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Found: $30 LED Modeling Light for Your AlienBees

When the Elinchrom Ranger Quadras came out a couple of years ago, one of their groundbreaking features was the inclusion of a low-drain, LED modeling lamp.

Pure genius. Especially since traditional modeling lights usually drain your batts faster than the flash itself does.

And if you are an AlienBees/Vagabond user, now you can get this same cool tech on the cheap.

The idea is simple: LEDs use less than 1/10th as much current per lumen output as do traditional modeling lights. As a result, when using a battery pack the modeling light usage can kick total flash pop capacity in the groin.

But as long as you do not need a ton of light, there is a way for you AB/Vagabond users to have your cake and eat it, too.

A little backstory. We have been working towards self sufficiency with our energy use in our home ever since move-in day. We went solar last year, and have also been whittling away at the amount of energy we actually consume.

We went all-CFL a ways back. But for the outside lights which run all night, it made sense to make the jump to LEDs. My search led me to LEDtronics, from whom we bought seven LED outdoor bulbs.

They weren't cheap, but they also use a total of 19.6 watts -- for all seven outdoor bulbs. It is pretty awesome, really, and we have been very happy with them. Payback comes after a couple of years, but that does not count the satisfaction I get from the sheer cool factor of having LED outside lighting. Just kinda neat.

And on a lark, I tried one of the bulbs in an AB1600, and it fit inside the flash tube perfectly. It is a 35-watt equiv. bulb, that uses 2.8 watts of power. Less lumens than the standard modeling lights, to be sure. But these are not for typical use.

For those of you who use AB's and Vagabonds, and need enough modeling light to focus by for, say, post-sunset portraits, they are perfect. You can just let them burn full-time, with almost no noticeable drain on your battery.

Heck, when the power goes out, you would have light in your house for many days, too, with an LED/Vagabond combo. Just skip the AB and run it in a normal table lamp.

Come to think of it, when you are not using them for an evening battery shoot, they can replace a 40-watt incandescent bulb in your house -- and save you 37.2 watts of power in the process. So if you ever use ABs in that way, it seems like a no-brainer.

There are three versions of the bulb: Clear, frosted and milky. (Clear is shown just above, so you can see the guts.) The trade-off is light unification vs. output. Clear gives you more light, but you might see the 27 surface mount LED emitters as multiple sources in the light bulb. I went with frosted, and have been happy.

One note: I do not think these are designed to be dimmed. So leave your model tracking switch set to "off" on the AB's when using them.

LEDtronics has a gazillion kinds of LED bulbs for just about any use. But the $29.95 versions that fit the AB's perfectly (in three flavors) are here.


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