Techie Stuff: This brief
description is aimed at those who are thinking of using Alien Bees or White Lightning
equipment with Canon EOS type cameras (both Digital and non-Digital).
We currently use the Alien Bees with
the Canon 10D. We own two B800 and two B400, and use them in our studio. Here
is a sample photo shoot from last night, we were taking pre-wedding pictures
for a couple. Almost everything in this article describing Alien Bees also applies
to White Lightning equipment.
Q: Are the Alien Bees/White Lightning
bright enough for a small studio? Which Alien Bees should I use (B400, B800,
A: The Alien Bees B800 are rated
at 320 true WS(watt-seconds), but have a very high luminosity of 14,000 ls (lumenseconds).
Lumenseconds measures the amount of light emitted in one second, but because
the B800s for example have a flash duration of 1/3200th of a second, the BURST
of light is very quick and bright. This is very useful, because it allows you
to shot at high shutter speeds and still capture all of the light available
from a single burst. If you are planning on using the Alien Bees in a small
to medium size studio the B400 will be definitely sufficient. We usually use
our B800s at 1/16 or 1/32 of top power (4 or 5 F-Stops down), while shooting
at ISO 100, 1/200th sec, F 4 - 5.6.
In summary, the B400s will suffice
for a small to medium sized studio. For a large studio you may want to consider
the B800s. If you're planning on shooting in large spaces (arenas, churches,
etc..), then you MAY need the B1600s.
Q: Which cameras are the Alien
Bees/White Lightning compatible with? How can I trigger them?
A: You can trigger the Bees using
the supplied cable, which plugs directly onto the 10D (it actually works with
the entire EOS line, 20D, D30, D60, 1D, 1Ds, 1Ds MarkII and 1D Mark II or the
You can also trigger the lights using
the build in photo sensor. However keep in mind that the Canon EOS line of Cameras
and Flashes uses E-TTL or E-TTL2, which means it will fire two shots. The first
shot meters the scene while the shutter is closed. This first firing of the
flash will trigger the lights, and the second flash will open the shutter, at
which point the Studio Flashes are already done firing (remember they have a
VERY short firing time), yielding no light. I.E. you end up with a black scene.
To trigger the bees using the photo sensor slave, you will have to turn your
on camera flash to manual mode ( non-ETTL, single firing). For a review of 'remote
control' devices that can be used with EOS equipment please look at the 'Alien
Bees / White Lightning Strobes - Remote Control. RadioOne Remote versus the
Q: I tried some other lights and
got inconsistent color results. How will the Alien Bees behave?
A: The Alien Bees / White Lightning
studio strobes use color corrected flash tubes. They are either the standard
5600° K Daylight-Balanced Flashtubes or the 5200°K UV-Coated Flashtubes.
If you're shooting Digital you will never need the UV-Coated Flashtubes, as
they are only necessary when shooting with certain types of UV sensitive film.
The Daylight-Balanced Flashtubes give extraordinarily even response throughout
their lifetime. If you're shooting digital, setting your white-balance to manual
Kelvin scale and dialing it to 5600 will give great results most of the time.
Q: I set my camera to 5600 Kelvin,
and still don't get the professional looking quality color. How Come?
A: You are not doing anything wrong..
you are most likely getting the right color, the issue is that a lot of high-fashion,
model photography is done at a higher color temperature then normal. This gives
the nice 'Tanned' look. Set your camera to 6000 Kelvin or as high as 6500 and
you will notice that the skin tones will start turning from a redish tone to
a more yellow/brown color. This makes for healthier looking skin colors but
will negatively affect every other color in the photograph. This is simmilar
to applying a 'warming' filter in photoshop.
Q: I've heard that you should
not mix lights of various strengths for one scene setup, is that true?
A: Usually this is not true, however
it can cause problems if you're relying on the modeling lights to give you an
indication of how the shot will render. This is true because at full power the
B400 and B1600 will have the same strength modeling light. To remedy that just
install a less powerful light. For example:
B1600 - 150 Watts
B800 - 70 Watts
B400 - 40 Watts
Such a setup would give a pretty
faithful indication of what the final scene will render like.
If you have some additional comments/questions
please send us an email at email@example.com