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FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
Thread started 24 May 2010 (Monday) 16:10
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$700 budget Starter Portable Studio Set...Recommendations?

 
itsjeffb
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May 24, 2010 16:10 |  #1

Hello, let me start by saying how much I have appreciated (most) all of your tips and pointers...from those of you that are Pro and have been for many years to those of you just starting out giving your insight from an entry level perspective. I am truly greatful to have a tool such as this Forum to use in my learning.

I have a $700 budget to get myself into a Portable Studio Strobe setup. I have done several weddings for close friends and family members who did not have the financial capabilities to pay a true Wedding Photographer, as well as some family portraits for the same reasons. I want to expand my skills and equipment to be able to provide a better product to my "clients".

I currently have this equipment:
Canon XSi
Canon 17-85mm IS USM
Canon 50mm 1.8
(Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM that I can use most anytime)
Canon 580EX II
Manfroto 055XPROB Tripod
Manfroto 486RC2 Ballhead

I understand that with a $700 budget I wont be able to get much, but I want something that will last and that I can possibly upgrade or add on to at a later date. Suggestions as to where to order from would help also if you have them...thanks again.

Jeff


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17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM
Speedlite 580EX II
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gonzogolf
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May 24, 2010 16:16 |  #2

There are two obvious starting points. Alien bee's from paul c buff or the calumet genesis. I myself have the bees, you can get two AB800's stands and umbrella's for around that budget, look at their busybee package. www.alienbees.com (external link)




  
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dmward
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May 24, 2010 16:55 |  #3

Calumet has added a 300B to the Genesis line.
It has a battery pack and is 300Ws. It switches between battery and AC on the back.
Nice light and along with a 200 or 400 would make a nice kit.
Or the Genesis 200 or 400 two light kits.

The ABs are also nice. the AB800 is about the same power as the Genesis 300B but does not have the battery unless you add the Vagabond.

Biggest disadvantage with the Genesis is the power setting are not linear as one would expect with a digital control. The AB power, although it is a slider is accurate.

I would be inclined to get Calumet stands and umbrellas even if getting the AB lights.


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Seanzky
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May 24, 2010 20:46 |  #4

I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news but for $700, it won't be quite "portable". A Vagabond II by itself is already $300 plus shipping. That leaves you with less than $400. If you wish to do a one-strobe set up, even then it will be a super tight squeeze in the used market.


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tbigs
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May 24, 2010 22:44 |  #5

I saw this set on Adorama, no experience with them but they do have battery powered option. 2 light set, 300ws lights, with extras

Flashpoint 620M Portrait Wedding Monolight Kit
http://www.adorama.com​/FP620MPWK.html (external link)




  
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bobbyz
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May 24, 2010 22:56 |  #6

Just get some umbrella/softbox and cheap triggers and put that flash off camera. I wouls use that for starting and go from there.


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Seanzky
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May 24, 2010 23:05 |  #7

bobbyz wrote in post #10240459 (external link)
Just get some umbrella/softbox and cheap triggers and put that flash off camera. I wouls use that for starting and go from there.

Bingo!

For $700, a pair of 430 EXII, two stands, two 24x24" softboxes, one shoot thru umbrella, one silver umbrella, two RF-602 receivers, one RF-602 transmitter and rechargeable batteries would make a mean portable kit. And if you want to stretch your dollar a little bit more and go with YongNuo flashes, you can get yourself a speedlight beauty dish with the proper bracket.

As for portable studio strobes, you can get one D-Lite 4 it (cheaper than a B800), a Vagabond II (cheapest portable power pack), a cheap heavy duty stand, and a small eBay octa or softbox. That is if you really want a studio strobe.


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Digger
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May 24, 2010 23:29 |  #8

Might I suggest Lumedyne lights. Used on ebay or CL one light setup goes for $200ish (light powerpack/battery combo and charger) for the basic kit which gives you 50/100/200ws. They are built like tanks but are limited on adjustably. However they can be expanded to add more power (up to 2400ws) if need.

I would also look into the softlighter umbrellas by photek. The are a little more expensive than other umbrellas but they do triple duty because they come with front diffusion panels so they have similar characteristics as the apollo softboxes. They also come in sizes up to 60".

I have been using these items for a couple year and am pretty happy with them overall. IMO they are a good balance between price, portability, complexity and reliability.


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ben_r_
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May 25, 2010 10:02 |  #9

seanzky wrote in post #10240491 (external link)
Bingo!

For $700, a pair of 430 EXII, two stands, two 24x24" softboxes, one shoot thru umbrella, one silver umbrella, two RF-602 receivers, one RF-602 transmitter and rechargeable batteries would make a mean portable kit. And if you want to stretch your dollar a little bit more and go with YongNuo flashes, you can get yourself a speedlight beauty dish with the proper bracket.

As for portable studio strobes, you can get one D-Lite 4 it (cheaper than a B800), a Vagabond II (cheapest portable power pack), a cheap heavy duty stand, and a small eBay octa or softbox. That is if you really want a studio strobe.

I was thinking along these same lines too.


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midnight_rider
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May 25, 2010 10:13 |  #10

seanzky wrote in post #10240491 (external link)
Bingo!

For $700, a pair of 430 EXII, two stands, two 24x24" softboxes, one shoot thru umbrella, one silver umbrella, two RF-602 receivers, one RF-602 transmitter and rechargeable batteries would make a mean portable kit. And if you want to stretch your dollar a little bit more and go with YongNuo flashes, you can get yourself a speedlight beauty dish with the proper bracket.


As for portable studio strobes, you can get one D-Lite 4 it (cheaper than a B800), a Vagabond II (cheapest portable power pack), a cheap heavy duty stand, and a small eBay octa or softbox. That is if you really want a studio strobe.

+1
OP: If you are looking for a nice portable setup for 700 bucks then I say speedlites are the way to go.

Going with Studio strobes will never be nearly as portable as the speedlites. They also make battery packs that you could add later on and get a lot more shots per charge. I thing they are about 1000 ttl shots per charge. Although those are near 300 dollars each You may want to think about adding them later if you choose to go with speedlites


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thaking
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May 25, 2010 10:18 |  #11

i say start with flash off camera...BUT, i would not suggest the 430's...if you're willing to go manual (better option in my opinion) then you can get flashes for $100 or less...




  
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gonzogolf
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May 25, 2010 10:35 |  #12

I'm going to go against the grain and play devil's advocate. Speedlites are great, i have em and use them, but. There is a substantial difference in the power you can get from studio strobes and a speedlite. More importantly there is a significant qualitative difference as well. Speedlites have focused beams, you will have trouble filling large modifiers with a speedlite. Studio strobes are bare flash capable of filling huge octoboxes and softboxes. Bigger equals softer, softer and more power combined is a winner for me.

As noted for $700 you arent going to get all the way there. But you can build a pretty solid foundation. In the OP's stated uses there exists the possibility of using AC power until he can get a vagabond II. Once again I'm not saying speedlites cant work, but I think the upsides of studio strobes are being ignored here.




  
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Seanzky
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May 25, 2010 10:48 |  #13

itsjeffb wrote in post #10238319 (external link)
Hello, let me start by saying how much I have appreciated (most) all of your tips and pointers...from those of you that are Pro and have been for many years to those of you just starting out giving your insight from an entry level perspective. I am truly greatful to have a tool such as this Forum to use in my learning.

I have a $700 budget to get myself into a Portable Studio Strobe setup. I have done several weddings for close friends and family members who did not have the financial capabilities to pay a true Wedding Photographer, as well as some family portraits for the same reasons. I want to expand my skills and equipment to be able to provide a better product to my "clients".

I currently have this equipment:
Canon XSi
Canon 17-85mm IS USM
Canon 50mm 1.8
(Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM that I can use most anytime)
Canon 580EX II
Manfroto 055XPROB Tripod
Manfroto 486RC2 Ballhead

I understand that with a $700 budget I wont be able to get much, but I want something that will last and that I can possibly upgrade or add on to at a later date. Suggestions as to where to order from would help also if you have them...thanks again.

Jeff

gonzogolf wrote in post #10242785 (external link)
I'm going to go against the grain and play devil's advocate. Speedlites are great, i have em and use them, but. There is a substantial difference in the power you can get from studio strobes and a speedlite. More importantly there is a significant qualitative difference as well. Speedlites have focused beams, you will have trouble filling large modifiers with a speedlite. Studio strobes are bare flash capable of filling huge octoboxes and softboxes. Bigger equals softer, softer and more power combined is a winner for me.

As noted for $700 you arent going to get all the way there. But you can build a pretty solid foundation. In the OP's stated uses there exists the possibility of using AC power until he can get a vagabond II. Once again I'm not saying speedlites cant work, but I think the upsides of studio strobes are being ignored here.

He specifically said, "I have a $700 budget to get myself into a Portable Studio Strobe setup." To assume that "there exists the possibility of using AC power until he can get a vagabond II" is putting words in his mouth. Of course, there's a chance that he can plug into a wall, but he didn't say that and he was probably thinking of using his set up for a situation where he can't plug into the wall.

I'm not trying to say you're wrong here gonzogolf because you're definitely right about studio strobes and I agree with you. He should go for studio strobes. I guess my point to the OP here is to stretch his budget a little more because with the budget and the needs he has, it can only be truly done with speedlights. Not that I don't want him to own monolights but getting that without a power pack can't be portable.

That's why I also said above either a one strobe set up or squeeze the hell out of a seller in the used market. That's the only way I can see a $700 go portable with monolights. No matter what brand he chooses to go with, it won't come with a power pack for that price. And like I said the Vagabond II starts at $300 and then shipping.


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jffuerte
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May 25, 2010 10:56 as a reply to  @ gonzogolf's post |  #14

Not trying to hijack but thought this might provide some value to the OP. I currently have a couple speedlites and umbrellas. I was thinking about investing in a single monolight and have come up with the PCB cart below:

B800 Yellow Studio Flash $279.95 ea. 1 $2​79.95
22-inch High Output Beauty Dish $79.95 ea. 1 $79.​95
AlienBees Carrying Bag $12.95 ea. 1 $12.9​5
Foldable Large Softbox (32in. x 40in.) speedring attached $129.95 ea. 1​ $129.95
Large Foldable Softbox Grid (for the FB3240) $39.95 ea. 1 $​39.95
13-foot Air-Cushioned Stand $99.95 ea. 1 $99​.95
Grand Total: $685.72

I was thinking of using the B800 as a main light in the softbox or BD then supplementing my 2 speedlites for fill/hair lights. Anyone see a problem with this at all. I will be added the Vagabond II later down the line for on location shoots.


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gonzogolf
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May 25, 2010 11:03 |  #15

jffuerte wrote in post #10242899 (external link)
Not trying to hijack but thought this might provide some value to the OP. I currently have a couple speedlites and umbrellas. I was thinking about investing in a single monolight and have come up with the PCB cart below:

B800 Yellow Studio Flash $279.95 ea. 1 $279.95
22-inch High Output Beauty Dish $79.95 ea. 1 $79.95
AlienBees Carrying Bag $12.95 ea. 1 $12.95
Foldable Large Softbox (32in. x 40in.) speedring attached $129.95 ea. 1 $129.95
Large Foldable Softbox Grid (for the FB3240) $39.95 ea. 1 $39.95
13-foot Air-Cushioned Stand $99.95 ea. 1 $99.95
Grand Total: $685.72

I was thinking of using the B800 as a main light in the softbox or BD then supplementing my 2 speedlites for fill/hair lights. Anyone see a problem with this at all. I will be added the Vagabond II later down the line for on location shoots.

Have you used a beauty dish? Unless you plan on working very close to people with good skin you can save yourself $80. Otherwise it looks good. You might be able to get a cheaper stand, but that means additional shipping so it probably evens out.




  
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$700 budget Starter Portable Studio Set...Recommendations?
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