The 3200 performed flawlessly. The softbox light was gentle and enveloping.
The head comes with the flash tube, protective cover, modeling bulb, standard
reflector, AC cord, and PC cord. It weighs about 51¼ lbs. That means
it needs a sturdy stand to be stable. And it has one. At normal studio operation
extensions, it's quite stable. The stand tubing extended out to a maximum
of 146", making it possible to elevate the head to about 13 ft. Even at
its maximum extension, it still stands solidly enough. It's important,
though, to watch the weight distribution and cable connections when extended
close to its maximum height. It's much more susceptible to being pulled
down by an inadvertent cable yank or loose strobe head.
The Excalibur 3200 equipped with a softbox provided excellent results
as a single-light setup. (Model: Janell Cantu.)
The stand is air-cushioned, which means that the tubing was designed to maintain
a certain amount of air pressure in it. If a knob is accidentally left loose
or comes loose, the extension tube doesn't come crashing down. The air
pressure keeps it up. Yet, when you want to collapse the tubing, it doesn't
take a lot of pressure to do so. The entire unit breaks down very quickly. The
second unit is considerably smaller. The S920's light temperature measures
out at an average of just over 5600K, with direct output readings being f/16
at full power, f/11 at half power, and f/8 at quarter power. With the umbrella,
full power readings were f/5.6.
Like its larger cousin, all the controls are on a real panel. But the ready
light and the slave sensor are on the top. The stand for that unit, which extends
to 88", is lightweight. It's adequate for that head, but couldn't
do double duty for anything heavier. The smaller unit is compact enough and
light enough to carry along just about anywhere. It's AC powered, which
means it has to be tethered to a wall outlet, unless some form of auxiliary
power is provided.
The S920 is considerably smaller than the 3200, but it still puts
out quite a bit of light. It's easy to focus the light with
pinpoint precision using the attached snoot.
The complete kit has a suggested list price of $999.95. If the components
were purchased individually, the cost would be closer to $1400. That's
a $400 savings.
Some photographers prefer to put their own lighting systems together by selecting
and matching the individual elements. That may be a good approach for photographers
who've had the opportunity to shoot with a wide range of different professional
lighting gear and know what types and brands of equipment work well together.
But, for photographers who are interested in getting a quick start in studio
lighting, a better approach is to go with a matched system such as BKA's
Pro Starter Kit.
For more information, contact Brandess-Kalt-Aetna Group, Inc., 701 Corporate
Woods Parkway, Vernon Hills, IL 60061; (847) 821-0450; www.bkaphoto.com.