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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mobile Lighting Solutions

Build the location lighting setup that suits your style

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Selected Resources: Battery-Driven Power Packs
Selected battery packs can drive up to two heads and are available with symmetric and/or asymmetric output distribution. Other battery-operated models may be available. Kits may include only one head plus battery pack.

Bowens Explorer 1500 (www.bowensusa.com)
Broncolor Mobil A2R (www.bronimaging.com)
Comet CBm-1200 & PMT-1200a (www.comet-usa.com)
Hensel Porty (www.henselusa.com)
Elinchrom Ranger RX & Ranger Quadra (www.elinchrom.us)
Profoto AcuteB, AcuteB2, Pro-B2, Pro-B3, Pro-7b (www.profoto-usa.com)
Speedotron Explorer 1500 Digital (www.speedotron.com)

Battery-Driven Lights: Shoe-Mount vs. Monolight/Power Pack
The decision for the right portable solution should not be made lightly, no pun intended. Think of it as the five C’s: Choosing the system that’s appropriate to the shoot; Comfort level (how comfortable are you with the system—should you anticipate a long learning curve, and can you comfortably and conveniently transport it?); Capability (the system’s ability to deliver the performance you need); Cost (you can get a competent system without going broke, but should you spend more to get more?); Compromise (what you’re willing to give up?).

Note: Features listed may apply only to select lights in each category.
Shoe-Mount Monolight & Power Pack
• A familiar and expedient light source
• Compact and lightweight
• Relatively inexpensive
• TTL-dedicated operation keyed to camera’s electronics—including full control of multiple lights (via the camera and remote triggering)
• TTL-corrected white balance
• Often fast recycling
• Spare batteries are relatively inexpensive and always accessible
• Optional high-voltage battery packs for enhanced performance
• Versatile: multiple operating modes (including stroboscopic bursts)
• Increasing support with relatively inexpensive light shapers of all sorts
• Output may be inadequate or may require high ISO values or less than optimal exposure settings
• Lack of effective modeling light (those high-speed “modeling” blips are impractical)
• May overheat when used repeatedly at a fast pace, especially when enclosed in a light shaper without adequate ventilation, slowing the pace of a shoot
• Possible color shift to blue (esp. at short flash durations)
• High-end shoe-mounts and handle-mount strobes can be more costly than some monolights
Primary Use:
• Lifestyle & portraiture
• Tabletop/still life
• Situations requiring the lighting to be fully mobile, such as weddings and events
• Convenient fill light in outdoor settings
• Photo shoots in relatively small space
• More power to deal with light loss when using light shapers, and at greater distances from the subject, while allowing smaller ƒ-stops for enhanced depth of field
• Numerous choices in light shapers (umbrellas, softboxes, grids, etc.) to define the light hitting the subject;
• UV-coated flash-tube option for correct color balance (may come with the heads); constant color temperature regardless of light output settings (meaning you can use short flash durations without incurring color shifts)
• Fan-cooled heads that stay relatively cool during prolonged use to ensure uninterrupted activity
• Consistent output
• Looks more professional (this may be the deal-breaker for some)
• More versatile systems can be costly
• Bulky
• Camera exposures must be made in manual mode (a negative only for those who prefer TTL flash)
• May require a flash meter (which can help to determine both exposure and contrast, especially for outdoor fill-flash—so not entirely a negative)
• Requires a separate heavy-duty case and may need to be shipped as baggage when traveling
Primary Use:
• Any remote studio-like setting, which is dry and where lights remain stationary for definable periods
• Anything from small to relatively large, open spaces
• Photo shoots made at a rapid pace over extended periods
• Shoots requiring large light shapers
• Shoots requiring a diversity of flash heads (power packs only)


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