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Old Mar 25, 2004, 6:09 PM   #1
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Default Learning about how to use equipment...some questions

Hi! I have decided to purchase the alien bees light package (digibee--2 lights with umbrellas, stands, etc.). I am unsure whether to go with 1-800 and 1-400 or two 800's. Any suggestions? This will be for use within my home for my two babies primarily.

Also, I feel stupid ordering equipment I don't know how to use. I've read up on studio lighting & we went over it briefly during one photography class, but I've never used any. Is this type of lighting setup difficult to use or understand? Basically, I will also be purchasing a flash meter and maybe a backdrop. I would appreciate any advice or tips on purchasing/using this equipment. Thanks!

Amy
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Old Mar 27, 2004, 12:52 PM   #2
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Default If it were me...

I would get the 2-800's (you can always reduce the power of one unit if needed). You probably want some light modifiers (reflectors, etc.) too. Also consider getting a larger umbrella (60") &/or a large softbox. Keep reading the sites I pointed you to in the other thread & you will "get it" once you have your lights & start using them.
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Old Mar 27, 2004, 2:39 PM   #3
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Excellent choice on the alien bees!
Some things to think about - to fire the strobes you can either use a sync cord - as I recall you have a DRebel - it doesn't have a pc connection but you can attach a hotshoe adapter. Or you can use an IR or radio slave, or do what I do. I use a shoe-mounted flash and aim the bounce head away from the picture - the slaves in your alien bees will detect the flash and fire.
As far as the flash meter, I have used many Minolta flash meters - anything from IV to VI - 4 to 6 - would suit your needs. The III is too awkward. Sekonic makes some awesome meters but they are expensive.
Photogenic makes excellent umbrellas - they're called 'eclipse'. I like them because they cover up the ribs so they dont make reflections. They make them with silver and white inside.
Photoflex makes good softboxes and reflectors
I recommend you read a good book or find some magazine articles about lighting ratios so you can learn to meter your lights individually, then together.
Have fun with your lights and post us some pics when you get them to let us see how they work out for you
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Old Mar 27, 2004, 7:36 PM   #4
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Thanks, I believe the alien bees package lights both come with umbrellas (I think I can "upgrade" to a larger umbrella). Are my standard ceiling heights going to be a problem? I'm thinking of setting up down here in my finished basement. I have either that space or a bedroom upstairs. Does it matter at all? Basement gets hardly any light and bedroom has one window, but significantly more light.

What I'd really like to have is an infrared slave??? I think this is what it is??? You put it on your hotshoe and it triggers the strobes?? This wireless design is something I'm willing to pay for with two babies and too many cords already. Also, will I only need one outlet for each light? Thanks again...

Amy
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Old Mar 27, 2004, 8:30 PM   #5
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Default Flash Trigger

The Interfit Infrared Flash Trigger can be had here: http://www.adorama.com/PAIIRT.html?s...fit&item_no=30

I use one for all my studio work & the Alien Bees have built in slave receptors. Depending on the Bees draw, you may be able to get away with only one wall outlet & a multi outlet extension cord.
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Old Mar 30, 2004, 3:55 PM   #6
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You won't have problems using the basement. Those lights will put out waaaaay more light than a window. I wouldn't worry about ceiling heights unless you have really tall babies You don't want your lights too much taller than your subject.
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Old Mar 31, 2004, 9:30 AM   #7
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Thanks, I'm getting psyched to order this equipment. I am waiting to get some documentation on the class I've been taking. Alien Bees gives a 10% discount for students...pretty cool, huh?

Exactly...LTberry, my babies are still tiny!!!! So I'm going to order the umbrellas, I've read they give off a larger light than a softbox. I guess I'm still confused why you would pick one over the other? Thanks again for your input!

Amy
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Old Mar 31, 2004, 4:10 PM   #8
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I'm not sure what you mean by larger light. If you mean brighter, that is probably true; the umbrellas absorb less light than softboxes, especially if you get silver instead of white. If you mean larger size, well, both umbrellas and softboxes come in all shapes and sizes.
Softboxes have a few advantages. They diffuse the light a little better creating a softer light. Most softboxes have an outer and an inner panel - the inner panel reduces the hot spot in the middle and provides more diffusion. Also, on some models you can change the color on the inner walls of the softbox to gold, silver, or white.
Another thing about softboxes is that you can attach things to the front of it like so

they change the shape of the catchlight on reflective surfaces. The louvers keep light on the subject and away from the background.
The only downsides to softboxes are price, portability (not easy to fold like umbrellas) and maybe that they absorb a bit more light, but then again you probably won't be using full power all that often - 800 w/s is a lot of light. Also you have to buy special adapters to attach them to your strobes.
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Old Aug 7, 2004, 9:53 PM   #9
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I have the same question and it dosn't seem to have been answered yet. I am in the same decision process. Alien Bees DigiKit 2) AB400's or Beginner kit and Backdrop kit 1)AB800 and 1) AB400. The price difference is only about 50.00. I will probably order them one at a time the beginner kit first followed by backgrounf kit later. Some say the AB800's may be too hot and that they can not reduce down as low in power as the AB400. I will be shhoting mainly with an Canon Digital Rebel with either the kit lens 18-55, the 55-200 or my new 50 1.8. I will use ISO 100 with F2 (50-1.8) up to F8 for (18-55 and 55-200). I don't see a need at this point to shoot with an aperture smaller than F8 as of now but I am new to this. I prefer to blur the background with a wider aperture which would mean less light or faster shutter.

What do you guys think about the Photogenic Studio Max II or JTL equipment. Are the Aileen Bees the best choice? Does using softboxes and other diffuses require the aditional power of the AB800's or will the AB400's still be fine?

http://www.photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=417633
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