Paul C Buff Einstein 640WS
For a while now I've been renting studio strobes just when I need them but I recently made the decision to invest in some lighting of my own. The guys at CSI Rentals here in Manhattan are great and I've mainly rented the Hensel three-light kit. I like the Hensels, they're built like tanks, easy to operate and have plenty of power for what I need. BUT... they're not marketed particularly well here in the US and that means they're not as common as they could be which leads to a situation where finding accessories and after-market additions can be a pain.
Anyway, after a fair amount of research, talking to other pros and listening to some of the comments from people like Zack Arias and Joel Grimes, both reasonably high-profiled and well respected pros, I decided to buy the Einsteins 640WS by Paul C Buff. My initial reaction when unboxing them was that they feel a little plasticky, at least in comparison to the Hensels I'm used to. I suppose that's not surprising really since they are made of plastic! However, the build quality is actually very good and I would put them well ahead of the Elinchrom 500 RX, which is another light I've had a fair amount of experience with. The thing I really like about the Einsteins, apart from the power range and fast flash duration (9 stops, 2.5WS-640WS and 1/13500 sec in Action mode), is the LED control panel and the intuitive interface. OK, its probably not as slick as Profoto or Broncolor but then at around 25% of the cost for those brands would you really expect it to be?
I also bought the 60" PLM - for those who are unfamiliar with Paul C Buff products the PLM is a large umbrella style modifier with a diffusion panel. It's a bit more fiddly than an umbrella to assemble but its constructed better than any umbrella I've used and offers a very controllable light which is very soft when used with the diffuser.
So far the whole package feels like great value and I'm intending to add a 22" beauty dish to the rig. However, I don't particularly like the look of the Paul C Buff beauty dish. It receives mixed reviews and longer term Buff users seem to confirm the earlier model dish is superior in construction and light quality. There shouldn't be a problem finding adapters etc so I'll be looking elsewhere for a beauty dish.
I use alien bees and have a 22" Kacey Beautydish I use on almost every shoot. They will attach an adaptor before they ship it to you. I have a 3rd party grid for it which is a bit of a pain so I would consider getting one from Kacey at the same time. As I live in Australia, shipping is a huge cost but if I could I would be tempted by their 45" huge beauty dish (but it is not cheep). Lately, I have been using 2 7ft PCB umbrellas with diffusers on the side and the BD in the front and 1 more 7ft umbrella well in front for a broad fill. The 7ft umbrellas are magical.
check out Kacey stuff at
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