studio lighting help

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by megz1234, Aug 18, 2009.

  1. megz1234

    megz1234 TPF Noob!

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    Hello, new to the forum and excited!!

    I have been photographing commercially for a company using their equiptment and have started to do outdoor portraits now that the weather allows.
    I have been looking into doing more freelance work and am in need of a lighting kit. So basically I want to be able to do table top product and indoor portraits.
    I know I want strobe lighting and not continuous. I would like to be able to travel with the lights to clients homes or other locations. What I hav been searching for is a reliable, portable lighting kit that I am able to add all different accessories (umbrellas, soft boxes, barn doors, grids). Not sure if I wouldwant these run off a power pack or monolights??? I have used both kinds of lights, but unaware of what woudl work best for what I woudl like to do with them. Any advice of any kind woudl be greatly appreciated. I also do not know what brand out there is good ( I do know that is definetely a relative opinion)
    thanks much!!
     
  2. Big Mike

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

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    Welcome to the forum.

    What is your budget? And are you looking for higher end 'professional' equipment or is 'good enough', good enough for you?

    Have a look at AlienBee Lights...or their higher end cousin White Lightning.

    Elinchrom makes a nice line of lights. Their D-Lites are their entry level monolights and seem to get good reviews.

    As for monolights vs pack lights. That's up to you. From what I can tell, Monolights are much more popular right now, especially on the lower end of the market.

    Another option would be to use 'hotshoe' flash units. The benefits are that they are very portable and run on AA batteries. You could have your whole kit fit into one bag/case. They don't have as much power as studio strobes though. You can build yourself an inexpensive kit pretty easily though. MPEX Strobist Kits
     
  3. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    I went with monolights for the simple reason that there are fewer cords running everywhere. I was dealing mostly with people and there's enough stuff for people to trip over in a studio (or in a home) without more cords.

    As for brands, I went with top quality equipment (Broncolor) simply because I believe in getting the best tools possible and because I had a dealer/repair center in town. Not cheap but all equipment is tax deductible if yu make income from this business.

    Check out your area to see what is sold locally. It is always nice to be able to run to the store when you find you need an accessory at the last minute. Plus it is good for your area economically to spend your money locally.

    Cheers.
     
  4. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Battery powered strobes are good for 99% of the jobs, especially when you are talking indoors. About the ONLY exception to that is when you need to light a huge area or need to overpower the sun.

    As far as accessories, 90% of what you can use with studio lights have their equivalent functional entity for speedlights.... and at often much lower prices or even free (read: DIY).

    When you get to the point and while doing things like weddings and stuff... can properly light a group of 20 people with 3 simple speedlights... it makes one's eyes open a little.

    Strobist for the win. :)
     
  5. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    All three points very good advice.

    Since you're at the starting point, I would definitely recommend a solid, long-standing, quality system. "Getting by" has never worked out for me over the years. It can actually end up costing more in the end.

    -Pete
     
  6. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    Agreed. I've given the strobist's link a few times but to me it is good only to learn and for people who will only do a little studio work. Frankly I don't need a bagful of flashes. I own two of them and have very rarely had both on cameras at the same time so why would I want more.

    Flashes are not designed for someone doing studio work day in and day out. And they just don't deliver the power of strobes.

    If the budget is not there for quality equipment, look at Alien Bees. They are not that much more that flashes and will allow you to do much more. Then, when the money starts coming in, get into a better system and keep the Bees as a back up or sell them.

    I don't recommend mixing brands (I personally like to have all same lights) but in a pinch you could use a Bee with your new system when you need that one extra light.

    What it really comes down to is how much work you intend to do with the lights. Only you know the answer to that.


    Edit = Alien Bees seem to be pretty good for their price btw but they seem to be sold only direct from the company. That means no local dealer to run to in case of need.
     
  7. Big Mike

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

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    Yes, they are only sold directly from their facility (in Tennessee I think). However, their customer service is top notch.
     
  8. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    About Alien Bee:
    Service = top notch.
    Quality of the lights themselves = best budget setup... *far* from best quality.
    The owner of the company = IMHO is close to being a whack job guy on a massive power trip.

    Elinchrom are of higher quality than Alien Bee, but more expensive. For me, it is Photogenic (a company over 100 years old) or nothing else. I chose them after spending a day playing with 5-digits worth of Profoto gear at a strobist meet.

    If money was no object, Broncolor is all I would own, but Photogenic stuff is really not that far behind in quality and performance, and is a lot cheaper.
     
  9. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    Elinchrom has a wide range of products price wise which I imagine (never worked with that brand) means a wide range quality wise. Not always true but often enough to not forget.

    Why would you need Broncolor to do weddings? Don't mean to be offensive or nasty but you seem to want to do mostly weddings and outdoors portraiture. For that type of photography you are not going to use your strobes as much so there is not really any reason to spend that kind of money.

    Broncolor and top of the line Elinchrom are meant for day in day out studio work. I can't help but repeat: first figure out what kind of photography it is you are going after. Then get the right equipment for it.

    I did not restore my 1920's house with a $2 hammer from the Dollar Tree. At the same time, no reason to spend $50 on one from Lowe's if most of the hammering is going to be done by contractors.

    A strobe is nothing more than a tool so, first, be honest with yourself as to what exactly you are going to do with that tool.

    Yes, we have plenty of people here who will spend thousands on gear and still shoot the same photos they were shooting with a P&S but those of us who are serious about photography as a business should know better and not necessarily go after the shiniest toy.
     
  10. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Ya know.... one brand I NEVER hear about here that has wide acceptance in my neighborhood is White Lightning. I'm told they're very consistent and fairly priced. Anyone here using these?

    -Pete
     
  11. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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  12. Montana

    Montana TPF Noob!

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    White Lightning is made by Paul C Buff, same as alien bees. I have a ton of alienbees stuff and have been 100% satisfied. And as mentioned before, customer service is unbeatable. I have had zero issues with my bees set at any power levels. I suspect those that have problems are very, very technical...or just plain don't know what they are doing. For whats its worth, I never read a darn thing on the strobist site....could care less to either. Studio lights are where its at. Want portable, get a battery pack for a couple monolights. Don't want to carry all the weight....by a point and shoot camera and find a different hobby or line of work.
     

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