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Calumet Travelites

eric waller , Feb 06, 2007; 08:56 p.m.

I have no experience with monolights and was about to take the plunge with some Alien Bees or White Lightnings.

I have stumbled onto a connection to obtain some Calumet Travelites which enjoy a great reputation on this and other forums. I plan on using these lights (2 of them to begin with) for shooting some head shots, 3/4 shots and both small and large groups - say up to 10 to 12 people - full length using 2 umbrellas or shoot through umbrellas. Softboxes will probably come later.

I have the opportunity to obtain either (1) two 750w/s Travelites or (2) one 750w/s and one 375 w/s Travelite. I think I understand that using two 750 w/s lights will have me dialing them back pretty severely when shooting from 1 to 3 folks head or 3/4 shots. I am concerned though about having too little power when shooting full length couples or groups.

I need to make a hasty decision since the window of opportunity to obtain the deal is relatively small. Is it a major problem to have two 750's and "too much" power? The way I am leaning, I'd rather err on too much power and use ND gels rather than come up short on w/s's. I figure the bigger lights will also help if I move them outdoors and try to overcome daytime ambient light.

When and if I get a 3rd light to use as a rim light or backround light, I would almost assuredly opt for a 375w/s, but how about for the key and fill lights?

Any suggestions? I am shooting digital, by the way and my experience has been with SB800's into umbrellas which are a problem outdoors shot into umbrellas. Need to have the umbrellas WAY close to the subject in order to be able to stop down a reasonable fstop for dof purposes.

Responses

eric waller , Feb 06, 2007; 09:04 p.m.

One other follow up. The Calumet Travelite kits that I am considering come with the LiteLink wireless triggers. I understand these may not be in the same league as Pocket Wizards, but anyone have anything pro or con to say about the Litelink triggers? They certainly are less expensive than the PW's, although I fear that one gets what one pays for.

Mark Feldstein , Feb 06, 2007; 10:27 p.m.

Hi ya Eric. Spoken it seems as a loyal "Strobist" <g>. I know lighting outdoors using an SB800 into a small umbrella is a bit like emptying the ocean with a tablespoon. I think you'll find it's much better to have waaay too much power than too little, especially working with modifiers like softboxes and umbrellas. I'd go with the 750's and ratio them down as you need them.

I believe you'll find the Travelites are manufactured for Calumet by Bowens in England. I have six Bowens monolights ranging from 1500 W.S. and 1000 and two 750's. The 750s work fine in 3' x 4' softboxes, Chimera Stripbanks and 60" umbrellas, indoors or out. I've had them about 5 years and IMHO they're excellent for studio and/or location shooting. They're really portable, lightweight but not flimsy. I can easily throw 4 in a Tenba Air Case with power cords and light weight. Their light output is also excellent (I use their UV coated tubes), modeling lights and the lights as a whole are extremely reliabile and they also seem to be pretty durable. Forget the ND gels and just use a smaller f-stop. ;>)

The IR triggers that are built-into my lights are quite sensitive and never seem to fail unless their complete line of sight is blocked. I also use them with Pocket Wizards. Again, I think all the Bowens gear is quite reliable and I haven't really heard anything negative about Calumet other than being a tad too pricey at times.

For comparison shopping, you should check out any ongoing deals at http://www.bhphotovideo.com for Bowens kits OR http://www.bowens.co.uk/catalog/

Take it light. Mark

Markus Arike , Feb 06, 2007; 11:56 p.m.

What I don't get is the Bowens 2-500 w/s light kit at B&H is the same price as the Calumet Travelite 1500 kit, which has the 2 750 w/s lights. Seems like they are identical lights, each made by Bowens, but I guess the "genuine" Bowens carry a higher premium.

Both seem to be quality kits. My only gripe is the Bowens kit above is that it seems to only include one reflector, and the monolights don't appear to be fan cooled. For this reason, I've decided to purchase the Hensel Integra Pro Kit which has many good features, 6-stop range, 300 W modeling lights, and includes a medium soft box. The Integra Pro Plus Kit, for a bit more, has built- in radio slaves & a slick hot-shoe mountable transmitter that fires and controls power levels.

Between the Alien Bees and the Camulet Travelites to me is no contest: the Travelite's win hands down. The Travelite's also seem to be a better buy than the Bowens, but someone who has used both would be a better source for a comparison.

eric waller , Feb 07, 2007; 12:06 a.m.

thanks for the feedback guys. I am waiting to hear others weigh in, but so far, you guys seem to confirm my conclusions. And yes, the Calumet Travelites are nothing more than re-badged Bowen lights. I looked at both at the Manhattan Photo show last November and the Bowen's guy flat out admitted it.

Not sure why one would pay more for Bowen rather than the Travelites. If you look at them side by side, they are not "close" to the same; they are EXACTLY the same.

Of course, I have thought this a through a bit further since I first posed the question and an alternate solution might be to buy the one 750 and the one 375 and then, if I feel the need for more light, I can purchase another 750 and end up with the 3rd 375 backlight that I ultimately think I will one day own.

Wish I selected a less expensive hobby........

Larry Hunt , Feb 11, 2007; 02:05 p.m.

The travelites are wonderful units, the LiteLinks are another story; I ditched mine for some good old Quantum Radio Slaves and haven't had a problem with flunky reception since

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