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Barbara Helgason
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/4/2004
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Flashtube lifespan?


What is the lifespan of a flash tube? I've had the Alien bees B800 flash unit for a couple of years but lately it seems that it is not putting out the same amount of light as it used to. Is that even possible? I assumed a flash tube would just burn out like a regular light bulb, not die a slow death. Do I simply need to replace it or is there something else that I am missing here.

The problem started when I moved my unit from my windowless basement to my new studio in an upstairs bedroom where there is lots of natural light. Suddenly I need to use a wide open aperture when using my studio lights. (Alien bees plus my speedlite)
My speedlite seems to have more power that my 800 watts flash unit? I'm confused. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.


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11/16/2009 5:13:56 PM

 
John H. Siskin
BetterPhoto Member
John-Siskin.com
John's Photo Courses:
4-Week Short Course: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
4-Week Short Course: Getting Started in Commercial Photography
4-Week Short Course: Portrait Photography Lighting on Location and in the Studio
  Hi Barbara,
I have used some of the same flash tubes for more than a quarter of a century. So it clearly takes a long time to burn out a tube. I have had one tube just fail, and I have broken one or two. I have not noticed that the power has fallen off. I would assume it has something to do with the new studio; perhaps the walls are darker?

I recently tested, for power and spread, a Canon 580 II against a Paul C. Buff White Lighting 1600, and a few other units. The White Lighting, which is about the same power as a Bee 1600, was only about one stop more powerful than the Canon. I found that surprising.

One more thing: if you are using the speed light to trigger the Alien Bees, that might not be working. Frankly having the Bees slaved to a camera mounted flash usually doesn’t work. The speed light will usually put out an infrared pulse, just before the strobe is triggered. This often triggers the slaves, making them trigger too soon. The red-eye reduction creates the same sort of problem.
Thanks, John Siskin


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11/20/2009 4:04:19 PM

 
Barbara Helgason
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/4/2004
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  Thank you, that's very helpful, you've given me alot to think about. I think you might be right about the Bees somehow being triggered too soon, and somehow this is related to the new location.

Thanks again,

Barbara


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11/20/2009 5:09:06 PM

 
John H. Siskin
BetterPhoto Member
John-Siskin.com
John's Photo Courses:
4-Week Short Course: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
4-Week Short Course: Getting Started in Commercial Photography
4-Week Short Course: Portrait Photography Lighting on Location and in the Studio
  Hi Barbara,
Problems with syncing speed lights and monolights are very common in my classes. You might want to look at this article for more on sync: www.siskinphoto.com/magazine/zpdf/sync.pdf
Thanks, John Siskin


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11/20/2009 5:20:33 PM

 
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