Product Photography - Flash or Continuous? Need advise.

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by majutsu, Jun 19, 2007.

  1. majutsu

    majutsu TPF Noob!

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    Hello all, let me introduce myself - I call myself Majutsu, and I love taking photos - doing ebay now for a while, and I probably fit in as a beginner. Probably took over 10,000 photos now, but never studied photography or know as much as I should about it.

    I was never happy with my ebay photos because of the lighting -- and now that I have to make a website for my boss - our pictures don't have to be perfect I want to get the background out of the way as much as possible more than before. I always have been on continuous lighting - ranging from the standard incandescent, first halogen (yellow), then Fluorex flood (Home Depot), now I was about to go onto GE Reveal (I don't have a big budget). All of them always had gray in it, contrast problems, etcetera whereby Gimp's->Tools->Color->AutoAdjust function was able to get out much of it, but not all of it, and not all the time. Particularly orange/read colors were poorly contrasted.

    After looking at this guy's site praising GE Reveal for basic photography:
    http://web.mit.edu/cjoye/www/photo/tests.html

    I only wondered what he was talking about, the flash pictures looked better. More depth and everything. So I broke down and brought a couple of EZcubes to diffuse the light and all that. I photograph mostly small coins, medals, and badges but do make photos of suits too.

    So that type of product photography, using macro, would a flash kit be the right thing?

    Something like this:
    http://cgi.ebay.com/2-LIGHT-360-W-S...3QQihZ010QQcategoryZ30087QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

    It won't break my bank. Sorry to be so longwinded, but I hear contradictory answers all over the net - probably because most people have different needs. Some people reccomend day balanced cfls, but I heard bad things about them from time to time, not too mention my fluorex are probably close to them already.
     
  2. Mad_Gnome

    Mad_Gnome TPF Noob!

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    Something like the strobe kit you linked to will offer more accurate color than constant (hot) lighting, but if you take a lot of photos, durability will be a factor. The flash tubes in that particular set of lights will give you about 8,000-10,000 exposures before they run out, at which point you'll be faced with the choice of replacing the tubes (probably costing almost as much as the strobes themselves) or buying new strobes.

    I would strongly recommend saving your pennies and buying yourself a decent set of small strobes from a reputable company like Alien Bees. You'll be much happier in the long run. The flash tubes in Alien Bees strobes are rated for 250,000+ exposures, and if there are any issues with the strobes, they carry a 5-year warranty, and I can tell you from first-hand experience that Alien Bees' customer service is second to none. When I received a Vagabond battery pack, the lid broke as I took it out of the shipping package. With a single email, a new bag was shipped out immediately with no expectation of a return of the broken one. The old bag serves as a carry bag for my miscellaneous equipment.

    I know it can be tempting to buy equipment now, now, now, but trust me, waiting just a little longer and saving a little bit of money for the better equipment is smart money in the long run. Buying the right stuff the first time sure beats having to go back and buy it later after having wasted money on equipment you won't be happy with.
     
  3. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    That is a complete misnomer. There is no difference in flash and continuous lighting. The light hits the surface the same, gets scattered the same, is reflected or refracted the same, and decays the same.

    One is just an instant very bright bust, the other always on forcing you to take a longer exposure (longer than 1/12000th that a flash is on for).

    When photographing inanimate objects you can achieve identical results with both hotlights and flashes. The only difference is colour temperature which is adjusted in post processing anyway.

    Flash does have the advantage of being physically cold so you can do things like mount them as rings on your lenses and not cook your equipment or what you're photographing. Also it balanced to close to daylight so no colour temperature adjustment is needed giving you potentially more colourful results. The disadvantage is that you can't see how shadows fall and how light will look till after you take the picture.

    The differences you see above come mostly from differences in physical size of the light source and their position casting different shadows.
     
  4. majutsu

    majutsu TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the replies.

    Garbs, what economical continuous lighting solution would you recommend?
     
  5. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I don't know about anybody else but for backlights and kickers I use clamp lights and the GE reveal 90W floods. They are better than the circ fluorescents (they don't beak as easily either LOL). If I really need to bump the ambient I'll use up to 4. After that it's photoshop for me ;).
     
  6. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    A pro could make identical images with either type of lighting but virtually every one will use flash. Image quality isn't the issue for static subjects like product photography. Flash, however, is better in every other respect. It is faster, cooler, more economical to use...........
     
  7. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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  8. chrisburke

    chrisburke TPF Noob!

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  9. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    LOLOLOLOLOLOL

    Wal-mart is taking over e-bay! Have they no shame?!?

    m e
     
  10. chrisburke

    chrisburke TPF Noob!

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    wal mart takes over everything they can... shame?? not only do they have no shame, they have no remorse either
     

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