Called up CPS and they walked me thru resetting it, but we could not come up with a solution.

Help! Need it for a shoot on Sunday.
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: CanonFanBoy on July 07, 2016, 03:01:35 PM
Just got my new 600EX II-Rt and noticed in manual mode the flash is the same brightness in 1/1 and 1/128, what gives? Anyone else have this issue?

Called up CPS and they walked me thru resetting it, but we could not come up with a solution.

Help! Need it for a shoot on Sunday.

You used a light meter to measure this? Is the camera also in manual mode?
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: neuroanatomist on July 07, 2016, 03:10:18 PM
Just got my new 600EX II-Rt and noticed in manual mode the flash is the same brightness in 1/1 and 1/128

What do you mean by 'brightness'?  A Speedlight flash tube has only one intensity – full power.  What determines the amount of light delivered by the flash is not the intensity, but rather the duration of the flash.  A 1/1 power flash will last ~1/800 s, while a 1/128 power flash will last only ~1/35,000 s. 
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: werunhsv on July 08, 2016, 07:40:50 AM
I was shooting in AV mode, using this as fill. The only thing changed was the amount of flash. The photo was WAY over exposed on all settings between 1/1 to 1/128.   The phot was basically all white at all settings.

CPS had me reset the flash back to factory settings and try it again. Still appeared to be full flash on all manual settings.
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: neuroanatomist on July 08, 2016, 07:55:20 AM
I was shooting in AV mode, using this as fill. The only thing changed was the amount of flash. The photo was WAY over exposed on all settings between 1/1 to 1/128.   The phot was basically all white at all settings.

CPS had me reset the flash back to factory settings and try it again. Still appeared to be full flash on all manual settings.

What are your camera exposure settings?  Are you setting flash mode/power on the flash or in the camera menus?
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: werunhsv on July 08, 2016, 09:45:04 PM
Iso 5000, 2.8. 1/250, manually set flash on both camera and flash to 1/128 power and 1/1. Photos look identical. Almost all white.
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: neuroanatomist on July 08, 2016, 10:08:27 PM
Iso 5000, 2.8. 1/250, manually set flash on both camera and flash to 1/128 power and 1/1. Photos look identical. Almost all white.

I suspected something like that.  There's nothing wrong with your flash. 

At an aperture that wide and particularly an ISO that high, even 1/128 power is far too much light.  You're seeing no difference between the power settings because 1/128 power is already totally blowing out the exposure.  Try f/8 and ISO 100, 1/1 will likely still blow out to all white, but 1/128 will likely be an underexposed shot.  At least, that's what I see with some tests I just did with my hardwood floor filling the frame – at f/2.8, ISO 5000 even 1/128 flash blows out. 

If you must shoot at f/2.8 and ISO 5000, you'll need an ND gel for your flash.  I'd go with a 10-stop gel (B&H has a Kodak 3x3", most people use that cut down for the slot on the rear of lenses that don't take a front filter, but it would work for your application). You could attach it with some Velcro strips, stick them to the gel and use a Honl Speed Strap if you don't want to stick Velcro on your flash.  I would guess a 6-stop filter would allow you to use 1/128, but by using a 10-stop you'd have some flexibility within the power range of the flash. 

EDIT: I should that although 1/128 is the lowest available manual power setting, it's not the lowest power output (shortest duration) of which the flash is capable.  Using f/2.8 and ISO 5000, E-TTL will give an appropriate exposure by using a much shorter duration than the 1/128 manual power setting.
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: Valvebounce on July 09, 2016, 04:29:06 AM
Hi Neuro.
As is your norm, a very informative post. Thank you for this enlightenment.

Cheers, Graham.

EDIT: I should that although 1/128 is the lowest available manual power setting, it's not the lowest power output (shortest duration) of which the flash is capable.  Using f/2.8 and ISO 5000, E-TTL will give an appropriate exposure by using a much shorter duration than the 1/128 manual power setting.
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: werunhsv on July 09, 2016, 01:21:32 PM
Good idea.
I tried it again, bringing the ISO down. I am going for fill here.

1DX MII
AV
ISO 100
10-Jan
2.8
Slow, but good exposure for the available light.
First photo is no flash, 2nd 1/1 3rd 1/128.
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: neuroanatomist on July 09, 2016, 01:44:59 PM
Try again at ISO 100 and f/8. 
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: CanonFanBoy on July 09, 2016, 02:28:37 PM
Just got my new 600EX II-Rt and noticed in manual mode the flash is the same brightness in 1/1 and 1/128

What do you mean by 'brightness'?  A Speedlight flash tube has only one intensity – full power.  What determines the amount of light delivered by the flash is not the intensity, but rather the duration of the flash.  A 1/1 power flash will last ~1/800 s, while a 1/128 power flash will last only ~1/35,000 s.

I didn't know that. Thanks Neuro.
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: werunhsv on July 09, 2016, 04:25:20 PM
I swapped flashes and shot the same area, same settings as above. Photo #1 was the same, photo #2 looked just like #1, just a tiny bit lighter and photo #3 full power was completely white.
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: neuroanatomist on July 09, 2016, 05:23:21 PM
I see no real difference between 2 and 3 above, if you repeat with the first flash and still see no difference, I suppose it might be defective.  But there's a discrepancy in that at first, you suggested your flash was locked on full power, but the above shots are at the same very low power.  Be certain you are actually changing power settings – if you use camera menus, you must press Set after the change.
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: werunhsv on July 09, 2016, 08:47:00 PM
Yes, I'm thinking its a defective flash. At least it works in ttl mode ok.
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: WillT on July 11, 2016, 11:19:56 AM
If you get Einsteins, You could pull off lighting effects that Broncolor and Profoto will turn up their noses at.

Please do share or elaborate. I always thought it was the other way around that the Profoto could shoot HSS or TTL and the Einsteins could not. I understand that is only one feature and would like to know what your talking about :)
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: werunhsv on July 13, 2016, 08:00:45 AM
Got the new one in and it works perfect. Noticeable difference in the flash power before I even put it on the camera. At 1/128 power, there is just a bit of light added to the photo. At 1/1 manual, it is all white, just as it should be.

I'll chalk this up to a defective unit.
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: nonac on July 15, 2016, 10:08:28 PM
The only significant real-world advantage to me of a hotshoe-mounted flash is that...well...you can mount it to your hotshoe.

As soon as you take that flash off the hotshoe, it loses its single most important advantage and takes on almost all the disadvantages of studio lights. And you're still saddled with all the very significant disadvantages of a hotshoe flash -- its very wimpy power, its astronomical cost, the hell of using it with any modifier other than a small and cheesy umbrella, and so on.

For me, a hotshoe flash is only for situations where it's going to stay mounted to the camera, and even then it's really just for bounce flash. If I was going to use it straight on, I might as well whip out the iPhone -- the end result will be just as ugly.

If I'm going to go to the bother of setting up stands and softboxes and what-not, I'm damned well not going to put up with the nonsense of an overpriced, underpowered toy at the heart of all that effort. An Einstein and a Vagabond, compared with the light stand and the softbox / parabolic reflector / whatever, isn't adding significantly more to the bulk and weight at that point. And the Cyber Commander is such an awesome remote control system that I really couldn't care about messing with on-camera menus.

So, that's my advice. Get the hotshoe flash if you'll actually use it primarily in the camera's hotshoe, and get real strobes for the stuff that won't be mounted to a hotshoe.

Right tool for the job and all that. A sledgehammer and a claw hammer are both hammers and, I suppose, at some vague level, theoretically interchangeable. But you'd be nuts to try to bust up a concrete pad with a claw hammer and even more insane to try to frame a house with a sledge.

Cheers,

b&

Cheers,

b&

It really depends on what you are using them for.  I shoot high school basketball for a local newspaper and I can light half the court with two 600ex-rt placed at the back of the bleachers parallel to the basket and aimed to a imaginary point about 10' above the key.  I would hate to try and set up two monolights at the gym everytime.  The 600's generally are quickly clamped to a handrail with superclamps and work just fine.  I can setup in 5 minutes.
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: cayenne on July 26, 2016, 04:00:30 PM
Does anyone know much about the new "Digi-Bees" by Buff?

https://www.paulcbuff.com/alienbees.php (https://www.paulcbuff.com/alienbees.php)

I can't really tell the difference between them and the regular Alien Bees...except some specs and price....are they just newer models of the AB's or is it really new tech of some sort?


cayenne
Title: Re: 600EX RT vs AlienBees
Post by: privatebydesign on July 26, 2016, 04:05:16 PM
Does anyone know much about the new "Digi-Bees" by Buff?

https://www.paulcbuff.com/alienbees.php (https://www.paulcbuff.com/alienbees.php)

I can't really tell the difference between them and the regular Alien Bees...except some specs and price....are they just newer models of the AB's or is it really new tech of some sort?


cayenne

Only that they take the CSXCV which is a key requirement for me. Oh and the stupid naming nomenclature continues, the 400 is a 160 Ws and the 800 is a 320 Ws.

If you need low power the 400's look interesting, if you are thinking about the 800's I can't see the price differential between them and the Einsteins being worth it, take a month or two more saving and just get the Einstein.