The 8 Advantages of Using Speedlites vs Studio Strobes #Strobist
I am a #Speedlite #Strobist. Some of my heroes are Joe McNally, David Hobby, and Dave Black.
I’ve owned studio strobes for the past 8 years or so. Currently I own four White Lightning x3200s, and an Alien Bee ring flash with the MoonUnit modifier. I also own many softboxes, PocketWizards, sync cords, power cords, shot bags, and everything else one needs to use studio strobes well.
In the last year I have been migrating away from using studio strobes and toward exclusively using Canon Speedlites w RadioPopper triggers. Here’s why.
- Like the Einsteins, Speedlite flash duration is extremely fast (courtesy of their thyristor / igbt capacitors) and thus much better at freezing action than studio strobes.
- Unlike Einsteins or any studio strobe, not only is my flash duration very fast, but my shutter speed can be as fast as 1/8000 of a second. While useful for freezing action, fast shutter speed is even more useful at darkening ambient light, without closing down aperture to f/16 or f/22, thereby requiring much less power from lights. I can darken the environment by 1 or 2 stops and keep my aperture at f/4.5 – f/5.6, which is plenty deep for full focus on my subjects, while maintaining great bokeh.
- Unlike my bulky heavy studio strobes, I can quickly put many Speedlites in many places. No c-stands, no power cords, no off-camera batteries, no sync cords to get in the way. Rim lights. Side kickers. Snooted bump light on subjects’ faces, etc.
- As primarily a wedding photographer I combine and then separate my lights throughout the day, something not possible with big studio strobes. For example, during big formal portrait sessions I gang up my two foursquares into an eighsquare behind an umbrella for gorgeous light at f/11 strong enough to light groups of 30 or 50 w everyone in focus.
- At the reception I separate my lights and put four or five individual Speedlites all around large hotel ballrooms allowing me to “raise the volume” of the whole room, for a much more professional look than typical on-camera flash phoophed off walls or ceilings one sees from many wedding photographers where the whole room is dark and only the near subjects are lit.
- With RadioPopper PXs, I have complete control of my Speedlites at all times. I can, and often do, switch between ettl and manual. For example I can change ratios on groups A B & C. Or I crank B up to 1/4 power and C down to 1/32 power. To save batteries I turn off C or B & C when I want to. And I do it all from the back of my camera.
- All of this power, flexibility and control fits inside one rolling camera bag and one or two very portable cheetah c-stands.
- I buy used Speedlites from ebay for about $150 each.