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FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
Thread started 17 Feb 2013 (Sunday) 11:28
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Stuck in the forever endless "what to buy studio/lighting" circle

 
Buylongterm
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Feb 17, 2013 11:28 |  #1

It's driving me crazy. I like a 1000 other beginners, want to setup a small studio But can never seem to figure out what to buy.

The endless frustrating lightening/studio circle goes something like this.

I spend weeks reading & reasearching tons of threads on what to buy. Just when I think I have it all fiqured out I get excited and head on over to Amazon. I type in say "light stands" tons to choose from, so I narrow it down to say manfrotto. Still a lot to choose from and everyone in the review sections, has their opinions), so I move on to say umbrellas. Same scenario. I close out my browser in frustration. Then after weeks go by, I return to the "small flash and studio lightening" thread where I see members posting the same exact questions. I begin reading and researching again. I read more threads and suggestions. I read lightening 101, and think I finally figured it out until the time comes for buying the equipment. I get frustrated and then my attention goes to cheap lightening kits. (ie; cowboy studio, PBL, etc)

So I'm hoping a little background on myself, might be enough for someone to push me over the top.

1. I have a small second bedroom I want to setup a studio in.
2. I do not want cheap starter equipment, though I obviously don't want to buy the highest end stuff either. I'm happy to pay for better quality.
3. I'd prefer to buy from Amazon since I use their store card.
4. Portability would be nice however, short term the equipment would stay at my condo for the most part.

Equipment I own or plan to buy.

Flash:
I currently have a 580ex II flash, and Yonguo wireless triggers. (which btw I don't like because there is no lock mechanism on the triggers and on/off button is in the worst place)

I decided on buying 1 AB800 tomorrow.

LIGHTSTANDS:
For lightstands, I decided to go with Manfrotto. Just not sure which model to buy. I'm assuming I'll need at least 2 of them.

UMBRELLA:
No clue?

BACKDROP/BACKGROUND
Again no clue. But need something small. 10x12 is to big and I need something that can quickly be taken down and setup.

CONTINUOUS LIGHTING/SOFTBOX, RELECTORS,
Should I just buy a lighting kit that has everything?

Examples:

http://www.amazon.com …ting+kits+for+p​hotography (external link)

And the circle begins yet again..............


Christian
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Feb 17, 2013 12:24 |  #2

You might consider that the 'best' choice for you might be driven by the subjective...how something handles is as important as other characteristics.

A 36" umbrella is a 36" umbrella at first blush. The choice of white vs. silver, reflective vs. shoot-thru, fixed configuration vs. configurable might drive the choice of umbrella.

The diameter spread of legs when open, the min height and max height of the vertical riser of a light stand;
whether it is air cushioned (to prevent it from telescoping down uncontrolled when the lock is released) or not, could drive the choice of light stand.

Backgrounds are largely a preference of color and pattern. Canvas vs. muslin is driven by need for portability (muslin easily portable, canvass not), or by 'traditional' vs. 'modern' appearance

Continuous light = ability to SEE the lighting without taking a shot
Flash = brighter light, less subject to subject motion than continuous
Studio = benefit of both continuous + flash in a single unit

Umbrella = easy rapid setup and takedown
Softbox = slower, somewhat more difficult setup and takedown, but far better control of light to prevent unwanted bounce from adjacent wall and ceiling from ruining your shot
Knocked down, they are equally compact in size for transportation (ignoring the speedring for the softbox)


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JamesDurbinMedia
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Feb 17, 2013 12:33 |  #3

Coming from someone who has done this a long time my advice is to save some money and get the lightstands used. Whether you get them new or used, make sure you get black ones so they are easier to hide when doing on-location lighting. Get ones that go high so you can use them in a variety of situations. As for umbrellas, get silver convertible ones that you can convert to shoot through. Don't get the biggest ones you can find, medium is good. The big ones are cumbersome and tip over even easier and if you really want a big light a softbox is the best way to go anyway, not a giant umbrella.


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scotiez
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Feb 17, 2013 12:51 |  #4

I was in the same situation as you. I started out with the Julius lighing kit (Item number JGG1499) It came with backdrop stand, 3 back drops (Black,White, and Green), 3 light stands, 3 octogon shaped softboxes, 2 shoot thu umbrellas (33 inch), and 3Single Head Photo Lighting Fluorescent Light Holder. This is a continuous lighting set up. But beware the bulbs that come with this is not strong enough. The bulbs are 45 watt fluorescent equal to 200 watt standard, but to get decent light out of it you need at least 85 watt fluorescent which is equal to 300 watt standard. I believe Cowboy studio sells these kits on amazon.
I also have the flash remote you have the yongnuo 603. because of the on and off switch i bought the aputure 2.4g from amazon. They work very well and the switch is not in a bad place, easy to get at. How ever these do not have a locking system on these either but they fit very snug on the camera. I don't think you would have a problem with these falling off or comeing loose. I personally find the flash easier to use for portrait lighting. My flash is the canon 430 EXII.
Ohh now i also use a double head fluorescent light with 2 45 watt bulbs equalling to 400 standard with a 43 inch reflective umbrella. i get great results from this.


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corposant
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Feb 17, 2013 13:01 |  #5

If you have already decided on getting an AB800, just stay within the Buff ecosystem for now.

One thing you might want to do is get a yardstick and see just how much room you have in your "small" second bedroom for equipment. It may seem tempting to get a 64" PLM, but if that doesn't leave you any room to maneuver, that should be something to cross off your list and add later (when you move into your garage).

Stands: buy used locally if you can, otherwise I like anything air-cushioned
Umbrella: as has been said, get a convertible one that is space-efficient (33"?).
Softbox: many flavors here, but PCB has a good selection and you will have a sense of what you want after you play around with your umbrella for a while.

One thing you may want to add which is not costly is a reflector - I use mine outside (with another set of hands), but also indoors as well. Something collapsable from Impact or Westcott, perhaps?

I can understand your frustration but once you start playing around with a flash and modifier, you'll get a much better sense of what your next purchase will be. Nobody starts with Profoto or Bron - and just like cameras and lenses, there's a brisk market for beginners equipment once you think you have outgrown it (or even if you haven't). An umbrella is like $25 - you can keep them until they wear out. Even if you buy a Profoto pack down the road, there's still a lot of use for your AB800 you are buying (lighting backgrounds, etc.). Just buy a couple of basic essentials...




  
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LeftCoastLefty
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Feb 18, 2013 01:59 |  #6
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Feb 18, 2013 13:18 |  #7

Thank you everyone. Really appreciate the replies. I'll measure the room when I get back home. It really isn't that big but If space becomes an issue, i could always shoot in my living room, etc.

I haven't bought the AB800, so should I definitely upgrade to the The white lightenings or the Ab1600's?


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Feb 18, 2013 13:46 |  #8

Buylongterm wrote in post #15623893 (external link)
I haven't bought the AB800, so should I definitely upgrade to the The white lightenings or the Ab1600's?

There is indeed such thing as 'too much light'. According to Buff web site, you can get to GN9 at minimum power... about f/2.3 at minimum power at 4' distance from subject. But the AB is known to have color shift as power is lowered, and it is quite noticeable at the minimum settings.
The TINT of Alien Bees change (toward noticably pinkish), 'Color Shift' and not merely a 'Color Temp' change (K rating)

See this https://photography-on-the.net …hp?p=8900481&po​stcount=22


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Feb 18, 2013 21:44 |  #9

OP, what kind of studio photography do you want to shoot?


I'm kinda in the same boat as the OP.

I advise him to buy nothing until he is confident with what he wants and why he wnats it. I've almost purchased of bunch of stuff of a few occasions but I keep learning new things and getting new ideas of how to go about what I want to accomplish, so I try not to jump the gun. I would say don't force it. You've waited as long as you already have, whats a little more time?

I've been researching for a while now, many months, every day, many hours every day. It takes time. As soon as you learn about one thing it can lead into something else.

Read POTN, ModelMayham, Strobist, etc.
Watch creativeLive webcasts, One Light DVD by Zach Arias, Strobist DVD's.
There are many great books.

Search on flickr. I want to shoot beauty. One of the things I did was search flickr for "beauty," "portrait," "fashion," etc. While searching I found many photographers doing stuff at the level and quality I'd like to do.. And some of those photographers show BTS (behind The Scenes) images which is great so you can see what gear they're using, and how they're using it. Some of these photographers also talk about the process and have blogs with even more info, or facebook / googl+ pages.

Another good thing is to search for specific gear on flickr. I've searched for "Mola Demi," "Mola Setti," "Elinchrom Ranger Quadra ," etc etc etc. You might find a lot of people talking about that certain piece and see many examples of that gear in use by clicking on their tags.

^^^ You can get a good idea of everything you might need by seeing the BTS images, and you can message that particular photographer questions.

^^^ You'll get ideas for other gear you might never had thought of and then you can research that stuff too.

I also like reading the reviews on BH for certain gear. Some of them are actually helpful and go into detail

You can search BTS on youtube.

Which photogs would you like to shoot like? Search for them on google, youtube, etc, and learn what they use, why they use it, and what their philosophy is. I've found many interviews.

LIGHTSTANDS:
For lightstands, I decided to go with Manfrotto. Just not sure which model to buy. I'm assuming I'll need at least 2 of them.

UMBRELLA:
No clue?

BACKDROP/BACKGROUND
Again no clue. But need something small. 10x12 is to big and I need something that can quickly be taken down and setup.

CONTINUOUS LIGHTING/SOFTBOX, RELECTORS,
Should I just buy a lighting kit that has everything?

Examples:

http://www.amazon.com …nb_sb_ss...or+p​hotography (external link)

And the circle begins yet again..............

This tells me you have a lot more research to do. You said you've already spent a few weeks and IMO I'd assume you might already have a good idea of what you want. I'd say to start slow, buy one modifier and only one light. Practice, experiment, and master it.

You say you have a small bedroom. How small? This can determine what to and what not to buy. You might have to consider painting the room with an 18% gray, or black. Or consider draping the walls with black sheets to help control the light. And other things such as v-flats.

These two quotes usually don't go together very well:
"I do not want cheap starter equipment, though I obviously don't want to buy the highest end stuff either. I'm happy to pay for better quality. "
&
"Should I just buy a lighting kit that has everything? "

^^ It might be more confusing to buy everything separately on your own but you'll have total control of what you buy and the quality.

"should I definitely upgrade to the The white lightenings or the Ab1600's?"
I'd look into the Einstein


"It doesn't matter what camera you have if your photography has nothing worthwhile to say"
“Photos are everywhere. You just have to know how to look.”

  
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LeftCoastLefty
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Feb 19, 2013 01:45 |  #10
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Feb 20, 2013 09:20 |  #11

Here.. these are good light/backdrop stands:
http://www.amazon.com …r=8-1&keywords=Linco+4145 (external link)

I have an umbrella like this, it is BIG but it produces beautiful light:

http://www.amazon.com …keywords=adoram​a+umbrella (external link)

You can go smaller and use this:
http://www.amazon.com …words=adorama+u​mbrella+40 (external link)

and you have either bounce or shoot thru with the above umbrella.

If you don't like your triggers (603's I presume?) then try the YN-622's they have a locking foot on them.

You have to start with equipment to learn it, and figure out what you really want/need.

another tip.. I HATE these type of hotshoe/umbrella holders:
http://www.amazon.com …umbrella+hot+sh​oe+adapter (external link)

bad bad bad.. can't ever tighten them enough the right way to keep the flash+trigger from working loose if I move them. But they generally come in those cheap kits. yuck.

I have these now:
http://www.amazon.com …umbrella+hot+sh​oe+adapter (external link)

Buff system in any form is a great way to start.


Godox/Flashpoint r2 system, plus some canon stuff.

  
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Feb 23, 2013 19:38 |  #12

^^^

Very big help!! Thank you.


Christian
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Feb 24, 2013 09:24 |  #13

At first it is frustrating - I was in your shoes once. Having grown from basic beginnings and gradually built up to a full studio all I can say is make choices based on experience and need. Sounds obvious, but you'll only know what you need once you find yourself in a position of need or being prohibited. It sounds like you learned that part already by feeling the power limitation of speedlights - so you decided on AB. As for light modifiers, trial and testing might show you how little light shaping control umbrellas have. They throw light in all directions (especially a small room) and there's no way modify the contrast on your subjects. But generally every portraitist has to have one in their arsenal and the recommendations above are all good starts.

I have a bunch of 4'x8' falcon board in my studio - painted black one one side, white on the other. I use them to change the style of my images. They control light from being bounced into my shots (or vice versa, purposeful bounce) which means I don't have to paint my walls constantly. That might help if you find that too much light from umbrellas are spilling into your shots. That or you can jump right into the softbox market which might also send your head spinning all over again. :P


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Feb 24, 2013 09:39 |  #14

I will add that regarding the higher output of strobes, umbrellas reflect the light of speed lights extremely efficiently and strobes are generally only beneficial for increasing depth of field (ex. A row of subjects, or in-focus background details) or filling light within very large light modifiers (light banks). Faster power recycling from speedlights can be obtained via battery packs. I did that for years. I only decided to get strobes because I was shooting large groups of people, needed consistent looking output, and needed to use large light hungry modifiers. If I was still shooting in small spaces with smaller subject matter I would happily be a speedlight only guy (cheaper, more portable, faster setup, etc)
*emphasis on those words need because my upgrades/purchases were only a direct reflection of having to do a particular job and requiring precisely the right tools to do it with.


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Feb 24, 2013 10:21 as a reply to  @ Pearlallica's post |  #15

Once again...a perpetually overlooked major advantage of studio lights:

Continuous light = ability to SEE the lighting without taking a shot
Flash = brighter light, less subject to subject motion than continuous
Studio = benefit of both continuous + flash in a single unit =

  • ability to SEE the effect of lighting without taking a shot, to instantly optimize its placement
  • and all that comes with greater power output
  • and the ability to use a wider array of light modifiers than are made for speedlights

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Stuck in the forever endless "what to buy studio/lighting" circle
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