Advice ona lighting setup for studio/travel please?

Discussion in 'Lighting Forum' started by pcrit, Jan 26, 2014.

  1. pcrit

    pcrit Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 18, 2014
    I need to focus more on lighting and want to do some portrait work both at home and on location at client's houses or elsewhere. I am looking for something consistent, easy to use, and portable but on a budget of about $1,000. I can spend more later on with the batteries and modifiers but that is my ballpark budget to start. My top choices are the Bowens Gemini 400rx and the Elinchrom D-Lites as they are a complete package and will work wirelessly which I want. Any thoughts or recommendations?
  2. 0dBm

    0dBm Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 30, 2011
    Western United States
    For studio work, those are fine as long as they don't need to be transported. My mobile, in-situ setup consists of two Metz 58-AFs, two shoot-through umbrellas, two lightweight stands, two wireless receivers, one remote transmitter, one Panasonic FL-300 with a bounce card, two lightweight tripods, a black linen and white cotton backdrop, 2-dozen AA batteries, and gels. Speed is the key for me. I can setup within a half-hour and breakdown in the same amount of time. For "run and gun" street work, one stand-58AF-umbrella combo and another 58AF on a flash bracket has worked remarkably well. This method took years to refine.
  3. ThomD

    ThomD Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 1, 2013
    SF Bay Area
    0dBm - that's an interesting setup. Do you have a "compact" way to transport it? I'm thinking about lugging stuff a mile down a forest service road sort of thing.
  4. inkista

    inkista Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 13, 2012
    San Diego, CA

    A lot of us have swallowed the red pill of the Strobist and use speedlights off camera for portability. :)

    For a one-light setup, Hobby will drill a hole in the stand, attach a D-ring and strap, and then use ball bungees to secure an umbrella to it, so it's a throw-it-over-your-shoulder kind of thing. If you're not into DIY, MPEX sells a compact 7.5' stand pre-drilled with a strap. :)
    • Like Like x 3
  5. darosk

    darosk Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Apr 17, 2013
    Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
    Real Name:
    Yes, if I was looking for an ultra-portable one-light setup, I would put together a 'Strobist' kit as well. A single umbrella is a deceptively versatile modifier, more so if it's convertible.
  6. Lisandra

    Lisandra Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 16, 2010
    For ultimate portability a set of manual flashes cant be beat. i have a couple of alien bees and quite frankly i use them for studio only despite them being fairly portable. I bought 4 yonguo 560III and two 4 flash holder kits (one holds up to 4 flashes). 300 for the whole shebang. Then I bought 2 umbrellas, 2 softboxes (one 24x36, one 24x24, retractable) a 5 in 1 reflector and a beauty dish. Also 2 phottix ares triggers and 4 receivers. The whole package didnt come to 500$.
    i carry it around in ONE hotdog shaped bag. Thrust me, carrying the Elinchroms around will get very old very fast. Plus if you ruin one of those flashes on a beach shot (true story) replacing it will be 70$
    • Like Like x 1
  7. pcrit

    pcrit Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 18, 2014
    I do have two Nikon SB-910s and also have two Quantum Trios that I could use too and the thought of spending more money isn't really what I want to do but I just think having a really nice portable strobe setup that is easier to use would help out. The Trio seems way too complicated and although the SB-910 is decent I just don't know that they are enough. I am sure I am wrong and should try using those before spending money I don't need too.
  8. 0dBm

    0dBm Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 30, 2011
    Western United States
    Well, depending on what you are attempting to accomplish, the 910s should be adequate and the Quantums more so. It you feel that the the Nikons lacking, augment them with the Quantums. I have transported over a dozen Nikon flash units (various model numbers) on some in-situ shoots. For up to five people in a portrait, one Quantum Trio for the main light, one SB910 for fill, and another SB910 for catch should be adequate. I now prefer large bounce cards for ultra portability instead of the umbrella.
    Peter Gregg makes some decent bounce cards. His products are well-made and they do a very good job if you wish to spend the money. I made those that I use with materials from a hobby store for less than $3 and an hour of my time. For really inexpensive and disposable bounce cards, I just use 8.5" x 11" glossy poster board from Staples.
  9. Just Jim

    Just Jim Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 20, 2011
    I would stick with monolights. Flashes just don't cut it without having multiple units, multiple modifiers, and premium pricing for less ability which creates needless complexity from light modification to camera settings. Having used AB's, pack lights, Quantums and flashes, I really prefer the mono lights, especially location shooting. An ABR800 (the ring light) is fantastic it pops on camera easily for fill, to onto a stand for key real easy, with a good power source in the vagabond mini, or just plug it in where available.

    I love having the monolight, two stands and a tripod or just three stands (the ABR800 will mount camera to a light stand), and I prefer flagging and scrimming to modifiers it leads to better image quality, lighter total weight by having less modifiers like boxes or umbrellas that take up a ton of space as the flags and scrims are great space savers. Less complexity, less chimping, more versatility, vastly cheaper. You could get a ABR800 with the vagabond set up, quality stands and quality scrim, flag, and silk kit for about 1k and will fit in a backpack, and get a back with D link chains so you can strap the stands to the bottom, and camera to the front straps. and pop a lens or two, triggers, tape and clamps and go in one bag. Than use your bag as a weight for the stand with the flagging set up. You can always add an smaller light or an Einstein later, and your only adding a few extra pounds.

    If you don't mind paying the premium, Quantums are nice but it's really just a space saver with a little loss on lighting ability compared to a mono or pack set up.

    For a studio (or a car with an inverter), pack systems are great. Normans are on a fire sale these days like the 40/40 a 2 channel of up to 2000 watts/channel. Great deal at around $200 for the pack although the lights are about $100 a piece and can utilize the whole 2000 watts.
  10. Lisandra

    Lisandra Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 16, 2010
    DO that. You cant imagine the money ive spent on thing to later realize that what I had was enough. Buy modifiers for those flashes first and *IF* you hit a wall then consider upgrading. My biggest wall was overpowering the sun with flashes. 3 yonguos do the trick