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Sunday, 14 September 2008


Sure, I'd like to have a couple dozen big-bucks monos like the Broncolor, but here on planet Earth in 2008, every dollar counts.

I have been shooting with White Lightning monolights since 1988, (not just portraits, but studio and location commercial and corporate/industrial with all formats up to 8x10) and have found them to be everything you describe the Brons to be, minus the astronomical price tag.

I can outfit a location case with three White Lightning heads with stands, modifiers and much more for less than the price of one Broncolor monolight.

Their products are pro-quality and their customer service is truly first-rate. Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Paul C. Buff or White Lightning, except that of a satisfied customer.

At the same price as a monolight, what's so wonderfull about a Bronc umbrella????????

Bud,your right on the money with White lightning units-beat mine to death over the last 20 years or more--only had problems when I dropped them.
I paid $9,000 for a broncolor hazy light and 2 focusing floods in 1983 the power pack always needed to be repaired and now I cannot get it fixed-anyone want it. I also used Balcar mono blocks and regular power packs--they blew from time to time also. dollar for dollar the WL's are tops. With the balcar reflectors on them there better then the broncolor units for even lighting.
Always buy the best umbrella you can for your unit, you can lose a stop or more of light with cheap umbrellas--I found the Balcar parabolic umbrellas to be the best. I only use soft boxes giving me more control and no flair from the light.

"At the same price as a monolight, what's so wonderfull about a Bronc umbrella????????"

Answer: It's actually white.

When you bounce your studio strobe or small flash gun off a reflector/diffuser of any kind, the colour of the light on your subject becomes the colour of the reflecting surface. The Bron umbrella is truly white (daylight white balance works perfectly if shooting in jpeg capture mode) and it has stayed that way for two years so far. I can't say that for the cheaper no-brand umbrellas that I've bought.


My favourite bit was this (particularly the bit in parentheses): "If you want the eyes and hair sharp, and the earrings and the necklace and clothing and the shoulders sharp too (so you can cut the person out and paste them on to a different background—a regular requirement for corporate portraits)" Um, isn't this the sin for which Ms. Leibovitz was recently castigated?

One thing to keep in mind is the flash duration. Some of the less expensive monolights have pretty long flash durations.

I have a calumet / bowens unit that is so slow at full power that I get motion blur in portraits.

A rule of thumb is that for a given watt second rating the higher the voltage , the shorter the duration (ohm's law and all that ) and if you are using a pack and heads , twice as many heads on a set of caps will cut the duration in half

I've been lugging around a Norman P800 and 3 heads for 20 years , and it's always worked well for me.

They are pretty cheap on ebay now for what that's worth

Thank you very much. This article inspired me to finally buy my first studio light.

I've come within a mouse click of buying a set of Elinchroms numerous times in the past two years, but I can never justify it. My friend shoots with a set of Elinchrom Rangers, and they're fantastic outside when power is needed to fight the sun for full length portraits with an Octabox, but I'm of the opinion that four small flashes travels much better than two normal monolights, and once you add a battery pack for location work, for me it's only justified if you need the power.

The only time I've actually used my strobes (bought used Metz, Contax, and Sunpak) at full power was when shooting some tulips in full sunlight at four on a Sunday afternoon ( http://blog.americanpeyote.com/2008/04/14/lazy-sunday-fun-with-flower-photos/ ). For indoor studio type shots I never have to wait for my strobes to recharge because I rarely shoot at more than 1/2 power. I've also found that designing lighting to create separation between the subject and background plays a dominant role in being able to cut the subject out in Photoshop, but this doesn't imply that a lot of power or small aperture is essential for the process.

Using a combination of small softboxes, bare flashes and reflectors I think you're far more mobile and have more creative possibilities (especially in cramped corners) with small flashes than large mono-lights. This is why the small camera/Strobist type setup has also been adopted by professional photographers like Joe McNally and David Tejada who see little use for transporting so much gear.

I would love to pick up some mono-lights eventually, but it would mainly be for increased power and to use outside. And Mike, I also still use a 6 megapixel Minolta 7D.

""(so you can cut the person out and paste them on to a different background—a regular requirement for corporate portraits)" Um, isn't this the sin for which Ms. Leibovitz was recently castigated?"

Craig replies:

Stephen, it's only a sin if it violates an agreed upon moral code between the photographer and the client. If the client insists that it must be done that way, then one does it that way. A large amount of commercial photography is 'composited' from multiple images. Depth of field is an important consideration, and getting more depth of field, when required, is a bigger challenge than getting less depth of field. Large format photographers know exactly what I mean.

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