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Author Topic: Einstein 640 vs Profoto D1 {Shot with PhaseOne IQ 140}  (Read 8364 times)
rjkern
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« on: August 16, 2012, 10:24:22 AM »
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Long-time reader, first time poster.

Two monoblocks, head to head. Which do I keep? (Read: Time to geek out)

Ever since switching to medium format (MF) digital with the PhaseOne IQ 140, Ive taken a closer look at which strobe is going to be my ancillary light source, specifically for creative portraits

My search for a new strobe began with finding one with a short flash duration (1/1600th sync possible with PhaseOne 645DF w/ a leaf shutter and IQ digital back). So much of my creative work over the years has relied on off-camera lighting and has become a big part of my shooting style.

Here, I share all sorts of comparisons with MF digital using the V-Grip air and share 12 things to consider when choosing big lights:

http://www.kern-photo.com/index.php/2012/08/einstein-640-vs-profoto-d1-w-phaseone-iq-head-to-head
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R. J. Kern
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Cineski
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« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2012, 03:18:29 PM »
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One problem I've seen with the Einsteins (aside from the fact they're quite fragile and very un-ergonomic) is that the green/magenta shifts when dialing through the power range.  Have you found this issue?  PB himself stated a while back there was some shift.  When I've used the B600r or 7B I didn't experience this and of course the usability of the Profotos are a godsend.  I'd personally rather have a slight shift in blue/amber than green/magenta.  That said, the Einstein does keep accurate watch of the blue/amber.  But the overall design of the Einsteins leave a lot to be desired.  They just don't feel set worth and the mod mount is, I'm sorry to say a joke.  I had 4 Einsteins and I sold them in favor of renting Profotos.  I'm looking for a decent used B600 at some point but I just couldn't justify a lower price for its shortcomings.  Ad to that the battery pack for the Einstein has a very slow recycle.  Although 3 strobes for the price of one B600 is something to consider.
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rjkern
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« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2012, 09:38:35 PM »
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Good thoughts Smiley
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R. J. Kern
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ChristopherBarrett
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« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2012, 07:17:00 AM »
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I've had 10 D1s for about three years.  I love them.  I've had just a few go in for repair in that time.  Recently sold off 4 of the 500s to my assistant after I bought some HMI.  She loves them too.  For some reason, Profoto seems to be neglecting the Air Studio software, which used to be awesome... controlling 10 independent heads via laptop, wirelessly (it seemed too good to be true).

CB
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dizzyg44
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« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2012, 10:42:25 AM »
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I should go back and do some more thorough testing, but with my Einsteins even at full power, using the CyberSync transmitter/receivers I've had no issues syncing up to 1/1600th.  No light loss or anything.

I'm sure I'd have issues with the ABR800 ring flash though, it's duration at full power isn't the greatest but a ring flash isn't really a go to light for high speed shots anyways so fairly moot.
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FredBGG
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« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2012, 11:50:49 AM »
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A few thoughts on studio and location strobes.

SAFETY.

I would not use an Alien Bee or any flash system that does not have a pyrex dome covering both
flash tube and modelling light.

So often I see photographers using strobes close to the subject with no SOLID protection over the flash tube.

An exploding tube and send shards of glass flying and through softboxes.

Flash tubes for the most part have a deliberate fracture line at the base to avoid tube explosion.
Sometimes this fails.

I have heads with both cleat and frosted Pyrex tube covers.



I do have a few heads without them, but only for use in strong light modifiers like the Elinchrom SL35

A second issue often ignored is pilot light and flash similarity.

With many flash systems the pilot light is not close enough to the light quality/geometry of the flash tube.
Not a big deal with diffuser type light modifiers, but it is an issue with specular light modifiers like fresnel lens spots.
Shadow sharpness and specular reflections can be totally different.

For example Broncolor heads used in the Flooter spot will cast crisp reflections of a completely different nature
to that the flash tube casts. No problem with the Elinchrom SL35 and Elinchrom heads.

Using a frosted pyrex dome does help reduce this issue, but it takes specularity away.

This is particularly important when shooting on location when it's a bit darker as bugs are known to fly into light sources.
A nice fat moth can blow a tube spraying moth guts and pyrex flash tube shards at you model.

I can just imagine a court case. Soon to be bride disfigured by exploding flash tube.

Another important issue to me is twin tube head designs.

As far as I know most twin head flash tube designs use two arch tubes side by side.
This effectively produces two light sources when used on a specular light modifier.

This results in nasty looking quality when used direct or with a focusing spot or fresnel.

profoto uses two tubes like this side by side:



same as Broncolor:


Also notice the poor design of this heads pyrex protection. While it protects the tubes, it is open at the front and in
a sense is somewhat of a shot gun. An exploding tube will send all shards that leave the head forward.

Elinchrom on the other hand uses two flash tubes that are sort of wrapped over each other producing a nice clean single
light source.



You can also see the two "zits" on the twin Elinchrom flash tubes that are there to "fail" and pop before the tube explodes
if the tube were to degrade.

The light that the Twin tube and the SL35 produces is really nice:


Shown here with a monolight.



Here is what comes out of the SL35....



« Last Edit: August 23, 2012, 12:14:17 PM by FredBGG » Logged
FredBGG
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« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2012, 12:08:03 PM »
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What is also very important to know is that a failing flash tube can explode even after being turned off.
A failing tube can end up having very high pressure inside.
This is very very rare, but it is advisable IMO to keep tubes under a pyrex dome.
Also if you are going to take a close look at your flash tubes do so with proper eye protection.

Here is a video if a projector arch tube spontaneously blowing up.... and the results..
Keep in mind that a strobe has higher pressures for brief moments.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVpD8SWzKFM

It is smart to stay away from cheap strobes with cheap tubes.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2012, 12:44:18 PM by FredBGG » Logged
David Eichler
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« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2012, 06:42:32 PM »
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One problem I've seen with the Einsteins (aside from the fact they're quite fragile and very un-ergonomic) is that the green/magenta shifts when dialing through the power range.  Have you found this issue?  PB himself stated a while back there was some shift.  When I've used the B600r or 7B I didn't experience this and of course the usability of the Profotos are a godsend.  I'd personally rather have a slight shift in blue/amber than green/magenta.  That said, the Einstein does keep accurate watch of the blue/amber.  But the overall design of the Einsteins leave a lot to be desired.  They just don't feel set worth and the mod mount is, I'm sorry to say a joke.  I had 4 Einsteins and I sold them in favor of renting Profotos.  I'm looking for a decent used B600 at some point but I just couldn't justify a lower price for its shortcomings.  Ad to that the battery pack for the Einstein has a very slow recycle.  Although 3 strobes for the price of one B600 is something to consider.

What type of photography do you do? I do architectural and interior photography.  I know that every bit of consistency we can get is helpful, but is the kind of color shift you are suggesting likely to be a major issue for this kind of photography? Still, isn't digital control going be a lot better for consistency than the analog strobes people have used for years.

I don't find the ergonomics of the Einsteins to be so bad once you get used to them. And, even if one prefers to rent ProPhotos (because one doesn't have the budget to buy) for higher budget work, it seems to me that, at the price, owning a few Einsteins is still practical and useful. Also, at the price, even if they are a bit more fragile, the Einsteins are inexpensive and compact enough to buy extras for back up. Furthermore, while better built, the Profotos still have a plastic casing, which can crack on impact (though I suppose the Profoto is probably more likely to survive and keep working). Won't see that kind of thing with metal-cased strobes.
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FredBGG
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« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2012, 09:26:44 PM »
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Furthermore, while better built, the Profotos still have a plastic casing, which can crack on impact (though I suppose the Profoto is probably more likely to survive and keep working). Won't see that kind of thing with metal-cased strobes.

All plastic is not the same. I have both metal and "plastic elinchrom heads.
Both are quite resilient, but the metal ones show their age more.

Also good high quality plastic is much safer for a flash with very high internal voltages.

I would recommend good used Elinchrom flash packs over Alien Bee's etc.

Another important issue is transport safety. My Elinchrom AS3000 packs discharge internally when turned off.
Many other flashes keep charge even if you flash before shut down.

My first Elinchrom 202 packs form 25 years ago are still working in my assistants studio.
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TMARK
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« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2012, 10:05:15 AM »
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I'd go the extra cash and get the D1 airs over the Einsteins, if you make a living with them.

The only things worth paying for are lights and lenses.  The Einsteins are fine for most purposes, they are small and light. They have performance on bar with the Euro brands, BUT: try finding a Balcor mount accessory from a rental house.  Profoto is available everywhere, Bron and Eli in most places.  The safety issue is real.  I've had tubes blow in Profoto heads, once cracking the Pyrex dome. 

I like Profoto because the accessory mounting system provides lots of variation in light from even the standard reflector and umbrellas.  I think Bron is really great, while Elinchrom has the best performance for the money and some unique features that really make them stand out.  The 3000AS packs are really fantastic.  If you are not in a high volume production setting the Einstein should be fine, just not as flexible (or as safe) as the Profoto, Eli or Bron. My most used location setup consisted of an Acute2 1200 and a 2400, plus a Honda generator.  The Acutes draw less power than the Pro7 packs, and won't kill old circuits, especially on slow recycle. 

I'd avoid Norman and Speedotron.  Bad experiences.  Speedotrons rewired my brain one or twice, gave me a "handshake" because the caps weren't discharged and their isn't enough insulation on the connectors. When I was assisting in the way back, we had Normans blow channels.  About a year ago we were shooting motion and the stills shooter showed up.  he was in a different room but the ready beep was being picked up on our audio, and he wouldn't wait until we were done to shoot or use hot lights.  He couldn't shut off the beep, either.  Then his Norman pack blew up, and I shot the stills with an our HMI's.

The other option for beginners (not for location) are some used Arri tungten Fresnels.  You need grip skills (and gloves) but you learn about light.  Beat up Arris can be had for nothing and skin tones are nicer than with strobes, in my opinion. 
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fredjeang
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« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2012, 01:00:56 PM »
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...and the stills shooter showed up.  he was in a different room but the ready beep was being picked up on our audio, and he wouldn't wait until we were done to shoot or use hot lights.  He couldn't shut off the beep, either.  

Sounds f.....g familiar to me !
It's incredible that even the Leicas in our digital age make noise and nobody seems to have read the Canon's user manual to enable the silent mode.
Even the mirrorless cameras are noisy and the most preocupating it seems that still shooters are just giving a damn if action is on. Amazing indeed!
Those are the kind of situations where I loose my calm (the other ones are the I.phones distractions) and better not be in the area of my fist range. Hit first, silence is back, talk later!

Beat up Arris can be had for nothing and skin tones are nicer than with strobes, in my opinion.  

IMO too
« Last Edit: August 24, 2012, 01:10:56 PM by fredjeang » Logged
Gandalf
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« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2012, 03:01:04 PM »
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I think ultimately it comes down to horses for courses, and we all tend to make the assumption that everyone's needs, preferences and experiences are the same as our own. I have never used the Einstein (or any Buff product), nor the D1, but if I had the budget for the D1 I don't think I would be using the Einsteins, and if my budget only allowed for Einsteins, I don't think I would beat myself up about the Profotos. Personally, I love Profoto gear -- especially the mount and modifiers. It is also out of my price range, so I settled on a combination of Hensel and Dynalite as a happy medium.

I would never consider Norman or Speedotron either, but that is only because they don't fit my needs. I have never had or seen a failure on on of those systems that I wouldn't consider abuse (which isn't to say I have never had a failure, just that we were working it HARD). There is a good chance that I will pick up an Alien Bee head with the VML because it seems like a good option on a head that is borderline disposable at about the same size and weight as a Norman 400b.

To me the choice between Profoto and Einstein is pretty clear: if you need long term durability and gear you know you can count on everyday, get the Profoto. If you need fast flash sync, some new and nifty technology, low cost, easy and inexpensive serviceability then buy the Einstein.
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billthecat
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« Reply #12 on: August 25, 2012, 12:21:02 AM »
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I just got an Einsten and it has a dome covering over the flash tube. Do you think that would protect models from potential shrapnel?

My Alien Bee's have fully exposed flash tubes that I usually bump with speed rings every time I swap a soft box. I didn't know the danger that I was in. I'll pay more attention.

Bill
« Last Edit: August 25, 2012, 06:14:07 AM by billthecat » Logged
fredjeang
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« Reply #13 on: August 25, 2012, 06:11:08 AM »
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I think that in a craft that is going
Multimedia on sets, the mutable bips
Are an option to take as an obligation
In mixed lightning config unless you're
Shooting making-of.

It would be way more simple in a 100%
Hot lights set but unfortunatly needs more
Power.
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LKaven
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« Reply #14 on: August 25, 2012, 02:17:30 PM »
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Does anyone know how well the Einsteins work with the Softlighter umbrellas?  My cheap monoblocks have the hole for the umbrella shaft too far from the center for a good fit, and it warps the umbrella. 
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gss
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« Reply #15 on: August 26, 2012, 05:01:25 AM »
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Elinchrom on the other hand uses two flash tubes that are sort of wrapped over each other producing a nice clean single
light source.



Small correction.  That should read used, not uses, as the only one they currently make does not have the roller-coaster flash tubes.
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Cineski
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« Reply #16 on: August 27, 2012, 12:43:07 PM »
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I do a lot of on-location portraits with mixed lighting.  The Einsteins aren't bad, but I did notice a slight shift in green/magenta which to be honest is annoying.  The reason I'd rather have a blue/yellow shift instead is because it's more pleasant looking.  The overall usability, in my opinion, is vastly better with a Profoto B600r vs the Einsteins.  they're just more set worthy, robust, easy to dial in under short time lines and under pressure and the mount on the Einsteins is horrible.  Ever have a light mod fall off in front of a client?  I did early on in my career when I was using an X1600.  It's dangerous and embarrassing.  Doesn't happen with Profoto.  But again, the price is there for the Einstein.  You can get 3 strobes with 3 batteries for $2200 vs 1 strobe for $2500 for the Profoto.  And why the Einsteins have that stupid flimsy feeling interface vs a simple, quality dial is just beyond me.  But alas, this is the same person who designed the ill-fated Zeus system.

I'm personally in the market for another personal strobe system for smaller jobs.  I'm again looking at a single Einstein with battery for these and to continue renting Profotos for bigger jobs.  I'd love to buy a Profoto but the more than doubling of the price is definitely a consideration.  There are used units but the newer units with the new battery chemistry are worth the upgrade if you're going to go for it.

What type of photography do you do? I do architectural and interior photography.  I know that every bit of consistency we can get is helpful, but is the kind of color shift you are suggesting likely to be a major issue for this kind of photography? Still, isn't digital control going be a lot better for consistency than the analog strobes people have used for years.

I don't find the ergonomics of the Einsteins to be so bad once you get used to them. And, even if one prefers to rent ProPhotos (because one doesn't have the budget to buy) for higher budget work, it seems to me that, at the price, owning a few Einsteins is still practical and useful. Also, at the price, even if they are a bit more fragile, the Einsteins are inexpensive and compact enough to buy extras for back up. Furthermore, while better built, the Profotos still have a plastic casing, which can crack on impact (though I suppose the Profoto is probably more likely to survive and keep working). Won't see that kind of thing with metal-cased strobes.
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colinm
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« Reply #17 on: August 27, 2012, 07:17:56 PM »
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There are used units but the newer units with the new battery chemistry are worth the upgrade if you're going to go for it.

Re: Profoto battery packs, don't forget the only thing needed to adapt an older pack to the new batteries is a new battery. The newer packs also have feature changes, but if your main goals are the improved battery performance and lighter weight, you can just slap a LiFe battery right in.
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Colin
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« Reply #18 on: August 28, 2012, 06:15:20 PM »
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As a professional for over 30 years I wouldn't be caught dead showing up for a job with anything made by PCB. The gear looks cheap, is inconsistent in the light produced and has a horrible mount. You can rationalize all day long if you're willing to make that compromise but you'll never convince me. With my Profoto Pro 6/7, Acute and D1 lights I know what I'll get and a nasty color shift will never be part of it.

And FWIW, Balcar improved their mount in the latter years. Offering anything today with their original mount is just lame.



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TMARK
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« Reply #19 on: August 28, 2012, 10:26:53 PM »
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No one cares what gear you use, at least in advertising, but modifiers falling off of strobes would be remembered. 

I went to a shoot a few months ago and the studio had Einsteins.  Photographer was shooting an Aptus 12 on a DF body.  I watched in Capture Pilot and noticed no strange color shifts.  It all seemed to just work.  That being said, my first real strobes were Balcars, and that mount sucks.  Its the worst thing going.  The extra bread for Profoto mount, even the old crappy CP compacts, would be worth it just to avoid that horrible Balcar mount.

To all the newbies, if you can't get a D1 Air set don't sweat it, get an Einstein or three and shoot your book.  When you get that above the line ad job, remember to rent Profoto or Bron so that a beauty dish doesn't hit someone in the face.  Least not me while I'm staring into Capture Pilot on my iPad.
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