Speedlites - How many are enough?

Quasimodo

Easily intrigued :)
Feb 5, 2012
977
0
47
Oslo, Norway
www.500px.com
Yeah, a question with no definite answer, but yet....

I have now sold two of my studio strobes (elinchrom), and am about to sell the other two I have. What I have left is my three 600ex rt and a st-e3. I am thinking about aquiring another three speedlites, to allow me the flexibility of having enough light for most situations that I will encounter as an amateur (with the occasional paid photogig). My main use will be a studio setup, but I would also like the opportunity to do HSS.

Any thoughts?
 

RLPhoto

Gear doesn't matter, Just a Matter of Convenience.
Mar 27, 2012
3,778
0
San Antonio, TX
www.Ramonlperez.com
I have 5x 600rts + yougnuo ste3 transmitter. I decided that if I needed more than that setup, the subject matters needs to be lit with a big light system IE: my PCB Einsteins.

You'll hit a point of diminishing returns on speed lites once you go beyond two lights per softbox. To gain a stop, you'll need 4x lights and so on to 8x lights... etc.

I found five+transmitter is enough for me.
 

jdramirez

EOS 5D MK IV
May 31, 2011
2,944
0
42
I have 2... I wouldn't mind 3... after all is said and done... maybe I'll wind up with 5.
 

Tabor Warren Photography

I want to go shoot something with a Canon...
Feb 2, 2012
275
0
Tulsa, OK
www.photosbytabor.com
Just ONE more... ;D

In more seriousness, I got by with one for a long time, was excited about having two, (I always shoot with two bodies), now I have three, (though one is a 430ii), and I'll be buying another 600 as well as a couple of Einsteins per RL's suggestion. I think of RL as the lighting guru, so I would heed his advice when it's given.

Cheers,
-Tabor
 

Jim Saunders

EOS 6D MK II
Sep 9, 2012
1,125
14
hhaphoto.com
Two more would make indoor rodeo a lot easier. Two more past that really opens up some options. However the four I have now are enough, and external batteries are no small expense to go with them. (Never mind something to support them!)

Jim
 

davidson

EOS M50
Apr 25, 2012
27
0
i read Syl Arena's Speedliter's Handbook recently and he says, i believe, that he has 12 speedlites, and his mentor Joe Mcnally, has 17. you get when you need, i dont think there is such a thing as too many
 

c.d.embrey

EOS 7D MK II
Jul 21, 2010
653
7
I have one Canon 580ex for the times I need ON-Camera-Flash. Most of my work is done with Profoto packs/heads.
 

privatebydesign

Would you take advice from a cartoons stuffed toy?
Jan 29, 2011
7,894
1,018
119
I like nine, that is three triple threats worth and means you can do HSS in most situations with enough power and flexibility as either a "two light" six and three setup or a "three light" three threes setup, I tend not to use external packs as I don't take hundreds of images. I also really like the ability to sprinkle them all over the place as accent lights individually. But that is a big financial commitment and the truth is there are some other options out there now that look good and do HSS, especially the Profoto B1Airs.

But like RLP, once it get above that I go for the Einsteins, most of the time I'd rather use one Einstein than six 600's in a modifier anyway.
 

Dylan777

EOS 1D MK II
Nov 17, 2011
5,515
6
Started with five 600EX-RT + one Canon ST-E3-RT Speedlite Transmitter. I feel three are enough for my needs. More likely will sell other two.

BTW, The Canon ST-E3-RT Speedlite Transmitter works extremely well with 600ex-rt. Couldn't miss a single shot.
 

instaimage

EOS T7i
Aug 14, 2012
71
0
Quasimodo... as with most everything else with photography, it depends... :)

I've got eight 600's and two ST-E3's... I frequently use four (on battery packs) to light team photos (faster recycle) and at least two in a 32" soft box to light individuals for sports shots. I went mostly speedlite's as a solution because I'm not dependent on power on location AND I can put them in various places if I need a bit more light here or there... The radio transmission of the 600's allows some added flexibility... but it all goes back to what are YOU shooting, what will YOU be using them for... it's hard for us to give advice without knowing what you'll be shooting. I'd recommend shoot what you have and add if you NEED more... they're not cheap but you may find you're getting most everything with what you've got. If anything I'd suggest one more, that would give you two for a background and two for a main/fill if you every shoot a white background for example (yes, I know the background CAN be made white with just one... but...)

The above team photos... I used to do that with one 580EX... so...
 

Halfrack

EOS 7D MK II
Sep 14, 2011
666
1
This is where the folks at Profoto need to work with Canon a bit more - as in allowing the Profoto Air TTL control the 600ex or the 440ex if we ever see one. Or a TTL receiver, just a method that they all work together.

The power of a B1 is amazing - and setting up 2 B1's is a lot easier and reliable than doing 2x 3 600ex gangs.

It'll be interesting to see what the Phottix strobes do now... https://fstoppers.com/gear/phottix-announces-indra500-ttl-500ws-strobe-ttl-and-hss-37521 - especially since it'll play with the Mitros+ and Odin TTL adapters.

Ideally, 2-3 of the 500w/s strobes with 4-6 speedlites on a single trigger
 

Bernd FMC

EOS T7i
Apr 27, 2014
85
0
51
Germany
As an poor Amateur - restarted the Hobby Photografic - i´d first set up Body and Lenses.

Some Months ago i also thought to myself how much Speedlites i "need" - and theoretical for
an Amateur 3 Speedlites should be enougt for most Scenarios.

Actualy i´ve got 2 -shot a Wedding last Friday - used the two Speedlites while the Party.

I missed the Highlights while flashing both indirect, for my poor Number of Speedlites using
one on Cam indirect AND with Catchlightplate - i´ve got an relative good Balance - the second
lights indirect the Back Parts of the ( not so big ) Room.

So a Number of 3 Speedlites seems to be the Minimal Number i need, but 4 would be nicer.
( #1 Front/Left indirect/#2 Front/right indirect/#3 Backside/#4 direct low Power frontal )

While shot the Wedding, and positive Results with the Catchlightplate i reduced my Needs for
an ST-E3 until i´ve got 3 or more Speedlites.

An OC-E3 is in my Bag to raise the Distance of the OnCamFlash too.

My Wish would be an small Speedlite with Radiomastercapability, an 600-EX-RT with
lower Power and Weight - but full Function including IR-AF-Support-Lightning .

Point of View of an Amateur ...

Your are right - the Numbers of SL´s can´t be enough :eek: .

Sorry for my poor English... .

Bernd
 

Quasimodo

Easily intrigued :)
Feb 5, 2012
977
0
47
Oslo, Norway
www.500px.com
Thank you all for your valuable advice.

I have to think hard about this as there is as you all mention a certain economical committment to buying these flashes. While the advice to buy more when the specific need arises makes sense, I have a chance now to get my basic kit set up. I might go for three more, and if it is a overkill for my use/skill they actually keep a good second hand price.

I am also pondering if I should keep my two elinchrom D-lite 200w given their eye cell capabilities, thus allowing me to use them for backdrop light triggered by the 600 flashes.
 

pwp

EOS 5D MK IV
Oct 25, 2010
2,527
21
davidson said:
I read Syl Arena's Speedliter's Handbook recently and he says, I believe, that he has 12 speedlites, and his mentor Joe Mcnally, has 17. You get when you need, I don't think there is such a thing as too many...
Can you imagine the attention to detail required setting up 12 let alone 17 Speedlights? And the lack of flexibility? For certain projects you'd certainly get a unique look.

For OP Quasimodo, of course it depends on the sort of projects you'll be taking on. A bunch of Speedlights might be perfect for your work. If you're not missing the Elinchroms, then maybe you don't need monos. If future projects require you do need monos again, Einsteins are worth a very close look. I have six of them plus a raft of accessories, modifiers, VML batteries etc. The PCB stuff is extraordinary value. http://paulcbuff.com/

For HSS work, at a pinch I can get the Einsteins to play ball triggering them with the almost mythical abilities of the Phottix Odin system and their ODS fine-tuning function. Only expect HSS/Einstein to work on full power (longest flash duration). More flexible for HSS, and maybe very useful for you, is the Godox Witstro 360, also triggered with Phottix Odin. There is a $25 eBay accessory that means you can use Bowens mount modifiers.
http://flashhavoc.com/godox-witstro-ad180-ad360-review/

With the Phottix Odins you can maximise HSS output with ODS fine tuning. Rather than going right into ODS here, check out:
http://flashhavoc.com/phottix-odin-ods-over-drive-sync/comment-page-1/#comment-19555

Phottix is doing great things right now. Their Mitros speedlight is getting a lot of attention as is their most recent announcement, the TTL & HSS capable Indra 500 http://flashhavoc.com/phottix-indra500-ttl-announced/

But how many speedlights are enough? For Joe Mcnally and his required team of lighting assistants, seventeen is good. For me it's two 600 EX-RT's plus the Godox Witstro 360. I'd say build up as projects demand and budget allows.

-pw
 

privatebydesign

Would you take advice from a cartoons stuffed toy?
Jan 29, 2011
7,894
1,018
119
pwp said:
davidson said:
I read Syl Arena's Speedliter's Handbook recently and he says, I believe, that he has 12 speedlites, and his mentor Joe Mcnally, has 17. You get when you need, I don't think there is such a thing as too many...
Can you imagine the attention to detail required setting up 12 let alone 17 Speedlights? And the lack of flexibility? For certain projects you'd certainly get a unique look.

For OP Quasimodo, of course it depends on the sort of projects you'll be taking on. A bunch of Speedlights might be perfect for your work. If you're not missing the Elinchroms, then maybe you don't need monos. If future projects require you do need monos again, Einsteins are worth a very close look. I have six of them plus a raft of accessories, modifiers, VML batteries etc. The PCB stuff is extraordinary value. http://paulcbuff.com/

For HSS work, at a pinch I can get the Einsteins to play ball triggering them with the almost mythical abilities of the Phottix Odin system and their ODS fine-tuning function. Only expect HSS/Einstein to work on full power (longest flash duration). More flexible for HSS, and maybe very useful for you, is the Godox Witstro 360, also triggered with Phottix Odin. There is a $25 eBay accessory that means you can use Bowens mount modifiers.
http://flashhavoc.com/godox-witstro-ad180-ad360-review/

With the Phottix Odins you can maximise HSS output with ODS fine tuning. Rather than going right into ODS here, check out:
http://flashhavoc.com/phottix-odin-ods-over-drive-sync/comment-page-1/#comment-19555

Phottix is doing great things right now. Their Mitros speedlight is getting a lot of attention as is their most recent announcement, the TTL & HSS capable Indra 500 http://flashhavoc.com/phottix-indra500-ttl-announced/

But how many speedlights are enough? For Joe Mcnally and his required team of lighting assistants, seventeen is good. For me it's two 600 EX-RT's plus the Godox Witstro 360. I'd say build up as projects demand and budget allows.

-pw
We really need to stop calling lights with long durations and tuned to cover the time the shutter blades are exposing the sensor HSS, the two work in a fundamentally different way, long duration is not HSS, and both cost a massive amount of power.
 

pwp

EOS 5D MK IV
Oct 25, 2010
2,527
21
privatebydesign said:
We really need to stop calling lights with long durations and tuned to cover the time the shutter blades are exposing the sensor HSS, the two work in a fundamentally different way, long duration is not HSS, and both cost a massive amount of power.
Hah! Interesting point. HSS...strictly technically no but practically yes. What is it that defines "true HSS"?

We may have strayed from the strict HSS definition, but it's a useful terminology that people understand.
Think of it as living language. The acronym HSS communicates a function....High Speed Sync. Simple enough.

So what do we call it? We're achieving flash sync at a high shutter speed. We understand the limitations such as significant power loss, but it's still a very useful, relevant creative tool. Sounds a bit HSS-ish to me!

-pw
 

RLPhoto

Gear doesn't matter, Just a Matter of Convenience.
Mar 27, 2012
3,778
0
San Antonio, TX
www.Ramonlperez.com
pwp said:
privatebydesign said:
We really need to stop calling lights with long durations and tuned to cover the time the shutter blades are exposing the sensor HSS, the two work in a fundamentally different way, long duration is not HSS, and both cost a massive amount of power.
Hah! Interesting point. HSS...strictly technically no but practically yes. What is it that defines "true HSS"?

We may have strayed from the strict HSS definition, but it's a useful terminology that people understand.
Think of it as living language. The acronym HSS communicates a function....High Speed Sync. Simple enough.

So what do we call it? We're achieving flash sync at a high shutter speed. We understand the limitations such as significant power loss, but it's still a very useful, relevant creative tool. Sounds a bit HSS-ish to me!

-pw
That is a grey area but let's call it what it originally was called Hyper sync. That version of sync causes you to lose tremendous power out of the strobe, flash duration and will eat through your VMLs quicker. In a sense, it's a work around but not a solution if you still need maximum power and short durations.

True high sync speed out of a x100/leaf shutter cameras is actual HSS. One pop within the full opening of the sensor and closing at above normal sync speeds.