Photigy Studio Photography Where Passion Meets Profession

I was waiting for this monolight for a long time, and eventually got it few days ago. Talking about latest Paul C. Buff invention (intervention to hi-speed strobes market? :-), all digital Einstein 640 monolight. I’ve ordered few of these units back in spring 2010 “to try”, ordered separately (meaning soon I’ve receive another one:-). That was a longest back-order line I remember, but the good thing that I’ve received Einstein V2 unit: it suppose to be improved from the original one I’ve ordered.

The main reason I was so anxious to try the unit is that currently I desperately seeking a solution for my studio high-speed photography, mostly for action-freeze of liquids. We’ve started to get more and more assignments in this area, and I do not feel very comfortable working with my Canon Speedlites (have four of them).

So, my ultimate choice was between power packs such as ProFoto 7A or Broncolor Grafit (probably used) and PCB Einstein V2: 640 Ws would be enough for me, the only thing I have to consider is reliability, color consistency and of course the price. At this point I am leaning towards Einsteins, really hope they will work well for me.

I am not going to try to go through a full test with my Einstein 640 strobe: there are so many already posted online. The best one I know is Rob’s Galbraith review on the same subject: Stopping action with the Paul C. Buff Einstein 640 monolight.
My goal is to share results of the real, in-studio tests of flash speed duration by shooting a liquid splash: nobody has calculated the speed of water drops firing from a glass, even Rob’s test with spinning disks was not enough for me:-)
Obviously I knew that Einstein strobes will be fine at freezing splash, but I did not know  if flash power of that “stopping action” duration will be enough for my work. The main question was the distance and F-stop number I can use  at ISO 100 at that power level (at full power Einstein is usual mid grade strobe, the magic begins when we dial power down).

So, I’ve started from F22  and my favorite lens for water splash photography: Canon 180mm F3.5 L macro. Long focal distance allows me not to worry about protecting the camera and lens from the water while F22 will give me enough DOF to cover my subject.

Here We go, the video:

Einstein 640 studio monolight flash speed duration test:

As you see, Einstein works great: even one light is enough to get some nice splashes. I really like how the Beauty Dish gets reflected from a stream of water:

Einstein 640 flash duration speed test studio action photography
Einstein 640 flash duration speed test studio action photography
Einstein 640 pcb strobe studio flash duration test: freezing a liquid
Einstein 640 strobe studio flash duration test: freezing a liquid

90% crop from above:

Einstein 640 monolight 100 crop liquid splash flash duration test
Einstein 640 monolight 100 crop liquid splash flash duration test
paul c buff einstein 640 monolight speed test liquid splash
Paul C Buff Einstein V2 monolight speed test liquid splash

90% crop from the above:

100 crop einstein flash unit speed test flash duration
100 crop einstein flash unit speed test flash duration

Looks nice, is not it? The last thing I did is a continues shooting  mode: Camera was set to F5.6 1/250, continues shooting mode, strobe had 14Ws of power. My canon 1Ds MKIII could do only 4 frames per second shooting RAW, so this is how the sequence looked:

4fps Einstein 640 flash sequence shots fast flash duration
4fps Einstein 640 flash sequence shots fast flash duration

Not as impressive as this video, but it was cool to run this test:-)

You can compare this test to a very similar photoshoot I had with Canon Speedlites hot shoe strobes:

First AKELstudio LIVE! masterclass: water, apple, flash duration test and one shot of scotch whiskey

Paul C. Buff Einstein 640 in-depth flash duration test: action v.s constant color mode

Hope this was informative, Enjoy!

Camera gear:


Lighting, light modifiers and accessories:

Exposure specification: shutter speed 1/250 sec, F5.6-22, ISO 100


30 Responses on Einstein 640 V2 in-studio flash duration test: hi-speed strobe was never affordable like this."

  1. Juan says:

    Hello Alex,

    I am from Ecuador, thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    Is it necessary the Cyber commander to stop the action with the Einstein or it could do it with the CyberSync™ Trigger Transmitter?

    Can I use the The Cyber Commander with CyberSync™ Receiver Plus – CSR+ on the alien bees?

    Excuse me for my english.

    Thanks a lot.

    • Juan,
      Cyber commander is not needed to stop action, it is a strobe itself… commander is just a super-duper clever trigger and controller.
      Yes, you can use CC with alien bees with optional control module – I forgot exact model, CSR+ might be a right one. Check with PCB website.

  2. Andrey says:

    Privet Alex,
    I’m trying to understand what type of mount for light modifiers this light has. They say “four holding fingers that expand and contract to hold speedrings”, for which one would need a “Paul C. Buff™ compatible speedring”. I already have Elinchrome and Bowens speedrings. No idea if they are compatible or not. What do you use?

  3. Heitor Florence says:

    Hi Alex!
    Can you do splashes pictures with Einstein in full power (640w) ? If not, what should be the maximum power to freeze an image in your opinion ?

    • Heltor,
      I can;t freeze action with Einsteins on full power: flash duration at full power is about 1/700 sec, which is too slow. the useful range is between 2WS (1/10000 sec) and 180WS (about 1/4000 sec).

  4. Nikolas-Adam Manaios says:

    hi Alex!
    Einstein E640W is £599.99 in Europe this is 927.67 US Dollar so… any alternatives?
    thanks and greetings from greece

  5. HPS says:

    Hi Alex,
    Thanks a lot for your explanations and your amazing tutorials.
    I am trying to buy an AlienBees B800 from a friend of mine. I think is a good price, but as I am planning to invest, what you think is better for splash/commercial photography (If you take out the cost from the equation) Einstein E640, AlienBees B1600, or WhiteLighting X3200 and what is the minimum units you need to start?
    Do you think I can freeze the water in the air witj a AlienBees B800?
    Thanks a lot in advance.

  6. Nino Bartolo says:

    I just love it, very detail explanation.
    Thank you very much to share the knowledge.

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