Portable flash vs portable studio strobe


Andreq

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Pardon me for the newbie question:

Is there a strong reason in any photography situation where one of those portable studio strobes say 400-500W (well known brands costing a few thousand $$$, not the made in China type!) is preferred to portable camera flashes?

I can only think of strong sunlit environment where portable flashes may not have strong enough power to overcome the sunlight.

But otherwise, for indoors and cloudy/night situations, I've seen many images where photographers used their small flashes and produce many nice results.

Thank you!!
 

tehzeh

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When you have to use big softboxes that aren't available for small flashes, provided that you have those big softboxes.
 

catchlights

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the strobist way is not the cheapest solution, especially if you are shooting for money, surely you will want to look good in front of your customers, unless you are Joe McNally number 2, people won't care what you use and how you do it.

so, if you already invested heavily on studio strobes, do you still want to spend a few Ks for a proper strobist system to get similar results as the studio strobe deliver?

btw, you can use 8 to 10 SB900 to power up a gigantic octo softbox, but which option is cheaper? multiple units of SB900 or a 2k power pack with one light head?
 

Andreq

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Thanks for the replies.

tehzeh: The softbox+small flash is still way cheaper than the 400-500W branded studio strobes.

Of course range and power are an issue. But assuming it's possible to go close to the portraits, and you're not "competing" with the sun, there shouldn't be a strong reason for using the studio strobes as far as costs is concerned? For eg, assuming say, 2 camera flashes ~$800-1000 (much lesser for non-TTL 3rd party brands) vs $2500 or more for a branded 400-500W studio strobe.

catchlights: Actually, I know many excellent professionals, eg those into weddings, who use small flashes only in non-studio environment. They still "look good" to their couples. Nothing unprofessional.

No, assuming one has not invested into studio strobes yet. So it's really either way, portable flash vs studio strobes depending on usage?

I'm comparing to 400-500W studio strobe, not the more powerful type. I should think if one needs large power to light up something huge, then it makes sense to get studio strobes than use 10 or more portable flashes.
 

catchlights

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Thanks for the replies.

tehzeh: The softbox+small flash is still way cheaper than the 400-500W branded studio strobes.

Of course range and power are an issue. But assuming it's possible to go close to the portraits, and you're not "competing" with the sun, there shouldn't be a strong reason for using the studio strobes as far as costs is concerned? For eg, assuming say, 2 camera flashes ~$800-1000 (much lesser for non-TTL 3rd party brands) vs $2500 or more for a branded 400-500W studio strobe.

catchlights: Actually, I know many excellent professionals, eg those into weddings, who use small flashes only in non-studio environment. They still "look good" to their couples. Nothing unprofessional.

No, assuming one has not invested into studio strobes yet. So it's really either way, portable flash vs studio strobes depending on usage?

I'm comparing to 400-500W studio strobe, not the more powerful type. I should think if one needs large power to light up something huge, then it makes sense to get studio strobes than use 10 or more portable flashes.
I'm comparing a set of euro made two mono block studio light kit at the price range of around 2k to a storbist set up of 2x 580EX or 2x SB900 with pw radio trigger, manfrotto lightstands plus westcott softboxes or umbrellas.
not 2x MIC hotshoe flash/trigger/lightstand plus two dollars daiso umbrella.
 

tehzeh

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If you need to take a full body shot with a softbox? I don't think there's any softbox that big that's available for small flashes.
 

Andreq

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If you need to take a full body shot with a softbox? I don't think there's any softbox that big that's available for small flashes.
Ahh, got it... So one advantage is that the studio strobe could light full body... So far, the camera flashes in softboxes that I tried were used on half body or less.

Thanks...
 

tehzeh

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Ahh, got it... So one advantage is that the studio strobe could light full body... So far, the camera flashes in softboxes that I tried were used on half body or less.

Thanks...
You could go to catchlight's website and you could see a youtube video there. You can see all his big softboxes in the studio.
 

Anson

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Ahh, got it... So one advantage is that the studio strobe could light full body... So far, the camera flashes in softboxes that I tried were used on half body or less.
Many photographers chooses to use speedlight instead of "strobe" because it's more portable.

There is always ways to mount your speedlight into a studio softbox. Light being light... it the aperture, ISO, shutter speed, flash power & distance that matters.
 

catchlights

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this is the main softbox I use in studio..




when I on location shoot, I still prefer to bring studio lights, depends on the type of shoots, some time using softbox, some time umbrella..

for shots like this, not possible to use hotshoe flash.


but this series of shots was done with Nikon CLS strobist way with and without umbrellas.. except the garden, jogging, trail walks shots.

so the answer is depends on what kind of shoots you do, there is no one type of lighting set up can fits all.
 

Andreq

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thanks all for the replies yet again.

cool lights you have there Ben. I wish there will be more responsible photographers like you. I see very often pros bouncing light off ceilings for group shots with just one on camera flash!

hmm.. so i'm still torn between getting a radio trigger to work with my current 2 canon flashes or invest long term for simple 400W strobes. Elinchrom has an offer now....

Just afraid that after I buy it, it may be an overkill. Hence, this post to check what's the main difference between portable flashes and small studio strobes.
 

kenny888

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A lot of the modifiers in the market are designed to be used for strobes, so if u r intending to use modifiers like beauty dish etc with ur speedlites, u'll need to get an adaptor for ur speedlites.

Also portable strobes have modelling light which is useful for precise effects. Speedlites are still the most portable of coz lol.

Have fun!
 

kiwi2

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As many have mentioned, the good thing about small flashes is their portability. For photographers on the go.

Get the small studio lights if you do outdoor shoots very often in bright sun. If not, and you already own speedlights, it may be an overkill and waste of money to get studio strobes. Good ones are not cheap. Set u back >$2k at least for basic model.

In fact, many popular outdoor photographers use the small camera flashes and produce many stunning shots. A misconception among newbies is that you always need expensive studio strobes to get good lighting.

Of cos if budget is not an issue, whatever an on camera flash can do, the strobe will be able also and it's more powerful. Just take into account the higher cost $$$, weight and bulk. You must also consider the extra cost of buying accessories to go with it. Like I said, more for shooting in bright conditions. Else, no need to get one.