What types and brand of lights?

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by mrjackphoto, Mar 17, 2009.

  1. mrjackphoto

    mrjackphoto TPF Noob!

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    I have been doing photography for 2 years now. I am thinking about opening up a small portrait studio and was looking into getting some lights. What types of lights are best strobes or continuous? Also which brand should I get or atleast what to look for in the lights I need? I was thinking of using softboxes as well as I seem to have more success with these as opposed to umbrellas but want your opinion on this as well.

    Also what is best and cheapest way to get backgrounds? What type should I get and where is best place to buy? Thanks in advance.

    Jack
     
  2. adamwilliamking

    adamwilliamking TPF Noob!

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    If you want we can take the pictures for you too ;)

    Kidding. Theres so many choices, be more precise with what you're going for.
     
  3. Big Mike

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

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    In my opinion, strobes are a much better choice for shooting people.

    I like softboxes much better than umbrellas in most situations...but they are more of a pain to pack and transport. And, of course, they are quite a bit more expensive.

    What is your budget for lights?
     
  4. mrjackphoto

    mrjackphoto TPF Noob!

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    Lets start off with $500 range starting off. It is something I will either buy more or better lights after I get going some.
     
  5. Big Mike

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

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    I'd suggest avoiding lights that are 'too cheap' because you will either grow out of them quickly or stop using them altogether. Maybe get one or two lights and learn how to use them effectively, then add more lights as you need them. Remember that a simple reflector can be just as good as another light.

    Many people around here, use and recommend Alienbee lights. AlienBees: Illuminating the Galaxy with Professional Photographic Lighting Equipment
    I use them and I do like them, however, they are not without their issues. Most notably a color shift at low power levels. To start, I'd suggest a B800 with a heavy duty stand and large softbox.

    Another brand to look at is Elinchrom Studio Flash Systems - Digital Flash Systems - Elinchrom Flash Systems. Their D-Lite series is in the same price range as the Alienbees.

    I should also mention that you can get great results with portable 'hot shoe' flashes, used on stands just like studio lights. They typically don't have as much power as studio strobes, but because they run on batteries, they are much more portable, if that's something you are interested in. Check out http://www.mpex.com/page.htm?PG=Strobist Kits for kits and do some reading HERE for more info on this type of lighting.
     
  6. mrjackphoto

    mrjackphoto TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for your help Mike. I do have a SB600 so should I go that route and just get like another one and use it for now or what is your opinion? Or should I just spend even more money then $500 and if so what then? Again thanks.

    Jack
     
  7. Big Mike

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

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    I can't answer that for you...it will depend a lot on how you like to work. If you want to open a 'studio'...then actual 'studio' lights would probably be my choice...but many photographers who have studios, also shoot outdoors and on location....so portability is an issue. To be honest, this is something that you should know about yourself and your shooting...before you 'open a studio'. If you have been successful enough that you can justify the expense of a studio, then you must be doing something right...so continue with that.

    You could spend $1000-$2000 and get a decent set of light (maybe 4) and some accessories...and that might be a good start. But it could be a daunting task learning that from scratch, which is why I often recommend starting with one light.

    To throw another wrench into the equation...maybe you could go in another direction and invest in better glass. A top quality lens can be a photographer's best friend.
     
  8. mrjackphoto

    mrjackphoto TPF Noob!

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    OK I just want something for a studio. Don't get me wrong I'm not claiming to be great. I have a space a friend is basically going to let me use. She bought a business and it has two spaces. She said that both are pretty large and that the empty one is perfect for a portrait studio. Not much money per month thought I would give it a try maybe. Have to go see what the space looks like. I want something that will do pretty good for the price starting out and I can invest more later. I thought about just getting two pretty decent strobes with softboxes for now and that way I can just add to it.

    What about this kit. I'm sure you'll either say you don't know or bash them but I am just checking because I have only used continous lighting thus far and I was figuring time to get into strobes. Well I also use SB600 too so I have used flash.
    Website here Steve Kaeser Backgrounds & Accessories

    Thanks for all your help. It is very cool of you.
     
  9. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Seriously... I am not kidding now... go rent some equipment or visit and participate at a strobist event. There are few other venues where you will get a chance to play with a wide variety of equipment.

    You want a studio... how big? What is your budget? What is the maximum number of people you want to shoot? How many people per shoot/day? What scenarios? Is portability important to you? If you cannot answer these questions, you cannot answer the hardware questions.

    One thing I will suggest... stay away from constant lighting. It is hot, dangerous and customers usually do not enjoy standing under 140 degree lighting or being burnt.

    The rest... you have some serious homework to do... starting with defining what YOU as a photographer need. From there, selecting equipment is no harder than looking at your budget and maxing out the quality you can get for your dollar.

    If you cannot even tell what the differences between flash and constant lighting is... you indeed have a little ways further to go than you realize.

    No insult intended.
     
  10. CxThree

    CxThree TPF Noob!

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    I have always heard that the AlienBees products were misleading. Their wattage is confusing. I hear that their 800watt units are more like 350.

    Again, I have heard this but not tested it myself. I personally own a speedotron black line set and love it. However, that's considerably more money.

    I hear good things about the Elinchrom sets. I think they just released a new model too.
     
  11. Don Kondra

    Don Kondra Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Their ratings are confusing

    [SIZE=-1]True Ws[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=-1]320 True Ws[/SIZE]
    [SIZE=-1]Effective Ws[/SIZE]
    [SIZE=-1]800 Effective Ws[/SIZE]​


    But if you care to take the time, it is explained on their web site.

    Cheers, Don

    PS. For the best bang for your buck for a "casual" studio set up, check out the Impact brand kits at B&H.
     
  12. benhasajeep

    benhasajeep TPF Noob!

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    Since you realy don't know what you want. I suggest you work with what you have. If anything get another flash (one that has optical slave). You don't necessairly need another SB600 either. Any older nikon with optical slave will work. Or even one without and buy a small optical slave trigger shoe.

    For example you could get really good results with the SB600 on one side of the camera, and a reflector on the other. And a second light from behind the subject. Even the cheap ebay lights are $100 for 100 watt units. Might as well learn with what you have. And then when you have an idea of what you need. Then go out and get some decent stuff.

    Strobist is a very good source to read. You can get some very good information from their site. Used flashes that are very good for studio work can be had for $50 to $75 every day. Can even get softboxes for them inexpensively on ebay.
     

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