Paul C. Buff makes the Einstein E640, a monolight with variable power in 1⁄10-stop increments across an 8-stop range—from 2.5ws up to full 640ws output. World travelers will appreciate the "global plug-and-play" feature that makes the flash compatible with AC power anywhere. Action Mode minimizes the flash duration down to 1/13,000 sec. for high-speed photography, and a Micro SD card slot can be used to upgrade the unit's firmware when features are added in the future. Estimated Street Price: $500. www.paulcbuff.com
Adorama's monolights are for photographers on a budget. The Budget Monolight Kit #4 includes three 100ws monolights, three light stands, two umbrellas, a barn door set, a snoot and a Softex carrying case. These little strobes are portable, too, weighing less than one pound each at just seven inches long. The flashes can be fired via built-in photocells or the included 12-foot sync cord. Deluxe features and fine controls are limited, but in such a compact and affordable unit that's to be expected. Estimated Street Price: $290 (kit); $50 (monolight). www.adorama.com
Dynalite has long been known for making high-quality strobes in highly portable packages, but the ultimate in location portability comes from a Uni400JR monolight and Jackrabbit battery pack. The kit combo brings studio lighting control to the most remote locations. The 400ws monolight is 320ws when used with the Jackrabbit, and power is adjustable in 1⁄3-stop increments across a 4-stop range. Expect 150 flashes at full power, or up to 300 at quarter-power. Estimated Street Price: $1,100. www.dynalite.com
The Speedotron Force monolights are compatible with all Speedotron light-control accessories. The Force 5 500ws monolight is fan-cooled and recycles fast enough to produce 4 fps shooting at low power. Like the Force 5, the 1000ws Force 10 uses a focusing ring to change the beam angle of a normal reflector from 35º to 90º, with variable power in 1⁄3-stop increments over a range of 8 stops. Estimated Street Price: $720 (500ws); $830 (1000ws). www.speedotron.com
For photographers looking to get started with studio lighting, Elinchrom has made it easy with its D-Lite-4 it and D-Lite-2 it "To Go" sets. These kits include two lights (200ws or 400ws), stands, softboxes, a stand case and a hard light case, as well as a SkyPort radio transmitter and built-in receivers for wireless connectivity. To trigger the strobes with a camera's pop-up flash, the D-Lites can be set to work around red-eye-reducing pre-flashes. Microprocessor-controlled fans switch on automatically based on internal temperatures, too. Estimated Street Price: $690 (D-Lite-it 4); $810 (D-Lite-it 2).
Upgrade To Wireless Control
For the ultimate in convenience and flexibility, a remote triggering and control system like the Radio Popper JrX gives you enhanced control of studio lights. Radio technology means you don't need to worry about line of sight or sunlight interference. You can even adjust the output of compatible strobes remotely. The modular system can be expanded to control compatible Nikon and Canon speedlights, too. The studio kit includes one JrX Transmitter and one Receiver for $169. www.radiopopper.com