I'm working on a lighting solution for my studio. All of the lights will be 100% stationary and I'm wondering if there's a way to get flashes that I can just plug into the wall instead of bothering with batteries all the time.

I've seen projects like this which I'm comfortable experimenting with, but the potential for failure at the wrong time is just too much for my needs. I want something that's reliable, recycles reasonably quickly ( < 4 seconds) and can be made to run off of AC without modding.

A full manual flash is fine, I don't need bells and whistles. I'm planning to set these flashes to a certain setting and forgetting about them.

  • Any other cheaper options? Also looking for a sub $100 solution. Some flashes like the Nikon SB-26 appear to have an external power port, but no widely available A/C adapter. – user6696 Sep 22 '11 at 17:43
  • Not really an answer, but if you are 100% stationary wouldn't two sets of rechargeable batteries and a battery charger be much simpler? Swap the batteries every hour or two. – DJClayworth Sep 26 '11 at 20:06
  • That's actually what I'm doing now, but the battery switching interrupts the flow of the shoot and I'm not sure what the lifetime of the batteries is (can they take 10 charges? 100 charges? 1000?) – Brian Sep 27 '11 at 3:56

Have a look at Alien Bees. I have 4 of the B800s and they're fun to work with, can be triggered remote, and are very nicely priced. All manual, but as you say, it's not really an issue. Anyways, I very much like mine, so they come recommended from me at any rate. :)

As a side note, they're probably less than a regular hot shoe flash as well given the potential output and other handy features.

  • Awesome, I'll take a look! – Brian Sep 19 '11 at 19:33
  • @John -- can you explain "can be triggered remote", unless you mean the bare obvious, which is not different than any other flash unit? Also, by "less" you mean pricewise? (pardon me for being a little slow today) – ysap Sep 24 '11 at 7:14
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    Just curious - what is the life expectancy of the bulb, and how pricy are these to maintain? Also, they can't work in Hi-Sync Speed mode, can they? – ysap Sep 24 '11 at 7:15
  • @ysap - I meant you can hook up radio triggers (I use the cheap Cactus v4 triggers and they haven't failed yet) or use the built in slave tripping features (optical). Anyways, the flash tubes are rated at over 250,000 shots, so I don't imagine you'd be replacing unless there was breakage. As for price, some of the high-end hotshoe flashes actually cost more, these are only $280. – John Cavan Sep 24 '11 at 15:12

New Vivitar 285 flashes are about $90 and support AC power using the SB-4 AC adapter. B&H has a third party SB-4 for $15.

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    Just a warning, in case you try shopping for a bargain on a 285: make you sure you get a 285HV, as: "PLEASE NOTE that older 285s which are NOT designated as "HV" are NOT voltage safe and can fry your digital baby. Be warned." (per strobist.blogspot.com/2007/02/return-of-classic.html) – user2910 Sep 24 '11 at 4:04
  • This looks like it would be perfect, but I'm scared of the 4.8s recycle time (when using the adapter). Do you think that's a worst case estimate (brightest settings) or a best case estimate? – Brian Sep 24 '11 at 4:33
  • Wow, very slow recycle time (according to the specs) I thought that the point of AC power is to accelerate that time. FWIW, a SafeSync device can solve the trigger voltage problem. – ysap Sep 24 '11 at 7:20
  • More on that here: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/6099/… – ysap Sep 24 '11 at 7:28

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