Lighting Reviews

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Steve Bedell  |  Jun 01, 2011  |  1 comments

I’m not an equipment snob. That applies to both cameras and lighting gear. I’ve always believed that it’s that gray matter in back of your eyeball that determines whether or not you get a decent image, not the price tag on your gear. I like fast lenses and dislike variable apertures, so I pay for them. With lighting equipment, higher prices usually mean more power, more features and flexibility, and better construction. With that in mind, let’s see what the very reasonably priced Genesis 300 B monolight ($399 with battery) from Calumet offers.

Joe Farace  |  Dec 08, 2011  |  First Published: Nov 01, 2011  |  1 comments

It’s called “continuous lighting” because it’s on continuously, much like a light bulb or the sun for that matter, enabling you to use your in-camera meter to measure the light falling on your subject. Continuous lighting lets you see how all of the light—shadows and highlights—is falling on your subject, but continuous sources sometimes use quartz or photoflood bulbs that can be hot, even dangerously so, leading to the use of the term “hot lights” to describe them. An increasing number of continuous lighting tools are now being made using other kinds of light sources, even LED, producing cool “hot” lights. And that brings us to the subject of this review—the Calumet (www.calumetphoto.com) Pro Series LED Panel Light.

Russell R. Caron  |  Jul 04, 2014  |  First Published: Jun 01, 2014  |  0 comments

The Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT flash represents a significant new release for Canon photographers, most specifically for those using off-camera flash. A very capable and reliable flash on its own, its real forte is when used as the heart of a radio-controlled flash system. Eliminating the need for third-party radio transmitters and receivers to wirelessly connect off-camera flashes to the camera, and without the restrictions of similar infrared systems that require line of sight, the 600EX-RT system provides solid and, in my test, very dependable real-life operation in the field.

Steve Bedell  |  Apr 12, 2012  |  First Published: May 01, 2012  |  17 comments

Photographers all have their favorite light modifiers. Some like umbrellas, some softboxes, others parabolics, and then there’s the beauty dish, which seems to be a combination of a softbox and a parabolic. For those not familiar with the beauty dish, it’s a round but narrow modifier that you attach to your light. Think of it as a parabolic reflector painted white inside and flattened. If you stopped there, and you could, you’d have a pretty harsh light that makes a well-defined circular pattern with distinct shadows. But there is another little modification that makes a very big difference and also softens the light considerably while still maintaining that circular pattern. There is a bulb cover or center bounce dish that blocks the direct light from the flash and bounces it back into the dish. When used this way, the light output sits midway between a softbox and a parabolic.

Jon Sienkiewicz  |  Oct 16, 2012  |  First Published: Sep 01, 2012  |  3 comments

It’s a good thing that early photographers didn’t have to pass through airport security with their flash equipment. The pyrotechnics they used to light a scene would surely have merited more than a pat down. Many years ago, long before the flash tube or flashbulb, a century or so before the Flashcube, cameramen used a flash powder called thermite.

Joe Farace  |  Jul 17, 2015  |  0 comments

Portrait photographers get to practice their craft with an amazing selection of different light sources, including everything from hot and cold continuous lighting to power pack-and-head and monolight flash systems to speedlights. Each has its own unique advantages and disadvantages depending on the kind of work you do but when it comes to flash, I’ve always been partial to monolights because of their built-in power supply. I’ve had a monolight fail on a job before but because the other monolights on hand had their own power supply, I was able to complete the assignment.

Steve Bedell  |  Dec 14, 2011  |  First Published: Nov 01, 2011  |  0 comments

The Einstein monobloc strobe is listed at 640 watt seconds (ws) of power, has a bright 250-watt modeling light that can vary proportionally with the flash output, a 12 flash per second (fps) claimed capability, and a constant 5600˚K color temperature, no matter what the power level. Also, a claimed nine f/stop range, from 2.5 to 640 ws, and Paul C. Buff’s proprietary IGBT technology fill out the bill. It’s solidly built, using a Lexan housing instead of metal. It’s not very big, but is bigger and about a pound heavier than the company’s AlienBees units that many photographers, including myself, use.

Joe Farace  |  Apr 11, 2014  |  First Published: Mar 01, 2014  |  1 comments

First impressions: the D-Lite RX ONE To Go Kit includes a pair of Elinchrom monolights so you know it’s going to contain quality products. Then you discover that the maximum output of each light is 100 watt seconds and you start to think you’ll need more power. That’s until you’re reminded that this fully loaded two-monolight Elinchrom kit sells for less than $700. Interested now?

Joe Farace  |  Dec 01, 2008  |  0 comments

“Something you threw together in crafts class, Princess?”—Buck Rogers in the 25th century

 

As a kid during the 1950s, I had one of the last Buck Rogers ray guns produced. These were actually flashlights made by Norton Honer but were designed to look like Buck’s ray gun. It’s only fitting that ExpoImaging’s Ray Flash ringlight converter projects light as...

Steve Bedell  |  Nov 26, 2013  |  First Published: Oct 01, 2013  |  1 comments

Portrait photographers are constantly looking for new lighting gear that will make their lives easier and produce great results. And while flash photography has been the studio standard for many years, it’s always been more difficult to previsualize the final effect since the image you see using the modeling lights is not always the same you see once the flash fires. The instant feedback of digital cameras has lessened that worry some, but you can still be in for some surprises. The new breed of LED lights eliminates most of these concerns with true WYSIWYG lighting, and with that in mind I was eager to check out F&V’s new K4000 LED Studio Panel to see how it could be used in my work.

Joe Farace  |  Feb 04, 2014  |  First Published: Dec 01, 2013  |  0 comments

Lester A. Dine invented the ringlight for making dental photos in 1952 but today people use them for all kinds of photography. A ringlight is a circular light source that surrounds the optical axis of a lens causing light to hit the subject from different angles, producing soft shadows in much the same manner as a light bank. When photographing people, the unique way that a ring flash renders light also produces a shadowy halo around the subject that’s much beloved by fashion photographers. I use a small ring flash to photograph butterflies, but if you want to photograph people, to paraphrase Jaws Chief Brody, “You’re gonna need a bigger light.”

Joe Farace  |  Sep 20, 2013  |  First Published: Aug 01, 2013  |  0 comments

LEDs may represent the future of studio lighting but a number of the currently available options come with a caveat or two for the new professional or aspiring pro. Some LED solutions are affordable but may be too physically small for efficient use in a studio, or they may be large enough but too expensive for the shooter who just wants to dip their toes into the LED waters. Measuring 14x7.5x2.75” and costing less than $200, Flashpoint’s 500C LED Light appears to be a good solution for the LED newbie who wants to see what all the fuss is about.

Joe Farace  |  Apr 26, 2013  |  First Published: Mar 01, 2013  |  0 comments

The important characteristics of any studio lighting system are the quantity, quality, and color of the light they produce. Other factors such as recycle time, type of output control, build quality, and the ability to accept accessories may be crucial, but for many of us the most essential element is price. I was impressed by previous Flashpoint monolights (April, 2012, issue of Shutterbug) because they’re rugged, dependable, and significantly, for the advanced amateur and aspiring pro, inexpensive. Now Flashpoint has introduced a new family of monolights—the DG series—that builds upon all of the positive aspects of previous models and takes them in a new direction.

Joe Farace  |  May 14, 2012  |  First Published: Apr 01, 2012  |  0 comments

A monolight is a self-contained studio flash that consists of a power supply, flash head, and modeling light wrapped up inside a single housing. Monolights are typically powered by AC current but there are times on location when an electrical outlet may not be so conveniently located and long extension cords can create safety hazards, even when securely fastened down. I’ve had people trip over taped cords and believe me, it can ruin your day. That’s why a new breed of monolights, such as Adorama’s Flashpoint II monolights, offer a DC option with a battery pack when you might be out standing in a field or, at one time during my tests, in a big parking lot. A switch lets you choose between AC or DC power provided by a dedicated Ni-MH battery pack that measures 7x7x3” and weighs 2.65 lbs.

Steve Bedell  |  Oct 03, 2017  |  0 comments

I doubt anyone could foresee the rapid changes digital technology has brought to photography. As a veteran of the business (40+ years), we have come a long way from the match-needle metering and manual flash units of the past. Heck, I can remember when thyristor circuits were a big deal because they could help us automate flash exposures.

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