help with choosing a lighting kit

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by nyzwerewolf, Dec 8, 2009.

  1. nyzwerewolf

    nyzwerewolf TPF Noob!

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    hello guys,

    I am not a pro, but I do take ok pictures. I have a D60 and a G11. Recently, a lot of my friends/family have been calling me to do portrait shots of them and their kids. I have not said yes to them yet because if i take pictures, I want them to look professional. And for photos to look pro, you need good lighting.

    So basically, I am looking for a decent lighting kit. I am a college student, so my budget is about 300-350. Can you guys help me pick a nice lighting kit?

    Also, I came across this on amazon. please let me know your feedback on that kit.

    any help/comments/suggestions appreciated!
    Thanks a lot!
    Low
     
  2. inTempus

    inTempus TPF Noob!

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    Those look like hot lights and not strobes... as for the quality, I honestly can't say as I've never used anything like that.
     
  3. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    The product description is not complete there on Amazon. You need to know the wattage of all three of the lights, how high the light stands will go, and how big the umbrellas are.

    I think you can see that info on Adoramas web site: 401436 Smith Victor KT900 3-Light 1250-Watt Thrifty Mini-Boom Kit with Light Cart on Wheels Carrying Case. Just check to be sure it's the same kit.

    Actually it looks like a decent kit for the price. The lights have enough power, the light stands go up 8 feet and the umbrellas are big enough to do head and shoulder portraits of a couple people at a time.

    Warning: Being continous lights, and not strobes, the lights and metal reflectors will get very hot. The metal reflectors and the lights themselves pose a significant burn hazard and if placed to close to flammable objects could start a fire.
     
  4. nyzwerewolf

    nyzwerewolf TPF Noob!

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    how does strobe lighting work? Whats the price range for a strobe lighting kit for a newbie to studio lighting - who wants to take family portraits/holiday photos at family/friend's house.
     
  5. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Another name for strobed light is flash. Strobed light is brief so it doesn't get hot like continuous lights do. If fired rapidly though they still heat up.

    There are some other advantages photographically, mainly the fact that strobed lights will stop motion, which continuous lights can't do.

    Here is a kit that has enough power and modeling lamps so you can see where the strobed light is going to go when they flash.

    This kit would be better since the lights are twice as powerful. Plus they are marked down $150.00.
     
  6. nyzwerewolf

    nyzwerewolf TPF Noob!

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    thanks a lot! what about this kit?
     
  7. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I think the calumet kit would be better. They're basically almost rebranded Elinchrom D-lites. Elinchrom is a pretty respected name in the photography industry and they have good quality, good performing lights. The Calumet lights can also use Elinchrom modifiers, which means when you learn about lighting and about what everything does, then you'll have a system to move on to rather than having to repurchase things that you could have gotten away with keeping an reusing.

    Here's a decent link. It pertains mainly to using small speedlights off camera, but the information can be used with any size light.

    Strobist: Lighting 101
     
  8. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    +1 ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^
     
  9. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Definitely, do not buy the Jensen kit for $379--the flashtube life is listed as 8,000 shots. That's ridiculously low. The two Calumet kits are vastly better-made lighting equipment, plus the Calumet Genesis lights can use Elinchrom-fit accessories, and have a nice 7 inch reflector which means 7 inch honeycomb grids would be open to you.

    I would suggest that it's better to have four lights than two; one of the biggest proiblems is having too MUCH light with today's digital SLRs which have such superb ISO 200 to ISO 400 performance; I would rather have four 200 watt-second monolights than two 400 watt-second lights, so the thought of buying two of the $279 Calumet kits is not too bad an idea.

    Main light, hair light, one or two background lights, and a fill light....there's a four-light setup right there. Or even a five-light setup.
     
  10. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Unless you're trying to kill the sun. And even if not, you can still use ND filters some times, when practically killing the power on the strobe and closing the aperture just won't do.
     
  11. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Yeah....agree with you V-I. But somehow, I doubt this person is going to use AC-powered flash units to kill the sun. As far as killing the sun, the best solution ever invented for that is an SLR with a CCD sensor and a hybrid mechanical/electronic shutter that allows synchronizing flash as high speeds, like 1/8000 second....that must equate to about 9600 watt-seconds in terms of overpowering daylight. A used $300 Nikon D40 is a great camera for its ability to synchronize flash at ridiculous speeds...

    I often find a need for five lights. Main light, fill light, hair light, two background lights to bring gray paper up to white, or to bring black paper up to gray. I have a lot of flash power available, and yet, I find for single-person portraiture, I often end up channeling only 400 watt-seconds through five light heads.

    Two-lights are fine for many things, but for doing real studio lighting work, it's so much easier to have four lights and the right modifiers--and one of the most-critical are honeycomb grids, which is why those Calumet Genesis lights are so,so,so much better than those Jensen-reseller lights; they accept professional accessories from the Elinchrom mounting line.
     
  12. Pugs

    Pugs TPF Noob!

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    I have a set of Calumet Travelites (or rather my best friend has them and stores them at my house and allows me free use of them). They are my only "professional" lighting gear experience so my opinion is WAY biased. I absolutely love them. One 375W and two 750W instruments with three umbrellas, two softboxes, dishes, honeycomb grid, and other crap... So far, they've been excellent but I HAVE found myself wishing for additional instruments at times, making do with three can be a challenge but is definitely doable.
     

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