Struggling between getting Alien Bees or Cheetah/Godox CL-180s

Discussion in 'Lighting Forum' started by 13thFloorPhotography, Jan 29, 2014.

  1. 13thFloorPhotography

    13thFloorPhotography Mu-43 Regular

    118
    Apr 24, 2013
    Los Angeles
    I am currently shopping around for a new light set for location shoots. Anyone have experience lugging around an AB800 or the Cheetah/Godox bare bulb products? I don't have a studio at home and will need a battery pack to shoot on location. I've shot with my Olympus fl-600r using a radio trigger, but feel limited with its output and recharge rate. As a micro 43 shooter, less is more or rather smaller is better, thus my attraction to the simple, yet elegant design of the Cheetah products. Am I missing something with my rational or should I just invest my money in a true monolight like the alien bees?

    I tend to work with individuals and couples in various conditions, whether mid-day or sunset. Thank you all in advance for chiming in
     
  2. Lisandra

    Lisandra Mu-43 Veteran

    234
    Nov 16, 2010
    I have experience with the alienbees, youre entering the realm of the way not portable. At least compared to now. They are powerful enough to outshine the sun, but the combination of ABs, tripods, battery packs and such require a rather large bag. I use them for studio now for the most part. i even began to hate carrying them around.

    heres an example with the alienbees. as you can see by the shadows, the sun was up high (noon) and the ABs from the right. I mettered for the sky to get that nice blue and the alienbees had no problem filling what was basically a black model. At high noon with average metering everything in the background was pure white. theres not a slider in the whole of lightroom that could bring that back.
    7185953338_b8aefc7fe4_b.

    Great right?
    Then we had to climb the 62 flight of stairs to get to the top of the structure we wanted to end the day in. That drained the love for the alienbees real fast. Instead, like i said in another post, I bought 4 yonguos 560III, 2 four flash holders, triggers, receivers and a whole assortment of modifiers. 3 of them are more than enough to overpower the noon sun even in the brightest of days

    9013943198_49c6236d0c_b.

    i also can move them around with one arm. Plus I can split them up for 2 or 3 light setups easy with color gels even, they fit anywhere.

    Split 4 ways
    11376452595_526dce5a23_o.

    Like you say, simpler is better. in all of the above I spent about 500$. There have been at least ten shoots where ive realized: "if i had my alienbees i couldnt have set up the way i did" and maybe only 1 where it was the other way around. The four flashes go in the same bag as my camera does. And all but one of my modifiers are collapsible. I am able to carry it all and im a dinky 110 pounds.
    if you dont find my samples all that appealing, look at the following photostream
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/elreyfoto/

    he does it with just 2 yonguos!!!
     
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  3. RamblinR

    RamblinR Mu-43 Top Veteran

    545
    Aug 16, 2012
    Sunshine Coast, Qld Australia
    Maria
    I think about powered lighting now and then and then realise I like the portability of flashes to much.
    Even in my home studio I don't have to worry about cords all over the floor.
    I recently purchased 4 YN560III's and the are easy to adjust when on a light stand and there will be a controller coming out for them soon which will allow you to control them manually from the camera!!!
     
  4. 13thFloorPhotography

    13thFloorPhotography Mu-43 Regular

    118
    Apr 24, 2013
    Los Angeles
    WOOOOW, thank you so much for taking the time to respond to my thread. I truly appreciate all the examples you've shown me. It really gives me confidence in getting Cheetah Lights because they are in theory twice if not 4 times stronger than speedlites (depending on the model 180 vs 360). You have a great eye and command with your lighting.

    I think what I appreciate most about your input is the mobility factor. For long shoots, I know that every pound hauled between locations can become tiresome.

    Were these great shots taken with a m43 camera? FANTASTIC WORK
     
  5. 0dBm

    0dBm Mu-43 Top Veteran

    859
    Jun 30, 2011
    Western United States
    I once carried those BIG, HEAVY lights for in-situ shoots as a much-younger man with ample strength and exuberance. Now I am a much-older man with fundamentally the same exuberance and strength; however, with much lesser DESIRE to waste my precious time lugging those same or similar devices when carrying lighter-weight flash units enable me to obtain virtually the same effect and result.
     
  6. Lisandra

    Lisandra Mu-43 Veteran

    234
    Nov 16, 2010
    Thank you for the kind words!!! yes, all of my professional work is with m43s cameras, and I have a 1dmk4 I could be using instead!!. I use a GH3, EM5, EM1 and the occasional gh2.

    yeah portability is the big problem with monolights. Placement is the other big issue. Ive put flashes (with bungee cords) on trees, behind tight furniture, on the grass besides couples, and an assortment of other dangerous places where i would never lay a monolight.
     
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  7. 13thFloorPhotography

    13thFloorPhotography Mu-43 Regular

    118
    Apr 24, 2013
    Los Angeles
    Thank you all for the feedback. You all have made my decision a thousand times easier. I am glad I deferred to my fellow m43 users first.

    OdBm - I cannot agree with you more. I would have no desire to carry more weight than I need to. I would rather shoot smarter not harder =).
     
  8. jmaher

    jmaher Mu-43 Regular

    51
    Jun 7, 2012
    Sarasota, FL
    Jim
    I have both. Alien Bees with their battery pack as well as an AD180 and the new V850. The Godox (or Cheetah)light work very well and are much more portable than the Alien Bees. They really serve different purposes and I would rather travel with the Godox lights.
     
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  9. 13thFloorPhotography

    13thFloorPhotography Mu-43 Regular

    118
    Apr 24, 2013
    Los Angeles
    Jhmaher - I was intrigued by the V850 as well. The cheetah/godox line is super appealing at the moment, especially with the proprietary transmitter/receiver. Are you happy with the V850?
     
  10. jmaher

    jmaher Mu-43 Regular

    51
    Jun 7, 2012
    Sarasota, FL
    Jim
    V850 worked great in a shoot I did yesterday. Three person award ceremony. Shot thru a Photix Softlighter. Plenty of power close up and recycled very fast. For a larger group the AD 180 would have been better. Both work with the same trigger so a natural pair.

    Jim
     
  11. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Jay
    I don't own either one right now and I'm new to location lighting, so this is just my armchair opinion.

    That said, I've been researching lights quite a bit lately and the Godox/Cheetah lights are high on my radar. For me the CL-360 holds more interest since it's around the same output as a B800, which offers some capabilities a speedlight (or pair of ganged speedlights) can't easily do - and in a very portable package. The Godox battery pack alone is very tempting because it can pull double duty powering Yongnuo and Nikon flash units (and Metz, if I end up later picking up a larger Metz TTL flash for m4/3).

    They're not really replacements for strobes like the AlienBees units, but for light and fast location shoots lugging lights, I know which one I'd rather be carrying around :tongue:
     
  12. 13thFloorPhotography

    13thFloorPhotography Mu-43 Regular

    118
    Apr 24, 2013
    Los Angeles
    jloden. I agree with you completely. There's a lot to say about having a unit that is portable and powerful. I think I will save up for the CL-360 as well. I recently purchased the Cheetah V850 as a "quick fix" for my on location shoot. It has more power than my Olympus fl600-r and will work perfectly with the cheetah triggers. Adjusting power remotely is a major plus.
     
  13. Just Jim

    Just Jim Mu-43 Top Veteran

    941
    Oct 20, 2011
    I have to disagree with Lisandra. One AB800 vs 3-4 flashes. Monolights all day for quality, and speed, and economy of space. AB's are small, light, and travel well. That goes for other comparable monolights.

    You will not get the set shot as quickly with flashes. There's increased complexity in rigging the lights, increased complexity in lighting the shot, increased absolute space requirement. You will need 3-4 stands minimum compared to 1 stand ( I really suggest 2 and a grip head for the way I do it, I've left using modifiers in favor of old school scrimming, and flagging). 3-4 modifiers, compared to 1, 3-4 trigger set up, 3-4 check those triggers (or cables, you will always need to have PC's just in case). And of course the 3-4, possibly 5 flashes if you need 4 flashes you should have 5. When you get to lighting the shot you will be now dealing with that can of worms to get predictable, and repeatable shots.

    <iframe src="https://www.flickr.com/photos/65464494@N05/12227318475/player/1e6962d188" height="800" width="640" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen></iframe>
    Here I used an ABR800 shot into a large diffusion scrim setting on a stand, simple shot that took about 2 minutes to set up, and if the natural light was more cooperative at this location just the scrim would have been fine. With the PCB's I can dial what In the power I need simply and cheaply with their triggers. One thing I don't particularly like about AB's is the reflectors are kind of cheap, but they are sure light, and cheap to replace!


    Mind you I love YN's but even on this particular day I had a YN560 with me, that I'll use for accents and such if I need to light backgrounds or something needs to be snooted. It totally flaked and failed couldn't get it to reliably trigger, so back in the bag it went. Eventually I got it home and the whole unit was fried... not sure what happened, that thing was a tank for years now. But hey they are a great value of a flash imo. I've rented photogenics, and those are great monolights, the overall quality of the Photogenic is better, but usability of PCB stuff is just great. Well, the Moon unit is a royal pain, worst $80 spent. (the specialty softbox for the ABR800, which led me down the road of how I do lighting now, and frankly it's so much easier across all ways of modifying light, natural flash, mono's etc) I've since added in a small AB as a back up. I can carry it all in one bag. Two lights are wrapped in scrims and silks. 2 Stands are bungeed to the bottom of the bag. I use small kupo c's that break down really easy, weight one stand with bag, throw extra gear in a weird home made sandbag thing on the other. vagabond on outside pockets. Think tank speed belt for holstering the camera, with think tank straps on the bag itself if I want to carry the camera in front of me, or for stowing in the vehicle.
     
  14. 13thFloorPhotography

    13thFloorPhotography Mu-43 Regular

    118
    Apr 24, 2013
    Los Angeles
    Hi, Jim:

    I most definitely appreciate your thoughts on the matter. I don't think I want to go with a multiple flash unit route, rather the bare bulb system. The absolute volume the lights will take up in my gear bag is essential, which is part of the reason why I want to go with the Cheetah CL-360. If I am not mistaken, the CL360 has the same power/WS as the AB800s. I really do like the PCB systems and do eventually plan on picking up an Einstein for in-studio work or locations where electrical outlets are readily available. I think the biggest problem with strobist work is the endless desire to have the perfect system...or set of systems. I appreciate your feedback and examples
     
  15. jmaher

    jmaher Mu-43 Regular

    51
    Jun 7, 2012
    Sarasota, FL
    Jim
    CL-360 is just a tiny bit less powerful than an AB800. AB's are great lights but even in a studio the Godox or Cheetah lights work very well. The battery they use is fantastic and you would be hard pressed to wear one our in a full day of shooting.
     
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  16. rboate

    rboate Mu-43 Rookie

    24
    Nov 6, 2012
    I have the Godox AD360 and 2 Godox V850s as well as a transmitter and 3 receivers. This setup is highly portable and allows the control of each flash individually from the transmitter. I am new to multi flash setups and just learning about flash ratios. I dont use tthe gear professionally but so far it is holding up well and I have about $1500 CDN invested in the lighting setup (lights, stands, modifiers etc)
     
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  17. 13thFloorPhotography

    13thFloorPhotography Mu-43 Regular

    118
    Apr 24, 2013
    Los Angeles
    I just got my two godox/cheetah v850s and boy am I impressed with the output, control, and overall ease of use. I am actually going to pull the trigger on the AD 360 this weekend. As much as I want to go with a PCB Einstein/AB, I think the portability of these lights for on sight work will be more pragmatic for my general needs. Do you mind posting some of your shots, rboate? I would love to see and get tips on lighting ratios/positioning.
     
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  18. JamieW

    JamieW Mu-43 Veteran

    260
    Oct 25, 2013
    Congrats on your new lights! Can't wait to see them in action.
     
  19. 13thFloorPhotography

    13thFloorPhotography Mu-43 Regular

    118
    Apr 24, 2013
    Los Angeles
    Side note. Jamie, your work is phenomenal. Looked at your site and blown away by your work. Bravo
     
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