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Photographer
John Fisher
Posts: 1,853
Miami Beach, Florida, US


http://www.johnfisher.com/images/1speedotron0487fs.jpg
Okay, why the picture of the business end of an old Speedotron 2401A? Read on!

I've covered some of the technical data concerning the new Einstein light in Part I of this report, the most unusual of which is it's flat color temperature and shortening t.1 times as you reduce power. One of the bugaboos of monolights has been the problem of fluctuating color temperature and increasing flash duration (rated as t.5 and t.1 times, the time it takes a single flash to recede to half power or 1/10 power). This has to do with the way power to the lamp is reduced as you dial it back from say 600ws to 300 or 150ws. The new Einstein takes advantage of a technology (IGBT) which has been around for a while (and used in many speedlights), but until recently broke down when you tried to use it in high power applications such as those used in monolights.

I mentioned in the first part of this article that pack and head systems got around the problem of color temperature and t.1 times by reducing power using switchable capacitor banks. My old Speedotron Blackline 2401A had three sets of output plugs which were rated at 1200ws, 800ws, and 400ws. You could get 2400ws by throwing two switches which connected all three sets of plugs (and three separate capacitor banks), giving you a total of 2400ws either to one head, or divided out evenly over as many as 6 heads (400ws per head). If you wanted say an effective (that silly word again) 150ws, you had to plug two heads into the 400ws outlets, point one into outer space, and move the remaining head further away from the subject you were lighting (sort of space alien aerobic power control!). Strange as all this seems, it was the way most professionals handled studio lighting (virtually all of us used Speedo Blacklines, often the only packs available to rent).

Well, as you can imagine this was a situation ripe for competition. And new packs started to appear from a number of manufacturers with all kinds of variable power adjustment schemes. Mostly we saw more switches appear on the tops of the packs, and dials with discrete clicks which allowed for far more individual control to reduce power. But all of these involved more complicated switching capacitor banks, and all of this is expensive (there is a reason why Broncolor and Profoto require your first born as a down payment on their top of the line packs). Me? I moved the light heads back and forth in the studio, which is fine when you are in a big studio and you are shooting large subjects such as people. Lighting product, particularly small products where you want to control light for purposes of shading is something else all together. Profoto quickly became the go to pack in many studios (sorry son, I know your only eight, but you will enjoy growing up in Sweden!) Anyway, this way of adjusting power, particularly 1, 2 or 3 stops gave you uniform color temperatures and short t.1 times.

With monolights this doesn't work so well. Particularly if you want to have a high power monolight, and then want to have the ability to dial it back significantly (say a 700ws monolight where you will frequently want to shoot using 300 or 150ws). Monolights have traditionally used voltage reduction circuits to reduce power, and that causes color temperature problems and longer flash durations (something I will get more into in a moment). The solution would be to own a bunch of monolights of various maximum power outputs, then use the ones you needed for a particular lighting solution. Yeah right. Like I'm going to buy nine lights so I have three available for any one lighting set up. How often have you seen someone on a forum like this say "buy the Alien Bees 1600, if you need less power you can always dial it back!" Seems reasonable, but now you have the problem of color temperatures going all over the place and a significant increase in t.1 times. Also, there was just so much you could do to dial the power back, four or five stops was about the limit for a monolight.

Today color temperature is really not that big of a deal as long as it stays consistent for a given power setting. With most digital SLRs I can set my camera for what ever color temperature I need (it's in the manual, the little paper book that was in the box that you threw away as soon as you got that new camera in your grubby little hands!). But t.1 times, guess again. Where flash duration comes into play is when you are taking a picture using studio strobes and the subject moves. Longer flash durations will allow for motion blur, and more often than you think this has been a problem for monolights (and why most professional studios use pack and head systems exclusively). I checked, and whether it was Profoto, Broncolor, or Elinchrome monolights all of them showed increasing t.1 times as power levels went down. Most don't even publish t.1 times, preferring to use t.5 because while they increase, the t.5 times are short enough to suggest they are not a problem (they are!!).

Okay, I built you the watch, now I'm going to tell you the time! The new Einstein monolight has a flat color temperature line (5600K +/-50) from 640ws to 2.5ws (a nine (9) stop range in 1/10th f stop increments!) And the t.1 flash duration goes down (not up!) starting at 1/600th of a second to less than 1/8000th of a second in Constant Color Mode (t.1 immediately jumps to less than 1/1300 of a second at -1.0f or 320ws). No other monolight at any price can match this performance. That's none, zero, nada. One area where the Einstein has a performance lag over some of the other professional monolights out there, recycle time at full power is 1.7 seconds. There are lights that recycle to full power in slightly less than one second, so you might have to wait an additional point eight (.8) seconds between shots. I was shooting at 320ws (-1.0f) and my recycle time was less than a second, during the walking shots (in fact for the entire session) I did not miss one shot due to recycle time.

So, what does this mean in practical terms? I went to OMP Studios (yes, that OMP) in Fort Lauderdale and did some tests shooting a real model in a real editorial situation. The shooting floor is big (in the order of 50' X 60' with 20' ceilings) and has a 30' one wall white cyc at one end where I did my shooting. I used a very simple setup, one light set to 320ws (gee, I wonder which one? Oh yeah, the Einstein 640!) with the Alien Bees big Parabolic Umbrella (PLM) with a diffuser fabric on the front of it. The light was placed to my left about 15 to 20 feet from the model and aimed across the set. I was shooting at ISO 100 at f 9 with an EOS 5D Mark II using an EF 70-200 f2.8L zoom lens. I did shoot some beauty (who cares), but most of the shots I had the model walking, jumping, hopping, running and jumping, etc. (all of this in 4" heels, I torture models!)

http://www.johnfisher.com/images/1daria7447fs.jpg

Here are several 100% crops which show how little blur there is. Note you can count the lower eyelashes, and the heel of the shoe is rock solid.)

http://www.johnfisher.com/images/1daria7447fcrop1.jpg
http://www.johnfisher.com/images/1daria7447fcrop3.jpg
http://www.johnfisher.com/images/1daria7447fcrop2.jpg

This is why those t.1 times are so important. At half power (-1.0f or in this case 320ws) where other monolights would have an increased flash duration, the Einstein had a t.1 of 1/1341 of a second, and that froze the motion. While it may not be clear from my crop, Daria is at least a foot and a half in the air with her right foot, and is kicking her left foot back. I would expect these results using my Speedotron pack and head, or using an OMP Profoto pack and head (these guys have at least two hundred thousand dollars tied up in Profoto equipment, madness!), but never from a monolight! Oh, and props to the Canon autofocus system in the 5D II, I had it set on full servo selecting all the focus points. Daria was running at an angle towards me, then jumping center stage.

Here's just a shot of Daria in front of the PLM with the fabric cover, Daria is 5'9 and wearing 4" heels.

http://www.johnfisher.com/images/1daria7743fs.jpg
Daria Dvurechenskaya, Agency represented in Miami, looking for representation in NYC.

Bottom line, I like this light, I like it a lot. I think it is a big deal (others will follow I'm sure). But you have to give Paul Buff his props. He is going all in with this light, and he certainly didn't have to. This is a company that already provides more than half of all the studio type strobes bought in America, and ramping up to make the Einstein is no small task. Alien Bees/White Lightning is, as I have said, a fairly small company as manufacturing companies go, but they are in the process of finishing a new building just to house the Einstein's. The investment in personnel and physical plant is no small adventure particularly given the economic times we live in. As many know, this project started several years ago and is now finally coming to fruition, the baby comes when the baby comes as my mother would say. If it all works as it should, this will be just another American success story. But like all the others, it comes with no small measure of risk.

I've been thinking a lot about Henry Ford and Paul Buff recently. As I mentioned in my previous post, my maternal grandmother was for a brief time one of Henry's personal secretaries. So even though Mr. Ford died the year after I was born, there are a few steps less than six degrees of Kevin Bacon separating us. Henry started the Ford Motor Company when he was 40 years old, and built the Model T for almost twenty years virtually unchanged. That car (which at one point sold for less than $300) put America on wheels, he didn't invent the car, but he made cars available to virtually every one in this country at a time when only rich people had an automobile. He didn't make the best car, but he made a solid, reliable car anyone could afford. (Sound familiar?) In 1928 Ford (who by this time was getting his brains beat out by General Motors, it turned out not everyone wanted a black car!) virtually shut down the Ford assembly lines for six months. When he introduced his new car, people were so fascinated they say lines around the Ford dealerships ran for miles! The 1928 Ford Model A was a breakthrough, and for a long time held the record for sales of a new model. Not finished, in 1932 Ford introduced the first production en bloc casting V8 (a one piece casting for those non-metallurgists), a car so revolutionary in performance that every gangster had to have one (Bonny and Clyde and John Dillinger out ran the cops driving Ford V8's!) Again, sound familiar? Twice, Henry (who owned the most successful manufacturing company of it's time) bet the house, and won! There are a lot of things about Henry and Paul which are not the same, Ford (who not only hired black workers, but paid them the same as white workers) was such an anti Semite that he made Adolf Eichmann look like a Zionist. Paul is actually pretty laid back unless you say something unkind about Alien Bees! What they have in common is a drive to make things better, even after they have already achieved a level of success which would have satisfied most of us. From the Wright brothers to Bill Gates, this country, our shared culture, seems to produce amazing people with vision and drive that is hard to imagine, and that is something to think about.

Enough, finally! I will finish my review of the Einstein with Part III, which covers the digital screen on the back including diagnostics, using the CyberCommander (originally developed for the Einstein) and more about the various modifiers that are available for this studio light. Clearly I like the Einstein, and I have no doubt this light will become an important piece of kit for any serious photographer.

For more information on the Einstein, you can read part I of this report at The New Einstein Monolight Studio Strobe (Part I). And you can click here for the final report on The New Einstein Monolight Studio Strobe (Part III).

Fish
Sponsored Photographer for Paul C. Buff Companies
Alien Bees, White Lightning, Zeus, Einstein
--
John Fisher
900 West Avenue, Suite 633
Miami Beach, Florida  33139
305 534-9322
http://www.johnfisher.com
Apr 15 10 07:06 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
SKITA Studios
Posts: 1,564
Boston, Massachusetts, US


John Fisher wrote:
froze the motion. While it may not be clear from my crop, Daria is at least a foot and a half in the air with her right foot, and is kicking her left foot back. I would expect these results using my Speedotron pack and head, or using an OMP Profoto pack and head

Which Speedo/Profoto setups do you mean?
I've never been able to really freeze flying hair w/ speedos unless I used a quad head w/ the packs turned down all the way.
And profoto's monolights couldn't freeze flying hair at all...

Apr 16 10 09:28 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
John Fisher
Posts: 1,853
Miami Beach, Florida, US


http://www.johnfisher.com/images/1daria7447fcrop1.jpg

SKITA Studios wrote:
Which Speedo/Profoto setups do you mean?
I've never been able to really freeze flying hair w/ speedos unless I used a quad head w/ the packs turned down all the way.
And profoto's monolights couldn't freeze flying hair at all...

Oh my God, someone actually read my latest Magnum Opus? Be still my beating heart! You, sir, have way too much time on your hands!

Hehehehe, anyway, my Speedotron Blackline pack with the 102 heads have published t.5 times of 1/600th of a second at 600ws, and 1/1200 of a second at 300ws which are no where near as short as the Einstein at those power levels. The Speedotron 202 heads are better, but still not as fast as the Einstein. (Note this is a Speedotron pack and head system, not the monolight, and unlike their monolight you can see the t.5 duration shortening as power goes down.) I can't find comparable data for Profoto pack and head systems, but my experience with Profoto heads (not their monolights) seems to indicate they do freeze motion at comparable power settings.

But you are correct, I am not aware of any (none, zip, nadda) monolight that can match the performance of the Einstein in terms of t.1 times at reduced power settings. And I froze the models eyelashes while she was jumping. Amazing grace!

Fish
Sponsored Photographer for Paul C. Buff Companies
Alien Bees, White Lightning, Zeus, Einstein
--
John Fisher
900 West Avenue, Suite 633
Miami Beach, Florida  33139
305 534-9322
http://www.johnfisher.com

Apr 16 10 02:16 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Jerry Nemeth
Posts: 27,407
Dearborn, Michigan, US


Thanks for the thread with a wealth of information!
Apr 17 10 04:52 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Neil Snape
Posts: 9,456
Paris, Île-de-France, France


The best thing I like so far about them is for once there will be a reasonably priced high speed flash for Europe. Up until now Broncolor and Profoto have their super machines but in the way of little monoblocs there have been nothing stellar.

I'd love to give these a try in a studio situation compared to Broncolor Grafit or better Scoro.
Considering the price is less than just the flash tube for a G head, it sounds like a great deal.


Oh forgot, those Speedos are ugly beasts I had forgotten about since leaving my studio 20 years ago. No wonder why people wanted something digital>
Apr 17 10 05:06 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
In Balance Photography
Posts: 3,370
Boston, Massachusetts, US


Jerry Nemeth wrote:
Thanks for the thread with a wealth of information!

Me too - thank you for the detailed info!

Makes waiting for availability that much harder though smile

Apr 17 10 05:32 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
david628
Posts: 550
Saint Louis, Missouri, US


Thanks for your review John! I've had my eye on these, and will be getting some at some point. (Got White-Lightnings now.)
Apr 17 10 08:18 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
andreano
Posts: 22
Frankfurt, Hassia, Germany


John Fisher wrote:
http://www.johnfisher.com/images/1daria7447fcrop1.jpg


Oh my God, someone actually read my latest Magnum Opus? Be still my beating heart! You, sir, have way too much time on your hands!

Hehehehe, anyway, my Speedotron Blackline pack with the 102 heads have published t.5 times of 1/600th of a second at 600ws, and 1/1200 of a second at 300ws which are no where near as short as the Einstein at those power levels. The Speedotron 202 heads are better, but still not as fast as the Einstein. (Note this is a Speedotron pack and head system, not the monolight, and unlike their monolight you can see the t.5 duration shortening as power goes down.) I can't find comparable data for Profoto pack and head systems, but my experience with Profoto heads (not their monolights) seems to indicate they do freeze motion at comparable power settings.

But you are correct, I am not aware of any (none, zip, nadda) monolight that can match the performance of the Einstein in terms of t.1 times at reduced power settings. And I froze the models eyelashes while she was jumping. Amazing grace!

Fish
Sponsored Photographer for Paul C. Buff Companies
Alien Bees, White Lightning, Zeus, Einstein
--
John Fisher
900 West Avenue, Suite 633
Miami Beach, Florida  33139
305 534-9322
http://www.johnfisher.com

How about "Hensel speed max" monolight? (Upto 31 flash per sec and upto 1/60000 flash duration) I think much more than a match. But of course price wont be at all in the same category.

Apr 19 10 04:48 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
John Fisher
Posts: 1,853
Miami Beach, Florida, US


ansega wrote:
How about "Hensel speed max" monolight? (Upto 31 flash per sec and upto 1/60000 flash duration) I think much more than a match. But of course price wont be at all in the same category.

How about it? Apparently the product doesn't exist. No mention of a monolight with that name or those specs on the Hensel site or at B&H. I did see a picture of a light claiming to be Hensel by doing a image search on Google, but no link to such a light on the Hensel site. None of the current line of Hensel Monolights match the t.1 times nor claim the color consistancy of the Einstein.

Nice lights I'm sure, but no match for the Einstein.

Fish
--
John Fisher
900 West Avenue, Suite 633
Miami Beach, Florida  33139
305 534-9322
http://www.johnfisher.com

Apr 19 10 05:37 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Photography by BE
Posts: 5,652
Midland, Texas, US


Does Paul Buff ever have a booth at any of the conventions?

It would be beneficial to actually see some of the lights before purchasing them?
Apr 19 10 07:26 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Saadiq Photography
Posts: 1,315
New York, New York, US


Thanks for your outstanding review on an outstanding light!!!


:edit: you know I gonna come by for a hands on review... lunch on me (stewed fish)! smile
Apr 19 10 07:33 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
descending chain
Posts: 1,158
Fullerton, California, US


John Fisher wrote:

ansega wrote:
How about "Hensel speed max" monolight? (Upto 31 flash per sec and upto 1/60000 flash duration) I think much more than a match. But of course price wont be at all in the same category.

How about it? Apparently the product doesn't exist. No mention of a monolight with that name or those specs on the Hensel site or at B&H. I did see a picture of a light claiming to be Hensel by doing a image search on Google, but no link to such a light on the Hensel site. None of the current line of Hensel Monolights match the t.1 times nor claim the color consistancy of the Einstein.

Nice lights I'm sure, but no match for the Einstein.

Fish
--

The Speed Max, with a specified shortest flash duration of 1/57,470 sec, wasn't too hard to find on the Hensel site you linked.  It is the very first item on the News->Products page.  It seems to be a recent announcement, the to the product link doesn't work.

Here's a Youtube video showing the recycle time, and here's another showing the flash keep up with a Canon 1DMkII.

Here's a Flickr photo showing breaking glass shot with a Hensel Speed Max, and here's another Flickr photo showing the Speed Max (formerly called the Roboflash Speedking or Speedstar) with pouring liquid.

Apr 19 10 09:04 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
John Fisher
Posts: 1,853
Miami Beach, Florida, US


descending chain wrote:
The Speed Max, with a specified shortest flash duration of 1/57,470 sec, wasn't too hard to find on the Hensel site you linked.  It is the very first item on the News->Products page.  It seems to be a recent announcement, the to the product link doesn't work.

Here's a Youtube video showing the recycle time, and here's another showing the flash keep up with a Canon 1DMkII.

Here's a Flickr photo showing breaking glass shot with a Hensel Speed Max, and here's another Flickr photo showing the Speed Max (formerly called the Roboflash Speedking or Speedstar) with pouring liquid.

As you pointed out, the light doesn't actually exist right now (the link is broken). No information is given, and they are pulling a little bit of a parlor trick in the video(s), more on that in a minute.

In Part II of this report, I said "Bottom line, I like this light, I like it a lot. I think it is a big deal (others will follow I'm sure)." Paul Buff has had the Einstein in development for over two years now, and as many have commented in the past, he announced it two years ago. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that other companies were taking notice, and had to think about what he was doing. I'm not surprised that as soon as the Einstein became available (I have one), other companies would rush to get something out to say they were keeping up.

Does anyone remember when Canon announced the original EOS 1Ds, it was at Photokina as I recall. A lot of fanfare was made and Canon was really excited to be able to offer the first full frame Digital SLR for sale. Well, in a major surprise, Kodak showed up at the same show with their own full frame digital SLR that appeared to actually out spec the Canon (14mp compared to Canon's 11.1mp) Everyone at the Kodak booth was jumping around gleefully with their "superior" full frame DSLR. Well, not so fast. As it turned out, Kodak only had a prototype to show, and months and months dragged on before they actually had a camera you could buy. And it was so bad, Kodak actually gave up on the project after a couple of years and got out of the DSLR business altogether.

Does Hensel have a new monolight with IGBT technology in development? I'd fire every engineer there if they didn't. Does Profoto also have such a light in development? I'd bet the farm on it. Particularly today. But which one can I buy, which one do I have all the information to make a buying decision about today? Which company provides all the spec's on their new monolight? You do the math.

Parlor tricks. Here's the deal, the IGBT technology coupled with a digital interface allows you to reduce power in the monolight to extremely low levels (in the case of the Einstein, you can go down as low as 2.5ws, -8f). With all previous monolights this was unthinkable, if for no other reason than your flash duration would be so long and your color temperature would be off the map. Not so with the Einstein with it's IGBT circuits, and guess what? At those power levels your recycle time drops to zero! Well, not quite. So, if you don't have anything else to talk about, let's set up a demo (with no specs explaining what you are doing) and fire the light really fast! And if we make a video, and don't say how we are doing this, the crowd will go crazy! (Que Kodak, stage left.)

Look, I'm sure Hensel will have a competitive monolight at some point. I'm sure it will be a great light. I'm sure Profoto will also have one eventually, as will any other major manufacturer. But, if you want to own one today (or soon, back orders are now shipping!), and you don't want to wait for a pig in a poke, you have one choice. And from the one supplier who has regularly delivered their product at a price point most can afford (que Henry and his Model T, stage right!).

Your friendly neighborhood Fish
Sponsored by Paul C. Buff Companies
Alien Bees, White Lightning, Zeus, and now Einstein
--
John Fisher
900 West Avenue, Suite 633
Miami Beach, Florida  33139
305 534-9322
http://www.johnfisher.com

Apr 19 10 11:18 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
descending chain
Posts: 1,158
Fullerton, California, US


John Fisher wrote:
As you pointed out, the light doesn't actually exist right now (the link is broken).

Are you really going there?  In an Einstein discussion?

John Fisher wrote:
and they are pulling a little bit of a parlor trick in the video(s), more on that in a minute.

In the first video, the power is clearly seen as 5.0, where the power settings are in "X.X".  In the  picture on the News->Products page, the power displayed is 4.3, so unless they are using some new concept of power being displayed as inverses, the one used in the video is not minimum power.  The second video has the power set to 7.0.  I think you should wait a bit for real specs before you start accusing Hensel of using "parlor tricks".

And by the way, Broncolor has been delivering strobes using IGBT for quite a while now.

Apr 19 10 11:50 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Innovative Imagery
Posts: 2,815
Los Angeles, California, US


You are missing the Ford connection. A-Ford-Able.  Broncolor is wonderful stuff, but out of the price range of many photographers shooting today.
Sep 23 10 08:14 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
killer pinups
Posts: 1,163
Tacoma, Washington, US


descending chain wrote:

The Speed Max, with a specified shortest flash duration of 1/57,470 sec, wasn't too hard to find on the Hensel site you linked.  It is the very first item on the News->Products page.  It seems to be a recent announcement, the to the product link doesn't work.

Here's a Youtube video showing the recycle time, and here's another showing the flash keep up with a Canon 1DMkII.

Here's a Flickr photo showing breaking glass shot with a Hensel Speed Max, and here's another Flickr photo showing the Speed Max (formerly called the Roboflash Speedking or Speedstar) with pouring liquid.

http://www.hensel.eu/en/products/compac … vices.html

Beautiful piece of equipment.

Sep 23 10 11:49 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Jeffery Williams
Posts: 311
Tampa, Florida, US


Photography by BE wrote:
Does Paul Buff ever have a booth at any of the conventions?

It would be beneficial to actually see some of the lights before purchasing them?

Or, buy and return (for any reason) within 90 days for full refund.

Sep 23 10 12:27 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Jeffery Williams
Posts: 311
Tampa, Florida, US


Fish: We might also tell the folks that Paul is in 80's. I only wish that I had half his energy! Sadly, Paul recently was banned from FM where he was a frequent contributor. His knowledge will be missed there. Hey, I wonder if he'd be interested in contributing here?

Jeff
Sep 23 10 12:43 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
killer pinups
Posts: 1,163
Tacoma, Washington, US


Photography by BE wrote:
Does Paul Buff ever have a booth at any of the conventions?

It would be beneficial to actually see some of the lights before purchasing them?

My guess would be no since they are a small (mom and pop type) operation based in Nashville, Tennessee.

When I first started shooting in 2004 I saw and used some of the lights and vowed to never own anything that looked or felt like a toy.

Sep 23 10 12:47 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Shizam1
Posts: 2,997
Cumming, Georgia, US


killer pinups wrote:

My guess would be no since they are a small (mom and pop type) operation based in Nashville, Tennessee.

When I first started shooting in 2004 I saw and used some of the lights and vowed to never own anything that looked or felt like a toy.

Doesn't matter, you can just buy it and return it.  They have a great return policy for trying an item out.

Sep 23 10 12:51 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
killer pinups
Posts: 1,163
Tacoma, Washington, US


Shizam1 wrote:
Doesn't matter, you can just buy it and return it.  They have a great return policy for trying an item out.

It does matter to me, I bought my Calumet and Photogenic lights based on durability, history, manufactured and tested specifications not a trend, fan club or cult following.

Sep 23 10 01:25 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
exartica
Posts: 1,316
Bowie, Maryland, US


killer pinups wrote:

It does matter to me, I bought my Calumet and Photogenic lights based on durability, history, manufactured and tested specifications not a trend, fan club or cult following.

None of that has any relevance to the question asked. 

PCB used to have a booth at Photo Plus Expo in NYC every year, but they stopped several years ago.  That being said, if someone really wants to look at one, you can tell a lot more about whether it meets your needs by actually using it for a few days than by fiddling with it for 5 minutes at a trade show.

Sep 23 10 01:37 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
killer pinups
Posts: 1,163
Tacoma, Washington, US


exartica wrote:
None of that has any relevance to the question asked.

Please follow the conversation -


The question:

Photography by BE wrote:
Does Paul Buff ever have a booth at any of the conventions?

It would be beneficial to actually see some of the lights before purchasing them?

My reply-

killer pinups wrote:
My guess would be no since they are a small (mom and pop type) operation based in Nashville, Tennessee.

When I first started shooting in 2004 I saw and used some of the lights and vowed to never own anything that looked or felt like a toy.

New shooter -

killer pinups wrote:
My guess would be no since they are a small (mom and pop type) operation based in Nashville, Tennessee.

When I first started shooting in 2004 I saw and used some of the lights and vowed to never own anything that looked or felt like a toy.
Shizam1 wrote:
Doesn't matter, you can just buy it and return it.  They have a great return policy for trying an item out.

My reply -

Shizam1 wrote:
Doesn't matter, you can just buy it and return it.  They have a great return policy for trying an item out.
killer pinups wrote:
It does matter to me, I bought my Calumet and Photogenic lights based on durability, history, manufactured and tested specifications not a trend, fan club or cult following.

The end

Sep 23 10 02:35 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
exartica
Posts: 1,316
Bowie, Maryland, US


exartica wrote:
None of that has any relevance to the question asked.
killer pinups wrote:
Please follow the conversation -

I did.  The relevant parts are:

Photography by BE wrote:
Does Paul Buff ever have a booth at any of the conventions?

It would be beneficial to actually see some of the lights before purchasing them?
killer pinups wrote:
My guess would be no since they are a small (mom and pop type) operation based in Nashville, Tennessee.
Shizam1 wrote:
Doesn't matter, you can just buy it and return it.  They have a great return policy for trying an item out.
killer pinups wrote:
It does matter to me, I bought my Calumet and Photogenic lights based on durability, history, manufactured and tested specifications not a trend, fan club or cult following.

Please explain how your last statement has any relevance to the question of whether PCB displays his wares at trade shows or conventions?

Sep 23 10 05:29 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Innovative Imagery
Posts: 2,815
Los Angeles, California, US


killer pinups wrote:
It does matter to me, I bought my Calumet and Photogenic lights based on durability, history, manufactured and tested specifications not a trend, fan club or cult following.

Funny, PCB lights have all that too.  So I guess your point is that you don't like them and are just taking swipes.

I have tried a variety of Calumet lights.  Some better than others.  PCB's work better for me.  I just checked the Genisis units and they are not as good as the PCB's.  Some pro's,  but more cons.

Photogenic pack systems are the bomb, but their mono blocks were very cluegy.   So PCB, by objective standards wins out.

EDIT:  I am speaking of the Ultra, not the Alien Bee's.

Sep 23 10 06:08 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Digitoxin
Posts: 13,343
Houston, Texas, US


John, your commentary is always top notch.  Thanks!
Sep 24 10 03:21 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
TheScarletLetterSeries
Posts: 3,438
Carmel, California, US


Thanks for the info, John. 

I'm really really really interested in short flash duration times.  This has become much more of a consideration in trying to take advantage of the higher flash sync of the Phase DF and P65+ MFDB.  There probably is a reason why Phase opted for pairing its new V grip Air with Profoto.  It seems there there are not many options, particularly when trying to stay wireless.  Profoto and Hensel are at the top of the list (both wireless via Profoto Air).  Both obviously much higher in price than anything Buff offers.  But take that as we may....  I just need one or two lights on location that can handle up to 1/1600 flash sync wirelessly.  I'm skeptical of the monolight solution as you've noted, and I still am skeptical in the same regard of the Einstein.

Buff's Cybersync claims a 1/2500 max sync for wireless triggering.  With a Phase DF, P65+, and Schneider 80mm leaf shutter, it is probably closer to a 1/600 to 1/700 max sync.  Not bad for the price of admission (faster than PW) but far from its claimed 1/2500 max sync.  Very far.

So in that context, I remain very skeptical of the Einstein.  I'm sure it is a good light for the money, and I may even pick one up, but my wallet has this sinking feeling that for sure-fire short flash duration for fast flash sync, Profoto and Hensel remain on the shopping list....
Sep 24 10 05:53 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
John Fisher
Posts: 1,853
Miami Beach, Florida, US


http://www.johnfisher.com/images/1daria7447fcrop2.jpg

TheScarletLetterSeries wrote:
Thanks for the info, John. 

I'm really really really interested in short flash duration times.

As someone mentions on this thread, Broncolor does have a pack and head system (the Scoro) which has flash duration times similar to those available with the Einstein. Of course he fails to mention is it's a pack and head system available only by special order, and the pack alone costs between $8,000 and $11,000. But at least the last time I checked, if you buy the $11,000 pack, you get a free head! (Wooo Wooo, be still my beating heart!)

But, if you really want short flash durations (which I also think is a big deal), these two (Einstein and Broncolor) are your choices. What you might want to consider is to purchase an Einstein ($500), and if it doesn't perform as you expect I believe they will give you a 30 day return. (Or you can special order the Broncolor pack with the "free" head, and if it doesn't work out you have a really expensive but very pretty boat anchor and a free reading lamp!)

Oh, and if you're thinking about the Broncolor special order pack, you might want to consider this: someone here referred to Paul Buff companies as a "mom and pop" organization. The article he linked to (but apparently failed to actually read, I think the pretty pictures dazzled him!) mentioned that Paul Buff companies manufacture over 60% of all the studio strobes sold in the United States. Simple math suggests that all the other companies combined (including Broncolor, Profoto, etc.) account for less than 40% of the market (by total number of lights produced). This would make Broncolor what? A kid in his bedroom with a soldering iron and some left over parts from a broken Apple IIe?

Just kidding (about Broncolor, fine company, great if expensive products).

Fish
--
John Fisher
900 West Avenue, Suite 633
Miami Beach, Florida 33139
(305) 534-9322
http://www.johnfisher.com

Sep 24 10 10:05 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
TheScarletLetterSeries
Posts: 3,438
Carmel, California, US


Again John, thanks much for your efforts disclosing details on the Einsteins.  I'm sure like many of Paul Buff's products they offer much bang-for-the-buck.

But for what I need (and am looking for) for ---higher speed flash sync (wireless a big plus), it seems I will be relegated to packs over a monolight, as flash duration seems to be critical to obtain flash sync up to 1/1600 with the newer Schneider leaf shutter lenses.  Cyber syncs don't cut it (way below advertised max sync), and I don't think the relatively fast advertised flash duration (but not fast enough) of the Einstein will cut it either.

As far as I can tell, for a small kit, I'm left with hard syncing with Elinchrome Ranger and faster head, or a small pack from Hensel or Profoto both with the Air wireless system.  Broncolor is not in the equation as I still need to send kids to college....   ; )

ken

p.s.  Ain't nothin' wrong with a mom-n-pop business.  Sometimes that's where the best ingeniuity and quality is...  Alpa doesn't strike me as a relatively large camera company either...  ; )
Sep 26 10 08:06 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Paul Grupp
Posts: 4,096
Troy, New York, US


John,

I noticed your tag line indicating you are "sponsored by" Paul Buff companies.

When I'm reading reviews and discussion of one brand's virtues vs. another's, I always like to know who I'm talking to, and what their stake in the deal is.

So could you disclose the precise nature of your relationship with Paul Buff companies? Are you paid to write for them, to review their products, or I guess, paid by them for anything at all? Do you receive gifts, discounts, or free products to keep in exchange for writing about the company or its products? Or are you loaned equipment which you return? If so, how long do you keep it?

These are personal questions, I know -- but it's important to understand the "provenance" of reviews when judging their usefulness and objectivity. In addition, I believe this sort of disclosure is now required by the FTC when writing the kinds of material you have posted here.

So if you don't mind, could you fill us in on the nature of your relationship (or lack thereof if that is the case) with Paul Buff Inc.?

Thanks,
Paul
Sep 26 10 08:19 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Jeffery Williams
Posts: 311
Tampa, Florida, US


bang bang photo wrote:
John,

I noticed your tag line indicating you are "sponsored by" Paul Buff companies.

When I'm reading reviews and discussion of one brand's virtues vs. another's, I always like to know who I'm talking to, and what their stake in the deal is.

So could you disclose the precise nature of your relationship with Paul Buff companies? Are you paid to write for them, to review their products, or I guess, paid by them for anything at all? Do you receive gifts, discounts, or free products to keep in exchange for writing about the company or its products? Or are you loaned equipment which you return? If so, how long do you keep it?

These are personal questions, I know -- but it's important to understand the "provenance" of reviews when judging their usefulness and objectivity. In addition, I believe this sort of disclosure is now required by the FTC when writing the kinds of material you have posted here.

So if you don't mind, could you fill us in on the nature of your relationship (or lack thereof if that is the case) with Paul Buff Inc.?

Thanks,
Paul

He did. I guess it was in part one. He gets no money, just equipment.

Sep 26 10 08:30 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Paul Grupp
Posts: 4,096
Troy, New York, US


Before I get a storm of people telling me to MYOB -- I am in no way "going after John" here. There is nothing wrong with being a paid advocate for a product o company (if that is what John is -- I don't know yet).

For example, I really respect the work that Chase Jarvis does for Nikon. But in the case of Chase, he's been very candid about the fact that Nikon has paid him to do the stuff he does on their behalf. I'm just looking for that same level of candor here. . . .

Best,
Paul

bang bang photo wrote:
John,

I noticed your tag line indicating you are "sponsored by" Paul Buff companies.

When I'm reading reviews and discussion of one brand's virtues vs. another's, I always like to know who I'm talking to, and what their stake in the deal is.

So could you disclose the precise nature of your relationship with Paul Buff companies? Are you paid to write for them, to review their products, or I guess, paid by them for anything at all? Do you receive gifts, discounts, or free products to keep in exchange for writing about the company or its products? Or are you loaned equipment which you return? If so, how long do you keep it?

These are personal questions, I know -- but it's important to understand the "provenance" of reviews when judging their usefulness and objectivity. In addition, I believe this sort of disclosure is now required by the FTC when writing the kinds of material you have posted here.

So if you don't mind, could you fill us in on the nature of your relationship (or lack thereof if that is the case) with Paul Buff Inc.?

Thanks,
Paul

Sep 26 10 08:34 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
shawn is boring
Posts: 1,288
Long Beach, California, US


Makes me want an einstein!~
Sep 26 10 09:06 am  Link  Quote 
guide forum
Photographer
Robb Mann
Posts: 10,240
Baltimore, Maryland, US


Yes, john is sponsored by PCB. It says it in his signature block. Testing done by someone with a vested interest in a product should always make one wary of a biased or loaded review -- I'm NOT accusing John of this, but in this age it's all to easy to not evaluate the source of information.

The best info comes from independent labs that use ISO-levels of certification to ensure consistent testing product-to-product. Anyone know of such a beast?
Sep 26 10 02:57 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
John Fisher
Posts: 1,853
Miami Beach, Florida, US


http://www.johnfisher.com/images/1alexa1015fs.jpg
Model: Alexa, Indianapolis, Indiana (now with a major fashion agency in South Beach)

bang bang photo wrote:
John,

I noticed your tag line indicating you are "sponsored by" Paul Buff companies.

When I'm reading reviews and discussion of one brand's virtues vs. another's, I always like to know who I'm talking to, and what their stake in the deal is.

So could you disclose the precise nature of your relationship with Paul Buff companies? Are you paid to write for them, to review their products, or I guess, paid by them for anything at all? Do you receive gifts, discounts, or free products to keep in exchange for writing about the company or its products? Or are you loaned equipment which you return? If so, how long do you keep it?

These are personal questions, I know -- but it's important to understand the "provenance" of reviews when judging their usefulness and objectivity. In addition, I believe this sort of disclosure is now required by the FTC when writing the kinds of material you have posted here.

So if you don't mind, could you fill us in on the nature of your relationship (or lack thereof if that is the case) with Paul Buff Inc.?

Thanks,
Paul

Yeah, I do mention all the time what my relationship with Paul C. Buff companies is, but I don't mind going over it again. I am a professional fashion photographer. This is my only job and it is what pays my bills and has for 27 years now. I went to a PMA show in Orlando eight or nine years ago just for giggles, and wound up spending a few very productive hours with Speedotron (for 27 years I have used Speedotron Blackline pack and head systems as my personal studio lights). However, while I was at that show I visited the booth of a brand new mono light company called Alien Bees. Seemed like an interesting and inexpensive light that might be useful on locations where lugging pack and  head systems was hardly productive.

Within a few months I bought an Alien Bees AB800 mono light, used it frequently, and started to write about my experiences. No biggie, but I liked the light for location work. Within a short time Alien Bees introduced the Vagabond which gave me access to 110v power on the beach, and I bought one of the original Vagabonds which I still use (see image above, lit with my AB800, beauty dish with a sock, and powered by the original Vagabond).

After a few years, the Vagabond started to go west (batteries don't last forever!) and so I wound up having my first experience with Alien Bees customer service. They explained what was probably wrong, had me ship the Vagabond back, completely overhauled it and billed me $40. Welllll, given my (several) experiences having my Speedo packs repaired (on two separate occasions assistants unplugged a head while the pack was still on, not good!) which took time and cost serious money (even twenty years ago), let's just say I was pleasantly surprised. This put me in contact with Alien Bees service techs, and I began to lobby them to ask the company to produce a ring light. I am well aware I was not the only one talking to them about this, but eventually I got a call telling me they were going to produce a ring light, and would I like one? Sure, and since it only cost me $400, it was a steal. I got serial number 8 as I recall, it was great to use but needed some improvements in the mounting system which showed up within a few months. They sent me an upgrade kit for my ABR800, no charge, cool!

And as is my bend from time to time, I wrote about the ABR800. I liked the light and I liked the cost. It was shortly after that, perhaps a year, that I got an email out of the blue from Paul Buff simply stating that he was naming me a sponsored photographer and shipping me a Zeus pack and head system including a Zeus Ringmaster ring light and a couple of modifiers of my choosing. Every once in a while Buff companies send me a light (most recently one of the first Einstein's) to test, or a modifier to get some feed back. So that's it, I don't get paid to write or do product promotions, but I do have some free gear and happy to have it. I have never been disappointed with their products, I do use them all the time, and I genuinely believe what I write about. I have over the years written frequently about my Canon cameras (they don't sponsor me), various bags, light stands, stuff. You name it, if I use it and like it, you read about it.

Truth is, I use my Speedotrons so infrequently these days that I have to set them up every three months or so and fire them off just to keep the capacitor banks fresh. I have access to a very big studio at OMP that I use for production work, they have a billion dollars worth of Profoto lights, and I do occasionally use them (so I'm very familiar with Profoto pack and head systems). I am careful to mention that I am sponsored by Paul C. Buff Companies when I write about their equipment.

Years ago, one guy used to go on and on about how "no real professional would use Alien Bees", and I'm thinking, who am I, chopped liver? Turned out he was sponsored by one of the other lighting companies and never mentioned it. That bugged me then, and I don't want to be accused of the same thing. I don't like writing that tag line: "Sponsored by Paul C. Buff Companies...", it sounds to me like I'm making a bigger deal out of who I am than makes me comfortable. But I do get that when I write, people should be aware that I'm sponsored so they can take what ever care they need about what I say.

John Fisher
Sponsored Photographer for Paul C. Buff Companies (Alien Bees, White Lightning, Zeus, and Einstein)
--
John Fisher
900 West Avenue, Suite 633
Miami Beach, Florida 33139
(305) 534-9322
http://www.johnfisher.com

Sep 27 10 04:53 pm  Link  Quote 
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