howdy folks,

Today I saw a new light modifier from AlienBees that reminded me of a light bank made by Elinchrom.

Here’s a link to how they would be used (a link to Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider where he used the Elinchrom Octa Light Bank).

I wanted to see how they compared.

Both products work like brolly boxes.  Both are modelled on the good kind – where you shoot into a reflector umbrella through a flat diffuser (not the bad kind – a shoot through umbrella with a black back). 

The AlienBee product and the Elinchrom unit are around  74 inches (190 cm).  The Elinchrom appears to be a deeper unit, but I suspect that is due to the light placement (see the next point).  I was a little misled by AlienBee describing their product  as 86 inches, but tucking in a disclaimer that that was the arc measurement of the umbrella and not the flat plane (face) opening measurement.  After I catching my error, I noticed other similar clarifications (covering the same info) tucked in around the product page.

The AlienBee modifier has the light attach outside the lightsource. The Elinchrom Light Bank encloses the light within the modifier. The elinchrom unit would probably have less of a blind spot from the light itself.

When it comes to price, there isn’t much of a comparison.  The AlienBee Silver 86″ 16 Rib Parabolic Umbrella runs $75 plus you’ll probably want the diffuser front ($28) and a light and stand.  The Elinchrom unit is self contained reflector and stand for a cool $989 .  It does come with the stand and diffuser but you’ll still need to provide the lighting unit yourself.

Call me crazy, but I think the AlienBee unit is a pretty awesome deal.  Don’t get me wrong, I like Elinchrom products and use my Elinchrom skyports almost every time I use my camera.  But…. with a 800 dollar difference, I think I could sacrifice a little build quality as a low volume photographer.  It’s probably the best of both worlds, my skyports still work with the AlienBee Lights and I get a killer light modifier on the cheap.  Now to find a battery pack to become mobile.

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