Beard Project, Jon R., ©2016 Terrell Neasley
Two Einstein 640’s 

“You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”
~ Zig Ziglar

In this 3-part series, I’m covering photo companies that, in my opinion and experience, excel at customer service and have general policies that put the customer ahead of the dollar. Now don’t get me wrong. I am not so naive as to not understand that companies are in business to make a profit. A big heart can make you bankrupt. That being understood, I can still appreciate businesses that make it their goal to make that profit by giving the customer what they want and then treating them with respect. In the last post, I covered a camera manufacturer. In this post, I’m going in on the next most important thing photographers have to be most aware of.

Art Model, Justine @2015 Terrell Neasley
Single overhead Einstein 640

And that would be lighting. Paul C. Buff is legendary in the field of lighting. Located in Nashville, TN, they’ve been serving the photographic community since 1982. Driven to provide great service and a quality product at a reasonable price, this “small” company put the big guys on notice. The competition from them brought costs down and opened the door to people like you and me to own high-end lights at much more reasonable prices. 
I own a couple of Einstein 640‘s and a White Lightning X3200, (both Paul C. Buff products) along with some of their soft boxes. This is what I can tell you. You can’t make me switch to another light system. I’ll never be without my Paul C. Buff gear. The Einsteins are so superbly made, any further improvements are inconsequential and imperceptible, although they’ve been recently upgraded. More on that in a bit. These things give me 640 watt-seconds and can still tone it down to 2.5ws on its lowest setting when you need that quick splash for minimal flash duration.

I sorta wish I had 3 Einsteins instead of the White Lightning, but I can’t argue having a studio light pushing 1320 watt-seconds when you need it, but I don’t use it as much. Okay, so I’ll get a 3rd Einstein, because I would indeed use that. I tell you they are unbeatable. Yeah, you can get some battery-powered or TTL lights from other suppliers. I get that. But I’ve got 3 Vagabonds that give me all the power I need and I do NOT shoot TTL on my studio lights. 

Art Model, Trixie, ©2017 Terrell Neasley
Single Einstein 640 in Large Octobox

But they are more than just great product. I’m sold on these guys because I can call them up in Nashville and they answer the phone. Like…a human. You’ve heard me talk about a friend of mine who was out in the desert with a large soft box on his Einstein. Well, the wind can pick up unexpectedly when you live in a desert surrounded by mountains on all sided. It blew over his light and busted it. My friend called them up to get it fixed. They just replaced it even though it was out of warranty. 

As for me, well, I worked the hell out of one of my Einsteins and blew the fan in it. I had a jewelry gig that had me blasting this thing day and night for four months shooting a company’s entire inventory. So of course, I called them up for instructions on sending it in and asked how much. Listen to this. They charged me $45, plus $15 for shipping to “fix it”. The reason I put that in quotes, is because technically, they did fix it…because they rebuilt the whole thing. 
Ring Jewelry, ©2015 Terrell Neasley
One Einstein 640 overhead, Three Speedlites towards front and sides
Apparently the Einsteins have been upgraded since I bought mine FIVE years prior. So instead of just changing out the fan, they put in new circuits, cams, the fan, and everything to meet the new updated modifications, including a stronger and better sealed outer housing! That meant I got a new serial number as well. In all actuality, I’m really not so sure they truly “fixed” it. If you want my honest opinion, I think they just gave me a completely new Einstein for $60! I can’t prove that, but I think it stands to reason to just replace the whole dam thing rather than to a complete rebuild. But that’s me. At any rate, they dam sure excel at customer service.
Me ©2016 Terrell Neasley
One Einstein 640 on large soft box upper right side