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Archive 2012 · First Big Strobist Kit
  
 
Todd Klassy
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · First Big Strobist Kit


I'm putting together my first major strobist kit next week and I was wondering if I could get everyone's thoughts. I will primarily use this kit for environmental portraits, including a lot of outdoor shooting. I was wondering if you thought I was going overboard OR if I'm missing anything. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT (3)
Canon ST-E3-RT Speedlite Transmitter (1)
Manfrotto 1051BAC Mini Compact Stand (1)
Manfrotto 420NSB Black Combi-Boom Stand (2)
Manfrotto 026 Swivel Umbrella Adapter (3)
Westcott 7' Parabolic Umbrella Bundle (Silver)
Westcott 7' Parabolic Umbrella Bundle (White)
Westcott 43" Apollo Orb (2)
Westcott 301 Photo Basics 40" 5-in-1 Reflector (2)
Kacey 22" Beauty Reflector (1)
Impact 22" Diffuser Sock (1)
Flashpoint Q Series 6" Beauty Dish + Accessory Kit (grid) (1)
Giottos Standard Large Sandbag (4)
RPS Lighting Triple Flash/Umbrella Mount (2)
Stroboframe 300-405 Accessory Shoe (3)
Honl Color Effects Filter Kit (3)
Honl Photo Speed Strap for Speed System (3)
Pixel TD-381 Battery Power Pack (3)
Maha Powerex MH-C801D 8-Cell Charger (3)
Sanyo Eneloop 2000 MAH AA Batteries (72)
Powerpax Storacell AA 12 Pack Battery Caddy (5)
Hakuba PSTC 100 Medium Pro Series Case (2)
LEE Filters 4x4" Neutral Density Set (1)

Phase II of this putting this kit together includes adding 3 more 600EX-RT flashes, a Westcott Scrim Jim Large Reflector Kit, and related accessories.

The only thing I am worried about is a hard case to carry the flashes and miscellaneous gear.



Jul 09, 2012 at 02:28 PM
Ho1972
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · First Big Strobist Kit


Going overboard? Hard to say without knowing how much experience you have in shooting *without* all this stuff and how you've come to believe you need it.

I've seen some pretty outstanding work by photographers using just one off camera flash in a 24 inch softbox (usually held by an assistant). Check out Neil van Niekerk...



Jul 09, 2012 at 02:54 PM
400d
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · First Big Strobist Kit


For a $3500 budget, I would go with 3 monolights with battery packs/heads & pack, few stands, reflectors and softboxes with grid. I will also buy the lights used. Different strokes, I guess. I shoot on location with head/pack a lot, 3 heads are plenty of work. Of course, the ST-E3 makes it whole lot easier.


Jul 09, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Todd Klassy
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · First Big Strobist Kit


I have plenty of experience shooting with natural light. I have been published many times. What I want (née need) to add to my repertoire is the ability to do environmental portraiture on location (mostly outdoors), often in bad light.

I also need to be able to pack light. Phase I of the above kit will cost < $3500 as 400d aptly estimated. Phase II will cost an additional $2000. My thought was that a Canon 600EX-RT / ST-E3-RT system would better enable me to be mobile and allow me to be more creative. Also, many times I won't have the use an assistant, so some of that goes into planning my lighting kit.




Jul 09, 2012 at 04:54 PM
ScooberJake
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · First Big Strobist Kit


Not speaking from experience here but I don't think a speedlight will do very well in a 7' parabolic. First of all para's are designed for a bare bulb source. You can approximate that with a speedlight by using a diffuser cap. But that only accentuates the second problem, which is that a speedlight may not really have the power to light up a 7 footer. I'd suggest looking at a smaller para (like the small PLM from Buff) if you really want to go that way, or Hobby recommends the Photek Softlighter II for speedlights over a para.


Jul 09, 2012 at 06:03 PM
alohadave
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · First Big Strobist Kit


$5500 on lighting and modifiers based on speedlites?

I'd say buy what you need, not what you think you want. You don't buy every tool in the hardware store, just what you need to get the job done.

My recommendation is to go through the Lighting 101 and 102 lessons on strobist.com, or some of the Joe McNally books, or Neil Van Niekerk's lessons to get a handle on how to use the light before you go crazy with 6 speedlites and a ton of modifiers and accessories.



Jul 09, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Todd Klassy
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · First Big Strobist Kit


ScooberJake wrote:
Not speaking from experience here but I don't think a speedlight will do very well in a 7' parabolic.


No, but three (or more) will. And that's the plan. The 7' parabolic is intended to light 2+ people outdoors and it will (for the most part, I believe) be a single light source. The white 7' parabolic is designed to be a diffuser.



Jul 09, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Todd Klassy
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · First Big Strobist Kit


alohadave wrote:
$5500 on lighting and modifiers based on speedlites?

My recommendation is to go through the Lighting 101 and 102 lessons on strobist.com, or some of the Joe McNally books, or Neil Van Niekerk's lessons to get a handle on how to use the light before you go crazy with 6 speedlites and a ton of modifiers and accessories.


I have, at length for the better part of a year. It's one reason why I have two phases to my purchase. I have jobs lined up already where I feel the Phase I purchase meets my needs. Phase II, which will increase the number of Speedlites from 3 to 6 won't be made until I've had ample time to review my system in the field. And you're right, it might not even be necessary.



Jul 09, 2012 at 06:59 PM
brett maxwell
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · First Big Strobist Kit


I would drop one of the 600s off Phase I and for the same price put in an Alienbees 1600 and Vagabond Mini battery pack. It's effectively as powerful as about 13 speedlights, surprisingly portable, and if you want to shoot outdoor, environmental portraiture (without constantly compositing speedlights out of your shots), there will be times you simply need the power.

Also, unless you like shooting at f16 all the time, I'd add an ND lens filter. Yes, you can use high-speed sync with the speedlights, but only at a reduced power that will generally prohibit outdoor usage with a modifier.



Jul 09, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Todd Klassy
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · First Big Strobist Kit


Thanks for your input, Brett. I did consider that route. I'll put more research into it. As for the ND filters, I do have those on my list (LEE Filters 4x4" Neutral Density Set).


Jul 09, 2012 at 08:50 PM
 

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Todd Klassy
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · First Big Strobist Kit


The problem with the AlienBees route, it seems, is the need to go another route if I want a wireless connection, as the Canon ST-E3-RT won't trigger the AlienBees B1600.


Jul 09, 2012 at 09:09 PM
Micky Bill
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · First Big Strobist Kit


I thought the Strobist philosophy was to travel light and make things easy...Looks like you are getting so much stuff (total of 6 speedlights ) you are overlapping the previoulsy owned Hensel Porty / Elinchrom Ranger or other battery powered "studio strobes" which will have a lot more power but not the ETTL benefits. I just don;t know if that's the right way to go, it might be

Two 7' umbrellas? How many "heads" will you need to make that work?



Jul 10, 2012 at 05:25 AM
nolaguy
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · First Big Strobist Kit


Hi Todd,

Clearly you're methodical and thorough and I'm really under qualified to comment on your specialty and needs. That said, I will offer that I agree with some of these comments and do have a nagging sense that you might want to consider adding at least one 600 to 1200 Ws monolight and supporting battery to your kit to see what it can do for you (I hear what you're saying about triggering the lights but there are several ways to accomplish that - inexpensive and not so inexpensive).

Speedlights are great for what they do but I can only guess that given the subjects you photograph, at some point you may find the ability to really generate a lot of light useful.

2) your current plans (other than the grid) seem to be mostly about casting wide light - which makes sense considering what you do. Nevertheless, it's not hard to imagine situations and subjects where you might want to control and direct light more closely with softboxes. Just a thought for Phase 2.


Finally, I may have missed it but I didn't notice any replies regarding your concern over a hard case for the gear. Pelican cases seemed to be universally recognized as at least one of the gold standards in affordable and almost indestructible packing solutions.


Best of luck with your adventure. I really enjoyed your site and photography. I hope you're finding it fulfilling.

Chuck



Jul 10, 2012 at 09:52 AM
brett maxwell
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · First Big Strobist Kit


Oops, missed seeing the ND the first time around. The Lee square filter type has never seemed as practical to me, but I'm pretty run'n'gun, if you're more methodical I could see it working well. The Singh Ray variable ND is an excellent choice (Strobist endorsed: http://strobist.blogspot.com/2010/06/using-nd-filters-to-kill-depth-of-field.html), but my budget alternative that works well is to simply carry a 3 stop and a 6 stop.

As for the need for additional triggers when adding a third party light, yes, that detracts slightly from the appeal of the 600EXs, but the massive increase in power is well worth it. I would recommend the Phottix Strato IIs, they work excellently without having to deal with cords on your camera, and you'll still get all the communications from camera to your on-board ST-E3 if you're mixing speedlights with studio strobes.



Jul 10, 2012 at 01:59 PM
400d
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · First Big Strobist Kit


At times, my 1200W/s head/pack with battery is too bright, so I do have 1-4 stops of ND gel, 3 and 6 stops 82mm Hoya ND to dim the light, I can also do that by plugging in another head to the pack for symmetrical/asymmetrical output. I started doing on location prtraits back in 2007, the reason I boldfaced "reflector/softbox with grids", is that most beginners start with umbrellas, nothing wrong with that...until you shoot in a tight space. A good softbox with grid, you can really do wonders with it. Even for outdoor shots, light from a gridded octa is completely different. Now I use umbrellas for group shots only.


Jul 10, 2012 at 02:38 PM
ScooberJake
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · First Big Strobist Kit


Do you actually have a need for 6 different light sources? I would think you would do a lot better (and probably cheaper) going with a couple of Einsteins.


Jul 10, 2012 at 09:20 PM
Todd Klassy
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · First Big Strobist Kit


The desire for six Speedlites is not necessarily so I can have light from six different light sources, it is so I can have an abundance of light from two sources (three flashes in each softbox, for example), OR six lights firing all at once, OR 1 flash being used as a grid light, 3 being used on the same stand as a key light, and 2 as a rim light...or any host of other combinations (and to have back-up, just in case a flash fails).


Jul 10, 2012 at 10:46 PM
JohnJ
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · First Big Strobist Kit


Todd, all I see is a huge waste of money (I might have it wrong). I'm not really sure of your desire to stick with the STE3RT and the expensive 600EX's when you can buy much more power for the same or less money, albeit a different system and possibly totally lacking any communication or automation. I have no experience with such gear (I shoot manual EVERYTHING all the time) so I can't comment but I do have a lot of experience with location strobes and I can honestly say that the more power you have the easier your job will be. If you go down the speedlight route I don't doubt you will come to the same conclusion. I'd also suggest culling it all down to just a few, bare minimum, items and THEN, after using it for a while, see what's missing and fill the gaps. You appear to have gone the other way and filled all the gaps before even knowing what they are (yes, I know you've researched it).

Do you realise that 3 600's will only give you about 1.5 stop more light than a single 600. You could spend the same amount of money and burn the retina's out of your clients eyes with a host of battery powered strobes (or monolight/inverter setups). The 580EXII has the same power as the 600EX. The old Nikon SB28, and about a hundred other old strobes, have the same light output as the 600 but cost about 1/4 or less. If you don't need the automation then there are MUCH cheaper speedlight options you could try out. If they don't work then you haven't lost much.




Jul 10, 2012 at 11:23 PM
Todd Klassy
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · First Big Strobist Kit


All good points. I appreciate the feedback. I'm having another look at my shopping list and will need to pull a trigger on something by Monday. Thank you.


Jul 11, 2012 at 03:17 PM
swoop
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · First Big Strobist Kit


Wow. That list screams "I have more money than experience."

It looks like you're buying the most expensive shoe mount strobes around with every accessory you could possibly attach to it. And you're missing the one key thing you need for figuring out how to use all that stuff, a light meter.



Jul 11, 2012 at 04:31 PM
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