In Home Photography Studio Equipment


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Aug 11, 2013
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Lewisporte, NL
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Hello Everyone! I'm looking to buy some equipment for a in home photography studio. I know I need a backdrop stand, with backdrops obviously, and I need some lights. I'm really stuck on the lighting part. I have a nikon d3100 and I am wondering if I should get a continuous light, or a light that goes off when you use the flash (off camera flash?) .. Anyway, I wanted to get a softbox or umbrella, and I'm not sure what one to get. I am using this for portrait photography. Any help will be appreciated!!
I was just going to ask the same question about a home studio for portrait photography.

Alot of online videos I've seen have one softbox and one umbrella. Then a flash in the back to create some separation.
I've looked on line and the options (size, cost, etc) are mindboggling.
I also want to know more about softbox versus umbrella (and through the umbrella versus reflected off the umbrella)
Welcome to the site. If you will click on the home tab and then look on the right hand side for the search and put in studio lighting you will find all kinds of information and threads about it.
I had my daughters cake smash done in a ladies home, and she had the backdrop/stand and she had only 1 softbox that went off as a flash. The photos turned out beautiful! I have nooo idea where to start on getting the right equipment for this!!
You might want to get a little more specific about your goals. Generally continuous lighting is frowned upon, though.
I would highly, highly recommend learning and understanding the use of flash and lighting for portraits before investing in a studio, even a beginner home studio. Start with one Speedlight and learn the principles of lighting. Then do some tests with subjects. You can use anything for a background for testing purposes. Work your way up to studio strobes if that's what you want. I'm not aware of any decent continuous lights for the budget photographer. They lack the power to give you the shutter speed and aperture selections you need to create sharp, dazzling portraits and control ambient light. There's simply no point to doing portraits when you don't actually know how to do portraits. Simply having the equipment and playing with it isn't guaranteed to teach you anything or improve your photography in any way, and it doesn't make you a portrait photographer.
Umbrellas spread light; soft boxes control it. Also, umbrellas are a bit more specular in the highlights. The tool you use is subjective. Each has a purpose. Generally, however, pros gravitate to reflective umbrellas vs. shoot-through, though again each has many purposes. The equipment itself offers no help unless you understand it.
I know enough about lighting and portrait photography to do it, I was simply looking for suggestions from other photographers on what they used and found best with the equipment they have experimented with. I am only using this on my daughter, so it's not like I am going to be advertising that I am doing photoshoot's for people :) We all have to start somewhere!
Continuous lights aren't great, because you would be dependent on your shutter speed for exposure. This would mean that unless you had A LOT of wattage (which would get hot), that you would likely be using rather high ISO and/or slower shutter speeds. And you don't want slower shutter speeds when shooting people.

That is why we like flash/strobe. The burst of flash is much faster than a typical shutter speed, and that freezes movement and gives you sharp photos.

So going in the flash/strobe direction, you have a few choices. The first is hot-shoe type flash units. They can be used on-camera, but can also be put on stands and used with umbrellas or softboxes. The pros are that they run on AA batteries and are small, thus you can use them anywhere. The cons are that they aren't as powerful or quick to recharge (and the good ones are quite expensive) and they don't really have a modeling light.

The next option would be 'studio strobes'. These are typically units that you plug into a power outlet (although, they can run on battery power). They are usually made to attach to all sorts of accessories like softboxes, umbrellas, snoots, barn doors etc. You can get ones that a lot of lighting power, although you probably won't need much for a small home studio.
They typically have built-in optical triggers but you may want one set of remote triggers (or use a cord) to fire them.

There are plenty of 'cheap' kits out there...which might be OK. But if you have plans for the future, the cheap kits probably won't last all that long...they either fall apart or you would quickly outgrow them.

This is about as entry level as I would recommend.
Flashpoint 3 Light Strobe Outfit FP3203
For casual/occasional use, you may want to consider going cheaper and more improvised. Buying gear is as much about reliable quick setup as it is about getting specific results.

You can take excellent portraits without any lights at all. It's just a lot harder.
I know enough about lighting and portrait photography to do it, I was simply looking for suggestions from other photographers on what they used and found best with the equipment they have experimented with. I am only using this on my daughter, so it's not like I am going to be advertising that I am doing photoshoot's for people :) We all have to start somewhere!

We do indeed! Start by buying this and reading this! Without intending offense, the wording of your OP leads me to believe that you may not be quite as familiar with lighting as you think you are, and I would echo the comments of those who are saying, "Don't buy stuff 'til you know what to buy!". You can do a LOT with a single light, so start simple and work your way up!
FORGET continuous lights. Flash is the easier way to go.

The D3xxx series cameras have no PC outlet to connect cabled flash cords to, so the Nikon AS-15 is needed to hook up a PC connector cord. Background stands and crossbars? e-Bay, cheap Chinese-made systems around $79 to $109 with nylong storage and carrying case and pair of 13-foot tall stands and a three-piece, 9.5 foot wide crossbar. Roll of 9 foot wide Thunder Gray background paper.

Flash unit? Adorama Flashpoint 320M 150 Watt-second monolight + a 9-foot tall light stand. Umbrella? Photoflex RUT convertible umbrella in a 45 inch size, maybe one 60-inch size as well.

That oughtta get you started
Thanks for the feed back everyone! I have been hearing so many things from so many people, its very confusing. Someone mentioned to go with a continuous light but after doing some research, and from what I'm reading they are a BIG no no! I should of rewrote my question, as it seems I know nothing haha.... I do know about photography/editing/lighting and all that, but I wanted to start getting into backdrop portraits. From what I have been reading now, For the lighting part I think I am better going with some reflective umbrellas, and that cord for using the flash.
Derrel is good, Derrel is wise. Just do what Derrel says, and you'll be fine.

You could also do what I say, but then you're in an endless maze of taping garbage together to improvise everything, and nobody wants that. Just do what Derrel says.

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