Balancing Flash and Ambient Light Using Inexpensive Strobes
Paul C. Buff products have been directly catering to the consumer since the early 1980s, offering affordable lighting solutions for aspiring strobists. The Alienbee line, in particular, adjusted photographers opinions on what was an appropriate amount of money for a studio level strobe. Last year Paul C. Buff released the Digibee, a minute strobe with an led modeling light and buttons instead of the classic sliders to adjust power.
[Rewind: 3-LIGHT OCF SETUP WITH MAGMOD MODIFIERS]
While it doesn’t offer TTL or HSS like many other monolights on the market, it is still able to offer good quality in various situations. In the first installment of “Buff Basics”, photographer Jeff Carpenter demonstrates how to balance flash with natural light, using the DigiBee 400. Of course the theory applies regardless of what light you’ve got.
The key to balancing natural light with flash is obtaining the ambient exposure first, setting the mood, then adjust flash power as needed.
Since the AlienBees don’t have HSS, Carpenter set his A7 II to a sync speed of 1/200s and an ISO of 100. In this scenario, he chooses to both close down the aperture of the Rokinon 50mm f/1.4 he was using, as well as used an 8-stop ND filter to retain shallow depth of field. The DigiBee 400 is capable of producing 160ws of power, or about twice that of a normal speedlight.
Unlike other popular strobes like the ones sold by Profoto and others, Alienbee’s require AC power. To move the lights outdoors Carpenter uses the Vagabond mini, a small battery pack and wave inverter which provides the DigiBee 400 recycle times of 1 second at full power, and 400 to 500 shots per charge with 640 total Ws connected.
The comparison between AlienBees to Profoto is not a fair comparison, they are in two different leagues. Where as the former is less expensive and can provide great results, the latter is more color constant over its power range among other things. Buff products are not built like a Lexus, but more so a tank. On forums and blogs, you can read stories of AlienBees, Einsteins, and White Lightnings taking terrible tumbles and still working.