Interested in lighting and a setup.


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Aug 4, 2010
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So I'm looking at getting into sutdio photography and lighting, also for night shoots of cars.

I know that Alien bees are the way to go, but I'm not sure if I want to dish out a bunch of money on them yet, being that I am a noob to lighting and need some practice.

Are there any cheaper alternatives (albeit effective) to AB's?

I've also been hearing that speedlite's are good and I have been able to source a couple 420/430's for a good price, but are they as effective as hot lights?

What do you guys recommend for a beginner?

edit: i noticed in the intro section, there is a thread for this lol, but hopefully someone can reply in here. my bad
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Not really. But you get what you pay for. With speedlights, you'll find yourself having to use higher ISO's and lowr f/stops in order to get enough light, meaning that you'll trade off noise and depth of field (which can be realy important for keeping whole cars in focus) for the small portability of speedlights. But with the way sensors heading, it's not much of a problem to shoot at iso 800-1600 and squeeze a lot of power out of your speedlights. And if you're shooting at night, then you won't have any other strong light sources to compete with. But it can't be nice to shoot at iso 100 and f/11 sometimes.
do you think 150 watt is good enough???

Yes, I do. I often use only 25 to 50 to 100 watt-seconds on each of four lights for portraits. Remember, in many portrait set-ups you will want four or five lights. With three 150 watt-second monolights, that would be 450 watt-seconds of light...PLENTY for most d-slrs in typical portrait set-ups.

People tend to over-estimate the need for watt-seconds. The biggest problem I have found is that 300 watt-seconds is too much power in close-range setups.
Owning three, or four, or five $99 monolights would be preferable to being able to afford only ONE, single Alien Bee that costs $349,without enough money to buy another one, or two $350 lights...
150ws is OK as a rim light or fill if you're working in close quarters with your subject.

For studio strobes I personally don't like anything below 300w/s because they're not very versatile. If you have a single 150ws light that you're always using as a rim-light, then what do you do when you blow the flash tube in your key light on a Sunday morning? I like to be able to interchange my lights. If you are shooting something where you'd like to stop down a lot, then you may not be getting enough light out of a 150 w/s strobe. These, of course, are more important to some people than others, so YMMV.

I think that shooting with a 150ws strobe is basically a waste of money unless it's the modifiers you're after rather than the light. The one Derrel linked to is roughly 16% less powerful than a 430EX. Sure, you get to use a couple different angled reflectors, and it's not as much of a hassle to use speed ring-mounted modifiers, but it also weighs three pounds and stays tethered to the wall. No wonder they make a battery-powered version with as little power as that thing generates...
check out cowboy studio stuff on too.

i just got a low budget lighting kit (which i know i will replace someday) for $200 shipped. (from ephoto on amazon)

2 x 160w/s strobes with model lights, power dial, and integrated optical trigger
1 x 45w/s hair light with integrated optical trigger
3 x 7' light stands
1 x white shoot thru umbrella
1 x black reflective umbrella
a snoot, a barn door, 4 color filters, and a grid.
2 sync cables
and a decent case to carry it all with room to spare for camera bodies etc.

yes it's entry-level ****, but right now that's all im able to budget for. ive shot twice with them already and i love them.
Thanks alot guys for the input! Helps alot, I've been looking around for a couple setups based of what you guys said.

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