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Any experience with Einstein lights and CyberSync Commander? (Considering buying)

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by tosvus, Dec 23, 2014.

  1. tosvus

    tosvus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    632
    Jan 4, 2014
    Hi,

    I'm looking to take my flash photography up a notch (I currently only have a Metz 54 mz4i with my gh3 and lx100). I have been researching strobe lights, and anything from Yongnuo flashes to cheaper strobe kits have popped up. However, the Einstein seems really good (albeit a bit expensive for a hobbyist, but then again, the amount I have invested in lenses...). My main reason for thinking of this though, is the Cybersync Commander - which I understand has a built in flash meter and will help me set the camera to the proper settings. I can see this being extremely useful, and did not see any other solutions in that price range (or less) that can do this? Obviously, this being M43, there is really no support in letting the camera call the shots (TTL) - unless I get a couple of Panasonic flashes.

    I'd love to hear some thoughts around this, and if you do know of other transmitters with built in flash meter, that would be great!

    Thanks!
     
  2. Just Jim

    Just Jim Mu-43 Top Veteran

    941
    Oct 20, 2011
    OK. I use Pack flashes circa mid to late 90's Norman's and Alien Bee's with dumb fire radio triggers. I meter with a Sekonic 358. I know the PCB CC has the built in meter, and I can somehow get it to work with the pack flashes, and Alien Bee's. But the Sekonic is too easy to use with either any system. I find I rarely would need any on camera control of the light, it just doesn't bother me to go to the mono-light or the pack to change the settings, it really only takes, at most, 15 seconds. Messing with the modifiers takes far longer in my experience, and no meter is going to get you around that. However if you think you'll stick with only PCB product. The CC is an easy choice, as you get the on camera control, meter, triggers at a great price that pairs with a great light. The modifiers are a bit cheap in build quality with PCB compared to the big boys that will charge hundreds for a softbox, but whatever, they perform just as well outside some VERY niche circumstances.
     
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  3. tosvus

    tosvus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    632
    Jan 4, 2014
    Thanks a lot for your reply! I agree that if I were to use the CC this way, it is important to standardize on PCB lights. I am just trying to think long term. One light, and it seems like overkill, but adding 2,3,4 down the road, it would be increasingly useful to have the CC control all this and help metering, I think. That said, I would really like to hear opinions on if there are other similar products, or if someone has experience with just using the built in Panasonic wireless and their flashes. (upside is that everything is TTL, downside is probably slower recycling, less power etc)
     
  4. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    Any experience with Einstein lights and CyberSync Commander? (Considering buy...

    If the Panasonic's are like the Olympus flashes, then they are infrared and line of sight only, which can be a problem.

    My understanding is that the Cactus triggers can do TTL with mu43 but I have seen two recent complaints here that ttl didn't work.

    Barry
     
  5. AlanU

    AlanU Mu-43 Veteran

    484
    May 2, 2012
    I'm assuming your using the einstein's for indoor studio? or are you considering using them for outdoor use as well.

    When your shooting indoors in a "studio" environment you'd want to shoot manual for consistency. TTL for studio work isn't going to keep every frame per frame with the same amount of light depending on contrast.

    The cybercommander is great way of controlling the lights as a hand held "remote control" I use my csxcv on the strobe as a receiver and cst as a transmitter on the hotshoe of the camera. The built in lightmeter does work but I typically use my sekonic light meter instead of the cyber commander unit.

    What is great about the Paul C buff product is the mini lithium battery packs. You can have a great combo for remote flash indoors and outdoors.

    The advantages of the Einstein is the low settings you can achieve in watt seconds. 2.5WS is great if you want to shoot shallow dof in an indoor shoot. Some other brands you must use ND filters to achieve shallow dof.

    I keep things simple with 3 lights and a 4th one for a spare. I think the Einstein's are great for a hobbyist but for more hardcore usage I do sometimes feel I should have gone the Elinchrom or profoto route. I'll have to say Einstein's are at the stage where its gone through most of the revisions to be a more solid product. In the beginning they had the modifier clamp mechanism bending and typical growing pains. It's a much more mature product now.

    Once you go into the world of strobes your in deep trouble.....actually your pockets will be hit hard since you'll be needing good quality light stands, and light modifiers..... from PLM's to 7, 5, 3foot octadomes you'll hit over a grand ++ $$$$$. You wont regret spending the money once you look at your results.
     
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  6. AlanU

    AlanU Mu-43 Veteran

    484
    May 2, 2012
    No cactus product supports TTL. I've used the Cactus V6 recently for a wedding and its a fantastic trigger system (manual) that you can adjust power remotely with many brands speedlights in manual mode. Physical dials are great for second nature quick adjustments on the fly.
     
  7. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    Http://www.cactus-image.com/v6.html
    They claim ttl pass through:
    "TTL pass-through with Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax, and Fujifilm via one single unit"

    Barry
     
  8. tosvus

    tosvus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    632
    Jan 4, 2014
    Thanks a lot! I am planning on it for Studio use initially, but possibly picking up a battery pack to use them outside at some point as well. Great point about low power setting so I can run shallow DoF. And yeah, it looks like it could get expensive ;)
     
  9. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    Clint
    There is a lot of difference between what you are looking at, almost for two different situations.

    Panasonic/Olympus & hotshoe flashes - very portable, battery sources are available almost everywhere, control from camera, (the IR wireless functions better than most people think), small, light weight, adaptable to many situations, limited to effectiveness in smaller softboxes, TTL, Auto, and HSS

    Entry cost for each hot shoe flash, stand, light modifier - $300 (if TTL is desired up that - depending) Metz, Olympus, Panasonic all up the stated cost.

    Einstein/Alien Bees 640ws - equal to about 11-15 hot shoe flashes, fairly portable but bulky, requires 110/220v or proprietary Li batteries, 1 weighs as much as 5 hot shoe flashes, requires external syncs, requires mounting on light stands or other substantial mount, Manual Only

    Entry cost for one off camera strobe, stand, light modifier - $1200 (depending)

    In-between these two are Quantum Q-flashes that has qTTL, Auto, but no HSS, equal to about 3-7 hotshoe flashes, and their own wireless transceiver/receivers to gain maximum capabilities. Less costly than Quantum are the Cheetah/Godox/Wistro CL-180/360 or AD-180/360 - but they are full manual yet has inexpensive wireless transceiver/receivers. Both require unique batteries.
    Entry cost for one off camera strobe, stand, light modifier - $650-1200 (depending)

    As far as I know the Cyber Commander is the only is the only transmitter with a flash meter. A couple of people I know that use Paul Buff gear on location use a CyberSync Transmitter on their camera and keep the Commander with them in a pocket or nearby.


    I suggest you start with the hot shoe flashes - It is amazing what you can do with them and if you progress to routinely needing more power, then hot shoe flashes will fill the quick, easy, very portable void of using Paul Buff gear if not needed.
     
  10. tosvus

    tosvus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    632
    Jan 4, 2014
    As far as I understand, the latest version of the Panasonic 360 has built in wifi, as does the GH3, but I have only seen this mentioned a couple of places. The GH3 manual is woefully lacking on flash information, though there is a setup menu for channels etc. (not sure if this could be accomplished by a series of pre flashes as well, or if this is a confirmation it does indeed do wifi, and one place it mentioned IR, so who knows).

    Apparently, Quantum is working on a TTL flash for M43, though I don't think it is out yet, and it will be pretty expensive as well. The video below shows a brief review of a pre-production version, but note the video is a year old at this point, and nothing out yet as far as I know.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lre-zBw71PA
     
  11. AlanU

    AlanU Mu-43 Veteran

    484
    May 2, 2012
    TTL pass through is for the speedlite flash on top of the transceiver when it sits ontop of the camera body. The remote flashes can only be manual mode and you can change power levels remotely. The great thing about the TTL passthrough is that you can shoot fill light with TTL and still have the remote flash for rim light etc. This cactus worked awesome during the first dance and dance floor.

    I guess i misunderstood what you were saying. Since the Cactus can be reflashed with new firmware hopefully this passthrough issue is solved. I was assuming your statement was that the remote flash was TTL......this is not the case.
     
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  12. AlanU

    AlanU Mu-43 Veteran

    484
    May 2, 2012
    Tosvus,

    I think in majority of the cases you'd be shooting f/5.6 and smaller apertures in a studio. You dont really need alot of flash power in a studio.

    What you will appreciate is the recycle times with a studio strobe vs speedlites. I use to use nikon sb28 all manually controlled with cybersync dummy triggers with CST trigger on camera. It was fine but I didn't feel the urge to buy nikon battery packs for extended use. Later I spent a pretty penny on an Elinchrom RX600 (1 strobe) in conjunction with my nikon's speedlights. That wasn't ideal so I gave my RX600 to my brother and purchased 4 Einstein's.

    Having the cybercommander in my pocket allows easy power level adjustments. You can reflash the cybercommander and einsteins with new firmware. I'll have to say the cybercommander works but man is it a clunky menu system.

    I was using Pocket wizard flex tt5's with AC3 with my canon speedlites for my 5dmk2 a while back. That worked but the misfires due to RF interference (noisy rf from canon speedlite) drove me nuts. Worst 1300 bucks I've ever spent in the history of buying camera gear. The only nice thing about the PW system is the AC3 has physical dials to change power levels. I bought Power MC2 recievers for my Einstein's so that I can use the flex TT5 w/ ac3 to adjust power. Even though I have all of this stuff I still prefer to use my cybercommander setup with my Einsteins.

    alienbee's have color shift issues but this isn't a big issue as long as you keep your strobes at the same power level throughout the entire photo shoot. The Alienbee b800 is a sweet spot. Indoors your not fighting sunlight so you can work with 320Ws with ease and have plenty juice. IIRC you can buy a receiver to change power levels with cybercommander but please research and dont take my words as facts.

    You can look into godox cl600 but iirc they require proprietary battery packs. Plenty of power for indoors and out (not all cases). Not a TTL product iirc.

    http://flashhavoc.com/godox-rs400p-rs600p-xenergizer-released/
     
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  13. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    OK, I misunderstood Cactus' literature. I see now that you're correct; they say "Cactus V6 does not transmit TTL information wirelessly".

    Thanks!
    Barry
     
  14. tosvus

    tosvus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    632
    Jan 4, 2014


    Thanks a lot for your detailed information Alan, it is very educational for me! :)

    Very good point about flash power (and recycling time), and to add to that, my home studio isn't big, nor will I have more than 1-2 people in the same shot, normally. Based on what you say, and my situation, I tend to agree with your b800 advice. I probably need to get two lights, so I'm considering adding a b400, or maybe a more crazy idea, is to add their ringlight (which is also 640w like the b800).I've seen some really nice results with that (though I hear it is a bit of a pain to mount with a camera). Einstein could be an option along with a battery pack when I am ready to take it outside.

    PS: I have started reading the Strobist blog that has a pretty good 101 (so far, what I have read is more showing using flash, but of course a lot is applicable). I do wonder if you have some quick tips on a fairly run of the mill 1 person portrait lighting set up, in terms of # of lights, position and relative power between each. I do have some experience with continuous lighting for video, but other than that, I have really only so far used on camera flash (be it a larger bounceable one), and for the most part used natural light.

    Thanks again! :)
     
  15. AlanU

    AlanU Mu-43 Veteran

    484
    May 2, 2012
    Tosvus,

    Please choose your lighting methodically. There's so much new stuff hitting the market these days. TTL in studio strobes is slowly evolving....however $$$$$.

    I'd suggest purchasing 3 lights or at least 2 strobes and a reflector. It all depends on what your trying to achieve visually. Google strobe studio setup and you'll get killer ideas on light configuration.

    From PLM umbrella's to shoot through umbrellas to gridded softboxes etc..lighting is alot of fun and can be frustrating if you dont achieve what you want.

    For indoor use you can even buy some really nice Elinchrom Dlites. warning......they tend to use 7mm shafts instead of typical 8mm shafts. If your wanting reasonably price decent gear the AlienBees are extremely functional.

    key, fill and rim/backlight is something you must experiment to achieve the look you want. For studio you dont want to really over power the rim light. You also dont want to over power key light or you'll have a "hot" overexposed face. I'm not expert in the studio so I wont preach false info. The selection of light modifiers also plays an important role in the look you want to create.

    I personally prefer using a beauty dish before buying a ring light. The light wraps around nicely with a beauty dish. You must have them close up and hopefully the subject has nice skin.

    You'll be entering a world with alot of variables. Regardless of what camera platform studio light with "ideal" lighting produces incredible results.

    As far as power is concerned having more power on tap is a nice to have but in most cases if your shooting with an M43 platform you dont have to really go beyond f/8 to get ALOT of dof. This will basically mean you dont need 640ws of juice for an m43. However if you going outdoors even 640WS can struggle if your intending to fight direct sunlight.

    Paul C buff softboxes are nothing to brag about. They are not that great in build. There's plenty of offshore made softboxes built more robust. I do like photoflex for good quality and reasonably priced. Picked up some 7 foot wescott shoot through umbrella's that are well built. Go to a camera shop and drool and make note of stitching and materials.

    Dont cheap out on lightstands and choose accessories wisely....have fun in your research....I can suggest some stuff along the way :)
     
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  16. tosvus

    tosvus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    632
    Jan 4, 2014
    Thanks a lot for more good input! I can see this is getting expensive, as just pricing out the lights I am thinking (for max versatility, and since I love the look of some of the ring-light stuff, I am thinking 1 x alienbees ring light + 1 x Einstein 640) for now, with the commander, receivers, a moon unit for the ring light (which converts it to a soft box of sorts), I'm looking at just over $1300. Then of course I need to think about umbrellas, soft boxes, lightstands etc as you mention, which will add some more. I will definitely look around elsewhere for these things first as you suggest.

    My reasoning for now thinking about these two particular units;
    -Ring Light gives a look that is great sometimes. Catch light in eyes is also nice sometimes, and lastly, with the Moonbox, it hopefully will look pretty similar to a Alienbees regular light with a softbox.
    -Einstein, more expensive than any AlienBees, but at least a bit offset by the fact it has a cheaper receiver. It has more power, and may be slightly more robust than the Alienbees (though I would still need to be careful). This should make it more suited outdoors, plus it has a lot more steps for dialing in power, and can go down to 2.5w which may be useful in a small studio with fast aperture.

    Until I decide to expand (probably with a AlienBees *something* and a Vagabond battery pack), I may try to once in a while incorporate my Metz flash - will have to see how that pans out.

    First point is to make sure I can swing this cost though - and by then I may have changed my mind and come up with a completely different approach :) I do hope I am ready to get *something* in the next month or so. Once I get it, I will post some impressions / pics for sure.
     
  17. AlanU

    AlanU Mu-43 Veteran

    484
    May 2, 2012
    Tosvus,

    Set your budget and choose your gear carefully. Once you get into a system it's going to be hard to sell it off for another.

    No one forces you to buy it all at once. I used my Einsteins with the cybersync cst and manually changed power settings for a while. You will be blown away how fast this stuff adds up. I went with Manfrotto stackable light stands (please buy excellent stands from the getgo) and for quick nasty setup I bought Mathew's reverse stands (robust version of manfrotto junk nano stands but with bigger foot print able to hold my 7 foot shootthrough no problems), softboxes, bowen's quick ring modified to take ocatadome rods and balcar inserts ...... oh my....list goes on!!!

    You can use a cybersync to trigger a speedlite as long as it has a sync port. However buying the CSRB is 69bucks so its gonna nickel dime you again.

    I have a kacey beauty dish with a diffuser panel that is able to go over the plastic dish. This dish is robust and does not dent. Beautiful wrap around light that has a different catchlight but more versatile than a ring light IMO. I can see your though process buying a ring light. I still feel theres alot more people going the beauty dish route instead of the ring light "look".

    Read, read, read.....studio lighting is fun but you'll see how it can be brutal on the wallet...more so for hobbyists.

    keep us posted....
     
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  18. Just Jim

    Just Jim Mu-43 Top Veteran

    941
    Oct 20, 2011
    A quick chime in on the ABR800. It's a great light, versatile, pops on the lens for when you want the ring light look and works great at short distances. Pops off the camera and onto a light stand or c stand super quick and can pop in a diffuser and grid for the beauty light look. But I use it with big old Canon, and I'm not sure it's suited for these smaller lenses as it would likely vignette because the lenses can't reach the opening. When I just hold my panny lenses to it, they fall about an 1" into the ABR which may be fine for the 42.5mm and up, but if your space is small that could be a problem.

    The vagabond battery packs are awesome, I suggest those for any moonlight you get if you plan on going outside with them.
     
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  19. tosvus

    tosvus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    632
    Jan 4, 2014
    Thanks, good points! It may not be a bad idea to either go with basic radio triggers, or even cable initially. Probably could use the experience in setting things manually in the beginning.. Yes, I won't cheap out on the stands :) and it does look like it could become a neverending obsession :D I will definitely look at the beauty dish as well!

    Thanks for your input on the ring light! That is certainly a concern I need to consider and investigate. I can probably find room in the house to work with the 42.5 or 35-100, but maybe not in a permanent location. I wonder if the 25 will be an issue though - I think I could find room to work with that in a permanent location, however as you say, it could be vignetting. I can probably get the specs of the ring and experiment a bit. 50mm ff equivalent could probably be somewhat recessed, but not sure how much. Thanks for the note on the vagabond packs as well - they do look very useful :)
     
  20. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    Have you thought about going for LED light panels? If I were starting up a lighting system again, I'd be seriously considering these. They are fully daylight calibrated, have adjustable power, produce no heat, are lightweight, run off 12V (internal and/or external), produce copious quantities of light and, best of all, allow you to 'see' your lighting before shooting.
     
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