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No longer a newbie, moving up!
Oct 21, 2004
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Southwest Virginia
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I have been playing around doing some family portraits with my wife and daughter. Given that this is a hobby for me, most of the money I've spent on this has been in the form of the cameras themselves and lenses. Therefore, my backdrop consists of a neutral colored sheet and work lights such as that in a workshop (w/ 75w bulbs).

If I got actual photography lighting, what kind of money would I be talking about? I'm looking for most bang for the buck, budget lighting. Like a primary, fill light, hair light, and background light at the most.
Check out AlienBees. Although I'm in the UK and have no experience of them, there are some people here who have achieved TOP quality results with them and they look to be only a couple of hundred dollars.

Yeah, I customized a 3 light set-up through Alien Bees for around $1100.

I'm not endorsing them but you can get JTL's even cheaper. Some like them, some don't.
I should have said "a couple of hundred dollars each"! And guess which person I was thinking of.... ^^^^ (Digital Matt!)
;) @ Rob

The only problem with Halogen lights, or any continous output type light, is that they not usually bright enough, and they aren't easy to control, as in, change the power of the light. I've used a setup like that for the last few years and it has worked, but I was never able to get enough depth of field. There was just not enough light. Not to mention I ended up shooting around 1/60 and wound up with lots of camera shake.

Strobes allow you to shoot stopped down, and at your sync shutter speed, which is probably 1/250 or 1/500. Also they allow for lots of different light modifying accessories, like softboxes, umbrellas, snoots, colored gels, etc....

It's a good investment if you plan to do portraits, and just like your camera, it's a system that you can expand.
Digital Matt said:
;) @ Rob

The only problem with Halogen lights, or any continous output type light...

They are also miserably hot and notorious wasters of precious electricity.

Cheap “generic” strobes can be found on Ebay, but I would be wary of them. A friend purchased a set, and discovered that their output is so inconsistent they are nearly unusable for any serious portraiture work.

Rob is on the money (as per usual) with his suggestion to invest in Alien Bee’s. They are fairly robust in build quality, are consistent in output levels and priced right.
E-bay amvonia (or something along those lines) has a 3 pc set, with lights, softboxes, stands, all sub $400. Good starter set, but as matt said i think the way to go is with strobe, let me know if you go that route and find something reasonable.
I bought a set of cheap monolights from ebay. Bought 4 as I figured they would probably fail pretty quickly. They are low powered but seem to put out consistant light. Unlike some other inexpensive monolights, they have replaceable bulbs, and stepless adjustments for the modeling light and flash unit. Lowest I paid was $48 with shipping and most was around $66 with shipping. 2dreammaker is the seller. The only problem I have with them is the they will not fire with a radio remote plugged into the pc socket. They will with direct conection and light slave, but not with radio. The radio works with other flashes though. So not sure what is up with that. Also they are 110v plug in only. No battery power supply.

For a home shooter they are holding up. But are definately limited in power to small sets.
That's what I thought. So they hook to your camera via hotshoe or something of the sort? They are also variable in that you can set them at different f stop settings depending on how much light you need/want?
So continuous lighting is less favorable than strobes?
Yeah, you link them to your camera usually by a hotshoe adaptor. You plug a sync lead into this from one of your lights. They all have slave unit in them so they fire at once.

You can change the power of the flash to match your camera settings. You'll need a light meter as well if you want to use them. I think continuous lighting is less powerful and therefore less favourable, but I'm not really sure

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