Alienbees Ringflash ABR800 Reviews?

PictureX Photo Booth
I tried to search for information on this, but not sure what I am doing wrong as every search I try comes up with no results.



Anyway, I want to replace my big, bulky Bowen Gemini 500 strobe light that I use for my photo booth now with something much more compact. I have read a lot on these forums about the Alienbees B400's and how much people like them for the price, but I think I decided I want the specific look you get from a ring light. Does anyone here use the ABR800 for their photo booth and care to shed some light (pun fully intended!) on how well they work for a photo booth? A couple things I would love to get insight on:



I know they have a model light, but do you use any other light sources with the ringflash?



Mine is an open air concept booth and sometimes has large groups. Does the ABR800 have a good range to light larger groups somewhat evenly?



Do you use it with or without a "moon unit" difuser? why either way?



Reliable??? Is there good recycle time on the flash without having misfires? bulbs need to be replaced often? and just overall mechanically reliable?



I know it's not a ton to invest, but I don't have money to play with right now so would like to make a good, informed decision before I buy!



Thanks All!

Comments

  • 26 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • LorneChesal
    @PictureX Photo Booth wrote:Mine is an open air concept booth and sometimes has large groups. Does the ABR800 have a good range to light larger groups somewhat evenly?



    Do you use it with or without a "moon unit" difuser? why either way?



    Reliable??? Is there good recycle time on the flash without having misfires? bulbs need to be replaced often? and just overall mechanically reliable?





    I do not use a ringflash in my booth, but have used one for other photography.



    The ringflash's core strength IS NOT for lighting a group. It will do it of course, but due to the increased distance (assuming you move the camera back for groups) from the subject, it's distinctive look may be diminished. It will be even as there are equal amounts of light from all around the lens. I would suggest the 30" moon unit is too big for use in a booth. The distance between the lens and where your subjects see themselves will be greater, so your guests will not be "looking at" the camera. this bothers most boothers. Just impractical. That would also soften the light enough to again. alter the distinctive sharpness that ringflash is known for.



    Buff units are dependable, as you can find with a Google search. Lots of positive feedback about just that. This unit recycles fast as it actually uses 2 flash tubes and you will likely be on 1/8 or 1/16 power in use.



    Check out Minh's site, as he uses this ringflash. >> http://instaphotobooth.com/gallery/
  • PictureX Photo Booth
    @LorneChesal wrote:

    The ringflash's core strength IS NOT for lighting a group. It will do it of course, but due to the increased distance (assuming you move the camera back for groups) from the subject, it's distinctive look may be diminished. It will be even as there are equal amounts of light from all around the lens. I would suggest the 30" moon unit is too big for use in a booth. The distance between the lens and where your subjects see themselves will be greater, so your guests will not be "looking at" the camera. this bothers most boothers. Just impractical. That would also soften the light enough to again. alter the distinctive sharpness that ringflash is known for.



    Buff units are dependable, as you can find with a Google search. Lots of positive feedback about just that. This unit recycles fast as it actually uses 2 flash tubes and you will likely be on 1/8 or 1/16 power in use.



    Check out Minh's site, as he uses this ringflash. >> http://instaphotobooth.com/gallery/



    Thank you for your input! Typically I have the regular couples to about 5 people per photo, but because of the open air concept, I can accommodate groups. I pull the lens back to fit groups as I use a 15 - 85mm. I am looking for the distinct ring flash look for my typical shots (2 - 5 people) but want something that won't look too bad if I get a large group in also. (I think the most people I have had in the booth was 30!)



    I just looked into the moon unit a bit more after I posted and realized the actual size. YES too big for a booth and I am sure we all struggle with the "looking into the camera" problem here!



    Thank you for the link to Minh's site. That's exactly the look I am going for.



    Minh, If you are around, I would love some feedback from you. Any insight to help with any challenges the ABR 800 might pose?



    thanks!
  • TaylorHPB
    Love our ABR800's. We use them with the giant moon unit, helps diminish shadows and looks pretty cool. They're really annoying to fit onto the flash though, and not so handy in wind outdoors.



    Flash works well enough for groups, but most of my shots are 2-4 people. Powerful enough to use easily outside at night, don't need any additional lighting whatsoever. And they're absolutely rugged and reliable.
  • TaylorHPB
    Sample of our work. This was indoors with moon unit.
  • PictureX Photo Booth
    Thanks for the sample TaylorHPB :) It does still have a very distinct look with the moon unit. It lights this group just fine too and I am happy to hear your review of them being rugged and reliable! I am guessing you don't have a live display for the people in the booth to see themselves? If you do, let me know how that works with the moon unit as they are quite big!
  • TaylorHPB
    Thanks all!



    We have our camera and our 22" monitor on tripods, kind of a studio vibe. We use a big monitor because we also do an online gallery package without printing so they need the instant gratification of seeing it big. I'm about to start building some kind of cabinet for when we do printing. Basically will be the monitor on a stand enclosed in a cabinet with printer/laptop, and camera on top with a telescoping mount.



    ETA: I can't imagine doing booths without manually adjusting the height and angle of the camera for almost every group. I'm kind of a perfectionist and I need my camera accessible! Haha.
  • Mike
    I think you'll find it tiresome to make that adjust vertically 150 or more times event. Not too mention the physical wear caused by doing so
  • PictureX Photo Booth
    @TaylorHPB wrote:Thanks all!



    We have our camera and our 22" monitor on tripods, kind of a studio vibe. We use a big monitor because we also do an online gallery package without printing so they need the instant gratification of seeing it big. I'm about to start building some kind of cabinet for when we do printing. Basically will be the monitor on a stand enclosed in a cabinet with printer/laptop, and camera on top with a telescoping mount.



    ETA: I can't imagine doing booths without manually adjusting the height and angle of the camera for almost every group. I'm kind of a perfectionist and I need my camera accessible! Haha.





    I feel exactly the same way and it's the reason I haven't went ahead and built an enclosure for my booth yet. I also adjust the camera for different groups and hights..... and use a 32 inch TV screen as my 'monitor' (YES I carry that monster with me to every gig that I do! You should see the looks I sometimes get when I walk into a venue in a dress, heels and carrying a 32 inch TV...) and offer digital packages with no on-site printing so also feel the large screen helps with the instant gratification. One of my selling features is that I am like a portable, professional photography studio and I like to be able to adjust the camera and make each picture perfect for my guests.



    I wonder if a ring flash will inhibit my access to the lens too much. hhmmm.....
  • LorneChesal
    @TaylorHPB wrote:ETA: I can't imagine doing booths without manually adjusting the height and angle of the camera for almost every group. I'm kind of a perfectionist and I need my camera accessible! Haha.

    This too shall pass.



    I am also a photographer who likes control. I got over it.



    I market that I can get 50-60 trips an hour and that would be very challenging with uber-controlling the framing on every shot. Forget the fact that guests don't listen all that much.



    I "get" gigs because of my throughput. I don't "lose" gigs because a session or two are composed poorly.



    Perhaps other boothers can chime in on "letting go of some control." IMO it really is an important topic and maybe deserves it's own thread.
  • Unknown
    I second Lorne's comment. If you want some control get a remote tilt so you can at lest adjust the framing in one direction. Bescor makes a nice one for about $150 (because you buy the power supply separate), check B&H or Adorama online for pricing.
  • TaylorHPB
    How do you do kids, people in wheelchairs, etc? I've been manually adjusting for my 150+ booths over the last couple years, it's second nature to me now.
  • TaylorHPB
    @PictureX Photo Booth wrote:

    I wonder if a ring flash will inhibit my access to the lens too much. hhmmm.....



    I'm still able to reach in to adjust the zoom. Manually focusing is out of the question but I wouldn't bother with that anyway.
  • TaylorHPB
    @mugshots wrote:I second Lorne's comment. If you want some control get a remote tilt so you can at lest adjust the framing in one direction. Bescor makes a nice one for about $150 (because you buy the power supply separate), check B&H or Adorama online for pricing.



    I've thought about it, they're very cool. Max weight is 5, 6 lbs? I'm right at the max with my ring flash, not sure if it would be safe.
  • PictureX Photo Booth
    @TaylorHPB wrote:@PictureX Photo Booth wrote:

    I wonder if a ring flash will inhibit my access to the lens too much. hhmmm.....



    I'm still able to reach in to adjust the zoom. Manually focusing is out of the question but I wouldn't bother with that anyway.





    awesome, thanks! do you use the moon unit for every gig? I am just wondering how that works as it is quite big. the screen doesn't affect your light when using it at all?
  • SetApart4Christ
    I have the ABR800 and Love it. At some point I plan to get the Moon Unit for my studio work, but so far it has worked amazingly well using the umbrella's I've already got. So far it has been worth every penny I've paid for it.
  • Minh
    my ring flash is very powerful. i have to use it on the lowest power all the time.. and i don't like how you can't manage the model lamp without tracking (following) the same power for the flash. they're connected. The bulbs for model lamp are stupid. 4 of them are connected, and the other 4 are connected. if one goes out, you have to figure out which of the 4 is the one that's gone out. not fun replacing. very frustrating actually.



    When in big groups, the front will have a lot more light then it fades darker to the back.. but that's any flash really =



    you can't put a tilt in there, and if you use the 18mm on your camera lens, sometimes you can see the black in the corners. so i have to use it around the 20-22mm zoom.



    its heavy, expensive, and takes up a lot of room.. you definitely can't have a back up for that
  • PictureX Photo Booth
    Thanks for the info Minh! So i am guessing you wouldn't recommend the ABR800 then. sigh. I was almost ready to buy it. The replacment of the bulbs seems like it would be very frustrating.



    You did say that it is heavy and takes up a lot of room, which I find surprising. I thought they were pretty light and the whole reason for me looking into this is to save space and cut down on weight. I use a Bowen Gemini light right now and that really is big, bulky and not needed. I could get a smaller monolight, but i really like the ring light look.



    are you not using the ABR800 in your booths anymore, Minh? if so, what did you replace them with?

    thanks!



    @Minh wrote:my ring flash is very powerful. i have to use it on the lowest power all the time.. and i don't like how you can't manage the model lamp without tracking (following) the same power for the flash. they're connected. The bulbs for model lamp are stupid. 4 of them are connected, and the other 4 are connected. if one goes out, you have to figure out which of the 4 is the one that's gone out. not fun replacing. very frustrating actually.



    When in big groups, the front will have a lot more light then it fades darker to the back.. but that's any flash really =



    you can't put a tilt in there, and if you use the 18mm on your camera lens, sometimes you can see the black in the corners. so i have to use it around the 20-22mm zoom.



    its heavy, expensive, and takes up a lot of room.. you definitely can't have a back up for that
  • PictureX Photo Booth
    yeah, I have contemplated getting a smaller strobe (I had the geminis from before my photo booth days for studio work and they have just come along for the ride, but it's time for a change now that I know that i am getting busier and busier) and I might still end up getting some smaller strobes for backup, but still really want to figure out the best way to go for an affordable ring flash for the look.



    Anyone have any reliable options for ringflashes that are in a similar price range of the Alienbee? (I am not sure the smaller macro rings that were recommended before would be enough light for an open air booth?)
  • tran0439
    What lens are you using Taylor with the alien ABR800. What I am finding difficulty is the distance and I am stuck on the inside of the ring, which can show the edges. I'm looking for the perfect lens to go with the alien abr800
  • indy99
    I own several ABR800 flash units.  Bang for the buck these are a great value. It is NOT a heavy unit.  I use a Canon  T5 with the 18-55 lens.  Works great. No issues at all.

    Here are some of my settings:   Camera: Manual mode   Software: Breeze DSLR remote.

    F/11  at  1/160 shutter speed,  ISO 100, external flash checked,  white balance is set on flash.

    Lens focusing is manual not auto.  I set the lens at its widest (18mm) and then                                                                          use the digital zoom to get close up.

    Strobe power is quite low at 1/4 power or so.

    Flash sync provided by a flash adapter for the hot shoe and a pc cord.

    After 200 shoots I have yet to replace a bulb or tube.  With this flash you do not need a high ISO.

    This is an easy flash to configure with different accessories. A little logic goes a long way.

    This is a switch that I use to run my booth.  I start and run the booth, no touch screens or buttons for people to operate, get confused, or beat on my equipment.  The USB switch is easily programmed with software

    Button 1    shutter release/start booth.        Button 2    reprint extra strips.  Everybody gets a strip of photos

    Button 3    zoom in            Button 4    zoom out

    Button 5    escape function          Button 6    photo booth start screen.

    You can't go wrong with Alien Bees and Paul C Buff  flash units.

    I recommend that you use a quality strobe to provide light for your subjects.  An on camera flash or a speed light can turn into a pain because of battery usage.The ring flash provides a virtually shadow free light along with adjust ability and flexibility of use all in one package.

    Using an umbrella with the ring flash defeats its purpose.  You want the lens to be on the same plane as the flash to obtain optimal results.  If you need to change a bulb it is not that hard.  Like I said.... a little logic......

    The ABR800 is a unique flash which I think is well suited for the photo booth industry. I give it 5 stars and AAA+++.

     
  • tran0439
    Thank you indy99! This definetly helps alot. I'm not too familar with digital zoom since I have a rebel xsi. Maybe its time for me to upgrade my camera. I know that I have been looking at a 35mm lens for my next event, just contemplating on spend 550 on a lense or should i get a new camera with a 18-55mm. Alot of forum mention that having a 35mm helps alot but i'm hesitatant to drop that kind of dough. Would you happen to have any samples of your work or website? I really want to utilize my abr800 but the lense and the width of my shots is throwing me off. I feel that my 18-55 for my canon xsi isn't the best and its a bit too wide and not as clear as the 24mm lens that I have. Only issue with the 24 mm is that you can see the inside of the ring flash...any more advice from the group about what lense you are utilizing for the abr800. Just seeing Taylor HPB photo is ideally what I want to have. The shot is beutiful and perfect! Too bad I didn't get a response from them yet...

     

    Thankyou!!
  • indy99
    All photos on my website were taken with an 18-55 lens plus the ABR800 flash.  Stopping down to f/11 gives great depth of field and minimizes any issues with the lens of which I find very few anyway.  The digital zoom function is done thru the software.

    I also have a moon unit but do not use it for the booth as it is too big and bulky and I think the flash is fine without it for in booth use.   If you go to Canon website and look under refurbished cameras they at times will have a T5 w/18-55 for about 250.00 or a 2 lens set for about 300.00 complete with warranty from Canon.

    twomenandaphotobooth.com

     
  • thelimebooth
    Thank you so much for your advice indy99. I have an event this weekend and will let you know how it goes. thanks!
  • Hotshots
    Indy! (or anyone for that matter).
    I was given a NEEWER C-180 strobe with my booth.  On the second one. 1st one lasted maybe 8 parties...burnt out dead.  2nd one, lasted 2 parties...flashes on it on and then shuts down.  Is it possible or recommend to get rid of a flash all together and go with a steady light?  Or what is a good quality strobe to go in a enclosed booth, without over heating.  I would love to get away from gas bulbs that can blow.  Help!
  • indy99
    If you have an overheating problem then you need to ventilate the enclosure using a fan.   I use a 12 volt computer fan with an ac adapter to bring cool air into my camera box.

    Not a big fan of the Newer brand flashes,  I like the Alien Bees line of strobes from Paul C Buff Inc.    A B800 would be my choice for the flash.  Constant lighting is used a lot with web cam booths(not a big fan of that either).

    You still will need some type air flow thru the box to keep things going.
Sign In or Register to comment.
© Copyright 2012 - 2017 | PhotoBoothOwners.com All rights reserved
All times are UTC

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we use personally and believe will add value to our members. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”