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New AlienBee Vagabond Mini Lithium

Posted by in Lighting | 1 comment
New AlienBee Vagabond Mini Lithium

I received a Vagabond Mini Lithium battery pack recently and had a chance to try this guy out a bit . While I was at it I also used this as a chance to try out my newly exchanged for Einstein (v2). I was also an early adopter of this light and had waited for the problems with RF interference with the PocketWizards to be resolved. So when AlienBees sent me a replacement I thought what better time than now to test it out under somewhat controlled circumstances.


  • Einstein
  • Small light stand
  • Vagabond Mini
  • 8′ feet from subject (test target)
  • 7″ reflector

This is a pretty basic setup and since what I was testing was refresh time, problems with RF interference, and speed of refresh I did not do anything elaborate.

First test was two fold refresh times and accuracy of lighting increase.

As it happens my Sekonic L358 with the PW module read exactly f2.8 at ISO 400 and 8′ at minimum power, almost like I had planned it :angel:

Min power f2.8 refresh <1 second
+2 stops of power f5.6 refresh <1 second
+2 stops of power f11 refresh <=1 second
+2 stops of power f22 refresh 1 second
+1 stops of power f32 refresh <2 seconds
+1 stops at full power f45 refresh ~4 seconds

Plugged into an AC outlet at full power was ~2.5 seconds

Not super scientific on the timing but it will give you a rough idea.

Next I set the light at minimum power and shot some high speed shots at 10FPS with my 1D MKIII. At minimum power and 90+ frames there was only a slight shift in power from frame 1 to the final frame. I was able to duplicate these results up to +2 stops. Again not overly scientific but now I know if I want/need to shoot an action sequence with the one light I can do so up to 10 FPS at ISO 400 and f5.6 with a the subject ~8 feet away. Also through out this test not one black or dark frame so it also showed me that the consistency was there as well as that the RF problems I had seen before had been fixed! [COLOR=”Red”][I] Disclaimer – you can’t do this with a regular AlienBee light, this capability is part of the beauty of the new Einstien lights with their IGBT circuitry similar to that in a off-camera flash where it only dumps as much light as it need for each pop and is ready for the next that much quicker at low power settings.

Last test was with the Einstein and a AB1600 both connected to the battery pack. Both at 1/2 power was ~3 seconds with the AB1600 lagging by almost a second. I believe this is due to the Einstein charging its capacitors fulling and them only discharging what was needed for the half power pop where as the AB1600 only charges as much as it needs for the pop dialed in and therefore has to recharge fully for the next. I set both lights to max power and popped them and got a ~5 second recycle with the AB1600 again being the limiting factor. Plugged both into the wall and got a sub 3 second recycle times.

My conclusions:

– If you every shoot and do not have access to an AC outlet you need this in your bag, which it will actually fit in :w00t:
– This is in my opinion much better than the standard Vagabond with the weight and size savings.
– The Einstein light is now ready for prime time with the RF issue resolved!!
– The only pluses I see for the original Vagabond are:

  • They make a great sand bag for a light stand in the field at 18+ lbs (ugh!)
  • Will likely last longer if you are shooting for hours
  • You can hook up a bunch of lights to them

For what it is worth I tried the DIY version of the battery pack and it was not a great success! Having used it only makes me appreciate this little guy so much more!!

I mounted the Vagabond pack to the base of my lightweight stand

I have large hands but this thing is tiny compared to the original Vagabonds!


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