Taking Flight: Paul C Buff’s DigiBee (Part I)

I remember when the original Alien Bee monolights were introduced six years ago and I first saw then at a trade show. They were compact, colorful and built to the same standards that are the hallmark of all Paul C Buff designs. Mr. Buff is no longer with us but his company hasn’t lost that commitment to excellence in innovation in lighting products.


The new DigiBee is a digitally controlled monolight that’s available in 160 Ws (DB400) and 320 Ws. (DB800) versions. And while the original Alien Bee was designed for function over form, the DigiBee adds a component of style that extends from the honeycomb box design to the “bee eye” flash tube cover. Each unit offers consistent output, short flash duration, fast recycle and has an LED modeling lamp. The high-impact polycarbonate housing featuring internal fan cooling and is available in red, black, blue and a decidedly alien green. An Alien Bee measures 8.5 x 7.875 x 5.75-inches with the DigiBee at 4.75 x 5.25 7.25 inches. These latter dimensions include a shipping cover and when you add that to the fact the DigiBees’ modeling light is recessed, they are much smaller than the originals.

digibee800DigiBee’s digital interface adds visual and/or audible recycle indication, slave on/off and four modeling light modes (on full, off, flash power tracking, and independent adjustment). The rear digital control panel has a digital display indicating flash power output, modeling lamp output or parameter status in any adjustment category.

The DigiBee has a bright LED modeling lamp that can be used for previewing lighting or producing a bright continuous source. The DigiBee is compatible with Buff’s line of reflectors, softboxes, umbrellas and light stands. They are Balcar-compatible as well.

The DigiBee uses 120 VAC (50-60 Hz) power and has a 15-foot power cord to connect to a standard, grounded outlet or it can be used with the company’s Vagabond portable battery systems. The unit includes a sync cord for hardwired camera connection and a port for a CyberSync transceiver, allowing the unit to be triggered and/or controlled wirelessly by the company’s CyberSync wireless system.


Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 9.13.43 AMIf you’re interested in shooting portraits and how I use cameras, lenses and lighting in my in-home studio, please pick up a copy of Studio Lighting Anywhere” which is available from Amazon.com with, as I write this, new copies selling for$17.50 (plus shipping,) just slightly more than used ($16.24,) both cheaper than the Prime price.

Author: Joe Farace

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