Output. More powerful units give you more options for depth of field (you can shoot at smaller apertures), light placement (you can place lights farther away if you have to, as for outdoor sports action) and use of light modifiers like umbrellas, which reduce intensity. Some units are rated in watt-seconds (W-s), others in joules; one joule equals one watt-second. Note that joules and watt-seconds are measures of generator power, not necessarily light output; output also depends on the flash head and any light modifiers used.
Output Range. Monolights can also be operated at a range of power settings. This is helpful not only when you want to control light output, but to control flash duration (lower power generally means shorter duration), battery life (full-power bursts take more out of the battery than lower-powered flash) and recycle times (the flash will recycle more quickly at lower power settings). Because they're self-contained, you can adjust the power of each unit separately in a multiple-light setup for easy control of lighting ratios. Color temperature can change with power setting, although with today's units, this generally isn't a big problem.
Pops Per Charge. Battery power is a critical limiting factor. When comparing potential purchases, note how many full-power flashes the unit can produce on a full battery charge. Also check into the cost of extra batteries and how long it takes to charge them fully.
Location Lighting Masters
|Crafting the light for a photo is an art, and it's also an exercise in puzzle-solving. Two photographers you should follow to learn both the art and the puzzle-solving sides are David Hobby and Joe McNally. Hobby is the founder of the popular Strobist blog, and McNally is widely known as one of the most innovative location lighting masters in the world. As much as we focus on the light head in this article, it's knowing how to manipulate the light that really creates the style, look, mood and emotion in the photo. David Hobby's Strobist blog is at www.strobist.blogspot.com, and Joe McNally's website is at www.joemcnally.com.|
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