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I'd be very wary of a kit that offers two stands, two umbrellas, and two lamp heads for less than $60.00. That seems too good to be true.
The problem with both of those kits is that there is only one bulb in each unit. That means that there is no way to adjust the light output; so the only way to vary the amount of light on the subject is to move the lights closer or further from the subject, and that can have a negative impact on the quality of the light. Moving a light further away makes it relatively smaller compared to the subject, which results in a harder light; moving it closer makes it relatively larger, creating a softer light.
"Hard" and "soft" don't refer to brightness or to contrast (although you may see a few people mistakenly use the terms that way), but to the way the border between highlight and shadow appears.
A better way to adjust the power of continuous fluorescent light heads to to have more than one bulb in each head, and to change the number of bulbs lit. That will, of course, raise the cost of the heads, but you get what you pay for.
Even with multiple bulbs in each head, the light output of continuous lights is much less than the power of strobes, because the strobes store the energy going in and release it all at once in a very short burst. Most portrait photographers use strobes for that reason; more light can mean being able to use smaller apertures and faster shutter speeds.
Strobes adjust their output in various ways, but they almost always have four or more "stops" of adjustability without having to change the light-to-subject distance.
If you do want to get some continous lights, though, there are units available that can be used for portraiture. Monte Zucker, whom Chuck mentioned above, did so later in his life, and other well-known and not-so-well-know photographers have done the same.
The Wescott Spiderlite series are a high-end model line; solidly built by an established company, and priced to match:
A relative bargain can be had in the Impact Octacool line:
I definitely agree with Chuck, though, that you should learn the hows and whys of lighting before you start buying gear; you'll save a lot of time and money by not buying things that won't do what you want them to do.
I also agree that if you don't already have at least one Speedlight, that should be your first purchase; they're small, reliable, and flexible, and a nearly indispensable part of most photographers' kits.
Edited on Jan 10, 2012 at 09:57 PM · View previous versions