couple of off camera lighting questions:

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by jackieclayton, Jan 26, 2010.

  1. jackieclayton

    jackieclayton TPF Noob!

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    been studying the strobist blog and i have some equipment questions:

    for monolights (i know, they aren't strobe but i have to ask) how do you know what wattage to choose? The monolights will be used in my home for a small makeshift studio setup to take pictures of my kids. I dont have the best lighting in the world but I do get some from my balcony windows at the end of the day. I just don't want to purchase lights that are too low and i don't want to purchase ones that are too bright... so i'm unsure how to choose? I was looking at this kit but I wanted to get your feedback if 300 watts is suitable and if this brand is any good For a three light system, this price seems reasonable... but i'm so new to this...http://www.mpex.com/browse.cfm/4,9408,1,0,0.html

    the strobist mentions some flashes he promotes in a kit you can buy at midwest exchange: LumoPro LP120 Manual Flash I'd really like to stay with my nikon flashes (I have one SB900 but its not really in my budget to buy a couple more at this time). I was wondering if you guys would recommend using these LumoPro just to learn on for the time being, and if they would work well in conjunction with my current SB900 (i'm using a D700 body). My husband bought me the flash as a gift and I'd like to play around with it off camera but all the setups I'm looking at suggest at least a couple different lighting placements... and another 900 or similiar isn't in my budget right now...

    which brings me to my last question: If I do get some strobes that aren't Nikon brand, I'm forced to use some sort of triggering system (since CLS would be out of the question, correct?). Since I'm going to be using these indoors in a tight space for the time being, would it be best to just use cord syncs or should I invest the $ in remote triggering? I keep reading that unless you need the distance range, cord sync will work just fine...

    I'd like to test my waters by playing around with different lighting setups and different lighting types...thats why I'm thinking a couple of inexpensive monolights and a few more strobes to work with placement of strobes, but i'm not sure if those Lumopro flashes are decent in conjuction with my current flash and body, or should I wait to save up and buy a couple more nikon flashes?

    Sorry for the long questions, I appreciate your suggestions!!
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2010
  2. themedicine

    themedicine TPF Noob!

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    The more W/S in a monolight the brighter they can get, I think. SO more expensive. For small studio setups, alot of people use something like 300+w/s.
    As far as using your 900 in conjunction with other flashes, thats what I do. I got the cactus v4 triggers and transmitter. GREAT for the money.

    when you do this, look into stands, shoot through umbrellas and the umbrella adapter for stands. You will want all of this and it all can come relatively cheap.
     
  3. Moe

    Moe TPF Noob!

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    I, too, am getting into off-camera flash. I cannot answer your wattage question, as I have no experience with those. However, we must walk before we run. You have a D700 and a SB-900. You can "walk" with these using the CLS (which I cannot advise on, either, as I have a D40). There are plenty of excellent portraits made with just one light. There is a group on Flickr dedicated to using one strobe, Flickr: One Strobe Pony

    There is also a photographer, Zack Arias, who has made quite a mark using only one light. zarias.com and also Order The OneLight Workshop DVD

    Sorry I can't answer all your questions, but you have everything you need to at least get started. Enjoy!
     
  4. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Here is an inexpensive, 150 watt-second monolight that has been made for around 10 years. FP320K Flashpoint II 320A Monolight Kit, 150 Watt Second, One Monolight Kit with Stand and Umbrella. Indoors with today's HIgh-ISO capable d-slr bodies, 150 watt-seconds from a monolight is ample for a lot of uses.

    It comes with a light stand and umbrella for $129, with free shipping--meaning it costs the same as the flash you link to above, only the monolight has a modeling lamp in it, comes with a stand and umbrella,and has a built-in slave. If you buy the new $129 manual flash made for the Strobist group, you will still need a $18 swivel mount and a $35 light stand. That makes the monolight kit better on several counts.

    PC sync cords have worked for five decades, and still work today. Multiple light set-ups using a PC cord units require either additional cords, or a slave to trigger units 2,3,and 4. Remote triggering is handy, but not 100 percent needed.
     
  5. Big Mike

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

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    Firstly, 'monolights' are strobes. Flash and strobe are synonymous. It's common that we call a studio style light a 'strobe' and a hot shoe style light a 'flash'. Studio strobes are rated in 'Watt seconds' and flash units are rated by their 'Guide Number'.
    (it's 'Watt seconds' because it's a burst of light...as opposed to continuous lights, which are rated in Watts only).

    So you want to set up a small studio in your house.
    You can try to build your system to use the CLS system, which would mean you would probably need more Nikon flash units, or you could go with a straight up manual system.
    (you don't need more SB900 units, you could go with SB800 or SB600 units....maybe even some older/cheaper units).
    If you are going to go with a manual system, you can get cheaper flash units like the LumoPros from MPEX, or you could go with a strobe kit like the Westcott kit you linked to. One of the main differences is that the flash units run on AA betteries and the strobes are plugged into a power outlet. Battery powered flashes are great for portability and setting up anywhere...but if you are just going to shoot in your home, the studio strobes are a better option.

    The Westcott kit has strobes that are 150 Ws each. That's not a whole lot for a studio strobe, but in a small space, that is probably enough power.

    If you just want to get your feet wet, you can use the gear you have now. The D700 can trigger the SB900 remotely with CLS. So with just that, you can position the SB900 off-camera as you main light and use the built-in flash as you fill light (or use a reflector for fill light). Learning to use one light, is a great way to get started into studio lighting.
     
  6. jackieclayton

    jackieclayton TPF Noob!

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    Thanks everyone! Big Mike, you're right... i was thinking "flash/speedlight" when I said "strobe"... i guess I thought these monolights were continuous lights, but duh... they are strobes too. (I'm embarrassed and probably should go hide right now...lol!) Knowing that, and knowing I'm limited in storage, I think I will wait and get some speedlights... that way I will also be able to access them easier if I need to take them on location someday.

    I really appreciate the website and flickr links for using one light source! Great links and I honestly thought I had to mave more than one light source to get good pictures... I like these a lot! Thank you so much!!

    I think I'm gonna buy a stand, umbrella, and a reflector and learn to use the 900 I have now and practice with using one light source and ambient now... that way in the meantime I can save more more speedlights... i think I will stick with Nikon so I can at least have the option of using CLS if I want to.

    I appreciate all this help guys!!! Thanks!!!
     

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