Beginner's "home studio" help/advice please ...

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Mystwalker, Jan 22, 2009.

  1. Mystwalker

    Mystwalker TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2008
    Messages:
    544
    Likes Received:
    0
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    I would like to have a beginner's "home studio" in an extra live-in bedroom (or whatever these rooms on first floor are called nowadays). It is not something for pro use - I just want to take studio type portraits of children and family.

    Room is about 12ftx20ft - I think ceiling is about 9ft (normal ceiling).

    I've been price comparing stands, backdrops, strobes - all that stuff I read about on strobist.com. It gave me a huge headache - I understand what I need (I think), but have no idea about quality based on price.

    First thing I'm looking at is backdrop + stand. This seems the least expensive and I can start practicing with my 580EXII off-camera. Will there be a noticeable difference in quality between a "kit" I get from B&H (do they still sponsor? no longer see their clicky up top) with one from EBay such as below?
    PREMIUM BACKDROP BACKGROUND SUPPORT 10 x 20 MUSLIN x 2 - eBay (item 360097106038 end time Feb-08-09 20:50:57 PST)

    I've been trying to understand strobes. I think Alien Bees are probably as expensive as I'm willing to go. I'm reading that most strobes are turned down so not sure if I need something as powerful as the B400/B800. Other option are more affordable Flashpoints from Adorama (do they still sponsor? no longer see their clicky up top). And of course there is EBay units such as below - looks like it has everything, but not sure about quality (am not looking for pro level).
    3 studio flash/strobe, softbox,3 backdrops, more - eBay (item 140296094863 end time Jan-29-09 19:02:44 PST)

    Am trying to get something similar/close to setup you see in malls (two light box in front, two in back, on-camera flash) - am thinking I can start off with two strobes/box + off-camera 580EXII. The $200-$300 spent for portraits, I can save for better lens.

    Anyone have experience with the EBay packages above?

    Or any advice/suggestion on what I need to look for from Adorama/B&H/Amazon?

    Thanks.
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2003
    Messages:
    33,822
    Likes Received:
    1,811
    Location:
    Edmonton
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    I don't know anything about those e-bay kits.

    Personally, I'd stick with Alien Bee or something like the Elinchrom D-lites. It will cost you a fair bit more, but at least you will know what you are getting and have someone standing behind the product. Of course, you could go with portable flash units rather than studio lights...strobist style.

    As for background kits, they are usually pretty straight forward. A couple stands, a bar and then whatever backdrop material you choose. I have a backdrop stand kit from Amvona.com, it's quite sturdy but there are plenty of others to choose from that are just as good.
     
  3. Katier

    Katier TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2009
    Messages:
    452
    Likes Received:
    0
    Personally to start I'd say go Strobist Style. If in the future you feel the need to expand up to lights that's fine of course but going strobist gives you an effective option which is also very portable.

    I have ( when the second arrives ) a pair of SB-20's that are more than powerfull enough for the kind of work you mention. I wouldn't reccomend SB20's as adding a snoot is a little awkward on them but SB-24's would be fine. Then a set of 'ebay' triggers, umbrella or two and light stands and you'd be good to go. Background wise, why not just paint a wall nicely.

    Could paint the wall, skirting and ( if it has them ) maybe varnish the floor boards giving you something interesting to work with. Then if you NEED an all white background you can just hang a sheet to do it. Can add interest onto the floor boards with rugs and the like too.
     
  4. keith204

    keith204 No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    May 20, 2007
    Messages:
    1,643
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Bolivar, MO
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Start out small. Rather than a crappy kit of many lights & softboxes, get a couple nice lights and a couple umbrellas. Get creative and learn how to use them, then you can save up & get fancier toys.

    Also, consider the following - how much patience do you have? What type of clients do you expect? This might help determine whether you can handle cheap stuff, or if you need to go ahead and invest in quality goods you won't have to worry about.
     
  5. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2003
    Messages:
    33,822
    Likes Received:
    1,811
    Location:
    Edmonton
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    Further to this good point from Keith...it might be a good idea to start with one light. Maybe with a softbox or umbrella. Learn how to use this one light effectively before adding more lights.
     
  6. Mystwalker

    Mystwalker TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2008
    Messages:
    544
    Likes Received:
    0
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    No clients :( This is mainly for family and friends. Knowledge or lack of is the only "return" - will not earn a single penny for investment, .

    Think I'm going to get that backdrop + stand first. I would use white wall, but at some time, would like to use chromakey (neon green material?) to play around with backgrounds - may as well get the stand now. Also, "painting walls" may give my wife idea to paint house.

    Will practice with 580EXII off camera - have one stand and one shoot-through umbrella already.
     
  7. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2007
    Messages:
    5,327
    Likes Received:
    264
    Location:
    The Upper West Side of Mississippi (you have no i
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Start putting away for strobes. Whatever you get make sure to get modeling lights on it. (really really)

    If you can see that you will get there in fairly short order, it's better to do without for a while than to make do and improvise for the next three years until you chunk everything and start over. (spending two or three times for the same thing only makes you poor ;))

    A backdrop is a good idea to start. I would go gray and get some gells for your flash and a reflector for your window (if you have one).
     
  8. Phranquey

    Phranquey TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2008
    Messages:
    1,527
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    Dayton, OH
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    Another decent brand of light set-up is Novatron. If you are an ebay shopper, look it up. As always, I advocate a lot of homework on ebay before making a large purchase. I will go as far as going into the seller's feedback and contacting some of his past purchasers as references.

    I picked up a really nice deal for a 1000Ws system with four heads w/modeling lamps (one needed repair...I knew upfront....extra $50), stands, umbrellas, a barndoor, some gels, and the travel hardcase for $450. From the sounds of it, you don't need 1000Ws, but there are nice set-ups in the 240 to 500Ws ranges.....essentially the strobe heads are the same, just different power packs.
     
  9. HoosierJoe

    HoosierJoe TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2008
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Indiana
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Look at the Calumet Genesis 200 kits from Calumet Photo in Chicago. When using my light and flash indoors, I found that with my one Genesis 200 I am dialing in down to 35 (out of 60) or so. Full power blows the subject out.
     
  10. xposurepro

    xposurepro TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2008
    Messages:
    116
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Kansas City
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    There's a million different ways you can go with that will all work for you. I will just say in terms of lighting you don't need to go overboard with it. I use expensive high power lights with lots of options on them in my studio but I also don't really need them. It's one of those I pay more because I need them to hold up to a lot of heavy usage and if I need the extra power sometimes I have it. However, if you go down to the studio now and look at say a 500watt light you will see it is powered down to 1/16 or even 1/32 ... you honestly do not need a lot of power when shooting the standard portrait. The Alienbee 400 you refer to is plenty of power for you .. you wont need a 800 in your home .. in fact in most cases you will end up powering that 400 way down to get the aperture you want.
     
  11. SandShots

    SandShots TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2008
    Messages:
    213
    Likes Received:
    0
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    good topic, im also looking into some equipment to convert my garage to a studio.

    i dont know how much power i need, i shoot outdoors alot and would like to get something to settup an outdoor shoot, for automotive stuff.
     

Share This Page

Search tags for this page
beginner home studio
,

home studio beganner room pic