Studio Lighting - Budget: $300

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by keith204, Jan 24, 2008.

  1. keith204

    keith204 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Spend my money for me!! I got some backdrops and now need to figure out a studio lighting setup. My room is small. Main problem with what I have: little reliability when it comes to triggering off-camera flashes.

    I'm open to any type of lighting suggestions. Fire away!

    Here's what I have
    430EX
    Sunpak 383
    2 43" umbrellas
    light stand
    clamps
    Gary Fong Lightsphere
    ebay triggers (dont work with 430ex)
    optical triggers (dont work with 430ex)
     
  2. Alpha

    Alpha Troll Extraordinaire

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    No question. Buy a studio strobe. I would go photogenic or white lightning. Maybe Hensel if you can find a steal.

    Sometimes you can find great deals on higher end strobes, but modifiers come at a premium. For example, if I needed to order a standard 70 degree reflector for one of my Broncolors, it would be $243 from B&H...just for the reflector. God help me if I ever need a 50 degree. It weighs in a $675.
     
  3. Big Mike

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

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    Or you could just replace your E-bay radio triggers with a more reliable system. Pocket Wizards, Elinchrome Sky Ports, and there is supposed to be something new (and inexpensive) coming out from Radio Popper. Or even (gasp) cords & wires.

    Or, you could replace your 430 with a cheaper strobe that will work. I hear a lot of good things about Nikon units for this type of thing. An SB-28 might work (not sure of the power on those). Or get another sunpak.

    You will have less power, using these flash units, than using a studio strobe...but you will have portability (if you want it)...and if you plan on using it in a small room, the lower power should be OK.

    Still, one good studio strobe can be used with a reflector to get great results.
     
  4. Big Mike

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

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    Also...a flash meter would really come in handy. A new one would probably blow the budget, but a used one might be the answer.
     
  5. keith204

    keith204 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    ok so here's what I'm looking at, at just over $300

    Elinchrom Skyport set - 1 transmitter, 2 receivers. $259 Adorama

    2 Sunpak DS 20 - $70 for 2 at Adorama

    So, for a lighting setup, I could use the 430 on-camera for a very very stopped down fill, then the Sunpak 383 with an umbrella and one of the receivers. Then the 2 DS 20's for the hair/kicker/background/etc. The DS 20s have a built-in optical receiver (fire when another flash does) I'd probably snoot the DS20's often.

    Then I always have an extra skyport for adding another flash down the road.


    Would you tweak this setup in any way? Sure, with $1000 I can get a lot more, but this sounds like a decent setup for $300.
     
  6. Big Mike

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

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    I might leave the 430 out of it. Well, I guess you could use it in manual mode only....but E-TTL should be left out because it uses a preflash for metering...which will trigger your optical slaves and mess up the metering anyway.

    If you are just going to be shooting in a room, you could skip the sky ports and just go with optical triggers for all the flash units. They can be as cheap as $12. You still need one flash to trigger them...and that could be an on-camera flash or even one triggered with your cheapo radio trigger.
     
  7. Alpha

    Alpha Troll Extraordinaire

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    I'm gonna have to say flash meter before anything else.
     
  8. keith204

    keith204 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    that all makes sense.

    More than anything, my trouble is with not having enough wireless lights. I usually will only need one really bright one, and then another for accents/fill/etc. Maybe I'll just get those cheap sunpaks and see what I can do with them..optical trigger. Then the 383 with the ebay trigger. That should actually do ok, and save me some money for the time being at least.

    come to think of it, my optical triggers and ebay triggers worked well inside the few times i've used them, but my problem was not enough lights.

    the times i've been hacked off at my cheap wireless setup have been in larger rooms or outside. There are several on-location things that I will be doing and when those come up I will likely consider the skyports then.

    Thanks for the good advice, as always. I will just go cheap here and see what happens. I'll keep you posted!
     
  9. Big Mike

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

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    My first 'studio' set up was one Alienbee light and two cheap flash units with optical triggers. I could/should also have added a reflector.

    My main problem with this...was the recycle times of the flash units. It was too slow (much slower than the AC powered studio light). This didn't work well for shooting kids because they may only give you a good expression for a few seconds and you need to have your flashes ready to fire. That's mainly why I decided to go with more studio lights, rather than flash units.
    That being said, a top quality flash unit, with fresh batteries will recharge pretty fast.

    As Max says...a flash meter would be a very good idea, especially when using multiple lights. However, with digital, it's much easier to go without, than with film. I find that I use the meter to get things set up...then adjust to taste by looking at the histogram and (gasp) the image on the screen.
     
  10. monkeykoder

    monkeykoder TPF Noob!

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    I thought one of the reasons to go with a flash over a studio light was the FLASH had a better recycle time.
     
  11. Big Mike

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

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    Not that I've ever heard. A studio light is plugged into the power outlet and can charge up quite fast (I'm sure speeds vary with brand & type of light...and the power setting). But 'hot shoe' flash units are limited by their power source...batteries.
     

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should i get studio lighting kit for $300