Photo Basics StrobeLite Review

As excited as we are that major lighting companies are bringing out lines of affordable lighting systems, we are really impressed that some of these systems go beyond just being a light and are complete educational packages. Wescott’s line products that fall under the Photo Basics brand are a perfect example of this new product positioning. The first Photo Basics kit was the constant light kit that we reviewed last year. This year Wescott has added to the Photo Basics line with two new strobes, the StrobeLite and the StrobeLite Plus. We just received the three light StrobeLite system and couldn’t wait to put it through its paces.

Summary
As I said in the intro, the Photo Basics line is aimed at users that may not already know how to use lighting equipment. Not only do you get the lights and umbrellas you also get an instructional DVD that goes th

rough a number of different types of lighting setups by several top photographers. To help place your lights a floor positioning guide goes on the ground that shows you were to place the subject, the lights, and the camera. You also get two regular light stands and a backlight stand along with a carrying case to make it easy to transport everything.

Features
The StrobeLites are technically moonlights since they are self-contained units that each plug into AC power. To help visualize the lighting, each strobe head is equipped with a 100w modeling light. A dial on the back controls power from ¼ to Full power. The main power switch controls overall power to both the flash unit and the modeling light and the modeling light has three settings, off, full, and variable. If the modeling light is on variable then as you adjust the output for the flash, it will also adjust the output of the modeling light.

An audible beep and ready light let you know that the unit has recycled and is ready to fire again. A standard PC Sync cable is included as well as an optical slave so you can tri

gger one unit and have all the rest fire at the same time.

Description Value
Watt Seconds 150
Guide Number 39-mtrs/117-ft
Recycle Time 2 sec.
Flash Duration 1 ~ 3 m/secs
Flash Variability 1/4 to Full
Color Temperature 5600K (+/-100)
User Changeable Flashtube Yes
Changeable Reflector Yes – Std 7″
Model Light Wattage 100
Model Light Variable Yes
Flash Ready Indicator Charge Ready Light / Audible Beep
Built-in Slave Cell Yes
Fan Cooled No
Auto Dump No
Sync Size 1/8″
Housing high-impact poly carbonate
Tilting Bracket high-impact poly carbonate
Dimensions 9″ x 5″ x 8″
Weight 3.2 lbs

Setup
One of the big advantages of moonlights is that there is virtually no setup since they are completely self-contained units. Fresh out of the box the only thing you have to do is screw the modeling lights into the sockets. Other than that, you are ready to setup the light stands, attach the strobe heads to the light stands, pop on the reflectors and attach the umbrellas.

For testing I used a Canon 30D which has a built-in PC Sync port that the included cable plugs right into. If you have a camera without a PC Sync port then you may need to get an adapter that will go onto your camera’s hot shoe port. I connected the main light to the camera via the PC Sync port and the other lights are then triggered from the optical slave.

Usage
While I normally recommend constant lights for beginners since you can easily visualize exactly what the scene will look like in the camera. With strobes, the actual flash is much brighter then you are probably used to so it can become frustrating for beginners to get the hang of using strobes since it rather easy to overexpose the scene. Because it is more difficult to setup lighting with strobes unless you have, and know how to use a light meter, it is better to start off with a single light and a reflector before moving up to multiple lights. Fortunately, the DVD tutorials that are included walk you through exactly this. The examples start with a single light and build up with reflectors and then on to multiple light setups.

The light output is much greater than when using constant lights like the Westcott TD5′s so they are much better for working with movement such as flowing hair, kids, pets, or other moving objects since you can use a faster shutter speed. By cranking up the light output you can also work with a wider range of f-stops and faster ISO speeds. Since the StrobeLites use a standard three-prong attachment system, numerous accessories are available such as softboxes, larger reflectors, barn doors, snoots, gel holders, gobos, grids, and other things.

Results
The Strobelites are wonderful moonlights that are available at an excellent price. With a little practice anyone can be taking amazing images in a short period of time. On Amazon.com we found the kit for $649.90 making it an amazing value at that price. Light output is great, the control is terrific, and the features are just right for a beginner. The higher end StrobeLite plus units take you from 150ws to 200ws, the ability to turn off the audible ready indicator, the ability to turn off the optical slave cell, and give you a metal tilting bracket to be able to use heavier softboxes and attachments. When you are ready to move up, the StrobeLite Plus units are fully compatible with the regular units. We applaud Westcott for creating the entire Photo Basics line and the new StrobeLites are an excellent product that was previously not attainable for people on modest budgets.

The following images were all taken with the StrobeLite kit.

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Final results:

Features: 3
Setup: 5
Usage: 5
Results: 5
Price: 5
Overall: 4.6

Website: http://photobasics.net
Author: Kerry Garrison
Models: Jessica Sterling, Christopher Kennedy,  Daniel Ban

Equipment Used
Camera Canon 30D
Lights Photo Basics Strobelite
Capture Software DSLR Remote Pro
Processing Software Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

KerryG

Kerry Garrison is a wedding, portrait, and product photographer living in southern California. With 10 years of experience shooting products and 3 years of experience in the wedding industry, Kerry brings a good deal of technical know-how and can explain topics in easy-to-understand terms. Kerry's work can be found at http://kerrygarrison.com and on Facebook at http://facebook.com/KerryGarrison

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