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Small studio light set-up for a newbie?

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by dylandingo, Sep 10, 2012.

  1. dylandingo

    dylandingo Mu-43 Regular

    186
    Nov 12, 2011
    La Crosse, WI
    Hello, I have been itching to start trying out doing some more studio style portraits and I was wondering if anyone knew of a nice and affordable(would be a plus if it was under $200) studio light kit I could save up for. I have no experience in this area so I am open for different types of lights and whatnot. Somethings I am looking for is 2-3 lights and it would be a plus if it was somewhat portable(price is more important than portability to me right now.) A decent backdrop would be nice too but I think I will just try to make my own.

    Even if you don't have a kit or anything in mind I would gladly accept any knowledge on lighting, DIY backdrop how to's, what kind of lights are good, a link to good info on the web, and whatever else anything thinks would be good information for a newbie. Thanks, you guys are always so helpful in this forum.


    P.s. I will most likely just be using my Pany 20mm and Oly 45mm with the set up.
     
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  2. With_Eyes_Unclouded

    With_Eyes_Unclouded Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 17, 2012
    Vassilios
    There is a number of kits on Amazon (the UK one, but I bet there would be similar in US), and also ebay. These usually include 2-3 strobes (with modeling lights), stands, a couple of softboxes and umbrellas, auxiliaries like barn doors, and they come with their own triggers.

    I can't comment on the quality of these or (even more) the reliability, but a lot of people have found them useful for a small studio setup. They go for 250 to 350 euro usually. I suspect there is no great difference between several kits, they're probably made in the same Far East factory. :biggrin:

    Backdrop with support will set you back another 50-70 euros/dollars. You can also chose to use white seamless paper.

    But, IMHO, it's not very clever to start with 3 lights and a multitude of modifiers. If you like to grow into it, perhaps it's better to start with a single flashlight, a set of triggers (optional, you can use RC initially), one stand and one modifier (an umbrella makes sense for the first one you get).

    That way you can learn about this with the "one light" philosophy in mind, and slowly add/upgrade as you go. The advantage, apart from the learning experience, is that you'll spend more gradually and for whatever you really need.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  3. dylandingo

    dylandingo Mu-43 Regular

    186
    Nov 12, 2011
    La Crosse, WI
    I was kind of thinking of going with continuous lighting rather than strobes. Is there any reason I should go with strobes? I thought it might be cheaper going for continuous lighting too. I kind of like the idea of being able to see the light on the subject at all times rather than as I take the photo. Again, I know very little so correct me if I am wrong.

    As for the number of lights, I normally do alright just jumping in after reading up on something but if I can't I think I would like the kit to grow into also.
     
  4. speedandstyle

    speedandstyle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I prefer continuous lighting myself for the reason you suggested and that they can also be used for video. However to get ones that are as bright as the strobes would be very expensive. They also get hot unless you get florescent or led units(even more expensive). Make sure you get softboxes or umbrellas with the lights. Also important is your background. If you don't already have one pick up a muslin. You might even be able to find a complete package.

    Eyes unclouded suggestion of starting with a single light isn't a bad one. You could add a bounce board(reflector) to fill in on the opposite side of the light too.
     
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  5. With_Eyes_Unclouded

    With_Eyes_Unclouded Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 17, 2012
    Vassilios
    That's a great suggestion. Most kits offer reflectors included, but a 5-way circular reflector is quite cheap anyway (and a must for portraits, esp. outdoors).

    Cont. lighting is great if you can afford good ones. I have a cheaper one that I use for fill light, etc. You have to watch out with cheap ones, for the correct temperature (always check WB).

    I see LED lights as an auxiliary lighting source at the moment. Perhaps this will change in the future, I don't know. There are people here with great experience in LEDs which can help with advice.
     
  6. dylandingo

    dylandingo Mu-43 Regular

    186
    Nov 12, 2011
    La Crosse, WI
    So I found some options that are nicely in the low end of what I want to spend, two are continuous and one is a strobe. Outside of speedandstyle mentioning florescent or led lights I am not sure what kind of lights are best so I picked a couple kinds(LEDs don't fit my budget.)

    Tungsten lighting
    Smith-Victor KT500U 2-Light 500 Watt Thrifty Basic 401430 B&H

    Fluorescent
    Interfit Super Cool-lite 4 One-Head Fluorescent Kit INT291 B&H

    And the strobe
    Impact One Monolight Kit (120VAC) EX100A-KI B&H Photo Video

    As for the background I think I am going to just build a DIY stand out of ABS piping like I have seen online and then do some research on good fabrics to use. This way I can experiment with different backgrounds and I can just stop by the fabric store when I want to try something new. Also as I mentioned it would be nice if the lights were somewhat portable because I might go on location and not use the background.
     
  7. dylandingo

    dylandingo Mu-43 Regular

    186
    Nov 12, 2011
    La Crosse, WI
    Does it matter if the temperatures of the lights are a bit off if I shoot in RAW?
     
  8. jar

    jar Mu-43 Regular

    39
    Jun 25, 2012
    It matters if they're not the same. If the colors don't match, the white balance for different parts of the image will be different.
     
  9. arad85

    arad85 Mu-43 Veteran

    477
    Aug 16, 2012
    Strobes every time. It is very difficult to get enough light with continuous, or control them sensibly. Even the very cheap strobe you linked to is hugely more powerful than either of the continuous as it lets its 100W out in 1/1000th of a second (well, it would if it were 100% efficient).

    Once you "get" strobe and how it works (the flash duration effectively becomes the shutter speed) it becomes much easier to setup what you want to do. I do a bit of product photography and I use 3 strobes and a product table. I never have problems with keeping shutter speed high enough (I put the G5 on 1/100th at f8 or f9) and let the strobes I have do their stuff...

    I would also suggest a set of cheap radio triggers to fire the units (mine cost £25 in the UK a year or so back).

    IMHO, lighting is about the modifiers you can use on them. A lot of people use umbrella for portraiture, but they are quite uncontrolled. If you want effects that are more arty (light from only one side of the face for example) then you will need to move to softboxes at some point. They can be as expensive - if not more expensive - than the lights themselves. Also think about expandability. Whilst you need to learn and only using 1 light may make that easier, you will want to move onto more than one light (you'll want to add more than one light on the models and you'll probably want to light the background separately too..., so think about how this will go forward.

    Have a look at strobists 101: Strobist: Lighting 101 Whilst he's using a speedlite (I think studio are more versatile rather than a hotshoe flash), the concepts are the same. It's a good read and tells you what you need to know about lighting with flash IMHO.
     
  10. dylandingo

    dylandingo Mu-43 Regular

    186
    Nov 12, 2011
    La Crosse, WI
    That makes sense thanks.

    The one strobe kit does include a softbox, does that seem like a good deal for $140? Also any suggestion on the tigger units?

    Thanks again guys. Again I am going to be saving up for this but it's a great help getting this info on what to look for.