Lighting suggestions?

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by Sideburns, Nov 20, 2007.

  1. Sideburns

    Sideburns TPF Noob!

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    Hello all. Well, I'm starting to try and assemble a kit of lights that I can use in my home as a makeshift studio setup to maybe make some small cash on the side.

    Now, I don't really know what I need...so that's why I'm coming to ask.

    I see a kit on B&H's website with 2 100 watt/second monolights with stands, boxes, and an umbrella...and case for it all for 259.95. They're made by "impact"..I dono if they're the best quality, but it's better than whatever I have (perhaps some nice LED flashlights lmfao)

    here's a link: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/404508-REG/Impact__Two_Monolight_Kit_.html

    But, I don't know if that's bright enough? Also, I am wondering if you could help me understand how to meter off of something like that? Since it obviously doesn't put out the same amount of light when it flashes..lol. Do you just try a lot?

    Let's say I got that kit....what else would I need to make it work with my camera?
    I understand I'll need a hotshoe to PC adapter....but what else?

    Is there another suggestion for lights that you guys would make that's equally affordable? I want to be able to move them around fairly easily, and I don't want to be buying new bulbs every couple days because they have an extremely short life...

    Any advice you can give me would be perfect, because I played around with my instructors lights and a model last night, and it was a blast. I really want to try this on my own with girls I know who have been asking for sessions.
     
  2. Sideburns

    Sideburns TPF Noob!

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    Doesn't anyone use strobes/monolights?

    Perhaps I put it in the wrong forum? I'm not sure, but I'd appreciate any help I can get with this...
     
  3. Johnboy2978

    Johnboy2978 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    From what I know, Impact is a real budget solution. My main problem with a set up like this is that it doesn't have user replaceable flash tubes. Now does that you just throw them out when the bulb dies? I don't know. Maybe you send them back to the factory. Either way, it's an expensive option I'd think.

    The other problem is their power. I use Alien Bee 800s, and their watt/second is 320 compared to 100 with these, plus the recycle time is a little slow IMO. Alien Bees will run you about $300 US per light. I find them to be quite good. They are highly recommended but still others will turn their nose up at them saying they're not "professional" enough and recommend something like photogenic or something else.

    If you camera doesn't have a pc connection, you will need a hot shoe adapter as you have figured out and that's all. One will connect to the camera and the other will fire as slave.

    As far as metering, since you can't meter it in camera b/c it's strobe and not continuous, the only solution is (1) trial and error or (2) use a light meter like a sekonic L358 incident meter.

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/221078-REG/Sekonic_401358_L_358_Flash_Master_Meter.html

    What I did was to sit down and calculate the exposure based on guide numbers and made a quick reference for various power settings and various aperture and distance settings. It gets me really close in the ballpark and then I can fine tune and have a proper exposure.

    Check out Alien Bees though for some comparison.
    http://www.alienbees.com/packages.html
     
  4. Sideburns

    Sideburns TPF Noob!

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    Well I had heard of alienbees, but this is going to be pretty darn budget, and I need the versatility of AT LEAST 2 lights...I'm a college student remember...
    While I will upgrade later on...I need something to get my feet wet. Let's say that 350 is my hard budget. Not including the as-15 adapter I'd need...and any other cable adapter to fit the proper end they put on the lights.
     
  5. Johnboy2978

    Johnboy2978 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Another option is starting with one light and using a big reflector for fill. You can do some creative lighting with just one light. Working with strobes initially also requires a bit of a learning curve. It's often easier to start with one and figure out what's going on before getting into more complicated scenarios like a key light, fill light, hair light and BG light.

    The one thing I've heard about lighting over and over though, is start with the best you can afford, b/c it's much more expensive to buy cheap lights and then buy what you wanted to start with. Cry once or cry everytime you use them they say.
     
  6. Sideburns

    Sideburns TPF Noob!

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    True...but I can barely afford to buy my girlfriend a Christmas present..lol. Due to the horrible job market in my area at the moment..I've been out of work since school started mooching off the parents for money to eat during the day. (chrysler and ford factores are closing and laying off...so all the people have 3 or 4 jobs to make up for the debts they have from the lavish lifestyle they built for themselves on a job they knew wasn't there forever)

    Anyways...end of that rant...lol.

    So there's no options in terms of 2 lights for 350US? I basically just want a main and fill...then when I can afford more, those two will get moved to background/hair or whatever. I'm pretty sure I would like to start with strobes because that's what I want to move into eventually, so why not right?

    If I really can't do it with 2 lights for 350 then I suppose a reflector is ok...but I wanted the convenience of being able to move the lights wherever I wanted and adjusting each.

    I have no problem with upgrading to expensive lights once I get a steady income...Hell, I'll go out and pay 500 or more for each light when I have money...but right now I don't. I understand you get what you pay for...but there's gotta some option for me.
     
  7. Big Mike

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

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    You could consider using hot shoe type flash units. You could get a couple cheap units like the Vivitar 283 or Sunpak 383. Mount them on tripods or cheap light stands. You could get an umbrella or two and use an umbrella-light stand adaptor.

    You could also get a cheap radio trigger or optical slave to fire them.

    You can actually get pretty good results by using one flash on the camera (as fill) and one off camera (as the main light). Then, all you need is an optical trigger for the off camera unit.

    It's not very powerful compared to Alienbees or other 'studio' lights...but it's cheap and quite portable.
     
  8. Mike Jordan

    Mike Jordan TPF Noob!

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    Check out the Excalibur lights on B&H. They are in the same class as the Alien Bees but cheaper. They have them in singles and kits. Look for the kits that have two lights without the case and you can save a bit from the kits with the case. The SP-3200 lights give you 320 watt seconds and better control of the light, but their SP-1600 at 160 watt seconds might be more within your budget.

    Since you can't afford a flash meter right now, you can use your histogram on your camera to get your exposure very close. If you know how to use your histogram.

    Mike
     
  9. Sideburns

    Sideburns TPF Noob!

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    I do know how to use the histogram...but it doesn't work every time...
    I may as well just trial and error it...lol...and get used to it.
    Thanks for that though...I'll check out those excalibur lights.
     
  10. Helen B

    Helen B TPF Noob!

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    Why not get second-hand lights? For around $260 you should be able to pick up a Dyna-Lite D804-II and two heads. The D804-II is an 800 Ws power pack.

    Best,
    Helen
     
  11. Mike Jordan

    Mike Jordan TPF Noob!

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    The histogram works all the time, unless your camera is broke. :D If you can learn to read your histogram, it will make a lot of difference to your images.

    The idea is to keep all the data in between the left and right side. Don't worry about how high it is, that's not as important as the right and left edges and where they are. If the data is pushed up against the left side you are under exposed. If the data is pushed up against the right side you are over exposed. If you are just touching the left and right side or if there is an even amount of space between the left and right side, you are pretty close to being at the proper exposure.

    There's a few other things to look for sometimes, but it's just about that simple. Sometimes the data will be very low and hard to tell it's exposure data and not just the bottom row. You can also calibrate your camera meter or external flash meter with the histogram. If you shoot a black/gray/white card you should have 3 spikes... black will be on the left, gray will be in the middle and white will be on the right.

    Lots of things you can do with the histogram to help you, which is why it's so worth the effort to learn how to use it.


    Mike
     
  12. Sideburns

    Sideburns TPF Noob!

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    Well thanks...maybe I was just not having a good time with it...lol
    I do know about a digital target though...
     

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