Expanding to an affordable lighting setup

Overread

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I've recently gotten rather frustrated with my lighting setup and decided that, despite all the other things I'd like to upgrade/add, that I really need to add to my lighting and support gear because otherwise I've either got too few lights or not enough setup gear to make setting it up and controlling the light an enjoyable experience.



Currently my lighting setup is very basic, a pair of small softboxs (lumiquest original and lumiquest 3), an off-camera coiled cable (good for close work with a bracket, not good for distance shots), cheap radio remote and a 580EX2.

What I'd like to expand to is:

1) More lights. Lots of options here from cheaper 3rd party manual flashes all the way to the expensive 600EX RT flash with its build in radio transmitter. I could also consider studio flash units; however because the flash from them is slower than speedlites (esp at higher powers) it reduces the action stopping potential for high speed flash photography.
As a result I'm debating between an affordable second 580EX2 or going for the more expensive 600EX RT which has the bonus that I then don't have to invest in building a quality radio setup as well as flash units (however whilst its marketed as an alternative I've not read much on how Canon's radio control differs to Pocketwizards in terms of both reliability and features - if anyone has any good articles on that it would be worth reading).


2) More support options. Stands to hold the flash and position it, a big pain for me at present since I've generally never got anyone else to hold the flash where I want it. Again this is a very variable market area, but I'd like to get something affordable but not flimsy that will do well from low to higher heights. Ideally something that is stable enough to work outside on less than perfectly flat terrain (Without just getting several old and heavy tripods). I've seen the boom arms as well which would appear great for getting a flash low down to the ground (since most flash stands appear to have a fixed min height that is a good foot or two off the ground).

3) More light modifiers. Some larger softboxes for increase light diffusion and other general light controlling options. This being an utterly huge market area with a lot of variety.


I know there are some studio flash kits kicking around that might solve a good amount of my needs for the latter two parts of my intentions. I'm UK based (so some US deals won't necessarily be present). If anyone has any suggestions of product lines or options on the market or ideas on where I can take my flash and lighting setup I'd be glad to hear of them. At present I'm rather lost in a massive sea of potential options
 

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