On a recent portrait assignment, I had the perfect opportunity to test out Calumet's Genesis monolights. The Genesis kit I was sent included a 400ws (watt seconds) monolight, a 200ws monolight, two umbrellas, stands, and a softbox. My subject, Jennifer Kelly, is a holistic health counselor who needed photos for new brochures and her website. Because much of her work is centered on healthy eating, we decided the best place to photograph Jennifer was in her kitchen.
Setting up the lights proved easy. I set up the main light (the Genesis 400ws unit) at a 45-degree angle to the subject, and because of the tight space of the kitchen, I set the 200ws Genesis unit on the same side as the main light, shooting through an umbrella for a diffused fill light. There was also a window on the opposite side of the subject that added a little bit of fill on the opposite side. There were no white-balance issues, as the strobes are balanced to daylight.
The 200ws monolight has a guide number of 125 (ft.), and the 400ws monolight has a guide number of 160 (ft.). At 400ws and 200ws, the Genesis monolights are best used for individual portraits or small groups (on location or in the studio), or for small to medium-sized still-life setups. For photographers who routinely shoot large groups or need to illuminate large spaces, you'd be better off with higher-power strobes. But for the photographs I was taking of Jennifer, the Genesis monolights proved ideal. Both monolights fit into a Lightware case that I normally use to carry a power pack and two heads.
Because monolights each have their own power controls, they're often simpler to use than power packs and heads--no extraneous cords to have to deal with. Then again, some power packs allow you to add the power output from each bank together to increase the power output of one head. Each type of system has its pros and cons.
Each Genesis monolight features its own control panel with digital variable-flash output controls over a five-stop range. The lights also feature a built-in infrared slave (you can use remotes such as PocketWizards, too) and audible flash-ready alarm to let you know when they're fully charged. Each Genesis comes with an umbrella reflector, flash tube, 150-watt modeling lamp, sync cord, power cord, and protective cap. The flash tubes are user-replaceable, which is a real benefit; keep an extra or two on hand and you can instantly change them out without missing a beat.
The Genesis lights offer both full and proportional modeling lighting, which means that as you drop the power down, the modeling light dims, too. This is a helpful feature when you want to see the light ratio on your subject. During the shoot, I had the Genesis 200 set on slave, and used the sync cord from the Genesis 400 to the camera. Another great feature of the Genesis lights is that when you drop the power, they automatically dump the energy as you dial the power down--no need to manually do it yourself. This is really helpful if you don't have assistants nearby. Once the strobes are set to the new power-output setting, you continue shooting.
I also used the Genesis monolights with the softbox to photograph a still-life setup. When using a softbox, the Genesis monolights utilize an Elinchrom speed ring to connect it to an adapter that is connected to the monolight.
For the photographer who doesn't need a lot of power, or the emerging pro, these Genesis monolights from Calumet offer the right amount of power in compact units for your needs.
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