Archive for the 'Gear Reviews' Category

Put your Elinchrom Ranger RX AS Speed on a lithium battery crash diet and loose weight.

26Mar15

20150326_Elinchrom_Ranger_pack_battery_001b

Difficulty Level: 4/10

Knowledge needed: Basic wiring and electronic understanding, soldering and/or crimping wires, usage of a test light / voltage meter.

The Elinchrom Ranger RX (standard, and AS Speed) are great powerful, portable battery operated location lighting kits. It’s the first thing in my lighting kit I grab almost every time I go on location to shoot photos these days. Even though it is relatively lightweight for how powerful it is, in the end it is still heavy to carry around, especially if you are skiing with it or are trying to walk to location with two to four of these on your back!  It just flat out sucks to hike or ski these into location all the time.  So, a few years back myself and Tim Kemple began tinkering around with different battery combinations to try and reduce weight in these heavy ass lead battery strobe kits.  We started with NiMH packs for Alien Bees before they made their lithium battery power pack, the Vagabond Mini, and brought it over to the Ranger kits before finally dropping in the lithium pack into the Rangers.  When we started doing this, the battery packs were just battery cells shrink wrapped together, and looked pretty sketchy and required a lot more work to fit them properly and make things work right.  Today it’s a whole different ballgame.  The battery packs are housed in the same housing as their SLA battery packs they are replacing.  Aside from the chargers, it’s a unplug old battery and plug in new battery move now.  It’s awesome!


So I’ve been retrofitting the standard SLA (Sealed Lead-Acid) 12ah battery pack that comes from Elinchrom for the Ranger RX AS Speed with LiFePO4 lithium battery packs for four years now.  It’s something that I can confidently say works well for me and that I’m really stoked on.  By doing this I’ve cut the weight to 40% of the SLA, get more capacity, better performance in the cold, and longer cycle life (you can use and recharge the LiFePO4 battery packs three times more than an SLA).  It’s allowed me to bring more flash power out when I otherwise may have only brought one kit, or a smaller kit and has given me more flash pops once I’m out there.  You can’t go wrong, it’s better in every possible way!

Now this is just a guide based on my experience with these batteries. Any modifications you do to your Ranger kit and battery is at your own risk.  There is always a potential for shorting out your power pack if you do things wrong, as well as burning your battery down if you don’t use the correct charger, and/or if you get the simple wiring wrong.  You WILL void any warranty through Elinchrom with this modification as well.  Please keep this in mind.  All that said, all the info is below, your back will thank me for cutting the weight out of your flash kit!

Battery comparisons:

The battery packs have come a long way since I started using these about four years ago, now they come in the same exact casing as the SLA battery so it’s as easy as it gets to replace them. There are also packs capable of higher power draw rates, so with these you can now run the Ranger RX AS Speed in fast recycle mode, where as before you were only able to run them in slow recycle mode. Also, in comparison to your standard lithium-ion batteries out there now, the LiFePO4 batteries are the most stable and safe of all the lithium batteries out there.

Let’s get down to it. First thing’s first, you’ll need to buy some gear, and have a few tools on hand. It’s all listed below with links to buy these. There are others besides what I list below, but I get kickbacks, so hook a brother up for giving you the lowdown?

 

LiFePO4 Battery:

128-volt-12ah-lifepo4-lithium-iron-phosphate-battery-w-bms
CTC 12ah 12.8v LiFePO4 (Lithium iron phosphate) battery pack.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00H7I11P6/ref=ox_sc_act_title_2?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A2Y4NXB3ZFV3SB

CTC 10ah 12.8v LiFePO4 (Lithium iron phosphate) battery pack.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00H7I1098/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00H7I1098&linkCode=as2&tag=5150ou812-20&linkId=2TP3X6G3IHAFJNVV

I’m suggesting this battery pack for more of a reason besides just getting a commision on the sale (Please support my site by clicking on the link if you do buy a battery though, I’ve put a lot of time into finding the right parts, and putting this tutorial together). The CTC 12.8v LiFePO4 battery packs have a higher power draw rate, so you can run the Ranger RX AS Speed pack in fast recycle mode. Almost all the other 10-12ah LiFePO4 12.8v battery packs out there can’t take as high of a draw, and in turn you have to run the pack in slow recycle mode. If you don’t run the Ranger in slow recharge mode with the lower draw batteries then your Ranger will shut down every time you try using it in fast recycle mode with the low draw battery. I’ve tried a lot of different brands and configurations throughout the years and the CTC 12ah 12.8v LiFePO4 battery pack is the best performing so far.

You may want to purchase another Elinchrom Ranger RX Speed battery pack housing for the lithium modification so in the case you do something wrong, you have the backup, old standard lead battery.  Your new charger WILL work just fine for the standard lead battery.

Battery pack housing:

Elinchrom_ranger_RX_AS_Speed_battery_housing

Elinchrom Ranger RX Speed AS Battery with Case for Ranger RX Speed AS (EL 10267)
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/411699-REG/Elinchrom_EL_19280_Battery_with_Holder_for.html/BI/5360/KBID/6165

 

Battery Charger:

Tenergy_Ranger_LiFePO4 Charger

Tenergy 14.6V (4-Cell) 4A LiFePO4 Battery Pack Charger

http://www.amazon.com/Tenergy-4-Cell-LiFePO4-Battery-Charger/dp/B00CPT5T6O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1420250703&sr=8-1&keywords=Tenergy+14.6V+%284-Cell%29+4A+LiFePO4+Battery+Pack+Charger

You can use the factory Elinchrom charger that comes with your Ranger kit but I would highly recommend that you get this Tenergy smart charger for a few reasons. The Elinchrom charger is designed for a lead-acid battery and is NOT a smart charger. This matters as the smart charger listed above is designed to stop charging once an optimal charge voltage is achieved. Overcharging of lithium batteries is one of the main causes of the batteries getting a bad rap for bursting into flames and exploding. Now, the battery pack above has a PCB control module to help save the battery from over charge, but depending on if you buy another, it may not have one and could wear out your battery much quicker, or worse. The other big reason to get this charger above is that it’s twice as fast. You’ll have a full charge from a completely dead battery in three hours.

Here’s the gear tools you will need for the charger:

  • #1 phillips screwdriver (your standard #2 phillips head will not get these screws out.
  • Duct tape
  • Voltage tester, although a simple test light circuit tester will work.
  • Shrink wrap (electrical tape will work, but will wear out)
  • Wire crimp connectors (wire nuts will work, but not really recommended) or soldering iron if you can solder.

Now that you have all the gear, it’s finally time to put this together.

  1. Remove fuse
  2. Remove the 6 screws holding the top panel of the battery pack to the housing
    20150314_Ranger_Lithium_battery_mod_001
  3. Remove the top panel of the battery pack by pulling at the top panel, or by holding the battery pack upside down by the battery pack housing and gently shaking (very close to the table so it doesn’t drop far when it comes out of the battery pack housing).
  4. Disconnect the 2 wires connected to the factory SLA battery.
    Ranger Lithium battery upgrade_009
  5. Remove foam from the factory SLA battery and set aside for later.
  6. Plug in wires to the new LiFePO4 battery pack, reverse of the disconnect. Make sure the new battery is in the same orientation as the factory SLA battery was. Look at the photos for reference.
    Ranger Lithium battery upgrade_012
  7. Tape wire connectors to the battery just to ensure the wires stay connected.
  8. Re-install the foam blocks that were connected to the factory SLA batery. Foam just needs to be on the same side as originally installed. The exact same location isn’t necessary.
  9. Cut foam (or about 20 sheets of paper stacked and taped together) to fit between the battery and the battery pack housing to shim and keep he battery in place. The foam is cut around the metal clips that hold the battery pack in place when installed to the Ranger RX. This isn’t 100% necessary, however if you do not, removing the battery can be a bit difficult at times as the battery pack will slide around and get in the way of pushing the clips out when removing the battery pack from the Ranger. You could use stacked paper taped together, some closed cell foam would be the best way to go if you have any.  Some of the newer factory SLA battery packs from Elinchrom come with all of the foam necessary already installed.
    20150314_Ranger_Lithium_battery_mod_002
  10. Re-install battery into battery pack housing he opposite of removal, in the same orientation as removed.
  11. Re-install battery pack top panel with the 6 screws previously removed.

The battery is ready to go!

 

Charger instructions:

There are two ways you can go about this. You can either purchase a new connector and leave your factory Elinchrom Ranger RX charger alone, or you could cut the connector off the factory charger and splice the wires together. If you are not good at soldering, I’d suggest you go with cutting the factory connector and splicing to the new charger, or just having a friend that’s good with soldering do it for you!

  1. Cut the connector off of the factory battery charger. Make sure you leave at least 4” of wire attached to the connector so you have some wire to work with. I’d suggest you leave 8” so it’s easier to work with, and you have some extra wire in case you mess up the splice or solder.
  2. Strip the insulation off the wires at the end of the connector.
  3. Make sure the wires coming off the factory charger’s connector socket are not touching, then plug connector into the battery pack.
  4. Touch the voltage tester (or circuit tester / test light) to the wires. Make sure you mark the wire leads so you know which is positive and which is negative.
    Ranger Lithium battery upgrade_014
  5. Cut the connector off the new LiFePO4 battery charger if there is one and strip the insulation off the wires.
  6. Touch the voltage tester (or circuit tester / test light) to the battery charger wires. Make sure you mark the wire leads so you know which is positive and which is negative.
  7. Cut two 2” length of shrink wrap to fit over each separate wire.
  8. Cut one 3” length of shrink wrap to fit over both wires once spliced.
  9. Splice the charger wires to the charger connector by either crimp connectors or soldering.
  10. Pull shrink wrap of each individual wire and heat with a heat gun or hair dryer until the wrap has shrunk enough for a tight seal.
  11. Pull larger shrink wrap piece over both spliced wires and apply heat with heat gun or hair dryer until the wrap has shrunk enough for a tight seal.
  12. Plug in the charger to the wall outlet. Touch the far right and far left connector pins of the charger connector to test for polarity to ensure you spliced the correct wires. Looking directly at the end of the connector, the bottom left pin should be negative, and the bottom right pin should be the positive lead.
    20150314_Ranger_Lithium_battery_mod_004
  13. Plug in charger to battery pack and charge the new battery.
  14. Watch over the charger for 30 minutes to see if the battery or charger is overheating in case you spliced the wires wrong (opposite polarity). If everything was done correctly both battery and charger should not be hot to the touch.

Volia, you are finished and have a light, powerful battery and charger!

Clik Elite Escape camera / lighting backpack review

14Apr12

The Clik Elite Escape backpack is a mid-sized camera pack targeted more towards the consumer market than towards the pro market. That at least was before the pros got a hold of it. This pack carries like it’s nothing on your back with a load of cameras and lenses but for me, this pack shines as my battery powered strobe pack. It’s the perfect combination of space, ease of access but all in a compact well carrying package.


This pack is the absolute perfect size for the usage of battery powered studio strobe units. My two normal kits fit like a glove. For an Elinchrom Ranger RX AS Speed + A Head, it fits with very little room to spare. There’s just enough for the pack and head in the main compartment with room in the top and front pockets for Pocket Wizard transceivers,  sync cables and other accessories. The elastic mesh side pockets and bungee straps will carry (2) small or (1) medium sized light stand or something like a water bottle. The reflectors can be strapped on to the front side of the pack with the horizontal adjustable strap.

For the Alien Bees or Einstein’s the Escape is a double barrel solution. (2) of these monolights plus (2) Vagabond Mini battery power packs, cables with room for about two more lenses, lunch or whatever you can come up with along with the exterior accessories mentioned above for the Elinchrom Ranger kit.  I’ve also tested the Escape with a Profoto 7b kit and it is just as good of a fit and carries just as well.

The top of the Clik Elite Escape camera backpack with the top flap opened.  Access to the main compartment is easy with the double zipper system.  You undo the velcro handle closure and pull it open.  You have access to all your gear in no time!



The top of the Clik Elite Escape camera backpack with the top and main flap opened revealing the main compartment.  The double zipper access on the main flap makes for very quick access to your gear.  You just pull up on the velcro handle and the whole pack opens up.


The Clik Elite Escape camera backpack side view


Detail view of side pocket elastic ties on the Clik Elite Escape camera backpack.  Light stands stay in well on both side pockets tied in with these elastic ties.


Detail view of the front pocket and strap on the Clik Elite Escape camera backpack.  The strap expands enough to hold my Elinchrom Ranger 50 degree 13″ reflector on the pack.


Detail view of the inside of the front pocket on the Clik Elite Escape camera backpack.  Plenty of room for Pocket Wizards, cables and other smaller accessories.


Detail view of the waist straps on the Clik Elite Escape camera backpack.  Three loops in the webbing to attach various accessories.


The harness system on the Clik Elite Escape camera backpack.  The straps are a bit narrow and light, but it’s not designed as a pro pack so this should work for most.  Shown with a radio and a point and shoot camera pouch attached to the loops in the straps.  This pack carries very well and is extremely comfortable in spite of the narrow straps.  The harness works well.  It’s short, narrow, and just deep enough to carry what you need, but not too big so for me, skiing with this pack is very easy.  It sticks to your back very well.  The other part of this that works great, is it carries on my chest well.  This matters when I have to haul everything myself.  I can have my main camera backpack, the Clik Elite Contrejour 40 on my back with this on my chest loaded with lighting equipment and get around myself.


Detail view of the chest strap buckle and adjustment ladder.  The Ladder only moves when you want it to.


The Clik Elite Escape camera backpack with the included rain fly on.  You won’t be losing this anytime soon with this bright red rain fly.

Specs

Camera Size: Probody SLR

External Dimension: 21″H x 10.5″W x 8″D (53 x 27 x 20 cm)

Camera Compartment: 18.5″H x 10.3″W x 6.4″D (47 x 26 x 16 cm)

Internal Storage: 11″H x 9.1″W x 1.9″D (28 x 23 x 5 cm)

Volume: 1200 cu in. (19.66 L)

Weight: 3.43 lbs (1.56 kg)

Will hold iPad: YES

Hydration Sleeve: YES

Rain Fly: YES

Tripod Storage: YES

 

If you got anything out of this review, please click the links below if you decide to buy to help support the site.

Clik Elite Escape Camera Backpack at B&H Photo

Clik Elite ClikSit packable chair review

13Jul11

After the review of the Clik Elite Contrejour camera backpack, this review of the Clik Elite ClikSit is going to be a lot less in depth.  In fact it’s going to be real short.  This is one of those products though that when you pull it out everyone around seems to give you a WTF type of jealous look as you just pulled out some instant comfort in the middle of nowhere weighing in less than a pound and a half.  It’s small, it’s lightweight and still strong enough to support the tubbiest of people out there.  Lets face it, we stand around waiting for light, waiting for the action to happen again, waiting, waiting, waiting, why not do that sitting?  It’s not a new invention, it’s just like the As seen on TV Pocket Chair, however, it’s a LOT lighter.

Check it out here at Amazon.com

Lounging setup, waiting for things to go down.


Specs:

  • Folds up to 91/4” x 8” x 11/4” and weighs only 1lb 5oz.
  • Constructed of high quality aluminum, high-tenacity webbing and ballistic fabric with riveted reinforcements
  • Nylon storage bag
  • 300 lb. capacity

Detail of the connecting strap at the bottom of the stool.  Unfold and connect the two steel straps together and have a seat.


The ClikSit next to the Clik Elite Contrejour 40 for scale

Carry bag that comes with the ClikSit.  The package is small and light and fits easily in the front pocket of the Clik Elite Contrejour 40 camera backpack

Clik Elite Contrejour 35 / 40 Photo Backpack Review

12Jul11

If you’ve seen my reviews before you know that I don’t really review a product unless I really like it, or really hate it.  Before you go on you should know I’m partially biased since I’m sponsored by Clik Elite.  So that being said take it for what it’s worth but I’ve been using the production model of this pack for the last year, and a prototype the year before, I think it’s an honest review.

The Clik Elite Contrejour comes in two sizes, the 35L and the 40L pack.  Both of these packs are almost identical with the only difference being the 40L is two inches taller.  It doesn’t sound like much but in the terms of fit, two inches makes a huge difference if you are…..rather vertically challenged like myself.  Most men would probably like the fit of the 40L, I’d suggest people shorter than 5’5″ to go with the 35L for a better fit.

This pack has been a long time coming with Clik Elite and I’m glad to have been a part of the development.  There are a few key features to this camera pack that stick out as different from the pack.  The Contrejour has a curve to the pack to more closely follow the curvature of your back that is built into the aluminum frame as well as the rigid foam camera block that is built into the pack.  Having the camera block built into the pack makes for one less thing to move around while you are skiing, snowboarding, biking, hiking, etc to help keep the bag glued to your back while you are charging hard to get into location.

Continue reading ‘Clik Elite Contrejour 35 / 40 Photo Backpack Review’

Speedlight flash brackets + DIY speedlight bracket for four flashes

21Apr11

There are two reasons you are looking at this post.  You either use speedlights a lot due to their small size and weight or you are insanely cheap.  Either way, this bracket is both cheap and useful for both sides.  I tend to use big lights for most of my lighting, however on a lot of trips with air travel I’m forced to bring a limited kit due to baggage limitations.  I’ve had a 2-flash bracket setup for a while now to double up my speedlights and get a bit more output from the little guys.  After breaking one of the delrin shoe mounts on it, I decided to make a bigger one.  I’ve wanted to be able to mount three or four speedlights on one stand before so this was a great time to do so.

Now don’t try to fool yourself, four speedlights aren’t going to equal an Elinchrom Ranger, Quadra or Alien Bees 800 or 1600.  They will however boost your output to help fill in the blanks a bit more with less weight in the dreaded 50 pound limit checked airline baggage.

There are a few options out there for this application, (like the Dot Line RPS Studio Light Bar) however the shoe mounts used just do not hold the flashes securely enough for my taste.  I’d rather spend a few extra bucks on knowing that my speedlights are secure.  Another good option is the Interfit INT337 Strobies Triple Flash Bracket, it’s smaller than my bracket which is great for travel, however two of the three flashes are mounted vertically, changing the beam pattern and there’s only room for three flashes instead of four.

For all you insanely cheap people out there, you could find cheaper shoe’s out there and then just bolt them on with 3/4”- 1/4”x20 bolts and save a few bucks. I chose the Stroboframe shoe’s beceause they are bomber. I’ve had a few different ones made of delrin, other plastics with some metal, and they all seem to break. These stroboframe one’s are bomber, and have strong clamping power to keep your speedlights on the bracket, and off the ground.

So if you are willing to take a bit more time than ordering something off B&H’s website to get something a bit larger, more versitile and tougher, then read on, the directions on how to make your own quad speedlight bracket is below.

Continue reading ‘Speedlight flash brackets + DIY speedlight bracket for four flashes’

What’s in the bag

05Jan11

inside the camera_pack

One of the things I do get requests for is a “what’s in the bag” post.  So, here it is.  This is a pretty full kit, it would be what I’d bring to an urban shoot where I’m driving to the location, or for a park shoot where it’s easy to get around and carrying 40+ lbs on my back isn’t that big of a deal.

The camera backpack is a Clik Elite Contrejour 35 L

Camera Compartment:

inside the camera_pack2

Accessories:

  • (2) Pocket Wizard Flex TT5 Transceivers
  • (2) Pocket Wizard Plus II Transceivers
  • (1) Pocket Wizard Plus Receiver
  • (5) Pocket Wizard Multimax Transceivers
  • Nikon D40 (Extra small DSLR camera body with a CCD sensor and electronic shutter capable of full-frame flash sync up to 1/1250 second.
  • Canon Powershot S95
  • Filters
  • Cokin P ND Filter Holder
  • Adhesive Backed Body Warmer (To keep batteries warm and functional in extreme cold)
  • US Customs form 4457 (Proof of ownership forms.  I keep these in the pack since I’ll probably forget to pack them when I actually need them)
  • Pocket Wizard N90M3 Nikon Motor Drive Cable (Connects Nikon camera bodies to a Pocket Wizard for remote firing)
  • Nikon MC-12B cable release
  • Black Diamond Icon headlamp (Lots of range and great for skiing down in the dark after shooting night shots up on the mountain)
  • Sync Cables
  • Lip Balm
  • AA Batteries
  • Extra memory cards
  • Gels for speedlights
  • Electrical tape (Almost as good as duct tape, but doesn’t leave a residue behind)
  • Battery tester
  • Rocket Blaster (Keep your lenses and image sensors clean!)
  • Burton AK powerstretch glove liners (best gloves for shooting in the cold, comfortable with good feel from 5 degrees F on up)
  • Fruit Leather, Cliff Shots, any other snacks
  • Aleve (Always good to have a few over the counter pain killers for rough days, and for athletes with rough landings)
  • PS3 controller (Most times when I’m shooting with Tom Wallisch, he makes really tech tricks look too easy so I’ll plug him into Amped 3 get him started on the next impossible trick)
  • Balsa wood plane (Sometimes shooting urban can get really really really slow after I’ve gotten all my shots I can get)

Clik Elite Volt Camera Backpack Review

18Nov10

Clik Elite Volt front view

I’ve been working with Clik Elite for the past year and while most of my involvement in development has been with the Contrejour 35 & 40, the ClikStand series of packs is something I’ve been very interested in as it would be a single consolidated package of pack and stand for my strobes.

Continue reading ‘Clik Elite Volt Camera Backpack Review’

Red Bull Rampage

11Oct10

Mike Hopkins jumping the 45 foot canyon gap at the 2010 Red Bull Rampage in Virgin, UtahNikon D3 / Nikon 16mm f2.8 Fisheye / ISO 200 @ 1/1000 sec @ f6.3 / Elinchrom Ranger RX AS Speed with A-Head / Pocket Wizard FlexTT5 Transcievers for Nikon

I finally had the opportunity to make it to the Red Bull Rampage this summer.  The Red Bull Rampage is the event of all events in mountain biking.   It’s an event I’ve wanted to go to since it’s inception almost 10 years ago and just never had the time or opportunity to make it.  This year I finally did.  I was fortunate enough to snag a media credential to this event and I shot it my way.  Of course, I shot it with strobes.  I’ve been testing some of the new Pocket Wizard FlexTT5’s for Nikon in development and with the lack of skiing in October, I was stoked to be able to have something this awesome to shoot and test the new gear out with.   I was one of the few that was using lighting out there, it’s a very difficult event to be doing that.  The action moves from spot to spot and at times you could see hoards of photographers and cinematographers sprinting from location to location in between runs to setup the next shot.  The event is pure madness.  From the insane action to the endless clouds of orange dust to the thunderstorms to the desert heat to the helicopters and 3d camera rigs it was just pure madness.  I’m so glad I went, I’ll have some more to share soon.

I’ll have more later about the new Pocket Wizard FlexTT5’s for Nikon.  For now though, I’ve been able to get full hypersync at 1/640 of a second with an Elinchrom Ranger RX AS Speed with A-Head at full power as well as with Alien Bees 400, 800 and 1600’s with half-frame (only the top half of the frame exposed with flash) hypersync up to 1/1000 of a second and about 1/3 hypersync (only the top 1/3 of the frame exposed with flash) hypersync at 1/1250 of a second.  With the Profoto 7b’s and the Pocket Wizard FlexTT5’s for Nikon I was able to get a seemingly endless hypersync, however the output of the flash is limited  due to the shutter speed cutting off the flash due to 7b’s slower flash durations at full power.

I’m really stoked on the potential of what I can do with the new Pocket Wizard FlexTT5’s for Nikon.  What I’ve only previously been able to do with the 6mp Nikon D40 and D70 with high speed sync, I’m now able to do at 12mp with my D3 and if need be, the 24.5mp Nikon D3x.  They will hopefully be released soon!

Pocket Wizard Multimax – new 7.5 firmware in long range mode

08Jun10

New Pocket Wizard Multimax with USB portA little while ago Pocket Wizard announced the new v7.5 firmware for their new Multimax units that have the USB port for firmware updates.  Included with the new firmware are a few useful features:

  • Long and short range mode
  • Noise sniffer
  • Signal strength meter
  • Radio relay (Repeater mode)

Since I just got the new Multimax’s at the tail end of my spring terrain park shoot season I was only able to test out a few of the new features.  The signal strength meter is a really good tool for sure to have going, especially in a long range situation which is usually the situations that I’m shooting on the mountain.  A lot of time’s I’m shooting with my 70-200mm lens and am pretty far away from my strobes so being able to see what the signal strength is from my Multimax is a good tool to try and pre-determine if I’m wandering out of the radio signal’s range.

The other upgrade I was able to test out was the long range mode.  I was shooting photos of freeskiers Simon Dumont, Matt Walker and LJ Strenio sliding an urban rail with Poor Boyz Productions a few weeks ago and started wandering out a bit further from the scene and my lights .  As I found my shot I realized I could have a few problems with radio interference with the shot I had setup.  My first problem was being surrounded by some steel chainlink fence, my second was not having line of sight to my strobes, the third was laying up against the steel chainlink fence.  Too add to this I was laying on the ground so I could get the grass in the foreground and to finish things off I was in an urban environment with power lines directly above me.

Simon Dumont sliding a loading dock rail in Bend, Oregon - PBP

I was about 300 feet away, a bit on the middle end of the range of the Multimax’s but with all these factors and radio interference I couldn’t get consistent signal and my strobes were firing a little erratically.  Since this was a perfect time to try out the new long distance mode I began sprinting back and fourth between my shooting location and making sure I had everything dialed with the Multimax’s on the three strobes I had setup on the scene.  The long range mode worked and in a situation I may not have been able to take the shot I wanted previously, I was able to get the shot I wanted with lighting.

I spoke with some of the people at Pocket Wizard and the reason long range mode works is they slowed down the data rates and increased the error correction.  This is supposed to have an impact on the maximum usable shutter speed, however I was able to sync this shot at 1/1000 of a second with my Nikon D40 body.  With that being said, I’ll have to do a bit more testing to see at what shutter speed the reliability begins to degrade in long range mode.

Check back later for a more complete review.

Lowel 0133 Omni Light Stand – 9′ tall, compact + Lowell KPH Half Pole 3′ Extension

26Dec09

It’s again that time of year for me, the season is ramping up and time to replace old broken and lost gear.  In an effort to pack lighter for trips on the unfriendly skies I recently looked at my pile of light stands looking for a way to cut some weight and to get things in smaller bags.  In the past I’ve been packing my rolling ski bag in order to get my older 9 foot Bogen light stand in the mix.  The nine foot basic stand sits at 36″ long folded up and weighs in at three pounds.  While it’s a pretty good sturdy stand, packing my rolling ski bag around the airport and small rental cars really sucks.

Lowell 0133 Omni Light Stand

Continue reading ‘Lowel 0133 Omni Light Stand – 9′ tall, compact + Lowell KPH Half Pole 3′ Extension’




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