greenspun.com : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I've been having trouble locating commercial lighting that I can justify price-wise. I considered Norman, but I learned from this site that Norman isn't a very efficient light source, when compared to other brands. (light per watt-second.) Dyna-lite was also recommended, but reduction in weight of these systems is relatively expensive.

Although some models are heavy, what is the performance of Speedotron? Are they as efficient as other light systems? It appears from their web-site that one can obtain all the w-s ratio, combined/uncombined options that one would typically need.

Any other comments or advice regarding speedotron?

As an enthusiast who took this really terrific workshop from Norman McGrath, I want to take interior shots. But, I can't afford to put $4000-$5000 into lighting equipment.

-- neil poulsen (neil.fg@att.net), January 17, 2002


My experience is with Speedotron Blackline equipment.

Speedotron makes terrific gear. Well built (heavier duty than almost anything else except Broncolor, Profoto pro 5, Pro 6, Pro 7 (not Acute) and Balcar, excellent performance , terific value for the money. My comments aboutthe inefficiency of Norman equipment was based on the following direct test: I had a cable made that allowed me to use a Speedotron 102A head (it is a very slight modification that has to do with the diference in how the internal cooling fans work on Speedo heads vs the way they work on Norman heads) on a Norman P2000X pack. The Speedo head put out twice as much light ( i.e. an additional f-stop) at all power levels and with the head configured in all sorts of ways: bare tube, umbrella reflector, normal reflector, into a soft box, in to an umbrella and with the head pointed directly at the meter or with the head aimed at the 11ft. high ceiling in my house. I measured using a Minolta Flash Meter IV.

if you are buying new, look at the 2405 packs. If you are buying used just be aware that the xx01 and xx03 packs are very big and very heavy.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (ellis@ellisvener.com), January 17, 2002.

Here in chicago the home of speedo's they are everywhere. They aren't as efficient as some high end lights ie profoto. but they are real battle ships they can take an amazing amount of abuse and keep on working. They do have a problem arcing so always make sure you turn them off before unplugging heads. Since you want to go on location with lights really consider the weight of these pack they are real heavy. Personally I use a combo of dyna-lite and profoto's. If you are going on location consider the dyna's I really love mine check out some used packs I've seen 1000 wt packs for around $500 in the back of photo distric news. Speedo's are great in the studio but tough to lug around.

good luck doug

-- doug (doug@ajenda.com), January 17, 2002.

My experience is a bit out of date, but I don't think the Speedo design has been changed. Some dozen years ago I compared one of my 800 watt second Dynalite units to a colleague's 1600 watt Speedotron and the Speedo, which was about four times the size and weight, produced less than a quarter stop more light output in a softbox. He always worked in the studio so the black line stuff was fine for him. I almost always worked on location so the Dynalites were worth every penny.

-- Carl Weese (cweese@earthlink.net), January 17, 2002.

In the For What It's Worth Dept, a few years ago, I bought a brand new blackline 2405 pack and two fan-cooled heads from Calumet. As I recall, about the third time I used it, I fired it off and then waited for it to recycle. I waited and waited and waited. Then I got nervous; then I heard a soft sizzle-wooshing sound, followed by a cloud of smoke coming from the pack. That was immediately followed by a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Wide-eyed and slack-jawed, I quickly turned it off and unplugged it. I sent it back to Speedotron, and they fixed what they called a "blown capacitor." There was no charge for repairs and the pack has performed flawlessly since then.

-- Ben Calwell (bcalwell@aol.com), January 17, 2002.

Correction: (memory going)

It was a 2400 watt Speedotron, and it produced just under half a stop more light than the 800 watt Dynalite from the same softbox.


-- Carl Weese (cweese@earthlink.net), January 17, 2002.

A Calumet catalog a few years back had a multipage spread comparing the Real-life output of many different flashpacks and heads, along with the color-temperatures. I don't know the origin of the information, but I seem to reall coming across it again on the web. Maybe Calumet or someone else can direct you to it.

-- Wayne DeWitt (wdewitt@snip.net), January 17, 2002.

You can't go wrong with the Speedotron Black line. It is the workhorse of the NYC studios. In fact, I don't even know anyone who uses another brand, except for location shooting. Speedos are admittedly heavy, but they are incredibly reliable and a great value. I might only recommend another brand if you have to cart them airport to airport, or if you can get by with lesser output, then something like Dynalite might suit you better.

-- Ted Kaufman (writercrmp@aol.com), January 17, 2002.

Thinking about it further I believe that it was information supplied by a soft box manufacturer, and I later found it again either on their site or in manufacturer's catalog. Ring a bell anyone?

-- Wayne DeWitt (wdewitt@snip.net), January 17, 2002.

What are your power requirements? The Profoto Acute2(fan-cooled) puts out 2400WS assymetric. The basic difference between the Acute2 and Pro-7 is flash duration.

Having said that, a twin-head with the Acute-2 gives you 2400WS through one head w/short flash duration and if you wish, the Profoto ringlight which is the best, is available.

Profoto which is distributed by Mamiya is always having promotions, a while back they had the Acute or Acute2(I can't remember which) with 3 heads for $2400, which is half of the figures you mentioned. I beleive that's with the UV outer covers for the bulbs.

You can definitely wait for a deal, for any of these packs, but I've usee Profoto for years, and their ringlight, and just can see life without it. When the new models w/their bells and whistles come out the dealers just stamp some of their units 'demo', with a lower price to move them

-- Jonathan Brewer (lifestories@earthlink.net), January 17, 2002.

I forget the reason I mentioned the Profoto ringlight. You mentioned interiors, no matter how cramped, this ringlight will get it in no matter what(like love or sex).

-- Jonathan Brewer (lifestories@earthlink.net), January 17, 2002.

All of that the Profoto heads put out some of the nicest quality of raw light of any flash I have ever used, this is why several photographers in the New York and Chicago area (according to repair techs in both markets) have Profoto Pro heads adapted to work on Speedotron packs.

"... The basic difference between the Acute2 and Pro-7 is flash duration. "

uh, no that isn't the basic difference between the Pro 7 units and the Acute line. The Pro 7 units have much heavier duty internal components than the Acutes. Talk to a repair tech about this. And as I understand it from an independant source the efficiency at turning watt seconds into lumens (light) is about the same for the Profoto heads as for the Speedotron 202VF head. Repair costs for Profoto are also notoriously high because of what Profoto charges for components.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (ellis@ellisvener.com), January 17, 2002.

One thing no one has brought up about the Speedotrons is their appetite for power. I've used black line Speedotrons for the past 15 years (2400's and 800's) in the studio and on location and have experienced many a tripped breaker. This is'nt too much of a problem in the studio (just a nuisance) but on location, it can cause problems. At the fast recycle rate, I've had electricians measure the power they were chewing up and was surprised to find that sometimes it can be in excess of 20Amps (2400 pack). Most peoples home circuits are 15amps (especially older houses)so this is something one needs to think about. Can you imagine doing a shot in an office and tripping their breakers and shutting off someones computer before they saved? This would not be good. Other than that problem, I would highly recommend Speedotrons. They seem to be almost unbreakable and have performed like champs for me. Just my opinion.

-- Eric N. Blevins (eblevins@moh.dcr.state.nc.us), January 17, 2002.

The biggest difference between the packs is Flash duration, the bigger packs are beefier, and you're going to pay for that, but that's not to say the Acute can't handle anything you throw at it.

It was mentioed by Neil that he couldn't afford $4000-$5000, which is what a Pro-7 is going to cost, so I didn't go into specs on the big pack. The Acute2 is a solid and dependable p

-- Jonathan Brewer (Lifestories@earthlinl.net), January 17, 2002.

The Acute is a lighter and more portable pack than the Pro-7, having said that, you'll drop from exhaustion before the pack does.

Most areas have the code for a wall outlet in a house to deal with a load of @15 amps nominal, ususally this outlets can really deal with 16.5 amps, a heavier amp draw can pop your breakers. A steady diet of pops with an amp draw that is more than the wiring is set up to deal with and you get a lot of heat, too much heat for too long a time and you're talking fire.

-- Jonathan Brewer (lifestories@earthlink.net), January 17, 2002.

have you lookedat eBay.com. I have gotten some great deals on Balcar equipment there and imagine the same is true for Speedotron, etc. Since you mention Mr. McGrath I assume your interest is in architectural work. You might want to consider 2-3 800, 1200 or 2400 w/s packs and four or more heads.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (ellis@ellisvener.com), January 17, 2002.

FWIW, we use Speedotron's in the studios here at Ohio University and I can vouch for their ruggedness. The strobe heads and power packs in the studio are probably used by about 25 different people per week at least, and the only head I've ever seen broken was one that had been dropped onto concrete. We seem to go through a good number of modeling tubes, but with that many people constantly jarring them around, I'm not terribly surprised. Though I admittedly really don't have any real experience with other strobes, in my experience I've found Speedotron's quite nice to work with.

-- David Munson (apollo@luxfragilis.com), January 17, 2002.


I own 2 Speedotron packs and 3 heads. For product shots I picked up a 4800 watt second pack for 700.00 last year! How can you beat that when you know the stuff is nearly indestructible, the company fixes anything they built, and they just work.

I had a used head have a problem with the cable, and Speedo replaced the wiring very quickly at a very reasonable price. I can't say enough for the company or the products, they are built to last in the old-fashioned way, and supported superbly, again, in the old- fashioned way!

-- armando conti (basisaudio@cs.com), January 18, 2002.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ