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Gear & Apps

‘What Portable Flash Kit Should I Buy? | With Joey L.

By Kishore Sawh on December 26th 2014

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Joey L. is something of an anomaly, because what he’s managed to do in his rather short life so far is impressive from all angles. He’s a commercial photographer, author, and director, who has had an emphasis on documenting exotic and endangered cultures. This sort of work, this manner of photojournalism, has required much travel, and has been afforded to him through hiring companies like National Geographic, Coca-Cola, Forbes, the Government of Abu Dhabi, and more. Why do they hire him? Well, not being in their shoes, it’s not for me to say, but it’s easy to suppose that it’s Joey’s ability to bring fine art to photojournalism that plays a part.

[REWIND: LEARN FROM JOEY L. IN HIS ‘KILLING LINCOLN’ NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC AD CAMPAIGN]

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This sort of travel, this sort of work, this sort of client list and experience puts Joey in a good spot to give advice on travel gear, and since he often uses studio light while on location, that’s what he has chosen to give advice on in this video. Within the 30 minute video, Joey outlines 3 options for portable studio lighting, ranging from the budget ($1,000), to the obscene ($7,000). He discusses what’s within each kit, and of course, the advantages and disadvantages of each touching upon power, portability, etcetera.

The kits focused on are as follows:

Paul C. Buff Einstein E640 w/Vagabond MIni Lithium Battery
Profoto B1
Broncolor Move 1200L and MobiLED Flash

Taking the kits as they are, Joey makes his recommendations as to what modifiers and other equipment work best with them, such as a decent mid-sized octabox like the Elinchrom 39 Inch Rotalux Deep. He also makes it a point to purchase high quality supporting gear, in the vein of a very good stand (why spend a lot of dosh on great lighting gear only to have the weakest point in the link be the stand on which they sit and seek support?)

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Many of you may not understand or see the need for this kind of lighting gear, and if that’s the case, while understandable, it’s worth it to go to Joey’s site and have a look through the work he produces. It could very well change your mind. And, if you like how he brings information across you can find much more of the type from his LearnFromJoeyL.com.

Source: YouTube

About

Kishore is, among other things, the Editor-In-Chief at SLR Lounge. A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Graham Curran

    Travelling around the world with such big battery packs? Not without a contingent of free porters.

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  2. Basit Zargar

    great

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  3. Anthony McFarlane

    Great info.

    Does anyone have any thoughts on the flashlight point rovelight 600? I picked one up at $379 and it looks like it should work great. I am going to try it out this coming weekend.

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  4. Thorsten Ott

    The B1 does look great but I prefer my Einstein’s for location work. They take a beating and travel very well. Somehow taking Profoto gear in the great outdoors makes me nervous, LOL.

    Recently I shot an eyewear catalog of over 1000 eyewear frames … on a white plexi background, and did not notice any color shifts using the Einsteins. Your mileage may vary but I did not have any color or exposure consistency issues.

    Years ago I owned the Profoto 2400R packs and did see exposure differences of about 1/3 of a stop between images at times. This was especially annoying since the images were 360 degree product spins for HomeDepot. I had to manually adjust the exposures in post on 30 of the 450 products…or about 540 images of 8400 images. Again, Profoto is not always perfect.

    The Einsteins are certainly not as sexy as the B1 or Broncolor Move, but they are workhorses and the color and exposure is dead on for me. Over the last 2 years of ownership I have experienced zero issues. About 3 months ago a flashtube failed and Buff Support overnighted me a new tube just in time before a holiday weekend!!

    I use the PocketWizard FlexTT5 and MC2 wireless system for the Einsteins instead of the Buff CyberSync system. And using the AC3 controller on the FlexTT5 allows for 1/3 stop increment adjustments via wireless to the Einsteins.

    If one needs 1/10 of a stop adjustments, it can be done with the Sekonic 478DR light meter wirelessly. Years ago I thought I needed 1/10 of a stop adjustments on my strobes….but in all honesty, 1/3 of a stop adjustments is much more “real world” in my shooting situations for commercial advertising work.

    Hypersync on the Einsteins is very iffy. If you need that then get the AB800 or the Whitelightning X1600 or 3200. The WL’s are super tough, but as Joey mentioned, digital readouts are easier to use.

    Yeah, the Einsteins feel kinda cheap compared to the B1. But so far our friends at the airport baggage service and TSA have not damaged my lights yet…..knock on wood.

    Regarding lightstands that are all aluminum and well made. I highly recommend the Kupo Universal Stand for $67.00 on Amazon. Same quality as the high-end Manfrottos but $40 less.

    Thanks for the video review! Maybe one day I may treat myself to a B1. The new hypersync firmware from Profoto has my attention for future outdoor portraits that involve action.

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  5. John Cavan

    The B1 looks awesome, I have to admit, but being an amateur doing this for fun I’ll be sticking with my Alien Bees B800s for a while yet. I know that the ABs are lower grade, but the price is right.

    I think he has me convinced on the C-Stand “issue” however. I’ve been using the supplied stands from PCB, which are okay, and I’m not that worried about losing a light, but the stability of the C-Stands strike me as worth it, especially given that my primary subjects are my young nieces and nephews. Ultimately I may upgrade my lights (a B1 is still highly unlikely) and the stands will still work. :)

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    • J D

      Yup, I’ll be sticking with the ABs and Yongnuo triggers for a while too. They do the job for me. I agree about the stands too. Even the PCB stands can seem a little sketchy when fully extended. When I am out taking photos of a nice car, all I need is my light to fall through a windshield of a $100,000 car.

      Its also nice to see someone who is providing advice on gear that hasn’t been paid to say what he is saying.

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  6. David Hall

    I purchased the B1 and couldn’t be happier. Now that they’ve introduced their Nikon AirRemote with High Speed Sync, it’s gotten even better. It’s well worth the money in my opinion. I’m hoping to ultimately have a three light kit of B1’s.

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  7. Stephen Velasquez

    I am waiting for a Chinese company coming out with their profoto version.

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  8. Brandon Dewey

    This is just what I needed, I was about to buy some of this stuff to be able to take one of my Einsteins out on locations with me. Thanks for the suggestions.

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  9. Robert Daveant

    This was great, thanks Joey Lawrence!

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