Thomas Cross

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Help! I am new to studio photography and I want to buy a lighting kit from B&H or some other shop and get started on photographing people! I don't exactly have any idea on what I am doing, and I hear that a 3 light or 2 light monolight setup with a softbox is standard for portrait and full body shots.

Does anyone have any tips on a good setup. I want to order something online, receive it and not have to worry about finding out I need another 5 cables or devices to run the setup. This is why I am thinking buying a kit is the easiest way to go.
 

Derrel

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Three lights is pretty useful, for many,many set-ups. Having three lights is helpful in getting even background lighting, such as elevating medium-gray paper up to PURE white: that is easy with three lights, or four, or five lights.

You do NOT need a ton of flash power. Buy FLASH for the best value, and easiest motion-stopping.

I have Speedotron Black Line and Brown Line gear, big sets of both, and many different 'types" of lights...but you can get by with just "standard" light units, ones which have 100 to 120 degree beam spread. But, getting by is not the same as being able to control the spread of light: for controlling the light, there are a few accessories I consider essential" honeycomb grids (AKA grid spots, grid) for standard metal reflectors, and also barn door sets.

If you want to be able to light PEOPLE, umbrellas and soft boxes work well, but for controlling the light, for hair lights, there are grids, diffusers, and barn door sets. A softbox is a fine tool, for sure, but it's nice to be able to light or control the light in a fine, finessed sort of manner.

For beginners, I suggest Adorama's FlashPoint 320M monolights, 2 or 4 of those at $99 each, four light stands, two sets of barn doors for the standard reflector, two 45-inch umbrella boxes, and the grid set.


Total cost? Maybe $895, for everything. You could light a LOT with these basics and three, or four, identical, 150 Watt-second monolight flash units.
 

OGsPhotography

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All I can add from my research, not experience, is that if you have a large studio you may need the power of a more advanced lighting system, if you need to be further away.

My " studio" is like 20' wide by 20' deep. Speedlights work fine for me with the main being a monolight. I dont shoot at 7fps, more like a few a minute for portraiture. If I need to shoot more frames more monolights may be needed.

I like watching Adorama tv on light systems and they certainly could help you unload the 2k if you call them.

B+H has an awesome app I love to browse that. You can kearn a lot from their review sectionas well.

Adding pieces slowly, therefor getting to know and understand each piece gradually is my preferred method. Getting a lot if gear at once can be overwhelming and less productive as far as learning goes.
 

Derrel

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YES--Adorama TV has some very good videos. Very easy to follow.
 

Trever1t

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I have 4 Paul C. Buff "Alien B 800's and a boatload of stands, modifiers, backgrounds, etc. and even when I had a studio to shoot in on a regular basis I feel my best work was (is) done with a single light, with a naturally lit background perhaps.

That said I'm very happy with the $ to practical use ratio of the Alien Bee strobes. Look at them.
 
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Thomas Cross

Thomas Cross

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Thank you so much for this feedback. I really like the idea of buying piece by piece and learning more as I go, but I just see myself with getting the monolights and then there are components missing like transmitters, remote's etc. I live in France and I am still learning the language. I have gone into the shops here and there is nothing worse than not knowing what I need, and they pretend to not know what I need for a very basic 2 light setup with a softbox. If I order the lights online, what else do I need to make the system run?? Teathering cable and some cables?
 

Derrel

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Thomas Cross said:
Thank you so much for this feedback. I really like the idea of buying piece by piece and learning more as I go, but I just see myself with getting the monolights and then there are components missing like transmitters, remote's etc. I live in France and I am still learning the language. I have gone into the shops here and there is nothing worse than not knowing what I need, and they pretend to not know what I need for a very basic 2 light setup with a softbox. If I order the lights online, what else do I need to make the system run?? Teathering cable and some cables?

No, tethering cables are not needed; you can shoot, then review on-camera, or transfer to a computer to see the finished photos.

Most new monolights use a photo-electric "slave trigger" to synchronize all the lights. MOST people used to use a simple PC connector from the first light (light #1), connected to the light and then to the camera, to trigger Light #1; lights 2,3,4,5 would automatically be triggered by the photo "slave trigger".

On-line ordering: make sure the lights work with your country's electricity. 120Volt? 220 volts? 240 volts?

Some lights are not sold outside of the USA and Canada, like I believe, the Paul C. Buff brand lights, which I believe are North America distribution only, at the current date.

Each brand uses its own accessory mount: Elinchrom has become popular among other brands.

There are MANY fairly low-cost lights made in Taiwan or China, sold world-wide, at low cost.
 

Destin

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YES--Adorama TV has some very good videos. Very easy to follow.

ESPECIALLY the "take and make" series by Gavin Hoey that Adorama sponsored. Probably my favorite free tutorial series on YouTube.
 

fmw

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Your budget will allow for a set of 3 or 4 monolights, stands and some modifiers (soft boxes, umbrellas, snoots etc.) Choose a reliable brand and you will be fine. I have some Bowens monolights that have been chugging along for 30 years without a single issue other than occasional flash tube replacements. If you go used, you could buy a decent power pack and 3 heads but the monolights are probably all you need for portraits.
 

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Zack Arias has a great video series on using one light in the studio. I was given it for my birthday and it is very informative.
 

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