Dennis C. Boyd » An adventure into Photography

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Lightstand/Umbrella kits – Elinchrom vs Photogenic

A few months ago I was looking for a Lightstand/Umbrella kit to go with my 580’s.

I ended up chosing the Elinchrom Umbrella & Stand “Set to Go” 2xStands, 2xUmbrellas, Bag kit from Vistek.ca.  Price wise as well as shipping time, lack of duty and import taxes… well… for $149.95 CAN… best all in one deal I could find to start off with (I was not sure what all I needed to start with so a kit seemed like the best choice).

elinchrom-umbrella-stand

  • 1 – Umbrella silver 83 cm
  • 1 – Umbrella translucent 83 cm
  • 2- Stand 88 x 235 cm
  • 1 – Elinchrom Carrying bag

Honestly… I have to admit… I loved this setup… until last night.

Yes… after talking with Joel extensively about the lighting setups after our first foray into off-camera lighting… he went with a few different things than I picked for my setup.

I stuck with the Canon 580 series of speedlights to start off with as well as the ST-E2 so I could have the best of both worlds… off camera lighting with the ability to use E-TTL when I wanted to.  I also went to the Cybersyncs after the fact to get even more range out of the Canon 580’s and to not have to worry about bright sunny days outside interfering with the remote setup.

Joel decided to go with the Vivitar 285HV’s after a long chat about light options.  The Nikon speedlights are expensive and even though they would retain the TTL functionality of the Nikon system… again… he would need to spend a LOT more $$$ just for that option.  The Vivitars although they do not offer the range of adjustments the Nikon flashes do… are simple to adjust, have built in gel holders and are 1/4 of the price (yes… you can get at least 4 Vivitars for the price of one new Nikon SB800 or SB900 flash).

He also decided to go with a different lightstand/umbrella set up than I did.  We found the best prices for these items through B & H photo and since he was ordering the flashes… decided to go with their Photogenic Two Umbrella and Stand Kit ($ 151.95 US) as well as the Vivitar 285HV flashes ($ 89.95 US).  We talked about individual stands and umbrellas from Vistek… but due to wanting the Vivitars… figured it would save on shipping buying all from the same place.  He also ordered up a set of the Cybersyncs from Paul Buff and cables from Lon at Flash Zebra.

photogenic-two-umbrella-and-stand-kit

  • 2-EC45BC Eclipse Umbrellas
  • 2-UM4 Umbrella Mounts
  • 2-TALS8 Air-Cushioned Stands
  • 1-OB42 Case

Now… although I’m not to fond of the silver lightstand colour… or the screws that secure the risers in the light stands… I do love the fact that the stands are air cushion (so if the drop by accident they do not SLAM down and break whatever light is being supported).  I also LOVE the umbellas that come with the kit as they are quite a bit bigger than my Elinchrom (32.7in) cheapies…

The umbrellas themselves are actually made quite a bit different as mine are plain and simple like the cheapest ones you could imagine at a big box store for kids… lightweight fabric, flimsy, small shafts and the supports are right on the inside of the fabric so they might show through when shooting.  This Photogenic kit the umbrellas have a removable black cover on each umbellla so you can use them both as bouce umbrellas, or take the covers off and shoot through them.  Also, the rods supporting the umbrella when it is extended out are on the outside of the fabric (toward the subject, not on the inside by the flash like mine) so there is less chance of the rods showing up in the shot.  The light should diffuse a bit before getting to the rods as the fabric is flash side as opposed to subject side.

Note:  My Elinchrom umbrellas are simply one translucent shoot through umbrella and one black on one side/silver on the inside bounce umbrella.  No option to switch them up… plain and simple… one duty for each… no choice beside moving them from stand to stand if you want to change setups.

Also to note, with the Elinchrom unit I had to get seperate umbrella/flash mounts.  I think this kit came with them.  My umbrellas do not lock into place as the umbrella shafts are too small for the standard light/umbrella mounts… so I can’t even tilt them down without worry of the umbrella falling out, the Photogenic kit they stay securely in place.

To top it all off… my kit bag is just two open areas… the lightstands just go in together, the umbrellas in their little section.  Sure enough… they get dinged and scratched.  The Photogenic kit has individual holders for each item… and even though the bag is a LOT bigger, less chance of items being damaged while transporting them.

So… given the fact that I had to buy seperate light/umbrella mounts to go with my kit, both of them worked out to roughly the same price.  Yes… duty comes into play… but considering the quality difference of the two… I’m thinking I should have given myself the advice I gave Joel and held off and bought the Photogenic kit instead.

Comments

  1. Harvinder says:

    Hey man,
    Came across your post when I was looking for the elinchrom “to go” kit. Good work… I went the 2 x 580exIIs route. I don’t like the fact that the umbrella kit only has 2 non-convertible umbrellas. I like the translucent.

    Anyways, thanks for helping me make my decision. You’re site is awesome!

    Harvinder

  2. admin says:

    Heh Harvinder… thanks so much for posting… never really sure if it makes sense to anyone 🙂

    I honestly did love the kit… until I got to use Joels’ Photogenic setup… now I’m cursing myself for buying the Elinchrom setup. Not that it’s bad… but you basically just write off the umbrellas and have to add those to the purchase price.

    Thanks for the comments! 🙂

  3. eddie kinsella says:

    i have baught your stand/ umbrella set to go only to find there is no way to put the umbrellas onto the stands is this another way get more money from people if so then ill be takeing them back to the shop ware i baught them just like all manfactors just not good sport man no heads to start working with the set so very nasty thing to find out when you have spent the time to get the kitand not cheap here in ireland so any help would be grate thanks

  4. admin says:

    Eddie:

    As seen in the photos, the Elinchrom set does not have the umbrella adapters (not sure about the other brand, but they do show them so I would hope they do) nor do either brands include such things as hotshoes. You do not need them for studio lights (i.e. Elinchrom) but for small off camera flashes like the Canon 580’s or the Vivitars you do need a few other things to make things mate up properly.

    Personally I gave a call to Flash Zebra as they are highly recommended and honestly… Lon is simply amazing and I wholeheartedly recommend him to everyone. I ended up picking up a couple of Umbrella Adapters (also called a Swivel Bracket – Item #0041) as well as a couple of PC to Flash Hotshoe Adapters (Item #0065) from him for my flashes to mate up with the Cybersyncs. My Cybersyncs came with an assortment of cables (my Elinchrom BX’s came with its’ own cord) so I was set in that aspect but still needed a few things for the 580’s.

    Also, if you are using studio strobes like the Elinchrom BX’s, you do not need the umbrella adapters as the umbrellas go right through the studio lights themselves and the lights already have an attachment built right into the bottom of them.

    The only other thing I wish I had got were the Screwlock PC Sync Cords which he suggested as the regular ones that come with the Cybersyncs do loosen up over time and the screwlocks would be so much more secure.

    Give Lon a shout… even though he had to ship Internationally to us here in Canada, he did so right away as well as answered all my questions on how to match up my flashes to the stands, cybersyncs and all.

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