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Author Topic: Hensel vs. Dynalite for college shooting studio  (Read 4830 times)

jonathan.lipkin

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Hensel vs. Dynalite for college shooting studio
« on: September 25, 2012, 09:11:11 am »

I teach at a college in New Jersey and am looking for some advice about strobes. We have to upgrade our strobes, and are faced with the choice of getting Dynalites or Hensels. We currently have one Dynalite kit and one Hensel kit (http://henselusa.com/product.html). About the same number of accessories for both. We are going to get two more kits, and need to choose between the two. When I was in grad school, we used Dynalites and I'm comfortable with them. The other faculty member is more comfortable with Hensels, but we could go either way - it's not a fight, just trying to figure out the best equipment. I've used both sets and like them about equally.

My concerns are:

1. Range of accessories. The rep at Adorama, who we buy from, tells me that speed rings and other accessories are readily available for both.
2. Ease of use. I like that the Hensels are easily adjustable on the strobe unit itself. I'm concerned that students might not be able to easily understand the + and : settings on the dynalite packs. These are not photo students, but design students who are using the equipment to light simple portraits and still lifes.
3. Safety. When in grad school, I was taught that packs needed to be discharged before heads were detached, otherwise, we could get an electric shock and die. However, I've seen videos of assistants unplugging heads from live packs. Is this an issue I should be concerned with?

Any thoughts?




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Ellis Vener

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Re: Hensel vs. Dynalite for college shooting studio
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2012, 09:29:43 am »

Get Dynalite: they are local you may even be able to buy directly from them. Local will also matter when dealing with the inevitable repairs and replacement parts.

1) True: accessories like that are readily available 
2) If that is a worry add your own labels. use a good font Design students are smart.
3) You should always be concerned with that. Maybe not with Broncolor and Profoto but you have not asked about those.
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Martin Ranger

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Re: Hensel vs. Dynalite for college shooting studio
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2012, 12:36:38 pm »

Jonathan,
I am a huge fan of Hensel. Their stuff is well-made, intuitive to use, and so far has not failed me. Having said that:

1. Most accessories are readily available. Some stuff, however, may take months to arrive. Recently Elinchrom has started selling speedrings to use their softboxes with Hensel, which is great as they have some very nice boxes, so this might be less of a concern. You might even prefer Elinchrom softboxes over the Hensel ones.

2. I have no experience with repairs (fingers crossed), but Ellis is probably right: local is good.

Let me know if you have any questions about Hensel.
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DanielStone

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Re: Hensel vs. Dynalite for college shooting studio
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2012, 01:04:06 pm »

I'd go with dynalite.

I work as an assistant here in LA, and I pull heads from live packs(usually profoto or bron, those are the biggies out here for rentals) all the time. I think that with older systems like the as or, speedotron, etc... I think those were the ones you wanted to power down first. Haven't used speedotron in a long time though...

Dan
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TMARK

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Re: Hensel vs. Dynalite for college shooting studio
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2012, 02:17:16 pm »

I always power down and dump the caps before removing heads.  I've had caps blow when disconnecting a head even after it was shut off.  I've been burned (literally) by a Speedo.  I think it is good practice to power down and dump the caps before fooling with it.  I have more confidence in my own gear, and all of my bad experiences were with rentals.  But still, it only takes a second.

I like Hensels better but for student used lights the Dynalight's local advantage for repair will be important.

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Ellis Vener

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Re: Hensel vs. Dynalite for college shooting studio
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2012, 02:48:16 pm »

A quick explanation of what I meant by "the inevitable repairs and replacement parts"

I've taught at commercial art schools and colleges like the onr Mr. Lipkin is teaching at. Students abuse equipment like no working photographer who is paying directly for their gear ever does. Some of this abuse occurs because they simply don't know better, some of it happens because they haven't paid for it and don't take individual responsibility for community property . A tiny fraction happens out of sheer anger and malice. And that's why in an educational setting there will be "inevitable repairs and replacement parts" issues
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Ken Bennett

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Re: Hensel vs. Dynalite for college shooting studio
« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2012, 04:14:05 pm »

I don't have any experience with Hensel, but have used Dynalites for many years and they've been very reliable. The Uni400JR is a basic 400w/s monolight that's the staple in my location kit. Very easy to use - especially compared to the new Dynalite 400w/s pack that I got last year. (It's great, don't get me wrong, but it's complicated. Monolights are easy. And if one breaks, you can send it back without losing the others.)
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K.C.

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Re: Hensel vs. Dynalite for college shooting studio
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2012, 02:29:56 am »

Hensel is producing some of the best lighting equipment in the industry. Their diversity of modifiers is equal to any brand. Their build quality is outstanding and their electronics are German designed, modern technology. Color accuracy over the range of power is excellent and consistent. They're compact and durable for both studio and location use. They are one of the first companies to include Profoto's AIR receivers in their packs in addition to their own radio technology. (That ought to tell you who's buying and renting them). Plus they've created the innovative Freemask system.

Dyna's been around for years. They're like Chevrolet, common, not too imaginative and reasonably dependable. Their designs have seen slow evolution over the last couple of decades. Their merger with Comet of Japan brought them much needed improvements with their heads and some changes to their packs. They tried to market Comet here but failed. They're now the U.S. distributer for Rimelight. That allows them to be the middle man for an up and coming, modern brand without having to innovate themselves.

Compare their two web sites. Look at the sophistication of their products and their marketing. I think that comparison says a great deal about the companies.

Neither brand would be a bad decision. And neither brand is going to have any issues with packs discharging with a head being unplugged.
Speedo and Norman will be glad to sell you packs that still do that, but even they're improved.

Having used every brand in the industry, shooting and teaching for 30+ years, I'd want any students I could influence to use the latest technology. That would be Hensel, hands down.
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Ellis Vener

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Re: Hensel vs. Dynalite for college shooting studio
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2012, 02:24:03 pm »

Having used every brand in the industry, shooting and teaching for 30+ years, I'd want any students I could influence to use the latest technology. That would be Hensel, hands down.

No doubt Hensel is a fine brand. But you need to look at repair times and costs and rental equipment availability.
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K.C.

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Re: Hensel vs. Dynalite for college shooting studio
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2012, 06:13:24 pm »

Having used every brand in the industry, shooting and teaching for 30+ years, I'd want any students I could influence to use the latest technology. That would be Hensel, hands down.

No doubt Hensel is a fine brand. But you need to look at repair times and costs and rental equipment availability.

No doubt. And in my experience their availability is widely increasing in rental, though I don't think that's a need for the OP, and their repair costs are reasonable, if needed. I have a couple of Dyna doorstops in my garage. Packs that when they blew up were not cost effective to repair. In 5 years of using Hensel I've as yet to even have an issue, much less need a repair.
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NashvilleMike

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Re: Hensel vs. Dynalite for college shooting studio
« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2012, 11:49:14 pm »

Another vote for Dynalite here. I *abuse* my strobes (I shoot hard and heavy), and they hold up like nothing else outside of the very expensive top end gear. I got my first dyna pack in 1998 (I own a few), and in 2010 I finally had to send it in for service as I blew a cap - I wouldn't be surprised if it had nearly half a million frames on it across those 12 years. So over time, I've found their stuff, while definitely NOT fancy and modern in any way, is quite robust.

As for safety: I don't think I ever yanked a cord without powering the unit down (I remember stories the late Terry Bollman at RIT used to tell about people getting zapped by the big Ascor sunlight they had in one of the studios, so I'm fanatic about the head/socket/power down thing), but I think there might be some safety features in the modern packs - better to do it "right" though.

I've heard really, really good things about Hensel, however, I've never used them. One key thing I've learned over the years is the availability of service when you need it if you're going to be using the stuff hard. Given your school is in/near NJ if I remember correctly, and Dyna is based out of NJ, to me it's kind of a no-brainer that you give Dynalite a look. If you were located in Germany, the answer would obviously be Hensel. I also think Dyna gear is more attractively priced, and that means more spares, which for a gear cage for student use, probably isn't a bad idea because gear will get abused, no matter any best intentions.

-m
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nemophoto

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Re: Hensel vs. Dynalite for college shooting studio
« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2012, 11:38:53 am »

I've owned "all the above" as well as Speedotron units. My vote: buy White Lightning or Einstein strobes from Paul Buff. Wait! Before you throw the rotten tomatoes at the desenter, these are my reasons:

1) Reasonably priced, especially given the limits of school budgets, add may allow you to buy additional accessories or light for the money.
2) Inexpensive to repair! I can't emphasize this enough. I am constantly shipping my strobes via FedEx (I guess similar to the abuse of students), and it seems every other time I shipped my Hensel monolights, Dynalites or Speedo Force 10s, I'd have to send them in for repair. Costly repair. (My two Force 10s have to be shipped out this week for that reason.) The Paul Buff stuff goes maybe once a year.
3) Direct from the manufacturer, you get great service and an excellent warranty -- much better than the others.

In the past year I have shifted my shipped strobes to primarily Paul Buff strobes because they are lighter, seem more resistant to FedEx abuse, are easy to use, easy to replace, and easy on my capital expenditure budget. In that year, I've also sold my Hensels and Dynalites, but am still holding on to the Speedos.

Just a thought to throw more fuel on the fire.

Nemo
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Ellis Vener

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Re: Hensel vs. Dynalite for college shooting studio
« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2012, 12:17:28 pm »

I've owned "all the above" as well as Speedotron units. My vote: buy White Lightning or Einstein strobes from Paul Buff. Wait! Before you throw the rotten tomatoes at the desenter, these are my reasons:

1) Reasonably priced, especially given the limits of school budgets, add may allow you to buy additional accessories or light for the money.
2) Inexpensive to repair! I can't emphasize this enough. I am constantly shipping my strobes via FedEx (I guess similar to the abuse of students), and it seems every other time I shipped my Hensel monolights, Dynalites or Speedo Force 10s, I'd have to send them in for repair. Costly repair. (My two Force 10s have to be shipped out this week for that reason.) The Paul Buff stuff goes maybe once a year.
3) Direct from the manufacturer, you get great service and an excellent warranty -- much better than the others.

In the past year I have shifted my shipped strobes to primarily Paul Buff strobes because they are lighter, seem more resistant to FedEx abuse, are easy to use, easy to replace, and easy on my capital expenditure budget. In that year, I've also sold my Hensels and Dynalites, but am still holding on to the Speedos.

Just a thought to throw more fuel on the fire.

Nemo

I love my Einsteins - the light quality is excellent and think they are the state of the art for current monolights but for use at a school where I guarantee you they will be abused and students will not read instructions - he needs something more rugged. Not that the Einsteins are flimsy by any stretch of the imagination but they need something heavier built.
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