Canon 580EX II vs Alien Bees 400 comparison test

I just purchased a couple AB 400’s, and I wanted to see a real life, light output, comparison between the Canon 580EX II, and the AB’s.  I shot the below shots mid day, sunny, in the shade.  I metered without strobes, and set the exposure at -2 stops (ISO 200, F13, 1/200, 16mm lens), and then set the 580EX II at 1/1 (on manual), and full power on the AB 400’s.  I stood approximately 12′ – 15′ away from the strobes.  All strobes were lined up side by side.
Here we go…

Here’s the Metering shot, set at -2:

Here’s The AB400 with the stock 7″ reflector.  Again, set on full power:

Here’s the 580 EX, set 1/1, zoomed at 70mm (I know this isn’t really an apples to apples comparison to the 7″ AB reflector, but…  it still gives you a good example of output:

Here’s the AB 400 with the Long Throw 11″ reflector:

Here’s two AB 400’s.  One with the 11″ long throw reflector, and one with the stock 7″ reflector:

3 thoughts on “Canon 580EX II vs Alien Bees 400 comparison test”

  1. Not sure what you are after here but I do know that the model should have worn something sexier!

    I have used both for many years, the canon products work well are small but are expensive and break. Paul Buff products are priced like they are made in China but are not and have great customer service but they are a studio light not putting that on a hand held camera

    1. Thanks Robert. Next time I’ll break out my speedo, but I’m not sure anyone would want to see that…. I was just comparing the light output between the 580 ex II and the AB 400… I will say that with the advent of the Vagabond Mini, and the light weight of the Alien Bees, these things will almost make speedlights obsolete when used off camera. Thoughts?

  2. Did not know about the vagabond mini, I have been searching for a portable ring light that would fit a 77mm lens to know avail but perhaps now with the mini it may be the solution, although the light is a little larger than I wanted to carry around – but that makes it softer always trade offs.
    I know what you mean, off camera, lots of avail accessories, reliable, perhaps more power – but still significantly larger not sure it will replace but sounds like a good additional tool on my self. I use to have huge set up times on jobs – really bringing a studio to them – no budget for that anymore so the key is to go in setup quick do the shot then bill it – only way to make money anymore so this sounds perfect for that. At a wedding though things go so fast, I can have those 580’s setup in seconds and sometimes I have 2 on my camera bracket – you could no do that with an alien bee.
    Going a different route, I recently brought back to life my vivitar 283’s. They always worked great, canon’s exposure with flash has been trying at time’s sometimes magical many time what the f**k is going on. The vivitar was always right on. The problem – very very low power but now with the high iso abilities there back! The only problem the vario adaptor is no longer made, I have two so no problem for me but the thing is great full power to -64 continuous and turned down it has super fast cutoff. The one problem is they use a unigue cord but there readily available as sncy cords then you just have to solder to fit what you need be it a slave or wireless. I setup a couple cords with household and then I can plug anything into that.


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