Calumet Travelite 750 One Head Umbrella Kit
A Rugged Location Light

My favorite photograph from this test shot with Chelsea Brooke Pohl was made using the Travelite 750, with 45" silver/white umbrella with the black covering removed and the umbrella reversed and used in "shoot through" mode. The light was placed to the right of the model creating the strong, yet soft shadows next to her head. Shutter speed on a Contax AX was set at 1/30 sec with an aperture between f/5.6 and f/8. Lens was a Carl Zeiss 50mm f/1.7 and film was Kodak Elite Chrome 200.
Photos © 2001, Joe Farace, All Rights Reserved

If you're a location photographer who needs a lighting kit that's lightweight, rugged, and can handle whatever kind of assignment that gets thrown at it, Calumet's Travelite 750 One-Head Umbrella Kit may be just what you need. With a price tag under $550, the kit includes a 750 ws Travelite monolight that's newly redesigned to recycle 30 percent faster, has 25 percent shorter flash durations, and weighs less than the original model.

More Power, Less Waiting
Travelite monolights are available in either 750 or 375 ws versions. Both models feature fast recycle times (2.1 sec for the 750 and 1.7 sec for the 375) and brief flash durations (1/600 of a sec for the 750 and 1/900 of a sec for the 375). The power supply for both units is internally stabilized to produce reliable output. Simple controls combined with user-friendly graphics on the back and side of the black welded-steel housing make the monolight easy to use, although it's still a good idea to review the eight-page instruction manual. All of the power and modeling light settings that you need constant access to are found on the side of the unit, while power and slave switches are on the back along with the power cord outlet. The rear-mounted handgrip makes for quick positioning and it's easy to tote the monolight around. A rotating knob lets you set power output at any one of the marked settings of Full, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, or 1/32 power and the dial is continuously variable so you can set it anywhere to establish a specific f/stop that you might want to use for a particular shot. A rocker switch lets you set the modeling light to full or proportional, depending on ambient lighting conditions or how you prefer to work.

This photograph of Crystal Morgan was made using the Travelite 750, with 45" silver/white umbrella with the black covering removed and the umbrella reversed and used in "shoot through" mode. Shutter speed on a Contax AX was set at 1/30 sec with an aperture between f/5.6 and f/8. Lens was a Carl Zeiss 85mm f/2.8 and film was Fuji Superia 100 ISO color negative.

Lighting Kits
I tested the Travelite 750 as part of Calumet's One-Head Umbrella Kit, which includes a reflector, 45" umbrella, 8-foot light stand, and carrying case. There are four other kits available, including multiple unit 750 or 375 ws models along with lots of accessories. Prices range from $549.95 for the One-Head Kit up to $1599 for the Three-Head Studio Kit. The Calumet catalog and web site have a long list of optional accessories for the Travelite, including barn doors and snoots, along with other useful goodies, such as a 121/2" high-performance reflector, a 15" Soft Lite reflector, and a Supersoft 600 attachment for the 17" Sunlight 40 reflector. When you want a different kind of light modifier there are spot and Fresnel sport attachments available. To complete your on-location lighting package, there are three different kinds of umbrellas along with light banks and Calumet's ZipDisc collapsible reflector.

The well-made carrying case has enough interior space for three monolights and lots of small accessories and cables. You can place the light stand and umbrella in the longest space and keep a single Travelite monolight in the second area and still have room for accessories including reflectors and cords in two other separate areas. As part of the package, Calumet includes one of the nicest sync cords I've ever used to connect the Travelite with your camera's PC connection. As a guy who hates to lug around a lot of gear, this looks like an ideal setup for the busy location photographer. For information on what's found in the other Travelite kits, visit Calumet's web site at www.calumetphoto.com.

Chelsea Brooke Pohl was photographed in a loft area outside my home/office that has relatively low ceilings. The Travelite 750 and 45" silver/white umbrella with black covering attached was placed to the left and above the model's eye level. Shutter speed on a Contax AX was set at 1/30 sec to pick up ambient north window light as fill. Lens was a Carl Zeiss 85mm f/2.8 with a Zeiss Softar attached. Aperture, as measured by a Gossen Luna Star F2 light meter, was between f/5.6 and f/8 but the Kodak Elite Chrome 200 slide film was bracketed over one stop. Half stop over slides, like this one, generally produced the best exposure.

Testing The Lights
To give the Travelite 750 a real-world power test, I set up the monolight 10 ft away from a potential full-length portrait subject and, using a Gossen Luna Star F2 light meter set for ISO 100 film, measured the output at various power settings. For this test, the 750 was equipped with its Travelite reflector/umbrella holder along with the 45" silver/white umbrella that's included with the kit. This umbrella's removable black cover was attached to minimize any light being lost bouncing into and through the fabric. See sidebar "More Power When You Need It" for specific apertures at a given power setting. Under conditions where there was little possibility of additional bounce from the ceiling or walls, the monolight produced usable power over a range from f/2.8-f/11, providing more than enough power for executive portraits or full-length bridal photographs.

The illustrations you see were made in my home and like many similar portrait locations there often isn't enough space to set up reflectors or even multiple lights. When there is plenty of ambient light, I'll use slow shutter speeds to open up the shadows or use the camera's built-in (or shoe-mounted) flash to trigger the monolight's slave. The 750's second modeling light switch lets you choose from Intermittent, Off, or Continuous. When photographing people, I set the 250w modeling light on "Intermittent," which turns off the light when the flash fires, then turns it back on after the monolight is fully recycled. This lets both subject and photographer know when they can make another exposure.

Even with the Travelite placed 8-10 ft away I was able to achieve a practical working aperture for portraits (between f/5.6 and f/8) using ISO 200 film and the monolight set at 1/16 or 1/32 power. If I wanted to increase or decrease power output, the large power knob and clearly marked designations made it possible to quickly make changes without having to guess. Under these kinds of conditions, recycle was virtually instantaneous; when the flash fired, I was able to make another photograph right away which made exposure bracketing a snap when shooting slide film.

You don't need a minivan! The rugged Travelite case, while spacious enough to hold a monolight, reflector, light stand, umbrella, as well as cords and accessories, easily fits into any kind of vehicle when heading out on location. Here, the case easily slips into the back of my Volkswagen New Beetle with the back seat folded down.

The Bottom Line
The Travelite 750 performed spectacularly well during the time I used it. It did everything anyone needs lighting equipment to do: It delivered consistent exposures from shot to shot and no matter how quickly I worked, it was always ready when I wanted to make another photograph. This functionality translates into less down time, more productivity, and better photographs. I was reassured by the rugged build quality and, knowing that Calumet's manufacturing operations exceed ISO 9002 ratings for quality, was made even more confident by their five-year parts and service warranty. In the event that something should happen to a Travelite, Calumet will repair it within 72 hours of receipt and will send it back to you via the same shipping method you sent it to them. What more could you want?

For more information, contact Calumet Photographic, 900 W. Bliss St., Chicago, IL 60622; (312) 944-2774; fax: (312) 944-4035; www.calumetphoto.com.

By this time, JJ had taken off his jacket and slung it over his shoulder. I left it that way and decided it would be a good change to have the contrast of his vest against his jacket to keep the attention on the two of them.

Travelite 750
Power Rating (in ws): 750
Guide Number (at ISO 100 with 50ž key light reflector): 350
Flash Duration: 1/600
Recycle Time (at Full power setting in seconds): 2.1
Power Settings (five stops, continuously variable): 1/32 to Full
F/stop Range: Five
Ready Indication: 100 percent
Cooling System: Air
Built-In Slave (on/off): Yes
Modeling Light: Max 275w
Modeling Light Power Control: Intermittent, Off, or Continuous Full or Proportioned with flash
Recommended Modeling Lamps: 250w 120v Halostar (standard); 275w 120v photoflood
Flash Tube Assembly: Clear CE-1020 (standard) UV-coated CE-1022
Size: 151/8x63/4x5"
Weight: 7.5 lbs
Price (monolight only): $499

Travelite 375
Power Rating (in ws): 375
Guide Number (at ISO 100 with 50ž key light reflector): 220
Flash Duration: 1/900
Recycle Time (at Full power setting in seconds): 1.7
Power Settings (five stops, continuously variable): 1/32 to Full
F/stop Range: Five
Ready Indication: 100 percent
Cooling System: Air
Built-In Slave (on/off): Yes
Modeling Light: Max 275w
Modeling Light Power Control: Intermittent, Off or Continuous Full or Proportioned with flash
Recommended Modeling Lamps: 250w 120v Halostar (standard); 275w 120v photoflood
Flash Tube Assembly: Clear CE-1020 (standard) UV-coated CE-1023
Size: 161/8x63/4x5"
Weight: 6.75 lbs
Price (monolight only): $399

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