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Old Aug 29, 2004, 10:07 PM   #1
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I recently purchased an Alien Bee B800 to help get rid of the harsh shadows caused by 420ex flash. I planned on using the b800 as a key light and the onboard 420ex as fill. However, the ttl features of of the 420 and its lack of ability to be controlled manual make it a bad wayto trigger AB800. I can no longer use the 420EX with the PC hotshoe converter in place.

I would like to get a second AB800 or AB400to use as fill. However, I realize the Canon digital Rebel can not meterexternal flash. I use test shots and my laptop to get lighting right. I am thinking I will still gane more in terms of photo quality from a second light than a light meter, what do you recommend?

I am primarily photographing head shots or full body portraits in home studio. I use the Canon Digital Rebel, 18-55, 55-200 and 50 1.8 lens for portrait work. I don't like the 420ex and don't want to invest in additonal battery powered lights. Would like to eventually use AB'son locationwith pocket wizzards.
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Old Aug 29, 2004, 11:12 PM   #2
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Well, the "fill" light shouldn't be the primary illumination of the main subject...that's where your main light should be (ususally). I would recommend getting another AB 800 & powering the fill light down at least one or two stops. Another idea is to get some hot lights to practice with until you get the hang of it...it's not expensive & they are useful later.
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Old Aug 30, 2004, 12:11 AM   #3
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Yes, this is what I was thinking also. I have had good success so far with using the one b800 at between 1/2 and 1/4 power. Two use two stobes I was thing of a 2 to 1 ratio soif the main light was at 1/4 powerI would set the fill light at 1/8 power or less correct?with the 50 1.8 atf2.0 I would then take a test shot and set my shutter speed until the picture looks as bright as I want it without being overexposed. I use the histogram to make sure I am not too close to either l or r edges

The main thing I am trying to accomplish is getting rid of the harsh shadows caused by the 420EX flash. My secondary goal is keeping color accurate when used with existing ambient light. I have used hot-lights and the heat is unbearable when used in small areas. I also found that with 3 - 250 watt 3200k bulbs I still couldn't use higher apertures.
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Old Aug 30, 2004, 7:21 PM   #4
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Couple of other ways you can go...

1- Get the B400 then use the $55 you saved to get a simple flash meter
Check Ebay for a Wein or Adorama has the Paterson InterFit FM-01
You can upgrade your B400 for a year to B800s.

2- Get smaller lights for fills ... JTL 160s are fine for this and run $100 each. The total outfit cost is about $140 so you can actully play with 3 light setups. I have two big lights, one medium and two JTL 100s. Get a medium priced flash meter with this outfit (used orI usea JTL digital that I picked up for $125).

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Old Sep 3, 2004, 1:44 PM   #5
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Thank you for the suggestions. I tried working with just my one AB800 Strobe and found it very frustrating without a light meter. I have no experience using strobes at all so there was too much guess work. I purchased the Sekonic L358 for around $200.00 and feel more confident now with using a strobe. Although sometime after setting things up the way the meter suggests, I may still change things to get the look I want. Now that I understand lighting a little better, I will save up for secod AB800. So forth as increasing my photo skills I think the meter will be a good investment both in my home studio and outdoors.
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