PAUL C BUFF – DigiBee DB400 / DB800 – Now Available

PCB DigiBee

 

Paul C Buff Incorporated have released new compact, digitally controlled, versions of their AlienBees voltage controlled AC studio strobes.

The DigiBee DB400 and DB800 provide 160Ws and 320Ws of light output respectively, and a 7 stop power range (now going one stop lower than the original AlienBees).

With flash tube shipping cover in place, the new DigiBees are over 3 inches shorter than the original Bees, and now provide a full digital control interface.

Though the most significant advancement is likely the 75 Watt CRI > 90 LED modeling light, which providing 400 Watt Halogen equivalent, can double as a continuous video light.

And combined with the popular portable Vagabond Mini Lithium battery pack, provides 1.5 hours of continuous light at full power, or 3.5 hours at half power.

PCB_DigiBee_2a640

 

The DigiBees new digital display provides precise 1/10th stop power control over the strobes 7 stop range.

The digital display will also show the modeling light output, and there are 4 modelling light modes –

  • ON – Full
  • OFF
  • Flashpower Tracking
  • and Independent Adjustment

 

The DigiBees do not have any radio receiver built inside, though they are compatible with the CyberSync CSXVC plug in radio receiver units, which will provide full remote control of the strobe through the Cyber Commander transmitter.

Or any CyberSync receiver can be used to simply fire the flashes.

 

PCB DigiBee

 

DigiBees DB400 / DB800 MAIN FEATURES

 

  • 7 F-stop Power Range (2.5 Ws – 160 Ws / 5 Ws – 320 Ws )
  • Digital Controls with LCD Display
  • Ultra Bright 75 Watt, CRI > 90, LED Modeling Lamp (5600K)
  • Recyle Time – 0.5 / 1 Second at Full Power
  • Flash Duration t.1 –  1/1450 Second  / 1/975 Second at Full Power
  • Internal Fan
  • PCB / Balcar Accessory Mount
  • Total Weight – 2.9 Pounds

 

 

DigiBees and Paul C Buff products are only available in North America directly from PCB, and therefore only in the 120 VAC, 50-60 Hz variety.

Though for location use where AC power is not available, the compact VML or VLX Lithium-ion battery packs transform the DigiBees into portable battery powered location lights.

Providing 1 and 2 second full power recycle times with the DB400 and DB800 respectively, when using the compact VML pack. (And half that with the larger VLX).

 

PCB DigiBee

 

 

In true AlienBees tradition the DigiBees are available in 3 bright colors as well as black. And now include a quirky new honeycomb embossed compact flash tube cap.

Though the DigiBees still do not offer the increasingly favored Bowens S-type accessory mount (Balcar mount only).

And no HSS offerings, or consideration for high shutter speed sympathetic Long Flash Duration modes.

 

PCB DigiBee

DigiBees DB400 & DB800 SPECS

 

PCB_DigiBee_7a640

 

 

PRICE AND AVAILABILITY

 

The DigiBees DB400 and DB800 are available directly from PCB for $309.95 and $349.95 respectively.

With orders estimated to begin shipping the week of July 25th 2016.

PCB offer a 2 year warranty, and 60 day satisfaction guarantee.

 

PCB – Website

 

 

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17 Comments
  1. Slobberbone 6 months ago

    Hi FlashHavoc…
    How do these compare to speedlights?
    As you may recall I do amateur shelter/rescue dogtography and have been wanting to upgrade to strobes for awhile.
    I use the Phottix Odins and have been thinking about their new strobes, but a couple of those are a couple of grand.
    What I want are modeling lights, enough power to overcome bright sunlight and portability. Compatibility w/ the Odins would be nice too…

    Thanks in advance,
    Mike
    SlobberBone DogTog

    • Author
      Flash Havoc 6 months ago

      Hi Mike,

      Nice to hear from you again.

      You would need at least 4 speedlites to match an AB / DB800. As others have mentioned you can overpower the sun with anything really, its more a matter of how much distance and what modifiers etc you want to use.

      I’d personally at least go for the DB800 if that’s a priority though. And really the Einstein’s are even a lot more bang for not that big of a leap in price.

      There is no real compatibility with the Odins though. If you want remote power control etc, then you need the Cyber Commander and receivers. You can use the Cyber Commander in hand as a remote, and fire the strobes with other triggers, though you may as well just use the PCB triggers if you paid for them already.

      The Cyber Commander and receivers does add a few hundred dollars, regardless of which strobes you choose, so again it may be worth possibly considering an Einstein as well if this is a long term purchase.

      The Einsteins don’t have the 75W LED yet, though surely that would have to be on the way.

      Maybe just get one strobe first and see which way you want to go from there later.

      • JH PHOTO 6 months ago

        I had mentioned VIA twitter to Pbuff Corp that I hoped they were going to re-vamp the ring flash and Einstein to reflect improvements seen in this model. I can only hope somebody was listening. :)

  2. Alberto Cabrera 6 months ago

    I doubt there is a modeling light that can over come direct sunlight. That is why you have speed lights and strobes that do HSS. I may be wrong.

    But it seems these are not powerful enough to do HSS. I would look at the godox ad360 or the ad600 would be better because it has a built in battery. How you are photographing animals, speed lights with HSS will do the trick with the right modifier too. Actually you have a variety of strobes and flashes to choose from that can do HSS.

    • JH PHOTO 6 months ago

      HSS is really just a software hack, unless you have a REAL global shutter than can sync the way medium formats do around 1/2000th then any debates over HSS is just silly.
      For the record because it is a software hack, the right trigger group can enable it. It’s possible on an enstein, that does not have it built in..

  3. Markdoxie 6 months ago

    I have AB 400s and 800s.
    I think the OP ran his sentence together and was asking for modeling lights and enough power in the strobe to overcome sunlight.

    LED modeling lights make using them with the Vagabond a reality. As for power, the 400 and the 800 will both overpower the sun when using the standard reflector. FAR more powerful than Speedlights.

    I use strobe outside every day in my work. I almost never use umbrellas or softboxes unless the day is overcast.
    In bright sun the shadows are sharp and bare flash looks fine. You can use a modifier if your subject is close but you lose about 2 stops of power.

    HSS for all its adherents is a very weak solution to shooting in bright sun. Power loss approaches 3 stops and is all but useless at a range greater than 10 feet with a speedlight.

    I use Godox AD360 in bright sun at 1/16 power with a Canon 5D at 1/200 sec at f10 with beautiful fill on even black dogs at about 10 feet ( I shoot for our local Humane Society and photograph about 15 dogs a week.)

  4. Markdoxie 6 months ago

    Just to add: The adoption of the Einstein plug-in triggers is a superb idea. Virtually all other solutions are inferior because of cords or multiple hot shoe adapters etc.

  5. Jerome Yeats 6 months ago

    I know Paul C Buff flash is almost revered in the US but these are truly ugly designs. IMO. Form should follow function and all that.

    I am based in the UK and I tried to buy a Vagabond Mini some two years ago. The company referred me to some outfit in the Highlands of Scotland. An agent who IMO was charging extortionate prices. The agent is apparently no longer an agent.

    Had along running battle with Paul C Buff about my buying a unit for the UK and I was advised by one of the girls that I should buy one of the units from Australia. She thought that Australia was near the UK. Truly. Many Americans don’t have passports and have no interest in the world beyond its shores.

    This is a company that is not interested in the world beyond the US imo. How many years before the Chinese put Paul C. Buff out of business? How many years before the Chinese put the UK and European studio flash makers out of business? Bowens is legendary for its gear lasting forever but the Chinese stuff is cheap, lightweight and reliable… all but the cheapest Godox studio flash imo.

    No disrespect to Paul C. Buff adherents and admirers but their units are ugly and look as though they have been knocked up in a small wooden shed in the middle of nowhere. Just sounding off. Ignore me.

    • Author
      Flash Havoc 6 months ago

      Hi Jerome,

      The reason they likely mentioned the Australian distributor is because the Australian / UK / European distributor was based in Australia. And his brother is in the UK where he dealt with UK and Europe side of things. They went on to deal with Godox gear after the PCB partnership ended.

      Even the Godox gear shipping direct from China is considerably dearer via dealers in the UK and Europe as you know. And PCB’s business model is based on dealing direct to the public, so once you add another layer of distributorship, and then import costs etc, its impossible to provide the same model of products and service at similar prices elsewhere.

      So I don’t think its that their not interested, its just that they have a model that works very well where it is, though its very difficult to scale.

      It will be very interesting to see how PCB progress in the future though. Personally I’m amazed companies like PCB and PocketWizard etc are not far more progressive.

  6. Markdoxie 6 months ago

    Your points are very fair.
    Overseas distribution has always been a challenge for Buff and many small American companies.

    The units are ugly but they are rugged. Have used mine hard on location since they were first introduced.

    As for looking at markets larger than America I have to agree on the insularity of many small businesses. This comes from a lot of factors including the large American market that can keep small companies very busy, lack of capital, and lack of knowledge about the world beyond our shores.

    In Europe, travel throughout the continent is common. In America, we can drive for days before we hit a foreign border. Travel to Europe or Asia is expensive. Thus we focus on local business.

    The threat of Chinese imports is very real. We have a lot of very good Chinese options at good prices and the products are only getting better.

    American and European manufacturers need to make their products as appealing as possible to survive. I am sure companies like Quantum and Lumedyne are suffering.
    They truly are cottage industries. Buff is similar but Paul Buff did envision products that were better value albeit with rustic design.

    One of the signature features of Buff products is their customer service. Fast, courteous and inexpensive. This is a very hard thing for foreign companies to emulate.

  7. Alberto 6 months ago

    Flash Havoc, I have been looking for a continuous light setup. I may just don’t understanding the specs, But ia the modeling light strong enough to do video, like a 2 person interview?

    • Author
      Flash Havoc 6 months ago

      Hi Alberto,

      I’m not really experienced with video, so others can likely give you a better ideal of how practical this is. Plenty of videos have been shot with the regular halogen modelling lights, which are generally only around 250 watts maximum. So I think its definitely possible, its likely more about the quality level you’re after, with ISO settings needed and CRI etc.

  8. Miles Matsumoto 6 months ago

    Paul Buff co makes great value priced gear and I’d expect these to be solid blocks (certainly not game changers). I own a couple of Einsteins and have used ABs. They’re rugged- I’ve had them topple over several times with only a broken glass dome. I’m not sure how current ABs compare with Godox/Phottix competitive products price/feature/reliability. I’d be curious to hear from folks that own both PBC and newer chinese competitors. The topic about how Paul Buff Co evolves will be an interesting one to watch. The einstein and minivagabon were pretty amazing products at the time (still?). I’m pulling for them.

    • Author
      Flash Havoc 6 months ago

      Hi Miles,

      Funnily enough for a number of years now when manufacturers are asking for an opinion on their strobe concepts, I’ve always been stating the Einstein and VML as setting the benchmark they will need to compete with, at least in the US.

      Now that HSS and TTL are becoming an expected feature though, (as well as integration with on-cameras flashes etc) I think the overwhelming perception is that PCB have fallen a way behind companies like Godox etc.

      Particularly since the Godox AD600 have been available, I’ve been boring everyone silly trying to get the message across the the modelling lights are the only main thing now holding cordless strobes back from taking over a large part of the AC light market as well.

      And that’s where the Chinese cordless strobes have been slow to make any progress, so its ironic to see PCB leading the way with the modelling light now. And good on them.

      The thing that’s concerned me for quite a while was Paul’s attitude towards HSS, let alone TTL. His opinion for a long time was that that HSS was not much point in larger strobes. Though that was possibly due to the fact that he knew its a big, expensive, and ongoing, undertaking to provide the camera specific radio systems involved.

      So where PCB go in the future now will be really interesting. Not everyone wants, TTL, HSS, or speedlight integration etc. Not everyone wants hybrid video lights either. The thing is people don’t want to buy lots of different lights, and with all this becoming readily available in the one light, the options that cover the most possibilities often become the obvious choice.

      Regarding the VML, I think the market has spoken there again. The VML are great units, though the preference is for each light to have their own power source, and generally as compact as possible.

      The future is self contained cordless lights, which have the option of the head splitting away when needed. AC power adapter when needed, and studio light quality LED modelling lights, and even hybrid video lights.

      Again I’m like a broken record, but you only have to look at how professional cordless power tools have take over AC tools. And a big key to that is common batteries which run a whole range of tools. You can’t sell cordless tools now if they are not part of a larger convenient system all using compatible batteries.

      The last major key to the puzzle, is that strobe manufacturer’s that do not produce speedlites will need to start providing original Canon, Nikon, etc RT radio protocol compatible strobes. So that they can still function as slaves to the genuine Canon and Nikon etc master speedlites when needed.

      So at the very least, it would be interesting if the next Einsteins for example offered something like the Long Flash Duration mode of the RoveLight / HD 600.

      Regarding the DigiBees though, its likely PCB’s customer service and repair capabilities that make them an obvious consideration for people that are just after stand alone studio lights, or location lights with the VML. Though I don’t think we are far from the point where various other cordless strobes will be more of a popular choice.

      • Motti Bembaron 6 months ago

        Elvis, I completely agree with you. When I first saw that AB came out with a new strobe my first instinct was that they are going to have built-in radio and a built-in battery. I was quite buffled to see no real improvement except smaller size and modeling light.

        The thing is, since to be mobile we use speedlights or battery powered strobes, we became so used to not use modeling lights. We are learning how to use lights more precice and with digital screens and thetering, we don’t realy need it. We take a photo and correct accordingly.

        WHat we really need is mobility! I wish our cameras could fire radio wave to trigger any built in strobe. Wouldn’t it be great if we just dialed in a radio wave to match our strobes built in radio. And wouldn’t it be great if they all the Godox bayyery that, although small, can deliver over 500 full power flashes (tried and proven true by the way).

        I know that I will soon replace my Alien Bees with Godox. I think Godox are 98% there. Some tweaking to their radio and they are pretty much becoming a standard. I already have their speedlights and love them.

        I have two Einstein, one 400 and one White Light, I will soon replace them with two or three Godox.

        I personally do not need TTL or HSS but since HSS is standrad in all Godos strobes now, why not.

        I was hoping to see AB giving Profoto a run for their money but it is not the case. The only reason AB will still sell reasonably well is due to the fact that some still are not sure when it comes to Chinese made stuff.

        That is changing very fast as more and more photographers purchase Godox and let everyone know of their experience.

        In my opinion, Godox will become a brand name is a couple of years. If someone took distribution and support in North America and Europe they will give everyone a run for their money.

  9. Joshua Ayres 6 months ago

    I currently have the rovelight and I really do love it. However, I am starting to wonder if the battery will just stop working someday. I had two batteries and one of them just stopped working after not being charged for a couple of months (it wasn’t in the light, it was a spare). I am looking at getting something to upgrade my rovelight and this looks good to me. Especially with the size and even thought the battery is separate, I don’t think it will be too much of a hassle. Do you think there is a current better option? What would be your recommendation for a good strobe to take to weddings? I like the rovelight and the power it provides (even thought it does make me nervous having it up in the air at a wedding reception with it being a little top heavy), however if I am going to upgrade I would like to have something better if it is a viable. I know the digibee 800 is less powerful than the rovelight but I hardly ever use the rovelight above 1/8 power. I do wonder if the digibee at 5 watts is as low as the rovelight at 1/128 power. I do use the rovelight at the lowest power setting often.

    • Author
      Flash Havoc 6 months ago

      Hi Joshua,

      Have you considered the Godox AD360II (StreakLight R2 from Adorama)?

      If you don’t need the modeling light, then they will be considerably more compact and light weight than the DigiBees and VML.

      Regarding the battery, Adorama provide 12 months warranty on the batteries as well, so if your RoveLight battery is not too old you can still contact Adorama.

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