My first flash/lighting accessories?

Discussion in 'Lighting and Hardware' started by SubOhmGirl, Oct 25, 2017.

  1. SubOhmGirl

    SubOhmGirl TPF Noob!

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    So, I have been doing a lot of shooting and reading and learning and am now pretty comfortable in manual mode. I haven’t had the chance to get up to the mountains and do any landscapes yet but I have been doing a lot of people, pets and starting to get into still life’s (at least thats what we called it in art school drawing class where you set up a bunch of objects artistically and draw them) A friend of mine has a pair of speed lights and she let me try them and that was awesome!!! Is that a good place for me to start? A pair of speedlights and softbox/umbrella?

    It will be winter soon here in Colorado and I am anticipating shooting indoors a lot more and want to have what I need for it. I would like to get some cool shots of some of my mech mods (vaping) and toys/collectibles, rocks/stones and whatever other shiny or colorful objects I find as well as my loved ones friends and family.... I figure it is a good way to build some skills during the winter months when the weather is too poor to go outside.

    I use all Nikon gear... specifics are in my signature. Currently, I just have my camera and lenses and no lighting equipment or flashes beyond the one built into my d3400. I’d like to spend under $1000 for my first lighting setup. I appreciate all of your experience and knowledge. Thanks in advance.


     
  2. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Yes! Excellent! Even though most speedlights don't offer any sort of modeling light, you can still find the light you want by taking test shots. (It's cheap, remember?)

    With that budget, you can do quite a lot, and instead of making specific recommendations, here's my short-list of gear to start looking at and pricing out:

    One or two speedlights. If you go for the latest and greatest, then a SB-910 will suck up half of that budget all by itself, so use caution. I do own one, (which I bought as an "open box" unit) and they are fantastic, but I have since been reluctant to recommend one due to the high price tag. They will do just about anything, including a modeling light function, but be aware that you can also get some older models for much less money. One way to get the performance of a Nikon Speedlight is to purchase older used ones. I have over the past few months bought about seven or eight (I haven't actually counted them) SB-26 for an average price of about $75 each. These little guys have a slave function, so you can trigger one or several by using your built-in flash, or any other flash.

    One distinct advantage of speedlights is that they run on batteries, (use rechargeable batteries to save money) so they can be used anywhere. Yes, some studio lights have a battery accessory available, but then there's the cost. And speedlights are fairly small, so you can very nearly always have one in your bag. No excuses for not having a flash with you.

    A radio-frequency remote trigger set. You'll need a transmitter and at least one receiver, or a pair of transceivers (do both functions). Here again, you can find budget RF triggers at a very reasonable cost, or you can blow your budget and buy Pocket Wizards, which are the benchmark of triggers. I purchased some PW triggers used from a member right here in the "buy and sell" forum.

    Some modifiers. Right now, all I have are umbrellas, but as soon as I get the lenses I want, I'll start saving up for some softboxes. Umbrellas are cheap, and you can find a set of umbrellas and light stands and speedlight brackets for a very reasonable cost. You can also make (make do) reflectors. I have four large sheets of white foamcore that I use for reflectors, staging, and backdrops (when photographing objects on a table). I also made a light tent for use in photographing said objects. Get creative. Stay cheap. Lots of different found items can be used as light modifiers.
     
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  3. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    ^^ That.
     
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  4. SubOhmGirl

    SubOhmGirl TPF Noob!

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    Wow this is so much awesome information. Thank you so much!! I appreciate you sharing your ideas. I agree on the speed lights vs plug in. 9/10 times I am on the go, I think a pair of speed lights and the RF remote trigger is a good start. Even though most speed lights won’t give me modeling light there are other tricks I could still use right? Like a flexible lamp or few [so you can angle the light how you want] and some cheese cloth over it to tone down the light if needed. Maybe my next research project should be at home DIY studio stuff. I’m definitely interested in getting good light on my models but not wanting to invest much into that yet. First things first.... choosing a pair of speedlights. And my triggers.
     
  5. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Since, as you say; you're out 9 times out of 10, so get a fairly bright flashlight to mimic the flash. Hold the flashlight right on the speedlight, pointing at your subject. Caution your human subjects to not look at the flashlight while you have it on. (flash will not hurt their eyes, but a strong flashlight could be painful)

    Most speedlights have a power setting, so you won't need to scrim them, just adjust the power level.

    As for DYI projects, there are many. One thing most people will need is a "barn door" setup. Get some black posterboard and cut rectangles for the barn doors. Get sticky-back velcro to attach them to your speedlight.

    Reflectors can be sheets of white foamcore. Get some gaffer's tape and tape the foamcore to your light stands to keep them in place.

    A homemade scrim can be used to soften direct sunlight, but you'll probably have to get someone to hold it for you.

    Using the same technology as for the barn doors, you can make a reflector out of white foamcore to fit on your speedlight to make the light softer and larger. In that case, the speedlight is pointed at the white reflector, not at your subjects.
     
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  6. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    I really think that speedlights are best for seasoned, experienced shooters. For the last 20 years, I have always recommended low-cost studio-type flash units, with built-in modeling lamps, as the BEST way for the beginner to learn how to light. Why? Because you can literally SEE the effects of the light, as you move the light around...you can SEE the lighting effect, BEFORE you take a photo. You can SEE the beam spread. You can SEE where the light hits the background.

    I have recommended low-cost monolights here, the Flashpoint 320M specifically: $99 for a 150 Watt-second unit, with built-in slave triggering. For studio work, still life, portraiture, this is more-powerful than almost any speedlight ever made, has similar levels of output control, but can accept metal reflectors and honeycomb grids, barn doors, and so on, as well as works with umbrellas and softboxes, and brings with it the advantages of "real studio flash" shooting. Fast recycling. No batteries going dead. SIMPLE triggering, with the PC cord to the camera, and other units slaved optically.

    These units FIT directly onto light stands, without the need for an umbrella bracket. Consider that at $99, and without the need for an umbrella bracket, the 320M is as inexpensive as a speedlight, but has 2 to 3 times the power output, has a modeling light, and works well.

    To me, the beginner benefits the MOST from modeling lamps! The more-experienced one is, the more one understands,"About where to position the lights," but for the beginner without that knowledge about where, exactly, to best position the lights, literally being able to SEE the light, as it is moved from one position to another, is a huge,huge,huge asset.

    If you want to shoot, chimp, move,shoot,chimp,move,shoot,chimp,move, shoot, chimp, move, shoot,chimp--Aaa-haaa! THERE! THAT's where the light looks best, then by all means...go with speedlights. But if you want to be able to put the light and modifier directly on a light stand, then adjust it for height, then for angle, then for arc...well...that's why studio lighting equipment has modeling lamps in every flash head or monolight.

    The above has been my advice for two decades. Beginners learn studio lighting BEST with real studio lights, ones that accept real, studio light modifiers,easily.Nowadays, speedlights made in China are cheap, and triggers are cheap, and umbrella mount swivel brackets are $14.99 to $29.99 each. But still, no less expensive than a Flashpoint 320M. These are more-powerful than the Alien Bee 400 or 800, but a 320M costs $149 less than the Bee 400!

    If you have $1,000 as the budget, then do not dink around with adapting speedlights to a task they were never really meant for: buy REAL studio lighting gear. Lights, stands, umbrellas, softboxes, scrims, barn doors, gel holders, diffusion filter holders, mylar diffusion filters,10-degree,20-degrre,30-degree honeycomb grids, metal reflectors, a 20 or 22-inch beauty dish, and some fabric reflectors.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2017
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  7. SubOhmGirl

    SubOhmGirl TPF Noob!

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    Thank you two for so much experience and input. After reading both responses and thinking a little bit - I think I want both. I’ll just accumulate it slowly over the next several months. Luckily, even though I am new to lighting for photography - I do understand perspective and light in art in general because I went to college for both graphic design and fine art so I am hoping these are easy concepts for me to understand. I should do some more reading. And then I’ll make my shopping list.
     
  8. benhasajeep

    benhasajeep No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    One advantage to the Flashpoints 320m not mentioned is you can add a battery to it later on if you desire.
    The Flashpoints can be fired by optical light sensor, sync cord, or radio trigger plugged into the sync socket. Adorama has a bunch of kits for Flashpoints. Including light with stand and light modifiers.

    Also you could get a mix of the 2. Monolight and a speedlight. They can be used with one another. And you will have at least one speedlight if you want to go roaming outside.

    I have not used them but many say Yongnuo lights are very good for the price. They are much less than Nikon Speedlights.
     
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  9. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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  10. davidharmier60

    davidharmier60 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    It seems to me that a fair amount of what you wish to do is shoot your 1 year old.
    A swivel bounce on camera unit is what you'll need. All the other stuff can come later.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G890A using Tapatalk
     
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  11. SubOhmGirl

    SubOhmGirl TPF Noob!

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    Lol, I don’t have real children but yeah I get the analogy. Yeah I’m pretty adhd and shoot as such. I should work more or planned stuff I guess but I love on the go and candid photography.
     
  12. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    At $199 for the monolight, the DC portable battery, and a light stand, this looks like a very good value to me.
     
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