“Pocket, Medium, Full Strobe?” | Transcription

What the heck is all the difference in all terms that we constantly hear in regards to all the flashes? Some people call them flashes, some people call them strobes. We have monolights, which actually, there is a difference. Sometimes there are differences,  sometimes there simply is not.

Now many of you out there would say that, “No Pye. The differences the flash is small, like this little guy right here! But a strobe is something that’s big, like this big guy right here.” But I would say,”I beg to differ my friends”, because if you go onto B&H’s website or any other retailers website, and you look and you will find many times that full strobes are named flashes. They call it the Profoto B1 flash or they’ll call it the Profoto B2 flash. There isn’t a consistent naming system for whether something is a flash or whether it’s a strobe. To be honest, they all do the exact same thing. They all put out white light for a split second, so why aren’t they all called the exact same thing? I don’t know,. I don’t know why we cannot all be friends on this, I just think it is time to make up our own words, which is what we have done in our studio.

For a long time we have called these guys, and I don’t know why we have called these guys this. Maybe I have heard this from someone else, maybe it’s just something we came up with ourselves. I claim nothing as original these days because who knows where I might have heard it from in the past or if we actually were crazy enough to make up on our own.

But anyway, we call these wittle guys, these, our pocket strobes. Now, pocket strobes are just small flashes. So this, like the Phottix Mitros Plus is a pocket strobe. All the little guys, the 580EX’s, Nikon SB-910‘s, Neewer’s, Yongnuo‘s. Those are all pocket strobes.

Then we have medium strobes. For example the Profoto-B2 down there and this Bolt. Those would be medium strobes. Then we have full strobes. Again, these are own names because it is going to make it simple going thought this course when I can reference: pocket, medium, full. And you will understand.

This guy is the … I think I just broke it. This is the Einstein E640 watt/ second by Paul C. Buff. It’s fantastic, inexpensive studio strobe. For a budget and it’s absolutely awesome. Then we have way, wicked cool guys like the Profoto B1, which you can see down there, which I would classify as a full strobe as well.

So what the heck is the difference between pocket, medium, and full strobe. If you said, “Pye, I think the difference is size.” I would say,”Guys and gals”, that “you are 100% correct. The difference is indeed size.” More importantly not just size but power. Let’s talk about this. A typical, most easy way to distinguish these, and we have kind of separated it into three different classes. The way easiest way to distinguish is by typical power.

A pocket strobe like this guy, the typical power for it is rated in guide numbers. With smaller flashes they are typically measured in guide numbers. The problem with guide numbers are that every manufacturer kind of has difference ways of measuring them and sometimes different ways of presenting them. Which makes them kind of unreliable.

Here is the thing, from our testing whether you are using a 580X 2, whether you are using a 600EXRT, or a Lumopro … or. No, sorry. This isn’t the Lumopro. This is the Phottix, whether you are using the Lumopro. Any other of these flashes, even the Chinese made flashes. They all say guide numbers of between 50 and 70. In practice we got the exact same power reading out of every single one of them. They have very little difference in power. The easy way to kind of think about it is that most of them are guide number 60 or equivalent to about 60 watt/seconds, plus or minus just a bit.

We’ll talk about watt seconds in just a moment, but what are the main pro’s of a pocket strobe?

The pro’s obviously is its small size. This thing is far more portable than even a medium strobe, which is twice as big, right. It’s also less expensive, but we say less expensive to an extent. Meaning if we are simply buying one of these flashes, then it’s less expensive then buying a bigger flash, right? One Fotomatrix plus of $400 is cheaper than a Bolt at $550 or whatever that costs. But, it is cheaper to an extent because if we need the additional power… Let’s say we need 5x the power of this Phottix Mitros. Buying five of these would cost you $2000. Buying one Einstein, which is 10x the power would cost you… Well it’s more than 10x the power … Would cost you $600. It’s cheaper to an extent meaning that when we want the small form factor in a pocket strobe, that is less expensive. But if we are trying to use pocket strobes to match the power of a medium or of a full strobe, then it becomes expensive and it becomes cumbersome.

All right, so the con’s, it’s low power output. Relatively, we can still use these to overpower the sun. But compared to a medium or full strobe, it’s much, much less power. It’s also expensive like we said and cumbersome when you are trying to get more power.

Our favorites in the pocket strobe line up for full feature, we have the Phottix Mitros Plus. For manual side, we have the Lumopro LP 180. Again, we will talk more about our favorite stuff later on.

All right, so let’s jump to the medium strobe. Now a medium strobe, by the way, sometimes people call pocket strobes flashes or speed lights, those are other names for them. We call them strobes too, whatever you want to call them.

Medium strobes aka flash strobe, call it whatever the heck you want. Not going to argue on this. Tomato, toma-toe, toma-to-e. Actually, toma-to-e is an incorrect pronunciation. But tomato and toma-toe kind of work.

Okay, a typical power reading for a medium strobe is again, sometimes measured again in guide numbers for these because these are in between pocket and full strobes. Sometimes the manufacturer will measure a guide number, sometimes they will measure in watt seconds. They’re roughly around a 260-360 guide number. They are roughly around 250 watt seconds to around 300 watt seconds. So a basic medium strobe is about 5x as powerful when it’s used at full power that a pocket strobe. Which is a lot, that’s a lot of power.  We have 5x the power here, 4-5x the power roughly. It’s also smaller than a full strobe. So these are the pros of these medium strobes. They’re smaller than full strobes so they are still portable but they are 4-5x the power of a pocket strobe. They’re still less expensive than full strobes as well. Those are the pro’s.

What are the con’s of medium strobes? Well, medium strobes are larger than pocket strobes which means they are going to be a little more cumbersome to carry around. They are going to be a little less portable but still very portable and more portable than a full strobe. They’re also more expensive than pocket strobes and that’s only when we are talking about when we don’t need the power. If you go and buy a medium strobe just for the sake of having it, but you don’t really need the power, then you are paying more and you don’t necessarily need it. But, if you need the power then it’s considered a value, because again … Like I said the Bolt, $500- $600. Whatever that price range is at. If you need the power there then it’s absolutely a value for what you’re getting because you are getting 5 of these little guys, 4-5 of them Profoto B2, if you need the power. Even at its professional price range of $2200 … That still beats carrying around 5 of these guys and trying to hook up 5 of these guys and use them as one single light. B2, if you need the power. Even at its professional price range of $2200 … That still beats carrying around 5 of these guys and trying to hook up 5 of these guys and use them as one single light.

If you buy 4-5 of these you are looking at $1600-$2000, right? Same with the Profoto B2, if you need the power. Even at its professional price range of $2200 … That still beats carrying around 5 of these guys and trying to hook up 5 of these guys and use them as one single light.

In terms of  basically the power to the ease of use and so forth, they are a great value when you need that power. Our two favorites of the full feature side. Our favorite is by far the Profoto B2 and its pack, it’s absolutely fantastic. It has high speed sync, recurrent sync, all the full features you would want. On the manual side we have the Bolt VV-20. This is also a re-brand. If you buy through B&H, it’s the Bolt VV-22. But it’s also the Godox, it’s also listed under Cheetah. They’re all basically the same unit made by the same factory just listed under different brands. IF you are in a different area or purchasing from someone else just look a that brand name versions of that. For the price and performance, its absolutely fantastic. We’re looking at the Profoto B2 with the single head is $2200 and with the VV-22 it’s $500 with the battery pack. You are looking at a big difference in price range, but we’ll talk more about these flashes when we get into them to give you a better idea.

Full strobes aka a flash, strobe, monolight. Now there is a difference in why something is called a monolight and we will get to that in one second. But, the pro’s to these guys. Let’s talk about the typical power. The typical power is measured now in watt seconds. When you get to full strobes they are measured in watt seconds which is why we gave you rough conversion numbers so you can get an idea. But, we could measure anything we would consider anything as a full strobe, just on our own terminology. Anything that is about 500 watt/seconds, which is roughly equivalent to 10 pocket strobes. Anything that is above that number we would basically call a full strobe. They are generally larger in size like the Profoto B1, like the Einstein. This guys is 640 watt/seconds and every time I smack it I feel like I’m banging around stuff.

The positive of Einsteins are extremely inexpensive. Now that means that the build quality isn’t fantastic but or a starter studio strobe, you can’t really beat it. These are like $600 and they are 640 watts/seconds, or 12-13 pocket strobes built into one of these guys. It’s absolutely fantastic. That’s the pro. You have anywhere between 500 watt/seconds, all the way up to 3000+ watt/seconds. It could be anywhere between 10 to up to 60x more powerful than a pocket strobe. When you count that, when you measure that into the value of these units. Yes they are more expensive but the value is there because 10 of these guys is $4000. One of these guys is $650. One B1 is $2000, or roughly around that range, so the value is still there.

Okay, it’s 2-10x more powerful than medium strobes. Again, even when you compare price points, you need to factor in that power into that price point because there’s still a value compared to the power you are getting from them.

What are the main con’s? The units are fairly large, right? These are large. This has a straight up plug that goes right into the wall or you need a separate power pack for it. The cool thing about the Profoto B1‘s is that the power pack for the B1 is this little guy.

This is the Profoto B1 power pack and it can have 250 full power recycles in one single battery and you can get multiple batteries and take them on set. They are fantastic and still quite portable for a full strobe.

Each one of these is going to have its own little version. Why are some called monolights? Well, because basically the difference between a monolight versus a strobe and battery pack is that a monolight has all the power built into this. All you need to do is plug this into some power device, right. It’s its own self-contained flash unit. Same thing with the B1. That’s a monolight because its self-contained flash unit.

But something like the Profoto B2, that is not a monolight because it requires a battery pack. Meaning that I cannot just plug the flash head into the wall, it doesn’t work that way. That’s the term monolight, its used to reference those types of light. Monolights are types of lights that have all the power and everything built into one self-contained unit versus a battery pack strobe is one that you have to plug into a battery pack.

Other cons, they are of course larger and less portable. Our favorite in the full strobe range is the ProfotoB1, that is the one you see right over here. It’s a full-featured strobe which means you have TTL rear curtain sync, you have all have those full strobe functionality in it.

It’s $2100 to start and you also need the remote which is $400. It’s about $2500 for the full kit but it’s fantastic and its professional. We’ll talk more about the differences but they are incredibly easy to use and professionally reliable.

Our favorite budget monolight is the one we mentioned earlier, the Einstein 640wattseond little guy right here. Why? These are $600 and for a studio strobe that you are using inside of the studio you don’t need it to bed very portable. It’s fantastic, it’s absolutely awesome. It has a very fast T-Time. The T duration is incredibly quick. Also, if you are taking it on site you can still get the vagabond, the batteries that Paul C. Buff has, and it is still a fairly inexpensive solution for very powerful light.

By the way, the B1’s are listed at 500 watt/seconds, these are 640 watt/seconds. So, anything above 500 you would call a full strobe. Between 250-300 watt seconds or that guide number range, we call medium strobe. Pocket strobes are right around that 50 watt/second or 60 guide number range. And that is a pocket strobe.

Hopefully this help to kind of distinguish all of these difference strobes. The big difference we are talking about simply is power and size. We have pocket, we have medium, and we have full and that’s how we are going to reference them throughout the entire.