Digital upgrade, LEDs make AlienBee flash units more efficient

digibees introduced digibee
Paul C. Buff
It’s been a half-dozen years since one of the biggest names in lighting, Paul C. Buff, released its last off-camera flash units — known as AlienBees. The latest gear from the company, released Wednesday, represents more than a marginal upgrade — the DigiBee DB800 and DB400 are greatly enhanced versions of the original AlienBee flashes.

The lights have lost more than a few inches since Paul C Buff’s last Einstein flashes in 2010, with the DigiBees measuring about half the size of AlienBees. Despite the smaller size, the flashes haven’t lost any power, thanks to a switch to LED lights. The DB400 offers power from 2.5 to 160 watts, while the DB800 has a 5 to 320 watt range, with slower recycle times. Along with that big change, the DigiBees also have a wider range by one stop, allowing for a much lower minimum power setting.

The switch to LEDs also make the lights more efficient. While the DigiBees don’t have their own battery, the DB400 is rated for 2,000 flashes and the DB800 is rated for 1,000 from a Vagabond battery — or about an hour and a half of continuous light.

Recycle times stay relatively put compared to the earlier lights. The DB400 offers a pretty solid, though not best-in-class half-second spec, with just half that time needed when using the light at half power. The more powerful DB800 needs a full second to recover and fire off another burst of light.

And in case the “Digi” in DigiBee doesn’t clue you in, the backs of the light are now digital, with an LED screen displaying the light’s power level.

While the DigiBees don’t have their own battery or offer high-speed sync, they do come in at a price point that’s rather affordable considering they’re coming from a high-end brand. The faster but less powerful DB400 is priced at $309.95, while the more powerful (but slower) DB800 is $349.95. They’re not designed to replace the more powerful, more expensive Einstein flashes, but they expand the company’s range of options at a lower price point.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: A.I.-powered cat toys, wallets, food containers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Product Review

It's got game. But the Razer Phone 2 is still crippled by its camera

The Razer Phone 2 will impress with its gaming prowess and 120Hz screen. But if you care at all about taking pictures on your phone, skip it. While Razer has improved the camera, it’s still short of the competition.
Product Review

Amid a new fleet of budget laptops, the ZenBook 13 sails where others sink

It’s never been truer that you don’t need to spend over a thousand bucks to buy a good laptop. The ZenBook 13 takes we’ve always loved about its predecessor and makes enough small refinements to keep it ahead of its competitors.
Product Review

Dell’s G3 Gaming laptop knows what gamers want, and what they can live without

Compromise and budget gaming laptops go hand-in-hand, but with the G3, Dell has figured out how to balance what gamers want with what they can live without.
Mobile

Need a quick battery boost? Try one of our favorite portable chargers

Battery life still tops the polls when it comes to smartphone concerns. If it’s bugging you, then maybe it’s time to snag yourself a portable charger. Here are our picks of the best portable chargers.
Wearables

NYPD pulls thousands of body cams after one explodes

The NYPD has recalled thousands of body cameras after one of them exploded during an officer's shift on Sunday, October 21. No one was injured in the incident, which is thought to have been caused by the device's battery.
Photography

Which landmarks are searched for most by creatives? This list has some surprises

What video and images of popular landmarks are creatives looking for most? A recent study by StoryBlocks analyzed search trends to dig up the most requested landmarks on the stock platform. While some are expected, others are surprising.
Cars

Protect yourself (and maybe capture something crazy) with our favorite dash cams

Dashboard cameras can assist drivers in car accident claims, settle speeding ticket disputes, and even catch glimpses of incoming meteors, among other things. Here, we've compiled a list of the most noteworthy offerings available.
Photography

Free your digital memories, and frame them, with the best photo printers

Printed photos are experiencing a revival at the moment, but you don’t need to go to a special lab. Here’s our favorite options for making quality prints, from pocket-sized printers to wide-format photo printers capable of spitting out…
Photography

8 weird, useful camera accessories for your iPhone or Android

With the rise of smartphone cameras comes an explosion of accessories aimed at enhancing your photography skills. Here, we take a look at a few, from add-on grips to entire camera units designed specifically to work with iOS devices.
Deals

The best budget-friendly GoPro alternatives that won’t leave you broke

Cold weather is here, and a good action camera is the perfect way to record all your adventures. You don't need to shell out the big bucks for a GoPro: Check out these great GoPro alternatives, including some 4K cameras, that won’t leave…
Photography

Here's how to make a watermark on any computer or smartphone

People copy images from the web every day. If you want to protect your photography from the prying hands of content thieves, consider adding a watermark. Here's how to make a watermark to keep your work from being shared without due credit.
Social Media

Save me: How to download Instagram photos from any device

Browsing photos in Instagram is one thing, but saving them is another. Until recently, it wasn't easy to get your photos off the 'gram and saved elsewhere. But Instagram has recently launched a tool that lets you download all of your…
Photography

Intel’s augmented reality brings Red Bull Rampage into your living room

The extreme mountain biking action of Red Bull Rampage is coming to your living room thanks to the power of augmented reality and 360-degree video that lets fans load a scale replica of the course right in their phones.