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What's More Powerful Than A SB-900 And More Portable Than An Alienbee?

Published: 12/12/2016
By: larry

n-flashZoltan in Miami asks:

I am using and SB-800 and an SB-900 to get my job done and when they are not powerful enough I use the Alienbee 1600.

I photograph many luxury condos with direct ocean view so for me the the interior light needs to balance the intense exterior light (Miami).

Do you know of any light which is more powerful then the SB-900 but more portable then the Alienbee? I often use the Alienbee with the vagabond Mini powerpack on my shoulder so I don't have to search for outlets but the setup is heavy for me.

The N-Flash also called the NiceFoto is fairly popular with real estate photographers because of it is powerful and portable. Here is some info on the N-Flash:

  1. Available on Amazon.
  2. YouTube video on N-Flash.
  3. Previous PFRE article on N-Flash.

Anyone have any other suggestions for Zoltan?

13 comments on “What's More Powerful Than A SB-900 And More Portable Than An Alienbee?”

  1. Good choices are the xplor 600 and Rovelight 600, both from adorama. They'll both have the built in battery so you can ditch the vagabond.

    If it is going to be on a lightstand the majority of the time you can consider a streaklight 360, from adorama as well. You lose about a stop with this choice compared to the above two options. Its battery is separated which will make it easier to raise up on a lightstand, but I'd guess these are more portable than an alien bee and vagabond.

    I believe every one of those lights is a rebranded version, but I'd go with adorama's versions just because of their warranty and support.

    Oh, and the king of these portable lights is profoto's B1 of course.

  2. Zoltan,
    The portable flash system I sometimes use, which has been extremely reliable, pro quality and gives excellent power, is the Lumedyne 200 ws system (available in 400 & 800ws), and, the head is very light weight. I love the quality of the long bare bulb, especially in a soft box. besides for real estate, I have been using it as my portable studio flash system, for events and great for on location portraits. the downside, is that it is pricy. If you shoot may subjects, like events and portraits, consider it a great investment. I have a lot of Elinchrom studio and location lighting, but find, that my Lumedyne system, has been replacing my hi end strobes.

  3. The other side : a faster flash sync. Old CCD Nikons D40/D50/D70s are 1/500 (unlimited with a dumb flash/remote, 1/1000 is the duration of a full blast) and every flash is automatically two (four) times more powerful. Learn 6MP is plenty, get a D40 (best screen) for $100 and have a secret trick. Or medium format with leaf shutter lenses.

  4. Thank you Andrew, I just started watching your courses and I am very excited to learn some new tricks. 🙂
    Thank you Eric, I will look into them.
    Thank you Marc, great idea. Though I don't think that I will go backwards from my D750 but the concept is great. As for megapixels, I think you are right. I never give my clinets higher than 12mp files but they would probably be just as well of as with the 6mp. Morning/evening shots are great but would not work to well for me. I work in Miami when the bright sun is a gerat selling point so i need that on my images whenever possible. Plus I need the whole day to be able to satisfy the demand. 🙂
    Thank you All! 🙂

  5. As my style and shooting have improved I have pretty much ditched speedlights in favor of the Nflash. I now light composite with it and has made my time on site a lot faster. It's power and spread are fantastic.

  6. I wanted more light for shooting big rooms, so got the Rovelight 600 and attached a pistol grip so that I could carry it around during a shoot to flash big rooms. Here are some observations about the $359 RL600 versus a $59 yn560. For better or worse, I opted not to get the n flash because I had read reviews complaining about their customer service.

    RL600 Cons
    1. Not that much brighter at the center than a flash.
    The Rovelight strobe produces 600ws, as advertised. My yn560 (zoomed to 50mm) produces 200ws at the center of the light beam. So, at the center of the beam anyway, the RL600 produces no more light than 3 yn560's. Yet, at 5.5 pounds, the RL600 is a lot heavier. Why, I wondered, not just get 3 yn560's and put them on a flash bracket?
    2. Light beam difficult to control.
    The RL600 produces a large circle of light from a large bulb. There is no zoom, like there is on flashes. I'm getting more into controlling the light, and it's harder with the RL600. I added some fresnel lenses and a homemade snoot, but the light is still hard to direct and control.
    3. Not as flexible as multiple flashes.
    Back to the comparison with the 3 yn560's, if you have multiple flashes, you can point them in different directions and place them in different places in the room. Not so with the RL600.

    RL600 Pros
    1. The RL600 is still good for the purpose I bought it for, lighting large areas. Even though the beam is only 3x as bright as a yn560 at the center of the beam, the beam from the rl600 is much bigger, which translates into more light for the shot.
    2, The RL600 comes with a trigger that can adjust the brightness of the flash, unlike the yn560's.

    The 2 kinds of flashes are different tools for different needs. If the yn560 is a garden hose, the rl600 is a fire hose.

    Now, part of the walk through is to check out the sizes of the rooms. If all the rooms are, say, under 20 feet on the long side, I leave the RL600 in the car. For big rooms, I'm glad I have the RL600. Last week, I used the RL600 to light an adjacent room (where I just wanted to light the room), and a couple yn560's to light the room I was in (where I wanted to control the light more).

  7. I’m hoping somebody can help me understand the logic behind using these NiceFoto flashes. The guide number on their flash is 68 and there are several on camera flashes that are lower priced, more portable, and have a higher GN. The Yongnuo 685 had GN of 197, is smaller, lighter, can be used with a TTL system or manual, and is $105. When this was discussed last time, I contacted Cowboy Studio and asked for an explanation to justify buying their product. The only thing they could tell me was that it was a broader light and I’d see a difference if I bought one. That sales pitch did not get any money out of my wallet.

    When I look at the NiceFoto flash, it looks larger and more powerful and the reviews are pretty positive, yet the specs don’t support the investment. Can somebody tell me if/where my logic is going wrong?

  8. @Gary-
    Yeah, I did the same thing! The N-flash is listed in meters, whereas the YN is listed in feet. Ends up being 223 for the N-Flash. The thing is powerful, that's for sure!

  9. I bought the N-Flash based on all the positive feedback from our friends here but ti my disappointment the light only works in full, half, 1/4...down to 1/32. For me the lack of fine tuning output is a bummer. I got used to Paul C Buff's Alienbee lights where I can fine tune my light by 1/10th of the stop increments.
    Now I think I might have to keep looking for a better alternative. 🙁

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