New Studio Equipment

supersurfindude

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Hi there,

I am purchasing photo equipment for a shop studio to take still photos of items to sell on internet. Upto furniture size.

My budget is around £4000 but can request more.

I am considering purchasing:

Canon EOS 60D
Canon EF 24-105mm F/4L IS USM Lens
Manfrotto Tripod
2 x Gemini 500R Pulsar TX Kits (2 x heads, 2 x tripods, 60x80cm Softbox, 90cm Umbrella)
Accessories (hoods, filters, etc...)

The room is quite high and fairly large. All walls and celling are being painted/boarded white.

What I would like to ask is:

Is this equipment OK? Is it enough lighting? Am i missing anything?

Any advice and opinions would be welcome.

Thanks for looking.
 

gsgary

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Forget the umbrella it will thow light all over the place, you want directional shapers likesoftboxes with grids snoots, some large white boards to reflect fill light,large black boards for flagging the lights and adding shadows, you will also need a large boom stand to get softboxes above the subject
 

Designer

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A few items I question:

If the camera will be on a tripod, why are you going to purchase an IS lens? Of course, if that is the only way that lens comes, then all you have to do is switch the IS off.

What "hoods and filters"?

You can make your reflectors in say, oh, I dunno, a furniture shop, maybe?

Are you set on painting the room white?

If anything, you might see the need for additional strobes someday.

Is the background going to be one of the walls? I don't see a backdrop listed.

Shooting on a tripod, you will want a remote shutter release, those are cheap.
 
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supersurfindude

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Brilliant. Thanks gsgary.

Does anyone have any advice on the power of the lights for a small studio. Is 4 x 500 lights OK?

I'm probably gonna go for larger softboxes than the 80cm aswell.

Also, what sort of head would I need for the tripod? There is so many out there.

Thanks again.
 
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supersurfindude

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Thanks for the questions Designer.

I think the lens comes without IS. If this is cheaper, brilliant!

Hoods and filters I will purchase a variety of stuff on the budget under accessories.

The room and ceiling will be boarded and painted white.

Was thinking I don't need a background but will use background white and black rolls when required for adding and subtracting. I can use masking tape to attached these to walls when needed.

Basically, my boss requires an itemized quote to get the project up and running and then things like extra stobes will come later after the initial learning period.
 

Designer

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Hoods and filters I will purchase a variety of stuff on the budget under accessories.

I understand that part, my question was; exactly WHAT "hoods and filters". Do you mean a lens hood? Lens filters? I just do not see why you need these.

The room and ceiling will be boarded and painted white.

Yes, I know you said that already. Just wondering if you had considered any other paint ideas, and how would a completely white environment affect your photography.
 

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4 x500 w/s monolights should definitely be adequate. If you're going to be shooting a multitude of different size objects, bin the tripod, it will just be a pain. No need to worry about IS or tripod with strobe work. For a background, get a 9' roll of Savage seamless paper in thunder grey; that will become any colour you want with a change of lighting and/or the addition of colour gels. Get a proper background support system (<$300) so that you can peel off more as the portion in use becomes grubby or torn.
 
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supersurfindude

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Hi there Designer,

This is my situation:

My boss has decided he wants a photo studio. So he wants product photos taken as soon as items have imported into the UK. This will be constant and the manufacture images are toss. I've been given the task because I'm the only employee that can turn on a camera and also done the intermediate photography course at collage. I've also done a degree in information systems design so I know Photoshop very well. For this reason it is handed on my lap. Not complaining. Looking forward to the challenge and change of job. Just hope I get it right. My guess is he will eventually want photos of employees and lifestyle images for catalogs too, but for now just trying to learn to capture still objects.

I will be taking photos of items of all materials from oak furniture to painted metal aeroplane models, lamps to crome telescopes and leather stools.

The reason I thought of white washing the room is mainly for editing in photoshop, and I was under the impression more light is better than less.

I thought it would be handy to have a polorizing filter.

I was also under the impression that petal lens hoods are a good idea. To protect the lens and to protect the capture from unwanted light at the sides of the lens.

I am currently reading a book on Light, Magic and Science. I will get my boss to send me on some day courses too.

I suppose I should ask the forum members:

If this situation was handed to you what would be on your shopping list?

Really appreciate any advice.

I will post images of the studio and equipment on here when it is complete.

Thanks.
 

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Adequate light doesn't always mean more light coming from every direction. If it were me, I would paint everything flat gray, and possibly decorate with objects that are also non-reflective.

Then I would build some really big reflectors and diffusers. Also a large "white box" tent. I would get a backdrop stand that is capable of wide rolls of paper, but that could also work with narrow rolls for economy.

A lens hood might be o.k., but I can't see using a polarizing filter in a studio. If you see glare, move the light or choose a diffuser.

Does the light kit include two lights or four lights? Four would be fine. Get large softboxes and grids for both the softboxes and the strobe reflectors as well. I would also get one or two filter holders and barndoors.
 

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I do product photography. Most of the time I use continuous light, because nothing moves. The only times I use flash are when a person is in the picture or a torch (US flashlight) is in the picture and I need to balance the torchlight with the rest of the image and I can't do it by controlling the continuous light.

My primary light is a 4 ft x 4 ft softbox (actually it is pretty hard if you bang your head on it). You can have direct reflections on polished chrome and they will not be blown out when the rest of the scene is lit. It has 4 standard household 150 W incandescent lamps (It also has 9600 Ws of flash that I almost never use - I rarely use more than 800 Ws in it even when I use flash). A 4x4 silk is more versatile, but the softbox is quicker.

A strip box comes in handy, and a decent basic setup could be one large softbox and one small strip. Two strip boxes are better for some stuff.

I suggest that you get softboxes and strip boxes that can take continuous lights as well as flash, even if you only use flash to begin with. Video is becoming more and more important

I find a polarizer useful when I want to keep direct reflections on metal and kill the reflections on non-metallic parts in the same plane. Polarizers only work well at particular angles anyway (near 45°) so this has limited usefulness.

Tilt-shift lenses are very useful. I use an 85 mm Nikkor PC-E most of the time (on full frame - either D3 or D800, tethered), and that is what I would suggest first. The 45 mm PC-E gets used less, and the 24 mm the least. I use the shorter focal lengths when I run out of studio space or when the change in perspective improves the shot.

Don't forget the tethering system. We use a Mac Mini with a decent Eizo screen, i1Profiler, i1 Display Pro and Adobe CS6. I also use a colour profile for the camera, but many times a plain white balance is OK. Include a good white balance target in your budget. WhiBal, say.

Lots of reflectors. My colleague likes silver-faced cards from an art store. I like expensive shiny things from Lowel (mostly) and Matthews. Start with the cards, and blocks of wood to keep them at the right angle. If you have soft sources to begin with you can work with hard reflectors most of the time. Flags (from Matthews) are nice to have but black cards will do fine. These might be things to get later as you finesse your technique.

We have four C-stands. All black. Two 20" and two 40". Boom stand, about 5 light stands, floor stands (eg Lowel Bigfoot). We also have paint cans with a stick in them, filled with concrete.

perfeshonal-IMG_0803.jpg


You might also want some sandbags (large) or shot bags (smaller for the weight). Sand bag and heavier, smaller shot bag:

sandshot.jpg


Easy one light, with reflectors:
 

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TCampbell

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Hi there Designer,

This is my situation:

My boss has decided he wants a photo studio. So he wants product photos taken as soon as items have imported into the UK. This will be constant and the manufacture images are toss. I've been given the task because I'm the only employee that can turn on a camera and also done the intermediate photography course at collage. I've also done a degree in information systems design so I know Photoshop very well. For this reason it is handed on my lap. Not complaining. Looking forward to the challenge and change of job. Just hope I get it right. My guess is he will eventually want photos of employees and lifestyle images for catalogs too, but for now just trying to learn to capture still objects.

I will be taking photos of items of all materials from oak furniture to painted metal aeroplane models, lamps to crome telescopes and leather stools.

Metal surfaces, such as "chrome" don't actually have a "color". They are basically mirrors and they reflect just like a mirror. For this reason it's advisable to have some large white and black boards that you can place out-of-frame of the shot so that the side of chrome cabinet will appear white.

Watch this video tutorial: Episode 15 , Photographing Shiny Metal and Reflections - YouTube

(actually he has lots of great videos for about product photography)

The reason I thought of white washing the room is mainly for editing in photoshop, and I was under the impression more light is better than less.

Being able to control the light is the most important. You may eventually want to be able to use one wall to bounce light, but want to prevent any bounce from another wall (e.g. a flat black surface). But that's easily remedied. If the room is really being set up specifically as a studio, you can put hooks in the ceiling, get some sturdy wood dowels and drape fabric over it. E.g. some black flat fabric can prevent reflection if you need it. You can create drama with lights if you know how to play dark low-key or bright high-key shots.

I thought it would be handy to have a polorizing filter.

A polarizing filter is nice to remove glare from shiny surfaces. Furniture with glass (e.g. doors), glossy furniture, ... just remember that it all works just like a mirror. If the surface were a mirror, would you be able to see the light in the mirror? Often you can move the light. But sometimes you WANT a bit of reflection to show off a shine, but you want to control how much reflection you get. A polarizer (must be a "circular" polarizer... not a "linear polarizer" or "top polarizer") is nice because it'll let you dial the reflection down to a level you want. BUT... there is a trick. Since the flash is only illuminated for a split second, you can't see the reflection when you're setting up the shot because the light isn't on when you're setting up the shot. It's only on when the shutter is open (and only for a fraction of a second -- not enough to adjust the polarizer). You can take repeated shots and tweak, or you can use heads with modeling lights built-in (on - except for when the flash fires) which allows you to get a reference for how the light and shadow will work, and where the reflections will be.

There is actually a substantial difference in quality between high-end and low-end polarizers... this is one area where if you spend more, you're not paying more because of the brand... the performance of the filter actually is noticeably better. B+W brand is probably the gold standard in thread-on filters. Hoya's "Pro1" line (but only the "Pro1" line because Hoya also makes low-end filters) is also a good choice.

I was also under the impression that petal lens hoods are a good idea. To protect the lens and to protect the capture from unwanted light at the sides of the lens.

I always use a hood outside... generally not inside. Usually I can (and do) make sure no light is able to shine directly into the lens as this is what causes all sorts of interesting optical aberrations (flare, ghosting, etc.)

I am currently reading a book on Light, Magic and Science. I will get my boss to send me on some day courses too.

I suppose I should ask the forum members:

If this situation was handed to you what would be on your shopping list?

Really appreciate any advice.

I will post images of the studio and equipment on here when it is complete.

Thanks.

How much do you know about flash photography, metering and setting exposures when using flash?

You will need a way to trigger the flash. The 60D doesn't have a sync-cord socket... just a hot shoe. You can either use "wired" sync cords (you can get a hot-shoe adapter (VERY inexpensive) that has a sync-cord socket on it.) You can also mount an IR or radio trigger (radio triggers are the most popular, reliable, and don't require "line of sight" in order to communicate with the slave.)

Bowens makes a radio module (their own system) of the Gemini and you'd have to buy their compatible trigger to mount on the 60D (it just slides into the hot-shoe socket). You could also buy a 3rd party... PocketWizard brand is probably the most popular radio trigger system. They do make high end (read: expensive) line which supports the E-TTL flash, but you wont use that for studio flash... you really just need the more basic model designed only for manual flash (your studio flashes are not E-TTL compatible lights.)

Quality studio flash units put out a very predictable amount of light when they fire. But the choice of light modifiers will alter that. Also the distance and power level will alter that. You will eventually get to know your lighting such that you'll have a PRETTY GOOD idea of where to place the lights, how far, what power levels to use, and what exposure to set on the camera based on all that. But to meter studio lighting you'll want an incident light meter designed to work with flash. Sekonic is a very good line of meters (they're probably the most popular brand in meters). The L308 is the most basic model which can meter "flash" but it's a bit tricky... the meter MUST be at the position where you plant to place the product. Then you fire the flash. But to fire the flash usually requires you be standing back at the camera. So... you can either buy an extra radio trigger (so you can fire the flash while holding the meter in the right location) or you can get a meter that has a built-in radio trigger (which I think are only available for PocketWizard brand radios. E.g. a Sekonic L358 can take an "optional" PoketWizard brand radio trigger, but this would require that you have PocketWizard brand receivers on your lights.) If it were my money, and based on what I know now (I own a Sekonic L308 and I also own a Sekonic L758DR) I'd probably go with the L-358 at a minimum. It adds a lot of functionality that the 308 lacks. But the L308 will work... it's just a little less convenient so you wont work quite as efficiently.
 
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supersurfindude

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Wow! Thanks everyone! Mucho Apprieciatedo! You have all been very kind in the time & advice you've given.

You gave me lots of info to chew over, thankyou. I will get researching and come back to you.

The studio we will start building in about three weeks is a room at the end of the loading bay to the basement. The room is 6m width x 6m length x 3.4m high. We are knocking one wall down and using an extra 5.5m length (This part is used for other things but can be cleared for shooting) (it's mainly for moving the camera further back).

I am thinking of using a Pantograph Ceiling Rail System. Does anyone have any thoughts? and what size would be adequate for a 6x6m room?

Thanks.
 

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I've no personal experience with a rail system, but I support the idea. In the long run, it may even save a broken flash. Get everything that you can off the floor.
 
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supersurfindude

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$photo.JPG

This is our photo room ... so far. Oak flooring with matt grey walls.
 

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