Lighting

PHOTOGRAPHY GEAR GUIDE: LIGHTING


Big Lights


Profoto7AProfoto 7A These are my workhorse strobes in the studio or on location with power when weight is not a problem. The perfect choice when you need to shoot all day without stopping. Available in both 2400 and 1200 w/s.

Get the full specs at B&H


Profoto7BProfoto 7B Great Pack for location when you don’t have A/C with 1200 w/s output and fast recycle. They weigh amost as much as a car battery, so I hang them off my light stands using a Super Clamp and a J-hook and double as a Sandbag.

Get the full specs at B&H


Profoto-Prohead-Plus-FlashheadProfoto ProHead Plus Flash Head with Zoom Reflector ProHead’s design centers around the glass dome that covers both flash tube an model light and tubular body that allows Profoto reflectors to zoom. Their fan cooled 4,800W/s capacity and heavy duty cabling will hold up to intense shooting sessions hour after hour.

Get the full specs at B&H


Profoto-RingflashProfoto ProRing Plus Flash Head This flash head encircles the lens and supports the camera via the included mount. The ProRing Plus is popular with fashion photographers for its unique catchlights, soft, flat output and nearly shadowless quality of light even when close to a background.

Get the full specs at B&H


Profoto-Acute2R-2400Profoto Acute 2 Ever since the airlines dripped the weight allowance from 70 to 50 pounds, these packs have become my BFFs. I can get 2 packs and 2-3 heads in a Tenba Aircase and still sneak it tipping the scale at 50lbs. Available in both 2400 and 1200 w/s.

Get the full specs at Amazon | B&H


Profoto-Acute-600BProfoto AcuteB 600 When traveling on location, particularly on small planes into the Caribbean, these battery-powered 600WS strobes are great for location photography. I can pack 2 packs, 2 heads, and extra battery and chargers into a Tenba Aircase without tipping 50 lbs.

Get the full specs at Amazon | B&H


Profoto-Acute-2-D4-HeadProfoto Acute 2 D4 Flash Head The Profoto Acute 2-D4 modular flash head design features a circular, heavy duty, quartz flash tube and UV coated protection dome that surrounds both the flash tube and the 250W modeling light.

Get the full specs at Amazon | B&H


Profoto-Acute-RingflashProfoto Acute 2 Ring Flash The ringflash fits all Acute power packs, and is an entirely moblile source of light. The adjustable tripod mount bracket and wide interior (100mm diameter) allows for fitting all types of cameras and lenses in many formats.

Get the full specs at Amazon | B&H


Profoto-B1Profoto B1 500 AirTTL Battery Powered Flash With battery power and a clever design with no cables or cords, you can take the 600WS B1 with you wherever you go and put it wherever you want. Add to that the power, speed and light shaping possibilities that Profoto lights are known for, and you have an off-camera flash that makes great light easy.

Get the full specs at Amazon | B&H


Medium Lights


Elinchrom-Quadra-HybridElinchrom Ranger Quadra Hybrid Standard A Kit RX Lead-Gel Battery Lightweight, fast 400WS battery powered kit includes a Ranger Quadra Hybrid RX Pack with a Lead-Gel Battery (weight 6.6 lb), multi-voltage charger and small and lightweight RQ Hybrid A (Action) flash head.

Get the full specs at Amazon | B&H


Elinchrom-Quadra-Li-ionElinchrom Ranger Quadra Hybrid Standard Set with Lithium-Ion Battery If you need an even lighter 400WS solution, Quadra’s Lithium-Ion battery shaves a kilo of weight. Kit includes a Ranger Quadra Hybrid RX Pack with a Lithium-Ion Battery (weight 4.4 lb), multi-voltage charger and small and lightweight RQ Hybrid A (Action) flash head.

Get the full specs at Amazon | B&H


Elinchrom-Quadra-RingflashElinchrom Quadra Ringflash Eco The 400WS flash tube is matched to the Elinchrom Quadra’s output capabilities. The opening of this ring flash is large enough to accommodate lenses with up to an 82mm filter size. The 1/2600th flash duration is very short helping to freeze every strand of blowing hair.

Get the full specs at Amazon | B&H


Bolt Bare-Bulb Flash VB-22Bolt VB-22 Bare-Bulb Flash Kit with Cyclone PP-400DR Power Pack Compact lithium-powered modern version of the venerable Norman 400B flash offers 360 watt/second output in a flash slightly larger than a speedlight. Precise manual exposure using advanced circuitry adjustable in 1/3 stop increments from full power down to 1/128 displayed on the LED panel. Read more about Bolt VB-22 here.

Get the full specs at B&H


Bolt Bare-Bulb Flash VB-11Bolt VB-11 Bare-Bulb Flash Kit with Cyclone PP-400DR Power Pack Compact lithium-powered modern version of the venerable Norman 400B flash offers 180 watt/second output in a flash slightly larger than a speedlight. Precise manual exposure using advanced circuitry adjustable in 1/3 stop increments from full power down to 1/128 displayed on the LED panel. Read more about Bolt VB-11 here.

Get the full specs at B&H


Small Lights


Sony-HVL-F60MSony HVL-F60M Flash The largest of the Sony flashes, the Sony HVL-F60M is better suited for DSLRs like the A99 and A77II than smaller mirrorless bodies. Like the smaller HVL-F43M, it bends in more directions that a Russian gymnast.

Get the full specs at Amazon | B&H


Sony-HVL-F43MSony HVL-F43M flash I don’t shoot speedlights often, but when I do this one is just the right size. This is the larger of two flashes balanced in size and weight for Sony A7-series and other mirrorless cameras.

Get the full specs at Amazon | B&H


Sony-HVL-F32M-FlashSony HVL-F32M flash Sony’s newest flash is perfectly balanced in size and weight for Sony A7-series and other mirrorless cameras. Coming in Fall 2014.

Get the full specs at B&H


Sony-HVL-F20MSony HVL-20M flash Here’s a flash that’s like a pop-up flash for your hotshoe – just the thing you need when you just want a touch of fill – or perfect to trigger off-camera Sony flash wirelessly.

Get the full specs at Amazon | B&H


Metz-26-AF-1Metz Mecablitz 26 AF-1 for Sony Multi-Interface Shoe Cameras Another small – yet powerful – option designed to fit hotshoe-equipped mirrorless cameras. Weighing a mere 4oz and measuring just 2.5 x 3.34 x 3.34 inches, the Mecablitz 26 AF-1 is small and light to match the size of mirrorless cameras and it’s compatible with Sony TTL.

Get the full specs at B&H


Continuous Lights


K5600-Joker800K5600 Lighting Joker-Bug 800W Crossover Kit This K5600 Joker-Bug 800 HMI kit includes an 800W HMI lamphead and an electronic ballast to power it with output comparable to 4,000W quartz fixture, but with a power draw of only 12.5 amps. The Crossover Adapter allows you to use Profoto light-shaping tools from reflectors to softboxes. Read how I used it to shoot The X Factor.

Get the full specs at B&H


Wescott-SkyLux-LEDWestcott Skylux 1000W LED Light SkyLux LED Light delivers up to 1,200 tungsten equivalent watts of output at 5,600K daylight color temperature. Wescott keeps the SkyLux lightweight by separating the flicker-free ballast from the head, allowing for a multitude of placement options. Dimming control from 30-100%.

Get the full specs at Amazon | B&H


Lowell-DP-LightLowel DP Focus Flood Coupled with matching DP barn doors, this 100w focusing flood lamp offers the most versatile bang for your buck you’ll ever find in continuous tungsten lighting.

Get the full specs at Amazon | B&H


Lowel-DP-BarndoorsLowel DP Barndoors I know, I know…this is actually a modifiers – not a light – but this barn door set is a MUST accessory for the DP flood light. Not only does it allow you to snoot the light down to a spot and it also allows to create slits and patterns on backgrounds.

Get the full specs at Amazon | B&H


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52 thoughts on “Lighting”

  1. Brian with so many options and recommendations on lighting it is a little overwhelming to figure out the most ideal tool. I have seen the Interfit 360 Proflash used by Jason Lanier. Gary Fong has videos and information on just using off camera flash with the snoot and other devices. You have this awesome article here with a whole different set of lighting recommendations. Just so much out there! Do you have any recommendations on what you think would be the ideal “tool” when shooting portraits of dogs indoors in a small location? I purchased a Phottix Mitros for off camera flash and I also own a pair of Alien Bee 400’s but not sure the best direction to go in for lighting. I appreciate any insight you can provide. Thank you kindly!

    1. It’s always a good idea to start with what you’ve already got and built from there. Both Phottix and Alien Bee off a wide range of lighting modifiers similar to the ones I use with Profoto. A big soft modifier like a large Octabank or big umbrella is a good place to start.

  2. Thanks for your great lists of gear here, Brian. I am seriously considering investing in an A7 II but have so many questions, mostly about using off camera flash. Currently I use Nikons with Pocket Wizards (Flex, Mini and AC3). I can use them in conjunction with Nikon SBxxx’s, studio lights (Elincrom with the ST4 or any other strobe with a Flex via sync cable) or with other flash guns (old Vivitar and Pentax). ControlTL on the AC3 allows me to mix manual and TTL zones for amazing results.

    My question is, if I go with an A7, what happens to my investment in Pocket Wizards, and what is the best option for wireless off-camera flash? I have seen mixed info around the interwebs, but nothing I would consider conclusive.

    Thanks again, and FYI your book “Secrets of Great Portrait Photography” has been a real help. You can thank Mr. David ‘Strobist’ Hobby himself for that recommendation!

    1. I’ve recently switched from PocketWizard III to Impact PowerSync16-80 Transceivers and I find the Impact triggers much more dependable – BUT since you already own PocketWizards – they’ll work fine with third party flash in manual mode – just no TTL or HSS.

      WARNING TO SONY FLASH USERS: Sony HVL-F20M, HVL-F32M, HVL-F43M and HVL-F60M flashes are not compatible with third party flash triggers. I’m working to get that issue resolved, but at the moment flash triggers will not work with those Sony speedlights.

      1. Im following you very intense Brian. Just did some research on “Impact PowerSync16-80 Transceiver” I am getting ready for a small studio in my house. So your blog is very important to me, always has been !!! Always great info on you blog !!!

  3. So in theory all I am losing is HSS (which I never use) and TTL. I’m assuming that also means my AC3 won’t control manual power adjustment, as the flashes need to be set to TTL to communicate settings.

    Cheers for the quick reply!

  4. Hello Brian,

    Sent you a message through the contact link before I saw the blog comments. You can ignore that one. I have the Sony A7s and I’m looking for an easy portable off camera lighting solution when traveling. I have Sony flashes but as you said 3rd party triggers don’t interact with them so I’m looking for a solution similar to the Profoto B1 wireless flash (to me that’s a perfect solution for a portable camera like the A7s) but I don’t see anything out there similar. Can you recommend a brand or studio flash set you find easy to work with on the go with the Alpha? Can I work the profot wireless flashes with a 3rd party transmitter like the Pocketwizard or Impact?

    What you can and cannot do with the multi interface hotshoe is confusing…

    1. The Sony Multi-Interface camera shoe works fine with third-party triggers – the problem is the flash foot on Sony HVL-F flashes doesn’t play well with third-party triggers.

      But triggering external flashes like Profoto B1 works just fine. You can use Profoto’s Profoto Air Sync Transceiver on the camera. Or you can use a pair of Impact PowerSync 16-80 Transceivers or a pair of Pocket Wizard Transceivers – one on the camera and another on the flash.

  5. Hi Brian, I’m told that the Sony HVL-F32M flash doesn’t do HSS when the flash head is tilted up. Is it the same case with the Sony HVL-F43M flash? I often bounce up the head and use a Demb diffuser with good HSS results with my 5D3 and 600EX-RT. I’d love to have the same functionality with the A7R II. Thanks.

    1. As far as I know that’s the way all Sony speedlights work when mounted on camera. HSS eats up a lot of light. You can use the diffuser with HSS but not with the flash tilted up.

  6. Hi Brian,

    I am looking for a speedlight that I can trigger wirelessly from the camera. It can be manual flash but I would like to be able to control power output from the transmitter if possible.

    I currently own the Sony HVL-F60M and Nikon SB900. I cannot find a way to trigger the Sony HVL-F60M remotely. Do you know if there is anything I can use?

    Thanks

      1. Hi, are you saying that as A6000 and A6300 have built in pop-up flashes, they can act as a flash triggers for external flash like HVL-F43M? Therefore no need for HVL-F20M?
        Thanks

          1. I’m not sure that is correct. My a6000 will not go into WL flash mode (to trigger the off-camera F43M) without something in the shoe. I believe you need an F20M or the like on-camera in order to trigger off-camera flash. The pop-up flash just is not strong enough to trigger.

          2. Internal wireless mode is trigger by IR pulse not flash output, so it works just as well from pop-up flash on low power as it would from a large hot shoe flash on full power. It’s range however is not nearly that of radio wireless triggers.

  7. I dont think there is an ideal lighting tool.the phottix indra 500 delivers both in price and performance but if you have the money the B1 profoto (a bit heavy) does the work too. Always good to have review to count on for a final decision.
    Thanks Brian

  8. Pingback: Guide to Canon EF Lens Adapters for Sony E-Mount Cameras

  9. Pingback: Guide to Nikon Lens Adapters for Sony E-Mount Cameras

  10. Thanks for the useful info. Elinchrom has recently announced the (Sony) HS transmitter for the ELB 400. When used with the HS head it’s possible to sync at 1/8000th at full power. A slight trigger delay is apparent in A7 mk ii models, but hopefully the fix is in a future firmware upgrade as the original a7/a7r, is not affected by this delay.

  11. Great website and information! I have the SonyA7RII camera and the Sony HVL-F60M Flash. I’m trying to shoot off camera so I purchased the Flashpoint R2 TTL 2.4G Wireless Transmitter/Receiver For Sony. They sent me the transmitter but the receiver is on backorder. Question, do I need the receiver? If I do, will this set work for off camera flash on my camera?
    Thanks in advance for your help.

    1. Yes. You need both a transmitter and receiver. My Flashpoint Receiver is also on back-order. I suspect they’re having trouble getting it to work. I’m not certain how much control it will off with Sony Speedlights. It should trigger them but I don’t know if it will control power settings.

      1. Thank you for your response. I figured it needed the receiver but thought I would ask. I hope they can get all issues fixed and delivered soon or I will be returning the transmitter too
        I am trying to avoid spending over $150 or so.

  12. Brian, I’ve purchased flashpoint speedlights (with the lithium batteries and the transceivers and whatnot) and they’re great, except for the freaking plastic foot! Regular brackets don’t hold them securely and, what’s worse, have chipped off one of the tiny flanges of the foot of one of my flashes! I realize this is Sony’s doing, with their design, but how do you or other Sony users mount these buggers on light stands without worrying about snapping off their little bits?! Thanks kindly ….

        1. Matias, does the flash work correctly on the camera?

          I use both the XT1s and the TT685s on my A6300 without a problem. Also, you should be able to test the flash from the transmitter with the transmitter off the camera.

    1. Matias, does the X1T trigger the flash when it’s off of the camera? How about when you walk farther away with the transmitter?

      The radio frequency of these transmitters won’t normally fire the flash if the two are too near each other, but Godox has come up with a workaround in their firmware (assuming yours is up-to-date).

      Hold the Status button down while turning on the X1T until it flashes twice, now the transmitter in in close distance mode and will fire the flash even when the two are touching. If this works you’ll have to repeat the procedure each time you power on the transmitter.

      Hope this helps.

  13. Brian,

    Perhaps you may be able to explain what’s going on here …
    I just picked up a Venus Laowa 15mm 1:1 macro for my a7RII. I understood that it’s an all manual lens, no problem, but what about TTL?

    When I connect my Cheetah V860Xs to the camera via a TTL cable all seems to go well with this non-CPU lens. But when I move instead to the CL-360X and its X1Ts transmitter no luck in getting TTL, I have to go manual.

    If you’ve got any insights or workarounds I’d be most grateful, the lens’ stop-down metering is in itself as much of a frustration as I’d hoped would be required of me with the new setup. Thank you!

      1. Michael Pankratz

        No, unfortunately there are no linkages of any kind on Venus Optics’ lenses, it’s all stop-down metering. What’s particularly mystifying to me is that TTL works with the flash connected to the hot shoe but not with the Godox wireless system.

          1. Michael Pankratz

            Thank Brian, I’d agree that’s likely the trouble. Godox for Sony certainly has its share of glitches. But they do good things with their firmware updates, perhaps this will sort itself out in time.

  14. Hello Brian,

    I want to congratulate you. I am a great admirer of your portraits.

    For many years I worked with Canon and now I have migrated my equipment to Sony and would like to consult it about flashes.

    Could you recommend some TTL radio system that could replace the 600 EX-RT Speedlites I used earlier in my Canons?

    Basically I make corporate portraits that often happen in tight offices. That’s why I’m looking for a portable flash system.

    Thank you in advance for your help.

    Thank you very much

  15. Hello again, Brian!

    I bought the lightning setup you recommended (Odin II + Mitros+) they worked perfectly off camera but in the moment i setup in my Sony A7s ii has shown the follow error: “This accessory is no supported by the device and cannot be used.”

    I should I do to make them work?

    Tank you again!

  16. Looking for Wedding lights to light a reception budget is $1000. Can’t get a correct answer to how much wattage or type of light I should use. Thanks!

  17. Philip Ulanowsky

    Hi, Brian. Great work.
    It happened to catch my eye that you cite the Lowel DP as a 100W light.

    Best wishes.

    1. Thanks for catching my error Philip, I’ve corrected the listing and also reminded me that I really need to update this page.

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