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06-19-2019, 02:16 PM   #1
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Fully Wired Studio Setup

Now that I have discovered 'Powersync' for my RF60x speedlights, I feel pretty content with my event flash photography. I now want to turn my focus to building a proper studio setup and this time learn from my experiences from using Cactus and try and avoid some of these pitfalls.

All I hear about is Xpro-P triggers and V6ii, which are both wireless, and both triggers have misfires. AD200 and AD360's etc, they are portable which is great, but where I'm heading (School Photography) I will have access to mains power and want to completely reduce the chances of dying batteries and misfires for what would be an entire morning or days shooting.

So what are the wired triggers/solutions for Pentax? What are the wired strobes recommended to us? I want to be able to control a minimum of 4 lights, adjust their power levels manually (HSS and P-TTL is not needed here), surely these options will be cheaper than the Godox battery powered range? What triggers can I use that are wired rather than radio?

Wires I can handle, I can tape them down, and have safety rubber mats over them. I would rather go to this trouble than experience the frustrations of misfires throughout the day, but all I hear about in flash talk photography are portable wireless triggers and flashes.

Can anyone point me in the right direction for genuine studio set ups?


TIA!

Bruce

06-19-2019, 02:35 PM - 2 Likes   #2
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Why not go for continuous lighting ?
06-19-2019, 03:06 PM   #3
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I use Alien Bees with the Cyber Commander, controlling anywhere from one to five lights. The advantage of this setup is I can remotely control on/off of lights, modeling lights, and power settings, individual or group without ever leaving the camera. Even has an incident meter and the ability to save complex lighting settings. I'm sure others have similar functions. So much better then having to manually adjust individual lights, especially those you have to climb a ladder to reach.
06-19-2019, 03:14 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by pschlute Quote
Why not go for continuous lighting ?
I've done a little research in this regard, and continuous is not recommended, two reasons;

1) Kids wince at bright lights, certain continuous lighting will get warm as well, cooler continuous lights are very expensive
2) The goal of a school photographer in many ways is to shoot without getting any ambient light in the shot (kill all ambience). This way, mapping the set up and power levels, distance to subject etc etc, you can take that setup with you from venue to venue and not rely on certain ceiling heights or windows or whatever other ambient light sources for the shots, you get a very quick setup process and ready to go.

QuoteOriginally posted by Smoke665 Quote
I use Alien Bees with the Cyber Commander, controlling anywhere from one to five lights. The advantage of this setup is I can remotely control on/off of lights, modeling lights, and power settings, individual or group without ever leaving the camera. Even has an incident meter and the ability to save complex lighting settings. I'm sure others have similar functions. So much better then having to manually adjust individual lights, especially those you have to climb a ladder to reach.
Excellent, thanks for that. So the Cyber Commander is the trigger? I have heard of Alien Bees before. I'm not sure what I can easily get on this side of the globe (Australia), my choice might be limiting. But those kinds of features (a trigger than can recall power settings etc) is exactly the kinda thing I am looking for, even better if they can store more than one profile (ie formal wedding job 1, 3 light set up, school job 2, 5 light set up etc).

I can get this kit for $750AUD, which doesn't seem to bad, but clueless as to how to trigger them... Product information: Metz

With regards to your Alien Bees, any specific models your recommend over others?

06-20-2019, 05:00 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by BruceBanner Quote
I've done a little research in this regard, and continuous is not recommended, two reasons;

1) Kids wince at bright lights, certain continuous lighting will get warm as well, cooler continuous lights are very expensive
2) The goal of a school photographer in many ways is to shoot without getting any ambient light in the shot (kill all ambience). This way, mapping the set up and power levels, distance to subject etc etc, you can take that setup with you from venue to venue and not rely on certain ceiling heights or windows or whatever other ambient light sources for the shots, you get a very quick setup process and ready to go.



Excellent, thanks for that. So the Cyber Commander is the trigger? I have heard of Alien Bees before. I'm not sure what I can easily get on this side of the globe (Australia), my choice might be limiting. But those kinds of features (a trigger than can recall power settings etc) is exactly the kinda thing I am looking for, even better if they can store more than one profile (ie formal wedding job 1, 3 light set up, school job 2, 5 light set up etc).

I can get this kit for $750AUD, which doesn't seem to bad, but clueless as to how to trigger them... Product information: Metz

With regards to your Alien Bees, any specific models your recommend over others?
The Cyber Commander is more aptly described as a controller, with triggering being only a part of what it does.
Paul C. Buff, Inc. | Cyber Commander? I think the controller stores up to 50 setups on the micro sd card. As to lights all of their models are well built and provide excellent service.
06-20-2019, 05:48 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Smoke665 Quote
The Cyber Commander is more aptly described as a controller, with triggering being only a part of what it does.
Paul C. Buff, Inc. | Cyber Commander? I think the controller stores up to 50 setups on the micro sd card. As to lights all of their models are well built and provide excellent service.
Yeah I had a little look into Paul Buff stuff today, and it's not available outside USA (or at least convoluted). I think I'll pass on their gear despite seemingly a great company doing good stuff.

------

So, the X-Sync port on the K-1, is it no longer really relevant?

Most of the solutions here seem to be based around still using Radio triggers, but I've been using Cactus triggers and experience misfires, I would have thought moving off wireless options and back to old school wired ways would be a sure fire way of ensuring no misfires (as long as the cables are healthy and not trodden on or broken).

My naive mind hasn't worked out how this would all work... I thought perhaps a wire from the K-1 to a splitter whereby the rest of the manual flashes could all see the shutter speed at which to fire at. Then its a case of using a radio controller to adjust power signals (for ease), but still using the x-sync cable to actually send to signal to take the shot. Or even actually no radio controller and you have to manually set the power of each strobe being used. Pen and paper, jot down the settings and distances used for making it a quick setup on following shoots...

I guess it doesn't work like this at all huh...

Perhaps the misfires I have been subjected to are more to do with flashes using batteries compared to a/c, indeed there seems to be a lot of chatter about not using rechargables in your triggers and speedlights if you want to reduce the liklihood of encountering misfires...
Perhaps a radio trigger is fine so long as the strobe is running from a/c...

I already own 2x V6ii's, should I then just buy more and use the others as Rx receivers connected to strobes? Could that work? Strobes don't seem to have hotshoes...

I think my main points are;

1) I'm unsure how much power I really need, 300w, 400w 600w?
2) I want to do everthing possible to reduce misfires, even if it is inconvenient to the setup by being back in 'wired hell'
3) I was hoping that a strobe that can do the same as a portable strobe but is not portable (ie a/c only) would be significantly cheaper due to this fact, thus allowing me to collect about 4 strobes.

Attached below is a set up I am interested in being able to reproduce, I could ditch one of the rim lights, but two might be nice for that completely 'even' look.

Lighting kits seem to have some value, but the softboxes look awful to assemble. In the attachment shot below a lot of the softboxes look higher end than what a kit might have, so I'm going to be happier to build my set up, by probably spending more money on very good (but expensive) quick to assemble softboxes and then reduce costs by using lights that need a/c (rather than what's pictured which is a bunch of portable battery powered units.
Attached Images
 
06-20-2019, 08:05 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by BruceBanner Quote
Now that I have discovered 'Powersync' for my RF60x speedlights, I feel pretty content with my event flash photography. I now want to turn my focus to building a proper studio setup and this time learn from my experiences from using Cactus and try and avoid some of these pitfalls.

All I hear about is Xpro-P triggers and V6ii, which are both wireless, and both triggers have misfires. AD200 and AD360's etc, they are portable which is great, but where I'm heading (School Photography) I will have access to mains power and want to completely reduce the chances of dying batteries and misfires for what would be an entire morning or days shooting.

So what are the wired triggers/solutions for Pentax? What are the wired strobes recommended to us? I want to be able to control a minimum of 4 lights, adjust their power levels manually (HSS and P-TTL is not needed here), surely these options will be cheaper than the Godox battery powered range? What triggers can I use that are wired rather than radio?

Wires I can handle, I can tape them down, and have safety rubber mats over them. I would rather go to this trouble than experience the frustrations of misfires throughout the day, but all I hear about in flash talk photography are portable wireless triggers and flashes.

Can anyone point me in the right direction for genuine studio set ups?


TIA!

Bruce
Bruce, when I was shooting schools we were supplied with box and cable sets to take onsite. The big draw for them is portability. The heads are far smaller and lighter than monolights, which also allows for lighter capacity stands. Everything is just that much easier to deal with.
The disadvantage of box and cable systems is that if the power pack goes down, you are done. While the same thing can be said of mono light power supplies, if a monolight goes down, you still have working heads.
The point being, back-up equipment is a requirement. While I never had a power pack go down, we never left the shop without twice as many power packs as we had photographers doing setups, and also a couple of extra heads per photographer.

Consequently, my recommendation as someone who has been there and has done that, is use a box and cable set up, have a spare power pack and six heads (you will most likely be using four heads for your shoot). This will give you the redundancy required.
If you elect to go monolights, five heads is the minimum you should be carrying for a 4 light setup, with six being preferred.

I have no idea whats out there for equipment at this point, so I can't recommend brands.
06-20-2019, 01:11 PM   #8
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Back around 1990 when I was doing some multi flash indoor photography with ad hoc setups, (and actually used a pair of Paul C. Buff lights I still have), the scheme I adopted was to use a speedlight to flash the environment (ceiling say) and use PC-sync connector flash detectors to trigger the various flashes via cables. (The Buff lights used a phone jack for their trigger signal interface, so those cables would be PC-sync to phone plug.) This type of flash detector may be found at B&H under "Optical Slaves," although I don't see my exact unit there (working from memory). None of the lights I used interfaced with the connectors that look like US ac power plugs. I always thought that system was insanely hazardous for personnel and flash heads.

Of course, this optical to electrical scheme depends on good detection by all the slaves controlling the flash heads. Alternatively, the PC-sync connection of the camera can be wired to a PC-sync splitter (e.g., B&H Medalight 3-Way Flash Sync Adapter) and thence to all the flashes for a positive, non-optical connection. The number of flashes the camera can support if paralleled in this manner may be camera dependent.

07-23-2019, 12:52 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by BruceBanner Quote
Originally posted by pschlute Why not go for continuous lighting ? I've done a little research in this regard, and continuous is not recommended, two reasons; 1) Kids wince at bright lights, certain continuous lighting will get warm as well, cooler continuous lights are very expensive2) The goal of a school photographer in many ways is to shoot without getting any ambient light in the shot (kill all ambience). This way, mapping the set up and power levels, distance to subject etc etc, you can take that setup with you from venue to venue and not rely on certain ceiling heights or windows or whatever other ambient light sources for the shots, you get a very quick setup process and ready to go.


You may want to take a look at this set up that is used by Peter Hurley who does Headshots in NYC - I think they deal with both of your issues against continuous lights. ... just another option. :-)
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07-23-2019, 04:44 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by R. Wethereyet Quote
You may want to take a look at this set up that is used by Peter Hurley who does Headshots in NYC - I think they deal with both of your issues against continuous lights. ... just another option. :-)
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At 300 to maybe 500 lux per square foot at the distances he will need to have in a school environment, itís going to be an expensive proposition to make them work. I think for comfortís sake in a school shoot, a 1 meter distance is too close. Distancing the light 2 meters from the subject for their comfort would require 4 square feet of panels to get to f4.0 at ISO 400, and 1/200 second with your fill. Shooting kids, you probably donít want to be too far off that combination. Add in a few square feet for the main, another couple at least for the hair, and if you want to brighten whatever background in use, another couple of square feet or more for that. You might get to drop a stop, but even at that, probably at least 8 square feet of panels. Thatís north of US$5k, over AU$7k.
They sure are cool though.
07-23-2019, 05:50 PM - 1 Like   #11
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OK, Bruce, here is an ac-mains/cable-triggered solution that uses your Cactus RF60X flashes. No RF or visible photons are harmed by this scheme. Cost of cables may seem very high relative to other parts. I own only some of these parts.

Power: Every two Cactus flashes are (effectively perpetually) powered via a Quantum Instruments Turbo AC mains-operated power supply using extension cables where needed and CZ/CCZ/CZ2 flash power cables plugged into the Cactus HV ports under the IR windows. (Be careful with the plug key orientation.) (The CZ cables are still sold by Quantum, various camera dealers, and eBay.) The Cactus AA batteries are still needed, but only power the electronics, not the flash circuit, so they should last a long time. The Quantum 10-foot extension cables (QT-49) are also available. Each Turbo AC is reportedly about US $289.00.

Triggering: An x-sync cable from the camera sync port is connected to a "multiplier" which allows extension of the x-sync signal to multiple hot shoe adapters, one each of which is mounted to a Cactus flash hot shoe. (Representative example parts: Samigon Multiple PC Terminal Adapter; Nisha PC Male to PC Male Sync Cord (16'); etc.) There is likely some limit on total trigger sink current that can be handled by the camera body, but I suspect it would require more than the number of Cactus flashes you presently own to exceed it. (I'm not sure I've ever seen a spec on the sync current limit; only a requirement to use low voltage flash triggers.) Maybe one of our flash gurus knows for your camera.

Flash mode: I think with this scheme each flash has to be in manual mode. A V6II in Tx mode could still control their power, I think.

Any other flash head with PC x-sync connection can also be run this way, but ac power compatibility will depend on the flash head design.

I was unable to determine the compatibility of the Turbo AC with 50-Hz mains, although usually with modern electronics, this is not a problem.


Note: I have paralleled 4 AF-500FTZ flashes to my 645N using the 5P cables. The 5P connectors at the flashes mirror the hot shoe contacts. There was no difficulty flashing them together, and in this unique case, operating all of them in old-style TTL mode.
07-23-2019, 07:36 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by R. Wethereyet Quote
You may want to take a look at this set up that is used by Peter Hurley who does Headshots in NYC - I think they deal with both of your issues against continuous lights. ... just another option. :-)
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Yeah nah, that's not what I'm looking for, here's why.

1) Expensive
2) Continuous light can make kids squint. I realise some of these products also can fire like a flash (rotolights for example), but really the price is for the continuous light aspect, something I don't think I want.
3) Typically they involve including ambient light into the set up, if not we're talking a lot of mats... ouch.

QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
At 300 to maybe 500 lux per square foot at the distances he will need to have in a school environment, itís going to be an expensive proposition to make them work. I think for comfortís sake in a school shoot, a 1 meter distance is too close. Distancing the light 2 meters from the subject for their comfort would require 4 square feet of panels to get to f4.0 at ISO 400, and 1/200 second with your fill. Shooting kids, you probably donít want to be too far off that combination. Add in a few square feet for the main, another couple at least for the hair, and if you want to brighten whatever background in use, another couple of square feet or more for that. You might get to drop a stop, but even at that, probably at least 8 square feet of panels. Thatís north of US$5k, over AU$7k.
They sure are cool though.
Thanks, you said what I wanted far better than I could of.

The idea of a school photographer is actually in many ways a far harder project than doing a lot of other modelling shots. With adult modelling, the kind that might use just one to two lights only, they can have a darker edgier appeal to the shot, due in parts to darkly lit backgrounds, only 1 rim light and 1 key light etc. It works fine for us but for kids... it's a bit different.

The challenge is to provide fun, positive vibrant images where in fact looks like perhaps even natural light is in the shot when in fact is not. I cannot have any ambient light or flash bouncing around the room as a reliance for setting up because I will be moving from school to school, room to room, if I rely on ceiling bounce or ambient light for the shots then I fear I will waste far too long or getting the right layout and power right for the look I want. What I want to do is ensure the room is x wide and x long and have my equipment and settings mapped out and that then knock out all ambient light, that way I can quickly set up and get the same results in different environments.

But this is not an easy task, hence the complex multiple light set up, we want bright vibrant backdrops lit up well and balanced with the subject, minimal shadows from key light, rim light for separation etc.

QuoteOriginally posted by kaseki Quote
OK, Bruce, here is an ac-mains/cable-triggered solution that uses your Cactus RF60X flashes. No RF or visible photons are harmed by this scheme. Cost of cables may seem very high relative to other parts. I own only some of these parts.

Power: Every two Cactus flashes are (effectively perpetually) powered via a Quantum Instruments Turbo AC mains-operated power supply using extension cables where needed and CZ/CCZ/CZ2 flash power cables plugged into the Cactus HV ports under the IR windows. (Be careful with the plug key orientation.) (The CZ cables are still sold by Quantum, various camera dealers, and eBay.) The Cactus AA batteries are still needed, but only power the electronics, not the flash circuit, so they should last a long time. The Quantum 10-foot extension cables (QT-49) are also available. Each Turbo AC is reportedly about US $289.00.

Triggering: An x-sync cable from the camera sync port is connected to a "multiplier" which allows extension of the x-sync signal to multiple hot shoe adapters, one each of which is mounted to a Cactus flash hot shoe. (Representative example parts: Samigon Multiple PC Terminal Adapter; Nisha PC Male to PC Male Sync Cord (16'); etc.) There is likely some limit on total trigger sink current that can be handled by the camera body, but I suspect it would require more than the number of Cactus flashes you presently own to exceed it. (I'm not sure I've ever seen a spec on the sync current limit; only a requirement to use low voltage flash triggers.) Maybe one of our flash gurus knows for your camera.

Flash mode: I think with this scheme each flash has to be in manual mode. A V6II in Tx mode could still control their power, I think.

Any other flash head with PC x-sync connection can also be run this way, but ac power compatibility will depend on the flash head design.

I was unable to determine the compatibility of the Turbo AC with 50-Hz mains, although usually with modern electronics, this is not a problem.


Note: I have paralleled 4 AF-500FTZ flashes to my 645N using the 5P cables. The 5P connectors at the flashes mirror the hot shoe contacts. There was no difficulty flashing them together, and in this unique case, operating all of them in old-style TTL mode.
That's a lot to take in and I'll do my research on that.

Currently I am swaying to purchasing two AD200 Pro's and ADB2 Bracket, this way I can do the group shots by separating the AD200's if need be, as well as being less hazardous for kids tripping over wires etc. The key modifier a Westcott 7ft umbrella with diffusion.

A V6ii (multi firmware) with an Xpro-P to trigger the AD200's, I think that will work, failing that I use just an Xpro-P and get the RF60x's to be optical triggered. Still sussing this all out and nothing has actually been added to the cart yet.
07-25-2019, 02:23 AM - 1 Like   #13
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One thing what is great with those studio strobes is that they are quite ’cheap’ for power what they offer. You’ll need to invest for good rigid stands anyway and strapping and taping cord down is one solution, it takes little time thou. One can not have too much of power. Too little, yes.

I did buy Elinchrome ranger Quadra 2 flashead combo and while it has been great Now I’d like to have third flash, more light shapers(good rotalux quality). Simple trigger won’t do anymore, but there is also new trigger from elinchrome. Think about where you are going with your set. Are you going to get 1,2,3 or more of those flashes in future? I don’t mind being ’stuck’ with Elinchrome

Side note to here would be that those AD 200 lights were not there when I got my set. I propably would have got those, or AD 400 instead. You can put those in any light shaper. Having battery is great. Remembering to check if it is loaded and or all of them is other thing. Good thing about those AD 200 would be that you could replace your RX60 with them if you wanted to

Oh and good stands is essential for big lights. Avenger c-stand with arm or so. I have also smaller one, but rarely use it because it falls over so easy.

Last edited by repaap; 07-25-2019 at 03:22 AM.
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