Alien Bees are far the best lights in their category. Apparently it annoys Elinchrom users ( see above )who paid much more for their lights, which in many aspects are inferior to Alien Bees. I originally used Alien Bees than moved to different lights, that to different ones again. But ABs spoil their users, You would have to move way far in the price in order to get the same level of satisfaction. The lights in the price range and even more expensive look and feel and work much worse. The Elinchrom DLites, even their BX series feel so cheap in comparison, and they do break often. Recycle time is longer, flash duration is way longer and you pay premium for this. Oh by the way Elinchrom DLites show the color shift too. Most lights tend to show more warm colors when powering down. How much is the color shift of ABs ? If you measure the color at 1/2 of the power than at the full power it would be about 150K colder and at 1/16 about 200K warmer. What is 200K ? For your information a human eye cannot distinguish 200K difference when looking at one photo then another. So do not be fooled by Elinchrom fans. Check eBay. Used Alien Bees go as much as 90% of their full price, no other brand including Elinchroms can brag by that. Thousand of users cannot be wrong.
The same price range as Elinchroms? Are you kidding? For the price of 2 400W/sec Elinchrom heads ($1600 here on Amazon) I got and entire studio package which included 4 heads (2x 400W/sec, 2x 800W/sec) 2 folding softboxes (1x medium, 1x large), a set of 6 gel holders, LiteMod barndoors, the LiteMod system which allows for mutiple attachments for light modifiers, And a Vagabond II portable power system! All this for $1629.35 direct from thier website. The price also includes shipping! As for the color balance, if you white balance your camera after adjusting the lights it becomes a non-issue.
This is completely accurate about the color shift. All strobes will color shift unless they use a combination of two technologies to cut flash duration tails off. And also, you can take very "pro" shots with ABs all day long. The fact that quality light is getting cheaper pisses those who have thousands of dollars in lighting system because the lighting world becomes more accessible to beginning photographers. In other words, if you had 10, 000 dollars in strobe equipment, you were a "pro." So now you can invest 3, 000 dollars into equipment and get nearly the same results depending on the size of your set.
I have 3 bees and love em. For the price, they can't be beat. The only time you would really need to worry about inconsistent light output would be if you were shooting a catalog or something like that. But I'm sure you'd be renting profoto if that was the case. Besides, you can always fix white balance in post.
I use 2 Alien Bees AB 800's I've had for about 3 years and while I am happy with them, I have noticed that of late, the color shift is hardly "imperceptible" in a studio shoot. So regardless of what Paul Buff Customer Service says, real life is where it counts.
I will have shots that have good white balance, then get a slew of bluish shots, followed by good white balance, etc.. I generally just ignore it and keep shooting as long as the exposure is good.
The thing is, it is a relatively easy fix in post.
We also use these things on location for weddings. Mostly outdoors on sunny days for formal shots so people can stand with their backs to the sun and we can still get nice even exposures throughout. I don't notice any color shifting in that context, though it could be because we're usually hiking up the power.
All in all, I'd buy more Alien Bees. They cost less than Speedlights.
AB 1600 vs Elinchrom D = AB wins. Einstein vs Elinchrom Pro/Ranger = Matter of opinion (well not to your pocket but Elinchrom does have higher available power for when you have to shoot @ f16). Skyport vs Cybersync = no contest. Cybersync is where ALL big light control should be headed.
People who drive Audi wagons will hate on your CRV all day... Just keep rollin.
The white balance issue may be partially resolved with the new Einstein heads from Alien Bees. The marketing blurb shows the range of the Einstein to be greater (9 f-stops!) than competing brands, including Profoto, but also includes a color shift graph that shows the Einstein does pretty well against the super high priced brands.
All this for basically the cost of a (Canon) 580II (just under $500).
I also want somewhat light weight heads, as I plan on shooting some photos with the (main) light on a boom.
I'm still shopping for my first studio stuff, but Alien Bees definitely caught my attention.
200k is minimal for what you are getting from the light elsewhere, but as a photographic retoucher for hundreds of photographers, 200k is big and noticeable. Not big enough to make any large jump away from AB's; they are quite awesome for their price, and there are so many accessories for AB's that give a great edge over generics you find at cowboy studio or something like that. The build is nice, and any little issue of 200k(+-) is easy to work with just with custom WB or post.
I own 3-1600s, and love them. They are light enough, powerful enough and affordable enough to go on location and out power the sun from more than 15 feet. They are like Timex watches, I drop them and they keep on ticking. Quick change reflectors, PLMs. I've got 2 Vagabond portable power units, but now love those mini-Vagabonds - which I attach directly to the light stands. I used to use Bowens in studio, Alien Bees on location - but, I now use ABs for both. They offer fantastic service. When I had a Vagabond issue, they shipped a replacement (free) overnight. When I destroyed a Vagabond by getting saltwater in it, they replaced the inverter/charger under warranty. They didn't have to do that, the damage was my own fault. Bottom line is that Paul C. Buff makes a great product, and backs their product with excellent customer service.