- Oct 8, 2018
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Depending on how serious you want to take this and how much you want to spend, there is a pretty economical route you can take as well with speed lights. You won't get the same power or cycle time, nor the useful modeling lights, but you can still get a very functional kit that is both budget friendly and extremely portable/storable. I went this route figuring I would upgrade to bigger studio strobes later, but as someone who doesn't make a living with photography, haven't really found the need yet. There are definitely limitations to this approach, but I found it to be an economical way to learn that still works in the real world.
My sample kit:
Hopefully this helps fill in recommendations for the lower end of the spectrum and gives you some additional options to consider and a better understanding of the pros and cons of speed lights vs. studio strobes. I wouldn't open a professional studio using speed lights and those ultra-cheap softboxes, but they are very usable and extremely portable for learning or hobbyist use.
- Godox TT-600 / Flashpoint Zoom R2 manual flash: $65 each, pretty reliable, and sufficient power for most small to medium sized modifiers. Uses AA batteries or just pickup some rechargeables.
- Godox X-Pro / Flashpoint R2 Pro wireless flash trigger: $69 for a wireless remote for all of your flashes, allows you to set flash power remotely for each group, and will also work with their bigger strobes. Just make sure to get the right model for your camera brand.
- Umbrellas: Very useful for studio work, great for learning, extremely portable, and very inexpensive. I have a few of these 45" convertible umbrellas from Westcott, but you can get Adorama's store brand for half the price, or even cheaper if you shop around.
- Cheap softboxes: If you plan on sticking with speed lights, these Glow quick softboxes work pretty well and are extremely portable.You'll need an S-type bracket to mount your flash, but they seem to include those in this kit even though it's supposed to be sold separately. They don't control light spill that well, but you can pickup a Godox grid that fits it pretty well, since they are the OEM.
- Collapsible softboxes: I can't leave my equipment setup while not in use, so portability/storability was a high priority for me. I started using Glow EZ Lock Quick softboxes, and they seem to be built very well, with nice quality of light, and collapse just like umbrellas. They have rectangular ones, octoboxes, and various other shapes and sizes. These will work with any strobes, but just be aware that this is where I started hitting the limits of what I can do with speed lights. I typically raise my ISO to 400 to get 2 extra stops of light when using these. They have a deflector plate and double diffusion, plus include an optional grid - great for soft light and controlling spill, but you lose a lot of light the more layers you use. These come with a Bowens mount, which will fit on the S-type adaptors listed above.