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Archive 2012 · Help me shop for a studio light + accessories

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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Help me shop for a studio light + accessories

I've done research on lenses and cameras but when it comes to studio lighting and equipment, I have very limited knowledge about them. I only know about the ones my friends uses such as alien bees, profotos, and elinchromes. But when it comes to prices and other brands, I know next to nothing.

I have been given two photoflex starflash 650 which I plan to use as kickers and/or rim hair lights.
Now I have a list of things I need to use for catalog shooting in a relatively small studio. I also have cybersyncs to trigger the lights.

-A main light
-60 inch to 74 inch octodome
-backdrop support stand
-a heavy duty light stand with boom, preferably with wheels
-a couple of sand bags.

I have a budget of between $1500-2000 for my list. Is it possible? And if you guys have any recommendations, a link would be greatly appreciated so I can buy it asap. Amazon would be better since I have amazon prime.

Jul 22, 2012 at 09:40 PM

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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Help me shop for a studio light + accessories

A lot of people rag on the alienbees. I love them. Great power for the money. Great warranty and service too. I buy 2nd hand sometimes. I was going to invest in 1 elinchrom, only because I love their deep octa. I hit ebay and there are so many of them for sell as parts only. So I looked a little deeper and a lot of them were for some fuse (power)issue. There were ZERO alienbees broken on there at that specific time. Needless to say, I will be contacting Kacey for a bracket allowing me to use the Elinchrom deep octa with the alienbees. This is just my two cents. I havent done much research on anything else as I am not having problems with my alienbees....lol

Jul 23, 2012 at 02:16 AM
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Help me shop for a studio light + accessories

The Photoflex Starflash uses Bowens mount, so if you want to use only one set of speedrings and modifiers, brands like Bowens, Calumet (rebranded Bowens), Interfit, and Rime Lite will work. Besides Bowens, it appears Rime Lite (made in Korea) does have some high quality monolight, you can find them on B&H. The Bowens mount works fine and you can find relatively inexpensive modifiers on eBay, this will save you a good amount of money buying off branded grids and reflectors.

For studio use, and with a large octa, I'd say 500W/s-800W/s is the range you should look into. Photoflex's octa is decent, definitely gets the job done, if you have enough budget, you can try Elinchrom Rotalux with a conventional 8 holes speedring; the construction of Chimera and Profoto are the best out there and they will stand up to heavy use even out in the field. Since you have a small studio, do look into getting the grid for the octa, you will be very grateful for it! The Photoflex octa grid is very affordable. The Manfrotto 025BS is the monster and you will never have to worry it sags with a monolight and large modifier, it's expensive but it will pay off. I'd say go with any 8-10' stands with a telescopic crossbar; any brand of sandbag with double zippers will get the job done.

Jul 23, 2012 at 03:03 AM

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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Help me shop for a studio light + accessories

Back in 2004 when setting up a home studio for occasional personal, non-professional use I opted for AB800s based on word of mouth recommendations from others with similar needs and goals.

What tipped the balance between ABs and other similar offerings were glowing accounts of the great customer service. I can vouch for that. When I mistook the bag containing the sock for my dish with other packing materials and threw it out they sent me another for free; same for other minor problems like broken lock on a light stand and defective PC cord. When a lighting strike killed all four of my lights and the wired remote the bill to fix everything was $208.

The Alien Bee line wouldn't be the first choice if you were opening a professional studio or trying to impress fashion photo buyers, but then its not designed or marketed for pros so there's little point in comparing it with pro gear on a feature-by-feature basis. The question is your situation is will it do the job within your budget? The answer to that is yes.

There are now many more entry level options on the market than when I bought my lights but the AB line still is a good baseline for comparing everything else.

Jul 23, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Tom Boucher
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Help me shop for a studio light + accessories

Speaking as an 3x Alien Be 800 and 1x Alien Bee 400 user who did both non-professional and professional work with them they are the best bang for your buck.

I've had mine since 2004 (i think, might have been 05) and still haven't replaced a bulb on the things. I have no idea how many shots I did.

If I were doing it over today, I'd highly recommend their setup again. I have a couple of their larger softboxes as well, when you order lights they discount the accessories so go to town on what you want. Their boxes go together as well as a photoflex box, and in light non-professional use I never had one rip/tear/cause a problem. I even left them assembled for some time and no warping of the stick (had a photo flex half box do that to me). I believe I got their Giant and Large ones.

I have not used their octodome, as I found one from a place on eBay and ended up getting one for something ridiculous like $25 or something, i got what I paid for but it let me play around with it and worked really well for big sources of light in a single AB800 I had it set up like this (http://www.flickr.com/photos/trekkie/256418993/in/photostream) where i had a gap between the octobox pointing at a big reflector, made for some great portraits that I liked at least. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/trekkie/237286620/in/photostream) I think it was/is bigger than the one they offer, but keep in mind unless you have a huge room much over 5' or 6' is a HUGE PITA and you end up hitting the ceiling and other stuff.

For the budget minded person you can really get a good set of lights & modifiers. I preferred their air cushioned light stand, because a light with a modifier coming down fast vs. elevator style is important when you get it up in the air I honestly have never had an issue with them. I started directly connected to the main light and using the light trip to take the rest, but then I moved to pocket wizard on the camera with one attached to the main and light tripping the rest.

Also anyone that looks at your brand of light and judges you on that is an idiot. I've noticed them in lots of studios, if you're worried you wont 'look pro' just don't get a hot pink one. Though I did hot pink on my 400 so I could tell them apart easily and lots of people liked that.

my $0.02

Jul 26, 2012 at 07:12 PM
Gregg Heckler
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Help me shop for a studio light + accessories

In your price range I would look at the Elinchrom BX/RI 250 and or 500. Wonderful lights and fantastic light modifiers.

Jul 27, 2012 at 02:30 AM

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