Newbie here... :) Can anyone recommend a good travel sized lighting solution?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by ModelPerfect, May 6, 2005.

  1. ModelPerfect

    ModelPerfect TPF Noob!

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    Here's my situation: I will be traveling around Central America, backpack-style, for about three months this summer to shoot portrait and figure photography. I don't have much equipment at all nor do I have much money to spend on equipment. I guess this is more or less an experimental vacation (I'm totally an amateur).

    One of my primary concerns is lightning, since a lot of the photos will be shot indoors and I don't really know what conditions I'll run into over there. However, since I'll be traveling around through 5-7 countries and in some sketchy environments, I'll need to travel light and compact without looking like I'm carrying expensive equipment. Can anyone recommend a portable lighting solution that might work given these restraints? Or if anyone has any suggestions as to how to work with current conditions, that would be cool too. :)

    The camera I have is a Sony DSC-P9, which I bought a couple of years ago when I went through SE Asia. Back then, all I cared about was snapping some memorable moments with friends, but now I would like to explore a growing interest in photography. I've got 1 month to sort out details before I fly out. :) Any suggestions at all would be greatly appreciated. Thanks a lot!

    -Logan
     
  2. ModelPerfect

    ModelPerfect TPF Noob!

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    I should add the obvious solution is the camera's flash, but I'm worried about red-eye. I'd rather not use the built in flash, but maybe I don't have too much of a choice...
     
  3. Ghoste

    Ghoste TPF Noob!

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    Yeah, a good flash will work great. Nothin' to expensive, just a good fill flash. For maybe indoor buildings with low light or something just set that camera on something sturdy and hold that shutter open a while. A flash will probally just be needed for some closer personal shots of people while it's dark. But usually when you use a flash on something you want to come out as a nice shot, you use available lighting around you. If you use a flash on something that looks nice you might just over expose some areas and leave other areas dark and create unwanted shadows. I hope this helps, I'm not an expert or anything, I'm just trying to say what I know.. but most likely I'm wrong. Haha.
     
  4. Big Mike

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

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    I was going to suggest a nice fast prime lens...but you have a point & shoot digital camera so that's not an option. Does your camera have a hot shoe? Get an accessory flash.

    Or...you could get a nice fast prime lens, like a 50mm F1.4, and get a camera to go along with it. Fast lenses need less light to make the exposure.

    You could get an older, manual focus camera that will stand up to the rigors of backpacking through Central America. That way, batteries should not be an issue. You could even get an old manual exposure camera that does not need batteries at all. Plus, it's much less of a target than an expensive looking digital camera.
     
  5. panocho

    panocho TPF Noob!

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    Yep, sorry to suggest you to skip to film, but I'm with Big Mike.
    An old reliable fully mechanical SLR, a fast lens and, just in case, a flash. if you're shooting portraits, a 100mm lens would be great, but then it would be more difficult -and expensive- to get a fast one. 50mm would also do it, after all, and those are cheaper and faster.
    Fully mechanical, means that you'll only depend on the batteries when using the light meter, but the camera will work without them (for example, a Nikon FM: I have one, and really recommend it -better a FM2, of course, but that's more expensive and you don't really need the difference). I suggest the FM, since it's the one I know best, but other brands will be even cheaper. Add a f1.4 or 1.8 50mm lens and a flash (which you can bounce, better for portraits) and you'll have an equipment that will never let you down. You really won't regret.

    You can get all that for about $100, believe it or not. You would buy only crap in digital, with that money. But in film, you could buy wonders. Then, of course, you'll have to expend in film and development, which, since you're going to be travelling, might be a bit of a trouble -finding labs, so that you don't keep the film exposed too long in your bag.

    Just give it a thought to the idea of film.
     
  6. Big Mike

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

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    Yes, the cost of film & development might be an issue...also dragging all that film around. One option would be prepaid envelops. Some labs will sell self-addressed envelopes with prepaid developing. I think people used to mail direct to Kodak. That way, you shoot the film, drop it into an envelope and drop that into a mail-box.

    Then when you get home, your photos are done and mailed to you.
     
  7. Ghoste

    Ghoste TPF Noob!

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    Oh, I didn't know that was a point and shoot camera. Ok, buy a cheap 35mm SLR that is a good rugged camera that can take a beating if something happened. I have an Elan 7N and it's a great camera. If photography is something you want to get into buy something you will use forever. A good 50mm F/1.4 lense would be great. Canon makes two lenses just like this, the 50mm F/1.4 and the 50mm F/1.8 I heard the 1.8 is still a great lense and it's only like 75 bucks!
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=productlist&A=details&Q=&sku=319779&is=USA
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=productlist&A=details&Q=&sku=12142&is=USA
     
  8. ModelPerfect

    ModelPerfect TPF Noob!

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    It doesn't have a synch port, but Sony does make an accessory flash that goes off when the camera flash does...I'm not sure that will really work, since the camera flash will still produce red eye (I think). :)
     
  9. ModelPerfect

    ModelPerfect TPF Noob!

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    Thanks everyone else, too, but I do want to stick with digital for a couple of reasons:
    (1) I want to publish an online diary while I travel of my "adventures", which would be much easier if I shot digital and would save the need to carry 2 cameras.
    (2) I will be shooting a LOT of photos during the course of the three months...Probably in excess of 10,000-15,000. That would be a lot of film to carry around, especially in areas that won't have highly developed postal services. Plus the developing cost would be extreme.
    (3) Digital provides an easier way to backup photos. The last thing I want to do is send my unbacked up originals via mail and have them lost. A buddy of mine is bringing a small laptop with a burner, so I can make copies: one to mail somewhere and another to keep on me. I'm also considering a small 20-80 GB storage device to keep copies on. That way the mail would have to screw up AND we'd have to be robbed in order to lost everything. Not saying that's unlikely, but it at least protects up a little more.
    (4) All the photos will ultimately be digitally published, so it saves in scan time or additional processing fees.
     
  10. ModelPerfect

    ModelPerfect TPF Noob!

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    If there's a better SMALL digital camera that's not too expensive, I would love to hear suggestions. I'd probably have to stay pretty cheap though... At least with the Sony, I already have the memory sticks, spare battery and even an underwater encaser. :)
     
  11. ModelPerfect

    ModelPerfect TPF Noob!

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    Thanks again for everyone's help. I'm going to run out until later tonight, so I won't be able to respond until then...
     
  12. panocho

    panocho TPF Noob!

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    Being your conditions what they are, I'd suggest a prosumer -I already suggested this in a couple of discussions here before. You can get one for $100-200 -second hand, of course!- (you couldn't even think on a dSLR for that money), and it would give you far more options than a point&shot. For example, they come with hot shoe, so you can use an external flash -one you can bounce to get better results in portraits.
    Try a search ["prosumer" should do it] here at TPF in those other discussion to read what people say about this possibility.
     

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