Experience with lighting/diffusion using a single strobe?

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jnh
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Experience with lighting/diffusion using a single strobe?

Post by jnh »

I recently started to acquire some light stands and softboxes for still live-type of photography. Since my speedlights are a bit on the anemic side for this, I have my eyes on a Godox AD200 strobe. Then I started to wonder, if I could also use this for lighting my focus stacks (I currently use Lume Cubes as constant light sources)? The high light output and the fast recycle times would certainly be attractive. But I'll probably only buy one of these things (they are not exactly cheap), so I was wondering, if anyone has experience or a good setup for directing and diffusing light using a single such light source?

seta666
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Re: Experience with lighting/diffusion using a single strobe?

Post by seta666 »

You could use reflectors and these would act as new light sources with somewhat lower output.

Start with one opposite to the light source and one or two to the sides. Play with size, distance and angle to get different light effects.

Use your favorite diffusion method, that does not need to change.

ray_parkhurst
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Re: Experience with lighting/diffusion using a single strobe?

Post by ray_parkhurst »

I've had great results by masking areas of my diffusers to "shape" the light and keep it from coming from clock positions and angles I don't want. This technique has been so effective that I can get nice, even lighting without significant highlight hotspots using a single Jansjo, and since your flash is much larger than a Jansjo it should work perfectly.

jnh
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Re: Experience with lighting/diffusion using a single strobe?

Post by jnh »

Thanks! This sounds very encouraging. I'll certainly give it a try once I get the AD200.

Beatsy
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Re: Experience with lighting/diffusion using a single strobe?

Post by Beatsy »

I have a couple of AD200s. Indispensable, portable bricks full of light, they are! Wonderful things.

A single strobe of any sort *can* be used anywhere a single lamp would be, but choosing strobes over lamps is a pretty fundamental choice in and of itself. In practice, it will constrain your lighting options quite severely compared to two or three Jansjo-style spot lamps bounced and diffused from various angles. Flash results will be every bit as good as lamp-illuminated of course, but you will generally have to stick to slightly-directional, heavily-diffused "ambient" light with limited scope for local highlighting or prominent shadowing (i.e. bringing out form with the shapes and detail). That's a look we all like and pursue, and if it's all you want then you're sorted. But there are other "looks" that won't be worth pursuing with strobes (at any reasonable cost) - because...

1. Modelling light is weak, and off-centre - shadow and highlights will be different under flash illumination (unless very heavily diffused and/or backed off a lot)
2. Small, local (diffuse) spot lighting is difficult to arrange. Fibre light guides work, but expensive. Tiny reflectors and gobos positioned near the specimen work too, but very fiddly
3. The weight and bulk (of AD200) is not really compatible with solid/steady support and fine adjustments at the specimen-end of a typical (extreme) macro rig
4. High power flash can cause small features (e.g. fine hairs or scales) to twitch at the moment of exposure due to the photo-electric effect. Blur.
5. Most cameras won't trigger flash with full-electronic or mirror-up exposure - your shutter will take a hammering (waiting on a Sony A1 - 1/200th flash sync with full electronic shutter - game changer).

That all sounds negative, but it isn't meant to be. If you want nice even illumination, perhaps with a little direction and shadowing, then subject in a ping-pong ball lit by *bounced* light from a big strobe will deliver dependable, consistent results; but mostly a "nice-ambient" look. Any different to that takes a lot more effort and is far easier to achieve with lamps IMO. In a studio, macro-rail setting, anyway. Handheld is different.

jnh
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Re: Experience with lighting/diffusion using a single strobe?

Post by jnh »

Thanks, Beatsy! Appreciate the input from the Master of Light.
I could probably live or work around most of these drawbacks, but I didn't think about not being able to use my electronic shutter. Here and there also something I could live with, but probably not something I want to do on a permanent basis.
Also found the recent thread on your diffusion setup very illuminating.

joshmacro
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Re: Experience with lighting/diffusion using a single strobe?

Post by joshmacro »

For Beatsy et al. What is the CRI rating for Jansjo? Also, I am trying to figure if CRI even matters if you're putting a diffuser between the light and the subject. I can't seem to find a previous discussion on CRI in the forums. Not sure if I should get hung up on CRI ratings or not. Never really cared about CRI since I have always used speedlights, but exploring more continuous. Thanks in advance for any insight.

rjlittlefield
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Re: Experience with lighting/diffusion using a single strobe?

Post by rjlittlefield »

joshmacro wrote:
Sat May 15, 2021 7:15 pm
I can't seem to find a previous discussion on CRI in the forums.
Did you try the forum's own Search facility?

When I ask about keyword "CRI", with no other qualifiers, I get a list of 230 matching posts. That's 16 pages of search results at 15 posts per page.

However, looking over those results, as well as judging from memory, I'm not confident that you'll find much insight beyond:
  • CRI matters more for some subjects than it does for others, and
  • CRI matters more for some viewers than it does for others.
In terms of where to draw the line for what's acceptable versus what's not, I do not recall seeing a lot of agreement.

--Rik

joshmacro
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Re: Experience with lighting/diffusion using a single strobe?

Post by joshmacro »

Thanks for the summary Rik. When you search for CRI in the title you only get 8 results. I have been looking at all the posts which were somewhat helpful, but not entirely definitive. In addition, I am looking for the interplay between CRI and diffusion. Post edited to provide links to some good threads on the forums regarding this topic:

viewtopic.php?f=8&t=37349

viewtopic.php?f=25&t=31252

viewtopic.php?f=25&t=29851
Last edited by joshmacro on Sun May 16, 2021 9:14 am, edited 2 times in total.

Scarodactyl
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Re: Experience with lighting/diffusion using a single strobe?

Post by Scarodactyl »

I don't see how diffusion would affect cri, unless your diffuser also acts as a filter.

Beatsy
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Re: Experience with lighting/diffusion using a single strobe?

Post by Beatsy »

Scarodactyl wrote:
Sun May 16, 2021 8:34 am
I don't see how diffusion would affect cri, unless your diffuser also acts as a filter.
Nearly all the diffusion materials I've used *really* warm the light up, or suck the blue out, depending on your perspective. That must alter CRI, mustn't it? I suspect it's extra scattering of the shorter wavelength (blue) that causes it.

soldevilla
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Re: Experience with lighting/diffusion using a single strobe?

Post by soldevilla »

I use Jansjo spotlights for all my professional work. And my only concern is that I do not change one, when I change them I change them all at the same time to be sure that they come from the same manufacturing package and do not change the color. Well, my current concern is that they have stopped making them.
And as diffusers I use pieces of white fluffy packaging, I don't know the name. It is the only material that does not force me to do white balance every time I use it
.

ray_parkhurst
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Re: Experience with lighting/diffusion using a single strobe?

Post by ray_parkhurst »

Diffusion material for sure has an effect on the CRI. I use simple diffusers made of Opalux, which seems quite balanced spectrally. It might shift the hue a bit blue.

I've had excellent luck so far with the 5W Quans lights. I don't know the CRI rating but they "seem" better than the Jansjos, and are quite a bit brighter. They are COB so take advantage of newer, better and more consistent phosphors than the Jansjos. Only problem is they come as clip-lights, and are tedious to modify for other mountings. They offer both 3000K and 6000K versions.

The power arrangement is different from the Jansjos as well. The Jansjos had their power supply within the wallwart, with switch inline with low voltage/high current. This made the switches burn out quickly, and indeed they changed the switch a couple times over the years, even upping the voltage in the last iteration. The Quans are 120V all the way to the head, which contains a small power supply (120V rectifier plus stepdown DC-DC, 12V output). This makes the switch operate at 120V, so about 1/20 the current of the Jansjos, but with more arcing. Who knows what will be better long-term, but my money is on the low current.

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