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Archive 2013 · Starting home studio lighting on a budget -- please help
  
 
Squirrely Eyed
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p.1 #1 · Starting home studio lighting on a budget -- please help


Experts at FM, please lend me your advice & assistance. I'd like to get some additional artificial lighting options for my home. I won't have the space to setup any kind of real studio environment, so these will be used in normal home rooms (off-white walls, carpet, small to large rooms, etc.). I'll mostly use them for family type photos & portraits. I should mention I'm relatively new to artificial lighting, so I'm more concerned about learning how to control that than, say, having pretty backgrounds.

So, here are the details & requirements:

  1. Currently I have a 7D body, a 600ex-rt speedlite, and a 10m OCF ETTL cable.
  2. I'm 90% sure I'd prefer to go for strobes/speedlites instead of continuous lighting but am open to comments.
  3. I'd prefer to do this without buying a wireless triggering system.
  4. Need an expandable system so I can add more later if desired or needed.
  5. Would like to keep initial investment < $500.


Much thanks in advance for your help.



Jun 04, 2013 at 05:06 PM
DanBrown
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p.1 #2 · Starting home studio lighting on a budget -- please help


About a year ago, John Cornicello did a great presentation on setting up a home studio on a budget for CreativeLive.


Jun 04, 2013 at 05:30 PM
jefferies1
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p.1 #3 · Starting home studio lighting on a budget -- please help


Calumet Genesus 200 Watt are low priced and work well. ( check the used page at Calumet) The speed rings from them are costly but can be found on Ebay for next to nothing. Speed rings hold the soft box to the light.

I know the first thing someone will say is 200 watt is not enough. For me shooting in studio portraits I seldom go over 1/2 power and my go to is about 1/4 power using 2 lights. It all depends on your style. I avoid F22 and prefer F4 or 5 which fits my style. Invest in a good Soft box or light modifier other than umbrellas. Some do magic with umbrellas but I prefer more control a enclosed style such as a soft box allows. Especially in a smaller room where light reflection is going to happen. A few black panels help.

Continuous light (hot lights) are very costly. $500.00 will buy you nothing worth having. Don't waste your money. I love continuous as I also shoot video but the investment is large. If set-up I also shoot stills with them but usually add in a strobe. Nothing wrong with mixing the best of both.

The lights will last a long time and are easy to sell used. A good soft box will last many years and fit almost any brand of light you might use later.

You can use a wire but a low cost wireless is a lot nicer and is never in the way. I hate cables because someone will trip on them. They will also fire from any flash so one unit can fire 2 or more. Your speed light on camera can fire the units also.

The strobe will force you to shoot manual. If you want to learn that is how you should be shooting anyway.



Jun 04, 2013 at 09:27 PM
BigIronCruiser
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p.1 #4 · Starting home studio lighting on a budget -- please help


You might consider an Alien Bee B800. They've been around since Moses was in diapers, and if you're okay with used gear, they're usually available for around $250 on eBay and (sometimes) the FM Buy/Sell forum. Like the Calumets, they will fire as soon as they detect a flash from your speedlite. The only requirement is that you put the 600EX or onboard flash in manual mode to prevent a pre-flash. This type of triggering works okay indoors, but you would need an RF system for outdoor use.

While it's nice to have multiple strobes, there's actually a lot that can be done (and learned) with one strobe, a softbox, and a reflector.....for less than $500!



Jun 04, 2013 at 10:43 PM
maxx9photo
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p.1 #5 · Starting home studio lighting on a budget -- please help


$500 is very very limited, You could try with Alienbees as a start and sometimes here on buy&sell comes up good deal. I started with Dynalite kit, with 2 dynalites 1015 and M500xl i got on eBay for under $500.


Jun 05, 2013 at 03:31 AM
swoop
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p.1 #6 · Starting home studio lighting on a budget -- please help


Adorama Flashpoints. You can get the FP320M for $100 each. Tack on some generic ebay lightstands and umbrellas and you're all set.

You may hear some arguments about flash power but for a basic starter set for indoor use it's plenty. You also get the modelling lights which will speed up the learning process. You know digital made photography really easy and accessible because you could see your images right after? That's how modeling lights work and for a starter it's a lot better than a hotshoe based kit. It comes with a sync cable, but you may need an adapter regardless, I'm not sure what kind of sync port the 7D has. But you use one with a cord and set the other to optical slaves. And they are easy to use with a wireless system after the first week when you realize how annoying cables are. I use a Microsync and it's $100 for the transceiver/receiver kit. You'd only need one receiver anyway because you can still keep the other two as optical slaves.

The big deal initially is going to be price point, learning potential with modeling lights. As you learn you'll start to worry about power, using different modifiers, recycle time, wireless triggering and portability.



Jun 06, 2013 at 12:52 AM
 

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ozpall
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p.1 #7 · Starting home studio lighting on a budget -- please help


1 ab 400, your speedlight, softboxes, snoot, barn doors, reflectors, light stands (boom), backdrop = 500 but it will get the the job done.


Jun 06, 2013 at 03:33 AM
cgardner
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p.1 #8 · Starting home studio lighting on a budget -- please help


I have a pair of 580ex flashes and four AB800s with various modifiers. Since I only occasionally do formal studio shots if a friend needs one I get far more use out of the 580ex flashes. This tutorial of mine will give you and idea of what can be done with just speedlights:

http://photo.nova.org/CanonPracticalUsage/

Given your goals and studio space limitations getting a second 600EX-RT will probably be the best return on investment over the long haul.

I prefer the bracket / single stand approach because it is logistically simple. The flash on bracket is ideally placed for flattering natural downward modeling for single flash shots or as "neutral" fill when using dual flash.
.



Jun 06, 2013 at 04:57 PM
Squirrely Eyed
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p.1 #9 · Starting home studio lighting on a budget -- please help


Thanks for the comments, it is good food for thought indeed.


Jun 13, 2013 at 01:09 PM
tsproul1
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p.1 #10 · Starting home studio lighting on a budget -- please help


Einstein 640?


Jun 13, 2013 at 03:28 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #11 · Starting home studio lighting on a budget -- please help


You might look at picking up a 550EX (or 430) that can be slaved from your 600. Then picking up a B800 or something similar to give the greater power for when you really need some and ability to work with "dedicated" modifiers/softboxes, etc.

That'll give you three lights for some versatility in arrangement/balance/ratio ... camera triggers your 600 RT, 600 triggers 550EX and either trigger monolight via flash, all wireless.



Jun 13, 2013 at 05:01 PM
jasoncallen
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p.1 #12 · Starting home studio lighting on a budget -- please help


For $500 being your budget constraint, and the fact that you are new to off camera flash and artificial lighting, here are my recommendations:

-Start with a 1-light setup, and invest in light modifiers such as grids, umbrellas, and a beauty dish.
-Don't worry about wireless triggering yet - use a corded connection (saves $$ for stuff that's a lot more important
-Learn how to use light modifiers to achieve different looks, and evaluate from there before purchasing any additional fancy gear like light meters, radio triggers, battery packs, etc

I would buy the following:
-Alien Bees B800 strobe ($270 new, has enough pop to match and sometimes overpower direct sunlight, built tough, good support, and reasonably priced accessories)
-Alien Bees 22" white beauty dish ($80 new, excellent light modifier for portraits. Even as a beginner, it'll help you capture shots that make pros, clients, family members and friends go, "Cool!")
-Shoot through white umbrella ($30ish new, depending on brand - awesome light modifier for that big, soft white light look in portraits)
-Arri AS-2 light stand (kind of expensive at $110 new, but robust, built to last, and can accomodate a good amount of weight without sandbagging - go cheaper if you need to save $$)
-Reflector ($20-60ish depending on brand - useful in lieu of a 2nd strobe for "fill light")

I hope that helps!



Jun 24, 2013 at 04:32 PM





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